Sometimes not racing

Over the last few weeks I haven’t raced much. Having run quite a few events throughout the year I felt as though it would be good to have a week or so not pushing myself and to relax a little. I have still been running around 60 miles a week including track which is pretty big and I did a few long runs with friends on the Sundays between the Isle of Wight Fell running series and now.  Two weeks not racing was good, it was a little strange but it was actually great fun to be the other side of the barriers cheering on friends at the Royal Parks Half Marathon on Sunday 11th October. Myself and Lorna used the app to track everyone and make sure we were in the right place at the right time to see everyone fly passed. Having taken it relatively easy for a couple weeks I decided to have a weekend of 5ks. I had already signed up to the Battersea Park 5k on Sunday 18th and also decided to do the Hilly Fields parkrun on Saturday.

Since joining The Running Works/ Run Fast and finishing Race to the Stones 100k I have been going to Mile End Stadium for Track Tuesday consistently, sometimes just a couple days after a race. My times on track have been coming down and therefore I knew I was due a 5k PB at some point. This was mainly because I hadn’t done a flat fast 5k in a while. I went to Hilly Fields parkrun on Saturday because I knew it would be great fun, having been a few times over the last couple years to promote the London Marathon Store when I was working there. As well as being fun I knew it was Hilly as the name suggests so wasn’t aiming for a PB but a course PB. Feeling well rested I went out with the lead pack and managed to hold a good pace hitting the inclines. I guess the training weekend on the South Downs Way, running over Seven Sisters and doing the Isle of Wight Fell running series has helped me in terms of getting stronger running up hills. I was pushing the pace but felt good so went with it. I managed to open up a gap at the front and finish in a time of 17:05. I love runs when you surprise yourself, this was one of those runs as I felt strong and managed to get a personal best by one second. 

   Having clocked a new PB I was wondering whether I would feel tired for the Run Through Battersea 5k or whether I would feel stronger because of the hill running. Luckily I woke up on Sunday feeling good. A few friends had signed up to the race, Jonny & Mark (aka Freya) for the 5k and Anna doing the 10k. Jonny has been training for Dublin Marathon and therefore is in great shape at the moment. Due to having to pay the same amount of money for the 5 or 10k not many people do the 5k so I had a feeling it might be me and Jonny running together at the front.  

 We sped off pretty quick, we were running at about 5:30 min/mile pace and ran together for most of the first lap. Having done 18k the previous day Jonny couldn’t quite hold the pace so I pulled away a little and managed to keep a consistent pace for the race. Generally when I’ve raced in the past I sit on someone’s shoulder and then try and take them near the end but on Sunday I wanted a PB and to push myself well under 17 minutes so I went for it. It was good to have Jonny racing, I felt under pressure to hold the pace and get across the line first. I managed to finish in 16:34 knocking 31 seconds off my 1 day old personal best. 

I felt relief that I’d managed the sub 17 and that the track work and reasonably high mileage was paying off. Jonny finished in second in 17:09 which was a massive PB too. Mark knocked one second off his PB as well; basically what I’m saying is if you want to run a PB you should run on track and get involved in the next Run Through 5k/10k in November. If it fits in the race calendar I’ll definitely be back again.

Basking in our glory, a few friends (Emily, Michalis & Mark) met us in Battersea Park to add on a few miles and head for food. We went along the river banking 8 or so miles and rewarded ourselves at Byron burger which is becoming a bit of a regular thing.  

 Around the 5ks at the weekend I chilled out and I now feel ready to take on the Bristol + Bath Marathon at the weekend. There won’t be a PB but it’ll be a nice run and great to have family up from Devon to support me. Luckily I have a week off work next week to recover and then I’ll be gearing up for another marathon, the first of the Trailscape race series on Saturday 31st October.

I would give people shoutouts for incredible achievements over the last couple weeks/weekends but this blog post would be the longest ever. You know who you are, keep being awesome and inspiring!

See a lot of you soon

Steve 

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The Isle of Wight Fell Race Series 2015

Last weekend I was lucky enough to run the Isle of Wight fell running series. Due to running with the Victoria Park Harriers a few times over the last few months I heard about the series and thought it would be a good idea to get involved. I’m always keen to take on different running races and challenges and get out of London every now and then. I have to say thankyou to Neil Cook for letting me know about the weekend and nagging me to run.

The only fell race I had done, before heading to the IoW, was the Orion Harriers 5k. This was a couple of months back, I really enjoyed it despite the course being a shock to the system with steep ascents and descents. That race had 800+ft of elevation gain and that was hard work, I kind of thought the IoW fell races would be the same but that was me being naive. I had the Friday off work so me and Lorna did a steady 10k along the river in the morning, it was a good shakeout run. I then chilled for the rest of the day and got packed up ready for the mini adventure.  

I wore my trusty Adios Boosts so I had the option to race in them if the ground was firm enough. 

The journey was relatively long but luckily chatting to the Harriers and keeping myself occupied with selfies and pretending to be a professional photographer the few hours disappeared quickly.  

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 Once we got there we got some food and headed for an early night. After all we had 3.8k, 12k & a half marathon to tackle over the next two days. The 3.8k started at 11am so we had plenty of time to chill, get a good breakfast, collect race numbers, look at maps (with too many contour lines for my liking) and warm up.  

   
When I go to races with other people due to chatting etc I almost forget I’m racing. I guess because I hadn’t trained for the races and hills specifically I just took each race as it came and was pretty relaxed because I didn’t know what times were good or bad and what I should be capable of.

The first race was the St Boniface Fell. It was 3.8k long with 235 m of ascent. I briefly looked at the 2014 results and predicted any time around 20 minutes would be good. Looking at the stats I knew it would be hard but I wasn’t prepared at all for how long and steep some of the climbs were. I guess if you are really strong the whole route would be runnable but the majority of the runners were hands on knees clambering up the hill, myself very much include do. I didn’t expect to be breathing so heavy for so long. Once I reached the top I was so relieved to be descending. This for me was the most fun part of the weekend, letting my legs do the work. It became harder on steeper parts but overall the descent and the few hundred metres on the road leading to the finish were awesome. I finished the first race in 20:18 placing 28th, not too bad for a roadrunner I thought. That thought was immediately replaced with “I’ve got to do 12k with nearly twice as much ascent in three and a half hours!!” 

After each race the team headed down to the sea for a dip to aid recovery, you don’t get to do this in London 😦  

 My approach to recover between races was to eat A LOT!! I also got an hour or so of sleep which I found I needed between laps on 24 hour team relays before. I didn’t leave much time for warming up but woke up and got into the race after a few kilometres. I thought there couldn’t be a tougher ascent than on the first race but a few miles in I came across the large steep steps. You have to pull yourself up using the railings and it is knackering. I’m struggling to find the words really. However once up the steps you can run again and I knew the descent was coming up. I like the fact each race finishes with a long downhill section so you feel good then and your memory is almost wiped of the pain you felt before. The downhills and views were definitely worth the effort. 

I finished the Ventnor Horseshoe in 1:01:15 in 22nd. Again I was thinking “I’ve got a bloody half marathon tomorrow!!” Luckily we went for some good pub grub, pie and chips I thought was well earnt and would be good fuel. The half marathon started at 10:30. I felt sore and whilst warming up was thinking “why am I doing this and who thinks this is a good idea?” A few moments later and I was enjoying the initial steady climbs and taking in the great views. I was mentally ticking off elevation gain and thinking “yeh that’s got to be about 400m ascent done, it’ll be all down hill from here” ha! I felt stronger as the race went on and enjoyed sliding though the mud and running through the wet ground with the water kicking up. I was chasing down runner after runner and loving the flows of the course through the trees. I tackled the steps one last time and felt strong along the flat sections and descending. I finished the Wroxhall Round in 1:33:38 in 19th. I really enjoyed the half and think I might have to search for more trail and fell races soon.  

   
In the team standings we finished 2nd. Being outside of the top 3 men for the team I didn’t contribute but running with faster runners from VPH etc I’m motivated to train harder and get faster and stronger to compete more. It was also amazing to see runners in various age categories doing so well, one man getting a course record. I love the fell running characters. One man was a spitting image of the Western States 100 founder Gordy Ainsleigh.

Overall the weekend was awesome, probably one of my favourites this year so far. Massive thanks to Neil, Simeon, Rob and all the Victoria Park Harriers for making me feel welcome and also for offering advice and tips on the routes. I look forward to being back on the Isle of Wight soon.

Massive well done to everyone that tore up Berlin Marathon, Ealing Half etc etc! There are too many of you to shoutout individually but you know who you are, you’re all legends!!

One last thing! Fingers crossed for those of you in the London Marathon ballot. 

Steve

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