So many updates – Philly Marathon training

I mean to blog more often, really I do. So when I finally get around to it I have way too much in my mind to know what to write about.

As I am now less than 4 weeks away from the Philadelphia Marathon I decided to review how my training has been going and compare to my first marathon attempt 2 years ago (also the Philadelphia Marathon).

I certainly feel better prepared this time around, but would be lucky having already done it once anyway?

Here’s my summary of what has gone well:

  1. My average weekly mileage during this build up has been 8+ miles more than 2 years ago.
  2. My confidence has been boosted by some quality runs – in particular a 17 mile run this past Saturday that felt relatively easy and at a decent pace, followed by an 8k cross country race on Sunday where, despite tired legs, I recorded a time I was more than happy with.
  3. Despite some issues with tight calf muscles, they seem to be responding to the training and have become less of an issue.
  4. 2 years ago I had issues with what seemed to be my knee but actually turned out to be a tight muscle in my lower leg. This year I have no such issues. That problem caused me to panic slightly before that year’s race, and, not having run long for a while, just 3 weeks before the marathon I went out hard on a 17 mile run to “make up for lost miles”. It didn’t work and resulted in less running that week.
  5. Based on my coaching courses I actually set up a plan for myself.
  6. RVRR weekly track workouts have been enormously beneficial.
  7. Joining a gym a block from the office and getting to work an hour early to use the treadmill has been incredibly important in helping keep my mileage up (often resulting in 2 runs per day).
  8. A fairly accidental series of half marathon races (5 over 6 weekends, with 2 10ks and a 5k thrown in on the same weekends) appear to have helped, at least with my confidence.
  9. Through my training, my conversation running pace appears to now be faster by about 20 seconds.

and what has not:

  1. My intention to keep mileage high was sidetracked in early October with a work trip to the UK and then again by a cold that knocked me out for half a week (just last week), so my average weekly mileage should have been higher. The average across all weeks has only been around 40, but with a few high mileage weeks in the low 50s.
  2. Despite the calf muscle problems easing, I’m still not entirely convinced those muscles are ready for 26.2. In my 2013 marathon, the calf muscles were almost my downfall with muscle spasms starting at mile 18 of the race so I am wary here.
  3. Serious marathon training requires more time than I realistically have available without causing detriment to other things. I’ve seen the kids less, and I’ve not been as helpful around the house.
  4. I’m pretty sure now that 26.2 is beyond what I really want to be running. I love half marathons and I’m pretty sure that I’ll be looking to stick to that (at least for racing) for a few years.

With all this in mind, I strongly believe I am all set for a marathon PR, but, as I was discussing recently with a friend, anything can go wrong with a marathon and then all that hard work is wasted.

Running away from home

No, I’m not running away, but I have been running, away from home.

For the past week I’ve been on a business trip to the UK. This was arranged relatively recently and I had to try to fit as many days here as possible. This meant a weekend away was involved due to too many other commitments restricting when I could travel.

What to do when you’re away from home on a weekend? Find a race of course.

It just so happened that the Hoohaah Wimpole Half Marathon was taking place just a few miles from my mum’s house. Once I had worked out a definite plan to head there for at least part of the weekend, I registered for the race.

I knew the course was multi terrain, which isn’t at all what I am used to, and not my preference most, if not all, of the time. I’ve pretty much limited the number of cross country races I do because I don’t particularly get on well with them, but I needed a reasonably fast run of this sort of distance for my marathon training so thought it was a good way to get that done. I also seem to be addicted to half marathons as alluded to in a recent post with this adding half number 5 to a period covering 6 weekends.

Happy enough before the run

Having set the scene I now come to admit that I struggled on this course. It seems like I went out quite fast but a fair amount of the first section was on road so that’s probably part of it. Once it went off the road the difference was dramatic, particularly because of the large loose stones that definitely forced everyone to run slower. Then there were the hills. This is probably what got to me most in the end. I guess I haven’t been training on hills enough. Even before the 8 mile point I was partly walking up hills.

For a few miles I had company and we were pushing each other to a decent pace, but as we climbed one of the hills I faded dramatically and for a long time the distance between us seemed to increase. As we came into the last 5k or so, there he was again, fading, as was I, just more dramatically. I tried to encourage him to keep with me which he tried to do for a little while. At this point I was hurting but I was determined to keep the pace so did my best to push the last of the energy from my legs. I did get passed by one more runner before the end, but as I came down towards the finish, a spectator told me I was in 13th place (I had thought there were more people ahead, and there probably were because there was also a 10 mile option which started in the same pack). My time was about 6 minutes slower than my latest half marathon times – with the caveat that they were on flat courses.

Results were easy to check at the computer by the finish and on reviewing that I saw that I was 2nd place in the 40 – 49 category, and 13th overall. As the awards for categories were for 1st place I decided to leave – mostly because I had to get back to Oxford by a certain time. It turns out I should have stayed, as the 1st in my category was actually 3rd overall, so I ended up with the award for 1st in category. At least they are nice enough to be sending the awards out so I’m glad I got in touch and gave them a UK address to send it to rather than them either not sending or having the expense of a US shipment.

Despite how tough I found it, I did actually enjoy the experience and it was well organized. It probably helped that it was a beautiful day and the course wasn’t waterlogged or muddy but I think I’d still do a Hoohaah event again if I had the chance even if that was the case.

Results can be found by clicking here.