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Disaster!

I’ve had a bit of a trauma this week.

I’m in my final cycle of training. 13 weeks today I’m going for my sub 3 attempt. Do or die. I’ve been in training for 8 months. It will have been 10 months of my life dedicated to this one goal. Everything is playing second fiddle to this. I’m getting up at stupid o’clock to do runs before 11+ hour shifts, finish work, shower, food, bed. I had to get up at 05.00 on my day off to get a run before the worst of the heat in our heatwave recently. As I said I’m in the final bit. The plan is tailored to my race, I’ve just got to follow it through to the end, which is the marathon.

Then on Friday, out of the blue, I got an email from my marathon saying they’ve decided to move it to April.

10 months on countdown to that fast and flat race and they’ve moved it. Just like that. Not because they had to, or because it benefits the runners, but because it’s more profitable and convenient for them.

There were some choice words screamed into Twitter.

I was livid, as you can imagine. I had to regroup and start looking for another race. Ideally I wanted a local, flat, marathon at the end of October. I googled flat marathons and all I could find was Chester in October. I’ve done Chester before and I remember it as being hilly. It goes into Wales and back. It was all they had so I had to book it. It’s 3 weeks too early (2nd of October instead of the 23rd), hilly, and it’s the week after the Warrington half marathon. My plan was designed for me specifically so it’s tailored around racing Warrington half, then carry on training to the full marathon. So now my plan doesn’t work and I have to throw my time at Warrington or I’ll have nothing in my legs for Chester. Suddenly sub 3 moved from being a really big ask to very, very doubtful.

I was stressing out, trying to work out how to jury rig my plan. It has me on two weeks taper (light running) before the marathon and a rest day on the Sunday before, which is when the half is happening. I looked up the other flat marathons and it was Blackpool and Manchester, both in April. I’m running the Manchester to Liverpool ultra in April. So that would mess the training up for one or the other. I was so stressed and nothing was working.

Then, randomly and totally unexpectedly, somebody on twitter tweeted a bit of an advert for a race they were doing. On the 23rd of October. Flat as a pancake (5 meter elevation over 5K) doing 8 laps of a 5K racing car circuit. OK, that sounds really boring, just running around a big track 8 times, but it is ideal for my sub 3 attempt. The only downsides are it looks to be on an exposed site so wind might be an issue, and it’s in Bedford so I’m going to have to get up about 04.00, drive for 3 hours, run for 2.59 (better not be any more!) then drive back again.

I DON’T CARE!

My plan works again, I have a race on the proper day, I can go all in for Warrington half, which is what I wanted to do as it will give me an idea what my expected full marathon time will be. I can treat Chester as a fast-ish training run. To be honest, if it wasn’t for the fact they don’t refund you if you cancel, I would sack Chester off. It was actually a mistake, now I’ve found Bedford, but it was the least worst option based on the information I had when I booked it.

All that because some greedy money grubbers wouldn’t honour their commitment. If they want to move it to April, run the October race then run it again in April. It’s not rocket science. Anyway, I’ve asked for a refund. The organiser’s head on a platter would be nice, but given their contempt for their customers I doubt they’ll oblige. Rude. I had to cancel the reservation for accommodation we’d made as well. Grrrr.

I’ve just today found out our Lisa has gone and got a really bad batch of the covids. Splitting headache, soaked in sweat and barking like a seal. Poor sausage. At least she’s fully jabbed up, so it’s about being terribly poorly rather than dead. I don’t remember what ours was like, but I’m fair sure we weren’t as bad as that.

In other news, that heatwave was a bit rum. Trying to go to sleep when it was 26C at midnight. In Warrington! That’s just ridiculous. Of course the climate change deniers were busy calling everyone a snowflake and saying about 1976.

Then we had the start of the kid’s summer holidays. And Brexit came home to roost. Last summer we were banned from France, this year was the first test.

The government desperately tried to blame the French for the 5 hour queues at Dover.

The tories just are.

And some random twitter

Good to know.

Later,

Buck.

All Change.

I did my long awaited test half marathon on Sunday. I larded up and rested for two days beforehand to give myself the best possible shot at it.

It was windier than I would have liked, and by an ironic bit of bad timing, Garmin (my gps sports watch) are having issues. The first time I’ve noticed any problem in 11 years of running and it’s on an important test run. Typical. The problem seems to be the live pace indicator. One second it’s telling you you are running too slow, then next too fast. Not ideal when you are trying to pace at your limit for 13 miles.

Anyway, I’ve checked everything in every way I can think of, and although the live pace is all over the place, the distance is exactly accurate, and even when glitching my watch can tell the time, so the overall time for my half should be right. My last half was 1.29:19 (and that was a huge PB) I ran this one in 1.26:44!

I was happy with that. It vindicates Camille’s plan. I’ve only been on the plan 7 weeks and I’ve absolutely smashed my PB. Then I wanted to know where that puts me in the grand scheme of things. Is that good? I googled “what is a fast time for a half marathon?” and this was my first result:

That’s age on the left, then the columns are Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and World Record. According to that I’m 8 minutes into Elite territory! Which to me means the chart is wrong or the bar is set low at my age.

I was clicking through some other data on my watch and I came across this:

Again, I was suspicious, and had no point of reference, so I googled it.

According to that, I’m in the excellent range for an 18-25 year old man!

Hang on a minute, am I getting good?

I had a thought and looked where my newfound pace would place me, on the basis of last year’s Warrington half marathon. The Warrington half has the cantilever bridge and a some long, dragging hills, so it’s not a given, but if I could hold my current PB, that would put me in the top 20, and a podium for my age group! It’s all pie in the sky at the moment, but I put on Twitter “Got to be said though, I much prefer working towards results, rather than half-arseing a finish.”

That thought kept playing on my mind. The Warrington half is in 10 weeks, so I can train for the hills a bit. But if I was to continue training, next year I could be top 10 overall! I really, really, like that thought. Old, useless, duffer me, actually in the mix! I’ve decided to postpone the 100 mile run for next year. That is just too long. It would take me years to get in contention for that. It would just be aiming for a “finish”, but at half and marathon distance I can aim for a good result. If, over 14 months, I can drop 50 seconds a mile, over hills (that’s two big asks) I could actually win. It’s a massive goal, but so were all the others before I got stuck in. So, no lack of ambition, as usual. Lets see if my body will cash the cheques my gob is writing. It’s all exciting stuff for me though.

After the idiot run debacle I decided I need something with a wide fit and lots of toe room. These have just arrived.

They aren’t “super-trainers”, they are just supposed to be comfortable, everyday, plodders. I’ve not run in them yet, (today was speed intervals) but they feel nice and roomy.

Another big change is Bozo has been given the push.

Not before the, in no way biased, media had a last desperate attempt to sway tories

Huzzah! Twitter has been buzzing for days.

I dug out the appropriate attire

And then he finally announced he has resigned. But not for another 3 months. Grrrrrr.

The garden is coming on nicely so I took some snaps.

It’s all a bit jungle-y and not organised, but there are nice bits all over.

These are going to look great when they grow in. Two named hostas (the mixed bunch I got was a con) and two named ferns.

Wendy has just finished with another bad bout of plague weakness. Horrible thing. I had just broke the 10 stone barrier, I was feeling smug, job done, when it smashed me as I was riding to the shops. All weak, sweating and panting. I troughed my bodyweight in biscuits to try to make it go away. And now I’m back on the diet. At least mine was just a one off.

I’ve got a test of resolve next week. Work have been starting me at about 09.30-ish. To fit in an 8 mile run (get up, shaved, coffee, stretch, go for run, stretch, shower, food, go to work) takes me 3 hours 5 minutes. It’s a bit earlier getting up than I’d like, but I can do my run while I’m still fresh. Next week I have two 07.25 starts and an 08.00. Meh. I’m not getting up for those. Which means I have to do an 11 hour shift, ride home, then force myself out for a run. It’s good discipline training, I suppose.

I just wanted to record my new plans (and share some schadenfreude) so a bit of random Twitter and I’m done.

The American situation reached hideous levels.

A Pastor gave it both barrels

Back to how America was for women in the ’50s.

Later,

Buck.

More Of The Same. Much More.

We’ve had a few things going on.

I was worried about Wendy, she’s been having small coughing bouts every day for over a year. Then I read on Twitter that one of the after effects of Long Covid is pulmonary fibrosis, a stiffening of the lungs that reduces function until death. That is less than ideal. I nagged Wendy into going to see the doctor, who referred her for a lung x-ray. The good news is they’ve said there is no apparent issue, case closed, so she’s not going to die. The bad news is the implied “suck it up” medical advice for her ongoing cough. Meh.

We took a mini break to north Wales. It was only 4 days, and it was only 50 minutes away, but it was a complete change of scene and felt like a proper break.

I got to do some “Chariots Of Fire” running.

And we went to Bodnant Gardens again. Always lovely.

When we came back I was surprised to be back on 2 shifts a week. I thought work had picked up. I asked and they have a definite start date now. The automated sorting machinery is running in the morning and evening as they ease the new tech in, but the whole thing goes properly live on the 25th of July. Then it will be all hands to the pumps. I can enjoy the last few quiet weeks now I have a set date. I’ll be a sad panda when I’m trying to fit my training in around full time work again. Money or leisure. It’s an either/or thing.

Training is going well. Sort of. I was very bored with Camille’s plan, it was too easy and too repetitive. Get up, run 8 miles, easy, then go to work. 6 days a week. OK, it’s not quite that dull. Long run one day, specialist training (hills, sprints, etc) one day, but mainly it’s 8 miles, easy. It was boring.

Then I was talking to someone on Twitter and he said about running from one end of one of my run loops (Carr Mill Dam, St Helens) to the end of another of my run loops (Wigan, where the old canal meets the Mersey). He’d run it one end to the other. Being me, I decided to run it as a loop. 31 miles.

Basically it was all the dumb I swore I’d never do again after reading that article.

I hadn’t trained for it, was winging it, all attitude and no preparation.

I set off in my ASICS (the trainers that were rubbing so badly I ended up buying a bunch of new pairs. They have been alright on shorter runs, but you can see where this is going) wearing a running vest stuffed with 2½ litres of water and energy powder. There’s an extra 6 pounds of weight. On a hot day. I was cruising for 20 miles, (which, by no coincidence, is about the distance of my long runs on my training plan) then it started to hit me. My feet swelled with the heat, the weight, and the distance, my toenail was getting battered. By 24 miles the wheels had truly fallen off. My pace had dropped and I was trying to run on the outside of my foot because my big toenail was so painful, which used different muscles, causing my calves to cramp. I made it to 29.6 miles but then I had to quit. I limped home in a sorry state.

My toenail had gone a funny colour and was painful to even have the shower water hitting it. I asked the ultra runners on Twitter (they are always losing nails, it’s one of the joys, apparently) and someone said I had a blister under the nail. I had to stab it to release the pressure. That was a great relief. It was still bashing on everything so I’ve had to clip it back and file it flat. I’ve been for two runs since and it’s fine and dandy again.

So basically, breaking the plan to go off and half-arse a stupid long run for which I hadn’t trained wasn’t a great idea.

Some would say slightly ill judged. Possibly.

Then, as if by magic, the plan started to make sense. I noticed some of the boring 8 miles, easy, runs had times. Over the weeks the times have come down, 8.30m/m, 8.15, 8.00. Then today the plan was for my long run, but instead of boring, slow run, it was this beast:

That’s run 11 miles fast, then faster, faster, then 4 miles, when you are getting a bit tired, at sub 3 marathon pace.

That’s more like it!

I can see the point of the plan now.

This is my last week “trial period” with this plan. Next Monday I’m going to run a test half marathon. If the plan is working, and I’m considerably faster than my last half, I’ll start it again from week one. If not, I’ll switch back to the Advanced Marathoning plan. It’s brutal but effective. But after next Monday I commit to one plan, then I’ve got 16 weeks until my official sub 3 attempt. That still seems like a big ask. Focusing times.

I have this thing for small cars. I love the Fiat 500, the original Mini, the 2 seater Smart car, etc.

Saw this on a film and loved it!

But then I looked it up. It’s no aircon, windows don’t open, no airbags, 1 star safety rating, 216cc and 13bhp. OK, maybe not.

Then I read about of class of Japanese mini cars (Kei cars) that are limited to tiny dimensions and 660cc engines.

I nearly talked myself into this:

But again, the reality is abysmal. 50mph flat out and screaming. Won’t go up hills. And, being a novelty import, £8K! Again, maybe not.

Right, catch up the Twitterverse and I’m out of here.

Some commuting advice

A brilliant thread on some geezer in some TV show.

Chum had a moment.

And on that sour note,

Later,

Buck.