Monday, 15 November 2010

Race Report: Datchet Cross Country

Sunday saw the first event of this year's cross country season, held on a grey, wet and misty Remembrance Sunday in Windsor.

The misty view in Windsor

About Cross Country
My club competes in the Thames Valley Cross Country League (TVXC) where 13 clubs run at 8 events (each event is hosted by one of the clubs). Cross country results are a bit different to normal races - you are given points based on your finishing position (first place = 1 point and so on) and the first 7 men and 3 ladies score points for their club, the team with the lowest score wins that event. But as scores are position based, if the 4th female runner for one club overtook the 2nd female runner from another club, although the first lady wouldn't score points for her club, she would add a point to the second lady's club total, moving them further down the ranking list. Confused?! All the event scores are added together to find the season winner, which last year was Sandhurst Joggers! Not that I contribute in any way, as I'm too far down the rankings to be of any help! :D

The Course
The first event, hosted by the Datchet Dashers takes place in Windsor. This is the longest of the cross country courses (6 miles), but is also 100% flat! Rain the day before meant that all the fields were suitably muddy for a cross country event.

Just before crossing the finish line

The Race
The race started at 11:02 after a two minute silence. The race wasn't great for me, a niggly/tight calf was causing me come pain and I considered dropping out at more than one point, but once I got to half way, I figured I might as well finish and that the quickest way back to the start was to run the rest of the course! I was a bit disappointed to finish about 3 minutes slower than last year (official times haven't been released yet)[edit: times have now been released, and I was only 1:20 slower than last year!], but glad I got through it.

The Castle

The host club put on a great spread - the hot drinks were most welcome! Along with cakes, crisps, scones, sandwiches and lots of other food that was quickly gobbled up!

The next event (in just under two weeks), is my club's home events, so I shall be marshalling rather than running. All the marshalls were great yesterday - cheering on everyone as they went past - even in the rain.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Race Report: Great South Run

On Sunday I ran the Bupa Great South Run - a flat, 10 mile race with around 20,000 runners taking part.

Following on from last year’s race report, which ended with “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..?”, I was back for my second time of running this race. I knew I was better prepared than last year (when my longest training run before the race had been 8 miles!), but I also knew that I hadn’t been putting in lots of distance training over the past few months. With those in mind, my goals for this race were;

A) Beat last year’s time of 2:03:11
B) Run under 1:55
Run under 1:50

With A being a very realistic target and knowing that C would be quite a challenge!

Some of the thousands of people running the Great South Run (source)

I wasn’t apprehensive about the race at all - I knew I’d be able to get round the course, and (for once!) the weather was good - bright and crisp - perfect for running. But it’s fair to say that I didn’t have the best of races - you know you have an ‘off’ run every so often? Sunday was one of those days; it was just unfortunate that it happened to be a race. I struggled mentally and physically for much of the race.

Miles 1-3: It took me a while to get into a decent rhythm, but I told myself I wasn’t stopping until at least the 5km marker. I found it hard mentally at the beginning - I just couldn’t motivate myself to get excited about the race.

Miles 3-6: The middle section was probably the best for me; I’d found my pace, had some water and some Shot Bloks and was feeling more refreshed and optimistic.

Miles 6-8: At this point I started to get bored, it’s the dullest section of the race, with few supporters, no bands etc. I could feel a couple of blisters on my feet that were starting to bother me and my right hip kept twinging (not an area I’ve ever had problems with in the past).

Miles 8-10: By now I was feeling tired (looking back, it may have been an under-fuelling issue - the race didn’t start till 11 and I’d eaten breakfast at 7:30!), and the twinge in my hip was bothering me almost constantly. The last two miles of this race are along the sea-front, I kept telling myself that the quickest was back to the start was to run the last two miles, despite the discomfort, I also knew that the more I ran and less I walked, the quicker it would be over!

I crossed the finished line in 1:54:14, so I managed goals A and B :)

After finishing the race I realised I felt quite light headed (again - probably due to lack of food, by now it was 1pm). I sat down for a while and hobbled the half mile to the pub, where I had a yummy and much-deserved veggie Wellington roast dinner.

Some of the amazing support on the way round (source)

I know this post is quite negative, but I also realise that it was only due to my issues that it was a bad race. The Great South Run is one of the biggest, well-organised and popular races I’ve been too. There’s support on the majority of the route, bands and music as well, it’s a completely flat course and the goody bags are well worth it! There was a ‘Bupa Boost Station’ at mile 9, which I thought was a really nice touch - they were blasting out cheesey, motivating music and handing out jelly babies and Vaseline - it helped to push through for the last mile. So please don’t let my whinging put you off this event!

Now I just have to figure out what to do about this hip pain, that still hasn’t gone away, and definitely feels like more than DOMS. I think I’ll rest it for a few more days and hope it passes. What do you do about niggles/twinges/discomfort? Do you seek help straightaway or try resting it first?

Length: 10 miles
Time: 1:54:14
Pace: 11:25 min/mile

Friday, 8 October 2010

Race Report: Mortimer 10km

This is only going to be a short report as it was almost 2 weeks ago now! Mortimer 10km is a nice local race, cheap entry (£6!), which still included a medal :)

I wasn't aiming for a PB in this race, but had heard it was flat with a small incline at the end, so was hoping for a reasonably good time. Up until around 6km, I was actually on course for a PB, then the 'small incline' arrived! It was a 2 mile long hill that wasn't overly steep, but seemed to go on forever! The longer it went on, the more I was looking forward to a fast, downhill finish - which never arrived! I was so confused as to how I could be back at the start/finish line having gone up and up and up, but never gone down! Looking at the course profile after the event, it appears that the downhill came before the uphill, but was much more slight and not noticeable.

I finished in 1:05:58 (about 3 minutes behind my PB). I'll be back next year - its great value and the marshalls and organisation were great! :)

Length: 10km
Time: 1:05:58
Pace: 10:38 min/mile

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Race Report: Fetch Berkshire Mile & 100 metres

The Fetch Berkshire mile is, bizarrely enough, organised by members of the running website Fetcheveryone. It held four times each year, on an athletics track near Newbury (there’s other ‘Fetch mile’ events held at various locations and times around the country). Its free to attend, but its encouraged that you bring cake for afterwards!

At the start of the mile
Picture (C) Rachael Elliott

This was the first time I had been to this event, and my first attempt at running a mile! I had no idea how fast to go, what pace I should aim for etc. I decided to aim for around 9 minutes (my quickest pace in a 5km race is 9:26 minutes/mile).

On my way round the mile - are both feet off the ground?
Picture (C) Rachael Elliott

There were three groups for the mile (there were too many of us to go at once), the fast runners (sub 6 minutes) went first; I was in the third group. Many people, who had run before, had specific time targets, so the faster runners paced people in the other two groups. Although I didn’t have a goal, I ended up with my own personal pacer! I told him my goal and we were off! After 100 metres or so, I realised he wasn’t even wearing a watch, let alone a Garmin! I asked him how he was pacing, and he said he just knew from experience! After the first lap (a mile is 4 x 400m), he said we were going slightly faster than 9 minutes/mile, but if I felt okay, we should keep it going. The third lap was tough, but he counted me down from 500m to go, and I picked up my pace for the last 100m for a sprint finish. My final time was 8:40, which was well below my target time. :)

With about 150 metres to go, with my fantastic pacer, who was not only on his
third mile, pacing without a garmin or watch, but also ran barefoot!
Picture (C) Rachael Elliott

Most other people collapsed on the side of the track after running their mile, and I felt pretty much okay, so I realised that perhaps I could’ve given it a bit more! My pacer said that when I get to the point of running a mile without being able to speed up at the end, then I know I’m getting close to my fastest time!

Many people brought their children along, and there was one boy, of about 4 who ran the whole mile - very impressive! Then there was a 400m race - mostly for the children followed by several 100 metre races. I thought I might was well have a go - another distance I hadn’t attempted before!

Running the 100m (in white) - almost all of us with both feet off the ground!
Picture (C) Solitude Fairy

It was an odd distance to run - didn’t really have time to think! But I was aware that neither my lungs nor legs were sore/tired, but it was the fact that I couldn’t get my legs to move quicker that slowed me down! I ran it in 18.45 seconds - which, as someone told me, is quicker than Usain Bolt can run 200m, so I’m happy with that! :D

The running was followed by lots of cake, crisps and goodies, and much chatting about local events, upcoming races and PBs :)

I’ll definitely be back in December for the next event - with my sights set on a sub 8:30 mile :)

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Race Report: 24hr Thunder Run

Wow - this report is massively overdue! The race was 3 weeks ago :D My memories are already getting hazy from this event, so it will be a largely visual report methinks!

Our team 'Will Run For Cake' at the end of the race: Me, Suzie, Lauren, Mark, Nerina, Kathy and Katie

For those of you unfamiliar with the Thunder Run, its a 24 hour relay event that takes place off road on a 10km course. You can enter in teams of 1, 2 or 5-8, and the winning team (for each category) is the team that completes the most number of laps in the 24 hour period (no more that one team member can be on the course at once though!).

The amount of stuff required for a 24 hour race including:
tent, sleeping stuff, airbed, wellies, lots of food, two pairs of running trainers,
several changes of outfits, waterproofs, toiletries, fold away chairs...

There were 7 of us in our team (as well as two other pairs teams that were camping in our group), so we'd guessed on about 3 laps each, with maybe a couple of people running 4. So we drew up a rough schedule (handovers were easy in the day, but we didn't want to all be sitting up throughout the night, so the schedule was to allow some sleeping time!)

The start of the 24 hour race - 2pm

I was the only member of our team who opted to do a double lap, I knew the distance wouldn't be a problem (12.4 miles), and was more concerned about a) running in the dark, b) running on tired legs and c) not getting enough rest between laps. By doing a double run first, it meant I had about 12 hours rest before my next lap, while everyone else ran 2 single laps.

Me coming into the handover area after my first two laps

There were around 1100 racers, in addition to the friends and families that were camping as well, so the campsite was quite busy! There was quite a festival atmosphere - there were people milling around everywhere, a 24 catering tent, music and announcers (not through the night!), plenty of toilets and showers.

The campsite (well, about 1/4 of it!)

After I'd completed my first two laps (around 7pm), the BBQ was just about ready (great timing!), so after stretching I re-fuelled! Goodies brought to the event by everyone included; Toffee banana cake, burgers, sausages, pasta salad, rocky roads, chocolate coconut slices, cheese, rolls, ham, banana flapjacks, veggie pasties, potato salad, lemon drizzle cakes, pretzels, lime yogurt cake, crisps, brownies.......!

Cooking the BBQ!

There was a good mixture of serious and very speedy runners, crazy solo runners and cake eating runners (like us!). I found that people were much friendlier than in 'normal' races - we were all in the same boat, and many of the faster runners gave encouragement as they overtook me (unusual in normal races), people were quite chatty on the way round and many people who weren't running a lap were still near the course, clapping and cheering people round. It was also quite nice not to know how many laps people had done, or how many were in their team, so you couldn't feel too disheartened if you were overtaken, or compare your speed to those around you - they could be on their first or 10th lap!

By far the toughest element of this race was the planning and preparation rather than the distance itself. You were constantly thinking about eating enough to keep going, but allowing enough time for digestion, keeping hydrated, knowing when to rest, remembering to properley stretch as you only had 7 hours to recover, treat blisters etc quickly so your feet were ready for the next lap.

View from the top of the ridgeway at around 5.15am!

Dispite there being so many people there, becuase it was a relay, the course itself was quite quiet, it was a really nice off-road course - a few hills for interest, sections through forest, crazy maze-like bits through the trees, but nothing too crazy or difficult. My third (and last lap) started at 4.45am - never been running that early before! It was nice to see the sun rise, and was really peaceful. I forgot my ipod on this lap, but am glad I did.

Then it was back to the camp for some breakfast and then a nap. We headed back to the start/finish line to watch Katie, our last runner complete her last lap for the team.

Katie crossing the finish line at 24:03:41!

We collected our medals and headed back to 'base camp' for some lunch and to take down the tents etc. It was a really enjoyable, if mentally tough, event, and I ran a total of 30km (18.6 miles) in the 24 hours. The winning team overall ran 35 laps in the 24 hours as a team of 8 - that's an average of 41 minutes over 10km loop - pretty darn speedy! But we were still more than happy with our 210km in 24 hours between the 7 in our team.

The goody bags were really good (given to us before the start of the race) and included a technical t-shirt, gels, gummy bears, a thermos-style mug, all the camping and amenities were free and the catering tent (although we didn't use it) proved popular with other runners, as did the massage tent. For ~£30 (price depended on number of people in the team), it was good value for money.

I would do this event again, but perhaps in a smaller team, to feel as though I was pushing myself a bit more in terms of number of laps - maybe 4 or 5 next time! :D

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Race Report: Every Woman's Duathlon

One of my goals for 2010 was to take part in a duathlon, just to expand my racing ‘horizons’, and on Saturday I completed my first one! The race was held in Bristol - Every Woman’s Duathlon - and was aimed at first time duathlon-ers. I entered with two other friends (one a duathlon virgin like me, and the other quite a bit more experienced ;o) ).

I’ve really enjoyed training on my bike over the past couple of months, and although apprehensive, I was looking forward to the race. That was until I woke up on Saturday to the hottest day of the year so far! We left at 7.30 to cycle to the race (only about 10 minutes!) and it was already sweltering. We decided to take it easy on the first run, and ran it at a comfortable pace, and finished the ‘5km’ course in around 22 minutes - a 7 minute improvement on my 5km PB ;o)

Getting my sweat on! ((C) 21C Photos)

Then onto the bike section. My mountain bike wasn’t the most ideally suited for the tarmac based route, my only goal was to complete the distance in under an hour. The cycle route was four loops, so it got a bit boring after a while, and with two 180 degree turns per loop, it mean slowing right down eight times over the course. Was very annoyed at completing the course in 62 minutes, but as I my average pace was around 14 miles per hour, I suspect the distance was a bit longer than the 20km advertised. Boo :o(

Cycling away! ((C) 21C Photos)

The second run was not fun, my legs were tired, and by this point it was about 1000 degrees (no really!), but it was nice knowing that I only had 3.5km to run rather than 5! I didn’t take anywhere near enough to drink with me, and was starting to feel quite weak half way through this run. After some walking, and stern words, I finished. My overall time was 1:48:05. Not really sure how I feel about the time as my goal was to finish in under two hours, which I wouldn’t have done if the distances had been correct, but it’s a PB nonetheless! :oD I also came third in my age category (whadya mean how many people were in my age category?!)

Finished! (At last) ((C) 21C Photos)

Overall a good race - brilliant for first timers (like me) and the option of two distances was nice as well (5km/20km/5km or 2.5km/10km/2.5km), just a shame about the distances. The race was well organised - everything was well explained (as for the majority of the entrants this was their first duathlon), free massage before and after was a nice touch and there were a fair few marshalls too - all of which were very encouraging and supportive. The goodie bag was really good (perhaps where the £36 entry fee was spent!), including a medal, t-shirt, magazine, keyring, pen and several food samples.

Not sure I’d be in a hurry to do another duathlon, but am pleased I can now tick it off my list. A certain someone is trying to persuade me to enter a triathlon next, but I think I’ll save that for next year!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Race Report: Guildford Race for Life

Yesterday I completed Guildford's Race for Life. This race had me in a reflective mood as it was my first race ever, this time last year (read last year's race report here), and was what motivated me to start on the couch to 5km plan, as I decided I wanted to be able to run the whole way. And now, here I am a year later, which a fair few races under my belt and several stone lighter! I think even the fact that I haven't had to 'train' to cover this distance (5km), shows how much things have changed!

Me at this year's race, and at the same event last year.

Although the purpose of these events isn't to PB, I wanted to make sure I beat last year's time of 35:00! My 5km PB (set in March) is 29:20, so allowing for the crowds I was really hoping for a finish of 31-32 minutes. I was prepared for the crowds at the beginning, so I set of quickly and weaved my way through the crowds - a bit too quickly it seems as I hit the first km marker in just over 5 minutes (25 minute for 5km pace!), I kept pushing it and got to 3km in 16 minutes, I realised I wouldn't be able to keep this pace up, but didn't want to walk, so slowed right down for 3 to 4km. Before I knew it the '500m to go' sign was there and I could see the finish, so I picked up the pace again. The only steep incline of the course is about 300m before the end - I ran to the top and thought I was going to be sick!

Just about to cross the finish line!

I glanced down at my HRM as I crossed the line, and did a double take - 28:15! I couldn't believe it - a huge grin spread across my face as I realised I'd PB'd and take 6minutes 45 seconds off last year's time! Now I have a goal to aim for the next time I go to parkrun (a weekly, free, 5km time trial).

Me, my sister and neice after the race (no, my 3 year old neice didn't run it, but they kindly gave her a medal as she ran the last 20 metres or so with my sister!)

It was nice to come 'full circle' and return to the race that 'started it all' - I feel I've proved (to myself more than anyone else), that I am a runner now - I've been doing this for a year now! I'm sure this is a race that I'll return to time and again - I've got my eyes on a 25 minute finish time for next year! :D

Sunday, 6 June 2010

parkrun: A Different Perspective

At yesterday's parkrun, rather than running, I helped out as a volunteer. For those of you unfamilliar with parkrun, its a free, weekly, timed 5km run open to everyone and anyone. You can find out more here and find your nearest event here.

It was my first time volunteering at parkrun. I remember being told the first time I attended a parkrun, that if every runner volunteered three times each year, that would be enough for the events to remain free and ongoing, so I decided it was about time I chipped in!

Runners walking to the start of the race

parkrun is a simple set-up and there are several types of volunteer roles including timer, marshalls, photographer, funnel management and handing out positions chips. I was in charge of scanning in runner's barcodes and position chips at the end of the race (which would later be matched up to give them their times).

It was really interesting to see the event from the 'other side'. And it made me realise just how fast some of the runners are! The first child came in at just uner 11 minutes 30 seconds (children run a 2.5km route) and the first adult runner (the full 5km route) came in at 17:45 - something to aspire to! :D

And the best part? You get your name in 'lights' on the website!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Race Report: Bracknell Half Marathon

After my first half in March, I was buoyed up so entered this race. But my enthusiasm quickly waned, and along with discovering cycling, I ended up only running a total of 12.5 miles in April (not the best prep!). So half of me was panicking that I was completely unprepared and under-trained, but the other half was being pragmatic - I knew I’d done the distance already and it meant I had no expectations of a PB - I just wanted to finish.

I was quite excited when I receive my race pack in the post to see that they list the runners in the race programme - how exciting - my name in print! :)

My name in the race programme!

So it was with a bit of anticipation that I approached the start line last Sunday. But I'd fully accepted that I would drop out if need be - I've read enough horror stories of runners who push on when they shouldn't. I often have trouble with one of my achilles for the first mile or so of any run, mainly due to tight calf muscles, so I took extra care to really stretch it out before the race.

Before the start of the race

The first few miles flew by, lots of subways and water stations (felt particularly virtuous running past the lines of cars at McDonalds and KFC drive thrus!). I got a stitch around mile 4 and had to walk for a bit, but it wasn't going away, so decided to run through it and it eventually disappeared after 10 minutes or so.

Around mile 3

There was long incline around miles 7-9 to keep things ‘interesting’! Then suddenly it was mile 10, then 11 and I was nearly finished. Last half a mile was a real struggle (lack of training showing here!) - had to have stern words with my legs at this point!

I finished it 90 seconds slower than Bath (2:20:25), so not a PB, but was pleased with that. Although I wasn’t expecting a PB, this is the first race I’ve run where I haven’t PB’ed, but have reliably been informed that I can claim this as a CR (course record), so all is not lost! :D

Anyone who knows Bracknell will understand what I mean when I say it’s not the most picturesque of places (:P), but I’d heard lots of praise for this event, and having run it, I can’t fault it. The route was interesting, a few hills (natural and subways/under-passes) and lots of twists and turns and parks to keep things interesting.

The marshalling was excellent and for a relatively small race (1500), the public support was brilliant - lots of residents on the way round and the children at the water/sponge stations (each one was organized by a different school) were very enthusiastic - competing with each other as to who could get the water to the runners the quickest! Organisation was great - got a car parking space no problem, route signposted all the way round, started bang on 9am and there were plenty of toilets!

Content of goodie bag (minus cereal bar - I scoffed that as soon as I got it! :P

Goodie bag was good (:P) too - t-shirt, medal, re-usable drawstring bag, drink, water bottle, Sweatshop voucher and cereal bar. Results and photos were up by dinner time as well. Great value race - I would definitely recommend. :)

So how did my lack of training affect me? Not very much during the race actually - I was quite surprised. I felt more tired towards the end, but as everyone says - half the battle is mental, and knowing that I'd completed a half before was a realy help to me. There's no way I'd have been feeling half as confident with that little training for my first half. However, the lack of training showed through the next day - I was *sore*! It took 2-3 days for my muscles to recover - despite lots of stretching, gentle walking and self massage.

I guess there probably is some truth when people (non-runners I hasten to add!) boast that they could run a race without any training. As long as they're reasonably fit, they probably could. But the point of training isn't just to get your body to the point where it can cover the distance, its about getting your body *used* to covering that distance on a regular basis, so that come race day, your body knows what to expect, and more importantly, is to recovering from longer distances. :)

Friday, 7 May 2010

Running Tour: Richmond Park

So for something a bit different, I thought I'd take you on a running tour around one of my favourite running spots: Richmond Park.

Richmond Park is an amazing place to run - its huge (about 7 miles around the perimeter and countless routes within that!) and its also very scenic. There are lots of pretty paths...

...beautiful gardens...

And the views are amazing!

One of my favourite points is King Henry VIII's Mound. There's a specially protected view, between a carefully cut hole in the bushes where you can see 10 miles to St. Paul's Cathedral. Below is the view with the naked eye...

And this is the view using the telescope:

Of course it wouldn't be a proper visit to the park without seeing lots of deer!

This guy even posed for a photo! ;)

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Running Tips

I found a list of running tips via Ashley's blog, and wanted to share some of them with you. I think they are good advice for beginners and seasoned runners alike. You can read the full list of 100 tips here, but below are a selection of my favourites.

  1. Accept and appreciate the fact that not every single run can be a good one.
  2. Remember that you will have plateaus in your progress and tough days along the way.
  3. It gets easier.
  4. Remember to say “Thank You!” to race volunteers and family and friends who support you.
  5. Don’t carry loose change. It will annoy those who are running with you.
  6. Do not compare yourself to others. Run within yourself and for yourself first.
  7. Even a bad run is better then no run at all.
  8. Running is not an excuse to triple your intake of doughnuts because runners gain weight too.
  9. To aid recovery the most crucial time to eat and drink is in the hour immediately after you run.
  10. Do not increase your mileage more than 10 percent per week.
  11. Log your mileage for your legs and your Shoes. Too much on either will cause you injury.
  12. Ice aches and pains immediately.
  13. Cut your Training by at least 30 percent to 50 percent every 4th or 5th week for recovery.
  14. Race day is not the day to try new shoes, eat new foods, or wear brand new clothing.
  15. Do not try a marathon as your first race.
  16. For races longer than 5k start out slower than you think you should.
  17. Run facing traffic and never assume a car sees you.
  18. Always carry I.D. because you just never know.
  19. Buy yourself some actual running shoes from an actual running store because running in junk “sneakers” will destroy your feet and your legs.
  20. No amount of money spent on gadget training programs or funny food can substitute for minutes, hours, days and weeks on the road.
  21. There’s no shame in walking.
  22. Speed work doesn’t have to be scientific. Try racing to one light post and then jogging to the next.
  23. Do speedwork after you develop an endurance base.
  24. Build rest into your schedule. Rest is just as important of an element as exercise in your fitness plan.
  25. Dress as if it is 10 degrees warmer than the temperature on the thermometer.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Race Report: Brooklands 10km

Brooklands was my first 10km race this year, and my third 10km ever. I was hoping for a PB, having spent the past three months half marathon training, I knew my stamina (and hopefully my speed) would have improved. With that in mind, I did a bit of looking around before deciding which 10km to enter (didn't want it to be really hilly!).

I found the Brooklands 10km in Weybridge - its held at Mercedes Benz world and you run around the race track - smooth tarmac and as flat as a pancake! Definite PB potential! :D (no - its not cheating, just 'tactical planning'! :P).

So the short report is; felt really strong for first 5km, got stitch, wanted to stop at 6km, ploughed on, felt much tougher for the second half - felt I was putting in a lot more effort to maintain the same pace, a big push for the final 1500m and it was over. My chip time is 63:03 - 3 minutes 42 seconds off my PB :)

I think there may be a few milimetres between my foot and the ground,
so this may well be an elusive 'both feet in the air' picture! :D

Picture (c)

Would recomend the course for PB chasing, but very dull as its a 2 lap loop of the circuit, with nothing pretty to look at apart from the odd Mercedes car if you're into that sort of thing (I'm not!).

Next goal; sub-60. It will be mine! :D

Saturday, 27 March 2010

American Food Shop!

I was searching online a few weeks ago for tinned pumpkin - that ever so popular American product that is totally elusive over here - and I found an online store that sells American food. I then saw that they had a shop and reaslied it was only 15 minutes drive away - dangerous information! Today I went over there for some tinned pumpkin and came back with a selection of random, but very American food!

My American food stash!

My hoarde included; Lucky Charms, diet Mountain Dew, trial box of Fruit Loops, watermelon flavoured chewing gum, tinned pumkin and some Hersheys Kisses.

Hershey's Kisses!

I was most excited about the Lucky charms! For those who have forgotten what they are, or haven't had them before, they're like Cheerio style cereal with freeze dried marshmellow shapes in.

Mmm - sugary goodness!

Now I know what you may be thinking - they don't sound very healthy. But fear not, they are "wholegrain guaranteed" ;D
I'm not sure what to do with the pumpkin now that I have it - I often see it used in porridge, so may give that a go. :)

Sunday, 14 March 2010

I did it! :D

Last time I went to parkrun (4 weeks ago) I smashed my previous PB (31:52 from Nov) getting a new PB of 30:10, bringing a sub-30 5km within reach for the first time. When I started running almost a year ago, sub-30 5km was one of those 'I'd love to achieve one day' goals - and its been on my goal list for the past 9 months or so.

After my last attempt, I couldn't run Frimley Lodge parkrun again until today, due to my training for Bath Half. I only needed to take 11 seconds off - a seemingly easy task. I really pushed myself the whole way round - I did the first loop in 14:30, so was well on target, but my legs got tired and I felt like I really slowed down, I forced myself to pick it up again for the last km or so.

I've just seen the official results - 29:20. Needless to say I'm very happy I can now cross this off my goal list :) I guess I'll have to aim for a new time now - if I keep this up I may well be representing GB at the 2032 Olympics! :D

Friday, 12 March 2010

Mixing it up...

I'm just going to come right out and say it; I'm not a fan of the gym. I know, I know, you all think I'm mad. Maybe its just because I don't go very often, maybe its because the gym I go to doesn't really have much on the TV (and no TVs in front of the treadmills :( ), who knows.

I don't go the gym very often (maybe 3 times/month), so I don't bother paying for a membership, I use a local 'Army' gym (so named, because its on the military complex/town nearby). Consequently, its a basic gym (hence the lack of TVs!), but its always quite empty (never a queue for machines), you can pay as you go and its half the price of the local leisure centre!

I went down after work tonight, didn't get there till about 8pm, and decided to try something a bit different. I challenged myself to do 1km 'sets' on each piece of cardio equipment. So my session went something like:

*1km Cross Trainer
*1km Treadmill
*3km Bike (1km seemed a bit short!)
*1km Rower
*1km Treadmill
*1km Cross Trainer
*1km Rower

It worked - I didn't get bored! I was in the gym for a total of 45 minutes, and I don't think I was on any piece of equipment for more than 7 or 8 minutes at a time. I also made an effort to use intervals to add interest, so I set the bike and cross trainer on the 'random' programme to incorporate hills, did 30 second bursts every minute on the rower and altered my speed every minute on the treadmill.

Was also feeling very proud in the first outing of my Bath Half Marathon t-shirt. Until someone walked in wearing an IronMan top! :D

Monday, 8 March 2010

Bath Half Marathon: Race Report

I hope you’re sitting comfortably, as this may be a long post, but yesterday I ran my first half marathon, so indulge me a little! :D

Woke early on Sunday - it was a gorgeous day; sunny but cool - perfect for running. We got the most packed train into Bath (think Central Line at 6pm on a Friday!). I was slightly concerned by my lack of nerves - was I denial or did I actually feel as though I’d done enough preparation..?

All my stuff ready, the night before.

My primary goal for this race was just to get round. I’d run 12.5 miles in training in around 2:40, and knowing that I always run a bit faster in races, I was hoping for a time of 2:35 - 2:40, with a secret 'I’d-be-over-the-moon‘ time of 2hrs 30mins.

Headed off to the slow runners’ pen (i.e. the last one!) and eventually crossed the start line at 13 minutes. All was good for the first mile, then my calf began to twinge. It felt *so* tight and I could feel it all the way down my calf and into my foot. I kept going for another mile or so, but it became too painful. I had awful visions of having to pull out after only two miles! I ran across to the pavement and really stretched my leg out, fortunately it felt fine after that and didn’t give me any hassle for the rest of the race. Phew!

Amy and I before the race

Bath is a two lap course, so my plan was to run 11 minute miles for the first lap and then aim for 12 minute miles to mile 10 and then hope I could struggle through the last 3 miles. The first lap flew by and I managed to match my 10km PB, so all was going well :) The longest race I’d previously run was the Great South Run which is 10 miles (in October). I’d hit a huge wall at 8 miles and really struggled with the last two, so I was expecting this to happen again (although hopefully further on than mile 8!). Mile 8 came and went, then I was halfway round the second lap, still feeling fine. I passed mile 10 (just over 15 minutes quicker than my Great South Run time! :D), legs still felt strong. Around the 12 mile sign, my legs started to tire and feel a bit sore, but I thought with just over a mile to go I wasn’t about to slow down or stop now! The last mile was a gentle uphill (just what you want at that point in the race!), I turned a corner and could see the finish line, a final push for the last 200 metres and I was done! :)

Me getting my sprint on at the end :D
(C) Marathon Photos

There was a long, cold wait for drinks, timing chip removal, medals and goody bags (not great planning by the organisers - 11,000 people going through an alley less than 5 metres wide). There is and has been many moans about the Bath half in terms of organisation, but I must just comment on the crowd support - it was amazing. There was barely an inch of the course thata didn't have people cheering the runners on, and in several sections the crowds were 5 people deep! People had steroes playing music out of their windows, chairs set up in their front gardens and children wanting high fives! It makes such a difference hearing cheers and shouts of encouragement all the way round. I thought the atmosphere during the race was brilliant :)

The Bath website has been down since the race finished (again, not great), but I finally received an email this morning confirming my time as 2hours 20 minutes and 25seconds! :D

Needless to say, I have a very big grin on my face! Aside from the last mile, I’m surprised at how comfortable I found the whole thing - I guess the training has been working. I can’t wait to do my next one, and will definitely have my sights on a sub 2:15 time :)

Friday, 5 March 2010

Short Long Run and Body Pump!

Although last week was my last long long run (12 miles) before Bath Half Marathon, today was still long run day - just a short one! I can't believe I'm actually calling a 6.5 mile run short - I sound like one of those annoying runner types! :D

Decided to go along the canal towpath, although it was more puddles than path in places!

Legs felt good throughout, and 6 miles felt like a breeze compared to my recent runs in excess of 9 miles. Can't believe my first half marathon is on Sunday! I keep alternating between total denial ("its not really happenening"), to complete delusion ("I'm definitely going to finish in under 90 minutes") to utter panic ("why on earth did I enter this?").

Went to my first body pump class in the evening - in a bid to try new exercises and also do more strength training - body pump ticked both boxes. Arrived at the class and told the instructor I was new etc, she helped me get some equipment (weights, step, matt). When deciding what weights to give me, she said 'you look pretty fit - you're a runner right?' and started selecting some heavy looking weights! "Don't be fooled", I said "I hardly ever lift weights!" I realise now, that perhaps wearing my 'Grim Race: Survivor' t-shirt might have given her the wrong impression! ;)

I made myself a scrummy tuna pasta bake when I got home - tuna, mixed veg (sweetcorn, peas carrots) and wholewheat pasta in a creamy tomato sauce topped with cheese (that's two portions in the picture by the way!).

Now to start my mental preparation for Sunday's race (and the carb loading of course!) :P