It’s been a while since my last entry and a mixed bag of results.
Since the beginning of July I’ve done a few parkruns, disappointed each time with my lack of speed, but I’ve tried more to concentrate on the bike, though you know how hard it is for me to resist a race opportunity on two feet!
Highlights (and lowlights) of the last couple of months have been:
Bucks and Beds County Tri Champs
I had great fun at this sprint triathlon with an open water lakeswim, slightly short bike at 18.5km and slightly long and tougher than usual off road run. My 5km pace was almost exactly the same as my PB marathon pace in April this year, so emphasised my loss of speed. My mood was lifted however, by my club winning the county championships with two age groups 1sts and three age group 2nds, myself included.
British Triathlon Tri Relays
Two weeks later at the same venue, my club entered two teams into the sprint relays in a swim-swim-swim-bike-bike-bike-run-run-run format. Given it was the same venue and I’d be resting between disciplines, I set myself time goals to beat each time from the previous race. But it wasn’t to be. I went second in the swim, which not only meant fewer people around to draft off/use for sighting and generally less race ‘pressure’ or motivation to perform, but my swim time included a short run along the bank after being ‘tagged’ and having to tiptoe into the lake over the pebbles as opposed to a floating start. The bike was a different course, rather than the 18.5km we did last time, two 10km loops and a significant wind. The run was the right length, and was also two laps but avoided the hilly bit at the far end of the lake, so I did manage to improve my run time a little at least, but this wasn’t helped by my trisuit zip failing on it’s third outing and having to throw a tshirt on top for the run to avoid a DQ on indecent exposure reasons!
Prudential Ride 100
I’d been worried about the logistical stresses of this race, but thanks to Alan, it went smoothly. I set off and had a ball racing through closed London Roads, and my average speed was much higher than I’d anticipated. However, a crash led to a big hold up of more than an hour a couple of hours in. Not knowing how long I’d be there, I didn’t benefit from a proper sit down rest, or take advantage to stretch, eat, or properly hydrate. I managed to get going again afterwards and maintained a decent pace, finishing not long after my estimated time, which taking into account the long delay I was delighted with.
Bearbrook 10km Club Handicap Race
I ran the club’s 10km race last August soon after moving to Aylesbury and it was hot and I found it tough. I was disappointed then with a finish time of 43:15, almost 3 minutes off my best, and my finish photos were ghastly! I haven’t done a 10km since. Now a Bearbrook member, I marshalled at the race this year, and instead took part in the club handicap race the following Friday evening. I knew I wouldn’t be on form or close to a PB but was aiming for sub 44 mins. I pushed hard, but finished in 45:02, again really rather close to my marathon pace.
I’ve grown rather fond of this stretch of England over the past year, first running the Druids Challenge, seeing 84 miles completed over 3 days last November. Subsequently I ran two legs of the Ridgeway Relay with my running club in the spring, and miles 8-15 have become quite familiar to me due to Wednesday club off-roaders and other training jaunts. I agreed to attempt to run the full 86 miles this weekend as a favour to a club-mate Luke, who last minute agreed to pace me in my 100 mile attempt in April. After dropping out of the 100 I somewhat regretted it! I knew this wasn’t a priority race for me, and with big races coming up couldn’t afford to push myself like I had at the 100 putting me out of the game for them. I’ve suffered particularly with my plantar fasciitis too lately, and have resorted to a rather attractive night splint and tried KT tape for the race for the first time. I said that if Luke dropped out at any stage, I wouldn’t carry on; and that if I could see detrimental effects, I would stop.
Luke had been ill all week, lost his voice and on the lemsips. And as I left work on friday, I could feel the tell-tale sore throat starting. I crossed my fingers, we’d both be sparky and recovered Saturday morning, but we were both croaking.
Luke suffered with calf cramps early on, but we made decent progress and had a good pacing strategy running from Ivinghoe Beacon to CP1 in Wendover manned by our lovely Bearbrook colleagues; up Coombe hill and Whiteleaf hill to CP2; through to CP3 at Lewknor, and CP4 at Nuffield Church. After checkpoint 4, came my favourite bit of the route, the gently undualting path towards the Stokes, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as usual, showing how tough I was finding it. Then I felt a very localised pain in my right calf, which I tried briefly to stretch out but couldn’t. It just felt too reminiscent to me of the onset of my hamstring issue in the 100, and I wasn’t willing to go there again; so I told Luke I’d be stopping at the next checkpoint, the half way mark. Two miles later than planned, we reached CP5, and I announced I was done. Luke got down some hot food and had a change of clothes, but after careful consideration also pulled out, which was almost certainly the right decision, and a phenomenal effort to get to 45 miles when unwell, with a previous longest distance of 36 miles! Looking at the stats also makes me feel less of a failure when I see there were 126 on the start list, of whom 29 didn’t start, and of the 97 who started, 33 didn’t finish, a 34% drop out rate.
Apart from these races, I’ve done Tring, Aylesbury and Wycombe parkruns, lots of Olympics viewing (some of it from my turbo trainer), got in a few medium-long bikerides, and a 20 mile off-road run with Alan before he tapered pre-UTMB…congratulations Alan!
At the Ridgeway, given we were both not feeling our best and a bit miserable, it had been a quiet run for us, affording lots of contemplation time for me. Are these really long distances for me? Should I try again? What about speed work? I feel quite despondent that I’ve dropped out of the TP100 and the Ridgeway 86 now, and also lost my speed so noticably. Perhaps I need to accept that I just can’t do what I did last year while also working full time as a doctor. Or perhaps I need to prioritise. I have recently thought about priorities a lot. In motivational interviewing techniques, when people use the excuse of not having time to do something, it can be rephrased as “not a priority for you”. I said this to myself and publicly about the Ridgeway race. I’ve recently applied for and been offered a job in South Africa, but realised it would almost certainly not be safe enough to run there. I had to admit my priorities for applying and in life. While medicine can be a rewarding career, it is my job; and running, sport and being outdoors and happy are my priorities. So I think it’s time to really focus on those priorities and set some SMART goals to go forward.