half marathon

Yeovil Half Marathon

As part of my marathon buildup I had been looking to get signed up for a half marathon about 4-6 weeks out from race day. For a number of reasons I was not quite able to find one on the perfect date and in hindsight with all the cancellations due to snowfall, I was quite lucky not to find myself in an unfortunate position of my race schedule being disrupted.

In the end I signed up for Yeovil Half Marathon on March 25th, only 2 weeks before I toe the line at Manchester marathon. Rather to close for me to go chasing a personal best, but close enough for me to tie it in with my last 20 mile long run. It is also near where Dani’s mum lives so we could get a free bed for the night and didn’t have to stress out to much on the day.

I originally planned to run from Sherborne over to Yeovil for the race but with the clocks going forward ( a real pain) and it being 8 miles across, I decided against the super early rise to do this. Instead I opted to get there for 8am, an hour before the start and try to get a 45 minute run in before the start.

I didn’t really have much of a route for this planned and just started running. After a couple of miles I reached a natural turning point and retraced my steps. As I returned near the start I still had plenty of time before the race so I went off winding around some roads near by to keep moving and also keep the miles up. With about 8 minutes to go, I decided to go to the start pen and be ready for the start. Overall, this running before a race thing is a bit weird but I would have struggled if I had to keep running after crossing the finish line.

Onto the event itself. I generally enjoyed the race. It starts in the high street, at 9am but there were still good crowds to cheer us all off. They even organised some pacers for different times and they seemed to have good knowledge of how to pace the slightly hilly course. I went over to introduce myself to the 90 minute pacer as I planned to stay at that consistent pace as best I could. They had also put on a little warm up for those that want to follow it. Not my cup of tea as I like to stick to what I know but I’m sure many people would join in.

Soon we were off and running down a slight hill before looping back up to go through the crowds that were still in the high street. As we went through, there was a brass band playing. I really enjoy hearing brass bands playing something you might not expect them to. I can’t remember what they played but it brought a smile to my face. From there we went out of the town and onto some country paths to reach the first water station at mile 3. I missed it because I was on the left and the water was on the right. Result of being in a pacers group and not preparing for it.

After sometime we went onto a really quiet section of the race with little support but as a training run it was good to just keep my head down and focus on pace. Once we got through that it was on to some hilly sections as we went out to Montacute house. We climbed a hill to reach it, climbed a hill to get out of it and then reached our first proper down hill. I wasn’t sure how long it would last, or what was to come next. Luckily I didn’t push too hard as round the bend was another incline. Then a decline. Then an incline. Then a decline. Then a really long steady incline. A really nice challenge but if you had gone off to fast you would be feeling it here.

At the end of the hills we headed back for town and I was still with the pacer group which was smaller now and on target time wise. We moved through some housing areas (where there were good crowds) and this meant we were asked to run on pavements. These pavements had many drop curbs so when I could I would hop onto the road because the up and down of the pavements really get to my knees. I felt my legs opening up and enjoying the flatter route after the hills and I managed to maintain this into the high street finish.

The brass band were still on the course but as I got there they were in between songs. A shame but didn’t affect my running. The home straight comes after a right hand turn. I really enjoy a finish straight that you don’t see until you turn a bend and can see a finish line not too far away as it gives you a massive boost but enough to carry you to the line. If you see the finish too early it can be demoralising. As I turned the bend I spotted the line, then spotted Dani and may have picked up my pace for a strong finish. That was mostly because the clock was ticking towards 90 minutes.

The medal received at the end was quite cool and I really like the hi vis t shirt we got. Beats all the dark greys and blues we always seem to get.

Ultimately I didn’t get a PB but today was not about that, it was about a final long run and feeling good with the pacing and following a pacer. If you’re looking for a build up Half, I would definitely recommend it.

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Weymouth Half Marathon

This weekend I travelled down to Weymouth to take part in their 2017 half marathon. It was a really well run event with good marshalling and I managed to get myself a PB. 

The day started with a good amount of drizzle but it was not as windy as it could have been. I woke up at 645 to get some porridge down me but in hindsight I feel I could have had too much as I was trying to force it down near the end. We started our journey over at 7:15 to get to the 8:30 start time. 

I joined in the crowds walking towards the start and made my way to the start pen. There was a kind warning by one of the marshals explaining that the first bend is quite narrow so we should not race into it too much. As we started there was a short delay as I walked across the road and began the start of the race. 

The start of the race had a little loop round the pavilion before heading out along the sea front. I had a plan to keep my pace as close to 1:30 as possible which I knew would be a challenge for me. I found myself in a little group that were going at a good pace for me to stick with. I checked my watch and was a little off pace so began to move the pace up a little bit and picked a few people in front of me to gradually catch. 

As we got off the seafront I saw the 3 mile marker which was a bit disheartening as I was on the edge of my comfort zone. Soon we had to make a very sharp turn into a small trail section near the mini golf before heading back on to the seafront. 

On our return leg we passed the 7 mile marker and I spotted Dani and her mum in the crowd which was a nice boost. Although being told where I was in the placing a was not what I wanted as I hadn’t looked at the clock at all until then. (53rd apparently). 

The route is pitched as being a flat course and I had looked at it before hand noticing there were some inclines but nothing that looked too scary. However there was definitely more hills than I expected. The first couple were ok but then disaster struck. 

From nowhere I had a stabbing pain in my chest and I was finding it so hard to catch my breath. Basically I had to walk and although I tried to jog down the hill it was still hard to breath. I thought it was a stitch at the time but think it may have been more. It took me about a mile to get over this and I had to struggle through the hilly section.  

Once past this I managed to get back to some steady rhythm but I could not get it back to where it should have been. I then got to the downhill section, went in the underpass and headed back to the beach. The crowds as I approached the finish were really positive and I got many shouts which helped keep me going as my stomach was very tight. I then rounded a corner to see the finishing area and Dani waiting, only to realise I had to go past that point and do a short, but very frustrating, loop before returning to the finish line. 

The finish line was great as there was a brilliant selection of water and sweets for us to indulge in. Whilst scoffing my face I also bumped into Tony from Instagram who managed to get close to the 1:30 I was after. 

In the end I was pleased with a PB but frustrated that it was not quite what I hoped for. 

To find out more information click here 

Plans for 2017

Not been on here for a while as I have been reflecting on what I want to achieve and why I want to run.

Over Christmas 2016, I decided I would start getting back into the habit of running regularly and tried to piece together a little run streak of gentle runs. It felt good to be out running and getting some time on my feet. Over this time it gave me a chance to think about what I wanted to do this year with my running. I also started to make greater use of Instagram and have been using that to record my runs daily as a way to keep myself focused and accountable. Having previously read a book on 8020 running I have decided that I will be following this plan over the next 4 and a half months.The main reason for choosing this plan is the hope that it will allow me to stay stronger towards the end of race.

My targets for the year is to go through a whole training plan without picking up a serious injury that stops my running. If I can do this, then I hope to be able to beat my PB.

Not being confident in my ability to do a whole plan without an injury I will be trying to do 2 marathons this year. To set myself up for this I will see how I go with the build up to my first marathon and then peak again for a second race. Alongside this, I am hoping to go into a number of other races or events without the pressure of running.

I have booked on for Weymouth Half Marathon in March to set me up for the Southampton Marathon on the same day as London Marathon. Hopefully putting in plenty of long, slow miles, I will be ready!

Ashford Half Marathon race personal best medal finish time

Half Marathon Personal Best – Ashford and District

On my yearly trip back home to the seaside paradise of Dymchurch in Kent over Easter I went to visit some good friends for a game of Pointless and drinks. My friend Becca is new to running but has signed up to the London to Brighton Ultra Marathon in May and is smashing her training. She has been signing up to a number of races to help keep her motivated and prepared. Discussions soon moved onto this and I was told of the 2nd Pod Plus Ashford and District Half Marathon that was taking place on the Sunday. She was doing the Full Marathon, as her first ever marathon. I was tempted, but also peer pressured, so I signed up.

As it turned out, I was glad I did because I managed to get a PB. After a last minute location change for the start of the race I felt they were really organised and had thought about parking for all as we found a space at the local doctors 2 minutes away. On arrival at the local primary school they were using, it was quick and easy to get my race number and there was a nice buzz in the hall. One issue was the amount of toilets as there was quite a queue – even though I thought I would be proactive and go early. That was my only gripe – and that is only a small one! There was a good briefing with plenty of information where those doing the marathon were told about the plans for their second lap. At this point I was relieved I was only doing half.

Shortly after, we made our way out the school and down to the start of the race. As we got together in the ‘start pen’  on a T-junction outside some peoples houses, the starter shouted ‘go’. No horn – but then it was a Sunday morning and some people love a lay in. I started off well and got into my own target pace which was 8:30 minute miles. It was an undulating course but some of the climbs were pushing what some might describe as hilly. That was how it was billed online so I can’t complain about it. It slowed me down on the way up but meant I was able to push on the way down.

Ashford Half Marathon

Reaching one downhill section, I found myself going to fast and almost struggling to slow myself down. In hindsight, I feel this may have been where I agitated my left knee/IT Band. The course included a lovely trail section which they did warn us about. It lasted about a mile or so, but the previous days rain meant it was quite muddy and this made me realise why people need specific trail shoes. I had zero grip so had to work hard to find my foot placing. It was a nice change and added to the experience.

After about mile 6 I tagged along to a runner (cheers Trevor) who has obviously been doing more training than I have and he was going to be going round twice to do the marathon. His pace was just what I needed and having him there gave me a target. Even after I took a couple of walking steps, his few words of encouragement made me get going again and I worked to catch him up.

As we approached the end of my lap, we parted ways. He turned right to go round again, I turned left to complete a strong finish with a nice number of people there to cheer me home. It was a nice touch having a big screen with each runner’s names and times coming up. I also enjoyed the treats right at the finish line and being able to move away at my own leisure. At this point I may have rewarded myself with some chocolate treats. I was also able to grab a quick little massage as the hall was quiet, but I think their intentions were that people booked before the race so I was quite fortunate.

When leaving, the Sat Nav took us along some of the running route, which turned out to be quite awkward when we accidentally drove past Becca on her marathon route! A lovely organised event and I may go back next year.

Half Marathon PB – Ashford and District Half Marathon – 1h34:45