30 weeks, 69 miles and my first ‘podium’ finish

I managed two things this week that I definitely didn’t expect. After a very steady 7.5 miles on Tuesday, I tried running slightly faster for parts of the same route on Wednesday and got round in just under 1:04. This was good preparation for trying to get this route under an hour the next night. I’m surprised how far under the hour I got and considering I’ve lived in the area for 5 years now as well as the fact I’ve had so many efforts where I was 1-2 minutes off, it was great to finally get under it. There isn’t a massive amount of climb in this route (500ft) but it is in long enough stretches that you can’t just power up them. I think the only difference between this time and previous attempts was that my weekly base mileage is higher so I could recover quicker after the 2 climbs.

I ran a race yesterday called the Cakeathon with my brother Ben and our friends Malcolm and Andy. This was a 6hr timed event with a 6.55 mile loop. I had discussed with them earlier in the week about trying to run together and getting as many of us as possible to 5 laps. Malcolm is by far the fastest runner and had mentioned about trying for 6 laps just before the race started. I offered to try as well but was secretly assuming I wouldn’t get it under the cutoff and was only really trying so I could have an extra hour and a half in bed this morning as I would only need 7.5 rather than 15 to maintain the 70-ish weekly average.

My Suunto Traverse watch has a feature that displays average speed. I was aiming to keep this between 7 and 7.5mph for as long as possible then I would have a bit of a buffer if I slowed down nearer the end. Me and Malcolm were able to do this for the first lap then made a friend on lap 2 (James) who was like us, aiming for 5 laps then changed his mind when he saw how flat the course was (less than 200ft per lap), James had managed slightly over 100 miles at a 24 hour event last year including an hour nap. He was wearing the event shirt from this and it took very little conversation to reach that race! Malcolm had a slightly different pacing plan and although he was wanting to run with me, kept increasing the pace closer to 8mph which I knew was unsustainable for me so I let him and James go on ahead part way through lap 3.

There was some sportsmanship in the fact they both waited for me to start lap 4, James said we would go at my pace for this lap and save some energy for the last 2. This lasted for most of the lap and I was confident about managing to hold that pace for another 2 hours after that lap.

Malcolm disappeared just after the start of lap 5 and James flew off ahead. I was content to get round and leave a 65-70 minute gap to complete lap 6. There was 4-5 runners consistently ahead of our group for the first 4 laps but quite a few stopped either at 4 laps or 5 who could have quite easily got 6 under the cutoff but they were probably using the race for different training than me and Malcolm were.

It was obvious before the end of lap 5 that if me and James did the 6th under the cutoff we would be the only ones who did. The race organiser mentioned before we started that lap he had 2 badges for 1st place if we wanted to finish together. James was naturally faster than me on each lap and I would never have suggested to him to slow down so we could share the win.

I had a bit of a slump about 2 miles before the end but realised at that pace I was close to finishing under a minute to spare and managed to get in a few minutes quicker for the last mile.

It was good to see Malcolm, Andy and Ben again at the finish. Malcolm had returned to the start part way through lap 5, Ben managed 5 laps running nearly entirely on his own and Andy managed 3 laps before picking up an injury. We had a team photo and I found out my wife Helen’s vegan coffee cake had won an award too.

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I was also particularly impressed with another bit of baking someone else had done.
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I finished the week with 7.5 miles with my friend Tom this morning, as recovery runs go, this was quite hard and I struggled to get any sort of momentum throughout. It was good to manage to get round as I felt my legs had loosened up a bit by the end of it.

I’m happy that the running for this week has sort of fed into the next session, going slightly faster on Wednesday led to the PB for that route on Thursday and having ran at a lot faster pace for nearly an hour then, led into being able to hold my pace for most of the 6hr effort yesterday. Hopefully being able to maintain and slightly increase my weekly base over the next few months will mean I’m well enough prepared for the 100 in October

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