Official Big Half Marathon 2020

The Big Half Marathon 2020 – Race Recap

Half marathons seem to be like buses; You don’t take part in one for ages and then two come along in consecutive weeks. This is my third time taking part in the Vitality Big Half Marathon and to be honest, I have had shocking races for the last two (read here) But, as I always say, there is something special about running around the streets of London.

Official Big Half Marathon 2020

It was another early alarm clock and I was close to sacking this race off on Saturday night. Being at my mum’s all day, helping to arrange funeral details, I had not eaten too well, I had drunk a fair bit of tea, but hardly any water. I had cried a lot, so when I got home with a headache, sore throat and generally feeling rubbish, I wondered if it was a good idea.

I had hardly seen my husband and daughter all day and knew that this half marathon would mean that I was out for most of Sunday too! When I told my husband that I was thinking of not going and he responded with, ” Go and do it why you have the chance, you never know when you won’t be able to do these things.” So very true, so I went and got myself organised.

The weather has been so crazy that I didn’t know what to wear. I ended up sticking to the same as last week, mainly because it was at the top of my washing basket (Freshly washed!). My alarm was set for 5:10 am and I finally got into bed at 22:59!

Race Day

Official Big Half Marathon 2020

Myself, Dem and Naomi all travelled together. Dem drove us to Burnt Oak tube station and we got the tube to London Bridge. it was so bright as we got out of the station at London Bridge and the sky was blue. Yes, it was still VERY cold, but it was so nice not to have rain.

Although we left a similar time to previous years and the journey seemed to go smoothly, I felt a bit rushed as we approached Tower Bridge. We quickly sorted our bags and kit along the embankment. We only had about 15 minutes until the baggage trucks left, so we quickly made our way to drop off bags. Bag drop is well organised and very efficient, it is just always SO busy with people.

After dropping bags, you have to walk across Tower Bridge. The weather was amazing and London was looking pretty spectacular. The wind blew a bit on the bridge and I did wonder if I had kept enough layers on. I hadn’t kept a hat or buff over my ears and walking over the bridge made me think this could have been a mistake.

The Start

The start pens are immediately over Tower Bridge. I was supposed to be starting in wave D, but some of the people I was with were wave E. We decided to see if we could move back and they let us. We hadn’t seen any toilets near bag-drop. But I remembered there were some in the start pens, so waited until then.

Well, let’s just say that it is lucky that you have so long to wait until the start. The queues were HUGE. It didn’t help that the queues entwined with the people waiting for the race to start. It was a little confusing as to who was waiting. I think we may have queued for between 30-25 minutes. Our pen had started to make their way to the start line before we even used the toilet. Luckily, we knew that the start line was still a little walk from the starting pens, so didn’t panic and caught up.

A tip for anyone that runs this race; Do not discard you extra layers until you can see the start line. It’s a long walk to the start and they sometimes make you wait again until you start.

Official Big Half Marathon 2020
Startline smiles

The Race

Dem had completed a trail marathon the day before as you do. His son was running his first half marathon, so we decided to take it easy. This is a new concept for me. The previous two Big Half Marathons, I have set off WAY too fast. The tunnel that you go through goes on forever and it is pretty much downhill the whole way. This year there was a mist/dust towards the end of the tunnel that worried me a little. You soon realised how warm it was in the tunnel as the cold hit you when you came out.

Canary Wharf sneaks up on you pretty quickly and that is where your GPS goes crazy. I think my watch clocked 4 miles half a mile early. Considering how cold it was, the spectators around Canary Wharf were amazing. There were a lot of bands on the course too. I love the steel drums, they are just perfect to run too.

After leaving Canary Wharf you are just looking forward to Tower Bridge. The cobbles that come before the bridge are not so pleasant, but Tower Bridge never disappoints.

After Tower Bridge, there are quiet parts of the course. I felt pretty strong up until 10 miles, where I had to dig in. We took a water break during every water station. I knew I hadn’t hydrated well the previous day (or probably that morning too) so I needed to be sensible. I was also very hungry and looked forward to the Lucozade station around 8 miles.

We past Frank Bruno around mile 11 and then it was just about head down and getting it finished. Dem saw a friend around 12 and a half miles and stopped. I did think about carrying on as I thought that was the only way that I would beat him. But no, I stopped and waited. Only for him to leave me for dust in the final 600 metres!

I wanted to dig in and keep up with him. My legs and to be honest, my head just didn’t have it. The 26.2 miles the previous day had obviously been a good warm-up for him!! A win’s a win – well done Dem.

Official Big Half Marathon 2020

The finish line area is pretty special. The crowds are epic and finishing beside the Cutty Sark, especially in the sun is lovely. The queue to collect bags was not so lovely. I started to get cold, but that is the joy of taking part in a mass participation race.

A week break from racing and then Bath Half is on the 15th March. Did you race at the weekend?

Raising awareness for MNDA

St. Neots Half Marathon – Race Recap

Race Information:

St. Neots Half Marathon Route.
  • Course: A figure of eight, undulating course, on the country roads on the outskirts of St Neots.
  • Elevation:
St. Neots Half Marathon elevation map
St. Neots Half Marathon elevation chart.
  • Other information: There are food outlets on the school playground for refreshments before and after the race. They do not send out race numbers, they have to be picked up on the morning of the race. Race photos were added to their Facebook page for you to take for free. they were uploaded very quickly too.

I asked on my IG post what people like reading in race recaps and to answer some questions:

What was my fuelling strategy?

Well, as I have said I wasn’t so prepared, so I picked up some Tangtastics and had some at mile 8 as I was feeling a little hungry!

How do pace your race?

In this race we just ran and chatted, not even looking at watches, so it was really on feel.

Usually I will have a goal time and then work pace from that.

How do you know what layers to wear?

I really don’t like being cold so usually layer up too much. But I think you just learn what you feel comfortable in the more you run. I still get it wrong ALL the time!

My Race:

I felt I may have been the least prepared for this race. There was no flat lay the night before, I hadn’t even thought about what I was going to wear. I didn’t know what the weather was going to be like, as I hadn’t been on weather watch for the week previous. I didn’t even know what time St.Neots Half Marathon started. The only organising I had completed, was to arrange to meet with Christine and Mike to travel to the race together! At least that way I knew I would get there on time!

As we drove to the race, there was fine rain and I can’t say that I was looking forward to running. I was glad I had opted for my long layer under my MNDA vest. There was plenty of parking on a school site, although you parked on the school field and I saw a few skidding on the way out as it was so muddy.

We headed into the hall to collect our race bibs and you get a race long-sleeve top too. From there, you are ushered through to the sports hall, where you could get your things sorted and drop your bag. This was good as it mean that we could keep warm and dry.

Pre race selfies at St. Neots Half Marathon 2019.
Keeping warm in the sports hall selfie!

I was in need of a toilet break and headed to the changing rooms, hoping that would be the shortest queue. The queues didn’t seem that long until someone told me there was only one toilet working! I think there were about 15 people in front of me, so I decided to wait and use the portable toilets outside. Well, that was a mistake.

Keeping ourselves warm and dry meant that we didn’t head out of the sports hall until 20 minutes prior to the race start. Great I thought, toilet time! It was cold outside and we headed for the toilets. The QUEUES were snaking all over the playground, so again I gave it a miss.

Toilet queues at St. Neots Half Marathon 2019.
Toilet queues zig-zagging around the playground.

It was a 5-minute walk to the start, I spotted 2 portable toilets. Yes! Oh and then I spotted the queue. The race was about to start, so I again didn’t queue. Let me just let you in on a little secret; I needed a wee for the entire race! I mentioned it a FEW times to Christine and Julie, but it was just too cold to stop behind a tree. When finished I ran straight from the finish line to th toilet and I only remembere to stop my watch once I come out of the Toilet!!!! The moral of the story is; go to the toilet before the race, as running with a full bladder didn’t make for the most comfortable race.

So back to the running, well, run/walking. Julie has been injured for a while and her physiotherapist had said that she had to adopt a run/walk strategy so as not to aggravate her knee more. When she said that she was doing a 7/1 run and we didn’t have to wait for her, I knew that wasn’t happening. It was going to be 7 minutes running and 1-minute walking, repeat. I’m nowhere near PB shape, so I really wanted to enjoy this run with friends. I also thought this meant I could take lots of photos and possibly Insta-Story a lot of the race!

We crossed the start line only 1-2 minutes after the klaxon had gone off. I tried to video the start, but ended up taking a photo of the start gantry and then desperately tried to start my Garmin at the right time too! Fail on the Insta-Stories number 1!

Seven minutes running and it was time for our walk. Out comes my phone for a photo and, oh where are they. Julie was like a rocket and had power-walked ahead. I had to run to catch up, take a quick photo and then we were off. Where did that minute go?

Mid Race selfies at St. Neots Half Marathon 2019

I had thought about taking a photo each walk break, but on the second walk break, I had to concentrate on just walking fast enough to keep up. The minute went so fast and Julie’s power walking was pretty intense that my photos didn’t really happen! Hehe. Fail on Insta-Stories number 2!

We were out in the countryside pretty quickly and the miles were ticking by. The race started with an incline and then a short sharp hill around mile 3, but nothing too bad. The scenery on the route as you run along quiet country roads with vast fields for company is lovely. There were lots of marshals on the route and pockets of support at various places.

Views at St. Neots Half Marathon 2019

The course does a figure of 8, so the mile 9 sign is between miles 3 & 4, so you know you have that hill to look forward to again.

Some spectacular houses lined the route and there was always things to look at. Not all roads were closed, but traffic was very light. There was a unpleasant hill at mile 5, but we were lucky that it coincided with a walk break. Were we really that lucky???

Mile 5 at St. Neots Half marathon

Completing run/walk intervals meant that we passed and was passed by familiar faces, so by about mile 7/8 we had a little chat with the people around us. Motorbikes passed at frequent intervals and we always got a tutu shout from one of the riders. Our MNDA vest and matching rara’s seemed to get quite alot of attention.

Mid race selfie Photo at St. Neots half marathon 2019

I recognised where we were around mile 8 and 1/2 as we conquered the familiar incline, but at the end of the road instead of turning left like last time, we turned right. Both Julie and Christine have completed this race a number of times before, so they happily informed me that it was all downhill from here.

I was feeling quite strong and enjoying the run and was surprised how easily the last few miles ticked by. The road became much busier from mile 12 to 13, so you had to be aware of your surroundings. When you see the mile 13 marker, make a left turn and there is the finish gantry. I tried to Insta-Story crossing the finish line, yep you guessed it. Fail on Insta-Stories number 3!

I really don’t know how people manage to Insta-Story races. I didn’t attempt the run and talk, I thought I was doing the easy things and failed at them! How Anna managed to Insta-Story her way around NYC Marathon and record a video for running channel at the same time is beyond me!!?? Crazy #Lifegoals hehe

We finished all together which was brilliant and we got round in a time of 2:19:36, but today was certainly not about times.

So that’s it for 2019 races. Check out my races for next year here. Let me know if you are running any of the same races.

Finish Line  Photo at St. Neots half marathon 2019
Finish Line Medal Photo at St. Neots half marathon 2019

Positives:

  • Running with friends is the best.
  • Finishing with friends is the best.
  • Having fun with friends is the best.

Less Positive:

  • More toilets would be nice.
  • I think the hills would not have been nice if I was running flat out, but for a leisurely run it was a really nice course.

Have you run St. Neots Half before? Thoughts? Also, what questions do you like answered in a race recap? Let me know below.

img_0310

Chicago Marathon 2019

Chicago Marathon 2019 tick. I made it pretty obvious prior to this race I wasn’t feeling all that confident about running the Chicago Marathon. My running training hadn’t been bad, but mentally I wasn’t in the right place. My long runs hadn’t quite gone as well as I would have liked them too but I just thought this was the joy of marathon training! But after my 5k run on Saturday morning, I felt really comfortable and started to look forward to the race.

Start of the Chicago Marathon 2019
When it is too cold to take your jumper off, but you need your number on display!

The Start

Due to the time difference (Chicago is 6 hours behind), the early start wasn’t a problem. The previous day had been REALLY cold, so I was unsure how early to get to the start, but headed out of the hotel room around 6:30 am.

As I walked to the lift, another girl was waiting to get in the lift and we started chatting. Other runners got in the lift as we went down and a few of us left the hotel at the same time. I had planned my route to the start and checked it lots. Out of the hotel, turn right, then turn right down Michigan Avenue. When some of the runners turned left, I turned to Amy (the girl from the lift) and said “well that concerns me”. She told me she was sticking with me so we walked and talked all the way down to the start.

It was so nice to have someone to share the start with and Amy was super friendly, she made me feel like we had been friends for a long time. We headed for the correct gate entry, but a marshal told us to go in a different one as it was really busy where we were heading. Our bags were searched and our bodies were scanned and then we were in. The sunrise was amazing and the starting corrals (as the Americans call them) were all set up around Buckingham Fountain.

Buckingham Fountain, Grant Park, Chicago.
Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park

We tried to locate the baggage drop, but the signage was not that great and we went to the wrong place. As we headed back to find our drop, we saw the length of the line for the toilets, so decided to start queuing. We were still in the queue when the National Anthem was played and the Elite men started. It was super cold and I was really worried that I may have had the wrong kit on! After the baggage drop ( which was really easy, once found, and no queues) I braved taking my throw away bottoms off but didn’t dare remove my jumper.

Amy was in the wave before me, but tried to move back to mine so we could run together as both of use were aiming to run around the 4:30 time. The security was tight and they wouldn’t let Amy in, so we said our goodbyes wished each other luck. I moved my way down towards the front on my Corral so that I was near the 4:30 pacer. All I needed to do now was keep warm. I was shivering SO much. We had a good 30 minute wait, but inched forward, bit by bit, until I could see the start line.

Start of Chicago Marathon
All smiles before the race.

The Race

I listened to the music, I took in the atmosphere and felt quite relaxed. The announcer made a joke about how good we were as we’d given everyone a head start and then the countdown happened. As we approached the line, the announcer shouted “I see you Ruth, you go girl” so I crossed the line with a huge smile on my face, thinking that maybe this was going to be a good day.

The first part of the course went under a tunnel and there were supporters there shouting and cheering. I had my name on my vest so my name was shouted so many times and this happened for most of the race; the Americans love cheering. I remember reading lots of signs which made me smile, but annoyingly I can’t recall any of them now.

In the early section, we had to cross the river a few times and I was surprised to see that the bridges were metal and not solid, so not the easiest to run over. I spotted my mum in the crowd on the left, but typically I was on the right side of the course! I cut across, going slightly backwards and got to the middle to shout. It was noisy so it took a few shouts to get her attention but I did, I waved and continued on with a big smile.

My GPS was so off and clicked 1 mile in 8 minutes something and way before the 1st-mile marker. I knew it was supposed to be bad so I had turned my watch to just time, so I had no idea of pace. I took notice of the main clock so I could keep a check at each mile marker. It felt like I was really holding back and from my calculations, I was running around 10:10 pace. This felt ok, so I just tried to stick to this pace.

Marathon runner
Concentration!

We were heading out of town to the north of Chicago and the streets were lined with people shouting my name. My legs did not feel as fresh as I would have liked but I just went with it. I remember that around mile 6/7 we could see the lake and there were parks around us. It was really pretty, the sun was beaming down, yet there were lots of gusts of wind too. We then turned and headed back to town.

I can not recall at what point it went wrong. But I know around mile 13, we cross a bridge again, which was just down the road from my hotel. I thought if I was to see my mum again, this was likely to be the place. I then worried that if I did see her, I might cry as I wasn’t sure I wanted to carry and run that distance again. It just felt a LONG way.

Half way

I went through halfway in about 2:07. I’m not sure how I felt about this; Was it too fast? I did think if I can keep this up that would be a huge PB! (So that probably indicates that it was too fast!) My fuel belt was old and I wear it for every run. It’s always been ok but one of my gels slipped out in the early miles and I was constantly having to adjust them as they felt like they were sliding down, so I carried three in my hand. I then noticed I had lost another one, so had to adjust my fuelling plan.

Chicago Marathon runner
Smiling for the camera, not sure I was feeling like smiling.

The water stations were very efficient and long. They handed out Gatorade for the first section of the station and then water at the end. I had taken water at miles 3, 6, and 9 miles. Around mile 14, I decided to stop and walk through the water station, so that I could make sure I actually took on water, as trying to drink from a cup and run isn’t always that good, even with me pinching the cup together.

I knew as I walked through the drinks station, there was no way I was going to be running a PB, so I set myself a plan. At mile 18 and mile 22 I would need to take get, so if I concentrated on running in blocks of 4 miles at a time I could walk the drinks stations at those miles. Three blocks of 4 miles felt achievable.

I don’t really remember much about this section, apart from thinking it was quiet on support and the sun was bright. That may not have been the case, it’s just that I was concentrating so hard on putting one foot in front of another. Around mile 17, I spotted Amy stopped on the side of the road stretching. I stopped to her to check she was ok. It was so good to see a friendly face. Her knees were starting to hurt, so I told her my plan of walking drinks stations and we decided to run together.

Chicago Marathon runner.

After stopping to walk the drinks station at mile 18, my legs were really stiff and it took time for me to get going again. The plan was to run to 22 miles, but Bio freeze had a station at mile 21, where they were spraying legs with bio freeze and they had fans to dry it quickly. I don’t know if it was psychological, but it did help my legs for a bit.

The true second half

Miles 22 to 25 seem like a blur. I know we ran as much as we could, we walked a lot of the drinks station as I was really thirsty. Running past someone that had beer, omg it smelt sooooo good. I just wanted the race to be over so I could have a beer. Then there was a beer station. They were serving it in shot cups, so we took one. Amy downed hers and even though it was me that wanted the beer, I had two sips and couldn’t stomach anymore!

Chicago Marathon runner.

The last few miles were one long straight road, the crowds were getting deeper and the noise was insane. The road was very wide but the gusts of wind were head-on at times. At one point a gust came from the side blowing my leg onto my other leg, nearly tripping me up. They don’t call it the windy city for nothing!

Amy thought she may see her family again at mile 25, so I think we ran in silence trying to spot them. Then she saw then just about 600m before mile 26. She waved and I could see that she was overcome with emotion. We just ran (probably more like a shuffle side by side in silence). I didn’t have any idea where the finish line was, but Amy told me there was a hill just before the end.

We turned right and there was the hill. Well, it was an incline, but not too bad. Even after getting to the top, I couldn’t see the finish line, then there was a left turn and I saw it. There was no sprint finish. A gentleman tripped in front of us, about 200m from the finish line, so we slowed to check he was ok.

Finishing the Chicago Marathon.
Hands up if you are glad it’s over!

The finish line

As I crossed the line, I felt pure relief. I didn’t care about the time I was just glad it was over. We hugged and congratulated each other. I got my phone out just as a text came through from my sister. That was it, I started to cry. I’m not sure why but the emotions were raw. We took our finish line selfie and went to collect our medal. A FaceTime from my daughter congratulating me was pretty special too!

Finish line selfies.
All smiles now that we are finished.

Chicago Marathon provided us with another beer at the end, which I enjoyed! Not long after finishing Amy said, I would do another marathon, my reply was NEVER again! I’m not sure I meant this, but???

Beer to celebrate

We saw the six-star finishers area and I told Amy all about it and we looked at the medal. I’m now not sure if this will ever happen – the expense alone scares me. Three stars gained, three more to get. Tokyo, Berlin, and Boston – who knows???

We were lucky that our baggage pick up was a short walk as it turned cold again pretty quickly.

Chicago Marathon finisher.

What now?

Now that I am home and I have had time to reflect, I am very proud of my run. To complete another marathon is an accomplishment. To get through the 16 weeks training prior to this marathon is tough in itself.

This marathon wasn’t just about my finishing time. I visited a lovely city and found myself a new friend in Amy. Running is such a special gift that allows me to travel, meet amazing people and challenge myself. I have already looked at the Berlin Marathon ballot and if I had the money I think I would have entered. For now, I may just have to wait and get back to enjoying my running more.

Chicago by night.
Chicago, you were amazing – Thank you

I’m sure I have so much more to write about this experience so please add questions below if you want to know anything else and if you want to read all about my training here.

IMG_9866

Northampton Half – Race Recap

Race Information:

  • Date: Sunday 29th September 2019
  • Start Time: 9:30 am
  • Entry: Via website and I think they still had places quite close to the race and possibly on the morning too.
  • Cost: £30.45
  • Race Website: http://northamptonhalfmarathon.co.uk
  • Race Mementos: Medal and t-shirt.
  • Course: Starts in the town center of Northampton and is a mixture of town and then surrounding countryside. There is a large hill between mile 6 and 7, but the rest of the course is pretty flat.
  • Elevation: Mostly flat, with one awful hill!
Elevation of Northampton Half Marathon
Elevation of Northampton Half Marathon
  • Other information: Pacers were available, there were plenty of marshalls. Registration took place in a pub, so I used the toilets in the pub and there was NO queue! Bag drop was the back of a van next to the start, which was easy and efficient to use.

My Race:

When I saw the schedule for my last few weeks of marathon training and saw that I had 13 miles on the plan the same weekend as the Northamptoon Half Marathon, it felt like a no brainer. I needed to bank the miles so why not collect the bling and run with lots of people too.

I had assumed that this would be a leisurely run, as I am now tapering for the Chicago Marathon, yet when I spoke to my coach last week, he told me to go for it! What?!? That wasn’t what I was expecting. Having run a PB at Bedford Half Marathon at the beginning of the month I did think that maybe this could be my sub 2 attempt.

I spent the next few days panicking about this race. What if I went for it and didn’t get a good time? Would this knock my confidence for Chicago? But then what if I had a blinder and went into Chicago raring to go?

I was still contemplating going with the 2-hour pacer about 5 minutes before the start. Then, I decided that my main aim of this race was to enjoy it. I feel like I am losing my enjoyment of running lately, so I needed to enjoy this.

It was forecast for horrendous weather, but just as we were about to start the sun came out. So the Northampton Half Marathon actually ended up being really humid and hot.

Ruth & Christine before the start of Northampton Half Marathon
All smiles before the start.

So, I set off with Christine so we could natter away and enjoy the run. I felt like I was constantly trying to slow us down, but we probably still started to fast. By mile 3 we were running along by the river, it was pretty, my legs were feeling fine, but I looked at Christine and said: “I’m bored”. It sounds stupid, but I could have easily given up and just cheered everyone else on. This worries me for my forthcoming 26.2 miles!

All smiles after the race.

Around 5 miles, Christine started to slow and I decided to try and stick to a 9:45 pace. Just to see what it felt like. Great timing as a big hill came up. There were lots of people walking it, but I tried to run it all. Three-quarters of the way up and I started walking. I only walked a short time and then set off again. Around mile 8, I actually felt like I was in a rhythm and I was enjoying it. I decided that at mile 10, I would push on and really attack the last 3 miles.

Not sure what happened with this idea, as my two slowest miles were mile 10 and 12!!! I liked that I was passing lots of people in the last few miles and I had a sprint finish, but I couldn’t say that I finished full of confidence that I would be able to repeat that distance again. What is going on, I have trained harder than ever for this marathon, yet for some reason, I don’t feel as confident about it! Let’s hope there is a miracle in these next two weeks! This is the second time that I have completed the Northampton Half and I would definitely do it again.

If you want to catch up with all my Chicago Marathon training, please click here.

Positives:

  • Local
  • Reasonable race size, so not much queuing.
  • Easy parking next to where you finish.
  • Race photos are reasonably priced.

Less Positive:

  • Some narrow sections on the course which can make it hard to overtake.
  • Finish section is on grass which is quite bumpy.
Northampton Half Marathon vest, bib and medal
Northampton Half Marathon vest, bib and medal

Do you use races to help train for other races? If you have any questions about this race, please comment below.

Team Balancise

Colworth 5 Miles – Race Recap

Race Information:

  • Date: FRIDAY 21st June 2019
  • Start Time: 7 pm
  • Entry: Via website, and usually has places right up to the day before. It is part of the Colworth Marathon Challenge
  • Cost: £12 for the Friday night, £45 if you want to take part in all three races over the weekend.
  • Race Website: http://www.colworthstriders.org.uk
  • Race Mementos: Medal, but no goody bag. I am sure there are other mementos if you take part in the full challenge.
  • Course: A 5 mile, multiterrain, undualting course.
  • Elevation: It is an undulating course.
Elevation graph of Colworth 5 mile race.
Elevation Colworth 5 mile race
  • Other information: There is camping available for those that do the whole weekend marathon challenge. They also have junior races on Friday night or varying distances. The junior races are only £1 to enter on the night, and they all get a medal at the end.

My Race:

I have never run this race before, even though I have been to support club mates. I’ve avoided it as I am not a fan of trail running (says the girl that is writing the second race recap in a week, both trail events! Read my last race recap here)

I signed up this year as they announced that this race was to be our 5-mile club championship race. I thought I’d just go along and take a leisurely run around. Well, that was until I got a message from my coach telling me that I needed to give it everything so that we could use the result to set the training paces for my Chicago Marathon training that I am about to embark on!

The pressure was on! Not from anyone but me, but I then started to dread the run. My mind started to play tricks telling me that I couldn’t do it, I would be slow, that I would embarrass myself, so on and so on. Does anyone else do this to themselves?

So, after beating myself up all day, I was pretty nervous by the start of the race. Luckily, Victoria from my club said that she would help pace me, which helped lots. The race starts by running on grass, then it heads up a gentle incline, but on really uneven ground. I started fast and kept working hard. It didn’t feel too bad, but had I known the course I would have eased back. As I started to tire, I seemed to find ALL the hills. I think I was ready to give up around 3.5 miles and I just had to grit my teeth and hang on. There was a bend which incorporated another hill which I really thought I was going to walk. I didn’t, but I really wanted too.

When I entered the field for the final stretch, I knew that my club mates were going to be there supporting, as well as my family and would have loved to have attempted a sprint finish, but I had nothing! My sister videoed my finish and the only thing that came to mind when I watched it was ‘every day I’m shufflin‘ hehe

Girl running
Smile or a grimace in the finishing stretch. Photo credit T. Gibson.

I finished in 45:33. I can’t say I enjoyed it but it’s job done. Now onwards and upwards to cycle 5 of marathon training

Positives:

  • Local race, with lots of great support.
  • Cheap entry fee
  • BBQ and a bar available at the end of the race.

Less Positive:

  • Trails
  • Hills
  • Uneven surfaces

Do you enjoy trail races? What’s your next race? Let me know in the comments.

57592784_10219153935578537_5054888817597612032_n

Stanwick 10K Race Recap

Race Information:

  • Date: 22nd April 2019 (Always on Easter Monday)
  • Start Time: 10:30am
  • Entry: No ballot, but usually sells out as limited to 400 participants.
  • Cost: £13 with EA membership, otherwise £15.
  • Race Website: www.stanwickraces.co.uk
  • Race Mementos: Medal, but no goody bag.
  • Course: Road race, most roads are not closed, but they are quiet country lanes. There is a stretch on the A6, but this is coned off and it is dual carriageway, so most passing cars move to the outer lane. KM markers were on the course and there were water stations, providing water in cups.
  • Elevation: It is an undulating course.

  • Other information: You have to collect your bib on the morning of the race, registration opens from 8am. There is an area for bag drop. Chip is on your bib, and the results are text to you immediately after the race. I think they have allocated parking, although I have never used it as I parked in the pub car park which is 200m from the start/finish line. The minimum age for entry is 15, but they have a junior race too.

My Race:

This race is part of my run clubs club championships. I completed it last year, as I tried to enter all club championships so that I had more chances to win the club London Marathon place (It didn’t work! hehe) Last year the weather had been really wet and the course had to be modified as part of it was flooded, so it wasn’t a full 10k.

The weather this year, couldn’t have been more different. A mini heatwave had made an appearance over the Easter Break, and it was forecast to be around 22 degrees on race day.

We parked up in the pub car park around 9:15am, and headed to the village hall to pick up our numbers. Names of participants were pinned up on a wall, so you had to find your number and then go to the allocated line to collect it. The Village hall was busy with runners, but it only took about 5 minutes to collect our numbers. They provided pens for us to complete the emergency details and there were safety pins provided too.

There were toilets in the village hall, and more toilets in another building across the road. The second building provided a bag drop too, but as my car was so close, i didn’t use it.

Team Balancise 2019 – Photo credits to @andybrayford

I completed a 10 minute warm up, and I felt ok, although I have a recurring lower back pain, so I really didn’t know how this race would pan out. We had our annual club photo, and then it was almost time to start.

When other club mates talked about being nervous or doubting there ability, I did my usual and joined in. I even remember saying that I wasn’t sure I could go under an hour – why do I doubt myself so much? I started at right at the back of the race, which meant that I weaved a bit at the start and found it very frustrating when a group of walkers blocked the entire road. I don’t mind walkers at all, but i do feel they need to be a little more aware of their surroundings. I suppose it’s no different to runners that run in groups.

Team Balancise action shot
Why do I always do stupid things when a camera is around? YMCA anybody???

As soon as you get to the top of the first incline, I found that there was more space and the views were amazing. I felt really strong and very positive; a little bit too positive for one of the my club mates! Hehe

After some flat, you have have a downhill stretch followed by a sharp up hill, and then it feels like you are continually running up hill for the next 10 minutes. It’s not a steep incline, but you feel it. This incline is on the A6, so the track is pretty much single file. You can over take people, but you just have to be a little bit more aware of your surroundings for this section.

I was surprised how strong I felt during this section, as I was dreading this part, as I remembered last year really struggling here. On reflection I think I was trying to keep up with another runner last year, but this year I was running my own pace.

By 4km, I was running on my own, but I could see other club runners ahead and I was enjoying the run. Again, I started to doubt myself, worrying that i was going too fast and would blow up at the end. I saw another runner that know from another club, and I worried about passing her, what if I went past and then blew up and she passed me at the end? I decided to chance it, and she said well done as I passed and said how well I was running, but instead of saying thanks, I replied, ” I’ll probably die in a bit!” Why? What can’t I just believe that I can run.

The part of the course that was cut off due to flooding last year, was accessible this year, and it’s it wasn’t a nice addition. There were quite a few twists and turns, and as I saw the turn into the street named Hillside street, I knew what it meant. More inclines! By this section, I had caught up with another club mate. We ran a little section together, and I decided to walk through the water station at 7KM, so that I could make sure I took on water. I had read a post from The Runner Beans about adjusting your race plan to fit with the weather as you can’t control the weather but you can control your response to it.. This made me realise that walking that water station wasn’t a bad thing, it was adjusting to the heat. I had tried to run through the previous water station, and drink from the cup, and nearly drowned myself! Does anyone actually prefer water in cups at races?

I took on the water and set off again, it was the final big hill and I saw more club mates and passed them. It felt nice to still be feeling strong and passing people. A left turn heading back into Stanwick Village is downhill, and I knew that at the end of that road would be where lots of my friends, and hopefully my husband and my daughter. Even though it was downhill, it seemed to go on forever. A lady overtook me, but then slowed immediately in front of me!

I didn’t want to speed up too soon, but I also knew that I didn’t want this lady to beat me, so I picked up the pace and pulled away from her. I saw all of the supporters and goofed around as I knew there would be videos and then I knew I only had one more hill to tackle. We had run the hill numerous times in a club session recently, so I just attacked it. At the top, I passed another club mate, I assumed that he would pick up the pace, so I didn’t look back I just kept working. It was pretty much downhill for the last 400m, but I didn’t feel I had another gear, until with 150m, I felt a guy come up level with me, and I thought, no way! I sprinted to the finish line and crossed it in 57:07, and headed straight for water.

Stanwick 10K 2019 – Medal

It is no where near my PB, but I was really happy with this race, as I enjoyed it, and felt strong for most of the run.

Positives:

  • Local race, with lots of great support.
  • Cheap entry fee
  • Nice relaxed/stress free vibe about the race. Friendly and encouraging marshals.

Less Positive:

  • Congested start if you start at the back.
  • Water in plastic cups

Thank you to Andy Brayford, Tina Brayford, Ros Taylor and my husband for the photographs.

Also, I have tried a different layout to my race recaps. What do you think? What other information would you want in the stats part? I was thinking that open date for entries for future reports, but to be honest I am not sure about this one. Let me know your thoughts.