Monday, 23 August 2010

The Big Move

It only seems like yesterday that it was early June and I had just ran my 5000 PB at Watford, England were still in the World Cup and I received a scholarship offer from the University of Portland. The last few months have flown by and all of a sudden I find myself writing this blog with just three days before I fly out to the USA. The journey over the next couple of years will hopefully be a productive one and it would be strange not to feel excited about the venture. I have become accustomed to moving away from home in the past, through travelling and university here in England, but this time I will be thousands of miles away from my family and above all my girlfriend, Jennifer. I have no doubts that I will cope out in the States, but I feel selfish in the respect that I am doing all of this while Jenny has to stay at home and do two-years work experience in order to apply to do a doctorate. However, the continued support that Jenny and her family have given me will hopefully pay dividends and I can come back with more qualifications and as a better athlete to further our lives in the UK.

Anyway, with that bit over with this week saw the completion of another steady week of base mileage and I can now look forward to sharpening up in September for the forthcoming cross country season. I ran a 10k trail race on Saturday as part of my long run, which was interesting to say the least, but went well. The main concern of the last week is how I have felt pretty fatigued during a few of the runs, which is probably normal due to the amount of miles I have clocked during the last ten weeks. I think some of the fatigue is also mental in that most of the running completed has been on my own and I can't wait to get to Portland and run with the team as I think it will make a massive difference. With all these miles I have got myself into the best shape I have ever been in and hopefully come October, with a few specific 10k sessions in the bank, I will toe the line in the best possible condition.

Mon 16th August
15:25 PM: 79:26 (12.10mi, 6:35/mi)
Legs and hamstrings a little tight after the two track races yesterday and probably shouldn't have gone to Rutland water to do the run with this in mind. This is because it is extremely undulating and you never have a prolonged period of running on the flat, I feel sorry for those who do the marathon or half marathon that is run round there. I probably ran too hard and although the time doesn't reflect this, the effort I put in was too much for a recovery run.

Tues 17th August
10:31 AM: 33:46 (5.0mi, 6:45/mi)
Nice and easy relaxed morning run.
18:37 PM: 69:02 (12.05mi progressive run, 5:44/mi) + 2.03mi c/d. Mile splits 6:33, 6:36, 6:00, 5:58, 5:41, 5:34, 5:38, 5:27, 5:29, 5:17, 5:15, 5:14. Was going to do an interval session on the grass but legs felt a little heavy and it was chucking it down, so did a progressive run on the roads instead. Two miles easy to start and then picked it up from there, felt strong on the last five miles even when the last two miles were into the wind.

Weds 18th August
13:14 PM: 91:11 (14.0mi, 6:31/mi)
Ran at ferry meadows and most was off-road or on the footpaths round the lakes. Legs felt very tired after 8 miles and worryingly was a bit of struggle but maybe the long tempo was something to do with that. Looking back at the schedule coach set, these runs are only meant to be at 6:45/mi so maybe should put this into effect.

Thurs 19th August
10:09 AM: 36:46 (5.5mi, 6:43/mi)
Easy morning run on Thistleton loop, nice and relaxed.
17:48 PM: 64:43 (10.0mi, 6:28/mi) +strides
Felt loads better and could have upped the pace if I wanted to, but tried to keep it controlled and relaxed. The strides went very well as well and hopefully the rest of my runs this week can feel this good. Was back home in time to see Mo smash the British record and Solinsky go under 13 mins 'again'! So inspirational to see these boys run these times and hopefully there can be a few more who mix it with the Africans.

Fri 20th August
11:31 AM: 80:03 (12.0mi, 6:40/mi)
Legs felt terrible and again I felt fatigued like I did on Wednesday, no idea why they feel so different to yesterday when I thought the tiredness had subsided.
18:43 PM: 34:47 (5.0mi, 6:58/mi)
Recovery run to try and make the legs feel a little better. Left shin was a little sore but nothing too much to worry about, decided I needed a beer and lots of food to relax and refuel.

Sat 21st August
9:10 AM: 75:01 (11.23mi, 6:41/mi)
Nice easy run out on Buckminster loop, felt a bit tired towards the end but least it wasn't as windy as it has been in recent weeks.
18:09 PM: 34:12 (5.0mi, 6:50/mi)
Easy run after going to the zoo and before a meal with Jen's family for a joint celebration of her mum's birthday and my move to America. Wasn't going to do this but after Ipswich managed another three points was in a good mood!

Sun 22nd August
10:00 AM: 17.25 miles inc. Welbourne 10k trail race (1st 34:23). Mile splits 5.03, 5.17, 5.18, 5.21, 5.42, 6.12. The race starts off on the road and you do just short of a mile on the road before turning off into a corn field. I ran this fairly hard knowing this was going to happen and went through a k in 2.57. After the corn field, which cut my thighs to pieces (I was glad I put the compression socks on!) the course followed farm tracks, where in places you could manage a decent stride, until about four miles. Then the fun began and the course went back across fields for two miles and I ran across ploughed soft mounds of mud and hay and over stiles and through various forms of gates. Least I was fit enough to just laugh at how tough these last few miles were and even though I was wearing racing flats I don't think I would have been any better off in trail shoes as nothing was suited for the difference in terrain. I managed to win by about a minute and a half and think the early pace had an effect on some of those behind that followed it. Its a great event and well organised by Chris Smith and his Toonie Express adventure racing group and once again they got some great weather for it. I managed 5 miles as a warm up and did 6 miles as a cool down before the presentation, was tempted to do another three after it but by that time it was too warm and I just wanted to get home and get clean!

Total Weekly Mileage - 112.16mi

Monday, 16 August 2010

The American Dream and 9 weeks of training

I have neglected writing my blog over the last few months due to the fact that I have been busy finalising a scholarship to run at the University of Portland, Oregon. This offer came off the back of my 5000 PB at Watford in early June and after plenty of discussions with the coach out there and close friends and family it became evident that it was too good an offer to turn down. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and at the end of the day it is something I have always wanted to do, but always thought I wouldn't be fast enough to get a decent offer.

Portland is a top university both academically and athletically and from what I can gather it is a great place to live and train, with the city playing home to a host of top American distance runners such as Ritzhein, Solinsky and Rupp. The University XC team is always around the top-ten in NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships and boasts an impressive crop of lads on their roster for this season. Hopefully I can add to this talent and be fit and healthy to be one of the seven-man squad to fly out to the top meets and help Portland improve on last year's performances. They train in fantastic environment and run mostly on the miles upon miles of trails of forest park just round the corner from the campus. This fantastic setting combined with training with 20+ other lads of a similar ability will hopefully bring the best out of my running and help me achieve the targets I have set for myself this year. I fly out on the 26th August and am hoping on seeing a few more people before I go, so the next ten days or so could be hectic and the next time I will be writing a blog will probably be in Portland. Here is a video of one of the sessions the lads from the uni do on the trails:

Anyway to the training and it has been adjusted slightly since the scholarship offer. The BMC 5000 at Watford was to be my last real race on the track for the season and instead I would hit some base miles in preparation for cross country in the States. However, I have touched the track since as I still needed to do the AAA National Champs at Gateshead, for eligibility reasons, and was penciled in for a couple of low-key northern league meets for Lincoln Wellington. But, I had to accept that my times would be affected somewhat by the heavy training load and just take the races as training to some extent.

June 14th to 20th - Total Weekly Mileage 97.05mi

June 21st to 27th - Total Weekly Mileage 97.62mi

June 28th to July 4th - Total Weekly Mileage 102.91mi

July 5th to 11th - Total Weekly Mileage 99.6mi

July 12th to 18th - Total Weekly Mileage 54.58mi

July 19th to 25th - Total Weekly Mileage 109.54mi

Mon 26th July
9:31 AM - 40:26 (6.0mi, 6:45/mi) - easy morning run out and back went off
road was a bit dodgy underfoot.
16:50 PM - 69:14 (12.10mi, 6:33/mi) - just out and back, nice and steady felt

Tues 27th July
11:32 AM - 3mi w/u, 51:13 (9.15mi, 5:36/mi) tempo, 3 mi c/d - mile splits
5:34, 5:51, 5:42, 5:42, 5:36, 5:34, 5:30, 5:30, 5:23. - tempo on the
sewesten loop, its got a good few rolling hills in it, but after a fast first mile
managed to progress quite nicely. Aim was to run from 5:45s to 5:30s so spot
on really.

Weds 28th July
10:25 AM - 90:01 (13.85mi, 6:30/mi) - felt really good, probably best 90
minute run I have done for ages. Always know i'm running well when you do an
hour without even noticing and it was one of those days.
17:15 PM - 33:20 (5.00mi, 6:40/mi) + strides - still feeling good, just nice and

Thurs 29th July
8:59 AM - 65:27 (10.20mi, 6:25/mi) - bit tougher this morning, ran the
greetham route and was tough into the wind on the way back. Its quite open as
the run takes you around RAF Cottesmore airfield.
18:35 PM - 46:20 (7.00mi, 6:35/mi) - went back to lincoln, decent fifa session
with tom straw then ran with the road group as everyone on the track was
doing a session. Also bought some more shoes as the one of the old pairs have
been hammered, got a decent deal from keith at the runner who persuaded me
to get the pair which nike had forgotten to put the swoosh on one of the shoes.

Fri 30th July
9:12 AM - 79:57 (12.00mi, 6:40/mi) - ran out and back at Rutland Water, that
place is ridiculously hilly and you always are running up or down an incline. I
always go back though thinking it cant be that hilly, but yeah it still is.
16:52 PM - 33:18 + strides (5.02mi, 6:38/mi) - nice and relaxed evening run,
no probs.

Sat 31st July
7:04 AM - 2 hrs (18.25mi, 6:35/mi) - did the sunday run a day early as I was
off to Cardiff for my girlfriend's friends birthday. Started really gently and ran
into a pack of 50+ dogs also out for a morning trot, if only Chrissy Fullerton was
with me, the boy hates the things. I mean i usually have a moan at dog owners
and often have a thing or two to say to them, but this boy nearly cries when a
dog chases him. Anyway, rest of the run went smoothly and an improvement
on how i felt last week.

Sun 1st Aug
10:02 AM - 53:38 (8.0mi, 6:43/mi) - out and back along Cardiff bay, really nice
run and was ok as didn't stay out too late. Was only meant to do an easy 35
but felt good and wanted to have a look round Cardiff.

Total Weekly Mileage: 114.68mi, the aim was to do 110 but did loads in
preparation for not doing much on Sunday and then felt better than expected
after the night out. Another three weeks of solid mileage in England before
flying out on 26th, first race will be in October as there is only a couple of low
key races in September so no need to rush into things.

Monday 2nd August
11:39 AM: 78:13 (12.0mi, 6:31/mi). Out and back to Buckminster felt good
and gradually increased the pace.
17:38 PM: 33:20 (5.0mi, 6:40/mi) + strides. Out and back along Moor lane nice
and gentle.

Tuesday 3rd August
9:20 AM: 3 mi w/u, 6 x 5 mins (3min jog rec), 3 mi c/d (15mi total). Averaged
about a mile each rep starting just under a mile and last couple the miles were
4:55s. Done the session on the roads so it was undulating and wind was in my
face for the first three reps. Felt good to get some faster stuff done after weeks
of steady mileage and tempos, and did the job of breaking up the monotony of
week after week of tempos.

Wednesday 4th August
12:09 PM: 90:11 (14.2mi, 6:21/mi) + strides. Again felt good and was able to
get quicker as the run went on, nice to know that these longer runs are starting
to feel the norm and feel easy like they are meant to be.

Thursday 5th August
12:14 PM: 66:18 (10.0mi, 6:37/mi). Out and back to Sewstern. Kept it steady
today and controlled. Found a podcast called marathon talk by Tom Williams and Martin Yelling about training and loads more, worth a listen by runners of all abilities.
18:12 PM: 39:35 (6.0mi, 6:36/mi). Out and back along Moor Lane.

Friday 6th August
14:01 PM: 79:17 (12.06mi, 6:34/mi) +strides. Gunby loop.

Saturday 7th August
10:40 AM: 43:36 (6.5mi, 6:43/mi). Felt comfortable no real problems other
than the wind which is starting to do my head in, it never is still round here.
17:38 PM: 62:08 (10.0mi, 6:12/mi). Out and back to Sewstern, felt good
managed to drop below 6 min mileing for last couple of miles. Getting a bit
lonely doing all these solo runs so hopefully get some company from some lads
in Lincoln tomorrow.

Sunday 8th August
8:30 AM: 2:18:50 (20.00mi, 6:56/mi). Went to meet Bowser in Lincoln as he
said he was doing 15 but only ended up doing 11ish as he had to work, the rest
of the lads bottled a long run after a drinking sesh the night before. Decided to
drive to Newark and finish the rest of my run there while the half marathon
was going on.

Total Weekly Mileage: 112.75mi - Another good solid week of mileage and
managed a decent session on tuesday.

Monday 9th August
11:51 AM: 79:24 (12.08mi, 6:34/mi)+ strides. Ran on the normal 90 min loop
but cut back through north witham and onto the hills.
6:53 PM: 34:30 (5.0mi, 6:53/mi). Thistleton loop, not feeling too great probably
got the illness that my missus has, the girl is forever ill.

Tuesday 10th August
9:24 AM: 3mi w/u, 43:40 tempo (8.0mi, 8:27/mi),1.26mi c/d. Mile splits -
5:32, 5:34, 5:31, 5:30, 5:24, 5:20, 5:25, 5:20. Was feeling pretty sick at the
end and it wasnt really a tempo anymore, so called it a day a mile short. The
cool down was just the jog home and I couldnt even manage to go any further
just felt horrible.

Wednesday 11th August
18:48 PM - 89:43 (14.01mi, 6:24/mi). Had been down to London to get my
Visa and was knackered when I got back. You could not believe how much
waiting around you have to do for a ten second interview, what a joke. Managed
to get out and struggle round the 90 mins but got it done and thats what
counts. What kept me going is listening to marathontalk's interview with Dan Robinson and the way in which he came from nothing to our best and most consistent marathon runner.

Thursday 12th August
10:52 AM - 70:01 (10.88mi, 6:26/mi). Sewstern loop, still feeling the effects of
the illness of Tuesday, just felt lethargic.
18:05 PM - 34:11 (5.12mi, 6:40/mi) + strides. Strides felt good after feeling a
little sluggish on the run, also they are getting quicker so hopefully I am
maintaining some speed in the legs.

Friday 13th August
10:16 AM - 35:22 (5.0mi, 7:04/mi). Out and back along moor lane, tried going
very easy to loosen legs a bit and it felt a lot better.
16:40 PM - 65:22 (10.0mi, 6:32/mi). Out and back to sewstern, legs feeling
better but very windy on the way out again!

Saturday 14th August
13:28 PM - 1:43:51 (15.96mi, 6:30/mi). Cut the long run short due to race
tomorrow, horrific summers weather managed to squeeze out inbetween the
heavy down pours but very windy and cold. It seems to be forever windy at the
moment here and it makes such a difference to parts of my run. Quick weather
check of Portland, next 5 days clear sunshine 5mph winds max and average of
28 degrees, that will do nicely.
19:49 PM - 32:46 (4.5mi, 7:16/mi). Gentle evening run with 4 x relaxed

Sunday 15th August
14:47 PM - 11.19 w/u (1.51mi)
15:30 PM - RACE 1500m (4:07ish) and 5000m (14:57ish) (4mi total). Lincoln
were in a northern league playoff match at Barnsley and with half the time
absent (Bowser, Straw and some others slagging it in Kavos) it was left to the
remaining group of lads to double up and try and get as many points as possible
for the team. I was B scorer in the 1500m as I had the 5000m straight after
and the aim was to conserve as much energy as possible to give the 5k a
decent crack. But, from the gun at the 1500m I shot into the early lead as I
prefer to be out near the front controlling the pace. I tried my best for three
laps to string the field out a bit for Tom Doe to also seal maximum points in the
A race and sure enough with 450m to go Tom came by my shoulder and only
had one lad from Trafford who was able to keep with the pace. I looked round
and saw I had 5 secs or so on the next lad so just eased down on my final lap to
secure the B race victory.
The 5000 (about 20 mins later) was always going to be the tougher of races
and as Mark Buckingham appeared for Holmfirth I knew I was going to have to
work hard for a decent result. Mark set off straight into a decent pace but was
surprised to see after just one lap we had dropped the whole field except the 'B'
runner for Holmfirth. I stuck on the back of Mark for the next few laps and we
dropped the other Holmfirth guy and the pace actually felt pretty good and I
was feeling controlled and comfortable. But with about 900m to go we were
lapping some backmarkers and Mark just gently increased the pace and I had
nothing in my legs to respond with. So, in the end I think he got about 12
seconds on me in those closing laps but I was happy with a solid run out
especially after the 1500m and after some hard weeks of training. All in all a
good day for Lincoln as we finished second and got promoted to division one!
16:49 PM - 17:41 c/d (2.13mi)
20:14 PM - 28:58 (4.0mi, 7:14/mi). Easy out and back in Witham needed a
stretch after the drive home. Even though it was broken up by stopping off in
Retford on the way back to see my mate Ian who's brother has just gone out to
the US to play football and is loving it. We had the discussion that if I ever come
back saying 'soccer' he has the right to shoot me.

Total Weekly Mileage: 108.45mi - Solid week, had to move things around
slightly to race on Sunday but pleased with how things went. Next week will
just be much of the same but I think that the week after the coach wants me
to drop things and have an easier week with all the travel etc.