When I drew up my training plan I decided that week 6 would be my "peak week" without realising that I would be in London for the whole of that week. It is always slightly harder to fit in training when you don't have the convenience of a gym membership or a treadmill at home not to mention the extra time lost in travel (especially in London...).
Specifically, I had decided to repeat my aerobic test of 7 km at a pulse rate of 172 bpm (my Half Marathon intensity) but, of course, it would have been much more useful to have done it on the same running track I did it the first time. Instead, I found a 400m track near where I was staying, in Battersea Park that only cost 3 pounds 90 to use. My 18 month old nephew made sure that I got up nice and early every day, so it wasn't difficult squeeze in the session before work (actually, a conference). I was expecting to do a faster time given that London is at sea level compared to the 650m altitude of Madrid but it wasn't to be: I ran the 7km in 26:38 versus 26:14 the previous time. I was actually a bit surprised to see the final time because on a 400m track a pace of 3:45 per kilometre translates into exactly 1 and a half minutes per circuit. Of course, the objective was not to run at a specific pace but a particular heart rate but I wasn't aware of slowing down. In any case, I think I was probably still a little tired from the 35km run a day and a half before.
My conference was in Canary Wharf which took me just under an hour door-to-door from Stockwell. About the only good thing about public transport in London is that it is generally possible to run the same distance even more quickly thereby saving even more than the time you would otherwise be wasting jammed in a sweaty train carriage. In fact, I took a slightly longer and more interesting route back although the wind and the rain made the idea of the sweaty train carriage seem more attractive than usual.
Finally, on my last evening in London, I treated myself to a day pass at the Reebok Sports Club in Canary Wharf (which, at 20 pounds wasn't too bad considering the astronomical monthly fees and the exquisite facilities). The workout was two "ladders" of 1-2-3-2-1-2-3 minutes at 19-18-17-18-19-18-17 kph with an active recovery of 1 to 1 and a half minutes. I probably should have done more of a warmup as it had been three weeks since I had run at those kind of speeds. Perhaps as a result, my left hamstring "twinged" towards the end of the first set and I had to evaluate whether it was worth taking the risk of finishing the workout. I decided to press on but I suppose due to running a bit more conservatively I bent my right big toe painfully (still sore from tripping over weeks ago) by running too close to the back edge of the belt.
Back home I did my Marathon pace run of 50 minutes at 4:00 per km (15 kph) on Saturday evening while watching a film with the family. We had to have the volume so loud to drown out the noise of the treadmill and the cooling fans that the kids got a bit scared by what would have otherwise been a fairly innocuous film.
By Sunday I was quite tired from two previous days of fairly hard training and, in particular, less than a day's recovery since my last workout. I was a little nervous to face what was the toughest long run of my entire training plan: 32 kms including a section of 24 kms at 10-20 seconds per kilometre slower than Marathon pace (4:10). The idea was to feel very tired by the end so I told myself not to worry about whether I was making the pace but rather to hit the right effort. The route I choose was reasonably hilly (it's practically impossible to find any route of that length that is not where I live, unless you are content to go round in circles). It was very tough but not as tough as one of the long runs I did this time last year, in preparation for the same Marathon. Still, I think that it did the job of simulating the last kilometres of a Marathon, just the last kilometres of one of my better Marathons, not one of my worst. My average pace was 4:13 for the 24 km section and it was relatively "easy" to maintain a pace of 4:10 or less on the flat sections: with hills you never recoup on the downhills all that you lose on the uphills, so I think that the average pace was on target. Overall, my average pace for the 32 km run was 4:20. I'm pleased to be able to say that there are no more long runs of anything like that length or intensity before the Marathon itself in two weeks from now.
With that, it's time to start my two week taper. I've still got one more speed session like the "ladders" I did this week but, other than that, it's all easy or Marathon pace. I think my training has gone pretty well all things considered and I hope that I have addressed the gaps in my plan for New York Marathon - specifically, doing all my long runs on fresh legs - only time will tell...