Sunday, October 7, 2012

Alicante Half Marathon

 This was the third Alicante HM and had a much improved route this year, going through the centre of town and out past my house, returning to town via the cost and then doing a zig-zagging route through the centre. I didn´t think it was that hilly when I studied the route but I had my mind changed for me by the end. I found this one tougher than Alcoy which, for those that don´t know, is built on the side of a mountain and has considerably more metres of elevation.

I won´t go into my prep, suffice to say that after almost arriving at the start line I realised I´d forgotten my chip. One frantic taxi ride later, followed by an inadequate warm-up and we were off. I´d decided I wasn´t going to look at my Garmin during this race and try to run on feel. Consequently I set off stupidly fast, regularly clocking kilometres around the 4-4:20 mark. I felt bloody good though so thought I´d be ok. Then we hit the first hill. I didn´t push too much on the hill and let those I´d stormed past earlier take me over, thinking that I´d recuperate and come back later. However, it didn´t happen and I realised my legs were drained. From that moment on, I was getting overtaken regularly. I´d also decided not take gels but I did put together a honey and lemon drink to sip from on the route. This meant I was more or less running on my own reserves  but this was what I´d planned all along. So...from kilometre 8 to kilometre 21 my legs felt heavy and every stride was laborous, but my mind was strong and I was really pleased with my attitude. On some of the later hills I passed plenty of walkers and started to hold my own a bit more to stop people over-taking.

Finally, after a 3 kilometre climb to the finish I arrived in 1:46:46. I think if the course had been flat I would have hit 1:40 with no problem but you can´t be displeased with a PB. All in all, this was a tough old bird.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Time to back yourself

It´s getting to the business end of the experiment and I should be happy. After the most horrible summer of stress I can remember, which involved a series of bad lifestyle choices, which then culminated in one great one, I got myself back on track.

After not running throughout July and August I suddenly found myself 12 weeks away from a marathon with clogged lungs, blood sugar levels rising and falling like a rollercoaster, and little training in my legs. A summer in which I desperately tried to work out why I didn´t like my life had ended with a huge self-kick up the backside and a new found self-identity that demanded I put things right.

So...fags in the bin, sugar in the bin and running shoes back on. If I was going to get ready for the marathon I needed to change my running style and do something drastic to my endurance. So I thought the best thing would be to quit sugar. I´d heard plenty about the wall and how it comes on runners when their bodies need to change from sugar-burning to fat-burning during a race (I know I´m simplifying things here) so, no more bread, pasta, soft drinks, cakes, sweets, chocolates, potatoes and loads and loads of protein, nuts and veg with a little fruit here and there. I´ve not foresaken sugar completely. I´ll still have some honey in my green tea and in my yoghurt but that´s about it.

As for the running, it´s been a struggle. To take such a long break and then try to immediately put the miles back in my legs is just not practical. My feet and calves have really suffered. However, in the last week or so, with 6 weeks to the marathon, I´m noticing signs of improvement. I did a 2hr LSR on Sunday and I was ok to run again by Tuesday. There is hope.

Or at least there would be if it wasn´t for my childlike fantasy world in which I run races for guts and glory. Instead of concentrating on my training, I´ve entered a half-marathon this weekend. I promised myself I wasn´t going to but it´s in Alicante, my local town, and the route is such an improvement on last year I just couldn´t help myself. I´ll be running past my house and my office and am obviously going to win. At least that´s what my fantasies tell me. I realise this has a chance of knackering me to the extent that I´m not ready for the marathon but I just couldn´t help it. I´m impatient and what to check out where I´m at. How will my diet, my aerobic training and my new-found self-resilience serve me?

My six-year-old daughter said it best. ´Papi, run as fast as you can right from the start and keep going all the way round as fast as you can, and that way you win´? Child geniuses do exist you know.