Tag Archives: half marathon

North Down’s Way Half 2017

Over the weekend I did my first race since the NDW50 in May and ironically I was returning back to the North Down’s Way. To be honest after the race I didn’t think I would want to see the NDW for a long time, but when I saw this race, I couldn’t resist signing up.

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The race started in Reigate, which involved an early start for me (I left at 6.10am for a 9.30 race) with a 10 min walk, bus, tube, 3 trains and a 27 minute walk up Reigate hill to get to race HQ! Next time I am joining zipcar and driving. The registration was quick and pain-free in a hotel alongside the very busy main road. After a short walk, we got to the start and after the race briefing headed off at 9.30am.

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The race was an out and back along the worst section of the NDW50 from Reigate to Boxhill- I think the 7 mile section including the Boxhill steps took me about 2 hours during NDW50. There was also a marathon race on the day, and they set off 30 minutes before us half runners and had to do two laps of the out and back. The race started from the top of Reigate hill so as we were already up the first few miles were mostly flat, with a few gentle inclines and that savage downhill down Colley Hill, I’ve never run down it only walked up it, and I didn’t realise quite how steep it was until I tried to run down it. I’m a pretty terrible descender, and as I had gone for road shoes, I didn’t have much grip so tip toed or walked down the steeper bits, being passed by those who were braver on the descent. I was already dreading having to come back up it later on.

The first few miles featured a lot of single track, and as it was busy-ish towards the start, we just sort of fell into line, and just went at the pace of the person in front. The route was incredibly overgrown, I couldn’t believe how much everything had grown since May- a machete would have been useful- and sections of the course involved running through nettles and other foliage that was across the route, or ducking into it when another runner was coming the opposite way.

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After about 4ish miles, the quicker marathon runners started coming back towards us, this was a little tricky on some of the single track, but I just stopped and moved off to the side if anyone was coming back towards me. Miles 4-6 involved a little climbing as we headed to the turn around point and the Box Hill lookout point. I wasn’t sure if we had to go down the steps at the other side of Box Hill and come back up but thankfully we didn’t.

There were aid stations around mile 3.5 and mile 6.6 at the turnaround point, I just stopped to refill my flasks on the way back which was probably around 9ish miles. I was very thirsty, it was much hotter than I expected it to be (26c) and even with the cover of the forest in places it was still hot, and on the short road section it was hotter than hell.

It was a little less congested once we started heading back, the first few miles were spent saying hi to the other half marathon runners heading to the turnaround point, there was a really nice atmosphere throughout the whole race, very chilled and friendly. As people were more spread out on the way back, it was a little easier to get into a rhythm. I enjoyed the few flatter miles before we got to Colley Hill, which was an absolute slog to get up, I was really struggling and walking incredibly slowly up the never ending hill. I knew it wasn’t too far once we got to the top, and I couldn’t wait to finish then, as I was hot, and my legs were knackered after the climbs.

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The final mile and a bit were flat and runnable, and as we headed across the lookout point in Reigate I knew we were nearly back to the finish. My plan had not been to race this, just to get miles and elevation in the legs, and I was happy with how the race went, and how my body coped as I have only run two eight milers and a 10 miler since early May.

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It was a really enjoyable race, and was nice to take in the scenery and views. I was glad I was only doing the half- the elevation across 13 miles was nearly half of what it was over the 50 so it was pretty tough going, the full marathon was over 5000ft elevation. I’ve done a few of the Hermes race events in the past, and they are always well organised, in nice surroundings and have a great atmosphere too. I really enjoyed my shorter jaunt on the NDW, and I’m going to try and get back out there frequently as it’s such a beautiful place to run, and for me in South East London pretty accessible too. The Hanson’s marathon plan doesn’t include races or recommend racing that often, but sometimes you’ve just got to go off plan and go with your heart.

Thoughts during 13.1

On Sunday I ran the Brighton half, it was my first time running the race and I was excited having heard rave things from those running it last year and also a little nervous at how my shin/calf would hold up after 18 miles less than 48 hours previously and the return of a little bit of niggly calf/shin pain that morning. I had a great race, here is my race report, in the form of mental chatter:

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Bloody hell it’s icy, hope I don’t slip over.

Oh great my camelbak has leaked all over my shorts and headband, making it looked like I’ve either fallen over in aforementioned ice or had an accident of other sorts.

Am I overdressed, it’s quite warm, I think I’m overdressed. Should of gone without the jacket.

Bloody hell I’m so far back in the pens I can’t even see the 2.00 pacer.

I don’t want to see the two hour pacer anyway, I want to run my own race.

Here we go then, it’s race time, come on legs.

Shall I try and run a sub 2, I’ve done no speed work in ages, and have lost a bit of endurance after my recent injury hiatus, sod it let’s see what we can do.

Shit this is a bit congested, going to have to make this time up later.

Actually that’s not a bad pace for the first mile considering the congestion.

Oh there is Tess, bit early for a high five but I’m going in for one.

I need to run 9.09 min miles for a sub 2, let’s try and put the hammer down early and bank some time for later.

Man I love the seaside.

I thought this course was flat?

Hmm that’s not a bad mile time considering the uphill section, what goes up must come down.

Oh wow those people are super speedy, I wonder how Steph is getting on, on her PB quest and if I will see her going past.

I’ve overdressed, I’m so hot, I can’t take my jacket off as my number is pinned on. Why didn’t I just wear shorts, I’ve worn shorts all winter.

Down to single figures in mileage.

Hm this is going rather well.

Ok I’m going to count the miles up to 7 and then count them down.

Bet the fast people are finished by now.

Jesus this is a really bloody long mile, oh there’s the mile marker.

Hm legs starting to feel a bit shit on any slight incline, just try and hold the pace and try and run as close to 9.00 min miles as possible, and pick it up when they feel better.

Oh there’s the 12 mile marker, cannot wait to see that later.

Oh it’s George’s 80th, I wonder who George is and if he is running. That is awesome if he is.

Ok that was my slowest mile but it was still under the 9.09 min cut off and I’ve banked some time, I might do this, I just need to hold on.

No negative thoughts, go away.

Why is the arch of my foot hurting?

Not sure the stomach is feeling massively ok, please hold out.

I’ll have a bit of nakd bar, that might settle my stomach.

Hm, this is getting harder now, just need to see through these middle miles.

God I wish I hadn’t run 18 miles on Friday.

Oh there is Lucy, it’s nice to see so many familiar faces.

Just get to the turn around point and we are on the home straight.

Wow this is actually just one really long road.

God I’m so hot, this is ridiculous. I’m roasting.

I quite fancy a pint.

I’m pretty sure that guy just cheated, you’re only cheating yourself.

Just a parkrun to go.

I haven’t drunk much water, but I don’t want my stomach to feel all sloshy.

Bit more nakd bar, I’m going to have a little bite of it every 0.5 mile.

18 minutes max to go, I would have to have an epic fail to mess this up now.

Hmm I wonder how far under sub 2 I can go.

If I run a 10 min last mile I will beat my pb. Do-able.

Is this the longest last mile ever?

Great crowd turn out in the centre, where the bloody hell is the finish?

Let’s finish this, I’m going to get a bloody PB.

Sprint, every second counts.
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1.57.27, how the hell did that happen?

Shit I just ran a PB after missing a few weeks training, a really heavy mileage week and not being in the best shape ever, does that mean I can go faster?
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I don’t really want to go faster, I like a plod, do I want to run any faster?

Nice medal, shame about the goody bag.

God I wish I didn’t have a replacement bib, I’m at the furthest bag drop away.

Oh dear god, stairs of death.

Bloody hell, I’m absolutely freezing.

Give me all your Vegan food. Oh brilliant runner portion. Yes I am going to eat all of that, I’ve just run 13 miles and I am hangry.

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Surrey Badger Trail Half Marathon 2014

I made a pretty last minute decision to enter this event, having never even heard of it until reading about it on Jen’s blog. I immediately set to googling it, and finding as much about it as possible before deciding I was going to run it.

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It was a pretty early start for me at 5.30am, taking around 2 hours to get to the Denbie’s Wine Estate in Surrey and register on the day, which was fuss free and for £25 seemed like a bit of a steal too!

The first mile or so took us around the estate, on the grass, this was relatively flat other than one short sharp incline. We then headed out of the estate and onto the main road for a relatively flat section, with a downpour of rain thrown in too!

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After a short while we were heading off road, and what I had really come for- some serious trails! From 4 miles on the serious hills began and there was a really long climb from miles 4-6, I had a little walk for 3o secs or so somewhere around the 5 mile point, when my legs could no longer run up the hills. If this was a longer race I would have walked the hills, but as it was a half I gave it a shot to run as much of them as I could, which given that I hadn’t run up anything resembling an incline for the previous 2 months was a bit mental!

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Mile 7 was downhill- thank god, the legs and lungs were seriously burning. I had a Nakd bar at this point, and it was the only fuel I had during the race as it was so hot/humid/muggy and I felt a bit sick and I was either gasping for air going up, or gasping for air coming down when trying to speed up! It took me a while actually to get into a rhythm with my breathing, as I couldn’t quite catch it on the flat after the huge effort on the hills.

The next section was undulating along a really nice wooded trail before it wound up to a savage hill around mile 9-10 point, I had another little walk towards the end of this one. My tactic on the hills was just to run as much as I could, until I couldn’t any longer- simple really!

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Mile 11 was largely downhill and my knees really started to niggle here- I always find running downhill so much worse on the legs. Around this point, we came out into an open area, the views were amazing, and I just looked around me and started smiling- this is why I run, and this is why I love trail running.

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The final hill was leading up to mile 12, and then there was a downhill/flat stretch back into the estate for the finish. I had absolutely nothing left to push hard on this final section, and thankfully it was one of the only sections out in the direct sunshine as it was very hot- the humidity was enough to deal with on it’s own! I finished in 2.17.55, which I was quite pleased with considering the course/conditions.

Credit to Jen for this

Credit to Jen for this

I absolutely loved the race but I was more than done by the time I reached the finish, I was delighted with the Badger t-shirt, beer, mammoth fruit platter and the handshake at the finish! It was such a friendly event, incredibly well organized, and the marshals were amazing all around the course.

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After reading some hideous recaps of the London 10k which was on the same day, I was happy to have made the decision to make the trip to Surrey for the Badger. Races like this are what running is all about for me, small, friendly, well organized, amazing scenery and course. I will definitely be back in the future, and I’m jealous of everybody doing Bacchus which is also organized by Events to Live.Picture 3

Run Hackney Half Marathon

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When I initially signed up to this race I was really looking forward to it, but a few weeks of knee/calf pain had me less excited about the race and more hopeful I could just get through it!

After missing the bus I was supposed to get, I managed to get another one which terminated at Hackney Central and I walked the 25 minutes to the start. There was a good buzz in the air, and the sun was already beating down. I met up with a few of the lovely TNR girls beforehand before losing them when I went off to the enormous toilet queues. Thankfully I made it in time for the start in what was a very congested and disorganised start pen. Thankfully it didn’t take too long to get across the start line.

I wasn’t sure whether or not to run with my Camelbak, I feel better running with it, and knowing I have electrolytes, but I was conscious of how hot it makes my back, so I went without it which in reflection was a mistake. I took some Vega gels with me, and just had one around mile 7, it was disgustingly warm and did not go down well in the heat.

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I don’t really remember much about the opening miles, other than the fact that my legs weren’t feeling good, particularly on any slight inclines, and that it was very very hot. I set off in line with PB pace for the first two miles, but it was so hot that I decided to reign it back in. I didn’t want to risk pushing too hard and I hadn’t done any training for this either. After the second mile I eased up and hung on to a steady pace between 9.20-9.45 for the remainder of the race.

We wound past the sights of Hackney, with quite vocal support along the route. I was using the water stations as goals in my mind, trying to take as much on board from those ridiculous squeezy water pouches and cooling myself down with the remainder. The water station tables were a bit short leading to a bit of congestion at each one.

From pretty early on in the race there were a lot of runners needing medical attention. It was extremely hot, I don’t think I’ve ever run in conditions like that before, and it really took it’s toll on many. I was really feeling it by the halfway point, and the thought of only being half way was painful to take. My feet were absolutely on fire, and there was just no breeze or shade on the route to escape the beating sun. I think it was about 24 degrees, and the humidity made it feel hotter than that.

The mile markers were all over the place throughout the race, some were way short, others way long, mile 7 I didn’t even see at all, and there were even signs saying water ahead after one of the water stops rather than before?! Despite this, the event was fairly well organised and all the volunteers did a great job on what was a tough day.

Running through Broadway Market and past Victoria Park gave me a little boost as they are regular sights in my normal running routes. We ran past a pub around mile 8 where I had to inform 2 blokes standing outside drinking pints how unbelievably cruel they were!

Around mile 10 we wound into the Olympic park, for 3 miles of pain. There was a load of long out and backs up slight inclines, and although it was cool to be running with the Olympic venues in sight, there was absolutely no shade, and it was just brutal. There was a mist shower at one point, which was amazing, although it would of been nice to have more along the way. At the last water station at mile 11 I got a dud water pouch which would not open, so I had to go without water for the last 4 miles which in the heat was incredibly difficult.

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I was very glad to be heading out of the Olympic park section and back to Hackney Marshes. I pretty much had nothing left in the last mile and was just focused on getting to the finish. The last 0.1 had to be the longest ever, I think it was about 0.3 and never-ending! I was so glad to be done, swearing off running anything longer than a 10k race in summer from now on. The medal was a nice one, and the goody bag was amazing- for once most of the stuff in it was actually Vegan and stuff I could use. I didn’t hang around for long as I was absolutely shattered and the legs were in pain, my calf/knee thankfully held up for the race though.

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I finished in 2.06.11, which is well off my PB, but considering the heat and no focused half marathon training I was pretty pleased. For the first running of the event I think it went pretty smoothly, especially considering the size of the event at around 12500 entrants. I think it would be better moved either earlier or later in the year, as the conditions were just so tough for everyone, and so many people needed help out there. The course was pretty decent, fairly flat, good support and a few sights to keep you interested along the way. I think the final 3 mile section needs looking at, but it was nice to have part of it within the Olympic Park. I think this is an event with a lot of promise and potential and if they did happen to run it at a different time of year I would be happy to sign up again!IMG_2304I was very happy with my second bling of the weekend and celebrated with a mega Vegan brunch at Le Pain!

Berlin Marathon Training Week 2

I don’t actually feel like I am marathon training at the moment. I’m not following a plan and I feel like I’ve got so used to running 5 times a week over the last few months that 4 feels like I’m barely running at all!

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Mon: Rest Day 3 mile Walk
Tues: 45 min Spin + 3 mile Walk
Weds: 4 mile Run + Lower Body Weights + 3.6 mile Walk
Thurs: Total Body Blast Circuits + 6 mile Run + 1.6 mile Walk
Fri: Upper Body Weights + 7 mile Walk
Sat: Run Hackney 5k + 5 mile Walk
Sun: Run Hackney Half Marathon + 2 mile Walk

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This week has been all about the races! 2 medals in one weekend! Loving the bling! Will post race recaps on them later in the week, but they were both extremely hot races- I think running anything over 10k in Summer should be banned- it’s far too hot!

Earlier in the week I didn’t think I would be able to run at all as the knee pain was still persisting. Spinning thankfully didn’t make it any worse, and I got a great massage on Tuesday. My masseuse reassured me and pointed to the fact that it was probably just overuse and said I should stop running back to back days for a while…oops! Thankfully the pain seemed to go away after 2 running rest days and it hasn’t been as bad since! Although I then got a burning pain in my calves for my two midweek runs. I’ve never felt anything like that before, but again that seems to have disappeared to0 weird niggles at the moment!

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Photo credit to Sharon

I haven’t been spinning as much this week as I simply haven’t had time, annoying as I have a 30 day pass to make the most of, but to be honest I’ve already had my moneys worth out of it, so I’m not too concerned. I am enjoying the classes though and would like to have gone to another this week but I wanted to rest up for the weekend runs too.

I’ve continued with my weights and circuit workout from the fat burn revolution. I am onto my last week of Phase 1 next week, I did the whole 4 weeks again to build up some strength post-ultra, I am slightly dreading phase 2 which I did one week of before the ultra and it destroyed me!

IMG_2304I’ve been doing a lot of walking this week, so my legs are hating on me right now. I need to get them up the wall and recovered for the next two days which I shall be spending at Wimbledon, I’ve been almost every year for the last 5-6 years so I’m really excited, especially now it’s so much easier for me to get there living in London! Sun, Pimms and strawberries- can’t ask for more than that! I shall certainly be dealing with all of the runger tomorrow as it’s been slightly absent today- probably because the Vegan brunch at Le Pain sorted it out! Totally hit the spot after what was a tough half marathon- look out for the recap later in the week.