Sunday, 30 November 2008

Finishing the week off in some style!

Despite the fact that I'm only 4 weeks into the USA 2011 training schedule, I feel like I've achieved a lot already. I've started to gain a basic level of fitness and endurance and the long process of putting the mental building blocks in place has begun.

Apart from the very cold and hilly 15 miles I did on Tuesday the rest of the week has been quite easy. The week started with a PB for the 5 mile Race Course route (00:43:00) on Monday and finished with the 3rd quickest time this year on the same route on Friday (00:44:58). The times in between varied according to fatigue, temperature and terrain. I was hoping to finish the running week in style and I can most definitely say that, by my standards, I did that very thing.

As I said in an earlier post, I've learned a lot from this week. The main thing is how to fit 50 miles into a week while working full time, doing the school drop offs and pick ups, having some good family time and still leave time to go to the match. I managed all of those things and could quite imagine being able to fit another 20 - 30 miles in per week. Quite how I'm going to add another 50-60 miles to that schedule by next Summer is going to take some planning.

Not only did I finish my running week off in style, I also thought I gave a good effort at Beach Bootcamp and then on the steps at a very cold and icy Tynemouth beach on Saturday morning. I started the 45 minute Bootcamp session quite well and as a result of giving everything I had left I faded a little towards the end. The were a couple of new drills in Bootcamp this week and David made the most of the fact that the tide was way way out. Once the 45 minute session was over it was time once again to tackle the steps 8 times. After 50 miles of running and a tough Bootcamp session, part of me was hoping that the steps, like the rest of Tynemouth, would be covered in ice. We couldn't believe that there wasn't a hint of ice on them. Not a drop!

Fellow "Bootcamper" Dan and I (pictured) led the rest of the group up the steps. There was absolutely no shortage of encouragement and the emphasis was very much on getting the technique right in order to distract from the burn in the legs. The first attempt was quite straight forward. Just like last week, though, there was little time for rest in between each set of steps. The next six sets of steps got more difficult each time and my legs felt more and more like jelly with every step. I think the week's effort had taken it's toll and I didn't quite know how I was going to get the last set in.

Following a very brief moment to gather my thoughts, Dan and I set for the last time, with Ashley and David close behind. Within about 4 steps, I was completely focused on reaching the top. My mind was transported back to the 1/4 mile sprint finish I had on Thursday evening. And what music was playing on the iPod that particular evening? Yep! The Rocky soundtrack! I completely had the frame of mind from Thursday evening and with each step my current surroundings disappeared and I found myself in "The Zone". I love that particular place in my mind. I paid many a visit there on last year's run from John O'Groats to Lands End. Good things usually happen in this place. Take this snippet from 12th July 2007, day 6 - "All I could see were my feet and the immediate bit of grass on which I was running. I wasn't taking in any scenery. I wasn't aware of any oncoming traffic.". You can read all about it here but in a nutshell I'd had a tough 24 miles with 12, 13 and 14 minute miles all day. I finished up in the zone that day with a couple of 9 minute miles and the confidence to take into the following day's Cairngorm challenge.

Anyhow! Back to the fourth flight on the 8th set of steps on Tynemouth beach! It was time to finish things off in style! I simply let loose with every last drop of energy I had and the end result was a canny bit of acceleration. I powered up the steps and I think I surprised a few people, including myself, when I got to the top so quickly. I didn't feel as tired as last week at the end either. The adrenalin was failrly surging around!

I couldn't have finished the week off any better! Thanks must go to the gang for all of the supporting words as each step went by. Now, I think David might have something new planned for next week. There was talk of a new set of steps and a steep decline somewhere. I'll be spending all week, next week pushing myself as much as I can in preparation for that next challenge!