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. 

 

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.

BRING IT ON!

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Impromptu Half Trail Marathon

On Sunday 7th July I took part in the Lakeland Trails ½ Marathon in Coniston.

 

Originally I was just going to spectate whilst hubby took on the Marathon race, but I had been running over 10 miles in one outing comfortably for the past few weeks, and felt I could tackle my second half marathon.

Ok, so I completely forgot about the whole trail aspect of the run, and the fact that I would probably walk quite a bit of it, but I felt ready.

 

Trail running is difficult, ok we all know that, but what I mean it’s difficult to gauge how well you’ll do (or not, in some cases), as you can’t just compare your times to road running. This was my problem when I was trying to work out what time would be good for me to finish in, what was my target time and when did I have to get a wiggle on to make sure I wasn’t disappointed?

 

I had only done one trail run before and this was only 18km (Cartmel Sticky Toffee Trail), I had also only ever done one road half marathon before (Paddock Wood Half), so I decided to pluck a time out of thin air and guess that the trail half would take me at least an hour longer, so anything under 3hrs would be good. I had signed up for the Challenge rather than the race so there wasn’t too much pressure.

 

As the day approached we were conscious of how warm the weather was getting, and we weren’t relishing the thought of running through 24-degree midday heat. I hydrated myself well, and ate a lovely lunch at Jamie’s Italian in Manchester the day before. My lovely mother-in-law organised a BBQ for the evening before, but we weren’t convinced steak was the best pre-run meal, but we didn’t want to disappoint and ate it happily, plus there was cake. Cake’s ok right?

 

The Beecroft household was up early for the 2hr drive over to the lakes, and we arrived in plenty of time to register, hydrate & wee! (Toilet queues were massive!)

We worked out with the in-laws a spectating plan and where we would see them on the course.

 

We're Ready!

We’re Ready!

The set up for the race was fantastic and the location by the lake was great (I’m sure the lake will come in handy later!).

The marathon challenge had already set off at 7.30am as they had a longer period in which to complete, next off were Hubby and the marathon race. Loads of serious runners, and good to see some other southerners, including a couple of local rivals from Dulwich Runners.

Once the marathon had set off I had an hour to hang out before I started. Stretched, hydrated, checked GPS, chatted, checked GPS, tied laces, one last stretch and I was off…

The course was lovely, nowhere near as tough as my 1st trail run experience, mainly due to most of the course being on bridleways and decent paths. There was a decent spread of water stations. Although one was getting dangerously low when I went through and we still had the Half marathon racers to come through after us. There was also one feed station which was nice to have.

I didn’t find the climbs too bad, and managed to run up at least two of them. The lap around a tarn was a little monotonous, but a gorgeous setting that I just had to take a snap.

Gorgeous Views - Must remember to stop!

Gorgeous Views – Must remember to stop!

 

I was so lifted by my surroundings I went way too fast for the 1st half, which I did find easy, but really should have paced myself better.

Vrooommmmm!

Vrooommmmm!

 

I spotted MIL at 15KM, and bless her she got her spray mist out to cool me down, as at this point it was VERY hot. This spurred me on and I went for it through a forest section.

Then I hit a wall.

My GPS had stopped working half way round the tarn so had to restart my watch, so didn’t really have an idea of how long was left or how long I had taken – good or bad?

When I saw the 15KM marker I was quite confident as this meant only 6KM left and that shouldn’t take me long right? The last two miles were tough, which was sad because this was the relatively flat bit. I had to walk much of it! We then entered the area where we had started and then found they were making us do a loop of the campsite – ARGHH!

As I approached the finish line I gave a little sprint. They called out my name, it was wrong! Then I heard the Mother in Law correct them.

I finished with a flourish, but was it enough? Hell yeah 2hr 47mins!

I was pleased!

Yep my name is wrong!

Yep my name is wrong!

What was even more pleasing (or not depending on how you look at it) I did this time and they actually made us do a whole extra mile! The course was over 14 miles, so no need for that last lap around the camp site. No wonder the last 2 miles was tough, should have just been one! Glad my GPS stopped working. What you don’t know doesn’t hurt you right? Tell that to my thighs, still aching three days later!

I think my 1st half speed was due to the fact that I run a lot of 10k, so need to work on my longer distance, and of course my pacing is non existant and needs a lot of practice!

The trail half marathon was gruelling but fun and really glad I did it. It will make my half marathon in September seem like a walk in the park – can’t wait!

My 1st Half Marathon

On Sunday 7th April I took part in my 1st half marathon at Paddock Wood.

Many of my friends will fall off their chairs when they read that sentence, and wonder what has happened to their lazy friend. Doing a half marathon is not something I saw myself doing a year ago, when I could barely run constantly for over a mile, and my friends had to bribe me to go out and exercise with them, and I mean ANY exercise!

So it was in trepidation that I signed up for the race, but hubby was sure I would be fine with some training, and my brother-in-law signed up too and promised to run with me. He is a relative novice too, and this would be his longest competitive run too – oh boy!

Rich & I did a couple of long distant runs in the build up to the race, and I carried on with my Saturday park runs to try and maintain my fitness. I am sure I should have done more, but April loomed quickly.

Rich had developed a sporadic knee complaint that came and went, but he would just grit his teeth and train through – what a trooper!

I decided to buy myself a new pair of trainers for the occasion. I went to the London Cheapside branch of Sweatshop and let them do their stuff.

I had my gait analysed and they decided that I had a minor inward roll (sorry can’t remember what that is called!) so suggested I should have a show with support.

Now, I am no expert but I could barely see the roll when looking at the video, but they are the experts so I put my trust, and my £100 or so, in them. I didn’t opt for the £40 bespoke inner soles, as I didn’t feel I was that advanced in my running to need them. It did seem odd that they went to the trouble of moulding them even though I was under no obligation to buy them.

 He selected 3 brands for me to try Brooks, Asics & Mizuno, based on the support needed and the width of my foot. We went for half a size bigger than my regular shoe size.

The ASICS were too narrow, the Brooks just weren’t as comfortable as the Mizunos, so I ended up with a lovely looking pair of Mizuno Lady Wave Inspire 9’s.

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Mizuno Lady Wave Inspire 9

I did a practice 9 mile race in them, and I must say they are super comfortable, and very pleased with the Sweatshop staff’s selection.

I also decided to by a GPS running watch, as my iPhone app was a bit rubbish, and I didn’t want to run around with my earphones in, especially with company! I went for the cheapest entry level Garmin – Forerunner FR10. It had all the functions I could need, and it came in a lovely lime green colour for girls 😉

The day of the race arrived, and typically National Rail announced works on the network, so the organisers advised that people get their early as there were only a limited amount of parking spaces. So we left around 7.30am for the drive over. Hubby was doing a warm up (!?) 5 miles with a member from his running club, so Rich and I warmed up (in the car) while we waited for him to return.

Rich and I had planned to try and complete the race in under 2hrs 10mins, based on a comfortable pace of around 10 min miles.

Paddock Wood course is relatively flat, scenery not too inspiring but great for a first half marathon. The support from the locals along the route was great. People were having BBQs, and there were even a few sweetie stations – fab! The weather was dry, maybe a little too warm, but otherwise perfect.

 Rich and I maintained a good early pace, comfortably hitting under our target pace and not wearing ourselves out.

During the early stages of the race we discussed what the tactic was for the end. Every man for himself, so elbows out and a sprint finish to the death? Unity and peace, holding hands across the line?

I was pushing for option 1, feeling all confident that I would still have energy for sneaky tactics and a sprint finish. Rich nervously laughed not sure whether I was serious or not, and whether if it came to it he could indeed take me out!

Just after halfway Rich’s knee began to play up, his sharp intake of breath a big clue! At one point it got so bad we had to walk, and Rich did say I could go on with out him. I’ll admit it, I was SOOOO tempted, my competitive devil was shouting that I should just leave him, but then my good angel reminded me that Rich would NEVER leave me if the same thing happened to me, so I stayed and encouraged him, eventually we got running again.

 At around mile 11 I decided I hated running, my back ached, my body weighed a tonne, and I just wanted to stop. I am so glad Rich was with me, he kept me going, reminding me that it wasn’t that far.

I felt worse during the last half a kilometre and there was no way I could pull a sprint out of the bag, but we had a target time, and I didn’t want to miss it.

All thoughts of tripping Rich and taking the glory were gone, as we crossed the line together in 2hrs 8mins  – YAY! Plus with alphabetical positioning I beat him anyway – double YAY!

We found hubby and he had completed in a very respectable 1hr 38mins.

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Beecroft Results – Yay I am the 2nd fastest Beecroft!

 

His running club (and recently now mine), Dulwich Park Runners, had organised a picnic for those that ran from the club, and their family so it was great to share stories, and some well earned grub!

 At the end of the race I could never imagine having to do that distance all over again in order to complete a marathon, I was wrecked. Marathons weren’t for me.

Well, that was until I went to support and spectate at the London Marathon, I loved the atmosphere of the day so much, well…I entered the ballot, I guess fate can decide!