Target 26.2 - First Timer Steve's Journey to Paris

Long runs, speed sessions... and a pair of rather tight leggings.

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16/02/2013 at 20:09
A.W wrote (see)

Hi Steve,

Just wanted to drop by and wish you luck for tomorrow! looking forward to the race report.

Cheers mate, was a great day and a shame you couldn't have been there! But we're catching up in a couple of weeks at training day, aren't we? Looking forward to it

16/02/2013 at 20:11
jenf wrote (see)

I'm doing good Steve thanks! can't quite keep up with your pacing now.. but I'm slowly improving! Good luck with the half, get out there and enjoy!

Hey Jen, glad it's all going well and I see that big congratulations are in order for a new 5k PB! Well done, that's great going!

16/02/2013 at 20:15

Training - Week 9

Wednesday and Thursday

Unfortunately, I have had another crazy few days at work - we are so, so busy at the moment and everyone is busting a gut to get everything done!

This meant I was very late out of work on Wednesday and then I saw my son so there just wasn't any chance at all to get a run in - I had some 800m reps scheduled at the track... and I love the track! So you know that it must have been pretty damn busy!

Thursday had in store a hearing a looong way from the office. I was up at 5:30 and out the door and didn't get home until after 9pm (I also, I have to admit Ruth, fell off the wagon a bit with food and grabbed some chips on the way home from the chip shop - it had been a bloomin' long day and I was absolutely knackered so sheer convenience won the day on this occasion!).

Thursday was a rest day but I had foolishly hoped to be able to squeeze the missed session in! No chance... I had a chat with Sam and she said that, with Dorney Lake this weekend, I should just miss the 800m reps and stick to the jog that was scheduled for Friday... Another session missed, which was really frustrating but it couldn't be helped.

16/02/2013 at 20:26

Training - Week 9


Following Sam's advice, I ditched the 800m reps and headed out for the 4 mile jog...

Still stinging from my telling off, I thought I'd nail the pacings as well as I could, just to prove that I am capable of sticking to a pacing!

The run was pretty uneventful and I enjoyed just taking it easy and chilling out a nice, slow pace. I really have learned to enjoy the slower runs and found them to be a real escape from the stresses of work and so on... so I spent the run with a smile on my face and finished with the prescribed acceleration strides.

With the strides, I again really concentrated on my form. As I said in an earlier post, Sam gave us some great tips on form when speeding up and I tried hard to put these into practice whilst completing the strides.

Here are the mile splits:

Mile 1 - 9:42

Mile 2 - 9:42

Mile 3 - 9:40

Mile 4 - 9:41

This gave an overall time of 38mins 47secs, meaning an overall pace of 9:41. Goal pace was between 9:40 and 10:30m/m.

16/02/2013 at 21:19

Ok, this next post is a long one, so brace yourself! But hopefully worth the read...

16/02/2013 at 21:19

Training - Week 9


Race day! I had an absolutely amazing day today and had so much fun through the whole thing.

I was lucky enough that the event was only about an hour and fifteen minutes away in the car so I didn't have to get up at ridiculous o'clock and, what with getting everything ready the night before, ended up having a surprisingly chilled out morning. My son stayed over last night so it was really nice to sit and have breakfast with him and talk about the race. He came with me and took some lovely photos so I will get those uploaded and post them later on.

Dorney Lake is a massive man-made lake and hosted the rowing races at the Olympics - it is, as you might imagine, a huge rectangular lake and had all the buoys in lines in the water to mark out lanes. It turned out to be a really nice course, with decent wide paths all the way round and it was also almost entirely flat with just a couple of very, very slight inclines.

We got there in plenty of time but the car park at the lake is absolutely tiny so we ended up having to just pull to the side of the path and park there. It was a bit of a walk to the event!! I hadn't received my race pack through the post prior to the event so I headed to the help desk, as I had been instructed in an email, to collect a pack and number. When I got there, my name wasn't on the list of entrants, which was slightly concerning!

I tried to explain to the lady at the desk that I was running the event with Runners World, that I was part of the Asics Target 26.2 team... glazed expression. No idea what you are talking about, sir. She suggested we go and speak to the Runners World pacing runners, who were gathered not too far away and, while we walked, I searched through my emails on my phone to see if I could find one about the event. I did in the end and showed it to her and it turned out that it was an email conversation that I had actually been having with the lady herself!! Bizarre.

Anyway, we got it all sorted in the end and I got given a number so no harm done!

I met up with Ady, Sarah and Mel and we all had a good chat - I've said it before but they really are a great bunch and I'm so glad to be doing this with them. it was a real shame Alex couldn't have been there to complete the set, but we are all meeting up again in a couple of weeks at the next training day so I'm looking forward to that.

There was, as there always is at these events, a great sense of energy and excitement in the air and it was a pleasure to hang around with so many other runners. None of my friends are amazingly into running, certainly not to the extent I am and so it's very rare that I get to spend time chatting face to face about races and so on... today though, I had Sarah, Mel and Ady to chat to and Ady's wife and my son, Jack, to bore the pants off!

We also had a couple of people come over, recognising us from the forums and the mag and that was amazing - we had some really lovely comments and it really did give me a huge boost so have so many positive things said! Hopefully all you lovely people who took the time to come and say hi will pop by our threads and comment

Our minor celebrity moment done, we made our way over to the start line and we all took our various places near the pacers we were hoping would get us round!

My half marathon PB is 1 hour and 52 minutes and Sam had set me the goal of 1 hour and 45 minutes. That meant running 8 minute miles and I saw that there was actually a Runners World pacer for that exact time... Pretty handy!

The race started and we had the usual scrum as way too many people tried to fit on way too small a path, all trying to run at different paces... but it soon thinned o

16/02/2013 at 21:21


out and I was able to get into a rhythm.

I kept the 1:45 runner in sight but he was, according to my watch at least, to be going slightly faster than 8 minute-miling. But he wasn't too far ahead so I didn't let it worry me.

One of the runners who had come over and had a chat (I'm so sorry, I can't remember your name - you told me as we were pounding through about mile 4 and there was so much going on!) was going for a similar time and we bumped into each other after a couple of miles. We ran together for a while and had a nice chat, which really helped get through the first few miles. Thank you!

I didn't really feel the first few miles at all and was breathing really, really easily. Although we were running at just under 8 minute miles, the pacing runner was still up ahead but my watch was tying in with the mile markers really well so I just carried on as I was.

Taking Ruth's advice on board, I gave the gels a really good go today and took one after half an hour. It was the first time I had taken one of the SIS caffeine gels and it went down fine.

After about five miles, I realised that I really wasn't trying hard at all at that pace - my breathing was so relaxed that I may as well have been going for a brisk walk and I had caught up to the pacing runner without really thinking about it. I moved past him and carried on, again feeling really easy and relaxed.

Sam had said to stick with 8 minute miles until around 9 or 10 and then see what was left and that was fully my intention but, having gone almost half distance, it just felt so, so easy that I thought I had better make a judgement based on how I felt - I decided to speed up just a little and see how it went.

I upped my game a little and maintained that for a while and, again, it felt pretty easy.

I flashed through another couple of miles and still felt very strong and realised that I had got through a good portion of the race already, whilst feeling like I had hardly done any work at all! This felt pretty amazing and, after taking another gel at around the hour mark, I thought it was probably time to speed it up a little again and see where it took me.

Whilst I know I won't be able to do this in the marathon itself, this was only a half so I felt a lot more able to push the pace and go for a time without having to worry so much about hitting the wall or crashing and burning or anything... So I did speed up!

By this point, I had reached the point in the race where, if you've timed it nicely and been able to maintain your pace or do a negative split, you are catching all those people who went out way too fast. I spent the rest of the race passing people and this filled me with a lot of confidence that I had run the race well.

Before I knew I it, I had reached ten miles and, you know what, I still felt in great shape. I had Sam's advice in mind, that I should get to around ten miles and then think "parkrun!" and, given that I still felt so strong, I thought "What the hell - it's only three miles!" and went all out for the time, pacing be damned!

I took my last gel at around 1 hour 18 minutes as I thought any later and I wouldn't get any benefit from it before I finished! I'm pleased to report that I didn't have any ill effects from them whatsoever and again they did seem to work really well for me so I'm pleased that I've found a good stategy for Paris that works for me. I do need to get myself a belt though, as I carried them around with me in my hand!

Anyway, the final three miles flew by and I tried to gradually get faster and faster all the way through to the finish. I was by now, of course, breathing a lot heavier but I maintained my form and kept my breathing controlled and found that I was passing more and more runners.

I grad

16/02/2013 at 21:22


gradually creeped the pace up and up and was relieved to turn onto the final stretch before the finish, which was, I think, just over a mile. As I said, the course was almost entirely flat and smooth and it was easy to pick up some speed and I almost felt like I was cruising at times.

As you probably know, I do like a fast finish and, surprisingly, I did have a little left in the tank as I neared the end! I got to the very final part of the course, where the path turned to the left and there was literally a couple of hundred yards to the finish - by this point I was going not far short of sprinting and I pushed it all the way to the line, where I was going at such a pace that I had to pull up really quite sharply to avoid knocking over the people handing out the medals!!

It was a great run and I really enjoyed it. I spoke to quite a few people round the course who recognised us from the competition and it was lovely speaking to people. It gave me a really good boost!

It was one of those runs where everything just seemed to go right and I felt great throughout. I did a massive negative split so I was delighted with that - if Paris goes anywhere even near to like that then I will be over the moon!

Before I put the times down, I'll just say again that my Half Marathon PB is 1:52 and the goal was anything below 1:50, ideally 1:45.

With that in mind, I did the mile splits as follows:

Mile 1 - 7:54

Mile 2 - 7:51

Mile 3 - 7:53

Mile 4 - 7:54

Mile 5 - 7:54

Mile 6 - 7:54

Mile 7 - 7:43

Mile 8 - 7:29

Mile 9 - 7:18

Mile 10 - 7:23

Mile 11 - 7:16 (!)

Mile 12 - 6:52 (!!)

Mile 13 - 6:33 (!!!)

0.2 mile - 36secs, so 5:13m/m (!!!!)

So that was, as you might imagine, ever so slightly a new PB!! I got round in an absolutely amazing (and completely unexpected!) time of 1:38:32 which meant a great overall pace of 7:31 minutes per mile.

I don't know about you, but I'm still in shock! I wasn't expecting to go anywhere near that fast and had been at times feeling pretty daunted about running the half at 8 minute miles!

I'm still smiling now and I'm so pleased with myself. What made it even better is that all four of us managed to get PBs so it really was a great day all round.

The most amazing thing of all though (and I have sat down and worked this out about fifteen times to be absolutely sure I'm not imagining this!) is the final 5k of the run.

My 5k PB, which I only recently set and which was a massive improvement of nearly a minute off my old 5k PB is 21:32... I ran the final 5k of this half marathon in an astonishing time of 21mins 17secs!! That's 15 seconds off of my 5k personal best AT THE END OF A HALF MARATHON!

I'm blown away. What an end to the run!

16/02/2013 at 21:49

Great report from the race today Steve. Really well done on your cracking new PB! You, Ady and Sarah are not going to be too far apart come Paris!!!

16/02/2013 at 21:57

 really pleased for you! great race report

16/02/2013 at 23:15
Steve, fabulous work mate, well done!
17/02/2013 at 08:20
I'm sorry to tell you but you've miscalculated your last 5k.

I checked the splits just in case you made a typo:
51m58s + 46m32s = 1h38m30s (5m26s negative split!!)

5k=3,1m. A bit boring but if you want to check, I put your times in seconds for your last 3.1miles. I hope I haven't made a mistake.

(0.9*436)+412+393+36 = 1233 sec = 20m33s!

I rest my case. As if you need any more good news. Well Done. Please put ketchup on your shoes because I'll be eating you dust in Paris.
17/02/2013 at 19:01
A.W wrote (see)

Great report from the race today Steve. Really well done on your cracking new PB! You, Ady and Sarah are not going to be too far apart come Paris!!!

Thanks Alex, was a great race for me from start to finish - everything seemed to go smoothly! Hmm.. we'll see about Paris - the furthest I have ever run is 14 miles so the longer runs are definitely going to be a huge challenge for me!

17/02/2013 at 19:03
jenf wrote (see)

 really pleased for you! great race report

Thanks Jen Still got a dopey grin on my face today! The race has given me a lot of confidence that if I carry on putting in the work, I should see the results in Paris...

17/02/2013 at 19:04
PAUL FORDE wrote (see)
Steve, fabulous work mate, well done!

Cheers Paul, what a time eh? I was feeling going into it that 1:45 was a definite possibility and that I was feeling in good shape... but not that good shape!! Haha

17/02/2013 at 19:06
PC91 wrote (see)
I'm sorry to tell you but you've miscalculated your last 5k.

I checked the splits just in case you made a typo:
51m58s + 46m32s = 1h38m30s (5m26s negative split!!)

5k=3,1m. A bit boring but if you want to check, I put your times in seconds for your last 3.1miles. I hope I haven't made a mistake.

(0.9*436)+412+393+36 = 1233 sec = 20m33s!

I rest my case. As if you need any more good news. Well Done. Please put ketchup on your shoes because I'll be eating you dust in Paris.

Haha, yes I just took the times from 10 miles onwards... But that would equate to 3.2 miles rather than 3.1, wouldn't it??

We have a 5k time trial at the next training day in a couple of weeks' time so it'll be interesting to see what sort of time I can pull out of the bag then!

17/02/2013 at 19:50

Steve - fantastic run, well done.  You make it sound so easy, but we all know that its only your hard work and persistence over the last few months that have made it possible.  Breaking your 5km PB and the end of a half marathon is bonkers!

17/02/2013 at 21:24

Thanks Cat, it was such a fun day and I'm so pleased all four of us managed to get big PBs - it really was the icing on the cake.

As for running what would have been a 5k PB at the end... I still can't believe that! Totally bonkers

Can't wait for the next training day in a couple of weeks to meet up with the guys again.

18/02/2013 at 09:39

Training - Week 10

Wow, week 10 already!

This whole competition is just flying past so quickly and it is an amazing feeling to look back at how far the five of us have come already in such a short space of time. We have all achieved so much and, for me, the process has been a pleasure from start to finish.

Yes, it has been tough at times and there have been occasions when it has been hard to drag myself out of the door but there have been so many fantastic experiences and positivity around me from the start that the tough times haven't seemed that bad after all and it has been easy to smile through them and get on with it.

I can say right now, absolutely categorically and without a shadow of a doubt, that without the Target 26.2 team and all their advice and expertise I would not be anywhere even close to where I am right now.

I was such a running novice before this experience and would have just done what I always have done in the past. This means I would have just headed out of the door three times a week and gone for a run for a few miles. I would not have been doing the different sessions, I would not have been keeping such good records of my training and looking at these to see where I might need to improve, I would not have probably even given paces a second thought and my nutrition... well, the less said about the better, really!

Everyone on the forum, Sam, Ruth, Sarah, the other Target 26.2 runners and my family and friends have given me such amazing advice and support and it is that which has built me such an amazingly strong foundation to build upon and which has left me feeling very positive about Paris.

And so we head into Week 10 of the training. It's weird the way your perceptions about how far/frequently you are running change. I remember looking at the first four weeks of the plan Sam drew up for me and thinking "bloody hell, that's a lot of running!"

My mileage before starting the plan really was very low and it suddenly seemed like a lot to do and a big challenge to get out and do that much! But I look at what Week 10 has in store and it is significantly more than that... but seems very achieveable. I'm looking forward to it.

To save everyone having to click back through past pages to find what the plan is for next week, here it is:

Week 10 w/c 18th February 
Monday 5 MILE JOG
Wednesday 6 MILE BUILD-UP (From 8.40-7.50)
Thursday REST
Saturday REST
Sunday LONG RUN 17 MILES: 7 MILE @ 10.05, 5 @ 9.35, 5@ 9.05-9.10 (17 MILES)

18/02/2013 at 09:40
Steve - brilliant work mate!!! Looking great for Paris now.

What time are you thinking of aiming for?
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