running blog


Bath Half Marathon


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.



Engage brain!

I swapped BMF for a mid length run today. I need to build my mileage (at BMF classes we run a total of about 3 miles of short fast efforts between exercises) and get my Jantastic runs in but don’t think 6 runs is such a good idea this week after only 3 last week!

I had planned to run to Hyde Park then do two mile laps at 10K pace and started out feeling fine but it was warm and I soon changed my plan into a steady 6 miler when I began to feel weary as I overheated in long sleeves.

So I plodded round the outside of the park and enjoyed the dry day and the sunshine, watching Winter Wonderland being dismantled (Yay!).  It’s so nice to have the place back to normal, free of crowds and be able to run some parts without running into a wall of people.  I did however do my good deed for the day and stopped for a couple of tourists to show them how to get to the tube. (Anything for a brief rest!)

Plodding on, finding it tough going  I looked at my watch and was totally dismayed to see my pace had dropped so dramatically.  Was I running in treacle?  Suddenly the blog post being written in my head completely changed in mood and my wandering thoughts of marathon pace and time became depressing.  I was sure I felt dizzy and hungry.  I had a drink and a talk to myself, mustered my best efforts and forced myself to push on towards home.

Part of the way home is down hill so feeling better and picking up the pace I glanced back at my Garmin.  Amazingly my pace had dramatically improved in a very short distance!  I normally display my average pace for the whole run but then I engaged brain.  I had changed it that morning to show me average lap pace which explained quite a lot!

Oh well lesson learned and a good exercise in overcoming the doldrums mid-run!

Janathon day 8,   6.5 miles run.


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….



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!



Bath Half Marathon

photo (5)

I had a great trip away in Bath with Alma this weekend.  Bath is a lovely city and the Half Marathon was well organised and friendly. It’s a mass participation event that didn’t feel too big and the race is run on wide roads which were not over congested. It’s not a hilly or undulating course but there are some changes in gradient, probably best described as ‘Bath flat!’

Our experience was enhanced by the fact that we were staying in a hotel within walking distance from the station and only 5 minutes from the race start. There are not many race mornings when there is no rude early alarm and you can be sitting under a duvet, drinking tea and eating breakfast whilst watching the TV at 8.30 in the morning.

In the days before the race I was chewing over what sort of pace to run at. What pace could I realistically keep up for 13 miles? I knew because of injury and only 2 weeks training with a longest run of 10 miles (longest since my marathon in November! Tut Tut) that PB pace was out of the question (could maybe manage 3 or 4 miles at that!)  So was matching recent HM paces and even sub 2 (that might get me to half way?). I also considered marathon pace, whatever that should be, as this was really a training run.

In the end I decided to stop thinking too much and just relax and enjoy it and see how my legs and recently recovered glutes coped with the distance.  So I plugged in my race playlist, started my garmin and pulled my sleeve down over it to cover it up and just ran.  I tried to hold a steady pace which maintained a consistent effort, which was not too easy but also not enough to make me breathless or raise my heart rate which I felt I could keep up for the whole race.

When I downloaded my splits last night I was rather proud of my consistent pacing.  I don’t think I could have done any better watching my Garmin all the way round.  Being free just to run and take in the course without worrying about pace and time was wonderful.

bath half




9:18 pace

If there was a prize for procrastination I would have won it today. I was up reasonably early (getting ready for back to school tomorrow) and could have run then, I could have run all morning, lunch time, afternoon…  But no.  I put it off and found other distractions and excuses all day.  Suddenly it was time to start thinking about cooking some food so it was then or never and once again for the 5th day running I was nipping out under cover of darkness to run the same local loop.  Just as well I decided another short easy run was on the cards for rib recovery.

Tomorrow I will break out of my rut.  Tomorrow I will run in daylight, I will run with music, I will definitely run somewhere different and I will, ribs willing, venture to run a bit more than 5K.

Anyway, rut or not,  My garmin clocked mile 3 at 9.18 pace which made me happy. All back to normal.  It’s my good steady run pace.  Most times I run, at some stage or other I will trot out a mile at 9.18.  I might be trying speed but if I slow up its 9.18.  If I’m trying to take it easy sometimes I get carried away and it’s 9.18.

Abradypus knows about my default run pace after talking pacing at parkrun last summer so wasn’t surprised when we were discussing potential Half Marathon paces this autumn and I suggested that if all else fails 9.18 pace!  If you think that sounds too precise look at my run history. Before I broke 2 hours for a Half Marathon so many were spookily close to 2.02!!

Janathon day 7, 3.19 miles.



I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not very good at pacing. I might have learned not fall into the most obvious traps, like sprinting off at the start of a race, only to die round the first corner, but I realise that I don’t always judge my pace very accurately. I can ease off too much or push too hard for the distance, finding that there is not much leeway in my judgement between too fast and too slow! Maybe I am too reliant on my garmin or maybe I don’t use it properly, I don’t know.

I decided to try the virtual partner on my garmin and yesterday was keen to get out and run and give it a go. However life events took over. So today, determined to keep up my training for my half marathon I decided to make up the missed 4 miles by running to and home from BMF.

Today at BMF we did lots of leg drills, after a mad running warm up, so I guessed it was very good half marathon practice to try running at a set pace on worn out legs on the way home. (Not to mention feeling cold and decidedly wet and muddy). I wasn’t sure about the virtual trainer thingy. I need to run with it more and get more used to it. At least I’ve worked out which stick man is me (the one behind) and am working out what the small print stats below show (when I can manage to read it on the go!) The main problem with trying to keep up with the damn thing when running in town is that I have to pause, slow down and stop to cross roads safely and dodge pedestrians while Mr Virtual Partner gets away!

Hopefully my plans to run more races in 2012 will help me improve my times by more pacing experience in addition to regular training mileage and a few less pounds around my middle.

Forgetting all about pacing, on Sunday I had the most fantastic run. I was in an upbeat mood and set off for a long run. I plugged in my music and went where impulse took me exploring London on a lovely afternoon, passing new areas and going for a look at the Christmas window displays at Harvey Nichols. I was so ‘in the zone’ running felt wonderfully effortless and I carried on to do all 12 miles (of a planned 10 to 12), in 2 hours. That evening I discovered that long runs are also wonderful because I could have a good supper with half a bottle of red and apple pie and still be under my calorie allowance for the day. Result!


Fairweather running shoe friend.

A grey damp day in London today but I was keen to get out and run after being in the house with four teenage boys and two Nerf guns. The joys of half term! So when they took themselves off to the cinema I grabbed the opportunity for some me time. Thank goodness they are old enough to go on their own these days, although I have to confess, when they were little, to using the hour or so of quiet in the dark of the cinema to close my eyes for a short while.

My next race is the Great South Run on Sunday and I guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.  I’ve had a few good runs recently including one at average pace 8.54 min per mile for 4.8 miles on Tuesday and a more modest paced 6.2 miles today. I don’t know whether I will be able to race the 10 miles at my target pace and finish in a time close to 1hr 30 but I am happy that my fitness is getting back to pre injury levels and confident I can have a good race and not just aim to get round.

I have enjoyed running recently in the new running shoes which I received last week. I havent run in Asics for a few years and am finding the Gel Nimbus 12’s very good.  I had found some models a bit narrow in the past but these have a nice wide toe box and plenty of wiggle space. They are light enough for my tastes, cushioned without feeling too removed from the ground and my Orthotics fit well with them.  I have been very enthusiastic about them and ready to declare them as my new BRSFs (Best running shoe friends).

However,  being fairweather by name I am also a fairweather friend to my running shoes.   Also being indecisive, fickle and a bit of a shoe floosey! I decided to grab my OBRSFs (old best running shoe friends), my Saucony Kinvaras, today and slipped in my orthotics for the first time and headed off for my run.  Ooh they felt good!  (Might have to ask for a new pair for Christmas).  Oh dear,  now one of the major pitfalls about being lucky enough to have too many current pairs of running shoes is I might still be trying to decide which pair to race in when the gun goes off!


Race pace? Help!

May is getting nearer and its only 10 weeks until the Bupa London 10K in which I’d love to be able to keep up my record of getting a new PB each time.  As most of my runs, whatever the distance, are at a similar steady pace of around 9/9+ish  min per mile I decided it was time for a bit more speed and to get used to my ‘race pace’, whatever that may be.  Last year I ran the race in 50.38 which was an average pace of 8.08.  (I’m not sure how that happened, maybe my friend and pacemaker really did carry me as I dreamt!).  So if I am to beat last years time I need to run it at an average pace of 8 min per mile or faster.  Errm help?

Today I made a date with myself to run 5K at ‘race pace’ or as near as possible to 8 min per mile.  I went to the park where I could run without worrying about crossing roads and wouldn’t bump (literally) into someone I knew red-faced and sweaty or half dead.  It was very hard work!  My legs felt heavy and I was gasping for breath.  It took me a while to settle into the right pace and my mile splits show I did my usual mistake of starting off too fast.  The fastest pace was a ‘full on’ run and 8 min plus pace didn’t feel much easier!  What did I drink/eat/inhale before last years race?

I could not have managed anymore than 3 miles at this pace and I had to really push myself mentally to finish my planned 3 miles (5K).   Working up to 6.2 miles is going to take a lot of work.  (…unless I can persuade Mo Farrah to run the race a second time?!)

So its time to get a good training plan and get on with the long runs.  I’m into new territory as up until now I’ve relied, as a beginner, on my increasing fitness from regular BMF classes and/or a couple of runs a week to make improvements in my race times.  To improve my times this year I will have to put in some hard work, train smarter and read up on interval paces and reps etc.  All advice gratefully received! Please!

This weekend I’m running the Military 10k with no stop watch or garmin to fret over my time (don’t want to ruin it).  Instead I’ll be watching my feet in the water, up muddy banks and over various obstacles and hoping to make it to the finish before lunch time and in front of at least 1 live person regardless of how long it takes!   It should be a laugh and I’m ‘sort of’ looking forward to it.  Hopefully I’ll have some suitably embarrassing photos to post afterwards.

March challenge update since my last post.   After killing myself last Wednesday I rested on Thursday and on Friday I let my social life take precedent.  Saturday 9.12 mile run and on Monday BMF class. Tuesday 3.1 miles tempo run.

March total.  15/22 days.   48.96 miles.