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London Marathon 2016 – I love this race!

I always look forward to writing this post, and then sit down to re-live the day and find it so hard. There are just NO words to describe running the London Marathon. It’s the marathon of all marathons (how can I say that, when I have only ever run London???) but I know it’s the one all runners want to experience at least once and I think it’s amazing!

I was slightly nervous this year, as last year had been so bad, I felt this was make or break in terms of whether I liked marathons and if I would want to do more!??! I had written my bronze, silver and gold goals here, but in all of them I had put the most important thing, was to enjoy it. Last year, I was so negative and felt so bad for not enjoying it; There were thousands of people who would have loved to have swapped places with me.

This year, I was enjoying it regardless, and this started well, by having the most amazing time at the expo. I decided to stay over in London the night before and that in itself was a comedy of errors! I couldn’t find the hotel even though Siri was directing me, I ended up ordering a Uber taxi to be driven about 200m! My porridge exploded in the hotel microwave in the morning; I had planned the journey from the hotel numerous times before the day and the estimated time had always said 21 minutes, well that was until I checked it one final time on the morning of the marathon. It now read 51 minutes, cue panic stations! Yep, you guessed it, it took 21 minutes and I was there nice and early!

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Norma No Mates!

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Taken an extra poncho in Cardiff came in handy!

We had sorted to meet members of #TeamMND prior to the start for a team photo. Meeting meant that we could all support each other, offer last-minute advice and reassurance. It also meant I got to experience the start with people, which always makes it much more fun. I made my way to the red start with Rob, Chris and Alex; this was all new territory for me, as I have always been blue start in previous years.

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I think the man behind may think I smell!!!!

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#TeamMND

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#TeamMND

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The Red Start is HUGE. The organisation is, as always, spot on and the bag drop and toilet visit was really quick and easy. I was in pen 9, which felt like it was right at the back, so I did try to weave myself forward a little. I loved all the costumes, and took the opportunity to take some selfies!

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The closest I’ll ever get to a 3:15 pacer! I think I was supposed to be looking tired, instead I look like I’m saluting them!

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How good is this Paddington Bear!

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This guy could not see out the front!!!!

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It took 25 minutes to get to cross the start line, and then we were off. The first 3 miles was unfamiliar to me, and I was surprised how much quieter the route is compared to blue, and it was a bit hilly. I didn’t remember blue being hilly? I tried desperately to start slowly and be sensible, but I still went off a little too fast. It was quite difficult to pace, as it was busy and I seemed to be with a slower paced group, so I think I weaved a little and picked up the speed too much once I saw a gap!

At mile 3, when we joined with the green and blue start, I was surprised at how few people there was on the other side of the road. I then remembered the head start that they had had, I’m sure at the back of blue start still only took about 10 minutes to get over the start line.

Around 3 miles, I also realised that I was going too fast, so made more of a conscious effort to slow my pace. I started chatting to anyone and everyone around me. I was loving running this event again! I remember saying to another runners, I must look stupid, I just can’t stop smiling! I was running comfortably and looking forward to Cutty Sark.

The noise and route around Cutty Sark is unbelievable – the crowds are 4/5 people deep, and the name shouts and support is awesome. I didn’t think it was possible, but my smile grew even more!

After Cutty Sark, I looked forward to Tower Bridge, but was surprised to hear and see members of my running club through this section. I can’t quite describe the boost it gives you to see friends!

Thanks Andy for this picture, I think it shows just how much I was enjoying this event.

Thanks Andy for this picture, I think it shows just how much I was enjoying running.

I spotted an MNDA runner and started to chat to her just before Tower Bridge, I had spoken to so many MNDA runners, but I knew that we were approaching Tower Bridge, so we stuck together and experienced it together. Tower Bridge, you are special!

As you exit Tower Bridge, you come to the section where the speedies are on the other side, about 10 miles ahead of you! I love watching them and shouting encouragement. I almost forget that I am running too!

My next focus was Mile 19, as I knew the Run Mummy Run support crew where there. I was starting to feel tired, by now, so loved the hug that I received from the group, they really boosted me to keep going.

Mile 21 is always special too. The MNDA cheer point is there, but before that Run Dem Crew support there too, so it is always very noisy and encouraging.

By mile 22, I was starting to slow. My legs were heavy and I thought about walking. At the expo, I had picked up a band that said ‘Tomorrow I will have no regrets’ and I kept repeating this to myself. I reasoned with myself that I could only walk through the tunnel just before mile 24 if I needed too. I picked up Lucozade just before the tunnel, so decided I needed to walk and take on some drink, I stretched a bit too, as my quads were sore.

As soon as I exited the tunnel, I started running again, well shuffling is probably a better description. I knew I was soon to be seeing my husband and daughter and I didn’t want them to see me walking! Trying to spot them in the crowd between 24 and 25 really took my mind off how much my legs wanted to stop. When I spotted them I felt the emotion come and the kiss from my daughter gave me the boost that I needed to get to the finish. When I turned at Big Ben, the 4:45 pacers edge ahead of me. I repeated ‘No regrets’, and with that I picked up the pace to ensure that I finished ahead of them. Another MNDA runner, Adam, was walking and we only had about 1KM to go, so I encouraged him and we ran the last section together. Every time I cross the finish line, I expect floods of tears, but they don’t come and this time was no different. I was just so relieved to have finished and even though it was tough, I had loved it.

As I walked towards baggage and tried to process what I had just done, I spotted John Major. I did a double take as no-one else around had really noticed and he waved! Rather bizarre!

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I wonder if John Major will be putting his name in the ballot for next year?

I am happy to report that I hit my Gold target,sub 4:45 and to enjoyed it. I actually finished in a time of 4:42:26, a 15 minute PB and I LOVED IT! 

London Marathon bling

I will certainly be putting my name in the ballot on the 2nd May! Anyone else?

 

 

Race Recap – Kingston Breakfast Run

So my final 20-miler of this London Marathon training cycle, coincided nicely with the Kingston Breakfast Run 20 mile event, and as I was staying in the London area the same weekend, it seemed rude not to enter! The event is organised Human Race, and as with all of their events, this one did not disappoint!

Human Race Events

Date: Sunday 3rd April 2016

Time: 8am start. Yes it is an early start,  and forcing porridge down you at 6am isn’t pleasant, but it is nice that the run doesn’t take up your whole day!

Weather: Warm, sunny, with a slight breeze. After the wind and rain of last week, this was lovely.

Course: This course is a fast flat, looped course. One loop is from Kingston Bridge to Hampton Court Bridge and in total is around 8 miles. The event hosts and 8 mile (1 lap) 16 mile (2 laps) and 20 miles (2 and a bit laps) You run along the River Thames and it really is pretty, especially when the sun is shining. There are some supporters around the start/finish, but very few on the actual course. There are plenty of marshals and they are very supportive and encouraging. There were frequent water stations, 2 which had SIS gels available (shown below). I didn’t use the baggage area, but have done in the past and was easy and efficient. There are toilets near the toilets, but with 15 minutes to go before the start of the race, the queue was huge. The 8 and 16 mile races started 30 minutes later, and I’m sure it was a lot of these runners in the queue. They really could have waited or let us 20 milers sneak in ahead. There is a toilet on the route, but once I have started I am very reluctant to stop!

The website says that they have pacers from 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, & 12 min/miles, but they were very hard to spot, as they had red t-shirts on, but nothing written on the back and no flag. I just stumbled upon the 11min/mile pace around mile 2, but I was running 10:30 pace. I went past him, but he caught me up around mile 20, and again I averaged 10:32 pace, so if you had planned to stick at 11 min/mile pace and kept with him, you would have worked a little bit harder than you wanted too.

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My race: I felt quite nervous about this race. I’m not totally sure why, as I ran 20 miles only 2 weeks ago, but I was worried as this was my last attempt and what if it all went wrong! London is only 3 weeks away and I really wanted this to be a confidence builder. Even though I was running this race on my own, I met up with some of the lovely RMR and UK Run Chat communities before the start. I also met one of my fellow RunMND runners, which was such a great surprise; she even stayed around at the end to see me 🙂 Thanks Maxine

I spent most of the early miles making myself slow down. I really didn’t want to start too fast, as I knew that it would hurt at the end of the run, AND more importantly it would make me worry about my ability to pace myself sensibly at London. I was pleased when the mile pace clocked 10:18 and 10:47 for mile 1 & 2. Around 2 miles, I  linked with a group of people and we chatted away about marathons and training. I ended up staying with one man from this group for the entire race. It so good when you run with new people, and you know that you both helped each other going!

I practiced my nutrition strategy, changing it slightly from my last 20 miler. I still had  a torq gel at 3 miles, but then extended it to every 4 miles. I missed my mile 19 gel as it didn’t seem worth it, but will take one at 19, and 23 miles too on marathon day. Around mile 19, I started to feel a little tired and was ready for it to be over, but really pleasing was that my final 3 miles got progressively quicker, and my final mile was 10:19 pace 🙂

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Lesson learned: I need to get to races earlier, this was a little too close for comfort, and did mean that I started the race needing a wee! Good pacing makes running a lot nicer. I need to stop making stupid faces when I see a photographer, otherwise I get silly pictures like this!

Silly faces for races

Pros:

  • Running 20 miles as part of an event is much better than on your own.IMG_9188
  • Great awareness for MNDA, as the official photography took a picture of me and a team-mate, fully MNDA kitted out.
  • The marshals were brilliant, and very supportive.
  • The photographers got lots of picture due to the smaller field, and they did not cost too much!

Cons

  • Toilets – there can never be too many toilets
  • Pacers – they were not easy to spot, and I’m not totally sure they stuck to their prescribed pace.

All in all, it was a confidence booster, and now it’s taper time!!

Beware Taper time

If you would like to donate funds to support MNDA you can do here: www.virginmoneygiving.com/ruthwebb10

 

Cardiff Half Marathon Race T-Shirt & Medal

IAAF Cardiff University World Half Marathon Championships.

When it was announced that there was a masses race on as part of the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff, I signed up quickly. Who doesn’t want to run in the World Championships!!?? So, here’s what I thought about them:

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Date: Saturday 26th March 2016. When I originally booked this race, I didn’t actually realise it was Easter weekend, and I know I wasn’t the only one that kept thinking it was on the Sunday! It’s seems weird running on a Saturday!

Time: 2:10pm. Most races take place in the morning, so I felt a little bit lost all morning. I kept worrying I had got the time wrong and was missing it all. I always find it difficult to know what to eat when it is a later start too. I had breakfast, but then only managed to have a banana an hour before we started, which was not ideal.

Weather: Hideous! The day before had been gorgeous, but #StormKatie decided that she wanted in on the World Championships too. The rain started at the same time as the women’s race! The sideways rain, hail and gale force winds really kicked in just after mile 4 for me, which was just as I was going across the Cardiff Bay barrage, so we were totally exposed and it hurt when it hit my face. The wind was pushing me sideways and it was hard work!

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Course: The course was fairly flat, and mostly on tarmac. The short sharp hill just after mile 12 was a bit of a shock, but the downhill stretch between mile 11 and 12 was a welcome break. I think the course would have been really pretty had the weather been better. The start had the Cardiff castle as a back drop, the lovely Cardiff Bay area, running past the Millennium Centre and finishing around lakeside would have been lovely on a sunny day! There were water stations every 3 miles, they did get crowded, and I’m sure that I saw some stations were handing out High 5 gels, but I didn’t use any of these as I had my torq gels.

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My race: I felt quite nervous about this race, as Silverstone had felt so hard and I hadn’t really enjoyed it. I had enjoyed my 20 mile run the following week though, so really didn’t know what to expect from this one. It is becoming tradition to not sleep well the night before and this was no exception. I had thought with the late start, I could have enjoyed a lay in too – no such luck. Before the race, my race plan was to run a lot of the race at marathon pace, so I was thinking around 10:20 – 10:30 pace. When I clocked the first mile at 9:42, I could feel myself getting annoyed and I tried to slow down, yet still clocked a 9:42 for the 2nd mile too! My lack of pacing was stressing me, so I decided to stop looking at my watch, and then when the horrendous weather started at mile 4, I just wanted to get the race over and done with, so all pacing went out the window. Every inch of me was soaked through, and my wet trainers did make me feel as though I lifting weights with every step. Around mile 9, I had a little dark patch, where I just wanted it to be over, but the support around Lakeside was amazing and really kept me going. Considering the weather, the volunteers and roadside support was amazing. My name was shouted so many times, and there was music being played, people offering jelly babies etc. The final stretch was quite crowded, but I still managed to up my speed to cross the line. After finishing we were given our medal, t-shirt, water, High 5 Gel and a banana.  I finished in 2:08: 32, which is what it is. I’m not really happy or disappointed with it.

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Lesson learned: I really need to learn my marathon pace. Starting too quickly at London will be a disaster. Also, I think I need to take a packed lunch with me, as I am sure I would have performed better had I got my nutrition better pre race.

Pros

  • I took part in the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS!!
  • Flat course.
  • Amazing support and event organisation.
  • Lovely medal and T-shirt.

Cons

  • Weather – I know the event organisers can’t do anything about this, but …
  • Start time – I know this was probably because of tv broadcasting across the globe, but I personally find an afternoon start difficult.
  • Expensive race photos.

As always I ran in my MNDA vest, raising awareness and running for my dad.

If you would like to donate funds to support MNDA you can do here: www.virginmoneygiving.com/ruthwebb10

Anyone else run in Cardiff? Also, what do you think of my new race recap layout? Have a missed any information that you would like adding? Please comment below and let me know what you think.

#VMLM2016 training – Week 12

Monday – Mile repeats at club. My legs were heavy from the weekends 20 miles, so these were completed at a steady pace, and to be honest the pace slowed considerably as the reps progressed.

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Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday – 8 miles steady run. I still felt the miles in my legs, and I constantly remind myself that I am training on tired legs. The run felt quite tough, but when finished I realised that  we had pushed the pace quite a bit, so I was happy with it.

Thursday – Drills at club. Lots of our club are running the local 10K on Easter Monday, so this was a light session. We completed some running drills, squats and light running. Probably just what I needed and lots of fun. I also had the best post delivery today too.

Friday – Rest – travelled to Cardiff Expo to collect my running number.

Saturday – IAAF Cardiff University World Half Marathon Championships 🙂 It was amazing, and a full race report will be posted very soon.

Sunday – Rest.

Anyone else #runtheworlds ?

#VMLM2016 training – Week 11

Monday – I went to club and my group were doing mile reps! My legs told me, I was NOT doing mile reps, so I joined the group below and chatted my way around a recovery run. My legs were tired and at times this run felt hard, and I was averaging 11:45 pace! I completed 3.5 miles and it was just what I needed.

Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday – 10 miles. I met 2 of the ladies from club to complete our usually 5 mile loop. My legs still felt quite heavy, and about 2 miles in I thought I was going to be lucky to make it to 10! For my second 5 miles, I was running with one of the men from club, and during mile 3 I was really worried that I was going to slow him down too much and struggle. Then, just after 5 mile mark, my legs seemed to switch on. It was as though they had warmed up and realised that they needed to run. The second 5 miles was really nice; we picked up the pace and I actually felt quite comfortable. The route finished almost right outside my house, yet I felt I could have kept going easily!

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Thursday – 400 reps. Everyone at club was pushing the pace, but our coach suggested myself and a few others that were racing this weekend, should just jog the reps. We ended up running for around 2/3 minutes and resting for the same amount of time. Even though I was running very easy, my shoulders were very tight. I was told to run, imaging that I was holding a crisp between my thumb and finger, that I was not to break. As soon as I adopted this position, my shoulders did relax, so I need to remember this.

Friday – Sports massage – I was lucky to get an extra appointment in this morning, to work on my shoulders, ready for tomorrow!

Saturday – 20 MILES! My amazing team mates at club helped me organise a route, and then come out to run with me. It was a bit of a tag team. I ran 5.5 miles with Rachel and Tracie, then 0.5 of a mile on my own, to meet Sam, Keith and Andy. They then took me on their normal 10 mile route, which was a little undulating, but I felt pretty strong throughout, and the hills that had previously annoyed me on this route, didn’t feel too bad. Finally, Tina met me to run my last 4 miles. It was amazing, they were all so supportive, all could have run much quicker than I was running, but stuck with my pace to help me. I had planned to run around 10:30 pace, but I ended up averaging a 10:21 pace. The only negative was that when my watch flashed up 20 miles, I stopped and saved it straight away. I don’t usually do this, but for some reason, I was worried that I would delete it. Once it was saved, I noticed the watch said 19.9 miles!! WHAT….. As I had saved it, I couldn’t just add it on the last 0.1 of a mile!!

Sunday – Rest day – although I have to report that I am so surprised how good my legs feel today, I think the football my daughter made me play yesterday afternoon, and the game of tag this morning, really helped my legs recover! Let’s see how they are tomorrow!

This time in FIVE weeks it will all be over!!!! I can’t believe how close it is!

#VMLM2016 training – Week 10

Monday – 1200’s – these were hard tonight. The 18 miles were still in my legs, and I could feel it towards the end of this session.

Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday – A ridiculous long day at work, meant that I had to have another rest day today! I was grumpy, as I would have rather been running!

Thursday – Hills, hills and more hills. That is all!

Friday – Rest

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – Silverstone Half Marathon – Not my finest performance, but I will write a race report and give you the full story in the week.

Overall not the best week of training, but I’m now putting that behind me and next week will be better!

Anyone else race this weekend? How did you get on?