Tuesday, September 22, 2015

13 of 16: Finish Strong

Melbourne Marathon 2015 - Week 13 of 16

This is the final big week of training before the three week taper to the race begins. Everything so far has held up ok and I'm optimistic about having another week of good runs. My focus this week is on finishing strong - especially for my two main runs - a 13k marathon paced tempo and a very important 32k @4.39 pace on Sunday. It is very important to go into the race knowing that I can run it out strong until the end. Last week's half marathon was a great example of doing this ... some more this week please!

Tuesday 22 September

Another week begins in Melbourne and more of the up-and-down weather which typifies Spring. Today began with rain and even some hail; though by lunchtime the weather was just super-windy (!) but fine and even sunny. Consequently I was over-dressed with a warm undershirt on for my interval run today. The plan was simple: 10x 400's with 400m RI. In past campaigns I have run these at the track or on a measured section of street. Today I ran them over my usual 10k loop beside the Yarra River.

From early steps of the run I didn't feel great. My back was in some degree of pain which was really impacting my stride and form. It was about 3k into the run before this settled down which meant that my first two repeats, though I was pushing hard, were relatively slow at 1.35 apiece. The third was my quickest at 1.26 along a flat if somewhat exposed section of the trail. I think this one is closest to the pace I might have run on a regular track, but who knows!

The remaining seven intervals were all remarkably even in 1.31-34, despite the terrain ranging from flat a super-windy to solidly uphill. The effort was all very similar too with my HR reaching low 160's on each rep. When I look back a year too I can see that my 400m recovery this time round was much quicker (around 2 mins vs around 3 mins last time). So whilst the times are so-so I think this is actually a pretty good set.

And to make things even better, I scored a free six-pack of beer in a promo too. All you had to do was connect up your Strava account and run 6k or more to qualify. Easy-peasy!!

Wednesday 23 September

Another cold evening at Nike Run Club tonight and I was leading a "compact" group of 10k runners with Claire at the royal pace of 6.30m/k. Oddly enough, sometimes a slower pace can make you feel sore as it is not your normal stride. The toenail on my left foot had also cut my toe again (aargh!) so it was an up and down run for mid-week.

Thursday 24 September

Onto Thursday and the morning dawned still and sunny - a perfect start to the day. Of course, by the time I was running it was cool, overcast and windy. Have I mentioned how sick to death I am of this wind!!! The distance and pace (13k @ 4.30) held no fear today. In the last month I've run 2x 16k runs and last weekend a half marathon at this pace. No problems there. But today I woke up with a really sore lower back. It is a weak spot for me and is normally stiff and uncomfortable in the morning, but this was way worse and I took a couple of pain killers to deal with it. So I wasn't really feeling physically great.

The plan for this week is to finish strong, but from pretty early on I was really struggling. My kilometre times were all pretty even, but they felt laboured and hard. None of the relaxed zip I had on Sunday was with me and every step was forced. On the return leg I really noticed the wind, although in retrospect it was probably no worse than most days when I run here.

As for finishing strong, I ran the last 5k in 22.31 (so right on 4.30 pace) compared to 22.22 and 22.19 for the same stretch on my longer 16k runs recently. Not much of a time difference, but it was slower and definitely not much fun.

Tonight I am sore and walking slowly. I am also extremely tired. I really need this rest day tomorrow so that I can have a great final long run on Saturday.

Saturday 26 September

In my thoughts, today is the climactic run of the whole training program. It is the fastest long run at just 9 sec/km slower than marathon pace and everything has been building to this. Unfortunately, on Friday morning, I woke with the worst back-ache I can remember in a long time. My lower back which normally doesn't feel good, was terrible and I was on to the drugs immediately just to be able to function. I was barely making my way around the office on Friday and when I had my customary run the the fish and chip shop with Keira to collect dinner I almost buckled over as nerve pain shot through my left hamstring. This was bad; and I took another wad of drugs that night to try to be right for Saturday.

Come the morning and I could tell that although it felt better it was far from right. I had a choice - run now, or wait it out for a day and hope it improved. I decided to run. Within 100m I could tell this was not going to be great. The nerve pain meant that I could not stride out with my left leg and I was kind of shuffling; each step causing a ripple of pain through my hammy.

My first couple of kilometres, as I tried to work through the pain and hoped that things would 'click' into place, were just off target pace at 4.42. As I began to head down South Rd I tried to gradually pick up the pace but it seemed stuck at around 4.41 or so - occasionally just under, mostly just over. Conditions were ok, a slight headwind (not much) and a fog too until it cleared up after about 90 minutes.

By the time I got to 15k I was at Point Ormond and turning back to start a 17k section on the marathon course. Up to this point I had tried several times to lift the pace, but could not muster anything. My legs just did not want to work, even though my heart rate was very relaxed mid-high 140's. The next 2 km's told the tale for me. Up to this point I still believed I would be able to pick it up and recover my lost seconds. But on this section down to Head St and back that disappeared.

4.40's became a pair of 4.50's and then my back just gave in and I could barely run at all. The final 3k's of my run before I pulled the pin at St Kilda were a 5.05, a 5.42 and finally a crawling 6.00. I was totally broken. I felt miserable. My legs were fine. I had energy, but I could not run. I briefly tried to get going again but it was no use. Around me I could see other runners looking like they too were doing course recce with their runs. I was heartbroken and caught the tram into the city and then home.

This is not how I imagined my preparation would go and is bitterly disappointing at this time. I've made a physio appointment and am off to see my mate Rob O'Donnell on Monday morning. Hopefully something can get sorted out in short order so that I can be running again soon!!

Sunday 27 September

That part of me that hopes miracles happen wanted to run today. I resisted in the morning and rode my bike instead which was just as well as even that caused me pain. By the afternoon, with the sun once again shining brightly I could no longer resist the urge and I packed my runners so that I could run home from Port Melbourne after we visited my dad.

That attempt only lasted ten steps before the pain screeched me to a halt and I, sadly, climbed into the car for the ride home. We stopped at North Rd so the kids could go the the playground there and I once again tried to get into some kind of stride. After a couple of false starts I managed to get going a little. Make no mistake, this was still pretty lousy and a long way from actually running for me, but I was moving.

I got to Brighton Baths then decided to continue on so I could do 5k. I turned at Dendy St, picked up a slight tail breeze and gradually began to wind up the pace. There was nothing fast here. The injury stops me from running freely so I just kind of hobble along, but each km got faster and the last few were in 4.55, 4.50 and 4.46. It was so good to do something, even if it wasn't really running.

This week I need to get it right!

Training Program:

Full session details for my whole training plan here.

Strava links for the week:
Tuesday - 10x 400's Beer Run 10.4k @4.41; 10x 400m with 400m RI
Wednesday - NRC Pacer Home Run 10k @6.25; easy Nike Run Club session
Thursday - Tough 13 13k @4.29; hard marathon pace
Saturday - Broken 20k @4.52; pinched nerves suck
Sunday - Tester. Nope, really broken 5k @4.58; wanted to run long, still in pain

Week 13 of 16 (this week): 5 runs, 58.9 km, 4:55 hrs
Week 12 of 16: 5 runs, 65.1 km, 5:19 hrs
Week 11 of 16: 6 runs, 76.1 km, 6:58 hrs
Week 10 of 16: 4 runs, 48.8 km, 3:57 hrs
Week 9 of 16: 5 runs, 65.2 km, 5:30 hrs
Week 8 of 16: 4 runs, 59.0 km, 4:57 hrs
Week 7 of 16: 5 runs, 55.9 km, 4:35 hrs
Week 6 of 16: 4 runs, 44.1 km, 3:31 hrs
Week 5 of 16: 4 runs, 53.3 km, 4:21 hrs
Week 4 of 16: 5 runs, 65.8 km, 5:38 hrs
Week 3 of 16: 4 runs, 58.3 km, 4:46 hrs
Week 2 of 16: 4 runs, 52.4 km, 4:30 hrs
Week 1 of 16: 4 runs, 50.1 km, 4:11 hrs
Total: 59 runs, 752.7 km, 63:14 hrs

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