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 😜

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


Surrey Spitfire 20 Review

As part of my Big Sur marathon training I took part in Events to Live’s Surrey Spitfire 20 race.
This was a 2 lap race starting at the Top Gear track at Dunsfold Aerodrome.

This was also only my second time running this distance, having attempted it the first time at the Thames Riverside 20 (race or pace), only two weeks earlier.

The day started with an early rise for a Sunday, and the 1hr 30min drive from Woolwich to Cranleigh.
Instructions supplied advised that our sat nav would bring us the wrong way and they weren’t wrong ;p . Luckily the man at the gate kindly let us in, and we had a cheeky blast of the M3 on a deserted bit of runway, unfortunately I was driving so hubby was disappointed!

Very well organised for parking and collecting our race numbers. No bag drop to be found though so we had to head back to the car to get ready – not a big deal.

The smell of bacon rolls from the Girl Guides had my stomach rumbling before the start, and I then started to panic that the one slice of toast would not be sufficient!

The weather was glorious as we set off and warmed up considerable as the race progressed.

My original plan was to try and run at a slower pace (10.30 min miles) having completed the TR20 bang on 10’s, and feeling rather pleased with myself, but struggling massively with the last three miles. I also wanted to plan in better race nutrition, and test how I would feel going slower and whether another 6.2 miles was doable.

Hubby’s advice was just to push myself to maintain the same pace, but I was worried about how I would eventually do a whole 26.2 miles.
Typically I went for it as I got caught up in the atmosphere, and I saw my first mile at 8.59!
I am so rubbish at pacing it’s untrue!
For the first half of the race I fluctuated between 9’s and 9.45’s – great! ;p I’m obviously not getting any better at pacing the more running I do.
But there were 4 pretty tough hills in the first lap, that I wasn’t looking forward to seeing the second time round, so a slight fluctuation can be forgiven.
I ran with a friendly chap who was race director for the Clair Park Parkrun, and his banter helped me maintain a steady pace for around 4 miles. Also waved on a couple of my DPR comrades as they steamed ahead in their VMLM training mode.

For the first lap I managed to run up all the hills. Given that the Big Sur has one hill that is 500ft this was good practice.

I was feeling good after 10 miles despite the speed and heat. Cracked open a gel and pushed on for the 2nd half. This was a much lonelier affair as the field spread out even more and I found no new running chums to chat with. I was dreading the 17 mile mark, as this was where I struggled on from at the TR20. So at mile 16 I took on another gel to see if that would help me through.
My pace started moving into the 10’s for a few of the miles in the second half, but with my deficit miles from the first half there was a possibility of going faster than the TR20, but I tried not to think about it.
The second to last hill I decided to walk a little, but when it came to the last hill at mile 18 I pushed on.
I was feeling the heaviness in my legs and my back was starting the ache, but I was feeling better than last time so this was a good sign.

As I reentered the aerodrome for the last quarter mile I sped up (but only a little!). Spotted my lap 1 chum as he clapped me in. Then I spotted hubby who had a surprised look as he cheered me in.

No wonder…I managed to finish in 3hrs 17min. Over 2 mins quicker than TR20. And I said I would go slower!

I felt a lot better than I did last time, so I’m feeling quietly confident about the 27th April D-day. Hubby is still in shock at how well I did. I’m still a little worried about the extra 6.2 miles

Only 5 weeks to go and one half marathon planned before the big day. Not sure if I should push for a longer than 20 mile run just to see….
Decisions, decisions!

20 Miles, my longest run – a review

On Sunday 2nd March 2014 I took part in the Thames Riverside 20, organised by Clapham Chasers

In preparation for the Big Sur Marathon in April this was to be my longest run to date. 

Now, the lack of blog updates on my marathon training are not an exact testament to how my training is going, but it’s not far off. Commitment to exercise has never been my forte even when I have something this massive to aim for. However, I have been steadily increasing my milage, it seems to be the short runs in between that are lacking.

To ensure I did the long runs I signed myself up to some 20 milers & a half marathon.

The Thames Riverside 20 (TR20) is a great little race as in order to gain permission to hold the race they have to have pacers. The slowest pacer was 10 minute miles, so I promptly went for this group. I am very conscious of the time limit on the Big Sur Marathon (6 hours = 13.45 min miles) so need to make sure I can run a majority of marathon distance at a faster pace than the limit, especially as it has some killer hills.

As this was the slowest group I was pleasantly surprised to see it had quite a number of runners in it, and I hoped I wouldn’t be trailing at the back.

Starting at Bishop’s Park at Putney Bridge, the race started at 8am (which meant a 6.30am set off from Woolwich – YAWN!), with each pace group setting off within 2 mins of each other. No chip timing so your start time was based on the start time of your pace group, so I guessed that some people could in effect cheat and start in an earlier group if they wanted??

The race route takes you over Putney Bridge to the south bank, past the posh college boat houses (hence the requirement for the pacer) and you then follow the riverside path all the way just past Richmond bridge, and then back again.

Drink stations were position approximately every 3 miles, offering water & Gatorade, and heaps of support!

My usual shorter distance race pace is around 9 – 9.30 min miles, so I found running at 10s pretty comfortable for the 1st half of the race. Some of the early miles were quite a bit quicker than 10s, but given how hard I find it to pace myself I can’t complain. It was good to be surrounded by people who just wanted to get round in a set time and not feel overly competitive, except with myself.

The path was quite muddy due to the recent flooding, and I was concerned what effect this would have on my feet after splashing through a few decent puddles when I got bored (tired) of leaping over them. 

Race nutrition is not something I usually consider but given this is a build to the big one I decided to strategically try planning in a gel and what drinks to have when. Usually I will just take whatever is offered to me at the time. I decided I would take Gatorade up until half way, then I would have my gel with water, then back to Gatorade.

I think I needed to really plan in two gels, as I was already getting tired by half way, and when I hit 17 miles I started to slow up quite a bit.

I started to fall back from the pace group at around mile 17 too, I wasn’t too concerned as most of my miles have been well under 10s up to this point, but I knew I couldn’t drop off too much. The route also got a lot busier on the way back.

I felt fine in terms of breathing, heart rate etc, it was just my legs and back that were starting to feel the 3hrs on my feet. The last mile was easily the worst I have ever felt, my legs were like lead weights. It felt like I was going so slow, so was pleasantly surprised when I realised I was still within 10.30 for the last mile.

As I entered the gate to the park and the last 100 meters I saw my husband waiting for me and cheering me in (he had joined the 7.30 pace group and had waited in the cold for me for an hour – bless him – and he then drove me home!), I started to get emotional and then found it hard to take a breath – need to sort that out for the marathon!

I crossed the line in 3hrs 19mins 34s – bang on pace at 9.59 I was pleased! I was broken, but pleased!

Every finisher received a goodie bag filled with drinks and snacks, I was a little disappointed there was no medal. But for £12 I did get an extremely well organised, fabulously supported and enjoyable training run for my next big challenge.

My walking style suffered a little yesterday, but stretching out my muscles helped. So did the muscle soak bath I had once I was home. We treated ourselves to a pub roast dinner, congratulatory beers & sticky toffee pudding. Asleep by 9pm with slightly achy knees today but overall feeling good & positive.

I’ve got the Spitfire 20 in two weeks to keep my mileage up. I’ve decided to stick to 10s or maybe even 10.30s to just get me through and let it help me plan my race nutrition better.



Countdown to the Bupa Great Manchester Run – 5 days to go

This is a quick pre-race blog post!


Bupa Great Manchester Run

I strangely won a place in the Bupa Great Manchester 10K Run, which takes place this Sunday – I say strange because I don’t actually remember entering! 

This is the biggest race I have entered.

Big as in the amount of runners, not distance. I was staggered to see that it has over 40,000 runners, and that the start is in several waves.

Secretly I am a little disappointed that it is a wave start, as it would have been epic to race against that many people!

I somehow also managed to get into the white wave, where it quite clearly states that this is not for slow people. Ok, they worded this a little more eloquently than me.

I figure that I gave them my target finishing time, so they would have put me in the right wave – right?!?

I am also very impressed with the race pack and information that they supplied. It includes some really helpful tips on the build up to race day, fab maps and schedule information about when and where each wave starts and where to meet with family later. Even this is specified by your wave colour!


Fantastically detailed map of the route


Detailed info, including how to tie your chip to your shoe!


Great info on where to meet people after

I have the full Beecroft family out supporting me, as my other half is from Manchester, so it’s a great excuse to head up North to visit the family. Hopefully they’ll be able to spot me amongst the other 39,999 runners! I also have a friend running, but he’s in the Orange wave (fastest!) so I doubt we’ll find each other due to the wave segregation 😉

I am very excited, as I always get caught up in the atmosphere of a well organised race, plus I’m super competitive for someone who’s not actually very good 😉 The way it has been organised feels like it will be a fab morning of running. Plus I might be on TV – must remember to set the Sky + 

I have only done three 10km races before, so I am by no means an expert at this distance, and my pacing is pretty shocking! Hoping to get a PB, but we’ll see on the day – Fingers Crossed (and a few toes for extra luck!)