Category Archives: Running races

Descriptions of races that I have entered

An unexpected 10K race

In the UK this week has been Woman in Sport week. What better way to celebrate this than to  take part in a race? To be honest, I hadn’t intended to take part in a  race this week but I saw a competition on Twitter that simply involved a retweet and I thought why not? I will never win anyway. How wrong I could be. On Wednesday I was told that I had won and was now running the Womans  running UK 10k down in London. A huge thanks to @ukrunchat who are the brains behind an amazing running community on twitter, Womans running UK  a fab magazine and Endomono who is another sports community, activity tracker.

My first thought was to contact my running friends to see if anyone fancied coming with me but they were all busy :(. Not to be put off I started to make plans to go on my own anyway :).The forecast was good (if a little hot) and it was the right side of London to make it easy to get too for me.

Getting there

Sunday morning came after a night of little sleep but I got up, ate my porridge and set off. The car part of the journey took an hour and the tube about half of that! (The tube cost me £11 which I thought was a bit steep for only going about 7 stops – 20 pence more and I could have got all the way into the centre of London!)

The first thing I saw when I got to Finsbury park was the queue for the toilets. Not too bad – a good sign. Because my entry into the race had been late I had to collect my number on the day. This was a really easy process. I put my bag into baggage and headed for the toilet queue with 20 minutes to spare. . I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t make it but I had plenty of time.So far so good – everyone was as friendly as I had hoped.

It was a nice 'small' event with a good range of pacers.

It was a nice ‘small’ event with a good range of pacers.

As you can see the sun was shining for once and I wasn’t at all cold waiting for the race to start. I chatted to a couple of people (who had come all the way from Sunderland!) and then it was time to go to the start.

I have never been so close to the start line!

I have never been so close to the start line!

There was a 5k option too and these started at the front with us 10kers further back.

The course

On the day before I had found a course map and looked at it. I made the assumption that being in London it would be fairly flat and, looking at the map a bit demoralising too as there appeared to be a few up and backs where you would be able to see the people ahead of you.

map_finsburySource

In reality the out and backs weren’t a problem as you were separated more than it looks and so were not really that aware of those ahead of you (thank goodness!). It was however hilly (well coming from the fens hilly). My Garmin says it had an elevation gain of 85m. To be fair, at the end everyone was talking about how hilly it had been so can’t just be the fen girl’s opinion.

The upside to hills are the down hill sections and with these I wasn’t disappointed. There was just one hard hill in the last Km that was a bit mean but once up that it was downhill all the way to the finish. 🙂

Before the race, when I saw that there were 2 water stations I was a bit surprised but to be honest today I was really pleased that there were (3!) stations as it was soo hot. There was some water poured over my head!

The Finish

The finish was a very welcome (as you would expect). What was a really nice touch was the way everybody had their name shouted out as they approached the finish line. This does make a big difference so a huge thank you for that. As always with a race a huge thank you to all the encouraging comments and big smiles from all the marshals – it all makes such a difference to how the whole feel of the race is.

Probably the best bit of the whole event, however was the goody bag:

For a smallish race this was awesome.

For a smallish race this was awesome.

There was also some sort of ice cream that was yummy as well as a drink. Also:

We musn't forget the bling!

We mustn’t forget the bling!

No expense spared - there was even an engraving on the back!

No expense spared – there was even an engraving on the back!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusions:

This is a great race. Really friendly and far from intimidating. Being small and so encouraging it is a great run for those who feel a bit unsure or are just starting out (with the 5k being a good first option). Everyone is made to feel as if they have achieved something really worthwhile. The pacers make it good for those getting used to running races and who want to try to keep to a pace. Being a fairly small event with wide paths keeping with them would have been easy unlike many of the other races I have done.

The course itself is challenging enough for runners looking for that bit extra and the goody bag is well worth it. Had I not won the competition would not have gone but I am more than pleased that I did – running in a different place is always welcome and a good challenge for me. I shall not always dismiss races in London as although I started quite early I got home in time for a late lunch and a rest in the garden.

There is another one in September and I would encourage you to consider it. It really is 5 mins (or less) from the station so if you are in London there should be no excuses. Why not make a weekend of it like those girls from Sunderland?

Thank you ukrunchat and Womans running Magazine for a really lovely Sunday race.

Note: All views are my own.

 

 

 

 

Downs and ups.

I have been hiding, again. Stupid I know but there are times when hiding is the only way I can cope. Fortunately I have come out the other side and am now able to explain all. …..

 

 

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2 weeks ago was the Cambridge half marathon. It is fair to say that this is my least favourite race for many reasons:

1. The first year I ran it I fell over and cut my knees.

2. The next year it snowed and I had an asthma attack.

3. The following year I had not recovered sufficiently from a chest infection and hated every step.

I have finished every year but for a race that is in my local city and a beautiful scenic one at that  it is far from top of my list. This year would be different though, wouldn’t it?

NO!

On the Wednesday before I got a sore throat! I increased my intake of vitamin c, had early nights and tried to be sensible. By Saturday my asthma was beginning to play up but I convinced myself it was only asthma therefore the below the neck rule was not applicable. (The general rule when running is that if you have symptoms above the neck you are OK to run. Below then not.) I woke up Saturday to a lovely sunny morning. Deep down I knew that I probably shouldn’t be running but I needed to get the miles in.

The first half was fine. I kept to 10 minute miles and was happy to plod along. The atmosphere was good, the weather was good and I was going to take it easy. All was great until about half way. I took my inhaler, once, twice and a few more times. I eventually had to walk a bit, and then a bit more. By now I was not feeling so great. The crowds were lovely and encouraging, as were the marshalls but there was no escaping that I was feeling rough.

As I looped back through the city centre for the second time I began to look forward to the next fuel stop – water and gels. Unfortunately there were no more gels….OK I can live without those but the killer was the water. They had run out of water and so were offering runners discarded bottles with the lids taken off. Ummm thanks but no thanks!

By this time I knew that even if I walked I would get round and so I kept plodding on. A puff of the blue inhaler every other step or so!

I did complete it, in 2 hours and 20 mins which is OK but my slowest ever time. The worst bit was that I felt no elation at the end at all. I literally had nothing left. I felt no elation, no achievement or even relief.

The medal however, never fails to impress.

The medal however, never fails to impress.

I got home and slept. The next couple of days were horrible. My asthma was bad and my mood rock bottom. I honestly thought that all dreams of the marathon were over. I saw a doctor who, much to my relief did say that it was only asthma and not an infection and there was nothing else I could do. I plodded on. Disrupted sleep, lots of coughing and generally feeling low.

A week later I went back to the doctor, a different one this time. He was very sympathetic and gave me some steroids. He also said that I could run although it would not be very pleasant for me. I would do no harm. Thank goodness for that. (Deep down I think that I had blamed myself for being stupid and running when I shouldn’t have.)

The difference the steroids have made is amazing. I can breathe! As I can breathe I have energy. I can smile, laugh and am actually living rather than existing. On day 2 of the steroids I went to running club. I felt so much better than I had dared hope! The next day I managed to run 16 miles in 3 blocks. (It was the only way I could fit it in.) 6 miles at 6am, 7 miles in the pm after work and before pick up and then 3 after pick up. The boost to my confidence that this gave me was immense.

It seems that my marathon journey is still on! I have come out of hiding. I can now participate in Facebook and twitter discussions about running without wanting to curl up and cry. There is still plenty of time for injury and illness to strike again but for now, my dream is alive.

Thank you for reading my moans. xxx

Soham Half Marathon

During May I ran another half marathon. As is becoming the custom for me, I heard about it three weeks before the event and, with it being so close to home (about 6 miles or so) it seemed rude not to take part. Another thing in its favour was the 11.15 start.

Unfortunately, the day before the race was one of the hottest days of the year so far and the weather was not due to break. Suddenly the late start was not looking quite so nice! I sent a text to my partner in crime saying something along the lines of:

It is quite hot to run a half marathon……

Her response was not quite what I was looking for:

I am making sure I drink a lot…

Great idea. I spent the rest of the day drinking lots of water! The morning was as hot as it promised to be. Lot’s of sun cream, a hat and a bottle of water were my only defenses.

I can’t say I was looking forward to it and the first 3 miles were not a lot of fun. I was so close to dropping out and walking back, especially when we saw three doing just that. I couldn ‘t blame them, thinking instead that there were sensible (leaving us……?)

Heading out into the unshaded fen roads, surprisingly, I began to feel a bit better and that I might, maybe, be able to finish this after all. The plan was to finish. No matter the time, or even if we were last. Finishing was good.

It was a very well organised race, small, mainly run by club runners but friendly. There were water stations every three miles which, fortunately consisted of water bottles and not cups. I say fortunately because a bottle was very much needed. You drank a good amount, threw a good bit over yourself and then ran along with the rest sloshing over you. By the time you got to the next station your drenched t-shirt was bone dry.

Slowly we plodded along. I am really pleased to report that we did both finish. It was probably the slowest half that I have ever run but the thing that pleases me the most is that I felt quite strong throughout – I even managed to over take people in the final stages. This is not usual for me and a real morale booster.

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Despite all my misgivings I fully enjoyed the race. Everyone was lovely, all the marshells were totally amazing. I would happily run  it again and hope that this is the beginning of new confident and strong me.  Watch this space 🙂

 

 

 

Thank you and …….sorry.

I have been completely overwhelmed by all your supportive comments regarding my last post. Thank you, as without you all I would never have managed it. Trying not to be sensationalist, without you all, I would never have got to where I am today. The weekend would not have happened.

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I would also like to thank everyone that has sponsored me. I am amazed.

But…….here is the bad news………

I am unable to run the marathon on Sunday.

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I feel that I am letting everyone down but my wonderful doctor (who was so brilliant when I was suffering from PND) has advised me that it may not be the most sensible thing to do seeing how poorly I have been this past month (+).

I am really, really gutted but deep down know that it is the right thing. My training has not really gone as planned and I am not nearly as fit as I would have liked to be before running a marathon. Simply put, my health has to come first. I have seen enough people collapsed at the side of the road during half marathons to know that you cannot take any run lightly.

Luckily I can defer my place until next year.

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Yep, I can do it all again next year, the running in the dark, the long races, the boring posts….. My husband is delighted! (but is obviously very supportive at the same time ;)) The money that I have raised in sponsorship can be forwarded onto next year too. I am going to use this year as a spring-board for next year. I am going to take this opportunity to raise even more money for this brilliant cause that I have chosen. I will learn from things that I felt went wrong for me this year and hopefully reach this point, next year, stronger than ever.

So sorry to let you all down but the journey does not finish here – we are simply half way along the road.

 

Oakly 20

On Sunday I completed 20 miles :)

On Sunday I completed 20 miles 🙂

It was in Bedfordshire which is a tad more hilly than I am used too!

It was in Bedfordshire which is a tad more hilly than I am used too!

I didn't get a medal this time but this hoody. We picked it up first so in theory could not have run it at all.....but I did ;)

I didn’t get a medal this time but a hoody. We picked it up first so in theory could not have run it at all…..but I did 😉

Mind – My Way To say Thank You

It is one month to go until the London Marathon. I always had the intention of raising money for a charity. I had even decided which charity it would be, but had not got around to doing anything about it.

I have now. The charity that I am running for is Mind:

Mind - Mind has been speaking out for better mental health for 60 years and is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales. At Mind, we work for a better life for everyone with experience of mental or emotional distress.We’re Mind, the mental health charity. We believe no one should have to face a mental health problem alone. We’re here for you. Today. Now. Whether you’re stressed, depressed or in crisis. We’ll listen, give support and advice, and fight your corner.

In today’s world more and more of us are affected by some type of mental illness, whether it is themselves, a family member or a friend. After the birth of my children I suffered from Post Natal Depression. It was a horrible time and I honestly didn’t believe that I would ever get any better. I was lucky. I did.

It took me a long time to actually come to terms with it and admit that it was a problem I had. When I was signed off sick I was worried about what my employer would think, that it would remain on my records and effect my working life for ever more. In the end I was persuaded  to stop working for a while to concentrate on me and my family.

My Name is …….. and I suffered from Post Natal Depression

I threw everything that I could at it and, slowly began to recover. As I did so I spoke to others, telling them that I had suffered from PND. Their response was amazing. Most said that they had no idea – I had hidden it well (as most people do) and suffered at home, with my family the only witnesses. The other was how often others said something along the lines of

yes I had that too!

Talking about it

It is my belief that the more we talk about it (any form of mental illness) then the less stigma there will be and the easier it will be for people to seek and get help. I was one of the lucky ones. I have made a full recovery and feel better now than I have for a long time. I learnt a lot through my journey.

Thank you

Raising money for Mind is my way of saying thank you to the people who helped me. It gives me a chance to share my experience, and hopefully be one tiny step to ‘normalising’ mental health a bit.

Should you wish to support me then you can sponsor me be following this link. I have no minimum amount of money to raise – anything I get will be a bonus to me and the charity. Every penny will help me to drag myself through the difficult times that I know I will go through on Sunday 13th April as I attempt to get around 26.2 miles.

Thank you. xxx

So How Did the Half Go?

I have a new PW! (personal worst for a half marathon:() Last Sunday was the third Cambridge marathon. The weather was in complete contrast with last year (hottest day of the year compared to snow), the event was almost as well organised as ever (a small grumble about the bus) and the medal was as amazing as ever.

It is nice and chunky with real weight to it.

It is nice and chunky with real weight to it.

Excuses

I have loads:

1. It was too hot.

2. I am not used to running and drinking (hence stitch).

3. I am not used to taking gels.

4. I was not recovered enough.

See? Loads. I am very disappointed with my performance but, in reality, is probably exactly what I should have expected. I set out at my normal ‘easy pace of 9.30 but was really struggling by mile 8. I went out too fast :(.

All lined up for the start in the sunshine.

All lined up for the start in the sunshine.

Questions, questions

Equally hard as the race itself was the day after when everyone was asking me how I did. I was almost embarrassed to tell people. I felt that I had not lived up to their expectations and therefore had failed. This is really silly as most people would not really think much of the time – finishing is an achievement and this is something that I am finding it very hard to remember.

At the end of the day I had ‘run’ a half marathon and was in one piece at the end, something that I was really grateful  for as there were many people collapsed along the route. Something that is not something that you want to see.

Looking forward

The marathon is obviously coming closer and I have a 20 mile race booked for 2 weeks. Will I be fit? I really am not sure. I keep thinking that I am going to just go and enjoy them although Sunday has indicated that I may not be able to do this. I have just looked up about deferring the London and have found that I can do this right up to the day before. I am a bit loath to do this in case I get an injury next year which would be game over but it is a good fall back. Between now and then I am going to do what I can in training and hope that I can increase my fitness levels enough to be happy with my efforts.

I started well yesterday doing an ‘easy’ 5 miles which ended up being at an average pace faster than the half the day before! As long as I feel well I am going to do 11miles on Wednesday and see how I feel.  I have rested today as I have been on a school trip (exhausting) and have now got a bit of a croaky voice :(.

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I am going to try to be positive (and realistic) 🙂