2011 – A new year but would it be a new start….. The answer to that is NO !!
After a gradual comeback from the calf problem I had got up to 15 miles by the end of January,
which effectively left me 4 weeks behind with my training schedule as I always target getting
up to 13 miles by the end of December for a spring marathon.
I had been lucky enough to win a place on the Runners World / Asics Super 6 training day at Birmingham University, where I did a 15 mile run round the Uni and Cannon Park and was feeling positive about where I was with the training. Knowing that I had lost four weeks I was not going
to try and make up for lost time by upping the miles too much, and more importantly, resigned
to the fact that I would not get my usual 5 runs totalling more than 100 miles in, but hoped
that I would manage to get in at least 4.
The day after the RW training session, I did a 5 mile treadmill run without any problems, but whilst stretching afterwards, I found I couldn’t bend down. My back was really tight. I had a physio appointment on the Thursday for my calf, but asked him to check out my back instead.
Bad news was delivered, when I was told I had a small tear in a back muscle, but on a
positive note I could carry on running, but at reduced mileage. The 16 I had planned for
the weekend was reduced to 6 and the process of building up started all over again.
Having had a similar back problem a few years ago, I knew that by doing plenty of stretching
and exercises I would be able to continue running, but again losing a couple of weeks
meant my rescheduled 4 long runs of 20+ miles was now down to 3.
The week before Ashby I did my first 20.
Psychologically I had to do it. I couldn’t let Ashby be my first 20, as normally
I would have done at least two 20's prior to a 20 race. It felt good to get those miles in the
bank and has made me more positive, which is a good thing as I had been having negative
thoughts about the race. I know that I’m not going into it in the
best shape, and any thoughts of getting close to my best of 2.26 can be forgotten,
However if I could get round in 2.35 / 2.40 I think that would be a decent outcome........
Sunday 13th March 2011
Distance 20 miles
Running Number 390
143 / 867
What a wonderful piece of engineering the human body is !!
A fast first mile of 6.53 set the pace, and then the rest of the race fluctuated between 7.02 and 7.14 pace, and a half way time of 71mins 50 secs.
Can't remember how far had gone when I worked out that I was on for a time inside 2.30 if I could keep the pace going, which in all honesty I had my doubts about
From 10 miles onwards I ran a pretty even race averaging 7.12 pace. Going through 16 miles in 1.56.26 left me with 34 minutes to do the last four miles.
I recalled my PB was 2.26 but not the seconds, and, as I was maintaining the pace I started to think that I could be very close to it. 19 miles in 2.18.24 left me in no doubt I could do it, but as I was unsure of my PB I HAD to do 2.25.xx to guarantee it.
The last mile was up the hill that I had sailed down earlier and eye on the watch I just threw
all my energy into it. There were two guys in front of me going down the narrow dirt track
on the final quarter mile. "Comming through the middle" I shouted as I approached them.
"You haven't been trying hard enough" one of them quipped !!
After writing my pre race report 4 days ago in which I douted my ability
I go and do 2.25.41 and a new PB by 28 seconds....
The race website can be found HERE
Belvoir Half Marathon|
Sunday 3rd April 2011
Distance 13.1 miles
Running Number 516
53 / 632
It was an eventful week leading up to this race.
With three weeks to go it was going to be my big mileage week, and that meant a
physically challenging week, as my target was to get in over 50 miles in 5 days.
It started with 23 on Sunday followed by 6 on Monday 5 on Tuesday 9 on Wednesday and 8 on Thursday for 51 miles over 5 days, leaving Friday and Saturday as rest days.
What I didn't expect was blacking out on the kitchen floor Wednesday morning as a
result, I think, of low blood sugar. It was not a pleasant experience, but with a days rest
I soon recovered, and was able to continue with my training.
Come race day I was itching to run after having two days off.
The course is recognised as a potential PB course, allthough this puzzled me as the Runners World website said it was undulating !! My pre race target was to get close to my PB of 1.26.37
All started well with the first 5 miles being run above target pace over a flat route, but then the pace slowed down. By mile 10 I knew I would have to find something extra if I was to achieve
my target time, but I couln't find the energy to up the pace sufficiently.
A last mile of 6.20, was the fastest of the race, but it came too late.
I guess that the 51 miles in the previous 7 days took it's toll and under the circumstances
a finishing time of 1.28.30 was a good result.
The half itself is a great run, allthough not organised by a running club they have got it spot on, chip timing, and markers at every mile and half mile !
Nice route in the Leicestershire country side, although not traffic free the roads were very quiet. Plenty of drinks, cereal bars and bananas at the finish, and a decent medal.
Would definitely recommend it.
The race website can be found HERE
Virgin London Marathon
Sunday 17th April 2011
Distance 26.2 miles
Running Number 33324
|Race package now received and I am on the "Good for age" start, |
thanks to my sub 3.15 time in Berlin 2009.
27.3.2011.... With three weeks to go, my last long run was completed this morning.
23.25 miles in 3.05.28 and feeling pretty good.
Looking back in my training log my longest 5 runs totalled exactly 100 miles so that was an unexpected surprise as I didn't think I would be able to reach that target this time due to the missed weeks training. Getting over three hours time on my feet in today was another
positive, so I am now looking to do a good time at next weeks Belvoir Half, and then the
two week taper begins !
3.4.2011 - Two weeks before race day - Belvoir Half Marathon
See report above.
10.4.2011 - One week to go and a total of 36 miles in the bag. My last long run of 13 went
without any problems, and that just leaves Monday 5 miles, Wednesday 6 miles and a
steady 4 on Friday.
The race website can be found HERE
The 31st London Marathon and number 8 for me.
It had been reasonably warm on Saturday, and the forecast was for similar on Sunday. Sitting at the start on Blackheath the conditions were ideal, but once again it was forecast to warm up later.
The race got underway and I was conscious that I had started a bit quick. Despite telling myself I needed to slow down,
and trying to do so I found that it was easier said than done ! With my target being 7.11 / 7.12 I had to average between
7.17 and 7.20 minute miling, and my first four miles were 7.08, 7.01, 7.00 and 6.57. By mile 5 I had slowed down to my
anticipated pace and then proceeded to run at a fairly even pace. As the race progressed it started getting warmer and
I found myself drinking water at most of the water stations. I had drunk plenty in the days before but in the heat I needed to
maintain my fluid levels.
I'm not sure when I realised that I wasn't going to hit my target, but a sub 3.15 was certainly on. As I approached Big Ben
the time was just coming up to 12.55, so I knew that if I maintained my pace I should be OK. Upon turning the last corner and
looking up the Mall I could see the finishing line... it looked a bit further away than in previous years, possibily as
this year the route had missed out the bit round Cutty Sark due to the restoration project, so maybe that distance
was added on at the end ? A glance at the watch and I could see it was going to be close., however finishing over
3.15 was not an option.
I pushed like mad squeezing every last drop of energy out of me, shouting at myself to come on....push... you can do it.
My body responded and I found some energy from deep within, surging towards the finishing line in what felt like a sprint !
I crossed the line and stopped my watch, looking down at the time I let out a congratulatory Yes Yes Yes.
Finishing time 3.14.53, my best London by 24 seconds, and my first sub 3.15 in London, and my third best marathon time
Although it wasn't what I had hoped for I was happy, knowing that I couldn't have done any better.
I gave it my best shot, and at the end I had nothing left. When the official results were posted my chip time was 3.14.50
On my way out of the finish area I bumped into James Cracknell.
I told him I had watched his recent trilogy of TV programmes and how he was an inspiration. He said "Thank You".
We shook hands and both headed off. It all happened so quickly that I didn't get chance to ask for a photograph.
That would have been a great one to put on my motivational wall for the future.
Looking back on the days events I have a few thoughts...
Was my strategy correct ? Answer Yes. Maybe the first four miles were a little bit quicker than they should have been,
but in all honesty would trimming 15 seconds per mile over those miles made all that much difference ?
Was my target realistic ? Answer yes, but maybe 3.12 was more atainable than 3.11
I need to re think my training.
Getting the miles in is no problem, but on long runs I need to run more of the session at race pace.
It's no use running 20 miles at 7.55 pace in training and then on race day expect to run at 7.20 pace.
I also think I need to include some 400/600/800 reps in my training.
Food for thought....
Completed Marathons 14
Godiva May Day 5
Monday 2nd May
Distance 5 miles
Running Number 509
24 / 101
and a half laps round the Memorial Park. Although a bright
and sunny day was |
most welcome a strong headwind was not !! Having to run three times along a 200 yard
stretch into the wind was hard going, and cost valuble seconds.
Northbrook A C used the fine weather to their advantage by having a family picnic
and games after the race.
Unfortunately not only did the runners suffer in the wind, but the gazebo also found
it was no match for the wind and collapsed !!
Finishing Time 33.03
Sunday 15th May
Running Number 109
|In previous years this race has been held in April and June and its always been a hot day. |
This year was different... a cool day, very little breeze...in fact, perfect running conditions.
I started off a little fast but decided if I wanted to do well I had to push myself from the
start. After three kilometers I felt I was slowing down but that was more to do with the uphill
climb than anything else. At about 5k a runner came alongside me and again, I pushed myself
to stay with her, not wanting to be beaten by a woman !! We ran together for the next
2.5 kilometers, by which time we had reached the top of the final uphill climb of the race.
When we got to the top I kicked in and pulled away, knowing that the rest of the course was
more or less downhill.
With only 2.5k to go I checked the watch and knew that I could be on for a PB if I could find a
little bit more speed. Now I was on my own with no one in front within touching distance so
I had to summon up some mental strength to keep the pace going.
Allthough it was a 10k race my watch was recording pace and distance in miles, but I could see that I had certainly picked up the pace, and that PB was there for the taking.
A last mile of 5 minutes and 55 seconds was enough to see me finish in
40 minutes and 32 seconds, knocking 5 seconds of my Oxford Town and Gown 2010 PB.
The Town And Gown is one of my favourite races and I was very dissapointed when I found
out that this years race was to be run on the same day as the Northbrook race, so It was quite fitting that I recorded a PB today to make up for the dissapointment of missing out !!
BUPA London 10,000
Monday 30th May
Running Number A297
After knocking out a PB at the
Race day was a strange experience. The club had been given
six free entries for this race
My designated pen was pen A, and I made my way to the very
back, knowing that I
The race started with us heading from Birdcage Walk, towards
Big Ben, and then taking
and going through half way in 22.10. As the race progressed I became less aware about
my leg and found myself running a little faster, putting in two sub 4 minute kilometres.
The middle part of the course takes lots of twists and turns before arriving back on the Embankment, for the last 2k. Turning right into Horse Guards Avenue and you know you
are not far from the finish. Along Whitehall a left at Trafalgar Square and then a final
left under the magnificent Admiralty Arch
Just past the arch you see the 800m to go sign, in the middle distance the finish
line and beyond, Buckingham Palce.
It's a great finish.
The race was held on what will make up part of the 2012 olympic marathon course,
but they are going to have to rework it to take out some of the twists and turns.
Overall a well organised race, and an enjoyable day out, finishing off with a pint at
The Sherlock Holmes. A Well known pub usually frequented by Northbrook AC on
London Marathon Day !!
Warwick Castle to Kenilworth Castle
Sunday 12th June
Running Number 233
144 / 3071
5 / 171
|Ahh the joys of running.... |
After the London 10k I thought it would be prudent to ease back a bit, so I took Tuesday off
and on Wednesday went for a really steady plod on the Northbrook summer handicap.
Thursday was another rest day, and on Friday I enjoyed a steady 6 miler along the Kenilworth Greenway, followed on Saturday by the usual Park Run and immediately after that, a steady 7.
Allthough my physio had said I was OK to run, I decided that perhaps a longer rest may be
better than running with a strain, and decided to rest for a week in the hope that time would
be a great healer.
......So after a week off I ventured out to do Park Run.
Got round in 20.44 no problems therefore I would definitely do the 2 Castles.
Weather forecast was not very good, and by 8 o'clock the rain started.
This years race had expanded to 4000 runners and the route was closed to traffic.
I decided that I should run the race steady, and not push it. Allthough I had taken a week off I knew my leg was still not ready to race on, and I would be happy to get round in about 42 mins.
I maintained a nice even pace, but mile three takes in a long steady incline and my pace dropped before picking up over the last three miles. By the time I neared the end it was raining quite hard, but the crowds were out in force on the approach to Kenilworth Castle. A couple of familiar faces shouting encouragement spurred me on to a 42.32 finish.
T shirt and medal to all finishers, and you could have your photo taken
alongside the 2012 Olympic Torch.
After a break we then ran back to Warwick, getting a good soaking !
The Arden 9
Distance 9 miles
Sunday 19th June
40 / 263
3 / 48
|My fourth appearance at this race. Numbers were down slightly on last year, but I cannot understand why. |
Its a great race through some leafy lanes, and a bit round Barston Lakes. Downhill start
and a bit of a climb between 8 miles and the finish but apart from that its flat.
Conditions were spot on for running with a nice cooling breeze.
Once again I didn't feel my leg was ready to race on, so I was looking to get round in about 62 minutes. Going through 3 miles in 19.55 put me on target for 60 minutes, and I tried to
maintain the pace.
Alot of the time I was on my own, but no one was passing me. I set my sights on the second
lady and two guys in front, but thought they may just be a bit too far. Going round the Lake I
was definitely closing in on them, and at about 8 miles I got past the lady. I was reeling in the
two guys also, but would I be able to catch them?
After the last climb I was on their shoulders and put a bit more effort in to get through, and
more importantly make sure they didn't come back. One of them tried but I kicked in and
pulled away to finish him off.
All this time I was looking at my watch, and knew that it was going to be a close call to get in under the hour. As I turned the last corner I gave it one final push, and finished in 59:48.
Distance 13.1 miles
Sunday 21st August
82 / 749
6 / 56
Click pic to see full image
Web Site HERE
With only 13 days to go before Dingle this race was going to be a test of my fitness.
Located in South Buckinghamshire and around 25 miles from London, Burnham Beeches was acquired by the City of London in 1880, in response to a threatened purchase by residential developers. It was for sale as “land suitable for the erection of superior residences”. There has probably been woodland on the site since the retreat of the last ice age, but today’s landscape was created by people. It covers an area of 540 acres.
Thats the history lesson over with, so onto race day....
Having run Burnham in 2009 I knew that it was an undulating and challenging course. Starting on a school playing field there is a short sharp embankment that you climb in the first 300 yards. It gets a bit congested, and its the same embankment that you go down as you approach the finish. With rain steadily falling towards the end of the race it made the bank very slippy, and dangerous. Maybe the organisers should rethink the start and finish.
Before the race I thought I should be able to do between 1.30 and 1.32, so a finishing time of 1.31.35 was a pleasing result.
Distance 26.2 miles
Running number 461
24 / 370
Click Pic to see full image
Web Site HERE
17.7.2011 - 7 weeks to go and I have banked my first 20 miler. A tough run with
one hill after another, but as Dingle is hilly its needs must !
24.7.2011 - An easy week this week with a long Sunday run of 15.5 miles, again run over a hilly route but coped with them much better this week.
I have been doing two treadmill sessions a week of either 5 miles or 10k, using the "random" setting. This is tough session where the incline increases and decreases over the course of the session. Great for hill training and i'm sure it will help in the overall training plan.
31.7.2011 - Another long run, this time 21 miles
7.8.2011 - The longest run of the training 23 miles. Went well getting round in 3hr 3mins. As usual
a fairly hilly route, but as I allways say, what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger !
Last weeks total mileage hit 51. I expect to do a similar weekly total for the comming week.
With my longest run behind me I guess that I am now tapering.
That pint of Guinness is getting closer and closer
14.8.2011 - 20½ miles today, and my final long run is completed. Pleased to say my five longest runs totalled 102½ so that was another target met. From now its two weeks taper, ready to take on the challenge of the Dingle Marathon.
21.8.2011 Burnham Beeches Half Marathon
27.8.2011 As the marathon is on Saturday I decided to do my last long run on the previous Saturday. I started from home and ran to the Memorial Park, aiming to get there a few minutes before 9am so I could take a short break before doing Park Run. Things didn't go quite to plan, as about 75 yards from the start line the race began. I took my top off, on the run (as I had two on) and threw it to the race director as I passed the start line. I proceeded to chase the field and move slowly through. At the end I was only just behind the runners that I would normally be just in front of, so I had made up lost time. I then ran home, so I actually did was 4 miles steady, 3 miles hard, and 3 miles steady. A good session. Now all I have is a run on Monday and Wednesday to go.
We arrived in Ireland on Thursday, two days before the marathon. It was raining. It was raining on Friday and the
forecast was not looking good. As we turned in for the night on Friday the wind and rain was hammering on the window, and I thought maybe by the morning there wouln't be any more rain up there !
I drove round the course on Friday noting where the hills came. First one after about half a mile and they continued
to come. Make no mistake this was going to be a tough one.
When I woke on Saturday, the rain had stopped... a good start !
The half and full started together on the quayside, and I had to make sure I didn't go off too fast. I had spotted that half runners had green numbers and full runners had yellow numbers, so I wasnt worried when half runners went passed me.
The scenery to the left was spectacular, following the coast road we had views over the Atlantic Ocean, and the Blasket Islands, and importantly for us a nice cooling breeze was blowing.
For the first 12 miles we all ran together, before the half peeled off. At that point I looked over my shoulder and there was nobody in sight behind me, I was on my own. Up ahead I could see a few runeers and it became my target to get in front of them. I slowly worked my way up the hills and managed to get passed a few.
When I got to the water station at eighteen miles, I counted the discarded water bottles on the road. There were about 25, so I knew roughly how many runners were in front of me.
From the start to 21 miles the course is undulating, with a net climb of 265 feet before returning to sea level. Then it gets hard.
At this point you are taken down a road, round a bollard and back down the road to get the 26.2 distance correct. Before entering the loop I could see in the distance 3 runners, and doing the loop I counted a further 21 in front of me. Comming out of the loop the course starts climbing, going from sea level to 400 feet in 1.5 miles. Made up of two brutal climbs with a cruel hairpin bend which leads to the final climb. Once you are at the top you then have a long straight road in front of you and its more or less downhill all the way, with the sight of Dingle town in the distance. One guy came passed me and again I set my sight on the three runners in front. One by one I picked them off, and managed a good strong finish.
Finishers from the half had been bussed back into the town, and it was a fantastic feeling to be running down the final half mile with them clapping and cheering you on.
I was so exstatic that when I crossed the line I forgot to stop my watch. However, using GPS technology I estimate my actual time to have been closer to 3.18.33. Given the difficulty of the course I had expected complete between 3.15 and 3.30 but for once I had thoroughly enjoyed the race and was more than happy with my performance, Oh, and it didnt rain at all during the race !!
Water stations every three miles but no energy drinks were provided. At two stops bananas were available.
Unfortunatley they did have some problems with timing devices, but this seems to have had more effect with the
half marathon results,
Its a great race and for scenery its probably one of the best. This year was the third edition and it is attracting more
and more each year from all over the world, not just Ireland and the UK.
Completed Marathons 15
Watch a short You Tube Video.....
Distance 26.2 miles
205 / 777
25 / 112
Click Pic to see full image
Web Site HERE
Seven days after Dingle I was running again. I think all the walking we did around Ireland
helped my legs recover, (or it could have been the Guinness and Jamesons ...) so come the Saturday morning I was up early to do Park Run !!
I was still intending to just do a few runs for a week or so, but at the club I was asked if I
fancied doing Abingdon Marathon as a fellow runner had pulled out. I laughed it off, and
said no, my get out being I would not run under someone elses name.
They then said I could transfer the number to my own name, and upon hearing that
I was tempted and thought hmmmm maybe !!
That night I went onto the Abingdon website and read that transfer deadline was the
following day, so I would have to be quick if I had any intention of running.
I registered the transfer, but hey, that didn't comit me to doing it.
I would go for a couple of long weekend runs and then decide, but in reality, once I had
transferred the entry into my own name I was as good as doing it.
Over the next four weekends I did 10, 17, 13 and 11, with shorter runs inbetween,
mindful that I was still in recovery mode, and didn't want to pick up any injuries.
An early start time for the race of 8.45 due to other events being held on the same day,
so it was up and out by 6.30 am.
Driving down the M40 it was really foggy and the temperature guage registered 3°, I hoped it
would improve. I needn't have worried as come race time it was perfect running weather.
Strategy for the race had been on my mind for the last week or so, and despite talking to several other runners, it was still
on my mind driving down. I could go off slow and see how I felt at half way, but if I felt good it would be to late to make it up.
Should I go off looking for a 3.15 and find that the wheels fall off. Decisions decisions, so I forgot all the possibilities and
started off 7.15 pace, and maintained that pace for the first three mile. Knowing that would equate to a 3.10
finish I decided to slow it down a bit to 7.25, which I maintained to 18 miles and then I started to slow down a bit more, which
I was half expecting, as my longest run in the last six weeks had been 17 miles. The 7.25's became 7.40's between
18 and 22 miles and 7.50's for 23 and 24. The last two miles I picked it up to 7.40, with the last 385 yards at 6.46.
Abingdon is a pretty flat course with a gentle uphill for the first mile and another at 6, which you then go up again on
the second lap. Its run on roads (which are not closed) and footpaths through woodland areas, and twice round a rather
large industrial estate.
For PB potential it rates highly, and is well organised and marshaled.
It starts and finishes at the athletics track in Tilsley Park, and its really nice to finish your
race with a lap of the track in front of the supporters sitting in the stand. A nice touch at the end as, if you can climb
the steps to the back row of the stand you will be rewarded with free tea, coffee and biscuits.
Completed Marathons 16
There was a dissapointing finish to 2012.
During a Wednesday night club run I took my eyes off where I was going and ran into a large steel telecoms box.
What a plonker !
Allthough I carried on with my run without any problems, the following morning I woke with a sore achilles. To make
matters worse it was only two days before the first Birmingham League cross country fixture, and after the clubs relegation to
division 3, I had promised that I would take part, in what would be my first cross country race since 2003 !!
I rested for two days and did a short run before the race to test the ankle. It felt OK so I started the race. Half way round
it started to tighten up so I stopped to stretch, but on resuming the run it was clear that it would be foolhardy to carry on,
and for the first time ever I had "DNF" against my name.
After four weeks of physio and rest it felt ready to run on, so I did a slow park run, but once again it stiffened up afterwards.
That would be my final run of 2011.
1, 448 Miles over 207 runs
This page was last updated 1st January 2012 © A S Mackness 2012