Cobbles & Red Wine - Sarah’s Paris Marathon Plan: Sub 3:35

Asics Target 26.2 - Previously lardy girl goes for a Boston Qualifier

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22/01/2013 at 00:20

Week 5, Day 7


Goal: 16 miles at 8:30 – 9 min/mile pace. Amended to 2 hour run due to heavy snow.

Actual: 16.17 miles at 9:50 min/mile pace (2 hrs 38 mins)...


This run was supposed to be a long Sunday run of 16 miles at 8:30 – 9 min/mile but because of the heavy snow Steve Marathon Coach agreed I could change the session to a 2 hours snow run instead.

 It wasn’t terribly cold, but I decided on a warm base layer and compression tights with normal tights over the top and my pink jacket. Plus a buff and a big hairband doubling as a hat. This doesn’t sound much but for me who prefers to run in a vest and capris it’s a lot. Plus I decided to go with my ancient 2160s with Yak Trax. These trainers have done plenty of miles (read: far too many) so if they got soaked and shrank to a size only a child could wear, it wouldn’t be a huge disaster. 

Also stuck a couple of gels in my pocket. Thought it might be time to start re-practising with these. Hydration shouldn’t be a problem with all the snow so long as I stayed away from the yellow stuff. Apparently it isn’t lemon flavour…

I decided to stay off road as much as possible so started with a short distance on the canal path and into a shortcut running alongside a reservoir. It all looked picture perfect and the snow covered up the graffiti so it looked unexpectedly picturesque. You can no longer see that ‘Brownsover Gang 4Ever’ consider the wall on the left to be their private getting-drunk-on cider-spot.

Had about half a mile on pavements but the snow was so thick the Yak Trax didn’t even make a noise. Under the railway bridge and past the takeaway and up to the towerblocks… where there was the mother of all snowball fights going on. Rival gangs were only distinguishable by the bobble hat colours and there were several small children beating each other with sledges as all of the sticks in the vicinity had been used to make arms for snowmen …

Managed to sneak through the snowball fight without taking a snowball to the head. Either they were all terrible shots or they were too engaged in snow gang wars.

I ran onto the disused railway line cutting through the centre of Rugby. It sounds dreadful, but this is one of my favourite places to run. The trail goes through the middle of the town, but it’s always very peaceful and scenic. The snow was very deep here. It had been walked on and compressed on the pavements, but it was deep and beautiful here.

I passed another runner who had dressed for the weather by wearing a hat, thick jacket and minuscule shorts. And had blue legs. He waved madly when he saw me and said "Another crazy runner!" He had mad eyes and a happy, happy grin! I probably looked exactly the same. Except fo

22/01/2013 at 00:32

Except for the hotpants and blue legs of course.

 The trail finished and I carried on down the small, quiet lane. Strangely, there were a lot of tyre tracks marking the white on the ground despite the deep snow and the continuing heavy drifts … and I could hear shrieks and loud voices. The view opened up and I realised that I had found THE sledging ground in Rugby. There must have been 50 people, adults and children sliding down the hillside on brightly coloured sledges, rubber rings and things that looked like (but surely couldn’t be? Well this IS Rugby …) bedpans.

I passed by the sledging hill and soon the tyre tracks were fading. I realised that the only marks on the snow were my own footprints and they were quickly filling up with snow too. It was a good day to run. How often do I get to run in snow? Also there were no pace guidelines, no limits. I had 2 hours to run, explore and make my own footprints in the snow.

I spotted a hill in the distance, gleaming white against the grey sky. I’d had my eye on this hill for a couple of months. I’d always meant to run up it but had always been stopped because the track leading up to it has always been too deep in mud. Mud wasn't a problem today.

I started up the track optimistically… but soon the snow was too deep for running … then too deep for jogging … then too deep for walking ... so I waded. The bloody mindedness that drives boyfriend, family and friends mad, kicked in and I waded up to the top where I triumphantly stood in my knee deep snow and wrote my initials. SF. Sarah 1, hill 0. Waded back down again and got on with some running.

A car passed very occasionally and whenever I heard one approaching I hopped up onto the verge. Better a slow run than a flat runner. Most of the cars were fantastic and gave me plenty of room if there wasn't a bank to hop onto but a few weren't as courteous. I didn't mind the shoddy driving but hoped they realised I wouldn't be helping push their car out of the hedge when their crap driving span them across the road and into the ditch.

Crossed onto the Oxford canal path to pick up the road I was on earlier. The snow was deeper and less packed here and it was harder to run. But at least I wouldn’t be able to get confused by the snow and take the wrong turning. I ran along the path for about a mile and picked up the lane again.

There's an acceptable level of looking strange when you're running. Wearing lycra is acceptable. Going for a run dressed head to toe in neon pink and other eye-burning colours - acceptable. But today I wished for a new level of acceptable … Swimming goggles. It was a gorgeous day to run, but it had been snowing non-stop since I started running and the snow blowing into my eyes had really started to become quite painful. I tried pulling my buff up over my eyes, but visibility was so limited it wasn’t a viable option. Snow might be painful but running into trees was probably even more so.

Took this picture but didn’t realise until I got home that I had been wearing ice as an accessory in my hair …

Back on the lane and any sign of my earlier footprints had completely disappeared and the road was flat plain white again. Past the sledging hill again … now almost deserted.

I cut onto the footpath and the footprints had vanished. Only the hard packed snow of the footpath suggested that it had been trodden by many feet earlier. It was quite surreal. Everything was white and blank.

Why does the second half of a run always seem to take a lot less time? I got to the 2 hour point which was the time Steve Marathon Coach and I had decided on as an alternative goal. However … I was on 13 miles. It seemed a shame not to complete the original 16 mile goal. Especially as I knew such a nice 3 mile loop nearby …

Was accompanied part of the route by a loopy Springer Spaniel who was thoroughly over-excited by the chance to run in the snow although ‘thoroughly over-excited’ is a standard emotion for most Springers. How can anyone not like dogs who love running THAT much?!

Managed ‘Killer Hill’ without a stop despite the deep snow and ran back down again managing most of the nice long downhill on the road as there were hardly any cars. I realised why a few minutes later …

Running down the last part of the hill, a few people were pushing a madly wheel-spinning truck back onto the road. The chap wound down the window and shouted at me "You're completely mad!"  I shouted back "…But it's fun!" Got a grin and a thumbs up in return. He was followed shortly after by a MX5 with its 4-ways flashing wildly slewing from side to side in an attempt to make it up the hill with a Springer Spaniel cheerfully looking out of the passenger window enjoying the ride.

Another brief run on the Oxford Canal path, passing barges with yellow lights shining brightly against the darkness and snow. Having half a mile to make up, I did a lap of a housing estate and passed a man with either too much time on his hands or a miserable home life … shovelling snow off of his drive. In a snow storm.

Garmin Info Here

22/01/2013 at 09:48

Great pictures thanks RRR, we took a load of pics this morning as I went for a five miler up the trail and down to work, you did well to do 16 in that snow. Really hard work on the ankles. I wear sealskinz socks in this wear. THey are a bit warm but keep you feet bone dry so prefer that.

Must work out how to get photos off my phone!! Lovely day here watching the birds eat from the feeder stuck on my office window!!

22/01/2013 at 15:54

Great description of run (and photos) but must have taken almost as long to write as to run! Good that you enjoyed run and felt strong and you did 16.

22/01/2013 at 20:06

Agreed Steve. Sarah - I'm thinking of replacing one of my weekly workouts with reading your posts, I'm freakin' exhausted! 

Derrick Baldwin wrote (see)

I,m trying my best to keep injury free and sticking to the training schedule mile for mile. I have thought of resting until sat and focusing on my endurance/long runs...does anyone think this is a good idea or should I just cut my milage down to half or a percentage. 

Not sure I really qualify to offer such advice Derrick. It's always a difficult call. I've rested in the past and had things stiffen up badly only to find that continued lighter running with lots of stretching would have been a much better option. I've also tried to run through things when I should have stopped and seen a physio.

For me 'niggles' have always appeared when I've overdone it. Either I've gone too fast or too long too soon. If it was me I'd ease back a little on the long mileage and the reduce or cut out any speeed work and then do loads of stretching.

However, you can't really beat seeing an expert for peace of mind.

22/01/2013 at 21:10

Well thumbs up from the physio regards to my back ......... there could not offer any advice on the knee . What they did say was it wasn't connected to the lower back complaint.

I going to ease back on the milage this week and hopfully things will be ok. I believe its what Malcs said , Ive had today off and magically my knee is 50% better, must be the quads stretches.


22/01/2013 at 23:35

Evening MCS

Loved the pics you took earlier! You’ve definitely got the best commute to work EVER!! I didn’t find the snow hard work on my ankles – more my calves on the first run and then my butt!

I’ll have to look at those socks … being prune-y for 2.5 hrs can’t be good for toes!

22/01/2013 at 23:37

Evening Steve Marathon Coach!

Glad you liked the description and pics … writing it up afterwards DID take a while, but it’s almost like re-running the run so I quite like doing it! The 16 didn’t feel too bad at all, but I'm thinking it's because I dropped the pace a lot.

22/01/2013 at 23:39
Malcs wrote (see)

Sarah - I'm thinking of replacing one of my weekly workouts with reading your posts, I'm freakin' exhausted! 

Evening Malcs!

Sorry … there’s quite a lot of waffling going on in these run descriptions…!

Edited: 22/01/2013 at 23:41
22/01/2013 at 23:41
Derrick Baldwin wrote (see)

Well thumbs up from the physio regards to my back ......... there could not offer any advice on the knee . What they did say was it wasn't connected to the lower back complaint.

I going to ease back on the milage this week and hopfully things will be ok. I believe its what Malcs said , Ive had today off and magically my knee is 50% better, must be the quads stretches.


Evening Derrick,

Great news about your back although it’s a shame physio couldn’t advise about your knee. Good that the day off has helped so much … maybe it was just a bit of a rest needed. Fingers crossed all gets sorted for you!

22/01/2013 at 23:45

Week 6:

Mon Jan 21st:             Rest

Tues Jan 22:               20 x 200m in approx 45 seconds starting every minute 6M total (6.02 min/mile)

Weds Jan 23:             9M steady in 8:30-9:00

Thurs Jan 24:             6M build up run - starting at 8:30s and moving down to 7s

Fri Jan 25:                   Rest

Sat Jan 26:                  Training day: 8M in total

Sun Jan 27:                 18M relaxed in 9:00

Week total: 47M

... sorry! I've just realised I haven't posted this! Will get the weeks training up on Sunday from now on!

22/01/2013 at 23:57

Week 6, Day 1 (HOW is it week 6 already??!)


Goal: 20 x 200m in approx 45 seconds starting every minute 6M total (6.02 min/mile)

Actual: 20 x 200m in approx 45 seconds starting every minute 5.63M total (ran out of time on lunch hour!)


The deep snow is still around, so I’m afraid that this is another treadmill session … yes – cheating AGAIN! If it makes it seem less cheat-y, the treadmill wouldn’t slow down properly as the touch screen wouldn’t work with sweaty fingers (nice, right?) so I did end up doing slightly longer intervals than intended all the while stabbing at the screen with a perspiring digit and swearing (in a muffled way so I didn’t get banned from the gym) while my legs span wildly trying to keep up with the treadmill belt.

Yes, I really did look as silly as it sounds.



2 mile warmup at 12.5kmph (about 7:45 min/mile)

20 x 200m at 16.2 kmph (about 5:58 min/mile)

I did the recoveries at about 5kmph (although by the time the treadmill had slowed down to this, it was time to start it up again!)

Total of 9km

I’m missing 1km as I ran out of time on my lunch hour, so I’ll add this onto my longer run tomorrow to keep things neat and tidy!

23/01/2013 at 21:34

well done on the session even if it was a treadmill one, so doesn't really count! Good speed so you are looking sharp at the moment. Hopefully the snow will be disappearing by weekend.

23/01/2013 at 22:40
hi sarah...some more fabulous runs and photos to entertain and encourage us to get out there.

Is that what im doing you reckon I should start telling my patients not to drink mulled wine anymore for the common cold?

Refreshing to see that you like tomato sauce with your steak and veg too. Im finding more and more people who use ketchup on meals that others regard as clashing with ketchup! I was shocked though when I realised how little you eat at lunch though. I thought I was bad (and am always starving by the time I leave work) but you have half the amount as me for do you manage an evening run on just that...or do your snacks help to make it up?
24/01/2013 at 13:06

Food Diary 22nd January

Breakfast: ½ cup porridge oats made with water with dash of milk, 2 teaspoons sugar.

Lunch: tin of tuna and tbsp mayonnaise.

Tea: Kipper, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, 8 slices of leek, 8 mushrooms, 2 fresh beetroot, asparagus, long stemmed broccoli – all steamed. Cottage cheese.

Snacks: Large orange, apple, 4 x After Eights, packet of sultanas & raisins   

Drinks: 5 x coffee with small amount of semi-skimmed milk, 2 pints of orange squash.

Exercise: 5.6 mile run.


Food Diary 23rd January

Breakfast: ½ cup porridge oats made with water with dash of milk, 2 teaspoons sugar. 1/3 banana.

Lunch: tin of tuna, 1 tbsp mayonnaise.

Tea: 5 pick n mix buffet items, 2 chicken legs (without skin), cauliflower, broccoli, 8 leek slices, 8 mushrooms, 1 x fresh beetroot, asparagus, long stemmed broccoli

Snacks: 1 x apple, 1 x large orange, 3 x cookies, small glass of red wine.

Drinks: 2 x coffee with small amount of semi-skimmed milk, 3 pints of orange squash.

Exercise: 9.77 mile run


Note: The cookies I’m eating are because I’m working my way through the Christmas biscuits ... they’ll be gone in about a week!

24/01/2013 at 13:11

Afternoon Steve Marathon Coach,

 Doesn’t count? I hope that doesn’t mean you going to make me add it on to the track session on Saturday!

I’ve enjoyed the snow runs, but it’ll be a relief to be able to follow the schedule a bit more closely again.

24/01/2013 at 13:16

Hi Sarah!


Yep – steak and ketchup ... I’m a complete heathen! Not ketchup with veg though ... veg goes with cottage cheese! Cooked carrots and cottage cheese – yum!!

I’ve got an office job so I’m sitting down all day so just have a light lunch ... I have to get up to make myself a coffee though so not idle the WHOLE working day ... just 7 hours 55 minutes of it! I think you're very busy at work, aren't you? Sounds as though you're working very long days.

I eat before I go out for my runs in the evening though so fuel up at dinner! And then graze in the evenings! The cookies will be my downfall ... I don’t normally eat things like that but I’m working my way through the last Christmas box!

24/01/2013 at 13:20

Week 6, Day 3

Goal: 9 miles steady at 8:30 – 9 min/mile

Actual: 9.77 miles at 9:46 min/mile ... in the snow and ice

As the snow still seems to be sticking around, I put my Yak Trax back on for this run and headed out to do the miles around the town. Just like my previous snow runs, I didn’t try to stick to the pace guidelines as I wanted to focus on safety. It would be gutting miss the Paris Marathon because of a broken leg ...!

Distance: 9.77 miles

Avg Pace: 9:46 min/mile

HR: AVG - 141 bpm MAX - 176 (actually remembered the HR strap!)

24/01/2013 at 13:49

Hi RRR glad to see you're out there enjoying the snow, great photos   Do you stop to take them?  Otherwise you must have a very steady hand

I've managed to get out for a couple of runs in the snow but find I'm not confident of avoiding ending on my backside when running downhill so i've been trying to find flat routes which is not easy in my part of Yorkshire!  Did manage 9 miles plus on the canal towpath at the weekend.  Tuesday's club seesion worked on the principle of safety in numbers when running in the road.

Last night's gym running club session was moved indoors to treadmills and the instructor killed us.  He had 5 treadmills set up - hill sprints, intervals, sprints, endurance and fartlek and we did a circuit session involving all of them. Don't listen to anyone who says treadmill sessions don't count! 

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