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.


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.


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.

Kit, Reviews, Running, Training

Kit Review: RooSport

Now I’ve worked out a rough strategy for gels for the York Marathon, I need a way to carry them.  I can hold a single gel and a water bottle quite comfortably, but four or five gels requires something a bit more formal.

I’ve seen runners wearing belts like the Spibelt that have holders for gels, but I’m not sure I will be comfortable running in a belt.  My skin is very sensitive, and anything that rubs against it when I’m running or sweating can lead to sore red irritations.  Even labels or a twisted bra strap have hurt me in the past.

While I was looking online for inspiration, I came across the RooSport.  This is an alternative to a belt, it’s a pocket with a magnetic tab.  The pocket slips into your shorts, and the magnetic tab folds over and holds it in place.

Alternative to the Spibelt

Alternative to the Spibelt?

The RooSport isn’t available from Amazon or other retailers, only directly via the RooSport website.  The ordering process was fairly seamless, but I was a bit nervous about the lack of detail about shipping – there are no lead times for international orders.  I did email to check, but didn’t get any reply.

That said, the delivery was very fast, my RooSport arrived in about 3 working days.  I’ve had UK Amazon orders that took longer than that 🙂

I’ve tried the RooSport on 2 long runs now.  The good points are:

  • It does feel totally secure and you do forget you’re wearing it
  • It is very easy to get gels out
  • It’s hand washable and dries quickly
  • The material is very comfortable

The not so good points are:

  • The more you put in it, the more noticeable it gets.  One gel and you can barely see it, but more than one gel and it starts to look like a huge lump
  • The website claims it has space for five gels, but this isn’t true for the SiS Go gels I’m using – it will take three at the most, any more and it doesn’t shut and feels quite ungainly

I was a bit worried about the zip on the back which is facing your skin as you wear it, but this hasn’t caused any rubbing or irritation so far.

Overall I’d give the RooSport 8/10.  It’s a great idea that has clearly come from a runner’s experience, but I’m not sure it’s big enough to get me through a marathon.  If all you’re carrying is car keys, then it’s ideal – I see from other blogs that people use it as a money belt substitute when they travel too.

I’m going to try a Spibelt as well, so I’ll let you know what I think when that arrives.

How do you carry your food?

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.


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.


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!

Diet, Kit, Reviews, Running, Training

Kit Review: Sis Go Isotonic Gel

Running can be an expensive sport once you start looking at all the kit and accessories available.  There is a whole industry built around offering more and more sophisticated options to runners, all with a price tag attached.

When I set off for a run with my Brooks trainers, Garmin watch, Nike capris etc…I’m probably wearing the most expensive outfit I own (just to sweat in it!).

One area I’m very sceptical about is runner’s nutrition.  I’ve seen people at 5k runs taking energy gels, clutching sports drinks, they are probably taking on more calories than the burn in the 30 or so minutes they’ll be running.

My rule of thumb is that I don’t need anything extra if I’m doing up to 70 minutes of exercise.  Beyond 70 minutes, I might need more fuel.  For up to 70 minutes, a piece of flapjack before I head out and a bottle of water are fine 🙂

When I’ve done half marathons in the past, I’ve faded at the 7/8 mile mark.  For the marathon, I’m working on strategy of taking on some fuel every hour, and I’m incorporating that into my long runs now so I don’t get any tummy related surprises on the big day.

I’ve been using SiS Go Gels.  The marketing blurb says “concentrated carbohydrate energy in a convenient fast-flow gel, Science in Sport (SiS) Go Gel is the world’s first and only isotonic energy gel with unique patent-pending formulation.

Each handy palm-sized Go Gel sachet contains 25g of isotonic carbohydrate energy, which is enough energy for 20 to 30 minutes of exercise, and because it’s isotonic, it will still deliver energy without the need for extra water.”

SiS Go Gel

SiS Go Gel

I say “they don’t taste too yucky, seem to hit the spot and don’t give me any digestive grief”.  Tropical is my favourite flavour, the blackcurrant isn’t too bad either.

There’s another version of the gel that contains a hit of caffeine as well, but I’m trying to avoid caffeine as part of my training regime, so I’ll be giving that one a miss – if you’ve tried it, let me know what you think in the comments.

The sales websites suggest 3 gels per 60 minutes of exercise.  I’ll go for 1 per hour in the marathon with one for an emergency, so I’ll be carrying 5 in total.  My next challenge is to find a way to transport them.  I don’t really like running with belts or backpacks but I’m going to have to try a few options, another kit review will follow when I find something I’m happy with.

How do you fuel your long runs?  Gels, jelly babies, just water?

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.


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.


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.

Kit, Reviews, Running

Kit Review: Sports Bras

Reading through Runner’s World this month I was highly amused to see there is a naturist friendly 5k in Pembrokeshire.  My immediate thought was ouch, my chest!  But looking at the picture, it seems most of the women runners chose to wear a sports bra, trainers and bare bottoms.

The sports bra is an essential piece of kit for women runners.  A lack of proper support can lead to long term droopiness, but short term I find it painful to run with my chest flapping about so it’s not good for my focus or my form.

Sports bras can be eye-wateringly expensive, so it’s important to choose the right one.  Some of them just don’t seem to work for me, but I have to spend a few minutes jumping up and down in a changing room before I can decide.

The brand I swear by is Shock Absorber.  I’m a D cup, so I need something fairly substantial – friends I know who have larger chests than me run in 2 sports bras at once to get the support they need.

The 2 bras that work best for me are the Shock Absorber Ultimate Run and the Shock Absorber Active Multisports.

Ultimate Run

This bra is great for running and really minimises bounce.  My only criticism is that I’ve never found a way to put it on single handedly and always need someone to fasten the back of it for me!

Ultimate Run



Active Multisports

This is a crop top style compression bra.  It’s got 2 fasteners on the back so it’s comfortable but very supportive.  I’ve had about 6 of these now, I have found the latest ones seem to be a bit softer and less supportive than the older ones so I’ll have to play around with sizing next time I buy.




Sports Bras come in all sorts of pretty colours but to be frank I don’t care what they look like as long as they do the job 🙂

The other sports bras I’ve had some success with were Shock Absorber tennis bras.  They were on sale at my local Sweatshop so I grabbed a Ball and a Racket Sports bra.   They work great at minimising bounce, tennis players are probably experiencing similar forces to runners so they are worth a look too. (PS I’m not affiliated with Shock Absorber in any way….I just like their bras!)

Ball Racket Sports







Once you’ve invested in your sports bras, remember they will only last so long before the elastic starts to give and you’ll notice you’re not getting the same support you used to.  I find mine last 18 months to 2 years and then they become ‘gym bras’ before being sent off to the great bra shop in the sky.

While they are expensive, they are a great investment and with some clever shopping you can find some bargains.  Shops like TK Maxx and Sports Direct get good sports bras sometimes, so it’s worth a check.

If you’ve got a recommendation for a great sports bra please do leave a comment.