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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28/02/2013 at 13:03

Eeek!! I need to apologise!! I've just realised I didn't give you an update of the Bootcamp 2 that happened 26th January!! So ... here it is .... very late!!

January 26th 2013:

The snow was still hanging around so I decided it was probably safer to book a train. Safer than driving anyway. Not necessarily for me getting there on time.

Trains should be simple right? You buy a ticket for where you want to go ... and then get on. Apparently not. The time on my ticket said train departs 6:58am. Turned up – the train was in the station so I asked the Virgin train man. Nope, apparently the train I want is 7:17am.

I'm confused. Again. Sigh. Decided he knew what he was talking about so got onto the next train.

I hadn’t had time to finish my usual coffee that morning and hadn’t had a chance to grab one at the station, but decided that getting one from the Uni coffee shop would be the best option. I listened to an audiobook on the train on the way down and enjoyed the novelty of being able to sit and do nothing. With an energetic 3 year old it’s a treat to be able to sit down.

I got to Birmingham New Street station needing a wee. But apparently you needed to pay 30p. THIRTY PEE? What happened to spending a penny? I only had notes on me. I looked despairingly at the attendant. She either decided that I wasn’t a budding graffiti artist, either that or I was about to wet myself and she let me through for free. Phew.

Had a wander aimlessly around the station and then gave in and asked a train man. Managed to get on the right train for the Birmingham University. The route was surprisingly scenic and we passed the canal, frozen solid and with the paths packed with snow and ice. A runner in a hi-viz running top was stopped and was stretching out his legs. I watched him until he was lost to the distance.  A good sign of the day to come.

Arrived early and met Tom who was doing the photography. We decided that the first and best idea would be to source a good strong cup of coffee. Coffee shop was shut ... until 10am. An hour and a half to wait.

We went and posted some money into the instant coffee machine in the lobby. Nope. It decided that under no circumstances was it going to dispense any coffee today. Argh! We texted the others asking them to bring caffeine. Urgently. I was dispatched to the Starbucks on the other side of the campus to try and track down 2 Americanos. Starubucks was also shut. Anyone would have thought students didn’t get up early on Saturdays. Oh.

 Everyone else arrived, having had their caffeine hit at the station. Grrr!

 However, it was lovely to catch up with everyone. Shady_Ady looking very swelte – obviously a combination of tracking his food and hard marathon training was paying off! Mel looked fab and smiley and again ... we were wearing the same kit. Down to the trainers. Sigh. It looked as though this was going to be a theme of our training days.

(Pic: Mel having a chat with Sarah Connors in the lectrure theatre)

Alex had decided that although he may be miles quicker than the rest of us, we wouldn’t lose sight of him by wearing a pair of beautiful but eye-burningly orange trainers. Today it really DID look as though he was leaving a burning trail like the De Lorian in Back to the Future. B

28/02/2013 at 13:07

Bacon Steve was glowing from a combination of being deprived of his takeaways and fever, having been forced from his sick bed by the thought of a nice run in the snow with the rest of the Target 262 group. However, he rose to the challenge and knocked out a set of perfect laps of the campus.

 (Pic: The icy canal path)

Our training session today was supposed to be mile repeats on the scenic canal paths, but due to the amount of packed snow and ice and the fact they hadn’t brought grappling hooks to fish us out of the canal after we undoubtedly fell in through sliding on the aforementioned, the Asics and Runner’s World team decided we would do the laps on the track ....

Which wasn’t to be. The track was under a couple of inches of snow and also had a couple of snowmen sitting proudly on the inner lanes. Hmmm.

Sam spotted a runner and smoothly accosted him. Apparently there was an almost perfect loop of the campus which worked out at about .8 of a mile. All on tarmac and practically snow free. Just the odd car and running group to dodge. Perfect.

The first lap was at marathon pace which worked out for me neatly at an 8 min/mile, the next was marathon pace -15 seconds a mile at 7:45 min/mile, then 7:30 min/mile, 7:15 min/mile and the last lap was to be as fast as I liked. Steve Smythe and Sam Murphy had all of our times worked out perfectly so we’d all start at different times and then finish by crossing the line all together. Nice.

It was fun although difficult not to try and catch up the person in front. This was supposed to be a pacing exercise, but trying to maintain pace rather than catching up Ady who started each lap just 10 seconds in front of me was difficult. Had to get brain to outshout legs ... is NOT a race!

I managed to maintain the correct paces for my laps and managed to resist the urge to chase the others (I’m sure I was a Labrador or a Springer Spaniel or some other equally loopy dog in a previous life) and was rewarded by being allowed to do the final lap as fast as I liked. So ran it at a 5:55 min/mile.

Marathon Coach Steve had been watching how we were running and gave me some valuable tips. Apparently I keep my arms and shoulders quite hunched and he suggested relaxing these which made the arm action more comfortable and was a lot smoother. He also suggested trying Power Bars or protein Shakes as I don’t eat a lot of carbs so these may act as an additional insurance.  

Sam Murphy ran with us on our cool down lap and helped us find a more efficient style of running as we all had a tendency to overstretch our legs. She got Alex – our super-speedy chap - to run at a comfortable speed – for him!! - then to run faster and made us watch the difference. It sounds so basic but it really did illustrate the point. His arms came higher in front and his feet kicked up high

28/02/2013 at 13:08

Got back to the room with all of our kit in it and arranged to have a shower. Best of all the coffee shop was now open and Elaine had brought us all coffee!! Amazing!!! I put the coffee down in a safe place on one of the benches and went off to have my shower, safe in the knowledge that it would be the perfect temperature when I got back. 

Got to the showers and realised I’d forgotten my towel. Face/palm. However, I HAD brought a very large and drapey scarf ... now just to explain the black bobbly bits of wool stuck all over me...  

Got back to lecture theatre ... my coffee had disappeared! Argh! No time to get another so postponed that until after I’d spoken to Ruth.

Ruth is lovely! She is also tiny – which was unexpected as judging by her photo was expecting someone tall and intimidating! We had a good chat and she suggested carb loading before races and the types of foods to try. She also said that if there were gels or sports drinks I hadn’t tried at a race that I could always wash my mouth out with these if I wasn’t going to drink them. There had been a recent study showing that athletes (not sure if I class myself as one of these, mind) who washed their mouths out with sugary drinks or gel got a burst of energy even if none of the substance was absorbed. Apparently the body was expecting the extra energy so had a bit more of a push! A really, really useful tip! Especially if you’re accident prone like me and may end up dropping your final gel or squirting all over the floor. We had a chat about my ‘delicate stomach’ and we decided to go pretty much gluten and wheat free. Especially on the days leading up to a race. It was really nice to chat and to get an idea of sensible fuelling.

Finished up and went to get a coffee ... Coffee shop shut. Head-bang-wall. Repeat.

Had a sit down and a chat with Marathon Coach Steve and he outlined the training plan for the next few weeks, including when the long runs were likely to be and fitting these in around races scheduled such as Dorney lakes Half (Race your Pace) and the Silverstone Half Marathon. It was really nice to sit down and chat to Steve. He REALLY knows his stuff.

Had an MOT with Sarah Connors and she put me through my paces. She could tell I’d been foam rollering my ITB ... but also she could tell that I hadn’t been doing the bridges as diligently as I should have! No secrets from a good physio! She loosened off my knee and showed me how tight my hip flexors were ... With her elbow. I could feel the pain right down in my foot. She looks so sweet too! But it’s definitely a lesson to make sure I foam roller my hip flexors properly and do the ITB stretch using a partner.

We all got called outside separately to shiver in the snow and to have an interview in front of the camera! Wow! Felt like a celebrity ... although came across as a gibbering idiot. Oh well. At least I came across as myself.

Time to head home and back to the station. Next time we’d all be together would be the March Bootcamp! And that sounds SUCH a long way away ... but I know the time will fly by. Fingers crossed for some good long runs, no injuries and lots of smiles!

P.s. I finally got a cup of coffee at the train station. I went to pour some milk in and the lid fell in. As did all the milk.



28/02/2013 at 14:08

Hi RRR - sorry to see you are still suffering. It's all part of being a marathoner I guess. I've been under the weather this week as well but thankfully not nearly as bad as you.

Have you managed your run today? Sometimes an extra day recovering won't hurt. You have trained really well. I ran for the first time since Sunday today and my legs felt refreshed. It was like I'd had a mini taper. Sometimes it can be a blessing if you are ahead of where you are expecting to be.

Onwards & Upwards!

28/02/2013 at 16:24


I assume you're feeling better given the lengthy write up of Bootcamp 2.  Enteratining as ever

Hopefully we'll have more luck finding coffee on Sunday


28/02/2013 at 16:27

Hi Tenjiso

I suspect the only way I'll finish in front of Sarah on Sunday is if she's chasing behind me with a blunt instrument

Are you running on Sunday also?  Forecast not too promising - cold with 12 mph easterly winds gusting to 24 mph    At least it should be dry

28/02/2013 at 17:39

Andrew - yes I'm at Silverstone too.  The forecasts I've looked at today aren't too bad... 42F (feels like 37F), 8mph easterly winds, no gusts. I'll take that, given some of the garbage we've been running through since the start of the year (rain, floods, snow, floods, ice, floods and high winds).

28/02/2013 at 17:43

Tenjiso - I prefer your weather forecast to mine (Met Office app). Can we choose yours?

28/02/2013 at 19:30
Hope you are feeling better , I bet you are so frustrated .
28/02/2013 at 19:59

Sorry to hear you're still feeling poopy, fingers crossed the anti-b's will do the trick. Loved the Boot Camp report!  

Sending lots of piss-off-sicky-germ-vibes your way 

28/02/2013 at 22:29

I always wonder why the cross country runners dont do the road races as they would probably leave us standing!

You might have ate rubbish all week, but it must be what your body wants and needs. Im sure you will have no problems fitting into your lycra at the weekend. Ive manage to loose half a stone unintentionally as i stepped up training, reduced what i was drinking but ate the same. Got into a bit of a panic when I could put my trousers on without unbuttoning them. Dont normally eat chocolate and cakes but ive had to start...its so strange, im not use to it. Going to buy a large packet of granola tomorrow to snack on instead!

Loved your boot camp report...not sure how you managed without coffee for so long though!
01/03/2013 at 19:33


Great reporting! Just letting you know I won't be at boot camp tomorrow but will catch up on the reports on Sunday!  

02/03/2013 at 00:20

Evening DS2!

Thank you for your kind words. I hope you’re feeling better too. I managed the run yesterday which was a big relief! Also feeling better again today so hopefully the antibiotics have kicked in and this cold’s on it’s way out!

How’s your training for Halstead coming on?

02/03/2013 at 00:21

Evening Andy!

Yep! When the waffle-meter is working again I MUST be feeling better! It’s when I go quiet you need to worry! J Glad you liked the write up! I felt very guilty when I found it on my computer and realised it hadn’t ever been posted … sorry!!

I am bringing my OWN coffee tomorrow!! No more relying on coffee shops and their silly opening times!! Grrr!!

02/03/2013 at 00:22

Evening Tenjiso!!

Weather report looks good!! Fingers crossed for no rain. And no wind. Can we hope for some sunshine too?! Or is that going too far?

02/03/2013 at 00:23

Evening Derrick!

I’m feeling so much better today thanks! Still haven’t quite shifted the cough but I’m feeling a lot more like me and have more energy which is a relief!! I just wanted to sleep last week … and cough!!

How’s the training coming on?

02/03/2013 at 00:23

Evening CailinAgRith!

Your ‘piss-off-sicky-germ-vibes’ worked!! 

Feeling MUCH better today!! Thank you!! Reckon it was your threat to the germs that worked not the anti-bs!!

02/03/2013 at 00:24

Evening Sarah!!

Half a stone?! Right! Sending a shipment of crème eggs up to Hull! Can’t have you wasting away now!

Granola? Bleurgh! Chocolate is MUCH nicer

Am DEFINITELY taking my own coffee tomorrow. Otherwise I may be forced to break into a flat in the halls of residence. I’ll be found slumped in a kitchen with a ring of instant coffee bits around my mouth!

02/03/2013 at 00:24

Evening Ruth!

Sorry to hear you won’t be at Bootcamp tomorrow! Don’t worry! I’ll behave and keep away from the sweets in the café!

02/03/2013 at 00:30

Week 11, Day 4

Goal: 6 mile build up run starting at 9 min/miles finishing at 6:30 min/miles

Goal: 6 mile build up run starting at 9 min/miles finishing at 6:30 min/miles


Woo hoo!!

Back in the game! Feeling a lot better after the antibiotics have finally kicked in so tackled the 6 mile build up run. I took it very steadily and stopped for 30 secs after the 7:30 min/mile to gauge how I was feeling (fine … not too coughy!) and after the 7 min/mile (again fine!) and managed to complete the run without too much coughing or complaining! It felt a bit harder than it should have but that could just have been the result of a week off and finally venturing out into the dark and cold from my nice warm house!

The times look ok, but when I checked the HR data (new HR strap thanks to a Twitter buddy!), it looks as though my heart rate is still about 10 – 15 BPM quicker than normal.


Mile 1: 9:01

Mile 2: 8:29

Mile 3: 7:59

Mile 4: 7:33

Mile 5: 7:02

Mile 6: 6:29

Cool down for .75 mile at 8:24 min/mile.

Garmin Info Here

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