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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23/12/2012 at 13:21
Steve Marathon Coach wrote (see)

not sure engine noises will help at Silverstone and certainly avoid pit stops.

hah - I've got visions of stopping after a few miles while a team quickly change my shoes for me and top me up with fluid. 

23/12/2012 at 20:39

Training Session: Week 1, Day 6 …

Goal: 7 miles slow in 9 minute miles

Actual: 8 miles slow, with hills, mud and bacon sarnies in 12 minute miles. In my defence … Elevation Gain: 1,375 ft

I didn’t know what to expect from this run although I’d been told it might be a little bit hilly. However, I’d been promised a bacon sandwich at the end so naturally this being the important part of that conversation I’d forgotten about the hills.

We drove through Birmingham and arrived at Clent Hills. The first sign that we might have a bit of a rolling course was the vertical lane to the car park … and as we passed a gap in the hedge and a stile we saw Birmingham

The trails were mainly leaf covered dirt, but due to the recent rains there was a lot of soft ground and boggy parts. There was also a portion completely underwater. We all got a bit suspicious when we passed by 3 horses coming the other way and they had wet stomachs …

My new trail shoes are currently being withheld until Christmas (despite my pleas, sulking and toddler tantrums) so I was in road shoes with YakTrax on them which are like rubber bands you slip over the shoes with metal springs on them and a strap across the mid-foot. They worked really, really well – I definitely wouldn’t have been able to run this course on standard road shoes without some serious falls!

We met at the café and started on an undulating trail with soft ground covered with leaves and a sharp downhill with muddy parts. We stopped at the bottom of the hill to allow everyone to start again as a group and the quicker runners doubled back. We started up a steep, dragging uphill on a trail with soft crumbling ground – I was very glad I’d worn the additional grips on my shoes.

By the time we reached the top of the hill, my quads were grumbling at me but the view was amazing!

However, after the drag up the hill it was time for payback – a fantastic downhill and a chance to stretch my legs out. These paths were more grassy and sandy and not so boggy so it was lovely to fly down them. The only trouble was that the speed increased and by the time I spotted the main road at the bottom I wasn’t sure I’d be able to put the brakes on in time. I had visions of flying through the pub window taking the Christmas tree with me and landing on the bar. Hopefully with a pint in one hand and a festive pork pie in the other. But it wasn’t to be. I managed to stop in time and we all headed back up the hill via a sharply angled lane.

23/12/2012 at 20:42

This was a small hill, but with more stretching in front. I was having a great run, but when I checked my Garmin I was horrified to realise we hadn’t even made it to the 3 mile mark. I was sure my legs were telling me it was at least 4 or 5 miles. Might be time for more regular hill training …

A small downhill and we moved towards another hill via a small muddy track so we all moved into single file and ran up it. It was muddy and everyone had wet feet but we all chatted the whole way – even if it was only to shout “Wheeeeee!!”” on the downhills – and it made a tough hill run a LOT of fun.


We went through a couple of kissing gates and into a muddy field marked with the cloven prints of sheep. The trainers had definitely changed colour by now and were a fetching shade of poo brown. As we ran through more and more mud they were definitely getting heavier too.

We moved onto short springy grass and the area felt moor-like and as though we had moved areas and were running through the North of England rather than somewhere outside Birmingham.

It was nice to run on and the downhill was long and fast. The ground became boggier underfoot and we were all liberally splattered with mud but it was a lot of fun running a course like this in a group. We stopped regularly to allow everyone to regroup and so people could run at their own speeds.

We were still moving downhill and all of a sudden we turned to the right and were running down what appeared to be a streambed. There were a couple of inches of running water but no space on the narrow trail to move out of the water. At least the trainers were getting a wash. We got to the bottom of the path and onto a muddy and potholed lane. We were passed by 3 horses and riders who laughed as they saw us and said “You’re going to need wellies …” We smiled and waved back, but Dave said “Hang on. Why did those horses have wet stomachs?” We ran down the steep lane and around the corner and the road was completely flooded. Well … we were already wet. Seemed a shame not to take advantage of the chance to run through a great big puddle.

We got to the bottom and a sharp right took us up the final uphill past some pretty cottages and onto a mushy trail … which was blocked by a fallen tree. A couple of options … being vertically challenged I took the ‘under’ option and back onto the muddy trail. My shoes were getting heavier and browner with every step. Finally made it to the top of the hill and the soft grass and from there a short downhill on lanes and back to the car park.

And quite possibly the largest and most delicious bacon sandwich EVER. Trust me, this picture doesn’t do it justice.

This session was supposed 7 miles in 9 minute miles, but Steve agreed that I could join a hill run with the Warwick Wasps over the Clent Hi

23/12/2012 at 20:47

This session was supposed 7 miles in 9 minute miles, but Steve agreed that I could join a hill run with the Warwick Wasps over the Clent Hills. It was definitely a good hill run but due to the terrain and steep uphills I didn’t complete this at the correct speed.

Garmin info here:

Check out the Gradient Pic!


Edited: 23/12/2012 at 20:48
23/12/2012 at 20:59

Steve Marathon Coach – Well is it worth TRYING the engine noises? I’m all for an easy option!

It was a very slow run AND a very big bacon sarnie. Possibly the best bacon sarnie EVER! Or maybe it just tasted like it after all of those hills …

Tenjiso – That would be AWESOME!! Maybe pat our perspiring brows with clean white hankerchiefs too?

23/12/2012 at 21:16
Don't let Steve know you've had a bacon butty!
23/12/2012 at 21:59

Did someone say the B word...?

24/12/2012 at 01:41

Great report of your run - sounds great and views look good - being vegetarian, not sure about the merits of bacon though

24/12/2012 at 06:50

I didn't realise that Asics were providing you guys with training photographers this year 

I've never heard of YakTrax before.  Do they work well on road as well as trail?  Or do you take them off when you get back to the road?

P.S. it's lashing down again outside and I'm going for my run soon.  I seem to have scheduled my runs to avoid the dry days 

Edited: 24/12/2012 at 06:51
24/12/2012 at 10:38
24/12/2012 at 11:25

Amazing report RRR. I don't know how you find the time to write all of that!

24/12/2012 at 12:48

Sarah – Eek! Too late! I think his bacon-radar is on red alert! Quick hide the bacon!

Bacon Steve – There’s nothing for you here! (Hides sarnie)

Steve Marathon Coach – Was huge amounts of fun! Lots and lots of mud … seems to be a bit of a theme on my runs!

Tenjiso – Thank goodness for a decent camera on the iphone! Means I can be a tourist and take lots of snaps! Yak Trax were recommended by a fellow runner on Twitter and were fantastic. They’re like metal springs over a rubber framework and were amazing! There was a bit of running on lanes yesterday and they were fine – not slippy but I could feel my butt and the backs of my legs working harder to compensate.

Unlucky re the run scheduling!! I think you should find some mud. Makes it much more fun!!

Bo – This bacon is mine! All mine!! Will you lot get away from my bacon!

DS2 – Morning! I have to negotiate for my computer time as I have a very enthusiastic 3 year old and another runner in the house. I’m currently using mince pies to bribe both of them and Christmas films to keep the peace!

24/12/2012 at 13:27

Week 1 Summary:

Weekly miles:             28.84

Elevation Gain:          2175ft

Hills:                            Lots. High.

Mud:                            Everywhere.


24/12/2012 at 13:29

This Week’s Schedule:

Week 2:

Mon Dec 24th:             Rest

Tues Dec 25th:            5M brisk in 40 mins

Weds Dec 26th:          6M slow in 9 min miles

Thurs Dec 27th:          5M build up run - starting at slower than 8s and ending up

                                 at 7:20s.

Fri Dec 28th:              Rest

Sat Dec 29th:             5M fartlek

Sun Dec 30th:            10M steady in 85 mins

Week total:               31 miles

Edited: 24/12/2012 at 13:31
24/12/2012 at 14:47

That's a fair amount of elevation gain!

I thought only Yorkshire was hilly

24/12/2012 at 15:19

Please stop calling 9mm pace "slow" 

I didn't need Yaktrax today, but a pair of flippers and a snorkel wouldn't have been out of place.

24/12/2012 at 15:39

Andy - I couldn't believe there were hills like that around this way! My legs didn't know what had hit them - Warwickshire (where I live) is flat as a pancake! Not as bad as Yorkshire 3 Peaks, but I've always fancied running that route. Walked it once and hoping to walk it again this summer!

Tenjiso - Blame Marathon Coach Steve Those are his terms not mine! (Points at Steve to direct blame Your 10 mile run earlier sounded fun though!! Luckily you did it earlier rather than later as I think you'd have needed a canoe!!

24/12/2012 at 19:56

well done on the first week's training. Unfortunately, it's the easiest one until the week before the marathon. Yes slow is probably not the right  term but it's short for slower than marathon pace.

24/12/2012 at 22:19

Thanks Steve! An easy week to start and a nice easy one at the end sounds good to me ... ease me in gently then by the time I realise it gets much harder I've got the nice easy one at the end to look forward to before the treat of the Marathon!

25/12/2012 at 09:54
Merry Christmas sarah, hope you have a wonderful day
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