Berlin Marathon week 6 summary…the business end!

Sunday

Wow! That was an interesting start to the final week of training proper. Both Andy and I feeling it a bit and this run was a slog from start to finish. Expecting a bit of a grind I asked if we could do our add-ons at the start before completing 2 laps of Derwent/Howden reservoirs (a roughly 11 mile loop). Good job we did as I was ready to jack it in after lap one where we picked up club-mate Zak for his 16 mile long run. Zak’s arrival was a major boost giving us respite from the endless updates on each others aches, niggles and the tedious discussion about what to pack for Berlin!

That said, good to have some uncomfortable running again as the last few miles of the marathon won’t be pretty! A solid 24 miler to kick-off the final full week of training. Up until now I have focussed on fuelling the big training weeks, but this week I cut back the portions (sensibly) to try and get closer to racing weight. This may partly have contributed to feeling a bit crap and certainly didn’t feel exactly full of it going into Tuesday’s session..

Tuesday

In my morning run I encountered a familiar “phantom pain” in my hamstring. Not painful, no tightness, just a very occasional twinge. I’ve been here before in the few days leading up to Sheffield Half Marathon 2016, a race I trained through. At mile 9 whilst recording a 5.30 mile split my hamstring randomly tore in spectacular fashion. So, this time around the phantom symptom left me with a bit of a dilemma.

Its difficult (when the warning signs may well just be psychosomatic) to back off, as we all encounter numerous issues in any given training week! I opted to start the session and stop immediately if there was any sign of hamstring distress. Andy was in a similar boat with his glut so we were on the same page and both expected a DNF. The session was 20mins M /2mins, 4 x mile hard/2mins, 20mins M.

We started off in our usual routine of alternately leading the laps of the lake, but on lap 3 I was obviously holding Andy back as he came past early. I couldn’t help as I really wanted to see the session through without a setback, so I let him go (feeling guilty for not helping out.). My giddy garmin was giving decent splits out anyway, but we weren’t going as quick as it suggested.

We completed the first long rep and I was happy with how things felt, but opted to consolidate rather than hit the session hard. We jumped into the mile reps and I was surprised to see some impressive splits regardless of silly gamins. Unfortunately Andy had to throw the towel in after mile rep 1, but it was a smart decision and possibly one that will see him rewarded with a stonking marathon time.

I kept on going on my own, actually enjoying the session as the pressure was off, with the only goal being survival. I was pleased with the splits and entered the final M pace block feeling I could maintain the pace. I left the final sandwich session very happy- but again paces must be taken with more than a pinch of salt. If I had to guess I’d say paces were more like 5.26 and 4.53 as a guide.

M pace 1: 5.20 (149)

Miles: 4.45 (161), 4.46 (162), 4.41 (163), 4.43 (164)

M pace 2: 5.20 (158)

Strava link here

I did a little reflecting on recent sessions and again could be accused of cramming with a session on Friday, LR Sunday and session Tues…however(!).. I have to say this is one of those moments were I hold my hands up and say “life got in the way” and it HAD to be those days or nothing. Work is busy, home is busy and Hatti has just flown out to the World Mountain Running Champs, so fitting training around work and looking after the little one was always going to be tricky this week. This is the block where I say sod it and go for it and ultimately if it doesn’t work out…thats life! I tried.

Its such an amazing feeling to see Hatti finally jetting off in a GB tracksuit again, she’s understandably bloody excited!

The following day my legs felt ok running to work but the phantom sensation still loomed, with the occasional twinge. I made the decision on the run into work that the rest of this week would be easy. I’m pretty surprised to be honest that I’ve managed to string 5 1/2 weeks of c.100 miles together and any hard running in the next few days isn’t going to make a massive difference.

  Am Pm
Sunday 24
Monday Rest
Tuesday 4 Session 20mins/4xmile/ 20miles (16
Wednesday 6 10
Thursday Rest 13
Friday 6 10
Saturday 9 Rest
Total 99

I really want to go ahead with the planned “marathon paced” hit-out at Vale of York Half Marathon on Sunday, so I hoped that super-easy runs and lots of stretching/ general TLC would see me through! As I write this I still feel a little niggly, so my plan is to start at the planned pace/effort and if theres any doubt jump out and either complete an easy run or stop altogether.

Its been a fun block, I’ve really enjoyed training for this marathon despite missing the mountain training. It’s been a great excuse to eat plenty of Meridian products to help fuel and recover…but now its time to start thinking about racing weight, so I can’t eat as much as I’d like!

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Photo: All gone!

My biggest concern at present is whether I’m going to get a run in Berlin! I’m on the start list, with no number allocated (everyone else has one) and I haven’t received the “start-card” e-mail that everyone else has received…fingers crossed I can get it sorted! When I originally entered the race my computer crashed, resulting in me accidentally entering twice. I rang to rectify this and spent much of the year wondering if the guy who I spoke to quite understood my request. Looks like possibly he didn’t and may have cancelled both entries! I’m not going to lie its quite stressful!

In other news, I’m pretty excited to have put a bit of a race plan together for next years fell and mountain running season. Its tough finding the balance, as there are so many great  races and I want to do them all! Its going to be one hell of a challenge as I have so many weak areas in relation to fell and mountain racing, but I just cannot wait to have some fun and enjoy the thrill of racing without thinking about times.

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