Sitting here tonight I am buzzing! In short, I've just got in from an amazing run home but lets rewind a couple of days first.
Last Sunday was a tough 20 mile run in the rain and wind and then on the Monday I headed out for an easy run home from work, that was it for the week though. The plan was to get up to 65 - 70 miles last week but work decided that wasn't going to happen. Tuesday a late afternoon meeting meant I missed heading over to Fife to train with the squad and yes, I could have gone out at night but after the meeting I was exhausted so decided I would go out the next day and do a good session. Wednesday then came and went and I had zero motivation to get out for a run, maybe it was the weather or maybe something else but either way, I didn't run. Thursday arrived and I had every plan of going out at lunch time for an easy 10 mile run. I am lucky enough to be able to work flexi-time so I can head out for a longer run if I wish and just make up the hours later on but the I.T gods thought my time would be better spent trying to recover a serious issue with one of our websites at approx 11:30am, they then thought it would be really funny to keep the issues going until 5:30pm!
Once again I was mentally exhausted and I missed training with the squad again. I was not a happy chap! If you saw my tweets you would have seen my comments. Lets just say I would have happily thrown a number of servers and I.T equipment out the highest window I could find or down a flight of stairs!
Friday was planned to be a hard track session, 10 x 300m with 1 min recovery just to try and keep the speed in my legs but instead I decided, one more rest day and I will go to Edinburgh parkrun and give it a good race. No excuses, my legs would be very rested and the weather looked pretty good. For anyone that hasn't ran Edinburgh parkrun, it's a very flat course but it's prone to windy and icy conditions because it's down next to the river Forth. You almost always have a head wind in one of the directions since its an out and back course.
If you haven't even heard of parkrun, I highly recommend looking at their website and finding your local free 5km run - http://www.parkrun.org.uk
Saturday morning arrived, the alarm went off and Mandy and I got up, pulled on our running kit and headed to Crammond. Pre-race I have my own routine and Mandy has hers. I went off for a warm up, tried some new stretches to try and loosen up my legs and pulled on my club vest and laced up my New Balance racing trainers. I race any distance up to and including half marathons in my NB905's. They are lighter than my every day trainers and just put me in the mood to race.
I stood on the start line, chatted with a couple of people next to me including a fellow club mate which is always good to help me relax a bit and then focused on the job at hand. For the past couple of visits to parkrun I have been running the course in 18 minutes something, today I wanted to get back in to the 17 minutes, I wanted to get as close to 17 minutes as possible and so decided to go out at a pace that would allow that to be possible.
On your marks, get set......GO!
We were off and straight away I knew it was fast, I had a quick look at my watch and I was sitting at 4:58 min/mi! I knew straight away that I couldn't hold on to that pace so eased up a bit and brought the first mile in at 5:28 min/mi. If I could hold this pace I could be in for a sub 17 - that was a very brief thought that flashed through my mind but the reality was I couldn't hold that pace. The second mile was completed in 5:41 min/mi and it was starting to hurt, would you believe I even considered stopping! This is when I know I am pushing myself and I need to dig deep and ignore my body's urge to stop, I was passed by two other guys who I tried to latch on to and focus my mind but they were running strong so my next aim was just to hold on and not let anyone else pass me in the final mile.
I could hear breathing behind me so I knew I had company and then there is was, the finish line. At Edinburgh parkrun you can see the finish for quite some distance but I try and get to the tree turn-off and then hold whatever position I have from there on in, on Saturday that wasn't to be. The breathing got closer and I was passed by not one but two guys. I wasn't happy and I wasn't going to let this happen! I hooked on to them and I felt they were really pushing it but I felt I had a little bit more to give, the question in my mind was, when do I go for the final push. Push too early and there is a chance I fade and I am passed again or the other runners counter attack and it's wasted, push too late and I won't catch the runners in front. With all this going on in my mind I didn't notice the pain my body was going through and I picked up the pace after keeping the 3rd mile only 5 seconds slower than mile 2 (5:45min/mi). The final fight was on, I pushed and luckily the other two didn't have anything left and I got the two positions back that I had lost and finished 10th overall. I would have been annoyed with myself if I had lost those 2 positions due to me deciding it wasn't worth the fight - which I had considered back at mile 2! What was an even bigger surprise was that I got a new personal best with a new time of 17:36, which is only 1 second faster but my previous PB was back in 2011! It felt amazing to be at that level again and it's only February, I still have the rest of the year to go!
Mandy also had a good run and her pace and fitness is coming back to what it was before she became ill. Long may the improvements continue for both of us.
Sunday was a longish run of 15 miles and considering racing the day before I was happy with my pace and even happier when I looked at the profile of the route!
This morning I woke up and my legs felt heavy from the run yesterday but I still headed to the gym and did my session with the Viprs, the core strength work and also the leg workouts. I had decided no matter what that I was going to do 8 miles tonight because it was a really nice evening, a slight chill in the air a light breeze, it was just too nice to miss out on and after listening to the latest Marathon Talk podcast I was really motivated to get out.
The plan was to just go out for a nice easy run, nothing crazy because my legs were tired from yesterday's long run so the first mile was a comfortable 7:06 min/mi but that is where the easy running started and ended! I got to 5 miles and felt amazing, I felt like I was really shifting but still well within my limits, breathing was comfortable and legs felt strong so I decided to do the 10 miles home that I normally do. It wasn't until I got home and uploaded my garmin that I realised I was getting faster and faster on each mile.
I finished the 10.22 miles in 1:05:18 and an average pace of 6:23 min/mi! For the past couple of weeks I have been having doubts about this challenge of seeing if I can get a qualifying time for the Commonwealth games but after the past couple of runs I am back on the wagon and I believe once again that I can do this! I'm still a long way from the pace required but onwards and upwards and I feel amazing! Ok, I haven't really broken the sound barrier but to be running 6:23 average pace and feel comfortable is a nice feeling to have. I'm really fired up for tomorrow evenings training session and really looking forward to the Cross Country racing this weekend.