Friday, November 11, 2016


A late race report but hopefully welcome because we all need a bit of good news!   

Nearing the end of my 2016 running streak, the small but perfectly formed marathon in the neighbouring town of Abingdon loomed.  

Loomed, because there is nigh zero crowd support (just the odd sheep); you aren't allowed to wear earphones as they don't close the roads, and the weather can be precarious.   Nevertheless, it was selected as it is an 11 minute drive from home, and anyway... it all went ABsolutely-FABulously.  

Daughter as race crew as wife had to go to Canada urgently -
but she watched my progress on iPhone findfriends

Executed marathon properly.  Finally.   For the last three marathons I've failed at sticking to the plan.  Either too little running and too much rowing.  Or went out too fast and blew up.  Or just failed, full stop.   Or followed the plan and the legs didn't cooperate after 18.   But today it all worked.  

Plan was 10, 10 and 6.2:   first 10 miles of patience and holding back.  Rein rein rein.   Starting with 8.45 miles and gradually easing down to 8.35s by ten.  Letting people run away knowing I'd pick them off later.  Enjoying the views.  Turkey farms and sheep and no crowds just countryside.    
This is on my arm, not leg.   Haha  

Then 10 miles of focus, getting down to 8.30s and holding there.  Not suffering or racing just hold hold hold.   Picking off runners and executing the plan.Then the last 6.2 was drive drive drive.  "None shall pass" me.  And no one was allowed to.  Pace thus picking up and dipping under 8.30s.   

I physically felt the Wall at 22: It was a double loop course reasonably flat and suddenly at 22 I couldn't breathe for half a mile as my body switched to fat burning.   
Amazing that I didn't fall apart but I'd run 2000 miles in training this year so my body and little mind could handle it.   So I gulped air and Gu and dug in for the final push.    And SMILED AND SMILED AND SMILED

Ecstatic at the Finish.  Daughter got the announcer to name-check me as I ran around the stadium track, noting this was my 20th marathon and that I'd last run this one in 1998 when daughter cheering me on was 3 years old!

Then tea and results check 3.41.01.    Faster than the last time I ran this course all those years ago!   And better than I'd aimed for for the last three marathons and this one i.e. 3.45.    Fabulous.     The days of 3.16 marathons may be gone but I'm really chuffed.    Phew!!!!  

and finally, here is a photo from the same race in 1998, with the same daughter as pacer that time


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Catch

So, recovery from the Chicago Marathon proceeds apace. I have a few pulls here and there (calf, left shoulder) that I think have more to do with doing less and not stretching enough than they have to do with running the Marathon.

Yesterday I took a group of students running, and I was focussing on form rather than speed.  Today I cross trained and, on the bike and in the pool I was focussing on a smooth pedal and swim stroke.  It occurred to me that in all three disciplines, a (the) key to a smooth and efficient stroke/stride was timing "the catch."  This is more obviously and traditionally a part of the wisdom on swim technique.  The stroke is divided into the glide, catch and pull.  But the same is true on the bike, as your foot hits the bottom of the stroke, you pull back, engaging the hamstring.  That little pull back is the difference between pounding like a piston and a smooth circular pedal stroke -- stomping v. spinning.  I didn't really realize until recently that the same is true with running.  How smoothly does your foot transition from landing (toe/midfoot/heel) to catching and pulling you back. Ideally the plant and the catch are virtually simultaneous.

In all three disciplines, the catch is where the stroke/stride shifts from getting into position and/or shock absorption to transmitting power.  Timing "the catch" makes a huge difference.  In the swim, you suddenly notice yourself moving steadily (rather than choppily) through the water.  On the bike, your hips pivot slightly forward, your legs relax, and the power transition seems natural.  Running, suddenly the stride gets smooth.

Does this make sense? Am I making it up? Max??

Tuesday, November 1, 2016