Monday 17 February 2014

Brighton Half Marathon

What a day! After weeks of gales, storms, floods and hail, Sunday morning was dry, sunny and totally calm. We were so lucky with the weather, and there weren't even any puddles on the course, although you could see some of the damage from the storms, such as knocked over beach huts and washed-up rubbish on the beach.

Pete and the kids were away as it was my father-in-law's birthday lunch, so I had the house to myself the night before and on Sunday. Very relaxing, but this meant I had to catch a train to Brighton as they had taken the car, and take my bag with me. Luckily the organisation was fantastic, and I was able to easily check in my bag and pick it up afterwards with no waiting around or queuing.

Sunny at the bag drop
It was pretty cold when I left the house at 6.50am, and I was well wrapped up with scarf, hat and 2 jackets. After I had checked all this in, I got nice and cold waiting at the startline. I was at the back, as I had planned to run with a friend, and so was in the 2h30+ start area, even though I was hoping to run around 2 hours.

So it took me about 8 minutes to cross the line - not too bad. I think there were about 7000 runners in the end. In parts it was very crowded, especially in the first few miles, but also on narrow parts of the course later on. I did find it quite frustrating whenever I got slowed down, but it might have helped me pace myself.

I hoped to run around 9-min miles, and thought that if I was just under that, I would be happy with my time. My first 2 miles were 9m11s and 9m10s, so I was a bit worried that I might not make it.

However, they turned out to be the slowest 2 miles - probably due to the congestion. From then on I kept looking down and seeing 8m50, 8m45 etc on my watch, and worrying that it was too fast and I would slow down later on...

As the miles went past, I realised that the conditions were so perfect, I had to go for it. There was no wind, which was shocking after the gales we've had almost continuously since before Christmas. I put my mind on auto-pilot and just kept ticking off the miles. It was great.

Although I got tired around mile 10, I felt strong enough to keep the pace steady, and confident that I could keep it up to the end. The spectators were great, making lots of noise and generating a fantastic atmosphere. That's the positive side to these busy city races, I suppose!

Sunny Brighton andSpectators
Anyway, for the last 3 miles I was roasting hot in the sunshine! I was wearing long tights, a long-sleeved top, a jacket and (at the start) gloves - not really appropriate for the weather at the end. Such a change to have sweat dripping down my neck rather than freezing rain!

My last mile was my fastest, in 8m21s, and I finished in a PB of 1h56m31s! I was thrilled! This was 2 minutes, 7 seconds faster than my previous PB, from 2 years ago. I had hoped to run faster this year, but hadn't expected to be ready to go that fast yet.

Chip time is what counts!
It was a lovely day and a great race, and one I'd like to run again. The medal was nice too, one of my favourites:
I must have pushed my legs to their limits though, as they were very tired afterwards, and today I have really struggled with up and down stairs - it's been almost as bad as when I did the marathon! Totally worth it though for the great day and the unexpected PB!

Happy and tired!

Saturday 15 February 2014

A Race at last!

It's been about 7 months since I last ran in a race! Due to injury and busy-ness I didn't do any races in the second half of last year, but tomorrow it's Half Marathon time!

I entered Brighton Half Marathon last summer, when a non-running friend of mine told me of her plan to take up running (with me), build up her distance, maybe do a 10k, and then run this Half. She wanted to run for a charity close to her heart. So we both entered and paid, and a few weeks later, she found out that she was pregnant!

She now has a gorgeous 6-week old daughter, while I have an ugly green race number that forces me to start at the back of the crowds, in the 2h30m+ group. Oh well.

The last few weeks in the UK have been stormy and wet. There has been appalling flooding, with entire villages cut off, as well as people being killed and injured by falling trees and buildings in the gales. Many races have been cancelled due to the weather, so tomorrow I will just be grateful to be there - to have escaped relatively unscathed, and with the race still on.

It's supposed to be a fast, flat course, although it's all along the seafront so the wind could be a factor. It's also big - about 10,000 runners I think, so crowds could also slow it down. I'd love to get a good time, but I'm really not fit enough to beat my PB at the moment. However, I'll be aiming for the following; A goal - sub 1h58m; B goal - sub 2 hours; C goal - happy to be racing again and seeing this as part of my preparations to smash my PB later this year!

Saturday 8 February 2014

Goals for 2014

Hmm, I suppose my first goal should be to update my blog a bit more regularly. I'm not sure what's been going on lately - I have quite a lot of work on and seem to also be spending a lot of time ferrying the kids about to various clubs and activities. Must try harder, must do better.

Anyway, I've had plenty of time to think about some plans for this year and they're not really going to be vastly different from last year.

Here are some repeaters:

1. Run 1000 miles
This was a goal that I didn't achieve last year, and I'll probably struggle to reach that mileage this year too, but I think it's a good number to aim at. It's a bit too high for me, but it's a good round number, and 1000 km is not enough of a challenge. If I aim for 1000 miles, I might get to 900 at least.

2. Cycle 500 miles
I was nowhere near this last year. Why not? Dunno. But I'll try again this year. Although I'm currently on 0 miles, it seems so achievable at the start of a year, so I'll try it again.

3. Strength training and stretching
I just need to keep the stretches in my routine forever now. Although I've been lazy and not doing them every day, I do stick a leg out every so often and it makes such a big difference when I do. I haven't done any strength training since last year's April marathon really, so must add some of that at some point.

4. Do more swimming and master front crawl and breast stroke
I haven't been swimming for a few weeks, but I might go tomorrow, and then I'll definitely try to get that front crawl going again. My breast stroke is much improved, but I can only manage a few metres of crawl at the moment. Plenty of motivation from the fact that both Robbie and Emma (at the ages of 8 and 6) are now far superior to me in every aspect of swimming.

5. Keep injury at bay
Not only the dreaded plantar fasciitis, but as I get old, there are myraid opportunities for aches, strains, tears and so on. I need to run sensibly, not overdo mileage, stop running when I get a niggle, and constantly buy new shoes.

Other goals:

6. Complete loads of parkruns and get my 50 t-shirt
Last year was the year of parkrun for me, and this morning I ran my 44th run. I should be getting my t-shirt fairly soon I hope, but will keep going, especially when Robbie wants to come. I love jogging round at his pace as he chatters away incessently, and it's become a real weekend routine for us both.

7. Run a parkrun somewhere else
I ran 2 parkruns in Edinburgh before we moved, but apart from that they've all been in Eastbourne, and Robbie has only run there. It'd be nice for him to experience a different venue and a fun trip for us I hope. There are some fairly local ones so we wouldn't have to go too far.

8. Run a parkrun with Emma!
She often wants to come with us, but I think she would struggle to run round the 5k. However, she could probably run/walk the whole thing at not too a slow pace now, so as soon as it stops raining, hailing and blowing gales every day, I'd like to take her along too.

9. Run 8+ races
Last year I'd hoped to run 10, but ended up doing loads of parkruns and only 4 races. There are a few I'd like to do this year though, so I should be able to manage 8 in total.

10. Run 4 Half Marathons
...or more. I'd like this to be the year of the half marathon, as I won;t be doing a marathon, and I've got my first Half coming up next weekend.

11. PB at 10K and Half marathon
I haven't run a PB for ages - the only one I got last year was the marathon - so I think I could go for it in these 2 distances. I'd like to beat my 5K PB too, but speed is not my thing at the moment. Maybe later in the year...

So that's it for now. We are having lots of terrible stormy weather in the South of England at the moment, which is making running less fun. My last few long runs have all been wet and windy, and at parkrun this morning I was almost forced to run on the spot as I got hit by a headwind. There are more obstacles than usual on some of my running routes:

I'm really hoping the wind calms down for next week's Half along the coast...

Who knows what is to come - at the start of last year I had no idea we'd be moving house, or that my marathon would go so well! Bring on the miles, the parkruns and the races!