I was in London for a variety of reasons this week: a meeting, a conference and a funeral, unfortunately. Sounds like the title of a film. From a training point of view it was an excellent week, just what I needed after my slightly disappointing previous week. I often say that I run better in London. It's a combination of a change of scenery, cooler temperatures, flat routes (not so much where my brother lives) and - I have begun to suspect - the cloud cover tends to confuse the GPS into thinking I have run further along a sort of wiggly fractal curve (how long is the coastline of Britain?).
After work on Wednesday I ran from my hotel near Russel Square past SOAS, where my dad used to work, through Regent's Park, up Primrose Hill and on to West Hampstead just where I used to live. On the way I bumped into a colleague just by the cinema in Swiss Cottage where I spent many a Saturday evening.
I had arranged to meet up with a friend for an early morning run before the conference the next day but I didn't think to reconfirm and was fast asleep by the time he sent an SMS to double check. I'm just so lazy about writing emails and texts as these new fangled technologies make me feel old and useless. So when I woke up the next day, I saw another message saying that, as he hadn't heard anything back, he presumed that it was off - logical really. We deferred the run to the following day and, instead, I brought forward the run I had planned for that day, which was a relatively hard one. I normally like to have rested a bit more before this kind of run, so I was slightly nervous I might not pull it off but I was very pleased in the end. Two laps of 15 minutes around Regent's Park with 3 minutes active recovery, both at a pace of 3:41 /km (16.5 kph), which was even a bit faster than I was aiming for. It wasn't such a different workout to the 7 km aerobic test I had done the week before - my heart rate was practically identical but at a 12s /km faster pace. It may have been due to being nearly 4 degrees cooler (13.9 C) but it was just the ego boost I needed.
I finally managed to meet up with Andy on the Friday morning and we set off for an easy hour or so run. (I should mention that he runs 10K in 32 minutes and does almost all his training at 3:45 - 4:00 /km pace, so "easy" is a relative term.) It was certainly easy in the sense that the conversation took my mind off running so much so that we overshot the turnaround time and had to step up the pace a little in order to avoid being too late for work (in his case) and the conference (in my case). We also ran through Regent's Park but then opted to follow Regent's Canal up to Little Venice - another place I used to frequent years ago (I particularly remember the Eggs Benedict in the cafe on the bridge).
I was back in my brother's house in Forest Hill for the weekend so I did one of my pre-planned routes ("Run Forest Run2") again. As usual, I got a bit lost, especially as having previously done it in both directions makes it a bit confusing. One of the small things I miss from my Garmin 310 XT is the "beep" when you go off course; by the time I notice it, the track has often scrolled off the watch completely, so I have to stop and reorient myself. On one occasion (not this time thankfully), I did this and ended up running away from my destination. I've since learned, that there is a little indication in the "bezel" of the Fenix 2 watch in map mode, which always points towards your destination.
After last week, I was particularly nervous about the long run, so I made sure that I ate reasonably well during the day (and had breakfast and a banana for good measure!). The plan was to run 3 kilometres "easy", 22 at 20 seconds per kilometre slower than Marathon Pace (i.e., 4:20 /km) topped off with 3 kilometres easy, giving a grand total of 28 km. The two times I have prepared for the New York Marathon (I only ran once, as a result of the cancellation in 2012 due to the Sandy Storm) I have done this run in Segovia, because it has always happened to coincide with the weekend when we get together with a bunch of friends and rent a rural house. This year was no exception in the sense that my family went, but I was of course in London. To design a route I basically went on to the Garmin Connect site and dropped a pin at various points around the circumference of a circle centered in Forest Hill, with a 14 km radius. The one that took my fancy was an out and back route that took me through Greenwich, past the Cutty Sark (yes, somewhere else I used to go when I was a kid), under the river by the Greenwich foot tunnel and along the Regent's Canal practically up to Victoria Park. I got lost in the docklands (on the way back I saw that the tiny turnoff I had missed was obscured by some hoardings for works being done) and added a kilometre to my journey. I decided to continue on to my original turning point because I was feeling pretty good. I reckoned that the GPS error was exaggerating my pace slightly but, even so, I was going along at a pretty good clip, certainly faster than 4:20 /km. The last few kilometres were all uphill (it's not called Forest Hill for nothing) but they were all the easier for being near home. The odd thing is that you would expect those kilometres to have been faster at the start on the way down, but I actually ran back uphill much faster (4:26 uphill versus 4:43 downhill). All told, I ran 30 kilometres at an average pace of 4:13 /km!! Even allowing for some GPS wiggle it was probably the fastest 30 km I've run outside of a Marathon. It was a shame that my heart rate band threw a wobbly and spat out garbage towards the end of the run, as I would have liked to know how I was going. Maybe it ran out of batteries.
What with getting lost, missing turnarounds and running to and from Regent's Park, I ended up covering a whopping 97 kilometres (not to mention all the walking I did in London). I'm starting to think that I might not be getting so old after all. This Sunday I have my first "tune up race": a 10K in Madrid. I must remember that I am training for a different distance so I shouldn't be upset if I don't get a cracking time, or even one as good as in the lead up to the last New York Marathon I ran, BUT I also need to remember that I will need to push hard.
This week I will leave you with a quote from my friend who sadly passed away. To start the work day he would say:
"What do we want to get out of today?"
Nathaniel Kevin Billington (1970-2015)
Monday: 4 x 12 x 60% weights + core
Tuesday: 8 x 5' @ 3:25
Wednesday: 60' @ 4:09
Thursday: 2 x 15' @ 3:41 w/ 3' active rest
Friday: 65' @ 4:32
Saturday: 60' @ 4:20
Sunday: 3 km easy + 22 km @ 4:05 + 5 km easy (average 4:13)
bit slack on the old PowerBreathe this week
Total kilometres: 97 km