No half measures

I am beginning to think half marathon distance is not my thing.

A year after my first half (and a few in between) I had decided that I would take part in the Pleshy half marathon. I was told it was a nice course and it was not a million miles away from home. So I signed up.

In the weeks leading up to the half I had run but it was not proper training (in my view) for a half. It was sporadic to say the least and the training had no real substance to it. Other things had got in the way of running since going back to work after the summer and a few parkruns and bits here and there was not going to cut it.

This and a knee niggle was enough to go into the half marathon weekend with doubts, I almost bailed but on the morning I put my kit on and left to go.

Weather was mild to start with and was warming up quickly for the race start.

Although I had decided to now take part I also decided I wasn’t going to beat myself up over times or finish places, my role today was to just get round and finish it. I did not want a DNS or a DNF against my name.

There was many from my second club in attendance and after the team photos we made our way to the start. Many around me were nervous, for them it was their first half or they were still new to the distance, I felt nervous and very much under prepared.

At the off I knew I would get round but at this point no clue of time, I decided to walk run. The first mile I had gone out (yet again) too fast and this was rather annoying.

Myself and a mate from the club fell into step side by side and this great company made up for the fact that music i.e. headphones was not allowed at this event. My headphones are bone conduction, I can hear everything around me and allowed by EA so this rule is an annoyance to say the least but I also understand the safety aspect. Maybe clubs need to be more up to date with their regulations but a side issue. We spent the time encouraging each other, admiring the Essex countryside and taking comfort that we were out there doing it.

The morning was becoming very warm and my fingers had really swollen up, this is worrying as it happens a fair bit and can hurt. I find I have issues gripping and this was the case when trying to hold onto a water bottle. Cross with myself as I had not taken my salt tablets or managed my water intake batter, another thing to rectify along with my training plans.

We both completed the 13.1 in the 3 hours something, not the best time in the world but we did it and was in one piece unlike a poor team mate who had hurtled towards the finish line and collapsed. Our job was done, t-shirt and medal collected.

I would do this half again, if I am motivated to train for the distance. Lovely event in a lovely part of the county and super supportive volunteers.

Before I contemplate this distance again I need to look at my training and decide if I should be doing these miles or go for something shorter and then train accordingly. I also then need to look at nutrition and feul for the actual event itself.

I am not down about this half but it has made me take stock of my running life and how I need to be more serious about some of the events I take part in and how to best train.

Advertisements

Jersey Shore

It was decided a while ago that this parkrun tourism business was a good lark and we started to look at other parkrun events we could get to easily when in full time work.

Jersey came up, flights were cheap, near to airport and could be done in a day.

An early alarm call found us making our way to Southend airport and meeting with the rest of the gang.

The quickest (and cheapest) flight ever got us to Jersey with at least 45 minutes to make our way to the park.

Finding the start was easy, saying hello to the volunteer team easy, listening to the briefings easy but, for me, the 5k today was hard.

The route was lovely, a loop and half on tarmac then off a disused and filled in railway line, so trails mainly. The marshals were fab and welcoming.

After the run we made our way to a beach and spent the day there, brunching, and enjoying the rather warm September sunshine, listening to the waves and having great chats.

It was all rather blissful and for me it was just so wonderful being by the sea, with the sun on my face having just completed a 5k and chilling with no TV, no crowds, no paperwork with good friends.

I would totally recommend Jersey, the parkrun is great but it is a lovely island (banking has changed it somewhat from my childhood) with many castles, beaches and a nice chilled laid back vibe.

Parkrun family

You know I love parkrun right? I love the ethos, the atmosphere at many of the events and the fact it gets me off my backside on a Saturday morning!

One Saturday morning my running family came together to celebrate two fab men with their milestones. Sam was at 250 parkruns that day and his son 200 parkruns.

Valentines was the venue and this would be my third appearance there. I love the atmosphere here, everyone is so encouraging regardless of whether someone is fast and comes in first, jogging or walking the route. That’s the beauty of parkrun run/jog/walk.

I had decided I was going to run by feel, I had been ill in the week leading up to this and I just wanted to do the men justice and spend time with my running family. It wasn’t a PB but it was not my slowest time either.

Spending time after with these lovely people is the best reward after a 5k.

I will be returning to Valentines, more often as it feels so homely.

If you have not yet tried a parkrun I urge you to, everyone is made so welcome.

Autumn challenge

It was time for a return visit to Ranscombe for the Autumn challenge. Boy oh boy these seasons pass very quickly and I could not believe that after this event there was one more and that was it!

The weather matched the season with a damp misty start, the heat felt at the last Ranscombe event long gone.

Although the mist cleared quickly it took a while longer for the sun to heat the air.

I had decided through lack of training, an illness in the week and direction that I was not going to push my luck, I would be happy in just completing one lap of 3.75 miles this time.

As I set off my legs felt heavy and my left knee was really uncomfortable. The hills made my legs work all the move and my knee was proving to be the difficult child in this relationship today. Some great company on this lap made things bearable but I had resigned myself to the fact it was not going to be a big day for me.

As I came into the end of the loop and the aid station I took a break. Deciding to go out for a second lap I set off and almost regretted it but I pressed on.

The hills forced me to a snails pace and I knew as I finished the big hill that I would not be seeing it again for a few months.

I ended my second lap and ran the bell, slightly disheartening but I managed something.

The bling and my outfit made me feel better, thanks to Liz for my Arsenal inspired running dress.

Essex Girl at the Essex Way Relay

On Sunday 3 September 70 teams took part in the Essex Way Relay. This race covers the 82 miles of the Essex way from Epping Station to Harwich Old Lighthouse in 10 stages. The route is mostly cross country and can be difficult through crops and across ploughed fields.Although I had been going to the gym a lot more over the summer break, my running schedule had not really been followed. Although I had out my name down to run leg two with a running buddy I wanted to bail. I was convinced not to bail and to just get on with it.

So early Sunday morning my running buddy and I stood in an Ongar road ready for the off. The atmosphere was buzzing and we checked in along with everyone else.

Very quickly we were off, all we had was a set of navigational instructions and a map. As a result we legged it up the road along with al the others in fear of getting lost. Glad that we did as a sharp turn off the high street and into a church yard and then into a field threw us.

Keeping the back running in view we made our way over ploughed fields and green footpaths. Sometimes the paths were so overgrown there was no choice but to slow to a walk avoiding nettles and brambles.

This event was well marshalled and everyone incredibly friendly, the instructions were excellent and as a result we did not get lost unlike others. I was not the fastest and I was ashamed to hold my running buddy back but he was not fussed really and we used the 9 ½ miles to catch up and put the world to rights.

Really enjoyed this event and glad I did not bail.

Essex Way

Did Someone Say Cake?

We were back at Ranscombe for another SVN event – this time the Summer Bank Holiday Cakeathon.

This event encourages those to bake and bring cakes for some extra prizes, whilst encouraging the runners to have a slice or two of cake between laps.

Bank Holidays in the UK are traditionally damp, cold and raining, not this one.  Although the morning started off misty once the mist cleared 29 degree hit the local area and boy was it felt.

Sun beginning to show
Misty morning

I wanted to do my usual between 1 and 3 laps I didn’t have any other plans in mind, the weather told me to play it cautious.

Ready to go

The start was different to the spring and summer challenges, going across a field that had recently been cut down.  A challenging start but one I actually welcomed as it meant I had to go off slowly.  The field was slippery with the squashed remains of whatever had been growing there.

I trod carefully over the rough uneven ground until I got to a path, an uphill climb and then a beautiful downhill where I could let my legs just go.

I have described Ranscombe before so I won’t go into too much detail here about the route but suffice to say the heat and hills were as testing as ever but the feeling of accomplishment was amazing.

The theme for the run was pink in honour of one of the long standing members of SVN running her 100th marathon.  I decided on a pink tartan skirt made by running afrock which made my running shorts more feminine, a pink vest top and pink cap.  I loved this outfit and it fitted my attitude to this event well, fun and relaxed.

Last lap made me very happy
My pink get up.

 

The men in the group were able to wear their new mega marathons tops, a new scheme by SVN, they wore them with pride don’t you think?

I was also now able to earn and now wear my 100 mile shirt, something i had aspired to since the very first SVN.  Putting it on I felt proud of my achievements and this is largely down to my support crew for always being there and to those who look after us as SVN.

25 marathons
My coveted 100 mile shirt.

Lastly I could not write about an SVN event without mentioning and showing off the bling.  As always these are very well thought through and and the bling nice and heavy.

The cakes at this event were amazing, different types of cakes and I wish I took pictures of the great masterpieces people had contributed to the cakeathon but I can say the ones I tried were fabulous.

The bling
Goody bag items

Stanford-Le-Hope When Things Don’t go To Plan

After a pretty successful parkrun the day before at Valentines it was time for a 10k over at the nature reserve at Stanford-Le-Hope.  This was the first year that Phoenix running club was putting on a 10k alongside their community 5k.  It was really the only way I was going to get a long run in that weekend so we booked very last minute.

We had never visited before and upon arrival I was quite sad about this as it was a lovely place, similar to Rainham Marshes (Purfleet).  Very pretty and a fabulous mix of industrial with the docks nearby and nature with the reserve.

Sparkling Thames
Wide open space

Number collection was easy and I bumped into my friend who runs for Phoenix along with a few members from my club.

Nerves hidden
Group selfie

The weather was sunny and fairly hot and I was not really feeling it, I was regretting signing for the 10k and not switching to the 5k when I lined up on the start line.  The race did not start on time so in the few minutes of waiting for the off my mind went into over drive.

Once off I felt ok for the first mile, my pacing was on point and I was overtaking those doing the 5k.  But, it started to fall apart by mile 2.  I felt thirsty and I remembered I had not hydrated as well as I should have done for this race.  The weather was adding to this issue with every step.  As I carried on it became very clear that I was the last runner for the 10k, made even more apparent when the tail sweeper came up to join me, lovely lady and ultimately we got on fine and discovered that we had numerous things in common, but very demoralising when she announced when alongside me that I was the last of the 10k group.  With that in mind I felt rubbish, she was also very encouraging and in the end I appreciated her company but at the time I was ready to just throw that towel in.  The first loop over with I grabbed some water before setting out for the second lap. I was ready to quit but I remembered that I was not a quitter!

The second lap was tough but, I got to it. I spent most of it walking and feeling rough I could think of a million different places I would have rather had been, crazy when among the beauty of the reserve.

The final 100 meters was the most welcome sight I have seen for a long time, I dug deep and sprinted towards it indicating that I did not want cheers from hubs and mate.  I went through the finish and was given my medal but all I could think about was getting a sit down and a sugary drink.

I found a bench and laid down, feeling pretty rubbish at this point.  The sun was beating on my face but I laid there nearly in tears, feeling disappointed with my performance and with running in general.  I felt like I wanted to throw in the towel on this whole running life.

A sugary tea later as I felt less shaky but still disappointed but, I do not want this to be a pity party.  After a few hours of rest and reflection I decided that I have come a long way and one duff race/run is not the reason to give up.  I also realised that I needed to hydrate and eat appropriately for running.  Hydration has always been an issue, some days I know I don’t drink the correct amount of water.

With that in mind I booked to have my blood test, and over-hauled my fluid intake.  If I mess up another run it will not be down to nutrition or lack of hydration.