Monday, 30 March 2009

Reading Half Marathon Report

First off, I just want to say well done to Idoia on completing her first Half Marathon (and indeed running event of any description) in a brilliant time of 2hrs 38mins. You've come a long way in a short time :)

Well that's the first event of the season done and dusted. It's my third attempt at the race and easily the most prepared I'd been for it. I wasn't really nervous beforehand, which I guess is the product of knowing I'd done a decent amount of training for it...could have been better (and has been worse).

Due to some enthusiastic people wanting to get there early, I was on the 7am bus out to the start...arriving there a full two hours before the race start. Still, the time actually passed by pretty fast and before we knew it we were walking down towards the start. We were actually slightly late for it, but with 18000 (registered) runners, it took almost twenty minutes for the back of the pack to cross the line.

I could only manage to set myself up beside the 2hrs 25min pace maker when crossing the line, but I'd soon dropped him, dodging all the traffic and was soon passing the 2hrs 20 minute guy. I'd started out strong and felt comfortable so just decided to stick with it. After another mile or so, I closed down and passed the 2hr 15 guy and the aim after that was to keep him behind me :)

There's only two hills on the course, both of which failing to cause any problems (I think the hills in Madeira were responsible for this) and I was feeling pretty good passing people walking up ... I remembered being in their shoes before and it wasn't a nice feeling.

I was still keeping a good strong pace, passing people and knocking off mile after mile. I was going faster than 10 minute mile pace which I was absolutely delighted with and reckoned I'd aim to keep that up for as long as possible. As I was coming up to the half way mark, I was looking really good for a 10km PB, so when I crossed the 10km mark I was delighted to see my Garmin registering 57m 36s, a PB by over five minutes (and non-stop to boot!).

I was still going strong for the next 2km or so, but after this my pace started to slow a bit. After the second of the two hills, I knew I was on the homeward stretch and had around 5 miles to go. Despite the slower times, I was still feeling good and had it in my head that I could beat 2hrs 10m and get home non-stop.

It started to get tough after 10 miles in and I was paying for the faster pace I was setting earlier. Up to 18km in I still had an average of 6 mins per km, so I decided to try and keep that if I could - only 5km to go right, same as my normal small lap and what I'd consider my "easy" run.

And then I blew...I literally saw the 11 mile marker, reached it, said I'd just get back for a non-stop run and about 200m afterwards I had to stop! The last 2 miles were very stop start and it was a real struggle to get home. I kept setting myself little goals but just couldn't get back into a rhythm. I managed a decent final home run sprint, but immediately had to go over to a railing where I almost got sick!

It probably took me 10 mins to recover but I was still absolutely delighted. While I only acheived half the pre-race goals (enjoy the race), I'm still counting this run as a massive success. The first 10km of the race were fantastic, the next 8km good (considering the first 10km) and the ending was the only down-side. That said, I still set a new Half Marathon PB of 2hrs 12mins 40secs which I'm pretty darn happy with.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Training Load - No hiding from the stats

I've been playing around with a pretty cool plugin for Sport Tracks recently called Training Load which gives a measure of your current fitness level based on your activity over the preceeding couple of weeks. There are a couple of statistics of importance (good explaination here), but a picture speaks a thousand words ...

The area in dark blue is essentially the important bit. It shows my peak fitness last year was around October, which is surprising considering my big event for the year was at the end of August. You can see the times where I was doing a lot of training (red line) dragging the blue line up. It could certainly be better at the moment, but it could certainly be a lot worse as well...looks like I'll have to get the finger out over the coming weeks.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Reading Half Marathon Preview

Only two and a bit days to go to the first event of the year - not really looking forward to it but still interested to see how I'll get on. I'm not too sure how to approach it really, but I think I'll probably start off pretty easy (and hope not to get caught up in the event), getting into a rhythm and hopefully have a bit in reserve to push on through the last few kilometers.

One of my goals for the start of the year was to beat the two hour mark in either Reading or Wokingham half marathons...let me say now that it's (extremely) unlikely to happen this weekend. Wokingham is a lot more realistic now that it's been postponed until the end of May, but that's kinda cheating :)

Either way, I'm hoping to set a PB at the weekend for an event that I've done twice. I'm not too sure of my previous timings, but they were around 2hrs 30m and 3hrs. I'd be happy with 2hrs 15m at the weekend and a non-stop run. There are pacers in the race, so I think I'll start off with the 2hr 15m one and see how that goes.

To summarize, here are the goals for the weekend
  • Run the full race non-stop
  • Aim for a negative split
  • Just going to run as I feel - will wear the Garmin, but won't be restricting HR or focusing on nasal breathing.
  • Enjoy the event

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

The week so far

Got out for a few runs since my last post, mainly low HR ones. The longest on I done was on Saturday, after Ireland's stupendous victory in the Six Nations, where I got myself out of the pub and went for a run :) Thankfully I was only on soft-drinks, so had plenty of sugar in my system.

That run actually managed to take in a bit of the Reading Half Marathon route I'll be doing this weekend...all in the wrong direction though :) Oh well, it's better than nothing. I managed to get in a decent hill as well (I'll be going down it on Sunday but will be going up a similar one later in the run), so happy enough with that. I pushed it out for the last couple of minutes as well, but would struggle to hold that pace for a long time at the weekend.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

A long (in time not distance) slow run

First long run in ages tonight. Decided to stick with the low heart rate training that I'd started a few weeks ago - will aim to keep that up for the next few weeks. In all, done a tad under 7.5km in just over an hour - hardly flying. Average HR was 151bpm with an average pace of 8m 08s per km!

Managed to keep the nasal breathing up for the most of it as well. Pretty boring run besides though.

MRI scan

Had that MRI scan this morning ... was a bit weird. I went into it with stories of people being scared in the confined space, thinking they were all a bit "soft", but it is actually a bit daunting as you're going through the tunnel. I wasn't exactly scared, but it was a bit freaky with all the noise (wasn't as loud as I'd assumed though).

The scanner kept asking me to hold my breath, which was tough for some of the longer durations - reminded me a bit of how I feel while swimming.

Exercise wise, I haven't done a tap since last Saturday (actually first football training session was yesterday but was very easy). Hoping to get out on the bike tomorrow at lunch...we'll see. Maybe a run would be a better idea.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Well fatty...time to lose some weight

I'm taking part in (what I think is) a pretty cool study at the moment, to compare the body fat measurements from a new bio-electric impedance device against my actual body fat (as measured by X-Ray and MRI). I done the first part of it yesterday and I'll be doing the MRI tomorrow morning.

The results from yesterdays examination was the following (from memory but will be getting a report in the next month or so):
  • I weight 111.5kg (weigh in this morning had me at 109.55kg so my scales is probably off)
  • My body fat percentage is 27.7% - can't remember which device took this measurement or if it was the average.
  • My Bone Density is pretty high - think the value 3.4 was mentioned and the guy said it's the second highest he'd seen.
  • I look fat on an x-ray :)
The body fat percentage is probably the most interesting part of this ... according to those figures, my body contains almost 31kg of body fat. Now assuming I lost EVERY single kilo of this, that'd put my weight down at 80.5kg which equates to a BMI of 23.77 (I'm 1.84cm tall). Considering elite male athletes only get down to around the 6% - 13% mark, then it looks extremely unlikely that I'd every get into the "normal" BMI range (18-25).

I'm not going to get into a debate about BMI, just to say this doesn't really bother me - it's absolutely great as a risk factor for populations but individual results may vary - maybe my high bone density means I actually am big boned :)

So, if I aim for the lower end (18%) of the fitness category described on the wiki article, then I've got 13.2kg's of body fat to lose (using the formula M x (A - D)/(1-D), where M = current mass, A = actual body fat percentage (as a decimal) and D = desired body fat percentage). That puts my target weight at 98.3kg (BMI = 29.03) - a good target :)

Monday, 16 March 2009

What I've been up to lately

Been on holidays for the last week or so in Madeira, which was very nice indeed. Very nice break, good weather for the most part with plenty of walking and a little running thrown in for good measure. Some lovely meals, snacks, etc., etc., but I figure the walking counteracted that a bit. It'll be interesting to hop on the scales tomorrow.

So back to the present then. I've got the Reading Half Marathon in less than two weeks! To say I'm in trouble for it is an sub 2hr goal at the start of the year is a distant memory. I'm still hoping to set a PB and run it non-stop, but more about that closer to the time.

Nothing major planned besides, but there's a few options in the pipeline that I need to sort out sooner rather than later (a duathlon and a 10km).

Thursday, 5 March 2009


Got out for a cycle at lunch today...same route as I done on Tuesday but done it eight minutes faster. Most of that eight minutes was made up at a point where we had to stop on Tuesday to wait for one of the lads who'd got a phone call. I was a bit surprised by this, as I felt I was taking it a bit easier on Tuesday.

To that end, went back and had a look at my average speeds for some of my rides last year and was surprised to see a few of them were actually faster than todays ride. I think the main difference with them though was that they were done with other riders.

In any case, I'm very happy with my 27kmph average today...hopefully get that up over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Weight Update

31/12/08: 108.45kg
30/01/09: 108.52kg
03/03/09: 108.61kg

Creeping up slowly, but hopefully now that the longer days and better weather are on the way...

I done it (again)

Haven't posted anything in a few days. Training's been a bit mixed (as seems to be the norm at the moment)...good efforts followed by absolutely lazy days. So here's a summary of what I've been doing since the last post:
  • Saturday - 51km cycle, pretty tired after it but was very happy with it. Averaged 25.5kmph, which I'm sure would have been better due to the first few km's being in an urban environment.
  • Tuesday (lunch) - 26.5km cycle with two lads from work. Averaged 24.3kmph in windy conditions, but I could have definitely gone better.
  • Tuesday (night) - went out for a run. Absolutely terrible effort. Started focusing on doing some low HR stuff and nasal breathing. Averaged 7m 02s per km over 5.62km.
  • Wednesday (lunch) - got down to the pool.
Hoping to get out on the bike again tomorrow - really keen on that at the moment and while exactly the opposite with the running :(