Tag Archives: race

Cambridge Half Marathon 2016

 

I have run every Cambridge half Marathon event since it started in 2011. Today was the first time I actually enjoyed it. Previously there has always been something that has not gone my way – from falling over to being ill. Not so this year.

I set out with the idea that this was another training with the added bonus of a medal at the end. I was under no pressure to get a time, I was just going to get round. This year, as with nearly every other, they had changed the route but this was a big change: 1 loop instead of 2. On paper I was dreading this as I thought it would feel a long way out to Granchester as it is a long way from the centre of the city and the crowds.

In reality it was lovely. The miles ticked by nicely and there was good support along much of the route which makes a huge difference. The sun came out, I met some lovely people along the way and had a good chat. There were a couple of bands along the way (the drummers along Elizabeth Way Bridge was awesome).

Weather dilemmas

Deciding what to wear was a bit of a dilemma as it was really cold first thing. I decided on a long-sleeved top under my vest but as we were waiting to hand our bags in the sun came out and I had a sudden change of heart. I would wear just my vest with my arm warmers. As we set off along the first mile I thought that I had made a huge mistake but as we got going I knew I had been correct. The sun even came out. 🙂

Look at the size of the medal!

Look at the size of the medal!

A Slight Blip

As it had been cold, I hadn’t realised just how cold my body had got and as I started off I really couldn’t feel my feet and my fingers got pins and needles as the warmth returned. The trouble with not feeling my feet was that my running style changed as I was slapping my feet down on the ground. This meant I had real pain along my left shin. To begin with I was worried that I would have to drop out or run the risk of getting shin splints which could jeopardise my marathon. Luckily after 2 miles the pain went and I could run properly again. I did stop to loosen my laces a bit later as it felt like the blood  off from my toes and I worried I might lose one of them. This really helped and I had no more issues for the rest of the race.

Pacing

My mile times say it all: The first was 10.05 followed by 5 consistent miles of 9.47, 9,.45, 9.44, 9.50, 9.44. There was then a mile of 10.01. I think this was the mile where I stopped to loosen my shoelace. Mile 8 was 9.56 followed by 9.53, 9.20, 9.30, 9.29 and then 8.37!!! I could obviously smell the finish line. There was a moment when I wondered if I was being a bit silly but I dismissed these thoughts. I had something to prove to myself!

5555 my lucky number!

5555 my lucky number!

I am so very, very happy with myself. It has been a real revelation that you can run that sort of distance and not die half way around. I thought that was just my lot. I can honestly say that I enjoyed every minute of it and not just the end. I have high hopes for the marathon now. Because I am the mouthy sort of person that I am when I saw someone really struggling I tried to say something positive to them to try to encourage them. I knew exactly what they were going through and can remember how much everyone’s kind words to me meant. It is my way of giving back a little to the running community.

 

New Years Eve 10K 2013

Yesterday, as I was scrolling back through my posts I saw that my first post of 2013 was a review of the New Years Eve 10K. So, to continue the tradition here is the review for the 2013 race.

After last year I was rather concerned about the forecast for rain and gales. Luckily there was no rain and the winds were only gusting at 20mph! Easy then!

The lovely bag piper who starts us off with good cheer and welcomes up the top of a hill at the end!

The lovely bag piper who starts us off with good cheer and welcomes up the top of a hill at the end!

Waiting around at the start it was chilly but the trusty bin liners helped to keep the wind at bay. There were, as always friendly people around to help park, find your way and generally cheer you on along the way. It was blowy and fairly bleak but i felt much happier with myself this year.

The Stats:

Last year:                                                        This year:

Mile 1: 7.56                                                      8.21 – far more sensible

Mile 2: 8.29                                                      8.45

Mile 3: 9.12                                                      9.02

Mile 4: 9.11                                                      8.59

Mile 5: 9.51                                                      9.30           (this the windiest and uphill part of the course!)

Mile 6: 9.02                                                       8.59

Total: 55.50                                                       55.30

Average pace: 8.55                                           8.55

I am quite surprised by this comparison. I felt about 100 times better after this years race – I didn’t collapse at the end, even feeling quite strong. I guess I ran it in a far better way. I did manage a pb (just!) but felt as if I deserved it more this year. Overall I was happy with the way I ran it.

Race Stats:

Last year:                                                      this year:

99th out of 198 ladies.                                 103 out of 211 ladies

Place: 375 out of 539 total.                           384 out of 553 total.

What is interesting about this race is the comparison between my timing and the official timing. There are no chips which usually means that the time on my watch doesn’t match that of the ‘official’ time as the timer is started when the bell goes – not when I cross the line. This year the official time  matched my watch! I wonder if that means I should take it that I actually did it slightly faster? I shall leave you pondering that one.

The best bit of the race?

Beer for all runners at the 10k race. Picture: ROB MORRIS

Source

No medals – just bottles of beer 🙂

I just hope that the running goes as well over the rest of the year – it is going to be a big one.

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

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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?

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

 

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.

My Park Run Debut

Last Saturday (yes a week ago now!) I ran my first ever park run race. I decided to do it because I could really do with the practice of running in crowds. I find this really hard. Being over a distance of 5k it is a comfortable distance for me.

Registration

Registering was really, really easy. I simply filled in a few details and very soon received an e-mail confirming and giving me my unique bar code to print out in order to get my time.

https://service.parkrun.org.uk/runnerSupport/BarcodeImagery/image.php?code=A366963

Having laid in bed the night before listening to the rain beating against the window I realised that it would be a wet and muddy run as it is run on tracks. Undaunted I arrived fairly early and sat in my car for a fair while wondering whether I was brave enough to remove my lovely cosy sweat shirt as it was quite cold. Spotting someone I knew I made a very quick decision to risk  it and jumped out of the car.

The Start

For the first time in …um forever, I did a bit of a warm up. I walked fairly briskly wondering at all these other people who seemed to take the whole business very seriously – sprinting, stretching etc. (Do you warm up? I am terrible at it).  Just before the start us newbies were pulled to one side by a very lovely enthusiastic lady who went through the  process with us, including the rules. These consisted of keeping to the left and being nice to everyone. I then went off to line up at around the 27 minute mark figuring that I would probably run about this time due to the volume of people.

Obstacles

As expected the start was quite congested and therefore slowish. I tucked in behind someone and followed her path dodging around people to find some open space. The course itself is run over 1 shortish loop and 2 longer ones. There were quite a few tight corners  and lots of nice puddles. To start with I was a typical girly girl and tried to avoid all the puddles but soon gave up on that!

comments

This photo sums up the other two main hazards – wet, slippery bridges and dogs running with runners. The former was fine but I very nearly fell over a dog!! It was close to the beginning, just as the course was narrowing. I was on the right as I was overtaking but someone shouted ‘coming through’ so I moved over a bit. I was about to move back when I saw a dog (or rather  nearly tripped over it !). I have to say that I really felt that this was a bit unfair but as I survived I cannot complain too much.

The end

As always this was a long time coming. I thought I was at the end, speeded up and overtook several people only to find that it was further off than I thought> I couldn’t keep the pace up and so ended up being over taken by all those I had done! (Oh well you learn). At the end we were fed into a funnel and given a ticket.

We then headed over to the cafe where we had the ticket scanned as well as our bar code. That was it. Finished and done. I found it a bit strange, like I was skiving off early although not really sure why.

Back home

Back at home, later that day I had an e-mail telling me my position overall, my time as well as a load of other results. It even knew that it was my first run. Impressive eh?

I will definitely be doing this again. I really, really enjoyed it and found that I pushed myself quite hard – running a fairly good time for me. I had thought that I would not go that fast to allow for fairly easy improvement but that is just not in my make up at all. Can you do that? Do you have any great park runs near you that you do? Oh and the best bit of all is that it is totally free. I really strongly suggest that you give one a go if you can.

Saffron Walden 10k

 

Last Sunday I ran my first ever 10k race. The good news to this is that whatever time I ran would be a PB! The not so good news was that I did not really read the small print before signing up.

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Trusting

I trusted my friend who said their were a ‘couple ‘ of hills but you get a free t-shirt. Sounded good to me. However, when we arrived and I read the posters properly it said that it is a ‘challenging course’! Hmmm. I did, however know that it was a trail run (90%) so didn’t expect a quick time.

My t-shirt!

The Start

The start was well sign-posted and we went down, having registered easily with plenty of time to spare. There are no chips provided in this race but I had my trusty Garmin with me. I don’t know about you but I really hate the first mile or so until everyone spreads out a bit. It is just so stressful having people all around you, pulling out in front without any warning and  having to get around those running slower than you.

Hills

We immediately set off up a hill, off the road from the start. The track was one of those with two wheel tracks and the uneven  middle. This restricted the amount of movement you could do easily to dodge other people. The wind was also a factor during this race as it was quite strong and took my breath away at times.

The Course

The first part of the course was there and back which was a bit disconcerting when I first realised this. It is always hard running when you can see all the runners that are ahead of you. Of course it is easier when the tables are turned. I also liked the fact that there were a lot of hills at the start but on the way back there were fewer and it felt as if you were running downhill more of the time. That is to say until mile 5 (ish) when they somehow managed to import a mountain to the Essex countryside! I kid you not. I think nearly everyone walked for a bit up that hill. It was probably quicker than running it.

 

Negatives

The only main negative that I can think of is that there were parts of the course that were totally single file with no room at all for manoeuver. I didn’t have a particular problem except that (and here comes my excuse) I had a bit of an asthma attack and did not have my inhaler. As we got further around I found it harder going as my lungs closed up and was a bit conscious that I may well be holding those behind me up. Not a feeling I liked very much.

My number – the cross shows that I had collected my t-shirt, not that I was disqualified!

Summary

Overall I enjoyed the race and I would run it again. It reinforced that I can run faster than I think when pushed. (Yes, even with an asthma attack!) I completed it in under an hour which I was really pleased with, taking into account the hills and my lungs. I did apologise to my friend. 🙂

Did you run this race, or have you run any recently? What were your experiences?