Tag Archives: half marathon

Silverstone Half Marathon

I have to admit  – I was not looking forward to this race at all. The only positive thing that I had heard was from my brother who had said that the medal was great. The reports from everyone else was not good – it is running around a field in the middle of nowhere and therefore windy. Had I been a Formula one racing car fan then maybe it would be different as the race takes place on the race track. Unfortunately I am not a fan!

The start line

The start line

I then found out that the start time was midday. MIDDAY? I ask you. Oh and you had to get there at 10.30 which means leaving home about 8. This race would take all day and how was I meant to fuel my run? Breakfast would be early. As the race started, I would be ready for lunch . Yuck.

Decisions, decisions.

We drove there in thick fog which I took as a good sign as it meant that there was no wind so that would be one less thing to worry about. We arrived in plenty of time and sat in the car for a bit as I didn’t want to get too cold hanging around. As we were waiting for the start the sun  started to make an appearance which gave me a dilemma, what do I wear? If it stayed foggy I wanted long sleeves but if the sun came out I would be too hot. I plumped for a vest and sleeves (with sun-cream on my exposed shoulders). As it turned out the right decision. The sun came out. (And I didn’t get burnt.)

The Course

Source

This gives some idea as to the course. It looped around  a lot which was nice as you felt involved with the race – you could hear the announcements over much of the course so was able to hear when people got a course record. There was also music for much  of it. On the other hand there were not a lot of areas where supporters could get to so there were areas that were quiet although I found that I always had a lot of people running near me. The course itself was nice and wide so no bottlenecks. It was also relatively flat. Towards the end I did feel as if I had been here, done this before and was ready for it to finish but by then I was tiring.

2016-03-13 12.55.19So how did I do?

I got another PB of 2 hours and 49 secs. How pleased am I? At the beginning I felt as if I was going out too fast but found it very hard to slow it down much. At the start we were split into 2 groups over 2 hours and sub 2 hours. I went in the over 2 hours but this meant that I was going faster than most of the people around me. This felt good so, in the end I just kept going. The Lucozade drinks that were provided made me wheezy but no doubt kept me going. I had nothing left at the end which was good as I know that I couldn’t have managed a sub 2 hours…..this time.

Getting out of the car park at the end was a nightmare…..but who cares? I got a PB!

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.

Source

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 🙂

 

 

 

Lode Half Marathon

A week ago last Sunday I ran my first half marathon since the marathon in May. Although I didn’t run the race last year I do remember that it was an awful day – pouring with rain, windy and cold. I was very relieved therefore to wake up to a bright and sunny day. The forecast was for wind and windy it was.  As the race is run on open fen roads wind is a given.

Lode Half

2013-11-03 09.34.37

This is the social club where we picked up our numbers.

This race is only in its third year which didn’t mean that it wasn’t very well organised. It is  a fairly small race with only space for 200 runners which was a really nice change. I think that the biggest surprise was that there were no queues for the toilets, in fact there was a longer queue for the mens!

The route is flat and potentially fast. The National Trust have spent a lot of money and upgraded a lot of the route making it into a cycle way. They have added a new bridge which obviously provided a bit of hill work into the mix!

Lode Half 008The terrain  was very  mixed – tarmac, mud, gravel. Luckily they put wood over the top of the cattle grids thus preventing sprained or broken ankles. 😉 At one stage I was really worried that we would have to run up steps to get over a bridge as this would really have finished me off coming just before the half way point and then again fairly quickly afterwards as it was an out and back course.

This is the bridge I feared we would have to cross.

If you look behind the bridge however you can see a bridge that is up in the air.  Luckily this was down so we were able to run over it. Phew!

The out and back nature of the run had the disadvantage of the wind being behind us on the way out and against us on the way back. Being open fenland there is absolutely no shelter from it and it was quite tough going at times, especially as we got tired.

This is one reason why I made the decision to train whatever the weather. You can never dictate the weather on race day can you?

Knee update

I have some good news to report – I have been to see the physiotherapist and my runners knee is just that, runners knee. Nothing more serious than that. It is also better than it was so my exercises that I did everyday (for a week or too, ho hum) have been working.

It seems that I was right in my suspicions – when I stopped going to the gym regularly and concentrated on my running more my glutes became weak thus causing an imbalance. This in turn caused the knee pain. Nothing wrong with my knee. Weak muscles. Yay. I can change that.

This one of my new exercises with the aim of keeping the pain at bay.

Upcoming races

This week I realised that I have done it again – I have doubled booked myself. I am down to go on a visit to the knitting and stitching show. I went last year and had a really great time so would be loathed to miss this but I have also signed up for the Great Eastern Run – a half marathon race.

I have no other races planned so really was a bit stumped……but then someone mentioned a local race that takes place in November. It is literally down the road and takes place on some of my training routes. I think that this may be the answer if I can get in (only 200 places). What would you do? I do need races to keep me motivated but knitting and stitching is my other love………I am going to try to get into the local race and thus manage to do both?

Do you have any races that you are training for at the moment?

The Cambridge Half Marathon 2013

Last week was so very hectic and full of exciting things that it is only now that I have the chance to write about the half marathon I ran a week and a half ago! I ran this race in its debut last year (see review here). The organisers admitted that not everything was perfect last year and promised us some changes. They did deliver on these changes and mostly I have to say that improvements were made. Before going into that however, I shall go back to the beginning…

Race Day:

This year the race happened to fall on Mother’s Day here in the UK. When I signed up for the race I had not realised this although I am not sure that it would have stopped me running it anyway. I enjoy running so it was a nice way to spend the morning (in theory) although it did mean that there were no lie ins and breakfast in bed for me. The race started at 9.30!

When I went to bed the night before I was convinced that it was snowing which didn’t bode that well  for me although my husband was very quick to play it down saying it was falling too fast for snow (is this even possible?).   Waking up the next morning – it was still snowing. There was not much on the ground – just a bit had settled on the grass and cars but that did mean that it was cold 😦

You can tell what the weather was like from the clothes everyone is wearing. Shorts and t-shirts were not very prominent.

The Warm Up

Having been before, and living fairly local we decided to ignore the bit that said we had to arrive at the park and ride by 7.30 only leaving the village around 7.45. We still arrived with plenty of time. There were, as promised, more toilets and we didn’t spend the whole time queuing as we had last year. In fact we had enough time to do the warm up. Now I am not normally one who bothers with participating in the warm ups but today , being cold we decided it would be a good idea. There were two problems with this: 1. the field was muddy and soggy – a bit like jumping up and down in a cold puddle and 2. The bin bags we were wearing to keep warm didn’t allow for any arm movements. You can imagine what we looked like (lol) but it did keep us a bit warmer than had we stood around doing nothing!

The Start

Having enough time to get to the start this year we were able to find the correct pen and had a bit of time chatting before the race started. At last years event the course narrowed down very quickly at the start which had made it very hard to get into a rhythm. This year was much better and we were saved the dodging around people dance.

The Race

As is very easy to do we set off at quite a pace – in fact the split times for the first 6 miles were all sub 9min miles. Far too fast! That combined with the weather meant that I was finding it increasingly hard to catch my breath. My blue inhaler was having quite a work out itself as I struggled to fill my lungs with air. By 8 miles I could no longer keep the pace up and I was becoming dizzy. It was very clear that I would have to stop for a bit. I urged my partner on not wanting to hold her up too much and walked for a while. By now I was at the stage where had I seen some St John’s Ambulance people I would have stopped. Unfortunately (or fortunately) there were none to be seen so I walked for a bit and then, once I had my lungs working a bit more efficiently again I set off. Unfortunately I was no longer able to sustain my efforts and did a run – walk – jog to the end.

The Organisation

Despite not being able to find any help when I could really have done with it I really think that the organisation was good this year. There were water and refueling stations regularly placed around the course. The water that they provided was not in those silly plastic cups that you cannot drink out of  without stopping but in pouches:

These clever little pouches are easy to drink from and ‘close up’ when not needed so you do not get water everywhere. They are the perfect thing for runners. I was really impressed. I was also very grateful for a gel halfway around – the first time that I have been provided with one of these in a race ever.

Summary:

The race organisers had listened to the feedback from last year and had put the necessary changes in place. Brilliant. But what about me?

The positives:

1. I finished against all the odds.

2. I didn’t fall over!

The negatives:

1. I didn’t do it in under two hours like I had hoped.

2. I had an asthma attack and felt awful. (Paula Radcliff apparently has asthma and her lung capacity can be reduced by 12% which most people would not notice. At home my capacity was reduced by 40% and I was feeling a bit better then!)

A bit of bling like this always makes it worth it

A bit of bling like this always makes it worth it.

Close up of medal

 

Refueling During Long Runs

For those of you who aren’t aware, I am running the Cambridge half marathon in just over a weeks time. I have run these races before so I know what to expect but this time I am on a mission. I had a lesson taught to me a while back (see here) and I have been training fairly hard since Christmas. I am feeling fairly confident although there is just one more area I need to explore: nutrition.

Cambridge Half Marathon 2013

When I am running a fair distance and start to get tired my head goes all sort of, well, ‘fuzzy’ or numb. I assume that it happens because my body is redirecting its energy to my muscles? Whatever the reason, I hate that feeling. Also, as a lot about running is in your mind, I wish to sort this out. I need to be mentally strong otherwise the urge to give up becomes too strong. 😦

One final push to make me want to get on top of this is the events of my last half marathon where I did really well only to fade badly on the last mile.

In the past I have ‘dabbled’ with those chalky tablets:

These have helped with my head but I have not really taken it very seriously and so probably have not got the best from them.

This week I have done a bit of research and found out some interesting things:

  1. The body can only cope with some energy in the form of sugar. Too much gives you nausea. (One of my fears.)
  2. When running the idea is to replenish some of the energy that has been lost, not all. Research suggest that this should be 30-60g of carbohydrate per hour for runs over 60 minutes.
  3. It is recommended that you should take a large swig or two of water or sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise. (I have looked at the importance of water even in cold weather here.)
  4. A pre-workout snack can give you a mental boost.(Trouble is I know that you should eat before already, maybe I need to look at what I should be eating?)
  5. The carbohydrates you eat in the build up to a race will be stored as glycogen. This gives your muscles energy. The carbohydrates you eat an hour before your race goes through your bloodstream, giving you proper blood sugar for mental energy.
  6. Good practice seems to be  to eat a snack an hour or two before or a meal three to four hours before your run. The snack should contain plenty of carbohydrate for energy. The meal, in addition to carbohydrates should also include some protein  as protein is essential for muscle repair. Clark suggests either eating a 100-200 calorie snack  20 to 60 minutes before exercise or waking up early to eat a larger meal, even if that means going back to sleep for a few hours. This way your blood sugar levels will be normal because you will have re-fueled your liver glycogen, which depletes overnight.

All the above makes perfect sense to me but this last bit of advice is practically the most useful:

A general rule of thumb is to take in about 100 calories after an hour of running, and then another 100 calories every 40-45 minutes after that.

I can do that 🙂

Last week when I went on a 12 mile run I ate 2 jelly babies after every mile (from about 4). This worked really well for me, keeping my head with me. The biggest problem with this is carrying them. They are quite big and bulky. One of my friends suggested taking Kendal Mint Cake as it is probably almost pure sugar – a good idea except for point number 1 maybe?

This week I bought myself some ‘proper’ running gels. I have always been put off buying these in case they upset me and also because I mistakenly believed that I did not need to take on fuel when training. (WHY???)

Having overcome all that nonsense I took one of these at 7 miles. It gave me an instant hit (once I got over the sticky, sickliness of it that is) and boosted my mood no end. I then took another one around 10 miles which probably helped me to keep going through the last 3 miles, especially when I thought that I was not going to make the time that I had wanted to. Far too easy to stop and give in I am afraid, but I didn’t. I still felt very tired but I do think they made a difference. The gels I have contain 80 cals per pack so I feel justified in having one after 30 minutes rather than waiting the extra 10.

To summarise this I shall be running with a bottle of water (an extra-large one bought especially this week) as well as the 2 remaining gels I have. Maybe with these I shall finally run the race of my dreams? (I will not be holding my breath on that one!)

Do you use anything on a longer run? What works for you?

Resources:

As always, click on the pictures to be taken to the image source.

http://www.active.com/running/Articles/Runners__Rules_to_Eat_By.htm

http://running.about.com/od/nutritionforrunners/tp/energygels.htm

http://www.sportsmd.com/SportsMD_Articles/id/421/n/energy_and_the_distance_runner.aspx

Run To The Beat 2012

Last Sunday I took part in Run To The Beat, a half marathon held in London. With an expected 18,500 runners this was the largest race that I had ever taken part in but, with the 14 stages around the course, one that I was really looking forward to.

A Cold and Early Start

The race start was 9.45am which felt to be very early considering we had to get there first. This was underlined even more when I was told that I would be picked up at 6.30am by the person who had very kindly offered to drive. This was in no way helped by the supposed extra hours sleep we would get as the clocks went back an hour. (Does anyone ever sleep well before a race – or before having to get up earlier than usual?)

The other issue was the weather. In the UK the weather has this habit of luring me into a false sense of security during October when it seems as if I will be able to enjoy the fireworks on Nov.5th without freezing. Then, during the last weekend in October it suddenly turns cold. This year was no exception with the first frost (and even snow in the North) being forecast for the night of the 27th! The trouble with this was that all the training had been done in relatively warm weather and we were, therefore relatively unprepared for cold. What would I wear?

We were given these lovely yellow t-shirts with our running number on. These are the proper running tops but were not really made for the cold weather. Therefore the Saturday before saw me rushing into the shops to buy a long sleeved skin to wear underneath.

Arriving

The journey there was quick and easy. We parked right next to the start. So far so good! From there on however it got a bit harder. We had at least an hour to kill and it was COLD. Very, very cold out. Having done the obligatory toilet stop we decided to head for the O2 in a vain attempt to keep warm. It worked a bit and we killed a fair bit of time wandering around. As the start time approached we decided that we should think about getting rid of our bags and head towards the start. As we had parked so close we decided to leave our things in the car to save queuing at the bag drop off. Unfortunately the route to the pens took us through the bag drop off anyway. This was all incredibly slow as the shear amount of people meant congestion at the entrances and exits.

In order to get to the timing pens we had a very long, slow walk, followed by a long period of time standing around as we waited for the start. It was during this time that we quite simply froze. Those of us who hadn’t opted for under garments were positively freezing although how they could have been any colder than us with gloves, hats etc I am not entirely sure!

The Start?

As with all races it took us a fair amount of time to cross the start line. There was some confusion as to when the race actually started as there were two lots of cheering, either one of which could have signaled the start. We were later told that the race had started promptly. According to my Garmin we didn’t cross the start line until 10.03.

The Race

Route map

The route was easy to follow with well organised water stations scattered around the course. There were also a couple of Powerade stations. Most of the route was wide enough to cope with the numbers of people – some weaving is inevitable. There was one point where the race came to a complete standstill at a gate and several points with a 360′ turn that also slowed everyone down.
During the race there were also a number of sections where you were running with the racers ahead of you running the opposite way. I don’t know about you but I really am not a fan of this. It is a bit demoralizing to see all those ahead of you. I also feel a bit sorry for those behind me.

Hills

Very naively I believed London to be flat. This race is proof that it is truly not . There were a couple of hills that seemed to go on for quite a long time. I am very proud to say that I didn’t stop and walk but it certainly took it out of me. It would have been great if they could have put one of their stages on these as the music stations really did help to spur me on and would therefore have been very helpful on these hills. On a more positive note, over the last three miles there was a long down hill section which was very welcome indeed. I even overtook a motorbike on this (a slow one obviously but still!) 🙂 I was a bit cautious as to whether there would be an uphill but luckily there wasn’t.

The End

As always with me, I started off really well but faded badly at the end! I blame the freezing weather zapping all the energy out of me before I even started.

The ending was very much like the beginning. Crossing the finish line was relatively easy. Once over this we were all funneled and thus started a very slow process. We had to actually undo our laces to release the chip – not easy having just run 13 miles! We were given water, Powerade and of course the medal:

My Silver Medal (according to my brother!! but I am still waiting to see his gold – yes he did beat me!)

This was a very slow process during which we got very, very cold all over again. I would have preferred to have had a warm blanket rather than cold drinks!

Overall I have to say that the organisation at the start and end was not that brilliant, although the race was not that bad. As I write this post I see that there are several photos of medics helping competitors – due to the cold or simply casualties of the race?

Statistics

According to the official timings I ran the race in 2.06 with an average pace of 9.39. I am happy enough with this……. but,  the map that shows my pace over the whole race shows miles 6-9 as my slowest. As these are the ones with the hills in this may not be very surprising but  personally I would have thought the last three would have been my slowest seeing how I managed to walk most of the last mile!

According to my watch I did it 2.01hrs with an average pace of 9.16. I am not sure which is correct to be truthful. My watch did finish before the race officially did but could this be down to the weaving around that I did. How accurate do you believe your Garmins or running  APPS to be?

Summary

  • I enjoyed running with a lot of people – it really helps to keep you going.
  • I enjoyed the atmosphere of running in a large race.
  • I enjoyed the live music around the course.
  • I did not enjoy the cold at the beginning and end although I do realise that there is not that much you can do about this, particularly the beginning.
  • The beginning and end seemed to be quite chaotic and the end in particular could have been better organised.
  • I would like the chips to be able to be cut off rather than us having to bend down ourselves.

Those of you reading this may feel that I am being a bit picky but I would just like to say that overall I did enjoy it and would run it again.
Here’s to my next race – a 10k on New Years Eve!

Photos taken from the Run To The Beat Website – fancy joining me next year? Sign up for news on the official website.