Mon - 5.5 miles easy. Tyler Hill/Uni loop.
Tues - 3 miles easy. A quick and easy loop up and around the university.
Weds - 6 miles w/5k race. Headed out to Whitstable with Dana and the kids for an early race to start off our Christmas Day. Alistair and I raced, while Dana and Stella enjoyed some time by the sea. I wanted to keep this one firmly under control to save myself for the main event the next day at the Saltwood Boxing Day Run. Got out with two others off the front at a pace that felt a whole lot quicker than I wanted it to. Unfortunately, I have a competitive instinct that can be very hard to quell so I tucked in and ran with it. Went through the first kilo in 3:18 (5:18 mile pace) and shook my head, but stuck with the other two anyway as things seemed to be easing off. This was reflected pretty clearly over the next two kms that came in at 3:40, 41 (5:54, 55), after which I decided to pick things up a touch. Final two kms clocked at 3:24 and 3:35 (5:28, 44), so yeah the splits were all over the place.
Thurs - 4.5 miles w/3 mile xc race. Saltwood Boxing Day Run. Felt really strong for this one and was really pleased at how hard I was able to stay on the gas the whole way around. Third overall in a surprising 4 second course PR despite majorly muddy conditions.
Fri - 5.5 miles easy. Jogged an easy Tyler Hill/University loop.
Sat - 6 miles w/5k race. Back out to Whitstable for another Parkrun 5k. Despite this being my third race in four days, I wanted to push this one a bit to see if I could sneak under 17 minutes to finish out the year. For me, anything under 17 minutes means I'm starting to round into decent fitness. Not particularly fast by any stretch of the imagination, but a good marker for me. I would run this one solo in second with a guy close enough off the front to act as a decent pull. Through the first kilo I worked on holding a pace that would allow my race-weary legs to ease into things but keep me in the general 3:24/km ballpark. I was a little disappointed to come in a couple of seconds over at 3:26 for the first km, about 10 seconds back on the lead guy, so ratcheted things immediately after the km marker, focusing on not losing any more distance to the lead. The second km came in at 3:14, which put me back in the hunt. Unfortunately the middle km of the Whitstable 'lollipop' loop was a mix of slippery mud, significant headwind and flooded concrete path. I did what I could, and was okay with the 3:42 for this one. Immediately on getting back on the promenade for the return to the finish, I pushed hard, with the lead guy still just 10-15 seconds in front. The fourth km was an alleged 3:05 (4:5x mile pace), but I have to think it was a touch short. From there I just needed to run a final 3:32 kilo to sneak in under 17. I felt like I was still able to push through that last km, but must have been slowing a touch. The final .1 up the hill into the finish stiffened the task, and I ended up crossing in 17:03, 25 seconds or so off the lead. Nonetheless, I was happy with the run given that I'm still in the off-season, and it has me encouraged to chase the speed a bit over the next couple of months to see if I can't run something in the 16:30 range before really beginning to load the miles and vertical this spring in preparation for Western States.
Sun - 6 miles easy. Jogged out an easy Tyler Hill/Uni loop with a tack on at the end to run down the St Thomas Hill footpath.
Total: 36.5 miles
A light week on the mileage front but necessarily so, as I put in a couple of hard effort races in addition to a race as a workout on Christmas day. Both the Boxing Day Run and the Saturday 5k have me decently encouraged that my fitness is starting to come around, and I'm really looking forward to working hard on my higher end speed the next couple of months to see if I can't register an altitude PR at the 5k distance and breach the 16:30 threshold as a prelude to the meat and potatoes of 100 mile training: volume and vertical.
Speed is undoubtedly my biggest weakness when it comes to running ultra-distance events, my stomach being a close second, so it's really a no-brainer for me to want to get after it in a serious and focused manner if I truly want to get the best out of myself in the summer racing season. I need to figure out my stomach too, so I'll be experimenting with that as well as the next five months unfold. No point being in the best shape of your life if you let it all unravel at the hands of a sour stomach.