Week 4. Objective ECOs 500, actual ECOs 518
As often happens in the "easy" weeks - necessary to recoup the training benefits of the hard weeks that have gone before - I start to get nervous. That excess energy has to go somewhere. I didn't get nervous about running the Marathon itself but more about the logistics of getting to the start with 44,999 other runners. I realized that I had neglected to select my "transportation option" (which I had to decide a full 3 months before the start) and would therefore have to leave it to the last moment to see what options were available at the Expo the day before... I could just imagine myself having to run to the start or getting a taxi that would charge me more than my airfare to get there. I wondered whether I had a friend who I could stay with who happened to live near the start. In the end I spoke to someone on the helpline who put my fears at rest and advised me to simply "focus on my training" which, I suspect, she has been saying to more than just me.
Tuesday was the day of the hard workout this week so I did 9 lots of 4 minute series at 17.5 kph (OK, the last two I did at 17 kph). In fact my treadmill can't go any faster than that. It was pretty tough but I really notice the difference between running series of 4 minutes and series of 5 minutes so, even though I ran these faster, it felt like an easier workout than the one I did last week. If the total workout time is much longer than 40 minutes I find I have to change shoes because they get so sweaty! The best thing about running series is when they are over. These days I tend to sleep really well afterwards and feel "nicely tired" the next day.
I actually managed to forget my sports kit on Wednesday so I had to do my planned hour long run at home, also on the treadmill. It's been a very long time since I forgot my kit and that was when I was training for a Half Ironman - I remember I got so stressed about it because one little unforeseen event had the potential to throw my whole training plan off track. Or at least that is what I thought at the time. This time I was pretty calm about it and, if I am honest, I welcomed the chance to go for lunch with a colleague and the extra few hours of recovery from the previous night's workout that it afforded me.
Finally, I got my bike back from Mr Schmit in Pozuelo, near where I live. They had to completely disassemble my rear disc brake, lubricate it and put it back together. Now it works just fine. I was dreading how much such a fiddly operation might cost but, in the end, they only charged me 20 euros (which included the usual very thorough bike wash which, these days, is the only one it seems to get). Every time I manage to walk out of a bike shop without buying anything, I feel good about myself. I got it back just in time to be able to commute to work on Thursday. I also did my weekly weights session on Thursday in what is becoming a fairly typical pattern: 45 minute commute to work, 30 minute warm-up run at lunchtime followed by weights and 45 minute commute home. It serves as a "recovery day" even though it includes about 2 and a half hours of exercise.
I took the wrong shoes to work on Friday given that it was raining so I again had to do my run on the treadmill at home. That left only the long run on Sunday. We spent the weekend with a large group of friends and their kids in a little village in Segovia, where we have been going once a year for the last 5 years. Last year coincided with the Half Marathon in Valladolid which was relatively nearby but this year I decided to trace out a 27 km run on Garmin Connect beforehand. It was on the cold side when I set out at 9 am - I'd had to cut short the festivities the night before that went on for the others until about 4 am - but this encouraged me to run faster so as not to feel it. I finished the course at a pace of 4:29 per km in just under 2 hours and 2 minutes (actually, it was supposed to be a 2 hour 10 minute run but I decided to let myself off). This compares pretty favourably with the long runs I was doing around Christmas time in the run up to the Seville Marathon, so I am quite pleased about that, although I did notice that my average heart rate was around 5-6 bpm higher this time. This could be due to the fact that this course is about 900m above sea level... (To be honest, I think one of the reasons I seem to run so fast in London is that the buildings lead to a greater GPS error and a more "wobbly" path.)