Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014 Running Stats

Miles ran = 1,021.9
Hours running = 177
Mph = 5.77
Longest run = 17.4 miles
Countries ran in = 6ish (Paris, Amsterdam, Nassau, Florida, Dublin and the middle of the Carribean Sea)

No of races = 37
Race miles = 264.3
PBs = 20
Medals = 21

Parkruns ran = 14
Parkruns volunteered = 7

Thursday, 20 November 2014

I entered the ballot for Berlin marathon thinking I'd never get in, but argh! Two marathons in 2015 now.

Monday, 27 October 2014

My targets for 2014 were:

1. To not kill James until after the wedding
2. To run enough so i can fit into my wedding dress AND still eat carbs
3. To run the Derby 10k in under an hour
4. To complete a half marathon without walking

These were all done by April so I set some new targets:

"New targets for the year, 10k at 55:20, 5 miles in 43:44 and a 5k at 26:37. Maybe slightly unrealistic but have 10 months to do it before i turn 35"

These are done now too. 

This year I've ran 32 races and have 7 left to go but I plan on running them without any pressure because racing so often is not good.  So I'm not going to set any more targets for this year and just enjoy running for the next couple of months.  My targets for 2015 are:

1. To complete my first marathon (Brighton)
2. To run three endurance events; Viper Series 9, The Tour of Merseyside and Adidas 24
3. To get into the 2015 Dopey Challenge
4. To run a sub 2 hour half marathon

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Fairclough 5

People who actually read these things may know that I've been going on and on about club standards for a while.  The problem was that I got two standards quite early on in a short period of time however in order to get a trophy in my last year of the open category I needed one more.  Since I already had copper at 5k and 10k, a five mile races was probably the next easiest for me to get the required time at but I hadn't been able to complete one to date and there are not a whole lot of them.  Fairclough 5 was pretty much my last hope (There are further 5 mile races before the end of January but they are off road) otherwise I'd have to get faster at Preston 10 or Essar Four Villages half which would be a lot more pressure.

Map of Thornton Cleveley
Fairclough 5 Route Map
Thankfully when I entered the race James agreed to take me.  I get a lot less stressed when he's there and not having to figure out travel makes things a lot easier.  I'd never heard of Thornton Cleveleys but we managed to find it with very little effort and the race started in a very pretty park that borders the estuary.  There was lots of free parking and number pick up was very easy and pain free. Toilets were available, there is a 20p charge for them but the people in front were holding the doors open for those who followed.  It's worth noting here though that there was only 98 runners who completed the race.  I think parking, toilets and number pick up could be congested if the event reached it's 300 runner limit.  The majority of people there were club runners and it is listed in a number of places as a pb course but I did hear some regulars joking about hills which got me a bit worried.

 The start of the race is about half a mile away from the start, this isn't made very clear unless you study the race route that's pinned up in the HQ.  I could find any information about the route or the elevation online before the race.  It's described as a loop and a figure of 8 so it is kind of laps but you change directions a number of times so it's a bit complicated to get your head around and certainly stops the race getting boring (I'm not good with lap races).  It's hard to explain the exact rout so I kept the photos that I took of the maps at the HQ because they make a lot more sense then me trying to describe it. I had seriously considered skipping the race because I had a cold (a slow parkrun the day before was seriously tough going and I was missing the first cross country race) but James convinced me to just go and try anyway.  When we out of the car the wind was going seriously crazy, I got flashbacks to mad Dog 10k, but I felt good in the warm up running between the start and the toilets a few times. 

My optimism disappeared about five seconds after the start when I realised that in my first few seconds I was going up a steep little hill followed by a bigger longer hill that I would be back at in a mile or so but there was also a very long down hill just after the four mile marker which I made a note of for future reference.  It felt like the wind was always hitting us head on or to the side and I think that because I was ill anyway I struggled to breath for the entire race.  It was a strange experience because my body was burning up on the inside but on the outside I was freezing.  Every hill felt like it was twice as hard as it should be but luckily I'd decided to wear my FitSip and so could have a sip of water every few minutes and I think that got me through.  
Fairclough 5 Elevation

Fairclough 5 Goody Bag
There was a water station half way (On a five miler!!!! Was impressed!) but i poured that over my head).  I started struggling just before 3 miles but a lady who had been in front of me started running next to me and she was struggling more so I distracted myself by helping her (She didn't know how many miles we'd done) and I kept picturing the 4 mile marker because if I could get to there again I'd be fine (I never walk in the last mile) but I'd stop caring about how long I was taking and just wanted to finish.  The down hill at the start of the last mile gave me a bit of a boost and I overtook a few people but a big hill had appeared from nowhere at the finish.   About 200 meters from the end the crowd started cheering for the woman near me to sprint then I saw the finish and so sprinted past her as fast as I could.  It was such a difficult race for me that I was so pleased that I didn't just give up for once and ran the best that I could so when I saw my time I honestly was shocked that I'd done better than the time I wanted and finished in 43:31, over a minute and a half faster than my PB.  We also got a pretty amazing goody bag too considering the race only cost £7.  I plan on going back next year.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Medical Update: Not been a good week really.  Had two days where i couldn't talk.  The first one sucked because couldn't walk much either and brain went kaput but second day scared me more.  The muscle freeze moved to my throat, was really strange because i couldn't talk but it was different to normal.  

When I can't speak it's like a brain freeze, like that moment you have sometimes where you forgot how to tie your laces for a second or can't remember which hand your knife and fork go in because you've you've been doing it on instinct for so long but for some reason it's not kicked in this time.  That's what it is like when I can't move or talk, my body has forgotten how to do it and my brain has forgotten how to tell it but it's for minutes or hours rather than a flash.  The muscle freezing is different, my muscles go rock solid and it's generally always in my shoulders but i have it it in my back, neck and upper arms before.  On Tuesday I got it in my throat which was a very strange experience.  It was like being out of breath and could only talk in whispers, like having an asthma attack without the actual attack.  Couldn't run for two days which was annoying.

Thought I'd done well not to have any tremors this week though but they kicked in yesterday during the track warmup.  Had to do most laps with one stuck stiff are and one floppy arm but managed to run though it, love track too much to let it bother me.

If anyone actually reads this, I'm not moaning.   I'm very lucky and I love my life.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Review of the Fitsip

I’m not sure if it’s a new runner thing or not, but I can’t run far as fast speeds without a drink.  I burn up quickly and end up having to walk which is not ideal but I also struggle to hold something in my hands whilst racing so I don’t like to carry a bottle.  When I saw Fitsip circulating on Facebook I thought I’d give it a try as it has a flexible bottle that fits into a sleeve to go on your arm.  My friend got a discount code by entering a race in Derby so actually managed to get it a bit cheaper.

The armband is made out of really light material and is easy to adjust to fit the arm but it does feel a bit like being a robot and you may find yourself holding your arm out and making shooting noises.  My arms are quite thin so I have to make it as small as possible which means that there is a lot of excess material I’m carrying that isn’t needed. Hopefully they’ll design a smaller women’s version at some point.  It does make your arm get quite hot, I’ve thrown it off on the final sprint to the finish a few times but it’s only really an issue on very warm days.  I used it during the Pie & Peas 5 recently which was a little bit cooler and it was completely comfortable for the entire race.

The flexible bottle only holds 200ml so is not suitable as bottle replacement for long runs but is perfect for short races under 10k where water is not provided or for 10k’s on a very hot day.  It really helped me a lot during the Dunham Massey 5k, don’t think I would have got a PB without it as when I started to burn up I could take a sip rather than having to slow down or walk.  It’s only really suitable for races though, for training runs I would use a normal bottle.

It’s very easy to fill, although  you need to make sure you keep the bottle flat, and the bite valve is genius because it makes it really easy to get a mouthful of water quickly without and spilling or leakage.  You can also buy replacement bottles and bite valves without having to buy a new sleeve and the sleeve comes in six colours. 

It's a genius idea but still has some flaws to be worked out.  To find out more please visit

Image from

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Running Geek

I once asked the question whether if a tree falls in the middle of the forest and no one posted it one Facebook did it really happen?  I now find I'm asking myself a similar question about running, my Garmin and Strava.  If I run 12 miles but the event is not recorded did I really run it.  Well yes, I know I did really run it but I honestly do find myself being bothered by it.  A number of times recently either my Garmin Forerunner 10 or an upload to Strava have failed me.  My data recorded for the Great Warford 10 miler, for example, just vanished into thin air.  A few other runs have only recorded the distance and route but have no information about speed or pace.  Don't even get me started on Strave segments because they really don't make sense (I want my missing trophoes Strava!!).

I know it shouldn't matter and that there are more serious things to worry about in the world but I can't help feeling annoyed and chested in some way but maybe it's indication of a much bigger issue... actually obsessing over run data.  I know my finish time for Great Warford and that should be enough really but gone are my splits per mile, the little graph where i compare speed and elevation, the breakdown of my pace distribution and the roads that i ran will not appear as a little blue line one my Strava heat map.  Like totally the worst disaster since the Titanic I know (sarcasm) but it does make you wonder  why we spend so much time on this stuff.  It's not new, I know some of the more elder members of my club have kept old style running diaries since their youth (around about the Boer War :p ) and I guess what we have now is just a more modern version of that but i'm pretty sure that they never ran in each new location that they visit to get it on their heat map. 

I'm not sure what impact that this technology reliance has but there are theories that people are ability to do mental arithmetic declined with the increase in the use of calculators.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, why have a calculator and bark yourself so to speak.  I forgot my watch for a race once.  Luckily it wasn't so bad because I could use my phone to record the run but as it was tucked away in my pocket I couldn't watch my pace and speed, and check it against my little negative split guides that I take to each race.  Instead I ran the speed that my body told me to go, forcing it to go slower than this speed at the start (We Love Manchester 10k so fat chance of going fast for the first half a mile anyways).  I still managed to do negative splits across the six miles and even though it wasn't a pb (dodgy leg cramps) the timing was actually pretty good so maybe we are losing some ability to listen to body signals.  I've stopped watching my pace so much since but I still need the little blue line that told me that I ran there and a couple of graphs to obsess over.

Random: My new favourite thing

Monday, 28 July 2014

Medical Update: Couldn't talk all day.  Is certainly an experience walking a blind dog when you can't speak.  Just need a deaf person and we'll have a full set.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Great Warford 10 Mile

After a week off from running and a great track session, was seriously ready for a race but Great Warford was a tough one.  It's not somewhere I've heard of but the race id part of my Warrington Road Runners club championship and I need a club standard in either 5 mile, 10 mile or a half so thought it was a good opportunity to get a base time to find out how much I need to improve.  There was eight club members at the race so not a bad turn out.

Great Warford 10 Mile Elevation
The race is held by Wilslow Running Club and takes place at the David Lewis Centre in Great Warford, which is between Alderley Edge and Knutsford.  After a small loop of a couple of miles you then do two laps of 4 miles.  There are a few hills, Particularly a steep one that you run up three times with the finish right after it but it's short and can be a good one to sprint up.  The downhills provide a good balance too so the course whilst undulating is not bad (I don't like flat courses cos I get bored).   The organisation was very good, collecting numbers was quick and easy (Although the numbers were chopped up, what's that about?), free parking, nice marshals and registration right near the start.    The only issue that I found with the race was the water station which seemed to be in the wrong place near the start of the large lap.  You went past the station at 2.5 and 6.5 miles but on a hot day not having water for pretty much the whole last lap was hard going. 

Jogger's Tipple
I ended up walking up the two hills on the last lap and broke my cardinal rule of never walking in the last mile but it was just too hot and I really needed a drink.  I probably could have pushed through it but it was my first 10 miler so no pb to chase and knew I wasn't going to be quick enough for the standard.  At the finish we were given a bottle of beer (Which wasn't that bad) and a flapjack.  The faster people got given bags and t-shirts too but they were from other races so wasn't really disappointed to not get them.  On the plus side, there was free photography and I actually got a decent running photo of myself for once, smiling and everything so it must have been close to the start:).

I think it is a race well done with a good route but in hot weather it was very hard going.  I think I'll skip it next year if the weather is the same. 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Running like a girl (Coz we're great)!!!!

A little box of joy arrived today (Well actually, had to pick it up from the post office).  Sparkly running skirts from the US.  I was having a bad day recently and so I started planning my outfits for the 2016 Disney weekend.  Yes, it's miles and miles and miles away but when you're stuck on the sofa shaking and can't talk there's nothing like retail therapy to cheer you up, especially if it's related to my two favourite things - running and Disney.

Whilst surfing around I came across Sparkle Athletic (Who I've mentioned in a previous blog) and decided that I had to have one of their skirts for Disney but it got me thinking, why should the sparkle be limited to one week way off in the future.  I'm a girl, I like being a girl, so why shouldn't I run like a girl?  I saw a video recently by Always, questioning what it means to do something "like a girl".  The video questions dominant stereotypes about gender differences and the impact that it can have on self confidence of young girls (FYI - As an equalist, I would just like to state that there are just as many stereotypes about what it means to be a 'boy' or a 'man' as there are for the female half of the population, I'm not a feminist).  It's a very interesting video.

I've done quite a bit of research into running skirts and dresses.  They're not really that available in the UK but seem to be getting more popular in the US.  A lot of the articles I read criticise the trend, saying it makes you 'less of a real runner', 'too girly', 'vain', all along the lines of caring too much about how you look.  I personally don't see what's wrong with it, and even bought a running dress and some skirts but have been too chicken to wear them.  Yes, you get the charity races like Race for Life, or the fancy dress type events where you can wear a tutu and fit right in but generally you're either a club runner or a fun runner, and never the two shall meet.  Not any more though, I'm a girl, and girls wear skirts. I've even bought a sparkle race skirt to match my club vest.  I'll be wearing it for Dublin and the Great North Run, along with my vest because who says I can't be a serious runner (Well a slowish serious runner) and a girl at the same time.

Thursday, 17 July 2014


I now have entry into the English Half Marathon for life, number 212 (Chosen as it's my wedding date and cos I like symmetry), a gold number none the less.  English Half Marathon are offering a set number of gold entries into the race which gives you:

  • Entry into the half marathon or 10k for life
  • Your choice of bib number between 1 and 250 as long as it's not already taken
  • A gold coloured medal, along with the normal medal, so two medals (need I say more)
  • An invite to a launch party
  • VIP treatment before and after the race
The race takes place in Warrington in September so i'll let you know how it goes.  If you want a gold number too it costs £125 but if you have already entered the 2014 they'll deduct the amount you've paid already.  Here's the link if you want more info and for more information for the race itself go to

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Sefton Park 5 Mile

Sadly tonight's race was my second DNF.  It's annoying, but I only have myself to blame as, unlike, the first time I did not finish, circumstances were completely within my control.  I did learn a valuable lesson about listening to my body though, my legs have been screaming at me for days.  During Saturday's parkrun I had to stop at a mile because of crazy cramps in my legs, the next day ran We Love Manchester 10k with cramps the entire way, one day of rest and then ran the Arley Mile club race, more cramps.  Not surprising then that as soon started trying to run the 5 miler tonight the cramps came back.  I tried to run though it but had to pull out around half way.  My legs are still in agony after three races in four days so rather than having another ice bath (I've had three in one weekend) and delaying the inevitable I think I should actually stop running for a few days (The husband has booked us into a cabin in Wales with a hot tub for a long weekend so should make not running a little easier).

It's a shame I didn't finish the race though.  It was very well organised by Mossley Hill Athletics Club in memory of Tony Barnes.  The route does two and a bit laps of Sefton Park so it's all on paths and is pretty much flat.  There's a curry afterwards (Good by all accounts, i skipped it), a medal (Am gutted i didn't get it, was a nice one) and a goody bag with an oat chocholate bar and an energy drink.  There was also free photography (Which you don't get often these days), first aid and people doing massages.  I will be re-trying it next year.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

WRR Arley Mile

The Arley Mile is the second of three internal Warrington Road Runners club race of the year, along with the Summer and Winter Handicaps.  The club meets at Broomfields as usual and then does a warm up jog to Arley Road, which is close to Appleton Thorn.  Construction work near the start kindle provided us with an unlocked portaloo and Andy, our 10k race organiser, put up some of the signs from our race last month so it felt like quite an event.  

Runners set off in two's, with someone who is around the same pace as them, five minutes apart as the road is still open to cars and bikes.  It's a great idea as it means that  the people who finish first get to cheer on the people who follow and you are only in a race with yourself.  Numbers were pretty good this year with 27 people running, 20 men and 7 women.  I came fourth with a time of 7.30, my fastest mile so far.


My Disney Dopey Challenge plan took a step forward yesterday, the 2015 Tour of Merseyside has now been entered.  52 miles in 6 races over 7 days, good prep for 46.6 miles in four days of races I think.   The 2014 tour, which has just ended, took over facebook took for the last few weeks with a sense of good sportsmanship very evident.   BTR Liverpool, the organisers of the tour, say that the race is all about the "spirit of running", and having followed the posts online it's clear that the tour is hard but fun and experience that has to be had. The video making the rounds of the last runner on the last race being joined by all of her follow runners to take her across the finish line can't help but make you want to be a part of it.  And it's not just the runners, BTR are going out of their way to make sure that someone who was injured during the race can run the last mile he missed (along with a number of tour runners who insist on running it with him) so he can complete the challenge and gets his medal. It's no surprise then that the 2015 event is already looking to be very popular.

The race is limited to 300 runners.  2014 was it's second year and it had around 170 entrants whereas 2015 has been open for less than a day and already the start list is at 70 people.  With the deposit scheme that BTR have just announced (Pay £25 now and the balance in September) I don't think it will take too long for the event to get full.  I was planning on entering tomorrow (As i'm going to the BTR office anyways) but after an hour of constantly refreshing the start list I decided that saving £6 wasn't worth the 48 mental anguish of worrying that I wouldn't get a place.  FOMO in full effect.  Fear of missing out, for those who were asking.

I had the tour on my training plan already but I was a bit dubious about entering.  Small running events are normally filled with fast running club people and I thought I'd be too slow (Especially in the cross country event, I'm rubbish at cross country) but I've realised by following this year's tour that it doesn't matter.  Hopefully they'll continue on the tradition of joining the last runner for the last bit of the last race.  With a bit of luck (and training) it won't be me, but if it is it doesn't matter.

Here's a link to the BTR website if you want more information about the tour!the-tour/c1e28

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Random: I always try to find the good in everything.  The only good thing about Loose Women that I can find is that I can turn it off.  Is almost as bad as Jeremy Kyle.  They both keep appearing on my TV in between pre-recorded Air Crash Investigation episodes.
Medical Update: Yesterday was a bit crummy.  My gp is now signing me off sick six months at a time, which is great for the ESA re-application but pretty much means they've given up.  Is fine though, knew it was coming.  Couldn't finish my run either, eyes and voice went so had to get the Mr to pick me up.  Think i may have to stop running off road, is harder for a start and more likely to set the episodes off cos have to do more than one thing at once (Cos of the uneven ground) and is harder to get someone to come and get me if i'm in the middle of a field.  Had to run over a mile with a full blown episode which was a bit scary.  Think I'm a road runner anyways, least until cross country training starts.  :)

Friday, 4 July 2014


I think the saying goes something like "Simple things amuse small minds".  They must have been talking about me because when it comes to race bibs with my name on I struggle to hide my glee, the simplest of simpleton.  I'm not sure when it started but as far as I'm concerned it's a genius idea that may not quite be on a the same level as like the light bulb or car cup holder but certainly better than any contestant of The Apprentice has ever come up with.  It actually serves a purpose other amusing simple people like me too, races that put names on bibs generally have a cutoff of when you need to enter by in order to get your name printed which helps the organisers (People encouraged to enter earlier = better idea of the number of runners = better race management ability) and it allows random strangers who you will most likely never see again to cheer you on by name (I have my name on my race top for the same reason).  

The spectator sport of name cheering is an art form that doesn't get enough credit.  London Marathon obviously takes the activity to the extreme (Given the number of runners and the already charged viewing atmosphere) but only the elites actually have named bibs, the name cheering therefore is limited to those who have printed their names on their tops.  You can cheer based on the running club or location ("Go Road Runners", "Go Warrington") but that always seems a bit impersonal.  Being on the other side, as a runner, I've had my name on my bib maybe four times now and every time I've heard someone shout "Go Sarah" it honestly does put a little more speed into my stride.  It means even more to me if it's someone I don't know (Who i'm not forcing to stand around on a Sunday morning to watch lots of crazy people have a run around).

When my number for Runfest Wales didn't turn up I was a little bit gutted when I found out that they had our names on and assumed that my replacement would not.  It actually made my day when they handed the green square with my name boldly placed across it.  I've also been known to tipex my name onto a bib when I missed the cutoff date.

So, what's in a name? I honestly don't know... but if it's printed across my race bib I am simply a very happy girl.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Disney Marathon Ambition Obsession: 552 days remaining
I'm thinking that this skirt could work as both Belle and Snow White.    
Medical Update: I haven't written this blog for a long time.  I think as things progressed they became more and more normal to me and so writing about them seemed a bit odd.  I had a scary morning today though as i froze in bed.  I couldn't move or open my eyes for what felt like a very long time but I could hear what was going on (James trying to get me to get up and take the dog downstairs, Gizmo farting twice) but i couldn't do anything.  

I freeze quite often but it's never been as bad as this was.  I still am unable to talk but rather focus what's wrong i thought i'd do something positive that I've wanted to do for a long time, a record of my races (I'm obsessed with running).  Although technically a blog is meant to be the present, I've decided to go back and do a record of all my races because i really want to have it somewhere.  Although I'm the only person who will probably ever read it, I decided to share for the people who are sad like me and google to find out what race bling you got at previous races (It's all about the medals!!!).

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

I love this US based company called Sparkle Athletics who make amazing running skirts.  Even though my Disney marathon is like a year and a half away, it's never to early to start planning costumes and I really want to wear one of these skirts.

They have this thing called the travelling skirts, I'll let them explain it cos they can do it a whole lot better..

At Team Sparkle, we’re spreading the power of sparkle one skirt at a time. Or in the case of the Traveling Sparkle Skirts, two skirts at a time. The Traveling Sparkle Skirts traverse the globe spreading sparkle wherever they go. One pink and one turquoise—the official colors of Sparkle Athletic—they harness the power of sparkle, as all Sparkle Skirts do, giving their wearers extra KAPOW!

But these two skirts have an extra bit of magic. We think it comes from all the women who have worn them over the years, who leave a little bit of their own sparkly, shiny, glittering, gleaming awesomeness with the skirts.

We understand that you might become attached to the Traveling Sparkle Skirts like a lucky charm. But these skirts aren’t for keeps. They have to shimmer on to the next ladies who will feel all the love radiating from the skirts’ shimmery sequins. It’s our way of paying it forward. We want the traveling Sparkle Skirts to be constantly on the go, motivating and inspiring women of all different ages, abilities, shapes and sizes. We want everyone to have a chance to pull on a skirt and let their inner sparkle shine.

The skirts have been all around America but hopefully they'll answer my request to send it over to the UK so I get to wear one for a race.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Runfest Wales 10k

Today was an early start to Rhyl, and as always on race day, the sun was out in full force.  Why does it only rain on me when i don't want it too?  As the race is next to the beach I had the man and the dog with me but was still a bit apprehensive.  I hadn't received my race number and communication was somewhat lacking for RunWales so i was worried about how unorganised the race would be.  Also, was a bit gutted that race numbers had names on but I would be nameless because I had to get a replacement number.

After a slight detour (the husband got lost) we got to Rhyl and headed to the race HQ at the Taste Academy, very close to that start (Hint, if you do decide to run this race in future use the toilets at the academy, they don't cost 20p like all the public toilets and they are very under used, especially after the race).  There was a very long line for number collection (Am thinking I was not alone in a lack of packet through the post) and organisers, if you are reading, could really do with someone at the door telling marathon and half marathon runners to go to the front as heir race stated first.  It took about 10 minutes to get my number, which wasn't too bad, and got a nice surprise as it had my name on (Yes i know, simple things... small minds... but it made me pleased anyways).  I ordered a technical t-shirt for an extra £9 (I still don't have many and it's cheaper than buying them in the shop) so we went to collect it before the race, from a marque next to the start finish.  They did run out so was a wise decision.  For those who don't like different distances getting the same medal/t-shirt, they were individual to each distance.

Gizmo 'watching' for me (He's blind)
The routes on the website we different to the actual routes we did.  I'm not sure if this was explained in the packet sent with the running bibs or not as I never got mine and I couldn't find any information at the race HQ about the route either. The 10k and 5k started at 9:30am, first running left along the coast, across two bridges (I loved the very bouncy one, very strange to run on), back to the start then up right along the coast and back to the start.  The 5k people left us and turned around quite quickly on the second leg. I think the marathon and half marathon people (who started 30 minutes before us) did laps of a similar route but it was difficult to tell.  The route is very very flat but it is pretty much four long straight runs.  The run right away from the start seems like it goes on forever and a day but this was probably made worse by the head wind which, whilst not terribly bad (no where near the scale of Mad Dog 10k winds) did slow you down.  Pretty much the entire race takes place on the path along the beach which is very smooth and flat, a bit like running on a running track so it's easy to get a good stride going.  I decided quite early on in the race that it wasn't going to be a PB because of the slower speed and decided to enjoy, and I did.  Although the course was a bit of a mind challange I really just enjoyed running it and made sure i paid attention to how pretty things were around me and how nice it was to run next to the sea.  I think it was of my most enjoyable runs for a long time, i still pushed myself as much as i could but didn't worry about time, pace or people passing me and made myself start slow.

Route on website
Route ran
Although the routes may have changed I have to say that the organisation of the actual race was amazing.  As four distances were running the same route as once each distance was coloured coded.  You simply followed the colour signs that match the colour of your bib and you can't go wrong.  Distance markers were also colour coded and they were pretty difficult to miss.  

Nice negative splits in the second half
RunFest Wales 10k Medal and T-shirt
Runfest Wales 10k t-shirts and medal
After the mind numbing last run out, I was feeling quite strong for the return journey to the finish and picked up speed but I didn't really look at my watch to see what i was doing.  I did my best sprint finish so far (James almost missed me) and was pretty sure that the clock said 55 something.    My watch said 55:25 so I was pretty sure it was a PB but I never really believe it until i get the official time so I tried to forget about it for a while. Water is handed out at the finish but you have to go to the marque to collect the free cotton t-shirt and medal (Something not made very clear and difficult to figure out when you have race head on.  I'm seriously surprised I don't get ran over or something when I finish a race cos my brain just goes dead). I got changed (At Taste Academy where the toilets were empty)  took Gizmo into the sea, got some chips, cheered on some runners (It's impossible to figure out where they are in the race) and got attacked by seagulls then i got a text with my time, 55:45, a PB and i was pretty chuffed until I realised that was actually the gun time and I'd really done it in 55:20! Almost a minute off my previous time, copper club standard (to the second) and I'd ran for fun rather than time.  One more copper standard and I'll get a trophy at WRR's awards night.

Gizmo asleep on the way home

Friday, 20 June 2014

Dunham Massey 5k (x2)

These two 5k's are part of North Cheshire Grand Prix Series, five 5k races that are held near Warrington.  The race is part of the WRR club championship and as the cheap no frills type affair hosted by Altrincham & District AC.

Dunham Massey 5k
Dunham Massey race 2 route, race 1 is the reverse
The first race was held on Thursday 5th June, the second on Thursday 19th, both using the same route in the beautiful Dunham Massey park, but ran in opposite directions.  The course is two and a bit laps of paths within the park, part of which is on grass but it's easy to run.  The first race finishes uphill (It won't seem like a hill the first two times you go up it but the third turn it turns into a massive slope as you tried to speed up it to the finish) whilst the second race has a downwards final sprint and so people generally get a better time on the second race.

Dunham Massey 5k Elevation
Dunham Massey 5k Elevation (Race 2)

Race 1 Splits
Race 2 Splits
For the first race my time was 26:44, seven seconds of my club's copper standard but technically not a PB as I've ran a parkrun 4 seconds faster.  I managed to knock 50 seconds of during the second race, getting a pb time of 25:44 and my first club copper standard.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

WRR Summer Handicap

The summer handicap is a Warrington Road Runner's club race, that is part of the club championship. It's designed to encourage all runners, not just those who are very fast and as such each runner sets off with a handicap, the slowest leaving first.  If the all is as it should be then all runners should finish at the same time (This was second club handicap but already i know that this never happens, which is part of the fun).

On my very first run with the club in November last year we did a route that started with (what seem like a very) long uphill and did a lot of the handicap route.  I struggled a lot (Bryan and Ian pretty much dragged me up) and hadn't ran that route since so I was a little bit apprehensive about the race. I made James drive me round the route the night before too as the problem with the slowest going first is that you have no one to follow. It turns out that it was no where near as bad as i thought.   I was meant to leave a minute behind the first person but as she didn't know the route we left at the same time with Bryan (Who should be in the dictionary next to perseverance cos he is awesome).  Both Bryan and I were took the lead for the entire race, taking it in turns to flag and push each other but for a little while i was running on my own in front which is a very strange experience that i doubt i'll ever have again.  The drive to stay in front is immense but it's intensified knowing that someone could come and overtake you at any minute (And i did expect some of the other runners to pass).  Whilst we were far from the fastest, we crossed the line first and so I'm looking forward to my first every (and probably only) first place trophy at the awards night early next year.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Bupa Great Manchester Run

I have the most wonderful husband but he already has everything so he is impossible to buy for.  I was struggling to decide what to get him for a wedding present so I decided to run in the memory of his parents who died before I met James but must have been wonderful people to raise such a wonderful person.  So I signed up to run Bupa Great Manchester 10k for British Heart Foundation.  I'd never ran for a charity before so when people starting paying sponsorship for me to run I felt a lot more pressure to run well.

On the morning of the race I got the train from Warrington to Manchester and watched as more and more runners stepped into the carriage each time the door opened.  It felt like a massive occasion and the race hadn't even started yet.  Bag storage was at Manchester Central, the same place as the charity village, so i headed over there to get sorted.  It was a very hot day and it was so cool inside that I ended up hanging around inside for a little while just to stay out of the sun.  There are some very nice toilets inside that were very under used so I took full advantage until I had to go outside to warm up.  I jogged the few minutes to the finish, watched the first lady from the elites cross the line and then jogged over to the start.  The start area was really well organised with lots of portaloos everywhere and places to get some water.  There is also a detailed map on the race guide and a little quick guide so it's really easy to know what you are doing and where you are going. I was in the blue wave which started at 11:25.  The pens open from 10:50.  I avoided going in until after 11 but you still end up standing around for a long time so I'd probably skip the warm up next time.  There is a mass warm up which is fun but it wasn't very effective so I just ended up doing my own stretches (which is the only reason I could identify myself on TV later).  I noticed that i was surrounded by a lot green and pink bibs (who were meant to start an hour later) and no one checked my bib when I entered so the pens are not really policed very well.

Great Manchester 10k route
It took well over 10 minutes to cross the start line when the gun went off.  I started far to fast along with everyone else but there wasn't a whole lot of room to slow down so you do get dragged along by the other runners.  It was my first large race so it was a bit intimidating at first but within half a mile a lot of people started walking.  It was very difficult to get a steady pace going because you'd be running along and the person in front of you would just stop.  It happened quite a lot and after the first couple of miles I started weaving around the slower runners. My pace went up and down quite a lot just from going faster to get round people.  It was very hard to keep running but I was determined not to stop because I was running for all those people who had sponsored me.  The water station near the Old Trafford helped a lot and I ran through the run through shower even though everyone had advised me not to.  It was just too hot not to do it but it does slow you down quite a bit.  Then you head to the finish and you just watch the tower getting closer and closer and closer.  I wasn't fussed about much of the route, it's pretty flat but nothing special I don't think, other than having than landmark on the way back as a target point.There was a lot of people watching the race but maybe because it was getting later in the day there wasn't that many cheers  really until you got very close to the finish (the Great North Run was seriously hyper in comparison). The atmosphere comes from the other runners and the music rather than the crowds.  I think it must be hard to keep the enthusiasm and clapping going over such a long period of time so I'm certainly not complaining that they were looking a bit bored by the time I ran past them.

Great Manchester 10k Elevation

The final little uphill felt like a mountain but I crossed the finish in 56:58.  It wasn't a pb but I was pretty chuffed with it really given the number of runners and the heat.  I'd also raised £410 for British Heart Foundation which isn't too bad for a girl who couldn't run a mile a year ago. The goody bag was really good and I liked the medal but for the cost of the race I think it should have been a technical t-shirt rather than cotton.  Overall it was enjoyable but I think I need to wait a few years before I run it again.  It gets so frustrating to having to keep moving around those who stop in front of you that it's hard to keep running.  a lot of the issues I think are because of the very big time gaps between each wave start.  Maybe if the people in the waves behind had only had to wait 10 or 15 minutes they would have stayed in the right colour and the crowds might not be so bored.  

Monday, 5 May 2014

Milton Keynes Half Marathon

Milton Keynes Half Marathon Route
Milton Keynes Half Marathon Route
Firstly, I have to admit that I only entered this race for the medal.  I have a lot of back to back race weekends starting in the middle of May but as it is near where my parents live I thought I might as well go and take it easy and get a glittery trainer for my wall out of it and my mother would get to see me race. The race starts and ends at Milton Keynes stadium (I didn’t even know they had a football team) which is a couple of miles out from the centre. Facilities were pretty great, with lots and lots of nice clean toilets, places to sit, open space to warm up, etc, and the start line was just outside so everything was effortless and very well organised.  I even managed to find some Warrington Running Club people who had traveled down that morning with Paul Gurney (I’m not the only one drawn to pretty medals). 

Milton Keynes Half Marathon Elevation
Milton Keynes Half Marathon Elevation
Milton Keynes Half Marathon Medal
Milton Keynes Half Marathon Medal

There was around 1600 half marathon finishers but also 2100 for the marathon, but we all started and ran together for the first 10 miles.  The course is mainly on closed roads but most of the final mile is on a trail around (what seems like) a very very large pond with evil geese.  A lot of the route takes you down road where you turn around and come back on the other side which is a little soul destroying but I was prepared for this.  I had not anticipated the length and the number of hills though. Hardly any of the course is flat and the hills, whilst not steep, go on forever (think Broad Lane).  As you spent a lot of time running back on yourself, whenever you went downhill (the down hills where always first) you’d know you’d be doing the same road the opposite way pretty soon. 

By mile 5 my leg was cramping during the uphills (the muscle I didn't know I had until I ran up Rivington Pike) and so I ended up having to walk three times which I’m a bit disappointed about. I hadn’t done a run longer than 6 miles since the beginning of April so I forgot about reserving energy but I could have probably pushed myself a bit more than I did but I still knocked more than five minutes off my first half marathon time.  It was quite a hot day but we had four water stations (one with energy drinks) on the route (Warning, probably best to use waterproof sunscreen if you’re going to pour water over your head every 3 miles, will remember that next time).  There were also three lots of toilets on the route (ironically, first race where I haven’t needed the toilet whilst running), singers, drummers, belly dancers and amazing spectators and crazy funny marshals the entire way around, so the support and atmosphere more than made up for the hills.