Attitude, Race Review, Reviews

Race Review: Great North Run 07.09.14

I ran my first Great North Run in 2006.  It was my first half marathon and took me 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Since then, I’ve run every single one expect for 2012 which was the husband’s 40th birthday.  I’ve got my half marathon time down to 2 hours 15 although recently it’s stuck at around the 2 hours 20/25 mark.

I absolutely love the Great North Run.  It’s amazingly well organised, the atmosphere and the spectators are fantastic and I get a lump in my throat every time the Red Arrows go over.  I run with a good friend and we travel to Newcastle on the train together then she waits for me at the end and we go home.

This year we said would be our last GNR.  It’s getting expensive and to someone who trains in flat York the whole course feels like it’s uphill.  But I might have changed my mind on the finish line…we’ll see!

This year was astonishingly hot for September in the grim North East of England.  I knew as soon as I set off I would struggle with the heat so put any thoughts of a PB out the window and focused on enjoying the run. There are bands every mile, people in costumes and of course Bus Stop Elvis as mile 11 – love him!

Maybe I just wasn’t in a competitive mood but I felt like I’d had a nice day out.  I finished in 2 hours 28 and I’ll take that – anything over 2 hours 30 and I’ve have been gutted.

I wasn’t the millionth finisher (it looks like she was about an hour after me) but congratulations to her – and to GNR for being such an amazing event.

Happy running this week! 🙂

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10k, Race Review, Reviews, Uncategorized, Weather

Race Review – Leeds 10k 20th July 2014

The Leeds 10k is an old friend of mine – I’ve done the race on quite a few occasions now and I know the course pretty well.  It’s a fairly flat (and supposedly fast) out and back along Kirkstall Road.

It’s not the most exciting route, but I love watching the people who are ahead of me when I’m running out and those behind me when I’m running back.  It gives me something to focus on and takes my mind off the road.

Last year my time at Leeds was 57.31.  Could I break the magic 60 minutes again this year?  I hoped so, but the weather had other ideas.

We are in a HEATWAVE in the UK at the moment. I’m not complaining, but it’s killing my running 😦

Sunday morning was foggy, but the sort of fog that says “very soon it’s going to be toasty here”.  Sure enough, I was sweating on the start line before we’d even gone anywhere. I tucked my t-shirt up into my sports bra (apologies, those of you who had to watch my belly running) and off we went.

Up to 5k…not bad.  Post 5k…are these my legs??  I just couldn’t make my feet work!  I switched to 3 minutes running, 1 minute walking and then to 1 minute running, 1 minute walking.  The last mile was rubbish and I just wanted it all to be over.  It’s always nerve racking seeing other people collapsed by the roadside, particularly the man wearing the same running outfit as the husband.  Best wishes to you all, I hope you’re all okay.

Scores on the doors? 1.05.37.  Not good, but not terrible either.  York 10k is in 2 weeks so I have chance to redeem myself.

Even the husband was 6 minutes slower than last year – and he’s not impressed.

Route – 8/10

Goody bag – 8/10 – loved the Kitkat Chunky

Congratulations to our friend Richard who was completing an Ironman while we were complaining about the 10k.  Nice work!

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Race Review, Reviews

Race Review: York Marathon 20.10.13

20th October was the big day and the one I’ve been building up to for 6 long months of training.  It’s been particularly tough with all the building work we’re getting done and having no kitchen for 4 weeks, but I think my training has kept me sane in a way.

Here’s how my day with 6500 other runners went.

Getting there

Oh I do approve of local races!  The husband had been able to book a parking space for us a David Lloyd’s gym (thanks David Lloyd’s!) which was only a stones throw away from the start line.  I was able to get up at 6.45, have a porridge breakfast and still get there with plenty of time to spare.

Facilities

The start line seemed very quiet compared to some of the other runs I’ve done, but the baggage area looked well organised.  There were lots (and I mean lots) of portaloos for pre-race wees which I’m always happy about.

We were put into pens about an hour before the start and did a mass warm-up, the start then got away on time.  I was at the back in Zone 5 so I had that odd disconnected moment when you know the race has started but you personally won’t be going anywhere for a while.

The route

For a marathon, the route is very nice and mainly flat apart from one steepish hill.  The first 10k takes you into the centre of York and then you’re out into the countryside and through the villages.  The spectators were great and so were the marshalls, really buoyant and cheerful which helps.

There were 2 sections on the route where runners doubled back on themselves. I don’t mind these normally because it’s good to reassure yourself that there are people still behind you. The first one was quite short so not too bad, but the second one went on forever and I could have done without it.  There was no timing chip at the bottom either, so I wonder how many runners were tempted to just cross the path?

The marathon featured Runner’s World pacers who wore flags on their backs for the finish time they were pacing – what a great idea and what great people.  I stuck with the 4.45 guy for about 10 miles before I had a wobble and lost him.

The finish

The finish line was downhill, hoorah!  The announcer read people’s names out as they finished, and then runners were herded off to collect their goody bags.  My only criticism of the finish is it’s a real maze in the York Uni buildings – had the husband not found me I might not have found him.

The goodies

The goodie bag was very good – a medal and a t-shirt with FINISHER in massive letters on the front.  Also some food, including a packet of cheese and onion Seabrooks which were amazing for salt replacement.

My time

My goal for the marathon was anything under 5 hours, and I got 4.57.55 which I’m delighted with.  Maybe I could have done a bit faster, but I finished well and uninjured and happy.

See how happy I am 🙂

The finish line

The finish line

I’ll post some thoughts on marathon training in general next week and then decide what to do with my blog – maybe I’ll keep it going for my next run as it’s really helped me focus with my training.

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Attitude, Diet, Race Review, Reviews, Running, Weather

Race Review: Great North Run 15.9.13

Sunday 15th September was the Great North Run, the world’s second biggest half marathon.  56,000 people (including Mo Farah!) descend on Newcastle to run through to South Shields.  This year was my seventh Great North.  I ran it for the first time in 2006 and I’ve only missed one since.

The atmosphere is fantastic and even though this year was a bit of a disaster timing wise, it’s still an amazing day.

Getting there

Public transport is the best way for me to approach the GNR – we drove the first year and the traffic was HORRENDOUS.  The 7.10 train from York gets to Newcastle in plenty of time, and is full of people in running gear.  It’s a 10 minute walk from the train station to the start and don’t worry about getting lost, there are always plenty of people to follow.

Facilities

The GNR has to be well organised, it’s too big not to be.  There are lots of loos around the start, expect to queue but not for too long.  Runners put their bags onto numbered buses, and then you go meet your bus at the finish line.  The bag label on your bag and your race number are cross-checked when you collect your gear, so the security is good too.

The start

As with most big races, you’re put in a pen according to your estimated speed.  I was in my pen an hour before the start, but there are big screens with lots of stuff to watch and you can chat to fellow runners so I didn’t get bored.  We watched the elite and wheelchair races go on the big screen, and the Red Arrows did a fly over – brings a tear to my eye every time!

Once the front runners go you’ll be walked forward slowly – it took about half an hour for me to get to the start line but there’s no pushing or shoving.

It’s tradition for the person starting the race to try and high five every runner – I’m very proud to say I touched Christine Ohuruogu!

Top tip: it’s cold stood around, so grab a charity shop fleece to wear while you wait.  These are collected by another charity from the start line where they are all dumped.

The route

GNR isn’t a hilly route, but it’s not flat either.  There are lots of inclines which can creep up on you if you’ve not done any hills in your training (like me!).  There are bands every mile and the locals and supporters are flipping amazing, what other run do you get people handing out biscuits and ice pops on?

Watch out for bus stop Elvis at about 11 miles – he’s a GNR legend.

The last mile of the route is along the sea front at South Shields – it’s tempting to sprint as soon as you see it but it can feel like a very long mile…

The finish

Once you reach the finish, you collect your goodie bag and t-shirt and head off to your baggage bus.  There’s a changing area, and buses or the metro back to Newcastle if you need them.

The goodies

GNR has a great goodie bag – lots of snacks and some energy drink samples, and rather randomly a mini tube of toothpaste.  I do wish they’d include a technical tee rather than a cotton one though, as I don’t really train in cotton

My time

Well this is my tale of woe.  I was running fine until about 7 miles, when I became aware of some…rumblings…from my stomach.  I tried to ignore them, but a loo on the route at 8.5 miles saved my life!  I won’t go into detail but I was in there for some time, feeling so cross with myself.  After that whenever I tried to speed up, I got stomach cramps so the rest of the run was very patchy.

I crossed the line in 2 hours 27 minutes, a far cry from the 2.10 I was hoping for.  It was still a great day out but I was gutted about my time.  I’d had a pizza with lots of chillis 2 days before and that’s all I can think it was – an important lesson for the marathon anyway.  I wouldn’t mind so much if I’d self-sabotaged on a training run, but it’s gutting to do it on a day you only get once a year.

The weather on the route this year was supposed to be horrendous (the first ‘big storm’ of the autumn) but it wasn’t actually too bad – a bit rainy and windy but no worse than a normal September run.  I do wonder if the forecast had got my nerves going a bit too.

So, this week I’ve been focusing on re-building my confidence and getting my diet back on track.  It’s 4 and a half weeks to the marathon now and I don’t want any more disasters.

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10k, Race Review, Reviews, Running, Training

Race Review: York 10k 4.8.13

Sunday 4th August was my home town 10k, organised by the Jane Tomlinson charity.

Getting there

This is an easy one for me – just 10 minutes drive to the racecourse in York.  I do love organised runs, but I’m terrible with early starts so local events are always preferable.   I got up at 7am to eat porridge and a banana, that way I could make sure I’d done all my digesting before the run started.

Parking

There’s event parking at the racecourse itself.  We parked on a side street a few minutes walk away – the streets do seem to be getting busier and busier every year though.   I’ve heard lots of people say the traffic is bad getting to this run from further away, so make sure you’ve left plenty of time.

Facilities

We got the racecourse in plenty of time and spotted a MASSIVE queue for the portable toilets.  I didn’t even need a wee but the husband and I didn’t have much else to do so we joined the queue and stood around for 15 minutes.  By the time I got there, I did need a wee so all was well before the start of the race.  With an estimated 6000 runners, I think a few more loos would have been good.

The start

I’ve done this race in previous years and the start has been a bit of a mess – everyone penned in on Knavesmire Road and not able to hear the announcers.  This year there were pens for sub 45, sub 55, sub 60 minute runners to assemble in, to be followed by 60 minute + runners, joggers and walkers.  A huge improvement!  I set off with the sub-60 runners and was a bit surprised to see people walking within the first kilometre.  A bit ambitious in the group they stood with perhaps 🙂

The route

This run is billed as one of the most beautiful 10k’s in England and they’re right.  It goes past the river, York Minster…it’s lovely.  The route is mostly flat, with a few small inclines.  It does get narrow at some points though, so competitive types might find it a bit frustrating if they get stuck.

I had Harry Gration from Look North (our local news) running behind me for a while, he was getting so much attention from the spectators!  I sped up so he didn’t overtake me.

There were lots of people on the route cheering us on – thank you so much!

The finish

The finish came quite quickly for me.  Up to 7k I felt fine and like I was going fairly fast.  I didn’t dare look at my Garmin in case I was actually going really slowly!  The 8th and 9th kilometre felt harder but I had enough to get a sprint to the finish.

The goodies

A disappointing goodie bag, but I think I might have a got a defective one.  I got a medal, technical tee and small chocolate bar.  The husband got medal, tee, chocolate, lucozade and a stack of leaflets.  Oh well.

My time

56.41.  I’m delighted with that, another PB.  If it had been a little cooler I think I might have gone even faster too.

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10k, Race Review, Reviews, Running, Weather

Race Review: Leeds 10k 14.7.13

Sunday 14th July was the Jane Tomlinson Leeds 10k.  The Jane Tomlinson events are always well organised and well attended, the entrance fees are steep but the atmosphere and the goodie bag are usually worth it 🙂

Getting there

Leeds isn’t too far from York so we had a leisurely breakfast (wholemeal bagels and honey, banana) and left the house at 7.45.  Traffic getting into Leeds isn’t bad and there is lots of parking, just make sure you read up on the road closures.  It was cloudy when we left York, but as we drove towards Leeds the sun really started to blaze.

Parking

There are lots of car parks in the centre of Leeds, and if you can find an on street space it’s free on a Sunday.

Facilities

My pre-race wee is always a concern for me – will I have to queue, how grotty will the toilets be?  There were lots of portaloos but the queues there were quite big.  What most runners don’t know is that there are public toilets in the corner of Millenium Square where the runners assemble, and the queue there wasn’t too bad.   It’s a little thing, but a clean toilet and toilet paper make for a great start to the day.

The start

My only real quibble with this race is how early they want the runners to assemble.  The race started at 9.30, but we were supposed to be assembled by 8.30 to be walked to the start at 8.50. There was a lot of hanging around listening to the DJ rambling and most people just wanted to get going.  We found a little patch of shade which was much better than 45 minutes standing in full sun.

The route

The route was new this year – fast and flat, and similar to the Abbey Dash route (another Leeds 10k).  It’s an ‘out and back’ route, so the road was split in two for the faster runners to return while I plodded on.  I know some people don’t like this type of route, but I love being able to see the elite athletes zoom by, and when I’m on my way back I like to see if there are still people behind me.

There was a little bit of congestion in places but overall it was okay.

The finish

Slightly uphill!  Just like every finish in Leeds seems to be 🙂  The 200 meters to go sign was very welcome, and I crossed the line in 57.32, a new personal best (PB) for me.  I was targeting sub-60, so I was very happy.  The husband got sub-50 so he was delighted too.

The goodies

Jane Tomlinson events always provide a great technical t-shirt.   There was water, Lucozade Sport and  a couple of little chocolate bars which I devoured in the car on the way home.   There was lots of water and sponges on the route, which were very welcome in the heat.

My time

57.32.  It’s York 10k next month, now I have a new target to beat!  I really feel like my training is making me stronger and more consistent.  I’m a bit faster too, but strength is my goal with an eye on the marathon…it’s getting closer!

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10k, Race Review, Reviews, Running

Race Review: Castle Howard 10k 16.6.13

Sunday 16th June was down for a 10k race on my training plan, so I registered for the Castle Howard 10k.  This is a gorgeous scenic race through the the stately home’s stunning grounds.

Getting there

Castle Howard is fairly close to where I live so it wasn’t too much of an early start – plenty of time to get some porridge into me and grab a banana for a pre-race snack.

There is a fun run and a 6k race that start before the 10k, which kicks of at 11.15.  Because this is a smaller race, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about fighting traffic.

Parking

Free parking is provided in a field about 5 minutes walk from the race start.  There’s ample space, but it can get a bit slippy if it’s a wet year.  This year was hot and sunny so no problems getting in and out of the parking.

Facilities

There are toilets near the race start for runners to use – the queues can be pretty long but they are inside toilets with toilet paper which is always nice – better than a grotty portaloo!

The start

The race started a couple of minutes late to allow some stragglers who were stuck in toilet queues to arrive.  The start is quite narrow so for the first 100 yards it’s just a case of holding your own  – after that the pack thins out and there is no crowding on the route.

There was a warm up before the start but only 2 people joined in – perhaps because the PA system was quite poor so no one knew it was happening.

The route

The route is 10.45k in total – that extra .45k can be a real shock if you don’t know about it and are only prepared to run 10k.  It is a 2 lap route, on good quality trails that show you some of the highlights of the estate.  Most of the laps are flat or gently sloped, apart from the end of each lap.  Here, you run up a steep bridge and then up another steep slope on the other side.   It’s only a few minutes, but it can be a killer and many people choose to walk.

The finish

Even though it’s a small race there are plenty of folk to clap you over the line.  Timing is taken manually, no timing chips.

The goodies

A commemorative mug and a bottle of water 🙂

My time

I crossed the line in 1.04.47, so averaged a 10 minute mile.  I’m happy with that!  Previous years I’ve walked the steep section but this year I ran non-stop so it was a great 10k.  Leeds 10k is coming up next month followed by York 10k in August, I’m hoping to sub-60 minute in both of those.

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