Faster, faster – Aiming for a sub-50 10k

Now that I’ve gone long and steady, I’m ready for my next challenge at the upcoming Abbey Dash 10k – short and speedy. I’m just not 100% sure where to begin.

I have to not lose sight of the progress I’ve made, since I ran my first race in 2012. I just am not sure how to make the next leap – to a sub-50 minute 10k.

Last year, I banded together with a whole bunch of other running bloggers, as part of the #Sub50project, organised by Sian over at Dashing Divas.  We drank beetroot juice and Lidl energy drinks before Parkrun, and I was single-minded in my goal to duck under 50 minutes… until I did the one race I had signed up for, missed the target, and promptly forgot all about it. Marathons, half-marathons and triathlons took centre stage instead and the 10,000m didn’t cross my mind. (Doesn’t 10,000m sound professional? I’m like my girlcrush Jo Pavey.)

Lately, though, the itch has come back. Since last year, I’ve only done one 10K, at the very well-organised and friendly Billingham 10k. I was convinced I’d nailed it, was coming up to 8.5k with seconds to spare on my pacing then – I turned a corner at 9k into a hurricane (light breeze), holding me back like swimming in one of those tiny pools with a current in, exerting effort but going nowhere. I had nothing left to give, even as I knew I was just about to miss my hard-fought target. I came in at a very respectable, but not quite good enough, 50:04.

So, in my best Princess Leia – Help me internet, you’re my only hope.  What is my best chance of getting faster in, oh, 3 weeks? I did a fartlek session with a running club while I was away working this week. I wanted to pack in at least 23 times, but was being just outstripped by someone with a hacking cough, who should have been in an iron lung rather than pegging about in the dark and rain, so I chased him, making sure he didn’t fall down in a bush in the night. Which added a good element of danger to the session, and did make me work very hard.

 

I know speed work is good – what else? And what specific speed sessions? 

Have you ever noticed a step-change in your speed? What did you do to get there?

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Yorkshire Marathon 2014 Race Report

pre marathon selfie
What’s the definition of ‘awesome’? As Bibi will attest, I have a problem with this word. People say a TV programme was awesome, that they just had an awesome cake etc. These things are not awesome. They are things you happen to like a lot but they do not inspire an overwhelming feeling of wonder, as the dictionary suggests awesome things should. Something’s going very wrong with life if a piece of cake is the most wonder-filled thing that happens in your day.

Then again, I have an advantage here because learned exactly what constitutes awesome when we ran the Yorkshire Marathon together at the weekend. Awesome is running 26.2 miles side by side with your baby girl, who is obviously no longer a baby because that would be illegal or at the very least not good parenting. Awesome is encouraging each other, chatting some, laughing some, being silent (apart from the heavy breathing and occasional inevitable runner’s grunt). Awesome are SuperPacer Bibi’s super-pacing skills; she got us round in record-quick time (record-quick for us, that is).

The day started strangely, with FOG ALERTS in big capital letters from the race team. Hmm, we thought, what difference could a bit of fog make? This photo of Boniface Kongin (on the left, a pacemaker who decided he could win it so did) and Cosmos Kigen, who came second, might give you some idea. The capital letters – FOG! – were definitely justified.

Photo Anne and Noel Akers (they didn’t take it together, I just don’t know which one of them took this!)

Laura, a lovely fellow run blogger, said on Twitter running in fog was like running in clouds. We loved that. Being cloud runners made us feel like we were floating, even when we didn’t feel like that at all, if you see what I mean (like around mile 19 on a lengthy – and uphill, grrr! – out and back). Apart from making the landscape surreal, cloud running means you don’t get overheated either. We’re all for it.

We did the Yorkshire Marathon last year, so we know the route and its ups and downs, literal and metaphorical. It’s a really well organised race, with only 7000 runners, which means that it’s possible to actually enjoy the run and get into a rhythm (as compared to, say, the Great North Run, when we ran 14 miles instead of 13.1 because we did so much weaving around people!)

This year was a smoother ride than last. Bibi paced us, including our good friend, another fellow running blogger, Rose, who ran with us most of the way. (We do have some friends who are not running bloggers, btw). We were aiming for PBs and sub-4 but I’m a pacing numpty so Bibi spent much of the race telling me off, in a good way. I love it when she says ‘Chill outmum!’ because I dash around like a divvy.

So, Bibi led us sensibly around. She didn’t have a mid-marathon meltdown like she did last year (she’s never going to live that down – a lovely man, who we’d never seen before in our lives, tapped her on the shoulder at the start line and said, ‘No tantrums this year, OK?’! The perils of blogging…) Nor did she tell me to bugger off six miles from home because she was sick of me chirruping ‘Not far now!’

No dramas, no fuss, nothing – nothing! – went wrong. We loved every minute and crossed the finish line together in 3.56.37, PBs and sub-4s nailed. Our friends came to meet us and brought cake and fizz. It was days ago and we’re still smiling. Bibi says that we became more than the sum of our parts that day, each making the other better, each helping the other get their best from it. I couldn’t agree more. What can I say? Yorkshire Marathon 2104 was freakin’ AWESOME!!

Happy with our homies after the race - Rose, plus David and Adam who make most of our fantastic, free running mixes. PBs all round!

Happy with our homies after the race – Rose, plus David and Adam who make most of our fantastic, free running mixes. PBs all round!

Thanks Brooks Running for our shoes (mine Pure Flow 3 and Bibi’s Ghost 7); we felt like we were flying.
Thanks too to Sweaty Betty for my fab Time Trial Run Shorts. Who’d have thought it was possible to look stylish when running a marathon?
And I’m not a total dummy, I have a great GPS watch to keep pace when Bibi doesn’t: TomTom Multi-Sport watch – recommended.

Four of us ran as Team Veggie for WaterAid: Bibi, Adam, Rose and me. We all got PBs – yay!! – and our donations page is still open. If you can spare a little cash to provide clean water and decent sanitation to help make the world a safer place for millions of people, please donate here – virginmoneygiving.com/team/veggie

Thank you.

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Light Night Art Runs

Some people when they’re tapering for a marathon lay on the sofa and eat cake. This is perfectly reasonable but we prefer a different approach. Such as planning Light Night Art Runs, that involve running with a hundred other people festooned in fairy lights and glow sticks through a crowded city that has turned itself into a massive art installation for the evening, of course! Such is the fab, fun and thoroughly entertaining experience that is Light Night Leeds.

Check out the album below and tag yourself if you were one of the mad, mega-fun runners who joined us on the night.

We had a whale of a time, as did our lovely runners. Events like this take some planning and our list of people to thank is pretty long:

– Run Leaders Gemma, Andrew, Neil, Ben, Adam and Anne for making everyone welcome and keeping everything on track.
– The new Sweaty Betty store in Leeds for supplying each and every runner with the Best. Goody. Bag. Ever.
Space2 Leeds for support with every aspect of planning.
– Lulu H from Space2 for making the amazing lanterns that made the meeting room a wonderful fairy grotto of mad-runnerness.
Yorkshire Dance for providing the room and their staff for their help and support on the night.
Paul Abbott from Leeds College of Music for his registration guru skills.
Up and Running for providing snap bands to keep runners safe on dark winter nights.
– Most importantly, of course, the runners who joined in and made it so much fun by having so much fun themselves.

Thanks everyone! We’re hoping to make Light Night Art Runs even bigger and better next year. If you’d like to join in, follow us on Twitter to make sure you get the word. Better still, sign up for our new Veggie Runners weekly newsletter to be sure of a place on this or any of our other Art Runs.

 

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Marathon Training : In the Home Straight

Happy after my first 20 mile run

Happy after my first 20 mile run

Marathon training this year has strengthened my soul. It may not have felt it every mile, but overall, I’ve got out a hell of a lot more than I’ve put in.

During the 16 weeks that I have been training for this year’s Yorkshire Marathon, I have left  a job where I felt very secure, and loved my colleagues, to move into an unknown, kind of scary field, hours away from home – for the excitement and challenge of it. To see how much I am capable of when I take that step. As I said before, we marathon runners are – for some reason – not content with just being ‘content’.

I don’t know if I would have had the nerve to take that leap if I hadn’t had those very long marathon runs to have long talks with myself – talking myself in and out of the decision, meditating, sometimes having a little cry. In that time, I found reserves of resilience in myself that I didn’t think I had. “I can run mother-lovin’ twenty miles on a WEDNESDAY night before Bakeoff, I can do anything.”

Picture from the very beautiful foolishfire.com

Picture from the very beautiful foolishfire.com

One of the runners on Light Night asked me a really thought-provoking “Do you feel you know yourself better, having run a marathon?” – my  answer was a resounding YES. You can’t truly imagine how you will behave under pressure until you’re actually there. (Not that it necessarily went the right way last time)

Now, the interminable wait until race day, to see what the training and my inner reserves interact to produce.

I read in Michel Roux Jr’s lovely book The Marathon Chef (sadly out of print; I managed to bag an ex-library copy on Amazon) that training for a marathon is the hard part, so enjoy the race once that’s behind you. Sounds so simple, maybe it’s obvious, but I’d never thought about it like that before, and am going to keep that in my mind. This race is the culmination of weeks of effort, I’ll revel in the experience.

What am I going to be capable of?

We’ll definitely post news on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram throughout the day, so be sure to follow all of those if you don’t already for the most up-to-date ridiculous outpourings of emotion.  Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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