fairweatherrunner

running blog


5 Comments

Dymchurch Marathon

I won!

Well not as in came first but I did…

  • acheive my aim of finishing my 3rd marathon happy!
  • beat my previous best time by 20 minutes.
  • enjoy (most of) it and feel good.
  • run (practically) all the way. I hope to be excused a brief  section in the middle of the last mile in the face of a (by that stage) 40mph headwind when it really was quicker to march/stagger.
  • have a great day running with some lovely people.*
  • question that maybe I’m not such a  fairweatherrunner.**
  • discover that Oreos are the perfect marathon fuel at 21 miles.
  • decide I definitely  want to run another one…
  • Oh, and I was first lady home!***

So I reckon that does make me a winner.

*The benefit of multiple laps is the support of other runners.  Lots of thumbs ups, well dones and waves as we passed each other and the front runner lapping me on his way to finsh telling me well done, keep it up.  There was definitely a pattern to it on Sunday.  Happy and encouraging others on the way out with the tail wind and then battling back into the wind with a grimace receiving encouragement.  It was great to run the first few laps with Louise who I ran my first marathon with, see Cassie smiling through a tough first marathon, exchange ‘ looking good’ and ‘we can do this’ with Helen  and get a big hug on the last stretch home from Cathy who came to support.

**It started windy and got very very windy.  The adverse weather conditions actually  gave me something real to moan about rather than worrying about imaginary niggles and made me bloody minded and even more determined to be strong and tough it out.  

***It was a small field and many runners were on their second, third, fourth or fifth marathon in as many days, but shh… we won’t tell anybody that  –  I’m making the most of  it because it won’t happen again!

Many thanks to Saxon-Shore for a brilliant, friendly low key marathon. It was perfectly flat, mud free and uncrowded.   I liked the laps, although after a few I was questioning  whether I had passed a very large rock in the middle of the sea wall ot not.

 

Advertisements


5 Comments

London Winter Run

Janathon might have technically finished on Saturday but I ended it in style on Sunday running the Winter 10K with Alma and Giselle.  This was my first race since September and the longest I have run since then.  A comeback run.

So far this year I’ve not run further than 5K so I had planned to get a 6 mile training run or two in before the race but that didn’t happen for numerous reasons.  In an exchange of texts with Giselle about pace I thought an aim of 9 min mile was realistic for me although running under 55 minutes would be a good goal.  Giselle’s aim was to get as close as possible to 50 mins (I said I’d love to be back there and would be with her at that pace for a mile or two tops!) or practice pacing at 8.50, to which I agreed I should be able to manage for most of the race.

The start of the race wasn’t as organised as it could have been and the published ‘start waves’ were more a ‘guideline’ about what time to shuffle out of the loo queue towards the start. We joined the queue aiming for the latest of the times we had together at 10.02  but in the crowds up the embankment it was a matter of first come first served, all participants mixed up together.  While waiting to start and trying to keep warm we all began to worry about the race being a bit chaotic. I suggested it might be hard work to try and run together in the crowds.

Fortunately it all turned out better than feared. The crowd was good-natured and there was music and a warm up to keep us motivated. Although we didn’t finally start until 10.17 we were fortunate to be close to the front of the start pen and so when we finally got going the 8 minute gap between waves meant that the race was spaced out and we had a lovely clear run up the embankment.  I caught up with Giselle and joined her to run at her pace after all.

She was an excellent pace maker.  I watched the mile splits clock by at very consistent pace just under 8.40/mi.  Giselle told me to stop looking at my Garmin and just stick with her.  It’s true, it is all in the mind and when you just have to concentrate on running with someone your mind can’t contemplate the pace and pass on ‘I’m tired’ messages to the legs.  Her cunning plan was to slowly up the pace in the second half.   I lasted until mid way between the 8 and 9km markers.  The combination of an 8.08 min 5th mile, the slight slope back up to the embankment and the lack of miles in my legs were finally showing.  I convinced Giselle that she needed to keep pushing and I really did have to just hold average pace to the end. I followed her up the last km of the embankment at an increasing distance and managed a modest sprint past a few others at the finish line half a minute behind her.

I was very chuffed to have run 52.52. With a little help I proved to myself that I’m not so out of form after all. Come back race an enjoyable success. Big thank you to Giselle.

So I’m signed up for next year, and a half marathon while I was at it. I’ve decided winter races suit me because apart from a few shivers waiting to start I find the cooler temperature kinder when trying to up the pace. I also don’t have the hassle of carrying water and on Sunday nor did we have to pause to grab water en route.

An excellent race. A little disorganised towards the start but the 8 minute staggered starts worked well at spacing out the race. We coped ok starting further back than planned and having to weave through runners when we caught up with waves in front.

There was a good atmosphere, a perfectly organised bag drop and a lovely bit of Bling at the end. Plus hugs and photo opportunities with polar bears if you’re into that sort of thing. At the start we were more interested in stealing a polar bear suit to keep warm!

IMG_3782


18 Comments

London Marathon

It was a once in a life time experience which I’m glad I’ve done. Some parts, like running over Tower Bridge were amazing, but I hated much of it.  Never again, although I do now have unfinished business over 26.2 miles.

I have to admit it’s taken me more than a few days to write this blog post.   I’ve been putting it off. I’ve been a bit down in the dumps and disappointed in myself. It didn’t go as I wished, I didn’t enjoy it.

As time goes on I am getting things into perspective. I had a bad day, a bad race. It was probably a combination of any of a number of things. Mistakes in fuelling and hydration, a too sharp taper with a bruised rib, under training, not taking account of the warm weather…. Whatever it was or wasn’t, bad races happen. Normally I shrug and get on with the next one a little wiser and tougher. But it’s harder to swallow when you’ve built up for a big race where the training has taken over for the previous 4 months.

I always said (before my first marathon) I wouldn’t run one until I was very very old because it’s such a long way and old age would give me a valid excuse to stop for a cup of tea (or two, or stronger) along the way. I think I must have meant this one and I should have stuck to my guns because London is probably the right one for tea (beer) stops. Not that I’m criticising it. I found The London Marathon an amazing somewhat overwhelming experience. But not a comfortable run.

It was impeccably organised, I was marshalled onto the right train at Charing Cross, got to the blue start where the loo queue was manageable and I dropped my bag in the right lorry, where they checked I had my timing chip and everything I needed, and walked to the start pen. It was busy but calm and civilised

I lined up with confidence. After my 20 milers I just had to do the same and then hang on and try not to slow too much over the last 6 miles. As long as I kept running then I’d hopefully be ok for about a 4.30 ish finish.

It took me a while to settle and hold a steady pace, not being pulled along with the pack at too fast a pace. At 5K I felt the buzz from feeling that I was part of something really amazing. I enjoyed the atmosphere of running around the Cutty Sark but had my first taste of the effort and concentration needed to hold pace as it became crowded. The support from spectators was amazing but at points they were spilling out onto the route pinching the flow of runners, even obscuring the blue racing line.

My problems started when I felt I needed to stop for a wee. I was reluctant because the queues looked like I could say goodbye to at least 10 minutes race time. I carried on, envious of the men at every opportunity in a line against the wall having a pee. At 10 miles I knew I wasn’t feeling the love, I was not ‘in the zone’, lost in my run and my thoughts. I was having to concentrate way too much on my surroundings and to hold pace with stop-starting in front of me, many distractions from sights, sounds and smells all around and empty water bottles to watch for on the road.

The turn towards Tower Bridge came suddenly and was one of the highlights as we ran up to and over the bridge. The crowds either side of the road were huge and the roar of cheers amazing which literally took my breath away. I’m not usually breathless at that pace, it’s the legs that go first, but the noise, crowds and the heat was quite claustrophobic.

At halfway I began to realise I was in trouble. I’d run a good steady half in 2.11,  well within my usual comfort zone, but had worked harder than I realised to do it. I had sipped water but knew I’d not drunk enough for the heat, holding back because I didn’t want to stop, and although I’d taken gels my legs were tiring and feeling wobbly. I pushed on keeping an eye on loo queues.

At about 15 miles I got a wonderful boost from seeing my brother and getting a big hug from my sister in law. It’s amazing how much pace and mileage you can get from a hug!  I was aware of roughly where friends were going to be on the course but there were so many people. Unless supporters had a banner people were impossible to spot. It was disorientating trying to look up and down both sides of the road for a familiar face and disheartening when I got well past the area they might be. How I managed to see the people who did spot me is a miracle. I was sorry to miss others, a couple of BMF buddies in particular because I was so looking forward to using one significant word to describe how I was finding it. (F***ing hot, F***ing horrible!)

After Westferry I was beginning get stomach cramps so my stop for the loo became necessary. Fortunately  I didn’t have to plod on too long before I found a portaloo with no one waiting. Then I was able to get some water and a gel down and went on to have a good patch between 16 and 18 miles and began to think I could pull things together. It was then I turned my ankle on a water bottle, nothing too bad that a hop and a stamp couldn’t cure but enough to weaken my resolve to keep running and start my first walk break.

It was great to see Alma and Louise around that point. I was so happy to see a friendly face and more than tempted to stop and chat far longer.  Carrying on I was less aware of my surroundings or the sights of London, just pleased that the course had turned and I was heading in the right direction to the finish. I was beginning to feel nauseous and settled into a pattern of taking walk breaks for a couple of minutes each mile.

Around 20 miles. I was overtaken by the 4.30 pace maker. I tucked in behind and tried to stay with them but the nausea and stomach ache returned and forced me to walk and I settled into my long run-walk to the finish. I was raising money for a good cause and I had to get my medal so I stopped feeling sorry for myself, put a grin on my face and turned to plan d. Finish.

Which I did after 4 hours 51 mins.

I was probably both an idiot and a wimp on the day. Now I must stop being cross with myself because I was slower than last time and remember I ran a marathon and in not too bad a time. I will run another marathon, but after I’ve forgotten about the training for this one. Next time if I want to get so competitive with myself I might seek some advice for training, fuelling and hydration and find a slightly less busy one with the odd quiet stretch to allow for a bit of head space.

In the meantime you’ll find me out getting therapy on my bike and at BMF.

20140416-195338.jpg

 

 

 


7 Comments

A tale of two 20’s

I am now officially celebrating the start of my pre marathon taper.  The worst is over, I’ve reached the peak of my training and (hopefully) the hard work is done so I’ve just got to keep my head on, taper my training wisely, eat and rest right  (the best bit) and then turn up on the big day!  I spent Sunday afternoon celebrating the start of my taper after the second of my 20 mile runs.  On the sofa, feet up with tea, hot cross buns and then a glass or two of wine and a huge dinner.

So what about these 20 mile races? One week apart, one hot and hilly, the other, endless laps with a scattering of hail stones.

Both were organised marathon training races. An essential part of marathon training for me without which I would have struggled to run that distance. Entrance fees well spent.  I find any run over 2 hours a tedious slog and can just about muster the will power to run any further than that every few weeks when training.  Fortunately in both these runs I wasn’t alone as plenty of other crazy folk were out plodding the same path wearing race numbers.  People overtook, I had others to overtake and could look back and still see people behind me. Safety from complete boredom in numbers!

The first was the Surrey Spitfire 20.  A regular fixture, well organised race. Nice scenery of the surrey hills starting from an interesting base at Dunsford Aerodrome. However it was hot and there were great big (for softy Londoners like me), hills!  I did not have a great run. I find I do not like 2 lapped races.  The first lap feels long enough…. and then you have to do it ALL again Ugh!  I ran the first lap just slower than target pace (to take account of the heat and hills.) Fine, great.  On lap 2 I decided I don’t like races on race tracks either. The first part of each lap might have been flat but 2  miles on hot black tarmac seeing a line of runners going on forever in front of you! Headphones are banned for this race, understandably, because much of it is on open country roads with traffic, and at times the quiet, hearing only birds and runners feet hitting the Tarmac was energy sapping. I weakened early and walked a hill at mile 13 and that set the pattern for the second half.  At one point walking uphill on a busy road I harboured thoughts about mugging a passing cyclist for his bike!

The good, (yes it wasn’t all bad) was a great sense of community. Without music, passing runners actually talked and encouraged each other with marathon chat and dreams of ice-cold Pimms!  I have to thank one club runner who I chatted to at mile 18 and kept me going to the end before I sent her off for a sprint to the line to beat a fellow club member!

I did not enjoy the run, my  mantra for tough times (counting one, two, three, four) became expletive, expletive, expletive, expletive! I won’t meet hills at the London marathon but I suppose they’ve made me stronger and practise racing in the heat might prove useful for marathon day. Not least to remind me the sunburn hurt more the next day than my legs. I didn’t feel great that I’d had to walk so much but was happy to finish in 3.25.

This Sunday it was the Hyde Park 20. A newer, smaller, well organised, marathon training run with 16 mile and (for the very speedy) a 24 option. The race is made up of 4 mile laps so it was 5 times round for me. I thought I knew Hyde Park well, I certainty do now.

A cold start where I needed a lightweight jacket.  Then my sunglasses came on and off over the run as we went through the seasons and as I removed my jacket we got to hail. During the first lap I felt as though it was going to be a tough run but I settled into it and got stronger. I had music which helped and found that multiple shorter laps were better than two long ones.  Each time I reached a point I thought about only having to run that bit 4, 3 or 2 more times etc.  By the time my wondering mind came back to the thought I’d be practically back there again. Some fun young Marshalls, dancing to keep warm, also kept my spirits up as I said hello each time I passed.

I did think I was dead at mile 5 when I was overtaken by Elvis but began to doubt it when I overtook him back at mile 13!  It was only going past the start for the last time at the start of lap 5 that I started to flag and the relatively flat course developed hills. My pace dropped over the final 4 miles but I was very happy not to have walked apart from one or two steps through the water stops during the second half to gulp water.  A good 20 mile run, I was delighted to beat last week finishing in 3.19.

Surrey Spitfire gave me respect for the distance and strength to face a tough marathon.  I learned that sometimes target paces have to be relaxed for the conditions and not to beat myself up and give in, but to dig deep and keep going as best I can (plans b, c and d). Hyde Park restored my confidence in myself because I ran the whole way and felt stronger. I even managed to wobble home (through the park) on my bicycle afterwards!

Note to self for marathon. Don’t be an idiot, don’t be a wimp!
;


10 Comments

Bath Half Marathon

20140304-173301.jpg

My ambitious marathon training plan (the one I follow when things are going well and I’m feeling good) called for a sub 2 hour half marathon last weekend.  Fortunately my other plan (which I refer to more often when I’m feeling exhausted and a little fed up with marathon training) only required 14 miles of me so I had a back up plan if I needed it!

But I was also keen to run under 2 hours again for myself (even if only by seconds) having done so in all 4 Half Marathons I ran in 2012 but not in any I ran in 2013.

So after a lovely day on Saturday with lots of good company, shopping , eating and all round fun, race day arrived.  We had a leisurely start having treated ourselves to a hotel only a short walk from the start so we were not out in the cold rain for too long before the off.

It was busy at the race start and I wasn’t too happy to find myself in the crowds stuck towards the back of my start zone where there were also people wearing the coloured race numbers for the zone behind.  I also overheard someone around me discussing her planed pace and my heart sank. I realised I would have some work to do to weave in and out and get ahead if I wanted to stick to my planned pace of 9 mins per mile, a whole minute faster than that. (Note to self on my honesty and accuracy of predicted finish time for mass, popular races!).

I had decided not to be an idiot and try for a PB or a fast race, but to start out at a good solid pace and stick to it. That should take me round just under the magic 2 hour mark, to give me confidence in the eyes of my ambitious marathon plan and be a good even paced test of how my training was going.

As feared it was very busy and In the pack I had to really work at settling into and maintaining my pace without wearing myself out from weaving in and out in a sort of fast-slow race interval run. The Bath Half is ‘Bath flat’ as I found out last year . I was disappointed not to be able to take the opportunity of the downhill just after the start and bank 30 seconds or so of faster pace for later as the first few miles were very crowded.

It eased a little and I was able to keep close enough to my plan for the rest of the two lapped course.  At mile 10 I was smug in overtaking a couple who had been ahead of me until then and had annoyed me by ignoring the marshals always running outside the cones on the right hand side of the course reserved for the overtaking front-runners as they lapped us.

The last 3 miles felt like a marathon in themselves, not just ‘a parkrun to go’.  I was still having to overtake and squeeze through gaps of people running three abreast.  The uphill before the last turn to the finish didn’t help either.  On the turn to the finish I glanced at my watch and realised I was dangerously close to 2 hours. I was a few seconds over target average pace plus because of garmin inaccuracy  and/or too much weaving in and out of the crowds I was going to run a bit over 13.1 miles so needed a good sprint finish to duck under 2 hours.

It was close, but I did it with 15 seconds to spare!

A big, well organised and supported race in a lovely city.  This year was a bit too crowded for my liking so although it’s a great race I think I’ll be giving it a miss for a few years before I come back again.

bath2014


18 Comments

Regents Park 10K

For the second day in a row I went without my weekend lie in and was up early for a race.  Yes this is very unusual, and new Juneathon participants might be right in  thinking that I’m showing off and pretending I’m the sort of person who jumps out of bed early every Saturday and Sunday and pops off to run a quick race.  Don’t worry it won’t last long.  It’s just the coincidence of Juneathon starting at a weekend and me actually getting organised for its start.  Normal service will be resumed sooner than you think.

A lot of people were out for the Regents Park 10K today, it looked like twice the number of people than I’ve seen for the winter races.  There must be lots of runners who are even more fair-weather than me.  Alma and I just about managed to get through collecting our race packs, dropping off our bags and the loo queue to join the start with seconds to spare.  It wasn’t however too busy on the course and some of the paths up by the Zoo have been resurfaced and widened since I last  ran this race .

I started the first of the 3 laps at the same sort of pace as my 10K last week,  overtaking people as I moved up the field.  By the second lap my pace was dropping.  I was too hot, my legs were feeling less than fresh, I wanted my lie in and I was hungry. (Excuses already, just what Juneathon is really all about!)  I  had a chat with a guy, who had obviously not read the race description, and asked if he really had to run 3 laps.  I congratulated the lapping front-runners and thought about pushing myself to correct my falling pace as people began to pass me, but I couldn’t be bothered.   I ran past the Zoo for the second time and saw a camel. I heard a Lion roaring, I think he was telling me to move my butt a bit faster but he was behind bars so I didn’t bother.

On my third and final lap my pace dropped further to my default ‘just run’ pace and more people overtook me than I passed.  I had a conversation with (I think it was) the same guy again, who was trying to remember how many times he’d  ‘passed Go’ and ‘was it all over yet?’  I explained that as long as he’d not stopped and had been running the whole time at his current pace he could stop in one kilometer.  I also told him if he sped up he’d beat me, so he did (such a gentleman).

In the final 400m I looked at my watch and realised I was in danger of finishing over 55mins so I finally picked it up and then, encouraged by the organiser, yelling ‘Sprint Finish!’ and ‘Race!’ through a loud hailer, my body stopped complaining and I ‘wellied it’ down the last 200 meters overtaking a number of people.

Not a brilliant race for me today, but 6.18 miles run (in 54.40) for Juneathon day 2 and a fantastic breakfast of poached eggs hoovered down, all before 11.30am.


4 Comments

Bupa London 10K

On Monday I ran the Bupa London 10,000m for the 6th time. I’m very pleased with myself, even though it wasn’t a PB, because I ran with my head and it was one of my better races.

I think I’ve finally grown up (running wise) and learned from my countless mistakes. Like following an 11-year-old round a parkrun. (Flat out sprint which gradually slows to a plod and leaves your lungs on the first corner!)

Last week’s 10K race was a good practice run where I ran a too fast first mile and then struggled by half way. So older and wiser, on Monday I was determined to run a more measured race. I wanted to enjoy it and not struggle with ‘mind over-matter’ during the last miles after trying too hard at the start.

My friend, and usual Bupa 10K running buddy, had been unwell the previous week so planned an easy run/walk strategy and left me to go off on my own. She has paced me and encouraged me in the past (and is responsible for my PB in this race in 2010) so I was given strict instructions not to go off too fast (she knows me well). And I did, (do what I was told). I knew from last weeks race and from my fitness and training (what training?) exactly what I was capable of and told friends at the start that I would probably finish (all being well!) in about 53 mins (same as last week).

So I set off. It was busy and I maintained a steady pace aiming for around 8.30 min miles. It become a little slower than that and I worried about starting too slow but I was moving with the crowd and determined not to over tire myself by dodging in and out of the pack to try to run a slightly faster pace. We all slowed slightly around 3km to cheer on Mo, Scott and the front-runners passing in the other direction and then went though the congested water station where, although I didn’t stop, had to take care because of discarded bottles all over the road.

After half way I started to make myself pick off runners ahead to hold pace. My new Garmin 210 gives a lot less information than my old 450cx model and I am finding this is a good thing! I was less distracted by it, looking at it only occasionally to see average pace and check that was falling but otherwise I am getting better at running by feel. For the rest of the race I just concentrated on holding pace. I was comfortable and happy to see my average pace slowly drop back to 8.30 and then below. The fact that I didn’t have a flat-out sprint left in me for the end suggests I paced it about right and hadn’t taken it too comfortably. I felt strong the whole race and enjoyed it.

My prediction was spot on! With a very good negative split to boot. I’ve finally got smart and learned how to run a good race. Now if I can just add in some smarter training and put in the miles….

bupa10ksplits

 

As always the race was impeccably organised and well staffed with volunteers/marshalls . Other race organisers should see how this race works and take note! The baggage drop always impresses me with no queues on the walk through system with 11,000 runners. It is a busy race, but if you’re in the right start pen (and hopefully so are most other people) you don’t get held up too much. Plus you really can’t beat running through the streets of London on a sunny Bank Holiday Monday.

This is what makes it my favourite race. See you all next year!

20130602-191247.jpg