Started the week off with a double recovery on Monday. The first run felt OK but unusually, the second run felt better.
Tuesday was interval day again and these went really well. Warmed up with a slightly longer 6km warmup before hitting the reps. I started the first two intervals a little slower than usual as my right arch was feeling really tight but then it suddenly "released" and the next three felt fast and fantastic and it was quite easy to keep within my desired pace range. I even had something left in the bag to make the last a little faster than it should have been.
Tuesday night I had a terrible night's sleep and woke up feeling tired and pretty crappy so, coupled with a terrible HRV and very hot weather, I decided it was best to swap Wednesday's and Thursday's runs around making Wednesday an easy recovery run. This turned out to be a good idea as Wednesday's run was a bit of a challenge and whilst I was still a little tired on Thursday, I had the energy and desire to go long and it turned out to be an enjoyable run.
Thursday evening my wife and I spent three hours in the Virgin Atlantic lounge supping champagne and nibbling on tasty food before walking to a snazzy new 787 and then turning LEFT the moment we walked in the door. Yes folks, we flew to South Africa, on Virgin Atlantic, in Upper Class - paid for with air miles - and it was fantastic!!!
We arrived early Friday morning and whilst I got some sleep on the plane, I wasn't up for going for a run and spent most of the day catching up with my mum and seeing what's changed in the neighbourhood. Had a good sleep on Friday night and lie in on Saturday morning so didn't go for a run then either.
Before coming over I checked my training programme and it called for a test race of 18-21k this weekend so before leaving the UK I looked up and found a race in Jo'burg I could run this Sunday and as luck would have it, I found the Wanderers 21k which is a relatively undulating multi-lapper that runs through the leafy suburbs around the Wanderers sports grounds. I entered in advance so I didn't have to fight with the crowds at the already insane early hour of the morning. Due to the heat, races in South Africa start much earlier in the day. This race started at 7am and as I like to get to a race at least an hour before the start, it mean a wake up time of 4:45am!!!
We managed to get up at 4:45am and get to the start of the race in good time to get a parking spot without too much difficultly, warm up and then get to the start.
This was my first formal race in South Africa in over 17 years and it went fantastically well. I didn't think I'd get under 85 mins but did with ease. Given the altitude I knew sub-80 was not the on the cards, but I didn't know what was so I aimed for somewhere between 85 and 90 with sub-85 being a stretch goal. As I've not raced long at altitude in ages I just went for it and aimed for the sub-85 from the start and was pleasantly surprised. My legs felt great, especially on the downhills. It was only my lungs that struggled for air a little on the up hills but thankfully the downs and flats outnumbered the ups so it played in my favour in the long run.
In the end I finished in a watch/gun time of 1:23:39 and given it took me about a minute to cross the start line, I'm expecting a chip time of around 1:22 which is absolutely brilliant and way quicker than I was expecting. Over 1600m higher than the Burnham Beeches half I ran two weeks ago and only three minutes slower. This also ended up being my fastest half marathon on African soil and by a long shot.
This was a fantastic event and reminded me of everything I loved about the South African road running scene which doesn't exist in the UK.
In the end a very good week of training and racing.