Aches

Showers for the next couple of days were not for the faint hearted. The anticipation from when the hot water hit the skin to when the pain kicked in was almost more unbearable than the pain itself. Outside the hot water issue, I had to think about continuing the training without making the situation worse. I ordered some NipGuards to try out, they look like sticky Polos, so we will see how they work out when they turn up.

Tuesday was my first taste of exercise since the Gade Valley 12 miler, so I had to make sure I wasn’t going to make my nips any worse. So there was the sorry sight of me rifling through Sue’s makeup drawer looking for some cotton makeup pads which I elegantly strapped to the offending parts of my torso with Micropore.

Tonight’s track session was an uninviting 50 x 100m sprints and not really suited to the speed endurance that I had to continue to build on. Six of us took up the offer of some ‘hills’ over by the Abbey. We warmed up with a jog to the Fighting Cocks and then had one quick reccy of the course which was a run ‘with effort’ from the pub up through the park to the Abbey before turning around for the gentle jog back to the Fighting Cocks.

A forty minute session was negotiated down to thirty to make it sound more appealing before we set off. The first one or two hundred meters were ok, but the last hundred or so required some serious gurning and puffing of cheeks to complete. It was hard to tell if it was getting easier as I continued or whether I was simply getting slower. Sadly I hadn’t got my Garmin working properly to do any post-run analysis, which I think is a sure sign that this is becoming a bit of an obsession.

As for my makeshift nip guards only one was still attached to me on my return and nowhere near a nipple – fail.

I saw Colin, the physio, for the first time since Christmas and was expecting a relatively pain free treatment as I had kept to a regular stretching schedule. All was well until he got into my calves, which were particularly tight and did induce some intense wincing.

Lakes

I had finally sat down the night before the Watford Half Marathon to get to grips with my Garmin, I had had it for years and never had it set up to be more useful to me while running. Time elapsed and distance are of course requirements, but the current  pace was very unreliable as it waived minutes either side of the actual pace. What I now have set up is the average pace over the previous mile as well as the pace over the whole exercise, so as the long runs take shape I can get a better idea of what I can achieve (well, we will find out tomorrow).

This was my first half marathon for over ten years. Back then, I was totally unaware of the nutrition and hydration required to get me through a 13.1 mile course and it did take its toll that day, especially after 90 minutes where every step was a significant effort and other runners appeared to glide passed me in the latter stages.

Although today was a race, I was advised to just use it as a run and not to push too hard as there is still ten weeks and another half marathon to go before London. However, it was a lovely morning, I felt good and I couldn’t resist the pace runner standing in front of me with her target time of 1 hour 58 minutes printed onto an elevated flag strapped to her back. The signs were there, the planets were aligned, the fields full of four leaf clovers and if it wasn’t for the rest of the rabbit being attached to it, I may have had a lucky foot too.

So off we set, the first couple of miles were a bit of a shuffle while the main group spilled out of the Cassiobury Park and onto the wider streets where the runners started to spread out. I would see where the pace maker was after a few more miles and how my pace was faring before making any rash decisions.

The course took in an unpleasant series of hills at about five miles that spread out the runners further and caused me to lose sight of the pacer. I was still posting good mile splits, so continued with chomping down the Shot Bloks with as much water as I could raid from the water stations. Despite a 9:40 mile split during the more hillier section, I was pulling back the time by increasing the pace to 9 minute miles and a few miles were faster than that.

You may recall my issue with mucus disposal over the previous months, and to be honest I didn’t see much evidence of it during the race. But there was this one women, from an unnamed running club, in front of me who not only discharged both nostrils in true non-league footballer style, she then via’d off into the trees to have a wiz, what a gal!

I knew at 11 miles that I could easily make a sub two hour time and even had a little in the tank to up the pace a bit. We re-entered Cassiobury Park with less than a mile to go and despite the promise to myself not to sprint finish, the sight of the race clock creeping up to the two hour mark and the announcer counting down the seconds was too much to resist. Even though I would easily go sub 2 hours with my chip time, the new target of beating the clock was too much to pass up, so I manage to muster a 100m sprint finish, only to miss out by 4 seconds.

However, my official chip time was a credible 1:59:06 knocking a good 16 minutes off my previous half marathon time. Let’s just hope I don’t pay for these decisions later. Big thanks to Watford Harriers for putting together a great race with good marshaling and support.

Although there is nothing about lakes in this section of the blog, where was some standing water to wade through at 10 miles. Creative licence No. 65468-32

Cakes

I had to start ramping up my fundraising efforts, so emails went out to all friends and family letting them know what I was up to and how they can help me raise the £2000 that I had pledged for British Heart Foundation. I had organised a charity cake sale at work on the Monday so set about making some Rocky and Snowy Road squares on the Saturday. I also found five willing and generous volunteers at SIS to bake over the weekend to give all those post-January dieters something to spend their money on when they got in on Monday.

When I got home from the half marathon on Sunday, Sue had enlisted the help of our neice Ruby to perform their own four hour cake baking marathon to bolster my offering for the next day.

At midday on the Monday, I set up a table in the canteen at work and filled it with a delightful selection of homemade cakes and cookies. Despite a slow start, word soon got around and cakes were selling like… well you know! What was left that afternoon was left out for the night shift and they duly obliged by pretty much finishing them off over night. The upshot of all this was a decent £175.58 and Euro5 to add to my grand total so far. Well done all those at SIS.

A Charity Quiz Night is taking shape and will take place on Saturday 8th March. I have a venue, a quizmaster and need to put together some prizes to go into a raffle and give to the winners. It was at this point that my comfort zone was about to be compromised and I had to face up to businesses and shamelessly ask them to donate prizes. I decided to try my patter out on the shops over the road from me in Abbey Avenue and the upshot of this is that I am grateful to both Alex at the Health Barn Clinic and Mike at Westfields News for the donations of prizes.

As more donations started to come in, the total raised so far surpassed the 25% mark, so thanks everyone so far for your generosity. If you would like to donate, please visit my just giving page www.justgiving.com/mick-warnes2

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