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Archive for the ‘road’ Category

2017…

 

Like a neighbour who discovers your well-stocked garden shed, these annual reviews seem to come around quicker and quicker.

 

Frankfurt2017

 

 

2017 was subdued, and yet somehow on course for my biggest ever year, mileage wise, until October, when a knee injury cut me off at the, well, at the place just above the shins.

 

Early year highlights were hard to come by. London was disappointing again (third 2:43 in row…), but I did manage a decent long stage at the National 12-stage champs in April. 28:19, which won’t mean much to anyone unfamiliar with the race, but probably represents something in the mid-32 10k range I would estimate.

 

Summer and early track season was quite good fun, although I came away with slim pickings in the PB department. A 15:52 for 5000m, just 1 second slower than my best, was probably the pick of the bunch.

 

Late in the track season I ran what I think has turned out to be my best run of the year. A 10,000m race at Midlands Counties Champs. My training buddy and club mate Dan had run 31:56 the week before and generously offered to pace me around for a 32-high if I could manage it. My outright 10k PB (set on the roads) stands at 32:44 so that was a distant goal should the stars align, but my official track 10,000m PB of 33:16 was the main target for the day.

 

I put my faith in Dan’s hands (and legs) and tagged along behind him paying attention to nothing besides not letting him get away. I don’t have many splits as a result, other than halfway in 16:28. The sub33 was on! Just. I think the splits were fairly even, and we were steadily catching people as the laps wore on. We caught and passed a few good runners but Dan waved me past them before I could get daunted. The last few kilometres got tough and I slipped off the pace. We managed to pick it up and get under 33 with a fast last 2 laps and ended with 32:49.

I was over the moon. 32:49 on the track, a negative split, and a top 10 national ranking in the V40 to boot. I was so grateful to Dan, and even at the time suspected this would be my running highlight of the year, mentioning as much.

 

36851534096_5a25b2c73b_oThereafter followed more training in anticipation of toeing the start line at Birmingham’s first marathon for many years. A training highlight en route included winning Wolverhampton Marathon (again with Dan alongside) in a genuine training run for Birmingham. I never expected 1st and 2nd but that’s how it panned out.

 

 

 

And that marathon win was to be the last throes of 2017 as it happened.

A week later I raced the Midlands 6-stage road relays and picked up tendonitis in my left knee which ruled me out for the remainder of the year.

Tendonitis is not normally such a long lasting injury, however I had made the decision to run Frankfurt Marathon with Phil many months previous and we had both booked flights, hotels etc., so even though it was only a week or 2 since I got injured, and I should have been nowhere near a pair of running trainers, I figured I would start with Phil anyway and at least get to enjoy some of the run alongside my longest serving running partner (friend / like an older brother etc.) of all time (maybe even all of it on a good day?). The knee had other ideas unfortunately and was hurting from the first few minutes in. I survived until just short of 10 miles when the agony had reduced my running to a painful shuffle. I explained the situation to Phil, he understood immediately and encouraged me to make the right decision. He then floated off into the distance and I proceeded to DNF for the first time in 25 years of running. It stung, but not as much as I feared it would, which in part is because deep down I knew the choice was out of my hands. And had probably been made before I even started.

 

Late December I was able to start jogging again and (touch wood) the knee seems to be ok.

 

Right then.

I usually start these reviews with the numbers, but this time I’ll end with them.

 

2,792 miles for the year. Weekly average of 53.5.

 

Which makes 2017 my third biggest year, behind 2011 (3,178 miles) and 2013 (3,016 miles).

 

As always, thanks to my friends, family, and running partners. *categories not mutually exclusive.

Finally, a big shout out to the legendary crew at TMR. We have something special here boys, let’s enjoy it, appreciate it, and take things even further next year!

Roll on 2018.

 

 

 

 

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The kitchen sink

Telford 10k race report

 

The die was cast a month ago when I committed to one more 10k for the year. I’ve tackled it a fair bit in 2014. Five times including Telford. One of those was a steady effort but the other four were all going full guns to break 33 minutes.

 

Last year in November I ran a break through PB of 33:06 at the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k. It was over 90 seconds quicker than I’d gone before. I was over the moon. But the feeling soon settled into a “if I can knock such a big chunk off my time surely I can find 7 seconds more?” mood.

 

Thus 2014 became, as far as the 10k is concerned, the year to break 33 minutes.

 

It started in May with an attempt on the track at the Highgate 10,000. Unbelievably windy conditions (blowing tents and things over around the track) meant that attempt was put paid to before it even got started. I got around in 33:41 and couldn’t have found 1 second more.

 

The next attempt was sometime later. Also on the track, at the Trafford 10,000, in September. This race was inconsiderate enough to place itself the first weekend after our family summer break to Lanzarote. Needless to say my shape wasn’t razor sharp. I had kept the fitness up but didn’t have the edge required to turn 33:20 into 32:55 form. I laboured around for a very evenly paced 33:18.

 

Then came the first road attempt of the year, the Leeds Abbey Dash. The same race I had had the big breakthrough the previous year. I lined up with Dan, personal pacemaker (a seasoned veteran having bested the pesky barrier at the aforementioned Trafford race with a gutsy 32:50). Sadly the challenge never got off the ground, due to starting too far back, a schoolboy error, and being caught in a very congested field moving just a touch too slow. The quality is very high at the Leeds race and the road was wall-to-wall with guys running 3:25 kays when we wanted 3:18s. The cumulative difference took its toll and by halfway in 17:04 there was no chance of breaking 33. I pinned my ears back and buried myself coming home for a second half of 16:11. Partly frustration and partly just wanting to not give up on the goal. The resulting 33:15 was not what I wanted but the 16:11 told me I still had a shot if I paced it better. Commit more you fool.

 

Onto the 4th and final attempt, another road race, this time the Telford 10k in December. It has a mineshaft first km and gentle ups and downs after that. I was determined to get out fast enough to be in the game. I was sick of 3:25 openers and trying to claw back deficits. But I was equally cautious of selling my goat before 3k and ending with the opposite of Leeds, a fast start and a slow finish. That was not on the Christmas list.

 

With that bubbling away in my mind, the gun went and we were off. Thankfully temperatures the night before hadn’t gone below zero so the paths were ice free, a deal breaker if they weren’t and a common danger in December.

 

A reminder: I needed 3:18 per km to run 33:00.

 

Anything under was good, anything over meant I’d need to drag it back somewhere.

 

First kay 3:13. Factoring in the downhill start this was not fast, but was fast enough to get me in the game. Just what I wanted. I settled in. Passed a few groups trying to find a gang moving at a pace I felt was right. Second km in 3:17, still good. Third in 3:13, more of the same. I was starting to feel it now and decided to sit with a trio I had caught. 4th km in 3:22. Panic. Is this the start of a blow? I needed a good halfway split to motivate myself for the pain coming on the second lap of the two lap course.

Telford 10k 2014

I pushed on past them and found another trio but I had worked hard to get to them, 5th km in 3:12 and halfway in 16:17.

 

Excellent this was where I wanted it to be. But I was hurting now and needed to consolidate for the next few kays. I stuck with the group for a 3:23 and 3:18 6th and 7th km. They were slowing I could feel it. I’m not giving up on this now. I went wide and went past them. Keep the tap fully open Ince, keep the pace going.

 

It was hurting too much now. It had been hurting too much for too long and the fight was ebbing out of me. I want to stop fighting, I want to back off and let the pain subside. Come on. Keep going. No I need this to ease.

 

The 8th kay was a 3:27 as a result of this internal argument. That fired me up. What the fuck are you doing?! I’m not binning this after all the work I’ve done. Come on man. Two more kays to go.

 

We turned at the traffic cone somewhere around this point and I noticed Ed was much closer to me than he should be. Is he ok? Shortly afterwards I passed him walking. Clearly not. A viral infection had not cleared his system in time and sadly his race ended there.

 

Right, refocus you big girl. Two more km’s. Empty the tank. Give it everything. Do not let this slip through your fingers. 9th in 3:16. A good split. Was it enough? Had I lost too much with the 3:27?? I couldn’t work it out anymore. Just throw the works at it. No matter what. Even if you don’t break it, give it horns. Maybe a PB is on the cards if not a sub33. Thoughts just churning around in my foggy head.

 

I hammered the final km. I was hurting so much but I was thinking in minutes not distance. Suffer for 2 more minutes, it can’t be more than 600m now, suffer for 1 more minute. Come on. Dig in. Push harder. Someone was passing me. Go with him. Let him drag you until you can’t go anymore. I rounded the bend, less than 100m to go. The finish clock was on low 32’s. I could do this. I was going to do this. I sprinted with every fibre shouting its displeasure at me. Get over that line! I did it. Crossed the  line with the clock still on 32 something. I don’t even know what.

 

32:44.

 

Yes. Yes. Yes.

 

1 00:03:13
2 00:03:17
3 00:03:13
4 00:03:22
5 00:03:12 00:16:17 1st 5k
6 00:03:23
7 00:03:18
8 00:03:27
9 00:03:16
10 00:03:03 00:16:27 2nd 5k
0:32:44
Ave 0:03:16 per km
78.4 s per lap

 

That right there was the 33-minute dragon slain.

Full results here

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Saturday 17 May was the 2014 British Masters (BMAF) Road Relay Champs in Sutton Park, Birmingham.

 

I was running leg 1 in the M35 race (age 35-44). M35 race 6 legs, M45 race 4 legs and M55 3 legs.

 

Each leg is run on the same 3 mile loop.

 

I set off steadily and successfully managed to avoid being trampled in the mad stampede from the gun. Us old timers take this seriously. And start fast! (just in case we don’t finish fast at least we’ve done something quickly). I must have been well outside the top 20 going up the hill about 400 yards into the race. I eased into my running over the next minute or two and started catching and passing people as they tackled the climb. Based on the people coming back to me even at this stage, it seems time and experience doth not necessarily a savvy racer make.

 

We hit the top of the climb, a nasty half mile or so of ascent and the toughest part of the route. I felt ok and continued to accelerate. As I made my way past the small groups working together which were getting slightly separated from each other now, I could see the lead pack of about 6 runners ahead. Without thinking about it I had pushed ahead of the second group and suddenly found myself completely on my own between the lead pack and the chasers, in no man’s land. Idiot! At this point we passed the 1 mile mark. I made a decision to put everything into latching onto the back of the lead pack if I could, which was in single file now.

 

I managed to catch them over the next few hundred yards and thought oh my gosh I’m in the lead pack at nationals. I savoured the moment whilst also thinking, hang on, I’m actually ok at this pace, what happens now?? Before I knew it I had edged past a few more and was now lying in third place.

 

We were approaching the halfway point which is a switchback around a traffic cone and back down the other side of the road. Slowing down to make the 180 degree turn and accelerating back up to race pace took a lot out of me. Not to worry I thought, it will have done the same to the other two. We continued to run in the 3 man breakaway.

 

One of the three dropped back a little bit and I thought he was gone. Wow, where is this going to end? Could I even entertain the thought of being in the lead??

2014 Nationals Masters Relay

 

Before I could answer that question we hit the long drag down the hill back past the lake and towards the final climb, twist, and climb for home. 2 miles came and went somewhere here. On the downhill the lead guy stretched away and the guy who I thought had been dropped came past me as well and latched onto the leader. I was hurting all over the place now, and the pain was sapping the fight from me. They got a 10m gap and then it was too late. They were gone and I was running on my own. It became survival to the finish now, just hang onto third you sissy. I could hear cheering and support not far behind me so I knew the chasing pack was close. I dug in and thought no way I was losing third after putting myself out there for the past 2 miles. I worked up the little pull, focused on pace through the twists and turned right into the final climb up the finishing straight. I put everything into the climb, no-one is passing me now I kept telling myself.

 

Third over the line! 15:24 for the 3 miles. I raced hard, gave it everything and will most definitely take that time on a far from flat course.

 

(Truth be told I’d take that time on a pancake flat course. I had a good day, simple as that).

 

I wasn’t able to stick around for the rest of the relay legs so I’m not sure how everyone else did, other than by looking at the results. Well done to everyone who turned out for the club.

 

M35

15 BRAT A 1h45.58m

Mark Ince 15.24m

Kevin McMillan 17.27m -10

Adam Higgins 18.11m -6

Robin Biles 16.45m +2

Simon White 20.02m +3

Jort Vanmourik 18.09m -1

 

M45

38 BRAT 1h22.02m

Peter Brown 21.30m

Nicholas Iliff 21.44m +2

Paul Robertshaw 20.07m +7

Owen Doherty 18.41m +28

 

M55

8 BRAT 56.10m

Richard Gray 17.07m

Martin Ludford 18.58m -14

Robert Andrews 20.05m -9

 

 

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Yes I know it’s almost February, but here is my wrap up of 2013.

It will not be a year I forget in a hurry.

There are many things that shape our lives, some good some bad. And as we stumble through these things and find the paths we need, we get hurt and we get knocked down. But we develop strength and resilience. And most importantly, we always always learn along the way.

So onto my running headlines for the year.

Where do I start with the year I’ve just had? In any other year each of the following items would be head and shoulders above everything else. In no particular order here they are.

Friends

“Lame” I hear you say. Too bad. The support from my running friends has been overwhelming and unwavering. I’ve lent on so many of you so many times. So many to thank, you know who you are.

There are some standout moments. Running London with Barrow (more on that later) the older brother I never had (and did I mention older? ), the flexibility afforded to me in training times – people being willing to adjust their schedules to suit my higgledy piggledy new regime. Dan doing everything in his power to get me to run the Coventry 5000. “I just really want you to have a go mate”. Offering many lifts, sacrificing his car for the entire week if needs be leading up to the race to help me get on the start line. Simone and Gracie, both rocks in so many ways, there for me, providing hands to drag me from the brink of some of the darkest blackest holes I’ve had the displeasure of looking in to. I will never be able to fully express my gratitude guys. Looking back on how the year started is like looking at a movie of someone else’s life. I’ve come so far since then and it seems surreal that I was ever in that place. The foundation created by those first few months was the platform on which my running year was built, but it could have been so different without the help of all my friends. Thank you each and every one.

15:51

ABMC 1551h the infamous Coventry 5000. Probably the single  most significant race of the year. An earlier blog post covers it in full detail. Click the image for a link to the post.

Summary: I broke a long standing PB from 1994 as well as getting under 16 minutes for the first time.

18:55

2013 6StgNational Six Stage Road Champs. First time under 19 minutes and first (and possibly last) time I’ve beaten the class of Dan R, Chris A and Tim C in the same race. This race is an unusual distance (5.85km), so it is difficult to relate it to the other race distances but the powerof10 website ranked it higher than all my other races save the 33:06 Telford 10k in December.

73:49

Bristol Half Marathon. After the 15:51 this is probably the next big breakthrough I had. I went in with a PB of 77:26 and aspirations of breaking that time and possibly sneaking under 75 for a UK Marathon championship qualifier if it went well. It went very well. I ran fairly even splits to about halfway or just after and then dropped the hammer over the final 3-4 miles for a big negative split and even bigger PB.

33:06

I had the pleasure of running this exact time twice in two months. First in the Leeds 10k in November and then in the Telford 10k in December. My previous PB was 35:00 so I was chomping at the bit to get under the 35 minute mark. Leeds goes down as the big breakthrough simply because it was first. Similar to Bristol I ran a negative split although not as marked. Halves of 16:42 and 16:24. I was over the moon. The whole race felt good, never in too much trouble. The next month at the Telford 10 I put no pressure on myself, thinking that the 33:06 was out of reach. As it turned out I had had another great day and was on pace for a PB and even a sub33 through halfway in 16:29. I tied up a bit on the second half and the final slight inclines from 7-9k did me in.

Mileage 3018

My mileage for the year topped out at 3018 or 4855km. This works out to 58 miles or 93km per week. Not my biggest year, in 2011 I ran 100 miles more overall, but I feel this year the quality of the running was much better and I was able to tap into some of the strength I’ve been accumulating over the past 4 or 5 years of reasonable miles.

108 miles in one week

Prior to 2013 I had never run a 100 mile week or even a 90 mile week. In the summer my training was a bit sporadic on a week-by-week basis depending on the childcare situation. One of the weeks when I wasn’t seeing them at all a colleague asked what I intended to do with my free time. “I’ll probably just run” was my response. The week didn’t even start off that impressively and I didn’t start thinking about what it might total until the Wednesday. I felt great all week, probably because the novelty of the mileage was overriding the general fatigue I must have been carrying. Two weeks after the 108, I ran a 91 mile week. I look back on those two August weeks and really believe they kicked my form on for the rest of the summer.

VLM

2013 vlmA fantastic race weekend with Gracie, Barrow and I and a very personal shared race experience. One of my favourite people in the world and lifetime mate Barrow, who like a fine wine gets better with age, came over from SA to run London with me this year, and to try and break 3 hours. We ran every step together, and although we never quite hit the sub3, ending with a 3:04, it was one of the running highlights of my life.

Iffley Road Stadium Mile

A chance to run on the fabled Iffley track, surely the most famous running track in the world. And better still to run the distance it became famous f2013 Iffley02or, the fabulous mile. Travelled down with Dan and Tim, partners in crime. Dan and I were drawn in the same heat and quickly moved to the front of the race when it became obvious the others weren’t keen on the 70 second laps we wanted. I took over from about 500 or 600 metres in and kept the gas pedal pressed hard, Dan stuck to my shoulder all the way through the bell. I felt him wanting to come past and I pressed again determined not to let the pace slide. Going around the final bend into the finishing straight he eased wide and came past me. I kicked to stay in touch but he was too strong and I ended a second or two behind him in 4:41.62 for second place.2013 Iffley01

Roon the Watter

Going into any race as defending champion is pretty cool and I loved turning up at Roon and getting a mention on the start line. Jon and Teri were there as always. Teri looking after the girls while Jon, Bec and I ran. I had run 34:50 something to win the 6 mile race the previous year and was hoping for quicker. I didn’t know my road form but had been racing a lot on the track which I hoped would have me race sharp at least. I won it in 33:12 and have a full report on the blog already here.

Why?

So that was 2013. In a nutshell the best running year I’ve ever had. All-time personal bests on the track over the mile and 5000m and on the road at 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon. Where did it come from? I’m not entirely sure but there are a few factors this year that have almost certainly had a big part in it. It would be remiss of me not to mention the weight loss. I lost half a stone early in the year and decided to tighten up my diet and ensure it stayed off. I cut out a lot of fizzy drinks and crisps, and my personal Achilles heel, late night snacking.

Nutrition aside, I joined Bud Baldaro’s training group in January and it is surely no coincidence my running curved steadily upwards once the Tuesday sessions with Bud’s group started bedding in. I couldn’t be more grateful to Bud, Johnny Cullen – who talked me into joining them – and the Tuesday night gang. Thanks guys.

The only PB’s I still have outstanding from my uni days (or first career as Jamie calls it) are 800, 1500 and 3000. Let’s see how 2014 goes.

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 There has been a niggling feeling lurking around the murky depths of the running community for the past couple of months (possibly years). The whispering that goes on behind closed marathon doors. People only want to watch fast races and see fast times, the whisperers are saying. The perception that time is king and the actual racing is secondary. 

Are we so obsessed with time we cannot enjoy a race unless it is fast? No. This opinion undermines the intelligence of running fans. Everyone wants to see an exciting race. And what is more exciting than two or more people burying themselves late in a race in an attempt to get rid of their competitors? Nothing.

But running fast is also exciting. I don’t think fast running deserves the bad rap it seems to be getting from the learned running media.ryan hall finishing houston half

It is not, as many people would seem to have us believe, an on-or-off situation. Actually you can have your cake and eat it. If you love the racing you don’t have to hate the time. And if you love world record attempts you don’t have to hate racing. When you think about it, that is a ridiculous proposal anyway. But that is the choice we are told we are making.

Well I reject that choice. Distance fans are smart enough to appreciate a race and a course for what it is. No-one would say an elite marathoner who wins a race has run badly in that race because he was five or ten minutes slower than his Personal Best. Those guys run races to win. Fast times are secondary. In the choice between a fast time trial and a tough attritional battle between gladiators, as a spectator it is a no brainer. And for the competitors it is win first, time second. If you can win in a fast time, well that’s just dandy. But just as the two concepts aren’t mutually exclusive, they aren’t joined at the hip either.

What needs to be remembered is that writing off time as being pointless is just as foolish as saying it is all that matters. Sure you want a close race, but it has to be reasonably fast, by default. What does reasonably fast mean? That is the question. Not because we want it fast, but because if it is not reasonably fast you will have dozens of contenders for the win. We might not care as spectators but you can be sure the elite runners in the field will care. The top half dozen runners don’t want a bunch of guys they don’t know hanging around the lead pack waiting to show off their unheralded kicks. Fact is it has to be some form of fast. Fast doesn’t relate to an absolute pace. Fast in Berlin might be 2:03, but fast in New York might be 2:05, and fast in Honolulu might be 2:11. Fast in Mumbai might be 2:15. In road racing terms, speed is a relative thing.

In cross country, pace is completely arbitrary. Yet there again you know the pace is “fast”. You know this because top quality runners are being burned off left and right. Guys who have run 27 minutes for 10k on the track, which is fast by anyone’s definition, are barely in shot as the camera follows the lead pack. So you know it’s quick. More than that it doesn’t matter. It is all about the race.

 

sprint finish Pure racing taken to the extreme is just as bad as solo time trialling. In more 1500m and mile races than I care to remember, I have seen the group go out at a pace barely above crawling. They creep around for 3 laps and then blast the last lap. There are plenty of people in contention but I wouldn’t call it exciting. I don’t want to watch a bunch of 1500 guys trying to decide who the quickest 400 guy is. An honest hard pace for 3 laps and THEN a kick. That’s when the final lap split counts. Who has the quickest 400 once when your legs are full of lactic and your lungs are burning and you can taste blood in your mouth. That’s compelling racing and has both a time and a race element.

Let’s summarise if possible.

Two competitors repeatedly attacking each other over the final miles of a race IS incredibly exciting.

Mass sprint finishes CAN be exciting.

Solo races against the clock CAN be exciting.

I don’t see the need to write off races based on a pre-conception of “how races like this go”.

There is one rule that applies across the board. Racing must come first. But really this is the default position anyway. When Haile Gebrselassie was chasing marathon world records in time-trial fashion a few years ago, he went out hard with the clock and pacemakers as predetermined company. However when he hadn’t shaken off a competitor or a couple of competitors by the 20 mile mark he made that his priority. Win first, time second.  And he would state it afterwards. “once I saw I hadn’t shaken off x or y, I knew I had to forget about the world record and go for the win”. That’s not a direct quote but it is generally words to that effect. All professional athletes have this understanding.

I can say that with certainty even though I am far from a professional athlete myself. It is clear that winning trumps a fast time, every time. Moses Mosop ran 2:03:06 in Boston last year, second to Geoffrey Mutai in 2:03:02. Geoffrey took the bulk of the limelight but Mosop ran an incredibly fast time. If you have offered Mosop the win but said it would be in 2:04:06, a minute slower than he ran, what do you think his response would be? I know what I think. Winning is the thing. Bill Rodgers won Boston four times and New York four times. An amazing marathoner. A hero. Probably a lot of hard-core marathon fans know the times Bill ran, but outside of them, people tend to remember the winning. Grete Waitz, who held the world record for a while in the marathon, is remembered primarily for one outstanding achievement: Grete won the New York Marathon NINE times. Nine times! That achievement surpasses any of the quick times she managed, and she was quick.

 

 Road cycling teaches us this lesson in unequivocal terms.  One-day classics or individual stage wins in a three-week grand tour. It’s the winning that matters. When Mark Cavendish wins a sprint finish no-one cares about the time. It has no meaning. A great post which goes into far more depth on this, and on the odd occasion where people do pay attention to times in road cycling, can be found here, on the incomparable inrng website. Long breakaways or bunch sprints, the underlying principle remains: it’s the racing not the time.

However, while this is a good lesson, it is not one that running can swallow hook, line and sinker. Because running is intrinsically different. Track racing is track racing, and cycling has track too, so for sensible comparisons we will ignore the track elements of both sports.

Marathons are a very precise distance. 26 miles and 385 yards. Because of this standardised length, times are unavoidably compared. Courses are different and this is accounted for in winning times anyway. Every running fan can appreciate that a 2:04 marathon, no matter where it takes place, is incredibly impressive. But it doesn’t have to work the other way, i.e. that a 2:12 is NOT impressive. There are always factors on the day that have a major influence on time.

Then, on certain occasions you get great racing and great times. Sammy Wanjiru in Beijing is a great example of this. Dog-eat-dog racing with scant regard for race conditions, AND a three minute improvement on the Olympic Marathon Record.  The outcome was a very special event that people identified straight away as being something we will remember for a long time.

This shows that there are certain occasions, when the planets are aligned and the stars are shining brightly, when we can be treated to great racing which we get to watch unfold at record speeds.

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On Sunday its Great North time. It’s a pity Martin Lel has had to pull out of a race again, this time it’s a fever that has knocked him back. It leaves the race pretty much there for the taking for Haile Gebreselassie. Or so you might think. I have a sneaking suspicion that a few of the other elites in the field might just fancy their chances against the little maestro a lot more than they would have a couple of years back. Geb is the greatest runner of all time, but everyone has to start slowing down eventually don’t they? When exactly this path will cross those currently on upward paths is difficult to say.

On Sunday I think Geb will have his hands full with Dathan Ritzenhein in particular. Dathan has been racing sparingly over the summer (if at all?) so knowing his exact current shape is not possible. That said, he has I think the best distance coach in the world in Alberto Salazar, and he has also had a great last 12 months, so I would be surprised if he isn’t racing in the top drawer on Sunday.

In the women’s race Mara Yamauchi faces off against Berhane Adere, Irina Mikitenko and Constantina Dita. I suspect Dita is not the force she was pre-Beijing, as her recent showings in London have been poor by her standards.

On the same weekend there is another half marathon, in the US, with in my opinion a higher quality field. It’s the Philadelphia half and top 26-mile man Ryan Hall is up against Gebre Gebremariam, the 2009 World XC champion and therefore simply the best runner on the planet for 2009. This year Gebremariam has been killing everyone on the US road circuit, and is probably the number one road racer for 2010. They also have Abderrahim Goumri. Perennial number 2 man in big city marathons, but also a 2:05 (I think) marathoner. Wow!

The women’s race in Philadelphia is also arguably stronger than that at Great North. Shalene Flanagon (US 10k record holder) is up against Meseret Defar who is making her Half Marathon debut. Defar debuting at the half is probably the most exciting bit of the entire weekend, in either race.  An absolute world class track runner, one of I think four women to EVER have broken 30 minutes for 10000m on the track. 30 minutes!! That’s almost national class for men for Pete’s sake. I am really looking forward to seeing how she gets on.

Bring it on!

Ps. I got the half-marathon ball rolling last week with my own (paltry by comparison) effort in the Nottingham Half Marathon. It signalled the official ending of my 10-week summer running-hiatus. I ran 81:50 and here are my splits. Onwards and upwards please.

Mile Time Split Projected Finish Time
1 00:05:47 00:05:47 01:15:46
2 00:12:30 00:06:43 01:21:53
3 00:18:49 00:06:19 01:22:10
4 00:25:06 00:06:17 01:22:12
5 00:31:10 00:06:04 01:21:39
6 00:37:50 00:06:40 01:22:36
7 00:43:59 00:06:09 01:22:19
8 00:50:29 00:06:30 01:22:40
9 00:56:48 00:06:19 01:22:41
10 01:03:06 00:06:18 01:22:40
11 01:09:14 00:06:08 01:22:27
12 01:15:33 00:06:19 01:22:29
13 01:21:16 00:05:43 01:21:54
13.1 01:21:51 00:00:35 01:21:51
       
  Ave: 00:06:15  

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oh yes he does

geb

21 years in the pro game, still kicking ass. 

and as barrow reminds me every chance he gets, he marked this youngster for greatness in the 93 world champs.

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