The number 80 bus

I first contemplated the possibility of an 80% age grade (AG) as I turned 49 and reviewed the performances required at age 50. Of course in the intervening years 80% has come a little closer in absolute terms, but nonetheless three years later, it has finally turned up and I am happy to be on board. In fact, as is traditional, three or four have turned up at once.


The number 80 bus … three or four have turned up at once!

Notwithstanding my advancing years, I am still very much motivated by achieving absolute PBs – faster times – and so I really wanted any 80% AG performances to meet this condition too.

Parkrunning as often as I do, and given my greater ability over shorter distances, it was always likely that I would run my first 80% at a parkrun 5k. My existing PB was 18:50 set in August 2017, when I was 51 – 78.94% AG. Over the next two months, I ran close to my PB again – 18:54 and 18:52 – which, by virtue of being after my 52nd birthday, improved my AG – to 78.80 and 79.28% respectively.

At the beginning of this month, and now aged 53, I ran 18:52 again – an 80.12% AG. I took some satisfaction from this but hoped I would be able to improve my absolute PB and thus satisfy my self-imposed criteria. It turned out that I was about to embark on a quite remarkable, to me, series of performances …

Number 80 timetable

date, venue age time AG*
3 Nov 2018, parkrun – Dulwich (5k) 53 18:52 80.12%
10 Nov 2018, parkrun – Dulwich (5k) 53 18:48 PB 80.41%
18 Nov 2018, The Brighton 10k 53 39:18 80.03%
24 Nov 2018, parkrun – Dulwich (5k) 53 18:44 PB 80.69%

I now have two races left this season, the 5 mile at Perivale on 2 December and a final raced parkrun at Dulwich on 8 December. Of the two I really want a PB (currently 31:28, 76.91% AG at age 49) at the five mile race and sub 31:00. Conveniently 30:58 is an 80.03% AG ūüėČ To complete the sequence of 6 consecutive weekends with a further 80% AG and even another 5k PB would be amazing!

* The AG percentages used throughout this post are calculated using the 2006/2010 tables. I use these as a matter of habit since parkrun uses the 5k subset of this data to calculate its published age grades. The latest 2015 tables produce slightly lower percentages, respectively the four performances in the timetable are 80.02%, 80.30%, 77.82% and 80.59%.


PB review 2017 & targets for 2018

At last, after two years in the running semi-wilderness, 2017 was a resoundingly successful year. The dip in mileage during November and December was not due to injury and the lesser dip in April was simply post marathon recovery.

2017 was a resoundingly successful year.

I participated in 20 parkrun 5k events this year, across 5 different venues, and ran most of them competitively. At Dulwich parkrun in August, I improved my longstanding 2014 5k PB of 18:53 to 18:50. In the next two months, I continued to record excellent times Р18:52, 18:54 and 18:52 Рevery time I ran a parkrun competitively.

Outside parkrunning, I participated in my first marathon, which was a great experience if not an impressive performance, and I improved my¬†10000m PB¬†twice such that my track time is now on a par with my road PB and the targets I have set for both now seem genuinely realistic. On my 52nd birthday, 1st October, I ran the Kingston Half marathon with the aim of setting a new PB, faster than the now disqualified 86:29 I set at Brighton in 2015. Coming as it did during the best three months of my year – August to October – I was initially somewhat disappointed to run ‘only’ 86:41. But, since Brighton 2015 was officially 146 metres short, it is clear that this is a better performance by any measure. I will definitely be returning next year and hope to be ready to attempt sub 85 minutes.

So, once again my targets for 2018 are unchanged from last year. This year I really¬†want to get on the track and improve my middle distance PBs, but having entered another marathon is not exactly conducive to that!¬†On that note, last year’s Brighton Marathon was hard enough that, at this moment, notwithstanding that I am running strong I think it is unlikely I will commit to my sub 3:10 target time from the gun.

2017 season 2018 season
event opening PB target events improvement target
800m 2:25.9 2:19.9 2:19.9
1500m 5:18.2 4:49.9 4:49.9
mile 5:31.7 4:59.9 4:59.9
3000m 9:59.9 9:59.9
5000m 19:01.53 17:59.99 17:59.99
5k 18:53 17:59 20 August 18:50 17:59
5 mile 31:28 29:59 29:59
10000m 40:41 38:29.99 2 June 40:28.20, September 39:05.53 38:29.99
10k 39:04 38:29 1 38:29
10 mile 66:41 64:59 64:59
half marathon 86:29 84:59 1 October 86:41 84:59
marathon 3:09:59 1 April 3:47:58 3:09:59

I am still in denial about getting older and so I am holding out for absolute PBs – that is improvements in my best times. However, for the sake of completeness shall we say, I have listed my age grade (AG) bests and am particularly hopeful that 2018 will see the achievement of my longstanding goal of an 80% age grade.

event time PB AGe when set AG of time PB when set AG PB age when AG PB set
800m 2:25.9 48 78.32% same
1500m 5:18.2 48 72.77% same
mile 5:31.7 48 75.50% same
5000m 19:01.53 49 72.21% same
5k 18:50 51 78.94% 79.42% (18:52) 52
5 mile 31:28 49 76.91% same
10000m 39:05.53 51 77.64% same
10k 39:04 49 77.94% 78.20% (39:54) 52
10 mile 66:41 48 74.33% same
half marathon 86:41 52 78.58% same
marathon 3:47:58 51 61.73% same


PB review 2016 & targets for 2017

My running in 2016 ended on a relative high. This is probably better phrased as, “My perception of running in 2016 was only saved from being ‘a complete fiasco’ by returning to a decent level of activity in December.” I ran 21 parkrun 5k events this year, but most of those were simply part of the process of recovery from one injury or another. Certainly, none were PB attempts and the fastest, 19:23 at Dulwich in June, was a full 30 seconds outside my 5k PB. Outside parkrunning, I participated in only three events this year. The first two of these were also in June; a 3k team relay¬†and a 10000m PB¬†although the latter was more of a statistical anomaly than a notable performance. By July I was already injured when I participated in the Thunder Run 24 hour team relay which really was such a fiasco that I couldn’t bring myself to write a blog post.


Running in 2016 was only saved from being a complete fiasco by returning to a decent level of activity in December.

Consequently my targets for 2017 are unchanged from last year. In fact, I have removed the 50k target which I optimistically added last year as part of my #50at50 challenge. If I am unable to maintain marathon training this year long enough to line up at the Brighton Marathon in April I will likely acknowledge that the marathon is beyond my physiology and remove it too next year.

2016 season 2017 season
event opening PB target events improvement target
800m 2:25.9 2:19.9 2:19.9
1500m 5:18.2 4:49.9 4:49.9
mile 5:31.7 4:59.9 4:59.9
3000m 9:59.9 9:59.9
5000m 19:01.53 17:59.99 17:59.99
5k 18:53 17:59 21 17:59
5 mile 31:28 29:59 29:59
10000m 44:04 38:29.99 1 June 40:41.00 38:29.99
10k 39:04 38:29 38:29
10 mile 66:41 64:59 64:59
half marathon 86:29 84:59 84:59
marathon 3:09:59 3:09:59

Track dinosaur

Last Friday I ran only my second 10000m¬†– at Orion Harriers annual Fast Friday track event. Whilst the distinction between a 10000m and a 10k may be subtle, it is one I am happy¬†to make, particularly as it guaranteed me a PB.¬†I have run twenty two 10k races and my PB in that discipline currently stands at 39:04, however I recorded just¬†44:04 in my first¬†10000m back in 2007. When I entered Friday’s race I anticipated¬†my recovery and training¬†going well and had an optimistic target of 39:30 in mind. Before arriving at the venue I modified this slightly,¬†as I have had to¬†back off¬†for¬†the last two weeks,¬†to a still highly optimistic 40:00.

I¬†arrived in good time and picked up my snazzy, bespoke race numbers; front and rear, got changed and talked to one or two other runners. I warmed up gently and made a mental note to¬†search online for information on best practice when warming up … I have a feeling that I warm up too close to race start.

As the race started shortly after 7:30pm, I consciously set out at a pace faster than my target with a view to testing the limits of my performance to gauge how far my recovery has come. I have done this a couple of times recently; my logic being that since events are not currently likely to produce PBs, achieving a particular time target is not in and of itself the most important thing. In this, slightly unusual, case I rationalised that whatever PB time I recorded it would be one I would hope to better significantly when fully fit. I set out at 39:35 pace, partly because this made the mental maths, 95 seconds per lap, easier as I passed the race clock every 400 metres and partly because two runners soon settled in at this pace in front of me. Although I was wearing a GPS watch I did not want to rely on it for pace or distance on a track.

This seemed to go well for a while. In fact, I was arriving at the start/finish a few seconds inside each lap target, but the two runners soon left me behind as my pace slowed. I continued to try and do the mental maths to check my lap splits … 1:35, 3:10, 4:45, 6:20, 7:55, but struggled to get it¬†right beyond lap 5 as the physical effort became more demanding.¬†Even as I completed lap 5, and the first 2k, my average pace to that point was only just inside 4:00/km – which of course projects to a 10000m time of just under 40:00.

Just before half way, perhaps 10 laps into the 25 lap race, I was lapped by the lead runner. I was not discouraged by this or by the majority of the field who also subsequently also lapped me. I knew the target times of the other runners, from my race entry confirmation email, and had anticipated being lapped at about half way. In fact, I found each of the runners lapping me briefly useful in pulling me along until I lost contact with them. At about this time, I selected another runner who had just passed me and worked hard to stay with her for the next few laps. As the race progressed I kept her in sight, but the distance between us stretched to maybe 25 metres or more.


My snazzy, bespoke race number!

Also from about half way, the timing team began to call out the number of laps remaining¬†for each runner; using the names on our race number bibs. This approach made sure the information was clearly communicated. Which was useful as I was now completely lost on what my lap¬†split times should be or for that matter how many laps I had done. The back straight water team had been shouting encouragement on every lap also using our names. This became more and more significant and¬†I put all my energy into¬†maintaining something approaching decent form¬†and not losing touch with the runner in front, now maybe¬†around¬†35 metres ahead. After the number of laps being called out to me¬†reduced to single figures I¬†checked the¬†average pace on my watch a couple of times. I could see that I¬†certainly wasn’t going to achieve 40:00 and that 40:30 was looking increasingly unlikely.

I felt tired, and attributed this to the same combination – of it being an evening race and that I had done no training, just two race efforts, in the previous two weeks – as I did on Wednesday. However, the combination of the small crowd on the main straight, the fantastic encouragement from the back straight water team and my still just maintained contact with the runner in front of me, meant that I still felt that I was racing.¬†I wrestled with the idea that I might be able to catch the runner in front, but wasn’t sure that I could give much more. As the remaining laps¬†reduced below 5,¬†it seemed that perhaps I was closing the gap.¬†My memory is indistinct on just when I realised that actually catching up was a real possibility. It may have been that I made a sustained¬†effort over the final two or more laps or perhaps all the gains were made in my final sprint which I think started with 200 metres to go. I¬†finished just 0.6 seconds behind.

race data summary

official finish time 40:41.0 PB
target 40:00 – 41 seconds outside
approx km splits pace
3:55, 4:01, 4:04, 4:04, 4:01, 4:06, 4:09, 4:10, 4:14, 3:57
155, 161, 161, 161, 162, 163, 162, 163, 163, 166
biometric summary average HR – 162
max HR – 172 (estimated personal maximum – 172)
average cadence – 182
approx start weight – 69.8kg
positions overall – 18 out of 20
gender – 14 out of 14
category – VM50-54 2 out of 2

PB review 2015 & targets for 2016

The running year that was 2015 came to a¬†singularly disappointing¬†end for me and¬†was¬†only saved from complete statistical ignominy by February’s half marathon PB at Brighton. Achilles tendonitis, though only diagnosed as such in July, affected my season from February¬†and morphed seamlessly into prepatellar bursitis during September¬†which then accompanied¬†me joylessly to the end of the year.¬†Although I ran ten parkrun 5k events this year only three¬†of these were inside twenty minutes and, of those, I ran only two as PB attempts. Hindsight seems to suggest¬†even those were limited¬†by the then undiagnosed tendonitis.¬†Consequently¬†my targets barely require¬†revision for 2016.


The running year that was 2015 came to a singularly disappointing end for me.

Nonetheless the presentation of data in tabular form always engenders inordinate inner joy and so I have¬†indulged myself to the full.¬†Compared to¬†last year¬†I have set¬†targets in¬†three additional¬†disciplines. The¬†5000m and 10000m targets are prompted by¬†my¬†participation in a 5000m, in April at a Highgate Harriers open meeting, and¬†my aspiration to run at¬†Highgate Harriers night of the 10000m PBs¬†respectively.¬†Although I had already run once in each discipline, both in 2006, I hadn’t previously noted these PBs separately from my 5k and 10k times; primarily because they were¬†slower than my times in those disciplines anyway. The two track disciplines should of course be¬†faster than their road race twins – the times for a 50 year old male recording an 80% AG performance are:

  • 5000m 18:01.80 / 5k 18:26.25 [ track just over 24 seconds faster ]
  • 10000m 37:37.91 /¬†10k 38:22.50 [ track nearly¬†45 seconds faster ]

With these comparisons in mind the targets below for 5000m and 10000m are clearly much kinder than the existing targets for 5k and 10k retained from last year. Personally an 80% Age Grade remains a Holy Grail Рmost of my PBs equate to an AG of around 75% Рand since my strongest times are in shorter events it is unlikely I will ever achieve an 80% AG at 5000m or 10000m. Similarly the targets below for marathon and 50k Рthe third new discipline Рare even kinder; the times equate to Age Grades of 73.41% and 71.90% respectively.

2015 season 2016 season
event opening PB target events improvement target
800m 2:25.9 2:19.9 2:19.9
1500m 5:18.2 4:49.9 4:49.9
mile 5:31.7 4:59.9 4:59.9
3000m 9:59.9 9:59.9
5000m 20:27 1 April 19:01.53 17:59.99
5k 18:53 17:59 10 17:59
5 mile 31:28 29:59 29:59
10000m 44:04 38:29.99
10k 39:04 38:29 38:29
10 mile 66:41 64:59 64:59
half marathon 89:16 87:29 2 February 86:29 84:59
marathon 3:09:59 3:09:59
50k 3:54:59

Well, that is as much joy as I can realise from reflection on statistics alone. Here’s to a happier New¬†Year with some actual running!


One of the¬†fragments of running knowledge I have acquired is that I do know the difference between a 5000m /¬†‘five thousand metres’¬†and a 5k / ‘five kay’ – the first is five kilometres raced on a track and the second is¬†the same distance run on the¬†road. A little¬†over a week ago I ran only my second 5000m¬†race.

The event¬†was part of an open meeting at Highgate Harriers‘ Parliament Hill track. It was the¬†first¬†open¬†meeting with a full programme that I have attended – there were four field events and the 5000m was the last and longest of six track events. All but one of the¬†track events was organised as two or more independent¬†races grouped by ability; the 5000m was divided into two races and I was in the second of those.¬†I arrived early enough to relax and watch several of the earlier events before needing to prepare for my own. I particularly enjoyed the second of the three 800m races¬†and watched with a broad grin as¬†runners of all ages from pre-teenage girls¬†to men approaching my own age, with age and gender representatives of most groups in between, raced in close competition and¬†crossed¬†the finish line within seconds of each other.

I arrived at the meeting with a target of 18:50 for my race; the same optimistic target I set for my last two 5k parkruns. I had fleetingly considered that a¬†track should be more conducive to speed than road and hoped that I might set a 5000m best faster than my current 5k PB of 18:53. But I hadn’t considered how much better. Whilst getting changed into my race kit I chatted with¬†another runner¬†who suggested, in an encouraging way, that the track might be worth 25 seconds or so over a road 5k! I hadn’t considered it might be quite that much, but didn’t reflect further at the time; my 18:50 target was pretty optimistic anyway.

By the time I lined up at¬†the start for my race (8:43pm according to my Garmin)¬†it was dark beyond the floodlights of the track and I was¬†feeling just a little tired – I was about to¬†start a race around¬†twelve hours later than I typically do! I had also warmed up anticipating an 8.20pm start … But enough excuses already, I was still excited enough to start quickly and glancing at my watch just after we passed the finish line for the first time confirmed just how fast. My pace was well inside 3:40/km and knowing my¬†18:50 goal required an average of 3:46/km I needed to slow down. I only wanted to slow down a little, but running in such close proximity to the others – I was in the middle of the 13 starters¬†as we traversed the second bend – I wanted to be sure I didn’t compromise anyone else’s race. I quite enjoyed the sensation of looking around to make myself aware of the runner on my shoulder and those just behind me and then carefully modifying my pace on the second straight. Several runners took their cue and passed me before the next bend.

By the time I reached the finish line again, and saw the 11 laps to go board, I had settled in and a lap later finished the first kilometre¬†in 3:47. By this time I think I was already in thirteenth place and focussed on¬†running my goal pace. I completed the second kilometre in 3:48 and already¬†knew I was¬†not going to be able to achieve¬†my goal pace for the entire race. I modified my goal to sub 19:00. There was a slight, but still significant, wind in the back straight and running unprotected by other runners it had some effect on me. I completed the third kilometre in 3:54. I could still see the runner in twelfth place, within 100m of me, and tried to¬†avoid being dropped further. The rest of the field though were out of sight – I was glad I’d asked before the start about the etiquette should I be lapped. I think it was during the next kilometre that the twelfth place runner slowed down and we swapped places – it was definitely him slowing; I completed kilometre four in 3:53.

Running essentially alone I found the decreasing laps to go board something to aim for¬†and having seen it showing¬†two laps to go I was on the final bend when¬†I became aware, at first from the cheering of the crowd and shortly after from the noise of the runners themselves, that the lead runners were completing their final lap and in so doing were catching me up.¬†Quite quickly.¬†I didn’t look round, but accelerated slightly as I approached the one lap to go board to ensure I didn’t get in the way of the finish. And to make¬†sure I didn’t get lapped. ūüėČ

This, and my own finishing push in the final 150m or so, helped to ensure that I completed the final kilometre in 3:39. My official time was 19:01.53. I was initially disappointed not to run inside 19:00, but reflected that I had run my fastest five kilometres of the year so far and in so doing had beaten¬†my two competitively paced¬†parkruns of the year –¬†19:15 run at Dulwich eleven¬†days earlier¬†and 19:04¬†in Poole just four days, and twelve hours, before the race.


So, hypothetically, how much is a track worth over a road at this distance? A 5000m¬†time of 19:01.53 produces an age grade, for me, of 75.21% which in turn equates to a 19:27.39 5k. Or, from another perspective, my 18:53 5k PB produces an age grade of 77.49% which equates to a 5000m time of 18:27.97. Both of which seem to make last week’s¬†performance look less positive.¬†Ah well.

Perhaps I’m not in the most positive frame of my mind right now; last week I joined in a track session for the first time in about a year and had to abort the main workout when¬†I strained a muscle in¬†my right calf.¬†It has now been five days since I last ran.

Brighton bullets

[update March 2017, since my original post the race organiser has issued a statement confirming that the 2017, 2016 and 2015 races were all 146 metres short. The following race report remains as originally written before the statement was issued.]

Brighton half marathon
My run at last year’s Brighton Half Marathon was my fifth half and my first at Brighton. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Sunday’s race was my sixth half and my second at Brighton. As I approached the start line my aim was¬†to improve¬†my PB of 88:16, set in last year’s race, to 87:59 or a little beyond. Requiring an overall average of 4:10 per kilometre my¬†pace plan was 4:14, 4:13, 4:12, 4:11, 4:10 and 4:09 thereafter. This, of course, produces a time¬†of 87:48, but I like to have¬†some flexibility ūüėČ

I came to the line feeling confident. Particularly because:

  • My mileage totals for the six months ending the day before race day were 125, 121, 119, 143, 162¬†and¬†135.¬†Prior to this period I had¬†rarely¬†run more than 120 miles in a month and never¬†as part of such a consistent sequence.
  • In January and February I successfully introduced longer tempo runs to my training routine. Up to the end of 2014 I had never done a tempo run of more than about 5k. This year my tempo runs have¬†increased¬†from 7.5k via 8.5k¬†and¬†8.2k to¬†9.3k¬†two weeks before the race. The tempo pace I use is a little faster than half marathon pace.
  • I’ve run long runs more consistently, in terms of both frequency and distance, than ever before in the last¬†six months. My second longest run ever, 22k, was 10 days before the race.
  • Recalling¬†last year, I was mentally prepared¬†for what I found to be the most difficult sections then; kilometre 15 and kilometres 17 and 18. I had also reviewed a course elevation profile noting these sections in particular.

I did have some concerns, but these seemed at least to be limited:

  • My last long run of 22k being only 10 days before the race although not optimal, was actually a considered decision. I am running¬†the Paddock Wood Half Marathon on 29¬†March this year, on what I believe to be an (even) faster, flatter course, and so decided to do a limited taper for Brighton and aim to peak for¬†Paddock Wood … We shall see.
  • Unfortunately¬†within the last few kilometres of my 22k¬†long run I slightly strained something in the vicinity of my lower right calf/Achilles. Serendipitously¬†this ensured that my taper period was well observed¬†and¬†fortunately¬†the¬†combination of the taper rest and some self massage in the week before the race meant that by¬†the day before the race I had no remaining symptoms.

One of my¬†sisters gave me¬†Mark Fitzgerald’s “Performance Nutrition for Runners”¬†for Christmas and¬†I have just started¬†reading it.¬†As a consequence¬†I tried out some new things at Brighton:

  • I had¬†a normal breakfast on race day. Usually I have¬†at most a slice of toast and a coffee before a morning race regardless of length. This time I ate my¬†normal full bowl of cereal with fruit.¬†I ate as soon as I woke up which¬†allowed¬†a little under three hours from eating to racing. I also made a stronger than average cup of coffee and took it with me in a flask so that I could drink it closer to race start.
  • I took a few Clif Shot Bloks with me to eat during the race. I have never eaten anything during a race before and had only eaten my first Shot Blok a few weeks earlier, with this experiment in mind, to ensure they were at least palatable.
  • I planned to take advantage of all three drinks¬†stations. I usually drink nothing or very little even during a half marathon.
  • The day before the race I did a short session¬†incorporating a warm up, 2 minutes at mile pace and a warm down. This was a¬†close¬†approximation of a workout described in Fitzgerald’s book designed to¬†act as a final day carb-load stimulus.

and so to Brighton
My journey to Brighton went well. I parked on Brighton Race Course a few minutes after eight and sat in the car to drink my coffee. I noticed that the displayed exterior temperature was zero Celsius and when I got out the turf underfoot was partially frozen. I was a little worried that ice might be a problem on the course. Riding down to the seafront, on one of the fleet of double deckers provided to fulfil the second element of my Park & Ride ticket, I soon dropped into conversation with another runner who sensibly observed that temperatures on the sea front would certainly be warmer.

Stepping off the bus my concerns about the temperature evaporated; the air felt milder and I was going to need the sunglasses I had packed in my race bag. My breakfast completed its digestive transit just in time and, sparing the sensitive details, I learned three important lessons for the future:

  • Always pack a¬†toilet roll in your race bag. I didn’t this time.
  • Sunglasses ensure eye contact with the next person in the queue can be¬†avoided if¬†unavoidably leaving a toilet cubicle less pleasant than you found it. Phew. And sorry.
  • Arriving at least 15 minutes earlier would have made it possible to reach the¬†correct starting pen …

I’m always surprised anew at how far forward I need to start at mass participation races. And in such a big race as the Brighton half was this year – 7,600 plus finishers – that makes for a lot of people to negotiate. I didn’t have enough time. The bodies became too dense to navigate, the opportunities to climb¬†out of the field and reliably rejoin it¬†seemed to have¬†ended and the race announcer started talking about race¬†start¬†being less than a minute away. I¬†discarded my thermal reflective blanket (recycled from the last¬†year’s event), climbed back into the field and took my¬†place in the crowd.

The start line clock clicked to 00:00:01 and the announcer began to¬†describe the opening seconds of the race. Back where I was standing it seemed unlikely that we would be moving any time soon. I heard the announcer describe the “one hour¬†thirty pacers crossing the line” and looked up at the race clock to note the time. I passed the start line and started my watch about a minute later. Since¬†my goal was to finish just over two minutes ahead of them I decided¬†that this would be¬†useful; I should pass them at about half way and, in so doing, get confirmation that I was on target.

The Brighton Half Marathon course starts right on the seafront and heads West for about 500 metres before turning North opposite the Palace Pier into the town. Completing a loop back near the seafront the 2.5k point is marked by a turn East onto Marine Drive from where the course climbs a little under 20 metres before reaching its Eastmost point and first turnaround approaching 7k. The course then heads West for a full 9k until its second and final turnaround and the 5k return to the start/finish.


The 2015 Brighton Half Marathon course as tracked by my Garmin FR620.

Being out of position – although not as badly as I was in November’s Brighton 10k – I was initially quite bogged down. I noticed my average pace just before we turned towards the town was only¬†4:37, but stayed relaxed and focussed on passing where I could; safely,¬†politely and¬†without excessive¬†effort. After completing the turn¬†the space available increased and when my¬†watch chimed the first kilometre it read¬†4:24. I decided I would make no attempt to recoup the excess 10 seconds immediately, but to stay with my plan and aim for 4:13 in the next kilometre. This I was able to do and¬†as I turned East onto Marine¬†Drive I felt comfortable.

Kilometres three, four and five are all slightly uphill and with my 4:12, 4:11, 4:10 pace plan in mind I was tempering my effort. Even so each time I glanced at my watch I saw that my pace was around 4:08/km. I felt comfortable and confident¬†that I was running at a pace I could maintain¬†and so¬†chose not to consciously slow to target pace.¬†Knowing¬†my race plan required an overall average of¬†4:10/km I decided to relax the strictness of my pacing¬†and simply aim to run at or a few seconds inside this pace for the remainder of the race. As I completed the¬†first five kilometres I noted my overall average pace to that point was 4:12/km – very good considering the opening kilometre – and felt re-assured that the decisions I’d made so far were good ones. Well except those related to my planned in-race nutrition and use of drink¬†stations; I noticed the first station¬†too late to make use of it and¬†so ate my first Shot Blok on its own.

As the course levelled off I relaxed into my running until the turnaround just before 7k. I became aware of the wind for the first time. Whilst it wasn’t strong by any means it was significant enough that seeking shelter behind other runners made sense. I made this my focus as we ran back towards the town. Re-passing the water station I noticed it in time at least to grab a bottle of water if not to have started eating my second Shot Blok in anticipation. I carried the water for a while as the Shot Blok softened in my mouth and then made a concerted effort to take on a¬†significant amount of water. Soon I was running past¬†the start/finish area, West beyond the Palace Pier for the first time and shortly after this, at about 11k, I caught up with the 90 minute pacer group. It was also at around this time that I became aware of my right ankle; it felt slightly stiff, but fortunately didn’t deteriorate beyond this and didn’t affect my race.

Running on the closed main road I picked out a particularly tall, broad runner to follow and shelter behind. It was particularly¬†helpful that he was, like me, pressing on relative to the field around him and passing other runners and so I was able to stick with him for some¬†kilometres. Remembering that I had first found it difficult at around 14k¬†in last year’s race I was pleased to find that this and subsequent¬†kilometres¬†passed without concern.¬†Even so as we¬†approached the final turnaround I¬†decided to let¬†the tall, broad runner go as I felt he was probably going to run¬†a faster race than me.

The second,¬†Westmost turnaround is not – like the first one – a simple cone in the road at which the field is required to execute a hairpin turn. Rather it is a couple of left turns, the first turns the field ninety¬†degrees to¬†face¬†the sea and the second similarly turns the¬†field¬†back toward the finish. The final drinks station is on the section between these two turns. Having by now eaten my third Shot Blok I contemplated whether to take water or Lucozade Sport. Since I didn’t feel¬†thirsty I decided to take the Sport drink, rationalizing that since¬†I¬†hadn’t tried it before I would only take a few sips, but¬†as I didn’t feel I particularly needed hydration I would take the minimal amount of carbohydrate this would provide.

Even though the wind hadn’t seemed¬†too much of a hindrance in the long run West, as soon as I completed the turnaround the contrasting reversal of the wind was noticeable. I no longer needed to take shelter behind other runners and started to push. There was ‘only a parkrun to go’ and I started internally counting to 100, as Paula Radcliffe has said she does, making an agreement with myself that I would focus on good form for the duration of the count;¬†stand tall and straight, lean forward a little, use my arms well¬†and fully¬†engage¬†my stomach muscles.¬†I’m not sure if I ever completed a¬†100 count. Certainly sometimes I lost count and sometimes I kind of came round and noticed I was no longer counting. Each time I started again and re-focussed on my form. I no longer looked at my watch for pace, I knew I was running inside 4:10/km and I continued to pass other runners. I recall my watch chiming 20k and pressing on anew, resolving not to compromise¬†my effort between that point and the finish. The finish is on a slight curve and this, combined with my own less than perfect vision, meant that it was only when I was within a few hundred metres¬†of the line¬†that I could actually see my destination. One¬†final sprint, past one more runner, my watched chimed 21k and I was over the line. 86:29! Wow.

race data summary

official finish time chip 86:29 PB (gun 88:17)
target 87:59 – 1:30 inside
splits pace
4:22, 4:11, 4:08, 4:05, 4:09,
4:03, 4:03, 4:08, 4:03, 4:07,
4:03, 4:07, 4:08, 4:09, 4:08,
4:08, 4:05, 4:05, 4:04, 4:06,
3:47 (final full km), 0:20 (final 97.5 metres)
approx HR
error, error, 152, 153, 153,
154, 155, 153, 152, 154,
152, 153, 151, 152, 151,
151, 153, 154, 154, 154,
156 (final full km), 161 (final 97.5 metres)
biometric summary average HR – 152 (estimated due to errors)
max HR – 161 (estimated personal maximum – 172)
average cadence – 181
approx start weight – 69.6kg
positions by chip time
(gun time)
overall Р224 (280) out of 7666
gender Р218 (271) out of 4055
category VM40-49 Р62 (77) out of 1384

Once over the line my right ankle began to complain a little more and by the time I had collected my finisher’s medal, had drunk a recovery drink and was on the table for my pre-booked post race massage it had become distinctly sore. The massage left me feeling much better generally and the masseuse confirmed that my right ankle hadn’t suffered an acute injury.

The day after the race I felt battered and bruised in a normal post long race way and although I did manage a recovery run my right ankle/calf was again quite sore. The following day I acquired an, as yet unexplained, intermittent abdominal pain and this has extended my normal post race period of feeling weak and feeble. As a consequence I am only completing this report today and have yet to run again.

Nonetheless I am really looking forward to the Paddock Wood Half Marathon and more posts titled according to their most prominent typographical feature.