Cool Runnings

April 14, 2013

With the warmer weather apparently just around the corner, it was time for the start of the running season which saw me donning a race number not once, but twice in one week with events at both ends of the running spectrum.

The first race saw me and another member of Team Thursday head up to Parliament Hill in North London for a track meet with the Highgate Harriers. We’d both entered the 800m with me being the definite novice of the two. Due to my lack of track experience, I’d entered a rather pessimistic time as an estimate which saw me seeded in the last heat, alongside what can only be described as a year 9 PE class.

The other runner from Team Thursday put down a solid marker in an early heat, only 4 seconds of their PB before it was my time to line up. With the rain spitting and making the track a bit slippy I took my place on the inside lane, looking comfortably over the heads of the runners in front of me.

The gun went off and I slipped as my lack of spikes put me at a clear disadvantage, however luckily a false start was called and we returned to our lanes. On the second start I was more cautious  and kept my footing, I managed to take most of the other competitors on the first bend before everyone cut in from the lanes with just one competitor in front of me. I kept right on her heels despite calls from the sidelines urging me to overtake and take the wind but I just couldn’t! Realising that this was my race to lose and face never hearing the end of it, I managed to find a burst of strength coming round the last corner and broke away on the home straight, saving my pride and winning the heat, just…

Seeing as this was the first time I’ve done an 800m, I was guaranteed a PB and was pleasantly surprised by my time of 2:31.

Photo: Martin Addison

Parliament Hill Running Track. Photo: Martin Addison

At the weekend it was time for another round of the ongoing battle between me and my main rival in such sporting events. We’d entered the Unity Fitness Half Marathon up in Hackney which consisted of a 6 lap course around the Marshes. This was the first time that I’ve done this distance that hasn’t either been at the end of a triathlon or off-road along the ‘undulating’ Dorset coast, so I was keen to get a good marker down.

With the heavy rain the night before, the start of the course along the side of the the football pitches was quite muddy and difficult under foot, but for the majority it was along paths which were fine. On the back end, the course turned and we followed the canal back to the start with a unhelpful wind to run into.

The event was very low key but really well organised, with a great atmosphere and a view of the Olympic stadium and park to provide inspiration. I was aiming for 1:40 but a stitch on lap 2 slowed me down and I never could claw it back. I found the distance manageable but I’m definitely not fit enough to run any further at the moment! Despite the distance taking its toll I managed to find the energy to spot and track down my rival over the last mile to pull off the steal of the century in the last 10 metres finishing in a time of 1:45 which I was pretty happy with.

We both agreed that it was a tough race and in less than ideal conditions which definitely made us pay. I’m glad I’ve now done the distance and can think about where I go from here. So now the season has started, let’s see how we improve!

So while the UK froze, the usual suspects of Lizzie, Simone and I headed out to pastures warmer for a bit of winter training over in Lanzarote. We were staying with TriSports Lanzarote with 11 others in their villa just outside Puerto del Carmen. We had a full schedule of training ahead and a coach to make sure we did it all!

When we arrived we were met by the beautiful views and searing heat, Lizzie and I looked at each other and just knew that this was exactly what we wanted when we booked the trip. We were picked up and headed to the villa where we would spend the week and met the others as they arrived throughout the day, soaking up the sun in between. With talk over the evening of the races that people were doing and the big miles that lay ahead we were quite nervous going into the first day wondering if we would be fit enough to survive the week. 

The next morning we headed down to the beach for a swim in the sea which was lovely, the water was crystal clear and a nice 20°C before heading back to the villa for breakfast and to get out and about on the bikes. For our first cycle we did a 125 km figure of eight around the island taking in some of the volcanic landscape Lanzarote has to offer. The entire island is very rocky and dry, giving the island a very black composition with whitewashed houses scattered across it. Oh and I should also mention, it’s very windy, all the time. When we returned we had the small matter of a 5 km run to ‘stretch the legs out’ before we could finally eat some lunch (6 pm by now) before returning for dinner (at 7 pm!).

Getting ready for a dip in the sea!

Getting ready for a dip in the sea!

This was a pattern that played out throughout the week with a swim in the sea in the morning, a bike and a run in various orders and of varying lengths, below is how the schedule panned out:

Friday – Sea swim (2 km), bike (125 km), run (5 km)
Saturday – Run to the beach (10 km), Sea swim (2 km), Bike Hill repeats (20 km), Strength
Sunday – Bike (160 km), run (5 km), Pool swim (1 km)
Monday – Sea swim (2 km), Long run (15 km), Afternoon off!
Tuesday – Sea swim (4 km IM route), Bike TT (50 km), Speed run (5 km)
Wednesday – Sea swim (3 km), Brick repeats (70 km bike, 5 km run).

In total we did approximately 14 km of swimming, 425 km of cycling and 50 km of running. Not bad for 6 days on holiday!

The view from the villa

The view from the villa

The highlights for me had to be when we did the Ironman swim because it was such a beautiful morning, the sea was pancake flat and crystal clear with the fish out in numbers, even at one point catching a glimpse of a school of tuna. Secondly the 100 mile bike ride was stunning, noted it was incredibly tough and I’ve never eaten so much while out on the bike, but it’s one of those achievements it’s nice to get ticked off.

Out on the bike

Out on the bike

On the last night (which was also my birthday) we headed into Puerto del Carmen for a meal and to the bar with everyone relieved to have survived the week and finally able to let their hair down a bit.

It was really great week and the villa was the perfect setting to chill out in between all the activities. Debs and Daz did a great job looking after, and cooking seemingly constantly for us. Everyone there that week helped make it really relaxed and I’m sure we’ll all be heading back sometime in the future. If you’re keen to head out to Lanzarote for a week or two training let me know and I can let you know all the details!

I had a video camera with me while I was away and put together a little video, make sure you watch in HD: