Some Racing, Some Training. Summer-Fall-Winter of 2022
I had started writing this in the fall of 2022 because I had been lazy with the training updates. Then I got lazy with the update of the updates. Anyway, quickly finished this now and just pushing it out as is to not keep on delaying.
Just catching up on the past summer months and the last bit of the track season. Some highs and lows, PRs and recurring little injuries, training a bit all over the place, but mostly in the “not enough actual workouts” camp. I will just go through it chronologically. So will you.
After the Brussels 20 km
I felt great after a successful 20 km door Brussel at the end of May. Had two weeks of easy running, though not specifically low in volume after the first week. Then halfway the third week, I got COVID19. So that made me skip several days before carefully restarting. Maybe a week after restarting though, I took a weird step when walking around the office and had a big stab of pain in my left hip. I feel old writing that out. It is the same hip that bothered me earlier in the year and I think it was the same injury coming back somehow. I took another few days off before restarting more cautiously than I had after the bout of COVID. I got properly back into the running routine over a week or two, three, skipping a day because of travel. The running was kept easy, while I got the volume back relatively quickly. By this point it was already July, it was hot and humid, and I was in hillier terrain. The hip was likely fine already, but I kept it as a sort of excuse to not have to run hard in terrible weather. Fine or not, bad weather or not, I decided to hop in a local race to stretch the legs and get some racing feel again.
- 87 km, post 20 km week [May-June]
- 113 km, no workouts
- 64 km, a workout, some strides, then got COVID and stopped
- 68 km, coming back from COVID
- 62 km, easy running, hip acts up [June-July]
- 69 km, easy running post hip niggle
- 85 km, easy running and a travel day
- 111 km, hot, humid, hilly, but easy beyond that
Local Road Race with a Chance at First Place
The “CCRS Tuesday Ice Cream in the Park 5k series” caught my eye, largely because there were not many other options in the area. The two previous races, held at the end of May and the end of June, respectively, of the series had had a winner that seemed easy enough to beat, though I wondered whether a college athlete on their summer break might show up and smoke the field. TT or racing, I was up for some action and signed up.
The race was on a Tuesday evening, 26 July, around 19:00, which helped a little with the weather. You mostly did not have direct sunlight any more due to the sun being low enough and the trees on the course doing some blocking too. It was still warm, it was still humid. Before the start you got a ticket for the post race raffle which I passed on to my wife just in case we were still there when that occurred.
I went for a little jog, stretched a bit near what I supposed was the start line, cheered a little at the kids’ race, and observed other people getting ready for our race, scoping out the competition. And then I spotted what looked like a fast guy. Lean figure, wirey legs. I figured looks could be deceiving though. Then he started another little jog to stay warm and the stride just looked really smooth. He definitely looked faster than me. I figured I would just try to follow him anyway though, see what happens. With the lack of fast running due to COVID and the hip, I did not know what to expect, but I also did not particularly mind blowing up. It is not like this race mattered, nor was I going to PR here on this day.
When the time came to line up, he and I were the only two to go stand at the front. It was a small path, but a third or fourth person could have easily joined in still. Nop, just us. Off we went, slightly trading places before I settled in behind him. I also quickly felt this was going to be a tricky one to try and win. After 700-800 metre, my GPS said we were going 3:10 per km pace (~15:50 finish time). Translation: oops, that’s a bit fast. Soon after we hit a little bump for a bridge and my body decided to nop on the pace. I got left behind.
For the next kilometre or so I was a bit out of it. I still tried to keep the pace honest, but also needed a slight recovery. By around 2-2.5 km I heard third place catch up to me. When he did, I decided to switch my focus to finishing ahead of him. He had the same idea and we traded places several times, sticking close together. He seemed to mostly try to drop me by pushing the pace on the slight “uphills”, then I would throw it back at him in the “downhill” afterwards. I put them in quotation marks since most of these were more anthill than anything, though there was one uphill grassy section at 3.7 km where he might have almost gotten me.
Eventually I managed to break him. Less than a kilometre from the finish, I did my best to keep one of the downhill surges for longer, maybe even till the finish line if he kept pushing. Suddenly though, I did not hear him right behind me any more. I was quite sure I had a gap, but I did not know how big the gap was. So I kept up the effort till the finish line anyway and got second place.
Result: a pretty meh 17:47, but even without the first km blow up, it would not have been much better. Just what the body could do on the day. First place must have stopped pushing after dropping me because he ran 17:03 in the end. He told me afterwards he had already done a workout that morning, so… ye. I looked him up after and he is indeed a college runner. Third place came in 10 seconds behind me. He turned out to be the guy that won the May and June stages of this series. I stuck around for the podium (there were gonna be some coupons). Strangely enough they only “crowned” first male and female overall. Instead of placing me second, they made me age category winner. :shrug: More hilariously, I won the raffle and got a pair of free Mizuno shoes. I have been lucky with these post-race raffles I feel like.
Training and Travel
Not too much happened the next few weeks besides getting a blood blister when a hole in one of my socks started really acting up during a run. I did not know what was happening so ran through it as it got more painful. Then noticed the mess afterwards and was stuck with it for at least a week after. Ended up popping it at least daily. That made it OK to run with.
- 95 km, race on Tuesday. Day off the day after because no time to run.
- 75 km, missed two days because blood blister and too tired due to travel. [Aug]
- 113 km, LT workout.
- 107 km, missed the Monday due to travel. In the hot south of France climate the rest of the week.
Track Racing: Exists
Clubboss contacted me the final week of August and asked whether I would be interested in taking part in the 4×1500 relay race at the provincial championships that Saturday. I figured it was time to jump back into real racing and said sure. It ended up being a pretty small race. Only six teams were fielded and half of those were mostly master runners. The other, faster than me, guys of my club also were planning to make this more of a workout than a race. I figured I would still try to run all out though. If only because I had never raced a 1500.
I got placed as the first leg runner, which worked out nicely for me. I could pace off of the other people. If you run any of the other legs, chances are you are all alone. There were two guys that definitely could have gone faster, but for some reason they both started around my pace. Fine by me. I just hung behind them for as long as I could.
I tried to glance at my watch a few times and think I saw 1:10 for 400 metre and 2:22 for 800. That is on pace for 4:23-4:25 and for 4:27-4:28, respectively. About 1100 metre into the race, I could not hang on to the other guys any more as they started speeding up and I started wilting away. Swapped the baton in third position. I have no official time for my leg, that is not measured by the organisation, but my hand timing places me at 4:31. Felt alright with the time for a first try.
My teammates managed to catch up to second place still, so in the end we went home with a silver medal. (VICE-) PROVINCIAL CHAMPIONS, BABY!
Our total time ended up being 17:30.7. That averages to 4:22.x per 1500m.
- 113 km for the week, with some light LT work and a race on Saturday.
Race a 5000
Incensed by that track race, I went looking at what races were still left at the tail end of the season. I spotted a 5000m the following weekend that I figured I would hop into, I still wanted to run under 16:30 at some point and figured I would need a few more tries to get it right. It was also a planned down week that week, so I figured maybe the lower volume would help a bit too. Thus that Saturday I once again packed my spikes and went, coincidentally, to… the exact same track as the weekend before. I am so well-travelled.
It was a day without wind, but the temperature was still 25C. Most of the race was under cloud cover though, so that helped. The first lap was too fast, as is tradition. A guy in a green shirt took the lead and set a more steady pace for our little group that had formed. I saw a faster group pull away in front of us and was not sure whether I should follow them or not. In the end decided to just go for it. I overtook green shirt and tried to close the gap. After another 200 or 300m, I regretted that decision as I realised that that group was too fast for me. Indeed, they would end up finishing in the low to mid 15s.
I ran alone for a little bit, ensuring I had not blown up too much from that little attempt. The guys I had tried to leave behind caught back up to me and we formed a group of four: me, green shirt, black shirt, and red-white shirt. I let the others lead while I got my shit back together, hanging mostly in third or fourth spot. Green took the lead, black took over for a while, then green led some again. I let them do their thing, the pace felt alright. Eventually, redwhite shirt made a move to the front and I just felt like I had to react, it seemed like it might be a breaking point. I followed him and settled into second.
Red-white led for a few laps and then I took over with four or five laps to go. I figured he would appreciate some help. With three laps to go, I briefly tried to push the pace some so we could finish strong (and maybe I could drop him). I quickly realised it was a bit too early for that though. Red-white took over again with about two laps left and he started pushing hard. I knew I had to hang on now or I would slow way down after the mental loss of getting dropped. I stuck close for the penultimate lap. With maybe 200-300 metre to go, he cracked me. I did not die, I just could not follow him any more. I tried to just squeeze out everything I still had left to the line.
After finishing, my watch said 16:29-16:30. I really hoped it would be an under, not over. The results system was having some troubles, so I could not quickly check my results online. Instead I had to wait till after my cooldown to find out that I did it: 16:29.41! Score. Red-white beat me by a second. I do not know at what point we dropped the other guys from our group, but they finished 8 and 30 seconds behind me.
Wife handtimed the laps, which I will just copy paste here. Will see if I can be bothered to integrate that nicely into the previous text. (The answer is no) She did not get the last split, so I just calculated that from the official time.
|Counter||Total Time||Lap Time|
The day after I went to do a longish run and suddenly started feeling my left hip again about 2/3rds in. Damnit. Not happy with how that niggle keeps on coming back.
- 91 km for the week. Some LT on Tuesday, race on Saturday, baby long run on Sunday. [Aug-Sep]
Thwarted by a 1500
I played it a bit safer the days following that with some shorter jogs, even taking one day off and replacing it with some ellipticaling. Meanwhile I also had to decide whether or not to still sign up for another race I had had my mind on. A 1500m on Friday evening. After the 4×1500, I wondered what I could do when properly timed in a real race. Eventually I decided to bite the bullet and sign up. The list of other participants was too tempting. There were going to be several guys running with PBs in the 4:25-4:35 range. What was I aiming for? sub 4:30 at least. Perfecto. This was going to be my first official 1500, so I did not fill in a PB when signing up.
I found out that was a dumb move when they started calling the names to line up for the 1500. Apparently they decided to split it up into two heats. They did not call my name for the fast heat. I had filled in no time, so I was put in the slow heat. Fastest guy in that slow heat? Around 4:40. Fuck. I tried to convince the jury member to let me run in the fast heat, it was the main reason that I showed up to this race. He called his superior. The superior shot it down. Fuck. Annoyed, I looked at the first heat’s runners going at it. Annoyed, I waited for my name to be called for the second heat. Annoyed, I lined up.
The gun went, I went to the front, the 4:40 kid followed me for maybe 100 metre. Then I was alone. I did not really know what kind of effort to look for. I glanced at my watch at 300m and at 700m and saw 54s and 2:06. Both on track for 4:30. I tried to push a bit in the last lap, but I do not know whether I really managed all alone. I finished feeling fine, too rested, not pushed enough. Annoyed, I walked off to change shoes and run a cooldown. The cooldown jog helped distract me at least.
Wife took some pictures, I look positively angry in some of them. At least my leg muscles look good.
Official time took a few days to come online: 4:30.70. Bleh.
- 67 km for the week as I nursed the niggle. Did not bother me during the race at least (though it came back some after that effort).
After that race, nothing on the calendar looked good for the next weekend. The niggle in the left hip probably could do with the bit of extra rest anyway. The two weekends after that, I was not going to be in Belgium. The week after those two weeks, I was probably going to do another track race. The event I was looking at had both a 1500m and a 5000m. After this failure, I was starting to lean towards giving the 1500m another try. I already had my new shiny 5000m PR anyway. Either way, for the time being it was just going to be regular running.
To play it safe with the hip niggle, I did not do any fast running. I did throw in a long run. The week after I tried some strides, but they did not feel quite right yet. Just did not feel as smooth as I am used to them feeling. The long run still felt fine, though that was done in Madrid where summer had not ended yet. I experienced a slight bonk running in the deserty wasteland on the south east side of the city. Nothing to worry about. Also a good amount of touristy walking while there.
The week after that, I still kept the runs easy. I was going to be in Manchester that weekend and decided I should pay a local parkrun a visit, that had been forever.
- 114 km, all easy, a long run.
- 113 km, easy, a long run. Some strides that did not feel quite right and smooth.
- 112 km, easy. Parkrun + long run combo on Saturday. [Sep-Oct]
This part is written waaaaay after the fact. I am too lazy to dig for the details, so will just go off the description I put in Strava.
Felt pretty dogshit all morning. I blame not getting enough sleep because of not reaching the hotel till past midnight. Around three hours short of what I would call a good night’s sleep? Legs weren’t in the mood during the warmup or the long run afterwards. Both felt sluggish.
As usual for these smaller events, I lined up at the front with the idea of vying for first. First was, however, out of reach from very early on. I went slightly too hard trying to keep up. Reevaluated before it got too bad and slowed down a bit. Two people passed me and pulled away. I never let them get too far from me though. Caught up to one of them just over halfway first lap. The other one was further up ahead still, but I didn’t feel like trying to bridge the gap. Seemed like it would be too much effort. Hanging back turned out to be a good call because he faded about ⅓ into the second lap. Then some other guy of our group took the lead before a very grassy and muddy section. He got a slight gap, I closed it shortly after the grass. I sat on his tail for a while and then kicked with maybe 500m to go. Ended up in second with a few seconds slower than 17:00 (results). Bummer, could have had my first parkrun sub-17 if it wasn’t for the patch of mud I think.
The course was nice enough, though three parts were “lose most to all of your speed, and then start up again: the first sharp turn, the very muddy section, and the 90 degree turn after the straight after the muddy section. So six annoying points total because of doing the route twice.
Attempt At 1500 Revenge
Also writing this way after the fact.
After the parkrun weekend, I wanted to give this final goal of the season a proper go. So I ran a bit less total the week of the 1500m. Tuesday I did an easier workout (some pace around supposed 2mmol/l lactate point). Just stretching the legs some. Saturday was the race. Final spikes of the season.
This time I did get placed in the faster heat, filling in my previous time was just enough to be allowed in. Lucky break. I was the slowest of the fast runners rather than the fastest of the slow runners.
The plan was to just aim for 4:25. Looks pretty and I thought it was within reach. Before the race started another guy said he and his club mate were doing 3 min first km and then speed up for the 4:25. He suggested we all go for it together. That sounded good in theory and I mumbled agreement. The gun went and I hung around them, but after 100-200 metre I thought “wait, I don’t have that kind of kick”. I moved up and tried to close the small gap on a guy further ahead of the 3-min-and-kick club mates. I never really closed the gap, never really let it get real big. Hard to make serious adjustments in a race this short. Either way, keeping the guy in sight was good enough to pace off. I do not have exact splits but glanced at watch and saw a 0:50-0:52 first 300m and then a 2:01-02 700m. No more watch glancing after that. The two club mates from before zoomed past with 150m to go. Seeing their pace, I thought that was indeed not a kick I would have been capable of. Glad I pushed a little more earlier. I tried to use them to pace me to the end despite the quick gap they got on me. Just a reference point. Then I let up a tiny bit too early I think. My finish time was 4:25.27. If I had done a lean and raced to the line, maybe it would have been sub 4:25. Pity that. Maybe next season I’ll give it another go.
- 90 km for the week. 2mmol workout on Tuesday, race on Saturday.
I was going to take it easy for a while, but my club contacted me to see whether I was interested in running the Brussels Ekiden. So I only had the one week of laziness, before it was time for another race week. They put me in their first team, running a 5k. The concept of this Ekiden is six runners: 5-10-5-10-5-7.2 to make up a marathon distance.
- 113k, week of easy running. Some strides still, a long run.
- 113k, week of the Ekiden. Did not cut volume for this one, just shuffled things around. In retrospect maybe I should have.
(Still writing well after the fact)
It was to be another Saturday race day, this time just around the corner from where I live. That was easy at least, I could walk to the start: the Koning Boudewijnstadium, home of the Brussels Diamond League. Start and finishes are in this stadium, the run itself is in and around a rather hilly park nearby.
My sleep had been iffy for two weeks, but I hoped it would not affect me. The race was also in the afternoon, which meant I was not sure what to do foodwise. Seems whatever I did, I messed it up, because during the warmup I felt my belly was not right. Did a few toilet trips, but it still felt off.
On the way back to my team’s stand, some guy was walking in the opposite direction. I thought I recognised him, so maybe stared a bit too long, but he also was looking back at me somewhat. He smiled a bit, I gave a non-committal nod. The one where you feel like you should say hi, but you don’t remember where you know the person from or who they are, so you don’t want to commit to saying hi and starting a conversation. I continued on and a few seconds later it hits me. That was Bashir Abdi (Tokyo Olympic marathon bronze medallist)! I contemplated turning back and asking for a picture, but it felt a bit weird. In my mind, it’s not something I really do. I glanced back and I see someone walking up to him, asking for a picture. Fuck it, I might as well get one too. And so I did. At least one win out of this day, because the rest was not going to be it.
I barely wrote down anything cause of disappointment and (let’s be honest) this just being a tacked on goal I was not heavily invested in. Basically boils down to: the cramps continued. Since I was the fifth runner, there was also nobody to race against. The person ahead started 30-60s earlier, the person behind, no clue. You’re also overtaking all the slower teams, so you don’t even see your competitors. So I was alone with my cramps. Did not go great, never got moving right, finished in a disappointing 18:05. Our team finished fourth in the end and I had lost 30-60s on the fifth place runner of the third place team. Ye. That’s annoying.
And with that, it really was the end of my fall season.
Ok, winter was not yet starting, but I decided to take it easy in the coming months. Light on workouts, just build the volume up some. Let the hip fully heal, then see what I end up doing come spring and summer. Seems to have gone alright, I went up to a consistent 120 km per week and got to the start of next season’s training in one piece.
- 90k, some careful strides [Oct-Nov]
- 117k. Started adding a mid week long run (22-23k) to handle these weekly distances.
- 117k. A threshold workout attempt, but that was not quite appreciated by the body yet. This might have been when the no workouts for a while was actually decided.
- 120k. More! More!
- 93k. Down week, throw in two days with strides. [Nov-Dec]
- 116k. Long, midweek long, day with strides.
- 120k. Same as previous week.
- 110k. Lost a day because of flying, it happens.
- 87k. Down week, but also lost a day because I had some nose-throat-chest thing going on. It was not COVID, it did require a day of proper rest. [Dec-Jan]
- 122k. Another long, midweek long, and day with strides. Strides are not a workout, but still worth mentioning when you are not doing much.
- 109k. Lost a day because I got food poisoning. Did not want a repeat of the 2021 20 km door Brussel.
- 121k. Back to the usual schedule.
- 94k. Squished into six days because of travelling, fine for a down week. [Week ending on 29 Jan]
Because it got a bit long and all over the place, the main takeaways.
- Left hip niggle came back a few times
- Vice-Provincial Champion in the 4×1500
- 16:29 5000 metre PB
- 4:25 1500 metre PB (and also the first times running it)
The weeks following that, I started introducing workouts again. Those will get talked about in the next race report, which is the Belgian Championship Half Marathon on 12 March 2023. Also known as: tomorrow, the day after this is published. Now let’s hope I can get that one out the door with less of a delay.