Sunday, 6 December 2009

8 miles - The Grim Challenge

Well, as the name suggests, this isn't a race for the faint-hearted! The race's website says 'Run, Wade and Crawl - 8 mile off road challenge'. So when I woke this morning to torrential rain and gale force winds I wondered what on earth I was doing!

Thankfully the rain had stopped by the time we arrived at the race (set in Aldershot's Army vehicle testing ground!), and the sky was clear and there was actual sun! The announcer did his best to panic us while we were waiting to start with statements such as 'our two most common injuries here are people running into the water too quickly and jarring themselves and people falling whilst in the water and cutting themselves on rocks'. Hmm. He also said 'don't forget our motto here folks - if it looks deeper than a puddle, it probably is!'.

So off we went, and were greeted by a few puddles, which everyone mostly went around and then a steep-ish hill, and as I was running down the other side I could hear shrieks and squeals, turned the corner to be met with what can only be described as a pond (I must point out here the difference between a 'puddle' (small, no more than a few inches deep, space around it to walk around) and a 'pond' (big, 1-2 foot deep, no space around the edge, so the only option is through it!)). It was icy cold - my muscles siezed up and it was tricky to run for the first few steps afterwards. I especially enjoyed the Army man on the side shouting at us to 'get in'!

This continued for the next few miles; puddle strewn lanes, mounds, hills, ponds - even some camouflage netting to crawl under at one point! Then at mile 5 we were met with the boggiest, yellowist 'mud' I had ever seen - the muddy parts were a foot deep and the ponds were mid-thigh high! Even after we'd gone through it - the colour stayed on our legs - looking like we'd been painted! I think this guy might've fallen in!

Miles 5 - 7 were pretty boring - no puddles/ponds/netting, just plain running really! It got pretty boring at this point - many people were walking, and it seemed to take forever to get to mile 7. The last mile was suitably filled with more puddles and ponds and a few mounds - which we mostly slid down! As we rounded the final corner, we came within touching distance of the finish line, only to realise that the route diverted off around another corner (a mean trick at that point in a race!) after another 500 metres or so we came to the final (and deepest) pond and then we were finally 'allowed' to cross the finish line!

All in all, it was a really fun race. Anyone looking for a 'serious' race or a PB need not apply! But although it was challenging, because there were so many obstacles and points at which you couldn't run, you'd probably be able to do it if you could run around 4 or 5 miles. I would question the length though - they were definitely 8 'country miles' - I managed the first 5 (with all the obstacles) in an hour, and it took me 50 minutes to run the last 3 'miles'!

It was a great atmosphere - with many people in fancy dress, no one taking it seriously and lots of support and marshalls on the way round. Next year I will definitely be taking a water-proof camera on the way round to capture the muddiest bits, which seem to have been missed off of the official photos (presumably so as not to scare potential runners!). No goody bag, but we did get a great t-shirt which says 'Grim 09: Survivor' on the front! :D

Here's my feet, socks and trainers afterwards! (You can't tell from the photo, but my trainers and socks were sopping wet!).

Then it was off to the pub for a well deserved hot lunch! :)

Sunday, 22 November 2009

10km - Swindon 10km

Despite the clear skies and sun this morning when we left home to travel to Swindon, by the time we arrived it was pouring and very windy!

We sat in the car for 30 minutes as we were early and too scared to brave the weather! Thankfully the rain stopped just before we started, but it was still soooo cold!

It was a pretty uneventful race for my second 10km - I just wanted to beat my time from my first 10km (68:26). The course was mostly flat, with lots of puddles for splashing in! :D

I kept a really even pace throughout - aiming for 6:30-7:00 minutes for each kilometre, and I managed 6:15 - 7:00 for each one. Just past the 9km marker we turned back onto the main road to be met with gale-force winds! (If anyone has done the Great South Run, it was like the last two miles of that!) The last km was a real struggle - slightly uphill and into those winds. Turned the final corner to see Amy, Dave, Anna, Kathy, Jay and Julia cheering me on! Dug my heels in for the last 100 metres and finished in a time of 66:45 - over 90 seconds faster than my previous time :D

Anna, Julia, Andrew, Alison, Julia, Kathy, Jay and Amy

We headed back to chez Glencross for a quick shower and tea and then out for a yummy roast lunch followed by apple pie and custard - it was great to see so many familiar faces there and catch up with everyone again.

Only two weeks to the *GRIM* now... :D

Saturday, 14 November 2009

5km - Basingstoke ParkRun

I've been meaning to go back to Parkrun for a while now, the last time I went (at the end of August) I managed to achieve my mini-goal of finally running a sub-35 minute 5km - my time was 34:26.

A few weeks after this I ran my first 10km - a bit quicker than double my 5km time, so I knew I should be able to get a quicker 5km PB. So I set my next goal at Sub-33 minutes.

Over the past couple of months I've been focusing on building up my distance, and hadn't run a 5km race in that time until today.

Why all the back story? So that hopefully you will understand how pleased I am with my time today of 31:52! :) I even got a mention in the ParkRun newsletter for my PB: (Event 71).

If I wasn't there, I'd never have believed I could run that fast! :D

Sunday, 8 November 2009

5.9 Miles - TVXC: Datchet Cross Country

I showed up for this, my first cross country event, to find the field packed with 'proper' runners. I glanced down at my Sandhurst vest and realised I was one of them! Why else was I in a muddy field on a cold Sunday morning?!

Although it was the first cross country event of the season, in reality, it was more 'off-road' as although it was muddy it was completly flat! I started at the back of the group with a couple of other runners from my club - we'd decided to run at a steady pace and not worry about coming last (its only the first 10 people or so that actually score points for the club, the rest of the runners are just there for fun). After a lap of the field, we were off. It was pretty muddy and slippery in places, but not too bad. I kept my pace steady, and am pretty sure I ran a negative split race. I managed to over-take 3 people in the last mile and even managed a little spurt at the end! :)

The marshalls were amazing and every single one of them (and there were a fair few on the way round) clapped and cheered me on as I ran past - it was a really nice atmosphere and there was cake a refreshments after the run.

I was really pleased as my pace for this race was 10:43 - my quickest pace ever and first one under 11:00 per mile. My pace for my previous off road race was 11:32, so it would seem that although I haven't noticed it, I am finally getting faster :D

Sunday, 25 October 2009

10 Miles - Great South Run, Portsmouth

I will try to keep this short because I am sleeeeeeeepy! Just got back after a long day of goods :) and bads :(

So twas my first GSR/first 10 mile race/first 10 mile run(!) today! Was a lot warmer than expected and there were *so* many people there (over 20,000 I believe). I started in the last wave, so after waiting for ages for almost every single other person to start, I was finally off. First person stopped to walk bang in front of me after about 10 metres - at least they tried - right?! :P

The first 6 miles were really good - I enjoyed them. :) Then it was all a bit downhill from there, got a stitch just after 6 miles, then tummy cramps so I walked for about 3 minutes, then had to stop at mile 7 to go to the loo! Ran 7-8, then turned the corner onto the seafront to be blasted by the strongest winds! Hardly moved - a friend described it as trying to run in treacle, which is a pretty accurate description! Then legs decided they'd had enough - boo to them! Walked for a few more minutes, then saw the 9 mile sign and thought I'd better start running. Legs were sore at this point but managed to pick up the pace and run to the finish line.

I predicted my time would be around 2hrs 15mins. My chip time was 2:03:11 :D Forget to check HRM when I crossed the line, but think it was still over 2 hours (I'd stopped it when I stopped for the loo). Slightly annoyed I didn't scrape in under two hours, but did better than I'd hoped, so am 'appy with that!

There was fantastic support all the way round - hardly a single section that didn't have spectators along, as well as several bands playing music on the route, plenty of water on offer and a good goodybag too.

Then had to walk the 1.5 miles back to the restaurant where I had a yummy lunch/dinner with friends.

Would I do it again? If you'd asked me two minutes after finishing I would've said no, but I think I've got to try and beat 2 hours haven't I..? :D

(Okay, so that wasn't very short! :D)

Sunday, 27 September 2009

10km - Cancer Reseach Run 10km, Hampton Court

Well today was the day of my first 10km run. I was feeling pretty okay about it - I've run walked the distance a few times and did a 5 mile race a few weeks ago in 59:30, and as usual I'd set myself two finish times - under 80 minutes for 'not disappointed' and under 75 minutes for 'very pleased'!

I was soooo hot today, but a lovely flat course. Felt quite nervous at the start - all the usual 'what have I done', 'why did I enter this', 'I can't run this far' niggles! Took my a while to get into in - around 3km I really wanted to walk, but told myself I wasn't stopping before 5km as I know I can run at least that far without walking.

But I got to 5km and I was feeling good - I was only 20 seconds off my 5km PB at this point, and so I carried on running to 6km and then 7km. I was running pretty consistent 7 minute kms, so could predict when the next km markers were coming. Slowed down a bit around 8km - thighs were a bit tired. But carried on running. Got to 9km and thought 'there's no way I'm stopping to walk now!'. Checked my watch - 63:30 if I could run the last km in 6:30 I'd get a sub-70 time!

So I picked up my pace a bit - legs feeling worn by now. Then saw the '500m to go' marker and kicked up a gear into a fast run. Crossed the line in 68:26. I still can't believe it! :D

I was trying to decide if I'm more please about my finish time or the fact that I ran the *whole* way, and you know, I think its actually the fact that I ran all of it.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

5 Miles - Fittleworth Five, Fittleworth

Did the Fittleworth Flyers 5 miler today, having only done race for life before. Its a fairly small, mostly club runners run, in preparation for my 10km in a few weeks.

Been feeling pretty nervous about it all week, and when I arrived 90% of the runners had club vests on. I reminded myself that it didn't matter where I came, my goal was to finish, and preferably in under 60 minutes.

The course was much hillier than I'd expected - after the first corner was a steep hill about 1/2 mile long and the path was only wide enough for 2 people! Had to walk up the last part (not great) but the shot off down the otherside, overtaking about 10 people :) The ground was very uneven throughout - boulders the size of your head, roots as thick as thighs and rabbit holes etc - required strong ankles!

Managed the second half faster than the first half and also a sprint at the end (I do love a good sprint finish!)

According to my HRM my time was 59:20 - just made it under 60 minutes! Am still waiting for the final results to be posted - the provisional ones are up, but I think they're wrong. I crossed the line just after 2 other women and yet they've put my time down as 60:40 with the person before me at 59:30. Should I email them if the final results say the same?

Feel a bit disappointed with today's run and can't work out why - didn't get that feeling of elation after finishing it. Maybe its because I did it on my own - no one cheering me at the end (well, no one I knew!).

Saturday, 6 June 2009

5km - Race For Life, Guildford

Well, it had finally arrived - my first race! A 5km Race for Life. This was the reason I started running 10 weeks ago - with the goal to run the whole way.

I've never been a runner, so this has all been very new for me. I followed the Couch to 5k programme, each week utterly surprised that I was able to run as far as it said, and like most people disbelieving that I'd ever get to running for 30 minutes!

Over the last couple of weeks I've been able to run the whole 5km distance, its take me 38.5 - 40 minutes each time, so I was really hoping for a sub 40minute race today, I was also hoping to be able to run the whole way - as I had in training.

Arriving at the event, I couldn't believe how many people were there - or how much pink there was! I had been um-ing and ah-ing over whether to go to the 'joggers' or 'runners' section to start. This was decided for me as the only options were 'runners' or 'walkers' - so off I went to the runners flag!

Its so crowded at the start - it took us a few minutes to even cross the start line (I used my phone to time myself though as I wanted an accurate time!). There was much jostling for the first km or so - it was too crowded to get into my rhythm and I felt myself getting tired quicker than usual. This was confirmed when I passed the 2km sign in 12:30 - I was going to quickly (I was aiming for 7:30 - 8minute kms). I had to stop and walk a few times (annoyingly) but managed to get into my pace around halfway.

I passed the 4km sign and then saw a huge hill (going up unfortunately!). I dug deep and ran quickly up it (my thery being it would be better than going slowly as it would take longer). Shouldn't have done that! With only a few hundred metres to go I checked my phone - if I ran quickly I could see I get a good time (good for me anyway!), so I ran (a bit too quickly) to the end and crossed the finish line in 35:00:01!

So I managed to do it in under 40 mins :) but not to run the whole way :( At least I have a benchmark now for next time.

It was a good run, for a brilliant cause. Bring on the next race! :D