Manchester Marathon 2017 training blog week 12/20
With the training for the Manchester Marathon starting to build, I’m now in a period where I’m juggling racing and a high weekly mileage. I know this isn’t ideal, but we’re fighting to keep the club up in our cross country league, I’ve one race left to make sure I win the club road championship, and then I have the Liversedge Half, a personal favourite and a key indicator for spring performance. So this weekend it was on to the Dewsbury 10K and the final race of the Hyde Park Harriers club championship.
For the Dewsbury 10K I had four targets. A common goal-setting method to manage expectations is to have an A, B and C target – I was going all the way down to D. The D target was to make sure I won the club championship, which due to previous results broadly meant finishing the race, but being first Harrier home would make that safe. The C target was to beat the previous PB of 35:52 – a performance I wasn’t 100% happy with at the time. The B target was to break the 35 minute barrier, and then the A target was to beat a fellow club mate’s PB of 34:52, mainly so that psychologically I didn’t feel too far behind them in form and training as we both head into the Manchester Marathon in the spring.
The Dewsbury 10K is described as a PB course. It’s a very simple straight-ish out and back, that climbs very slightly on the way out, and then obviously you make that up on the way back in. Compared to the day before which was sunny and positively spring-like, race morning was grey, overcast and literally freezing. A display on the side of a building flipping between the time, date and temperature showed -1°C for an early 9am start.
My race strategy was going to be fairly simple. Taking into account the elevation of the route, I was aiming to run 5:40 a mile on the way out, and then increase the pace downhill to 5:30 a mile. The Thursday before the race a few of us from the club ran a 5 x 1K track session, which I was able to run comfortably at 5:16 a mile, which was a big confidence booster. Of course there’s a big difference to an uphill road K and one on the track, but I felt ready to go. The Dewsbury 10K is a big race and attracts a strong field. Amongst the 1,000 runners were an Ethiopian Paralympic medallist from Leeds AC, and Alyson Dixon from Sunderland Strollers, who competed in the marathon at the Rio Olympics.
My confidence wasn’t unfounded – from the off I was running at 5:30 pace without it feeling ridiculously hard. Trying not to do anything completely stupid I pulled this back slightly to 5:35s to make sure I had plenty left, and ticked off the first two miles in 5:34 and 5:35.
The third mile was where most of the elevation gain on the way out came, and this was the first part of the race that I started pushing to keep to the correct pace. The effort was needed here, but the final climbing of the race was done and the third mile was ticked off in 5:38. As I’d got closer to the turn I’d started to see the leaders on their way back, and then just before the turn (which seemed a little too far out for an out and back) I saw Alyson Dixon in a group, maybe just ten or twenty seconds ahead of me. This became my new motivation – finishing ahead of someone who competed in the actual Olympics in the past year would be pretty cool.
Spurred on by this I was able to push hard downhill on the way back in, running past Hyde Park Harrier club mates going the other way, keeping to the plan and running 5:23 on the steeper fourth mile and then 5:29 for the fourth, well on plan. By now the effort was starting to tell, but if it isn’t tough with a mile or two kilometres to go in a 10K, you aren’t trying hard enough.
The turn point seeming to be too far out started to seem like more than a figment of my imagination as I got close to the finish, and I realised I wouldn’t be getting to the finish within the 10K distance. I recorded 6.3 miles, several others 10.25K – that said I’m not one to whinge about race organisers, and I’d rather have a long course than a short one that might invalidate PB performances. However I was going to be pushing hard to the line to make sure that I met the A and B targets, as it seemed that the PB was in the bag.
The finish gantry with the race clock comes after a short turn to the left, so you can’t see it from a long way out, and I hadn’t been in the mood to check the race time on my watch – I prefer to have it on lap distance, lap time and average lap pace, with the the ‘lap’ being every mile. Seeing the race clock I was easily on track for under 35:00, but I’d completely forgotten the time I needed for the A target, and after finishing in an official 34:49, I had to check what the time was later, to find that I’d beaten it by three seconds on a slightly long course. And what’s more, I didn’t gain but I didn’t let the gap increase between me and Aly Dixon, with the Rio Olympian finishing just twelve seconds ahead.
Overall I was incredibly happy with the performance. Beyond winning the club championship and achieving a sub 35 minute PB, the main feeling was another test of my form and even more good signals, with everything well on track for the marathon.
So next week we’re on to the Liversedge Half Marathon, and a chance to test the form again and defend my two consecutive fifth place finishes.