Leeds Half Marathon – 8th May 2016

On Sunday I took part it the Plusnet Leeds Half Marathon 

This was the first time I had run this race, and yet again my training had been slightly lacking, however my overall fitness felt good enough to go the distance. I was not expecting to get a PB, and I didn’t. 

I lived in Leeds for a few years, despite that I still had no idea where the course went, even when looking at the course map. I put that down to the fact that the years I lived in Leeds I was in fact drunk for much of the time – student life of course!

So the run was to be a mystery tour, luckily I didn’t need any nav skills!

Sunday was promising to be a scorcher, so I delved deep into my sports drawer and dug out my running vest and shorter running tights. As this was of course a road race I ditched the fell running shoes and relied on my faithful Mizuno Wave Rider 9s. I finished compiling my running playlist on Spotify and I even charged up my running watch! I felt nicely prepared equipment wise. 

A last minute puppy poo crisis meant that phill had to stay at home just in case Bob exploded, so I had no cheering squad – I was on my own as I knew the girls from work would have mega hangovers and not make it into town, and I don’t blame them – spectating can be pretty boring! 

I got there in plenty of time so killed time taking selfies and warming up. 

It was a lovely sunny morning, a little too hot for running 13.1 miles, but better sunny than rainy any day. 

I started well, if a little fast as usual. There were a few sneaky hills, but all runable and nothing like running on the fells. At the halfway point I was feeling good, if a little warm. Support along the course was great, with a few people out with hoses to cool the runners down, which was appreciated. 

By mile 10 I was starting to tire and get very hot. Especially my feet – my socks were a little too thick.

At this point you hit Kirkstall Abbey and whilst this road seems flat it has a slight incline and is a bit of a drag, then for good measure you have an incline to get back into town, and the finish line was also on a slope – cheeky. 

Secretly I’d hoped I could get close to 2hrs, but I finished in 2hrs 7mins (Strava link here). Initially I was a little disappointed, but I hadn’t trained properly and this was actually my 3rd fastest half marathon, so in the end I’m pretty chuffed. 

Phill thinks with decent training I should be able to do a 1hr 50mins half – we’ll see. 

This was a very well organised race, plenty of water stations (I was worried they may run out in the heat), good staggered starts and nice medal and finishers t-shirt. I’d give this one another bash!

Recovery was fine, even managed a nice walk out in the afternoon with the dogs. And of course a few celebratory beers. 



Running up hill is hard!

My lack of updates on this blog are down to several things:

  • We got another puppy – Bob, he’s cute, and takes up a lot of time
  • We moved house – Again!
  • I’m working way too hard
  • Winter up north is wet, so limits activities
  • I haven’t found a baking club in the North!
  • My running successes have slowed, along with my speed due to the massive bleeding hill round here

Luckily my inner competitive streak keeps me going with the latter, but even my runs and training are very sporadic.

Even when I was running on the lovely flat roads of London I was never going to be fast enough to win anything, but now my new goal is to not coming last.

Fell running is a nasty beast. No two runs are the same – even the same route. The weather and terrain can drastically change the conditions and run ability of a course. And of course those pesky hills. I’m lucky if I can run around a whole fell race, usually resorting to a trudge up the hill, and a cautious canter down steep, slippery hills. I miss racing on nice flat tarmac.

Having said that, there is a perverse thrill of running through a muddy bog, hoping your shoes follow you. Or the feeling of your lungs wanting to jump out of your throat as you attempt to fast walk up a hill, just to overtake a 70 year old, who will likely beast you on the decent.

As I am unlikely to ever run a fell race at a nice average speed of 9 minute miles my goal is to not come last. So far I can claim this victory, even if I am amongst the amazingly fit 60 and 70 year olds, and I did drop out of a particularly long and nasty fell race because I knew I would come last if I carried on.

This was Heptonstall fell race and I was pleased to tackle this again this year and actually finish it, and not come last. It was 15 miles with almost 3000ft of climbing so quite an achievement, even without my own silly goals.

I’ve joined a lovely local fell running club, Calder Valley Fell Runners, and there is a nice mix of abilities that you can always find someone to run with and encourage you. Unfortunately I don’t get down enough to train due to work and puppies, so this probably hampers my progress.

As a nice treat I have decided to enter the Leeds Half Marathon on the 8th May, and I can’t wait to run some nice tarmac miles, with very little hills.


1st Yorkshire Fell run!

Since moving to Yorkshire my other half has embraced many northern past times, such as hiking, growing a beard, driving a landrover, chopping wood, wearing wellies, and what we moved here for, fell running.
Some of these I have partaken in too, I’ll leave you to guess which ones.

Now I like running (sometimes) as you can see from this blog. But I’m not really keen on mud, hills, bad weather, so boy have I moved to the wrong place.
However, I am of the opinion that if I can get the motivation to train in these conditions, then my nice flat Manchester Marathon should be a piece of p*ss (in Harley lame running terms) come April.

So, very kindly, the other half arranged for me to go out for a ‘nice’ 8 miler with a friend’s wife from his running club.
I was worried!
The day before I had failed miserably at Burnley Parkrun on only my 2nd attempt – passed performance had always had me tracking positively on the ole Parkrun PB front. But damn this northern climate, I was off form! But that could also be the lack of any training whatsoever.
I had also failed spectacularly at my 1st personal training session the night before, by almost passing out and puking. Man I must be super unfit!

So the thought of unleashing my shitness on new people had me worried. I had no idea of the course, what type of hills we’d climb, speed of my running buddies, or their tolerance of ‘pretenders’. The only good thing on my side was that it wasn’t raining for once.
I geared up – never worn so many clothes, especially especially compared sunny Dulwich running, and headed over to meet them.
We were going to take a bunch of beginners out for their 1st off road fell run. Yay I thought, thinking back to the nice tame beginners at DPR, and how this may not be as bad as I feared.

I have no idea what they feed on round here, but these guys were ace. I decided to take up the sweeper position!
I don’t think I ran up one hill! Talk about baptism of fire!
But you know what…I loved it!
It was tough, but I know it only means I can improve. They were a fab bunch and I’m gonna look forward to slowing them down again in the future.
Might even infiltrate the ‘beginners’ course when it starts again.
I even didn’t shy away from the mud. Apparent it’s good for the skin! My feet will be beautiful in no time!

The good thing is it’s banished my fear of joining a fell running club, although, ask me that again once I’ve done my first run in sheeting rain! ūüėú

Manchester Marathon here I come….

1st Parkrun of 2015

Yesterday I started my road to my 2nd 26.2 miles with my 1st parkrun since March 2014.

We recently moved to Yorkshire so our local Parkrun is now Burnley.

As you may have noticed I have an internal competitive streak but not enough motivation to really push myself, so the prospect of running what I anticipated would be my slowest Parkrun yet was not appealing. I foresaw me struggling, walking and being at the back.

Now don’t get me wrong the last time I ran wasn’t March 2014. I had done a marathon in April and a couple of half marathons since then, but I’d only run 60 miles in total since April, and sporadically at that.

Burnley Parkrun is set at Townley Hall Park and is a nice course, albeit a course with laps in it. But luckily not a lap course where the leaders lap you unless….gulp!

I set myself a goal of finishing within 30 mins. That may have been a slightly comfortable target, even my first Parkrun was better than this. My slowest park run was 28.51 at Dulwich back in Feb 2013, but I had eaten a lot this christmas.

There was a good turnout running, a great number of volunteers and pacers. I decided just to go at my own pace and set off comfortably.
There was a slight uphill and an inevitable downhill. Unfamiliar with the course I wasn’t sure where to reserve energy or go for it. As a result the last large loop was a little tough. Also the finish straight was uphill and this is usually where I dig in and push for a strong finish. Not today.
I did however finish in under 28.30, so I have a nice starting benchmark to improve on. I wasn’t last, I didn’t walk and I came second in my age group, which was a nice boost. There may have only been two of us running though ūüėú

Looking forward to improving on this time and getting PBs each week as I train for the Manchester Marathon.


How to boost your running confidence 1 month before a marathon!

This is not a scientific result, and has no research to back it up.
I simply ran a personal best at Paddock Wood half marathon yesterday, and now I feel epic!

I managed to shave 10 mins off last years time, and having looked back over my races just realised that’s how much I beat my PB by. I thought I’d done a half in 2hrs 2mins before but must have dreamt it. Go me!

This is a massive confidence boost for the Big Sur Marathon in 4 weeks, and with two 20 mile races under my belt I’m going to set myself a target for the marathon, despite the fact that the thought of going another 6miles is still daunting.
I’m putting it out there! I could be disappointed but I’m going to try and go sub 4hrs 45mins.



Where did the summer go? Three races recap!

I knew it would happen, so I shouldn’t beat myself up about it, but still I’ve let myself down and all of you who come back to (or stumble upon) this blog expecting up to date race reports and baking disasters.

The summer flew by, and I competed in some big races, here is a quick recap of what I’ve been up to.

Following having the mumps I got back into my training and at the beginning of September took part in the Run to the Beat half marathon. This had the promise, and price tag, of a great race, however it was severely lacking in all aspects. I am sure many runners will have heard about the debacle that was the Nike Run to the Beat, here is my summary:

  1. T-shirts with incorrect date printed on it, hastily covered up with a stripe.
  2. Delayed start. Over 30 minutes holding in my hydration to get going!
  3. Crowded course. Especially when trying to squeeze 15K people through a 6ft wide gate! The route took us through woolwich barracks at around mile 4. I stood still for 10 minutes! This only aggravated my full bladder, so a toilet stop was also required!
  4. Coconut water! Seriously? I can only liken it to the devils spit – yuck!
  5. DJ stations – errr more like an iPod being played out of a white van, wish I’d worn my headphones.
  6. Water in cups. Filled by dirty dunking hands – nice!
  7. Hills and switch backs. Let’s cram all those into the last mile to make the end memorable.
  8. Collapsing bag storage. Apparently it ended in a mass scrummage for bags!

Can’t say I enjoyed it, time wasn’t the best either, and I had a little cry at the end due to my own disappointment in myself.

On the positive side at least I finished uninjured, I got a nice big medal, they refunded us ¬£10, and we received another ‘sorry’ by way of another Nike t-shirt.

I don’t think i’ll do this one again, the route wasn’t too bad apart from the end. And spookily I’ve now found myself living in Woolwich, so it must have been an omen.

In late October I found myself signed up to two 10 mile races within a week of each other…

Cabbage Patch 10 was a club championship run for my running club, Dulwich Park Runners, so we had quite a good turn out. I ended up running most of the race with Emma who helped push me on faster than I probably would have started had I ran on my own, and considering the last mile of this race was awful for me, that was probably a very good thing. The course is lovely, and even though not all the roads are closed, motorists are very considerate. This was my first 10 mile race and I hoped to finish in 90 minutes, managed to just sneak under with a time of 1hr 28mins & 28 secs, so was pleased. This year the free long sleeve t-shirt was actually made from technical material, unlike last year (hubby ran it), so this was a good improvement. Overall a very enjoyable run, especially as we had so many club members to compare the race with at the end.

A week later I ran in the Great South Run for Mind Charity. I found it quite difficult doing a run for charity as I run all the time, so I thought family and friends would be reluctant to sponsor me, but I have managed to raise almost ¬£150, my target was ¬£250 though, but I’m guessing they’ll still take donations¬†http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/harleybeecroft

I love Great Run events, as although there are 1000’s of people running it is always so well organised. The race took place the day before the supposed ‘storm of 2013’, so it was quite ‘breezy’ and there was a slight chill in the air! I even had to resort to wearing a bin bag at the start. Glad I did, and didn’t wear another layer, as once we were out of the wind it was actually quite pleasant. I couldn’t see or hear the warm up, so this was mainly a half-arsed attempt at staying warm and stretching. Because of the wind I was half expecting my time to be effected, and so settled into a comfortable pace. I spotted hubby at two points as I was running round so this buoyed me and spurred me on.

Weirdly I completely missed the cheering station for Mind, but a fellow Mind runner did give me some words of encouragement so that was lovely. It was also nice running with my name on display and getting cheered on by the crowd (and laughing to myself when people misread it!). As we hit the seafront for the last mile the wind literally hit us, but despite this I tried to maintain a decent pace. There was camaraderie with other runners as we commented on the strength of the wind. Even with this obstacle I managed to beat my time from the week before by 1 minute, so I was extremely pleased with myself.

Like I said before Great Runs are so well organised, great goody bag, medal and general organisation. Their results page and photo service are also fab. Would definitely do more of their races in the future.

So, that was my summer/Autumn. As I mentioned above I’ve moved to Woolwich, so it’s unlikely that I will be doing any club running, as it’s quite a stretch to get over to Dulwich. It’s a shame as I really liked the tuesday night runs, but I am sure I’ll find a more local club near me to get me through the winter months, and the build up and training to my 1st marathon in April. STILL EXCITED!