Southend Half Marathon 2016 – Race Report

After a disappointing performance at the Wokingham Half Marathon earlier this year, I was determined that I wanted to run a Half Marathon PB this summer.  I very much feel that a sub 1:40 half marathon is within my grasp.  However,  I’ve been focusing on running 5k this summer and dealing with a few niggles so very much neglected my aerobic base and any of the long stuff.  Therefore, I didn’t get to the start line of the Southend marathon feeling particularly confident.

I had to stay overnight in Southend the night before and I left it very late to book my accommodation so that literally the only room left in Southend was a single room so hubbie was not able to come and support me.  The room was perfectly adequate and I had a fitting portion of fish and chips for dinner followed up by watching Titanic on the TV.

The morning of race day I deliberated for what felt like hours over what trainers to wear: my trusty Hokas or my racing flats.  I consider my racing flats to be my speedy PB shoes but I only had ever worn them for 10 miles maximum and having experienced some ankle tendonitis in the lead up to the race was not keen to exacerbate it/ have to drop out of the race. In the end, I wore my Hokas.

Getting to the start of the race was a bit annoying- it was a not insubstantial taxi ride away from the hotel.  There was a rail station that was much closer and had direct services to Liverpool Street but there was no accommodation in the vicinity!

In terms of the race itself, there were adequate amounts of toilets for the amount of runners.  Initially we were told that the race was not going to start on time but then we were told it would after all- thankfully! I decided to run in the first/fast wave.  This probably resulted in me running way to fast for the first mile: 7:00 m/m.  The route itself consisted of an out and back loop that had to be run twice – this meant that we ran along the same stretch of the seafront 4 times!  I found this pretty soul destroying.  After about 6-7 miles it was clear that I couldn’t even maintain my 10 mile PB pace so a sub 1:40 finish was looking very unlikely.  The whole thing felt like a bit of a slog.  There were a lot of supporters… however most of them only enthusiastically cheered members of Essex running clubs!!!!  I’ve never experienced that in a race before!  The route was really flat except for an annoying undulating bit around mile 11-12 as you ran off the seafront- finally!  There were drinks stations but they were only serving water.

In terms of the weather, it was overcast and started raining at about mile 12.  This ended up being great for me as it was the motivation I needed to move a bit faster and less like a slow snail.  I was delighted with a PB of 1:41:06 all things considered.

Overall, the route was really uninspiring, there was a lot of spectator support but it felt as though most spectators only cheered for people they knew/Essex running clubs.  The start was a bit awkward to get to from Southend (if you didn’t have a car) and it was a nightmare getting back to the hotel after the race because of the road closures.  That said, I quite liked the race village, it was good value for money for a road closed UKA registered race and definitely had PB potential.  I’d give it 7/10.  Would I do it again?  Not if I had to stay overnight in Southend the night before, maybe if I were able to get a train there in the morning or got a lift with someone!

 

 

Ealing Eagles 10k/ Vitality 10K 2016

This is not the first time I have run the Vitality/ Bupa 10K but it is the first time I have blogged about it!  Similarly, I have run the Ealing Eagles 10K before but only as a Pacer!

My 10K PB had stood for nearly 2 years at 45:34: a time achieved the day after my Grandma died (which broke my heart) and being paced by a friend at my running club.  At the time it was the quickest m/m pace I had ever run and I hadn’t come close to it since, though admittedly I hadn’t run many 10Ks since as I find 10K a really tough race distance that I do not particularly enjoy!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I did not race the Three Forts HM as I wanted my legs to be fresh for my A race- the Ealing Eagles 10K.  One of my super speedy friends had agreed to pace me to a 10K PB and ideally sub 45 minutes.  As you may be aware, I am an Ealing Eagle so my race report should probably be read in that light…

Conditions on the day were not brilliant.  The race happened to be held on one of the sunniest/warmest days of the year!  The Ealing Eagles 10K is held at Gunnersbury Park – also my local Parkrun and is known for being somewhat “undulating” so it wasn’t the best course and conditions to try and run a PB!  That said, since my friend had agreed to pace me there was no way I was planning to slack and fail to attain my goal of a PB either! The race is a multiple lap course and there was water on each lap handed out by enthusiastic marshalls!  The race marshalls were second to none- super enthusiastic and so encouraging- shouting out my name (even at one point on the loudspeaker).

I didn’t look at my watch throughout the race and relied on my friend to pace me to a PB.  I regularly start off too fast in races so it felt that we were jogging from the start and I was slightly anxious to see people I would usually run with racing far ahead!  I put my trust in my friend though, focused on my form and went with the flow!  My trust in him was well-founded as we ended up overtaking almost every one of those who had run off fast at the start- I have to confess that it was pretty satisfying to be overtaking people later on in the race!

(Both feet off the ground 🙂 )

EE 10K 2016 (2)

Everything was going great but at 9k in to the race I had really hoped to have a final strong push and I felt like I had nothing more to give – I think it was the heat.

EE 10K 2016 (1)EE 10K 2016 (3)

I really did not have a sprint finish in me (see above but I tried and gave it all I could on the day!) and I finished in 45:08 absolutely delighted to have run a PB in those conditions but slightly annoyed about the 8 seconds!  We got a great goody bag, bananas and water at the end and the medal was also great.  Race entry was super cheap and superb value for money.  I’m biased but I’d definitely do it again -unbeatable value for money 9.5/10!

No matter- I had the Vitality 10k coming up in a couple of weeks and I was determined to go sub 45 and ideally sub 44!  After many loo breaks, I started the race.  The race start was not ideal- we were in start waves but my wave had people in it who were sub 40 minutes up to people who were sub 50 minutes. Therefore, the start wasn’t very fast.

My plan was to try and maintain 7 minute miles as long as I could.  However, I just didn’t feel great at the start- I was dreading running 6 miles (I am super lazy at heart) and I felt like it was slow and congested.  I hit the first mile in 7:21- way behind schedule but despite that kept going and tried to focus on my form first and foremost.   The race route for the Vitality 10K is amazing- you start in Green Park and run through Central London and finish in front of Buckingham Palace.  It also has closed roads and really enthusiastic support on the route-singers, steel pan groups etc! Amazing.

The support must have made me speed up as I did mile 2 in 6:59, mile 3 in 7:09, mile 4 in 7:08, Mile 5 in 6:59 and drumroll….  mile 6 in 6:39 and the 0.2 in 6:08!!!  That is my first negative split in a race and I think a 6:39 still counts as my fastest last mile in a race – faster than my 5K PB last mile!!  My chip time was 43:38 so I got that sub 44 I was hoping for!  We got a technical t-shirt at the end of the race (which had a weird fit) and a fantastic big medal and filled to the brim goody bag.  I also got a free massage which was pretty great- particularly given it was free.  The Bupa 10K is not a cheap race but in my opinion it is value for money given the closed roads in Central London and the race atmosphere which makes you feel special 🙂  I’ll definitely be doing it next year if I am not injured! 8.5/10 – PB potential and fantastic atmosphere albeit slightly expensive for a 10k!

Bupa 10K

Me with one of my running club friends who had also run a PB looking very pleased with our PBs!

 

 

Three Forts Half Marathon 2016 – Race Report

Again this is a long overdue race report…  I ran this race in May!  I hope the report is worth the wait.

I ran the Three Forts Half Marathon on a beautiful sunny Sunday in May!  The weather could not have been more perfect for it, lots of sunshine but mild.  I had decided that I wasn’t even going to attempt to “race” the half marathon as it is clearly not a PB course (it takes place on the amazingly beautiful but super hilly South Downs) and I also had an ‘A’ race (10K) that I was planning to race the following weekend!

In terms of the course, it was so much more beautiful than I had expected.  Some of the most beautiful English countryside that I have ever run on. This necessarily meant that there was not a vast amount of spectators or crowd support (and thankfully no cars for the vast majority of the route!).

There were regular food and drink stations… I haven’t got to grips with eating during a race but I helped myself to lots of fruit squash so definitely gets a thumbs up from me on that front.  The course itself was tough, very hilly (I had to walk in some sections) and near to the finish there were some very steep narrow downhills which I was slightly afraid to run too fast down as I didn’t want to break my neck!

I felt the race was extremely reasonably priced considering what you got for your money.  It was chip timed and we got a decent medal (although the lanyard was a bit rubbish).  I think anyone who loves trail running would absolutely adore this race.  As you may be aware, I am a real sucker for spectators and crowd support and the absence of hills so it doesn’t make my shortlist of favourites and I couldn’t imagine racing it… I wouldn’t be able to walk for a fortnight.

Would I do it again?  Yes, if I were able to get a lift there again, it was a lovely run but I think I’d treat it as a catered training run with the most beautiful scenery!

I’d give it 7/10 for me personally but I think anyone who loves trails would give it 10/10!

I ran it in 2:01:14 – I didn’t look at my watch, though I think if I’d have known how close I was to 2 hours I would have sped up!

 

Towpath 10 2016 – Race Report

I did this race in April 2016 and it has taken me 3 months to actually write this race report!  Thankfully, this race was a really positive experience so all the salient points are still in my mind!

The race took place on a sunny but mild April Sunday – perfect running weather! I had only recently come back from an ITB injury but felt that I had a pretty good chance of running a 10 mile PB as I had done some training runs in Richmond Park with a speedy friend at my running club which would have been a 10 mile PB for me!

The race started on a grass field adjacent to the Thames Towpath and the start required us to run a lap of grass which was a little annoying.  The course then followed the Thames towpath. It is a really beautiful route and also had the advantage of having lots of shade. The Towpath is not particularly wide so the route was fairly congested at points- I always had someone running to the side of me and close to me for the whole 10 miles.

I had decided I would start of by running 7:30 m/m pace and see how long I could keep that going.  However, I didn’t really look at my watch constantly throughout the race.  Instead, I just focused on my form- cadence and arm swing.

The race marshalls were fantastic – super enthusiastic and encouraging.  The race route went onto the pavement in Kew before rejoining the towpath, passing Kew Gardens, which I loved because it is a route I run regularly.

The race finished in the same field as it had started and before we got to the finish funnel we once again had to run approximately 400m on the grass.  By this time I was aware that if I sprinted I would have a sub 1:15 finish which meant I had averaged sub 7:30 m/m for 10 miles!  I sprinted my heart out and finished in 74:16 – a massive 7 minutes and 5 seconds quicker than my previous 10 mile PB run in 2013!

Overall, a brilliant little race – really well organised and fantastic value for money.  There were no medals but instead we got a race personalised Fullers pint glass!  Amazing!  I don’t drink beer but I have used my Towpath 10 momento multiple times!  Would I do it again? DEFINITELY!

Overall, this race is definitely a 9/10 for me.  The only thing stopping it being a 10/10 for me was probably the grass laps!

 

When running doesn’t quite go according to plan… some massive positives too!

Apologies my lovely blog readers, it has been a long long time since I last blogged on here. This time my absence is thankfully not because i’ve been out with injury for a long time but more because my running has been up and down and I haven’t felt the desire to blog about it.

I think i’ve realised in the last few months that in the last few years instead of addressing various (mostly work related) problems I turned to running as my saviour and put so much pressure on myself to perform as a runner to make up for those things which weren’t going so well in my life.  For me, this led to inevitable injury  (and ironically abysmal performances as a runner) as I had no perspective at all as to the place of running in my life.  I felt like it was vital to run that next race- regardless of how much pain I was in because it was everything and all that mattered.  Obviously, writing this down I can see how insane this sounds… i’m an amateur runner, I have no aspirations to be an elite athlete (thankfully for me or I would be sadly disappointed!) and my career which is non-running related is massively important to me as is my husband and my non-running friends.  I’ve turned a corner now and have taken huge steps in making progress in addressing those challenges in my life and so running is now back in its proper place- as something I do for fun!

Further to my last blog post, I sadly didn’t get to run the Great Bentley Half Marathon- I ended up getting really ill with a chest infection and had to stop running for a couple of weeks.  I then ran the Wokingham Half marathon which couldn’t have been a more disappointing race for me.  Contrary to my expectations of running  a super flat race, it felt constantly undulating and from the start my quads were absolute aching, I was in pain from about 6 miles into the race and I just got slower and slower.  I did end up with a PB… of 26s which unsurprisingly I was disappointed with having recently randomly taken 50s of my 5K PB.  I didn’t give my legs enough time to recover post Wokingham and forced myself to hobble around like a little snail a couple of days after the race… Big mistake… I ended up aggravating my ITB which was very painful for a couple of weeks and I made the wise decision to simply rest 100% no real cross training, nothing but the strengthening exercises.  The really disappointing thing about this was I ended up missing both the Cardiff World Championship Half and the Reading Half Marathon.  I was really gutted about missing Reading HM, but I knew it was the right decision and in line with my goal this year of avoiding any substantial injury layoff periods!

I’ve also had a lot of fun running wise this year.  A group of us from my running club do some Parkrun tourism about once a month.  Since I last blogged, i’ve done Bushy Parkrun (super flat and fast but very busy – 1000 plus runners)Bushy Parkrun

and also Crane Park Parkrun – where I was delighted to come in as first lady and as a comeback parkrun after my ITB injury!  We go for brunch afterwards which makes it all worthwhile

Crane Park Parkrun

The positive news is that since I last blogged i’ve actually run 4 new PBs!!!  A 1 mile, 5K, 10 miles and Half Marathon PB!!  I’m pretty chuffed with that but it kind of confirms what I always knew- if I could avoid getting injured, I could actually improve.  I’m most pleased about my 10 mile PB as I knocked a massive 7 minutes of my previous one and managed to maintain a sub 7:30 m/m pace for 10 miles which means I should be on target for that sub 1:40 HM target i’ve been dreaming of!

Update on base training, a new 5K PB and my first half marathon of the year!

Happy New Year Folks!

As ever, I have been rubbish at keeping my blog updated!  The good news is that for once this is not because I have been injured, on the contrary, for once, me and running are in a happy place!

I have absolutely loved my base training period.  I am now totally convinced by the idea that it is stupid and harmful to try and increase mileage and intensity at the same time.  Instead, i’ve been slowly increasing my mileage and I feel proud.  It is the most I have ever run and it feels like the longest period that I haven’t been injured.  Typically, I run most runs at 8:30 – 9m/m which isn’t speedy obviously BUT I can feel myself getting stronger and maintaining the pace getting easier.

I have also taken great pride in running in an even paced manner.  I have always been appalling at pacing – starting off way too fast and slowly dying throughout a run.  Running like I currently am and then finishing faster is incredibly rewarding.

I haven’t been doing any consistent speed work or hills and yet I am also getting faster- yay! I recently ran a sub 22 minute 5k on the hilly Gunnersbury Parkrun course!!!  Yay – 21:39 to be precise – I wasn’t even sure I had it in me and I did it all on my own – no pacing assistance from anyone!  Next step sub 21 minutes and a new mile PB!!!

I am running my first half marathon of the year: Great Bentley Half Marathon on Sunday. In my mind, I think I can run a sub 1:40 half marathon and soon.  I will try for it on Sunday but I will certainly obtain that goal at some point this season mark my words!

In other news, I am reading Kelly Holmes’ autobiography and can identify so much with her!  From running 800 and 1500m from a young age, to battling with injury, her raw honesty and down to earth nature and finally the person of Wes Duncan who also happens to be my physio and used to be her coach!!  I feel like I’d love to again on the track some time soon so watch this space!

 

Base training success but a naughty, nagging sartorius!

Hi everyone,

So, since I last posted base training has been a success!  I have absolutely loved it.  It has been great to build up my mileage and not be racing and see my heart rate coming down on runs!

However, I’ve had a couple of minor setbacks necessitating rest days – all to do with my naughty sartorius.  To give some background, this is a muscle deep in the thigh and is very closely linked with the hip flexor. Hence, during my sad injured hip days, my sartorius was also often excruciatingly painful.

The first thing that aggravated it was a complimentary taster personal training session, where despite the fact I told the trainer I was having a rest day and didn’t really want to work my legs he had me running on the treadmill, dead-lifting a heavy kettlebell and effectively running with a heavy tire.  Anyway, since that session 19 days ago eek my sartorius has not been the same!

I also finally got round to trying out Project Fit- I mentioned it a while back.  Its essentially a treadmill/circuits class.  I worked harder on that treadmill than i’ve ever worked on a treadmill in my life BUT the class also contains a fair amount of body weight exercises, lunges, mountain climbers etc.  My hip/sartorius hated it 😦 , i’m in a bit of a quandry, i’d love to go back but with my dodgy hip area I wonder whether i’d be much better off simply forcing myself to work harder on the treadmill alone and continuing with my kettlebell workouts.  Everything seems to be fine when things are controlled.  The problems occur when I do these weight exercises at speed.

I am going to get my sartorius looked at in the New Year because I should be able to do everything and not have to be so careful for the rest of my life, i’m a young woman after all not a candidate for a hip replacement operation!

In the meantime, I have found these amazing sartorius stretching exercise videos on youtube click here – this actually changed my life!!

Here is an idea of what you get to experience at Project Fit – I swear the lighting actually is Red! Picture is courtesy of Women’s Fitness.

Project Fit - Women's Fitness