Gloucester 20 – 2:20:39

Back to the Gloucester 20 for the third year in a row. It’s a good little race for preparing for London marathon, but every year seems to mark the point where my right quad fails and the last few weeks go downhill (in fact, after this race last year I decided not to run in London at all). It’s been behaving itself a bit better this year but I was still cautious of it although this year’s Gloucester 20 was further away from London, at 6 weeks, than the 4 or 5 it’s been in the past so perhaps if things went badly there would still be time to turn it around.

After a bit of a jog to warm up (my sore hip seems to have settle down now) I decided to just wear a vest to run in. It was cool and sunny, pretty much ideal conditions, I was feeling pretty good, if a little nervous. Off the start we had a couple of laps of the local business park to run and then out into the countryside. Although I was thinking of a 2:20 finish I didn’t get too carried away with these opening km, they seemed quite brisk enough and it wasn’t until I was coming around to the end of the first of three large laps that I found myself in a smallish group although they soon split up and I was just running with one other guy from Gloucester AC who was getting a lot of cheers from the marshals. We had a bit of a chat – he’d missed quite a bit of training with a bad cold.

Second Lap (Original is here. Photocredit Jemma Mulraney)

I walked through the water stations – the water is handed up in cups at this race which isn’t the easiest to deal with – but I don’t think it was costing me much time. I had a couple of gels tucked into my waistband for the second and third laps and they provided a welcome boost. I was still feeling good coming around the back half of the last large lap so I pressed on a bit here, and kept a slightly faster pace all the way to the finish, catching dying runners all the way to the line. My 10 mile splits were roughly 1:10:34 and 1:10:04.

Finish (Original is here. Photocredit Jemma Mulraney)

Very happy with my time, 80th from 500 starters and 6th M50, and my quad was not too bad at all – I managed an easy jog to warm down before climbing into the car for the drive home.


Gloucester 20 – 2:26:28

I had a few days off running after the Teddy Hall Relays to give my stiff right quad a bit of a rest and done some cycling and swimming instead, so when I came to warm up for this last pre-London tester it was feeling pretty good.

It was going to be a warm morning, so my new London Marathon-branded vest and shorts got an outing, but I found it difficult to decide what shoes to wear and plumped for an old pair of Asics racing flats which I’d run a marathon in at the Roth ironman. The Gloucester 20 is a fairly old-school event – only about 500 runners, no chip timing, and a race briefing in a car park beforehand, while we all stood about nervously sipping water and wondering how hot it was going to get. I still saw a few runners toe the line in tights though!

After a 5-minute delay we were off with a shout of “3, 2, 1, Go!”, no fancy whistles or horns here. I quickly got into an easy stride, following a group led by some purple-vested “Almost Athletes” and a couple of hangers-on. 7-minute-ish miles felt comfortable, so I stuck with them for the first 3 or 4 miles, out on to the first of three 5.5-mile rural road laps, until I decided that I really ought to back off to my planned 7:05-7:10 pace. I wanted a good run here, but I was also acutely aware that I still had 4 weeks to London and didn’t need to compromise that preparation by running too hard.

It was getting warm, so I was stopping to walk at every drinks station for a cup of water (I’m useless at drinking on the move) and at 8 miles a guy from Stroud & Dist. caught me. We ran together for most of the next lap-and-a-half, him getting away from me at the drinks stations and me slowly reeling him in again. He started to falter at about 15 miles and I was thinking that perhaps I was doing OK by leading him there but by 16 miles we were stride-for-stride and thoughts of “just finishing” were creeping up on me.

I walked up the next railway bridge and let him go. My feet were getting very hot in my skinny racing flats and I’d started running on my heels rather than forefoot to take the pressure off some hotspots. I was also starting to get a bit of cramp in my right foot, which needed a few steps of walking and a stretch every so often. The next three miles were rather slower, more at my usual training pace; I was content just to make it to the finish and very relieved to do so in 2:26:28 (7:19 minute-miling). A couple of minutes off my target, but the heat had really got to me and my feet at the end. For comparison, I went through 20 miles at Luton in 2:23:51. The Stroud runner finished 40 seconds in front of me, and it turned out he was a 3:08 finisher at London last year, so I can’t be too unhappy with my race.

I had a few blisters and my right quad stiffened up quite a bit soon after the finish, but I was OK for a slow drive home after I’d drunk about 2 litres of water. That’s five 20-milers in the bag since the New Year. Just a few more weeks of steady training and I’ll be ready for the start line in London.