Monday 17 November 2014

Brighton 10K - Goal achieved!!!

So this summer I started thinking about my 10K time and thought I could probably run faster than my PB of 51m17s. I did a bit of speed training (only a bit of intervals and tempo runs) and in September decided to go for a sub 50 mins 10K. I attempted this in the Bexhill 10k, but for various reasons, I ran neither sub 50 mins nor a PB.

Shortly after that, I entered the Brooks Brighton 10K - a much bigger race with over 3000 runners, but a flat one, all along the seafront in Brighton. A few days later, a friend (V) entered too. She has been running less than a year (although she's very fast), and this would be her first real race.

My plan was basically the same as it had been in September - start at about 8.03min miles and try to hang on. I wasn't interested in a 52 min run, so I was happy to either get a PB or crash and burn (e.g. 56+ mins) trying! I knew I had to go for it from the start and run consistent splits.

I'd never done this race before, and hadn't realised how big it was. At 9:30am yesterday (16th November) just over 3000 of us lined up in the start area and we were off. There was a bit of jostling and our speed was often controlled by people in front of us. V decided to try to keep up with me, but we thought we would probably lose each other in the crowd during the race.

The route was east along the seafront for about 2K, then turn around and run west on the same road for about 6K, then turn again and finish where we started. As it was so flat, the biggest issue would be exposure to the wind along the sea, but luckily for us, it wasn't too windy at all.

The start and finish
Because of the route (people running back towards us on the same road), it got very crowded at certain points, and I was frequently frustrated at having to run around people. Despite this, V and I managed to stick together most of the way, and whenever I lost her among other runners, she eventually re-appeared behind me!

I felt strong, (if a bit asthmatic) as the miles went by and I was keeping a constant eye on my garmin. The first mile was 8m02s, and from then on, my average pace was usually between 7m59s and 8m04s. Whenever it dipped below 8m, I reigned it in and tried to keep consistent. There were some km markers along the route too, and every time I saw one I switched my garmin display to overall time, and made sure I was always on target. At each km marker I was about 3 - 5 seconds inside 50min pace! I really was totally reliant on my garmin for the whole race.

As we got to about 8K, I knew that I just had to keep going at the same speed and I should make it, but I just didn't know how accurate the garmin and the km markers were - it could be a matter of a few seconds that would be the difference between under or over 50 mins! In the final km I could see the finish approaching. I was so tired and at times I closed my eyes for a couple of seconds so that when I looked up the finish was a bit closer!

A few hundred metres from the finish I knew I was close to 50 mins, so I really dug in and tried to speed up. It was only at this stage that V dropped back and I finished a little way ahead of her. I crossed the line, paused my garmin and crouched down to catch my breath. I was knackered, but my watch said 49m26s - YES!!! Pure happiness.

Later we got our official stats. V was just 10 secs behind me, in 49m36 - incredible for her first proper race! It has taken me 5 years (and 11 10K races) to get from 60 mins in my first 10K to sub 50mins! My position was 1220 out of 3173 runners; 303 out of 1503 females and 128 out of 599 in the F35 - 45 age group - some good looking stats there!

My mile splits were as follows:
(and 6.50 pace for the last 0.2!)

Very happy with that. We didn't take any photos and the official ones aren't out yet, so here is a picture of the rather nice medal!

I'm going to take it easy now for the rest of 2014, and aim for slower runs but keeping the distance up. The question now of course is whether I can go any faster next year?!

PS, when I got home, the kids had made me a card to congratulate me on my PB!

Friday 31 October 2014

Races with a difference

This month I've done a couple of races but neither of them have been PBs and in fact they both involved running well within my comfort zone. The first was run with friends and the second with my husband, and they were both great experiences.

On 12th October there was a local 10K organised by a new-ish local running shop. There were 150 runners, a few marshals and it was run along the seafront. Over the summer I've been running with a couple of Mums from school, both of whom are quite new to running. One used to run a bit as a teenager, and she's pretty speedy, but the other had a baby in January, has never run before and is juggling trying to get fit with 4 kids and a job.

So they both decided to enter their first ever race with this 10K (my 10th 10K!). I was a bit concerned that we might actually be last as it was such a small field, and we almost were! But all our families came to see us and the kids played on the beach with their Dads while we ran.

Feeling cold pre-race
It was all very sociable as I saw a few runners I knew including parkrunners and one of the teachers from school! We called out to people and the three of us chatted away as we ran the whole thing together. We also met a 75-yr-old man who told us all about his running past and the fact that he races every weekend and travels with his wife to do so. Our pace was 10.47 overall, which is quite a bit slower than my marathon pace, so obviously it was very comfortable.

It was tricky at times to keep to that pace, and I had to keep holding myself back to help my friend who had never run further than 5 miles before.

Near the finish
 But it was really good fun and nice to do such a sociable event!

We finished in a time of about 67 minutes (only about 5 or 6 people finished behind us) and got a medal at the finish. I was very proud of my friends for completing their first race and furthest distance!

Then 2 weeks later I had a very different race - the Great South Run. From 150 runners to 25,000, and this was televised with an elite field and a completely different event!

Started by Olympic and Commonwealth hero, Jo Pavey
Pete and I had planned to run this together a while ago, then he hurt his ribs on his bike and couldn't run for a few weeks. He did very little training, but managed an 8-mile run a couple of weeks before so decided to do it.
Ready to start
He decided that we should run nice and easy miles up to about mile 7, then step on the pace if he felt ok at that point. We started right at the back of the last group to start, and put in a couple of miles around the 11 min mark. In fact we even had time to stop for a tourist pose as we ran through the historic dockyard and past HMS Victory!

Doesn't look like he's in the middle of a race!
It was so crowded we were constantly having to dodge people and run around them, and there were walkers right from the start. But as the miles went by, we were feeling fine and doing about 10.30 min miles. When we got to 7 miles, Pete said he felt good and we started to speed up a bit. We ran mile 8 in 9.52, then really started to get faster.

It was good fun as we sped past most of the pack and we both had plenty of energy left. Mile 9 was 9.16, and the last mile we ran in 8.24! I think Pete was much fitter than he thought and could have run a lot faster overall if he'd wanted to. But it was his first time running 10 miles, so our finish time of 1h47m was pretty good! (Only 20 mins slower than when I ran it 2 years ago!).

In November I'll be running a 10k at my own pace I hope, and making my second attempt at a PB (after failing to get one in September). I'm looking forward to pushing myself in that one!

Monday 29 September 2014

Disappointment - a 10K

I signed up for this race a while ago, and had decided to go for a PB. Over the last few weeks I've been adding a bit of speed work to my running - intervals, tempo runs and the odd hill - although it's been somewhat ad hoc and I haven't followed a proper training plan. It's been working though, and I've increased the average pace of my training runs a fair bit. I realised that I had been running too easy a lot of the time, and no wonder that my 5K and 10K PBs were so long ago.

To be specific, I ran my 10K PB in summer 2012, when I did 2 races in about the same time - 51 mins 17 secs. The second of those was the Bexhill 10K, which was the same as this race, although the route has changed since then.

So my aim has been to get under 50 mins. I think this is achievable, and I've been training to run 8 min per mile pace to do this. Recently though, I have been really tired (due to work and various busy-ness), and I haven't been able to maintain 8min/mile pace for anything longer than 3-4 miles in training runs.

My preparation for the race was terrible! This race always falls around Robbie's birthday, and he turned 9 years old the day before the race. According to his wishes, we spent that day walking around a theme park and queueing for rides - LOTS of time on our feet. For dinner, we had a huge pizza and birthday cake - less than ideal race fuel!

Happy birthday!
So I just had to go for it. I decided at the start that I would go out at 8 min/mile pace and try to hold on. I wasn't really interested in running a 53min 10K, so I would either hit my target, or crash and burn, but I wasn't going to settle for anything easy.

I had 2 goals then - A - run sub-50mins; B - run a PB (under 51m17s). Pete asked what my C goal was, and I supposed it was to run close to those times, which I haven't done for a long while. The last 10ks I've done have been trail races, so this was the first road 10K for 2 years.

The race started at 10:30am, and it was ridiculously hot for September. We set off along the seafront, and within a few minutes I was shocked at how hot it was. I started sweating, and within a couple of miles I decided that I would look out for a water station and pour the water over my head (I don't normally bother with drinks stations in a 10K).

Contrary to what it looks like - the start (me in purple t-shirt)
We continued in the roasting heat on a course that was totally unshaded, until we got a to a turnaround point. As we came back in the opposite direction, there was a fairly string headwind. At first it was wonderful, and it really cooled me down. But it also slowed me down, and became quite difficult to run into. My pace started to drop. After a confident first 2 miles, the next 2 miles were a struggle.

As we went past the start/finish again, it was the half way point. I heard an announcement that drinks were on the left, but as I heard it, I saw people giving out cups of water to my right! It was too late and I had missed the (tiny) drink station. I felt gutted, but tried to push it out of my mind and keep on running.

Then came the hill. Most of this race is really flat and fast as it's along the seafront, but there is a steep hill just before mile 5 which you run up, down the other side, turn around and run up and down again. I'd forgotten how bad it was. As I reached the hill I was almost ready to give up. I felt exhausted, and as it went up and up I was almost walking. A male runner offered me some water, but I didn't want to take his bottle and chuck it over my head, so I declined. He advised me to take deep breaths - I think I sounded pretty bad at this point!

Mile 5-6 was 8m59s - horrendous! That was the worst bit. As we came back down the hill, I could see the finish in the distance and I focused on it determinedly. There were so many negative thoughts in my head; 'I didn't get a drink', 'I didn't see the kids and Pete', 'there are no km or mile markers', 'the weather is too hot for this', 'the hill has ruined everything' etc.... but I pushed them out.

I gave it what I could to get to the finish, and crossed the line feeling that I had given my best. I knew I hadn't beaten my PB, and later found out that my official result was 51m37s.

Not delighted
It just wasn't the day for me to go under 50 mins. I saw a runner I know from parkrun, and she's always much faster than me, and she only finished a little way ahead, so I took this as a good sign! My stats were 69 / 218 runners; 7 / 89 women; 2 / 13 in my age group. Those figures make me feel a bit better.

The figures that make me despair are my mile splits:
Mile 1 - 7:52
Mile 2 - 8:03
Mile 3 - 8:17
Mile 4 - 8:19
Mile 5 - 8:59!!!!!
Mile 6 - 8:31
0.2 - 7:32

Average pace was 8:18, which is so far away from the 8:04 that I wanted, it's hard to believe. Aargh!

Anyway, apart from me, there were also a couple of kids races which Robbie and Emma did. Emma ran in the 1K and Robbie ran in the 2K - (there were only 2 of them in that race, but at least he came 2nd)! I don't know their times as they're not on the website yet, but I was proud of them both for taking part.

Now, inevitably, I'm scouring the Internet for another 10K - I'm feeling a bit disappointed but I know I can run faster on a flatter course and a cooler day. I'll keep trying for that pesky sub-50mins!

Wednesday 10 September 2014

Summer's over...

...well nearly. The summer holiday's are over anyway, and the kids have gone back to school, and I've gone back to work. Lucky for us, the weather is hanging on, with decent temperatures and sunny skies - yay!

We had an extremely busy August. It included Pete's 40th birthday, and we did a lot to celebrate that. Firstly we had a day in London (sans children - thanks parents!), when we wandered through the streets, had coffee in the park, ate in restaurants, visited the IMAX cinema and finally, saw a musical. We watched 'The Book of Mormon' which was great!

Trafalgar Square
 The following day we took the kids with us for a surprise arranged by me: an experience of indoor skydiving! It was good fun, and Robbie and Emma were naturals, much more so than us old fogies.
Pete & me
Emma & Robbie
The ticket also included a 'vertical jump' - this turned out to entail climbing up ladders to the top of a 125ft tower, getting strapped into a harness and stepping off! The fall was quite gentle, but the initial step off the platform took a bit of bravery. It was quite shocking to stand above and watch Robbie then Emma throw themselves off the edge, but it didn't seem to worry them!

After departing the platform top left
 After that trip, we went camping for 4 days. It wasn't too far away, but the site was very basic, with just a couple of portaloos and not much else. We had some lovely walks in the surrounding countryside.
On the South Downs
 Then we were off again to see Pete's family, and attend a music festival. We just went for one day, but it was good fun. There was a large kids' area with plenty to do, and then in the evening we saw various bands on the main stages.

Milkshakes & music
 After that we finally had a few days at home before the school term started. It's been lovely having some quiet stay-at-home weekends since then. Despite the busy month, I was please to have managed to run 83 miles in August - BOOM!! (Cycling didn't fare so well, with one poxy commute involving a puncture totalling 5 miles...).

Now it's back to routine and time to carve out some proper training and hopefully get towards a PB!

Sunday 17 August 2014

Commonwealth Games

We used to live in Scotland and still have friends there, so when the tickets for the Commonwealth games went on sale a couple of years ago, we applied to get some. So in the last week of July (and the first week of the summer holidays) we took an 8-hour train trip up to Scotland! We stayed with some very kind friends, and saw athletics, netball and diving.

Bring on the athletics!

David Rudisha leads 800m heats

SECC venue
'Clyde' the mascot
Netball - Scotland v N Ireland

England v Bahamas

Men for 3m springboard diving
Women's 10m diving

The diving was really impressive, and the kids enjoyed the netball most, which was very exciting, but for me the best was the athletics. There was just so much to see, always something going on, and I saw so many athletes who I recognise and admire. This was our first time seeing athletics, but I hope I can go to more in the future!

Friday 25 July 2014


So after years of resisting, this year Pete finally joined in with running, increased his swimming, began cycling and entered his first triathlon. After a few months of hard training and the loss of several pounds in weight, the date finally arrived - 13th July - and it was triathlon time!

While he had a few nerves and wondered whether he might actually finish dead last, I enjoyed the more relaxing feeling of being the spectator for a change.

A few days earlier, the kids and I got kitted up with some big paper and thick pens, and they designed their own motivational messages.

Swim like a fish, Cycle like a motorbike, Run like the wind
We all drove to Bexhill (along with the bike) on the Sunday morning, in plenty of time for Pete to check in and leave his bike in transition.

Then it was rather a nervous long wait while other races started, and Pete's wave was the last to enter the sea for the swim. Eventually it was time for his briefing, and then they were off!

As he swam off, the kids and I popped in to a seafront cafe for a quick refreshment - it was past time for my usual morning coffee - and we sat down with drinks and cakes.

But I kept anxiously glancing out of the window, and realised the first swimmers were quicker than I had thought. We ate up and drank up quickly, and got to the beach just a few minutes before Pete came out of the water - he was in the first few swimmers, doing much better than we had imagined!

He looked as though he was having a great time as he ran up to transition. We raced up the steps too, so we could stand near where his bike was. As we sped along, Robbie said 'This is brilliant fun!' Meanwhile, we also spotted Olympic Gold winning Ice skater Jane Torvill, who had taken part in the earlier duathlon!
Jane Torvill (and somewhere in the background, Pete)

After a leisurely 3mins or so, Pete cycled off. We got to the side of the road, and waited. After a while, I wondered where my rucksack was, and had to run back to the cafe where I had left it by a chair... when I got back to the kids, they said 'Daddy's just been past'! Beacuse the course was all loopy, I did see him a few minutes later when he passed again.

We crossed the road for a better view for his next passing, but after about 10 mins, Emma needed the toilet. We ran to the nearest one, dived in and out quickly and ran back, where Robbie said 'Daddy's just been past!' again! So much for spectating...

But we did see him come back to transition, where he left the bike and went off on the run. This was along the seafront, and this time I managed to catch him both times he passed.

We waited near the finish, and eventually, in a very impressive total time of 1h30mins-ish, he crossed the line. He was 35 out of 83 participants, so not even close to last.

It was a really good day, and Pete's already planning another one. It was great to be spectating rather than running, but I must admit, I do like the idea of doing one of these myself one day... just need to learn to swim properly... Watch this space!

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Bewl 15

I had been wanting to do this race for a couple of years. It has a really good reputation as being well organised and friendly, and it definitely was those things!

It was also tougher than I had expected.

Pete, the kids and I drove about 24 miles to the small, pretty town of Wadhurst, where the race start was. From the town, we had to walk down a farm lane to the start of the race in between some farm fields, where there were cakes, drinks, a brass band and a piper!

There were 684 runners in total, so quite a crowd to get thorough a narrow lane, but it was chip-timed, so the wait to start didn't matter. The course was mostly around Bewl Water - a country park around a large reservoir. This meant it was very much off-road!

We ran through fields, long grass, muddy tracks, footpaths, and small roads, and the route included a number of gates and stiles to cross. It was described as 'undulating', and most of the run was just gently hilly, with lots of little ups and downs. The last few miles was more dramatic though, with a lot of steep hills - mostly up.

As I've never run a 15-mile race before, and as this was a fairly unique trail course, I didn't have any goal time in mind. That meant I could relax a bit and enjoy the surroundings. There were some good views, and the weather was cool with occasional rain and occasional outbreak of warm sun.

I enjoyed the first 7 or 8 miles, but started to find it quite hard work from then on. I think I had underestimated the extra effort involved in the terrain, which was quite hard to negotiate at times and I had to really concentrate on where I put my feet.

From about 10 miles, the race started heading uphill. This is where I started chatting with other runners - mostly swearwords at the hills! I took a slice of orange from a volunteer, and as I bit into it, I choked on the juice. A woman behind me gave me the last of her bottle of water - thank goodness for her help! Then I started chatting to a man called Eddie at the foot of a hill, and our short conversation got me up the hill without really noticing it - thanks Eddie!

As we got into a field near the end, a man with a South African accent started urging others on, and  complaining about the hills. We saw a sign which said 400 metres to go, then turned a corner and met another hill. The air turned blue with expletives!

As we saw the finish, I was level with 2 men. We had a joke about sprinting to the finish (I was barely jogging by this point) but they both got ahead of me. Then I saw Robbie and Emma at the side of the path, urging me on. We high 5'd as I passed, and as I stumbled towards the finish, I heard Emma shouting 'Come on Mummy!', which definitely helped!

I was so exhausted. I felt almost as spent as when I did my marathons. At the finish we got a medal and free t-shirt, both showing the image of the lake. There was also free cake!!! BEST FINISH EVER!!

My time was 2h30m07s! My position was around 530 / 684 (but the results were given by gun time, not chip time). I'd like to do it again now I have a time to beat, but I think I'd do more training next time!

Saturday 28 June 2014

Big June

This month isn't even over yet and it's been one of my biggest training months EVER!!

At the start of June I was lucky enough to have 2 1/2 weeks when I didn't have any work on, so I decided to seize the opportunity to get some good running and bike miles in while I could.

This month has included;

A couple of beautiful runs over the cliffs:

No fewer than 3 bike rides to the beach and back:

Several stops inbetween cycling for this sort of thing:

And lots of long runs and cycles up and down the lovely Cuckoo Trail:

Unfortunately the work is now piling up again and I haven't got as many chances for long runs and long bike rides coming up, but I have got a race coming up next week which I'm really looking forward to. It's a 15 miler - not a race distance I've done before - so I've had to some long runs as training.

Over the last 3 weeks I've done a 10, then 12, and finally 14 mile run. The last of these was a bit of an adventure. I usually do a loop round the local towns for a long run, but at this time of year we are plagued by seagulls who like to swoop down towards me and scare me! So I am avoiding the areas where they are and sticking to the tree-shaded path of the local Cuckoo Trail.

So I set off one morning with a plan to run 7 miles one way, turn round and run home. This would be further than I've gone along this path before - including cycling. I don't usually take water with me, but this was a very hot day, so I filled a bottle, put it in the freezer to cool quickly, finished getting ready, and left - without the bottle.

I wasn't too worried as I don't drink much when I run anyway. However, this was a hot day and a long run. After about 5 miles, I stopped seeing anyone on the path. It got more isolated and far from any roads, so there were none of the dog-walkers, kids on bikes and horse riders I sometimes pass nearer home. I eventually turned around and started feeling very hot and thirsty.

About 2 miles from my house, there is a little place off the trail called The Loom Mill, where they sell arts and crafts, and there's a cafe and toilet. I started thinking about it at about 8 miles, but wouldn't reach it until 12 miles...

I was really enjoying the run though, and the miles went by quickly! When I finally got there, I went into the toilet, turned on the tap and started gulping down water. I sounded like a dog, slurping away, and it tasted amazing! After a while I left and finished the run.

I felt thirsty all day after that, and couldn't drink enough. Later I had a bad headache and felt unwell, and I think it was down to the lack of water. Lesson learned.

So with a few days still to go, I've already run just over 100 miles this month, and cycled about 90. This is big mileage for me!

This is bound to drop over the next few weeks as I have more work to do, but I'm hoping to get in some more long bike rides and plenty of running too!