Race Report: Bushy Park 10k

As I mentioned previously, Bushy Park was my first ever 10k race (and, until today, the only one!) My previous time was 1:02:49, and today I reeeally wanted to get under 1:02:00, as I’m trying really hard to push for a 9:xx pace.

I got up at 7, and it was dark, windy, and raining heavily. I would have LOVED to have gone straight back to bed. Instead, I had some toast and peanut butter, grabbed some water (with a citrus Zero hydration tablet, yum) and got into my running gear. By the time we left at 7:45, it was still dark. And cold. And windy. And rainy. I was starting to regret the whole thing, if I’m honest!

We got to Bushy Park at about 9:15, and the rain was just beginning to ease off. It was still wet and muddy underfoot, with occasional showers, and it was a bit breezy – but the sun was trying to push through the clouds:

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I’ll say one thing, Bushy Park is stunning. Absolutely stunning. And once the race started, the conditions were perfect; it was bright, sunny, and cool. Lovely. There were loads of deer and huge stags, too – we got very close at a couple of points on the course! One of the stags warned us off during the first half, making a loud noise that sounded a bit like a cow (I’m clearly an expert!)

I felt really strong for the first half. Admittedly, I’d forgotten just how tough it can be to run off-road, and my right ankle niggled a bit on the bumpy/muddy/uneven bits. But after about 3k I settled into a comfortable pace, and just enjoyed the scenery. This is the first race I’ve done where I haven’t worn a watch or my iPod, and I really enjoyed it. It took the pressure off, and meant that I simply ran at a pace that felt comfortable. I didn’t check my time at regular intervals, or fuss about how far off the next KM marker was – I just zoned out, and focused on my breathing, my footing, and the surroundings. Starting towards the back meant I was able to pass quite a few people, too, which worked as a bit of a boost!

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Overtaking at the half way point

I kind of look like I’m playing a flute or something there. Or the piano, possibly? I have NO idea what my right hand was doing, in any case!

I also didn’t run with any drink this time round. Instead, I grabbed some water at half way (there was a water stop) and took the opportunity to walk for a few metres to break up the distance (not that the distance is all that far, but still), and to have a few sips without spilling it all over myself. This mainly worked – though I did end up with a load of water in my face, too. I had barely wiped it off when a huge, wet leaf fell off a tree and smacked me in the face. More water, yay!

I felt good until about 8k, and then my calves and quads began to feel the strain of the uneven ground. There was one part of the course that was on a tarmac path, up a slight hill, and we were running directly into a strong head wind and had the sun blazing down. On the first loop, this was lovely – a bit of warmth with a much needed breeze – but by this point I was beginning to get a bit tired so I struggled a little. I made a deal with myself NOT to walk though – and to help, I kept picking someone ahead of me to match my pace to, and keep up with. I did this right until the end, where I managed a sprint (ish) finish, before nearly falling on the (mildly alarmed) lady who was removing the timing chips from our shoes. Whoops.

What can I say? Standing on one leg doesn’t work when said leg is nackered! 😀

Despite that little incident, I made it, and got to pick up my shiny new medal and a chocolate bar! (Priorities, people).

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My poor shoes 😦

I really loved this event. It was organised by Capital Runners, and went off without a hitch. Race numbers and instructions were posted out in advance, the course was clearly marked, and getting my timing chip barely took 5 seconds. They even had pots of safety pins, which was SUCH A HUGE WIN, as I could only find one at home .. The marshals were so lovely, too. They all smiled and clapped and offered encouragement, and all the supporters near the half way/finish point (same place) clapped and cheered for everyone. This makes me so happy!

To add to it all, in true Lucy style – as with my 5k earlier in the year – I beat my target time by a whole second, coming in at 1:01:59 😀

Hey, at least I’m consistent, right!? And that’s 50 seconds off my previous PB!

As a base line for my marathon training, I’m really chuffed with this. It’s a steady 10min/mile pace, which was comfortable to maintain, and gives me a predicted marathon time of 4:44:51. Obviously, the goal for Brighton is simply to finish – but anything under 5 hours would be awesome, and knowing that I have the ability to do that is great.

Today was a real confidence booster, and although I know that I probably could have done better had I trained more thoroughly, this is a starting point. And I’m excited for the journey ahead 😀

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Marathon Training and a 10k Race

So I did my 5-6 mile treadmill run today! Wooo!

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Turns out I look really attractive after an hour on the treadmill! (NOT). And this is AFTER the splash of cold water to the face, and 2 face wipes .. I did take a picture before that, too, but decided that putting my VERY red and sweaty face up on here and giving you guys no option but to look at it was a bit harsh!

I may or may not have set the wrong alarm last night, and woken up 20 minutes after I was supposed to have left for the gym. Boo. This meant that as punishment I got to lug my entire gym kit (along with my usual big heavy metal bike lock, work stuff, and lunch) all the way to work with me on the bike! The hills were OODLES of fun. As was the wind. My quads love me right now.

You might sense some sarcasm 😀

To be fair, cycling home after my run this evening (the gym is about 1.2/1.3 miles from home, so I had 6 miles to cycle to the gym from work and then a mile and a bit to get home afterwards) was extremely tough, and I probably would have struggled if I’d run this morning as planned! Better to struggle a mile from home than 7, right!?

On a more positive note (or rather, on another positive note, given that despite running at 6pm rather than 7am, I still got my run in!) I got a great deal on an awesome marathon nutrition pack from High5 recently. It’s a fun little box full of awesome running goodies (see the picture above), designed to get you through your entire marathon, as well as your pre-race fuelling and recovery afterwards. It includes:

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It’s awesome! And the best bit is that it’s all assorted flavours (unlike the usual multipacks of gels etc), so I get to try out all kinds of things! I already have 2 tubes of the Zero electrolyte tablets (the pink grapefruit ones are my favourite), because they fizz up and turn the water funky colours and taste like Refreshers – winning – but the rest of the stuff is completely new, and I’m excited to test it over the next few months!

As (briefly) mentioned, I’ve entered the Bushy Park 10k race this Sunday:

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This is the one and only 10k race I’ve done so far, and my current PB (which I got this time last year) was 1:02:47. I managed it with fantastic support from Mum (who inspired me to keep pushing by making it look effortless) and Dad (who was an absolute hero and held back to run with me the whole way, encouraging me when I wanted to stop). I think this race is going to be quite nostalgic, as silly as it sounds, as it marked the beginning of my running journey. It was my first ever race, and the furthest I’d ever run at the time. It’ll be interesting to see how fast I can finish it without the help from Mum and Dad! (I’ll be thinking of you guys!)

In an ideal world, I’d love to cut it down to sub-1hr, but I think I’m looking at 1:01:xx. To be honest, anything under 1:02:00 would suit me just fine. I’ve tentatively pencilled in another couple of 10ks (also Bushy, as it’s a nice location, has pretty scenery and offers a nice flat course) over the next few months, so I’ll have plenty of opportunities to improve. Maybe sub-1hr should be an end-of-2013 goal.

The thing is, whilst I’m a lot fitter than I was last year, the lack of running I’ve done recently has made me feel a lot less prepared than I’d have liked. The cycling has helped with breathing/heart rate, and I can maintain a faster pace over 5k, but I’ll have to wait and see whether my legs can cope with upping the speed for this distance. A sub-30 minute 5k does suggest that I shooould be able to wangle a sub-1hr 10k, but have I trained enough to get there this time round?

I guess the torrential rain they’ve forecast is a pretty good incentive to run faster ..

 

Early morning motivation

I’ve decided that I need a bit more accountability for morning sessions – otherwise, it’s all too easy to turn off the alarm and go back to sleep for an hour. Especially when I know I’m cycling 7 miles to the office and 7 miles back – that makes up for missing a run, right?

Not exactly. So, whilst my training plan has had to be reshuffled a tad due to other commitments, making it hard to get into a routine, my next run is tomorrow morning. 7am, at the gym, for 5-6 miles. It doesn’t matter how fast, but I have to get out of bed and get running. I KNOW I’ll feel great once I have – it’s just that initial push out of the door that I’m struggling with!

So I’m now officially accountable. If I don’t run tomorrow morning, there are plenty of people who’ll know about it – and that should be enough to get my sleepy self out of bed!

Brighton Marathon 2014

So this arrived in the post the other day:

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It’s my Macmillan training top for Brighton! And it’s GREEN! BRIGHT GREEN!

.. Did I mention that it’s an awesomely bright shade of green!? (Doesn’t half clash with my blog colour scheme ..)

With winter drawing in, the mornings AND evenings getting darker and gloomier, and the temperatures plummeting, my running motivation has been a wee bit intermittent – so I decided that it’s a good time to remind myself exactly why I’m running Brighton. After all, what could be better motivation than that?

Of course, there’s the fact that a marathon is an exciting fitness goal. I’ve raced 5ks, 10ks and a half marathon, and the full marathon seemed like a logical next step. I’ve hiked and cycled long distances, but running further than 13.1 miles has always been a big challenge for me – and an official event was a great way to focus my training.

But I first got the idea of running a marathon when my parents and brother ran Brighton Marathon last year, to raise money for Macmillan. None of them had run a great deal before they signed up, and they went from almost nothing to 26.2 in a little over a year. Having seen how tough the training was, and the mental and physical strength it took to push through training runs in the dark, the cold, and the rain, I was inspired to push myself, too.

The thing is, I was on work placements in France and Spain that year – and large amounts of steak, wine, bread and pintxos, combined with lots of exploring galleries and museums (Paris) and hiking up mountains (the Basque Country) didn’t leave me much opportunity, or motivation, to train. As a result, I had to defer my entry, leaving my parents and brother to run Brighton without me. Being the machines they are, they ticked off their training runs and crossed the finish line with great times. (Easy peasy ..)

Next year, we’ll be at the start line together. We’ll be running to support each other, as well as the fantastic and inspirational work Macmillan are doing, and all those affected by cancer.

And keeping that in mind will push me to get out and run, no matter what.

Back on track

I finally forced myself out of my slump yesterday, and made it to the gym for an hour on the treadmill. Whilst the treadmills are all calibrated differently (and I have yet to find one that matches the reading on my Nike+ sports band), and the one I used was set to KM, I think I managed the 5 miles the training plan called for.

According to the treadmill, I managed 8k (4.97 miles) in 62 minutes. This would mean I was going at over a 12 min/mile pace, but even my 16-miler earlier in the year averaged about an 11 min/mile pace – so I’m convinced I went further than the display told me. Either way, it was enough for that session, regardless.

To take some of the pressure off, with this being my first run in WEEKS, I didn’t put a goal time or distance. Given that I wasn’t sure how far or long I could manage at that point, I didn’t want to push myself. As it turned out, I felt really strong, and was even able to increase the speed every 1k for the whole hour. After the usual 3 miles of my body wondering what on Earth I’m making it do, I settled into a rhythm and ran solidly, with a smile on my face the whole time. Even inside a stuffy gym, it felt wonderful! 🙂

I don’t know what it was, but I hadn’t really felt ‘myself’ for the past few weeks. I’ve been tired, stressed, lethargic and generally just a little ‘blah’ (technical term!)

I finally decided to sit down, and reassess. I began to think about what was missing in my life, and I came up with two things: languages, and running.

Since graduating last year from my languages degree (which included a year abroad – best experience EVER), I haven’t really had any opportunity to use my languages, or any of my linguistic/cultural skills/knowledge.

So I did what any normal person would do – signed up for a Japanese course! (It’s a good thing I enjoy a challenge, I’ll say that much ..)

After one lesson, I’m already in love with the language, and extremely excited about learning more. It feels like I’m finally able to do what I love again, and it’s fantastic 🙂

The second thing was, of course, RUNNING. I never really realised just how much running affects my mood! Since I stopped running, I’ve felt sluggish, lethargic and lazy, despite cycling 14 miles a day. But after one run, I’m already feeling more energised, lighter, and happier. My legs might ache and I might have a slight niggle in my foot, and I might not be as fast as I was before I stopped, but I’m SO glad I pushed myself to take that first, daunting step.

Now that barrier of that first run is gone, I’m excited to get back into my marathon training!