Getting Race Ready: Marathon Training Week 9

Following on from a great run last Sunday, this week was all about seeing how well I recovered and preparing for my first race of the season – the ladies only Smokies 10 mile race organised by Arbroath Footers. I set a PB at this race last year and have been hopeful of shaving a minute or two off my time this year.

The week started well and, as the second month of the year drew to a close, my training went largely to plan.

Planned training this week:
Monday – Gym
Tuesday – Club Run
Wednesday – Gym
Thursday – Mile Repeats
Friday – 6 miles
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Race 10 miles

Monday, of course, was a TRX workout designed to combine stretching with strength work. Given that I had run 15 miles the day before, I really wasn’t feeling too bad! Tuesday’s club run also went reasonably well. My legs were a little weary and I dropped to the back of the small group I was running with (consoling myself with the fact that they were running on much fresher legs!) but I still completed 6.4 miles at an average pace just 10 seconds per mile slower than on Sunday. Hard work, but I was pleased.

Logging my mileage on Tuesday night, however, led to a rather frustrating realisation – my week of cross training at the start of the month, combined with the month being slightly shorter than the last, had resulted in me totalling 97 miles compared with January’s 100. This irritated me so much that with one more day of February left, I decided to squeeze in an extra 3 miles to equal the previous month’s mileage. Wednesday, therefore, saw me completing another TRX workout then getting straight onto the dreaded treadmill for a 3 mile run! The gym was incredibly warm so I was a bit uncomfortable, but I was satisfied with banking those 100 miles. Sometimes I’m just too stubbornly competitive!

All too quickly, Thursday and the mile repeats came round again. Since I knew that I would be once more running on Friday evening and then racing on Sunday, I decided to be sensible and stick with 6 reps of 1 mile at 7.5 mph, 0.2 mile recovery. I have completed this same workout on two previous occasions, however this was the first time that I really felt I could have gone on, so my aim when I next tackle mile repeats in a fortnight is to try 8 reps. The gym was again really warm (someone definitely needs to turn the heating down!) and I was certainly “glowing” by the end of this workout so after a good stretch I rewarded my efforts with a sauna to help me relax – still warm but much more enjoyable!

Not being able to run on Saturday (very important appointment with the hairdresser for a “go faster” haircut!) my run was switched to Friday instead. Fine in theory, but having run every day from Tuesday on, my legs were rather weary. Fortunately, this was a steady paced run so I was under no pressure to push myself and could just run at a comfortable pace. I did find that as my legs loosened off I was getting progressively faster so I was pleased with the run but definitely looking forward to a rest on Saturday before racing on Sunday.

And so to Sunday. Saturday had seen me well rested and making sure I completed all my important pre-run rituals: a big bowl of pasta for dinner followed by some Haribo Starmix which I swear makes me run faster! Despite this, I was feeling a bit nervous when I woke up on Sunday. The rational part of me knew that it was “just” a 10 mile run and I’ve been running further than that in recent weeks, however the fact that it’s a race always adds a different dimension and the last time I raced was early October. I always feel much better once I’m there and surrounded by other runners though, so it was breakfast, kit on and off to meet my friends to drive to Arbroath.

The first hurdle was the weather: beautiful at home but it rained most of the way there and by the time we arrived in Arbroath the rain had a distinctly sleet-like quality about it. Suddenly our choices of running kit were beginning to look ill-advised! Thankfully it did stop raining in time for the race and conditions ended up being ideal – cool temperature, no rain and very still.

The course itself is undulating with a steady climb from 2 to 4.5 miles (with a couple of steep hills for good measure) and the course is kind of shaped like a tennis racket or lollipop so it heads out for 2 miles, completes a loop then returns along the same stretch of road. My time last year was 1:28:33 which was a PB for me, however the way I have been running so far this year I was keen to bring this down a bit and had thought around 1:25 or 1:26 would be feasible.

I knew at the halfway point that I was faster than last year. I also knew that the second half of the race should be a bit easier with more downhill and flat stretches so was confident of a good finishing time. I took a gel at just beyond 7 miles to give me a boost for the last section and, on looking at my splits now, am pleased to see that my final two miles were faster than my first two miles (in fact, there was only one mile I ran faster and it was largely downhill!) so I had a good strong finish. Better yet, my weeks of marathon training have definitely paid off as I knew I could have gone on and maintained my pace for longer. And my finishing time? 1:23:52. That’s a couple of minutes faster than I had anticipated and 4mins 41secs faster than last year! How do I feel? In one word: ecstatic. I’m feeling strong, running well and feeling confident about the “Monster Month” ahead. Today has been a Good Day!

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