Race Review: Exeter Half Marathon 2014

This year’s Exeter Half couldn’t have been more different to last year. Except, yknow, half the route being underwater and therefore switched to a 3x out-and-back along a canal path. Whilst this meant it was almost entirely flat, the repetition (and being lapped twice by the leading runners) made the course a bit demoralising!

We also had a bit of a kerfuffle at the start. We got there 20 minutes before the race began, and decided to pop to the loos. The loos were directly across the river from the start/finish – but the problem was that the nearest bridge was a good few hundred metres away, and when we got to the loos at the race headquarters (the public loos that the event used last year were shut), there was a long queue for just 1 ladies’ cubicle. Typically, the men didn’t have to queue at all! We ended up having to make a dash for the start line after the quickest loo stop of my life, which meant adding half a mile or so onto our run before the event even begun! This would have been a perfect warmup, but due to having about 2 minutes to get to the start line, we ended up practically sprinting it. I think my brain then decided I was running a 5k, as I somehow clocked a sub-10-minute first mile. My usual mistake!

garminexe

But moaning aside, we were extremely lucky this year. Whilst the rest of the week has been constant rain, wind and storms, today was PERFECT running weather. Cold (frosty and icy in the shade for the first lap!), bright sunshine, and just a slight breeze. The route looked beautiful! Last year it was grey and wet for the whole day, and the puddles were awful. I had also never run more than 12 miles prior to the event, which meant I was a lot less prepared than this time round!

The volunteers made my day. They all made me SO HAPPY! They smiled, clapped, and cheered every single runner along. I even got some encouragement from the faster runners as they passed me on the last lap, which really helped! There were a couple of girls at the far end (the turning point) that were absolutely brilliant. Even though I was struggling by the last turn, they made me laugh out loud more than once! So THANK YOU, you wonderful people. It’s definitely the volunteers that make a race, and the ones at Exeter are the most awesome bunch that I’ve seen yet!

Whilst the first lap was pretty good, I was extremely close to pulling out at the end of the second one. I’ve genuinely never considered pulling out of a race so seriously before. I had started to take walking breaks, as my hamstring and glute decided to start cramping. Ironically, I’ve never had pain in those areas during training, and the usually niggly areas were fine! But going through the start/finish area, there were so many people clapping and smiling and urging us to continue that I ended up heading back out on the last lap without really thinking about it. Which was good, as my parents had long since disappeared off into the distance, and I was starting to find it pretty hard! It was brill towards the turn around point though, as they both gave me a huge hug as they passed me. Just what I needed at that point! Running alone is tough enough on a good day, but when you start to struggle it can be very easy to slip into a darker state of mind. The atmosphere, runners and volunteers really helped me to avoid that, which made SUCH a difference.

On the last stretch, I got to about 11 miles and had started to run/walk between little landmarks (lamp posts, mile markers, bins, marks on the ground …) I really wanted to keep running all the way to the finish, given I was already into double digits, but my legs were beginning to feel heavy and tight (which was really frustrating, given that I ran a hilly 13.5 miles last Sunday with no issues. Pffft!) It didn’t help that the start/finish area was full of people, whilst the far end was deserted!

But there was a woman on the route who I had been constantly swapping places with for the last lap or so, as we had both started to take walking breaks. She came up behind me at around 11.5 miles and started to chat – and wow, what a boost! We made a deal with each other to keep going and not take another walking break, and we actually did it! We ran the last mile and a half at a sub-11-minute pace (honestly, pretty good by that point) and didn’t walk once. She really kept me going – I mean, once you’re accountable to someone, you can’t let them down! If I hadn’t been so sweaty and disgusting by the end, I would have actually hugged her. What a lovely, lovely woman. Whoever you are, THANK YOU – and a virtual high five for speeding up even more for the last .2! I’ll definitely be returning the favour in future events. It’s amazing what a difference a smile or a few words can make when a run gets tough.

Moments like that remind me just what a fantastic community our sport has. Runners really seem to stick together, and help each other along. I even had people urging me on and offering encouragement when I passed them – I can’t see that happening in many other sports! It’s like a big, crazy family. I love it.

exemedal
So I made it! 13.24 miles (hey, it was 13.25 last year – we’ll get to a half marathon eventually!) in 2:24:30, making it a PB by 4 minutes – to the second! And whilst there were no creme eggs this year, the medal is awesome. Stars, dude! STARS!

Overall, it was a fantastic day. I’ll definitely be back again next year – and I suggest you sign up, too! We might even get to run the original route next time ..

 

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Race Report: Exeter Half Marathon

This year’s Exeter Half couldn’t have been more different to last year. Except, yknow, half the route being underwater and therefore switched to a 3x out-and-back along a canal path. Whilst this meant it was almost entirely flat, the repetition (and being lapped twice by the leading runners) made the course a bit demoralising!

We also had a bit of a kerfuffle at the start. We got there 20 minutes before the race began, and decided to pop to the loos. The loos were directly across the river from the start/finish – but the problem was that the nearest bridge was a good few hundred metres away, and when we got to the loos at the race headquarters (the public loos that the event used last year were shut), there was a long queue for just 1 ladies’ cubicle. Typically, the men didn’t have to queue at all! We ended up having to make a dash for the start line after the quickest loo stop of my life, which meant adding half a mile or so onto our run before the event even begun! This would have been a perfect warmup, but due to having about 2 minutes to get to the start line, we ended up practically sprinting it. I think my brain then decided I was running a 5k, as I somehow clocked a sub-10-minute first mile. My usual mistake!

garminexe

But moaning aside, we were extremely lucky this year. Whilst the rest of the week has been constant rain, wind and storms, today was PERFECT running weather. Cold (frosty and icy in the shade for the first lap!), bright sunshine, and just a slight breeze. The route looked beautiful! Last year it was grey and wet for the whole day, and the puddles were awful. I had also never run more than 12 miles prior to the event, which meant I was a lot less prepared than this time round!

The volunteers made my day. They all made me SO HAPPY! They smiled, clapped, and cheered every single runner along. I even got some encouragement from the faster runners as they passed me on the last lap, which really helped! There were a couple of girls at the far end (the turning point) that were absolutely brilliant. Even though I was struggling by the last turn, they made me laugh out loud more than once! So THANK YOU, you wonderful people. It’s definitely the volunteers that make a race, and the ones at Exeter are the most awesome bunch that I’ve seen yet!

Whilst the first lap was pretty good, I was extremely close to pulling out at the end of the second one. I’ve genuinely never considered pulling out of a race so seriously before. I had started to take walking breaks, as my hamstring and glute decided to start cramping. Ironically, I’ve never had pain in those areas during training, and the usually niggly areas were fine! But going through the start/finish area, there were so many people clapping and smiling and urging us to continue that I ended up heading back out on the last lap without really thinking about it. Which was good, as my parents had long since disappeared off into the distance, and I was starting to find it pretty hard! It was brill towards the turn around point though, as they both gave me a huge hug as they passed me. Just what I needed at that point! Running alone is tough enough on a good day, but when you start to struggle it can be very easy to slip into a darker state of mind. The atmosphere, runners and volunteers really helped me to avoid that, which made SUCH a difference.

On the last stretch, I got to about 11 miles and had started to run/walk between little landmarks (lamp posts, mile markers, bins, marks on the ground …) I really wanted to keep running all the way to the finish, given I was already into double digits, but my legs were beginning to feel heavy and tight (which was really frustrating, given that I ran a hilly 13.5 miles last Sunday with no issues. Pffft!) It didn’t help that the start/finish area was full of people, whilst the far end was deserted!

But there was a woman on the route who I had been constantly swapping places with for the last lap or so, as we had both started to take walking breaks. She came up behind me at around 11.5 miles and started to chat – and wow, what a boost! We made a deal with each other to keep going and not take another walking break, and we actually did it! We ran the last mile and a half at a sub-11-minute pace (honestly, pretty good by that point) and didn’t walk once. She really kept me going – I mean, once you’re accountable to someone, you can’t let them down! If I hadn’t been so sweaty and disgusting by the end, I would have actually hugged her. What a lovely, lovely woman. Whoever you are, THANK YOU – and a virtual high five for speeding up even more for the last .2! I’ll definitely be returning the favour in future events. It’s amazing what a difference a smile or a few words can make when a run gets tough.

Moments like that remind me just what a fantastic community our sport has. Runners really seem to stick together, and help each other along. I even had people urging me on and offering encouragement when I passed them – I can’t see that happening in many other sports! It’s like a big, crazy family. I love it.

exemedal
So I made it! 13.24 miles (hey, it was 13.25 last year – we’ll get to a half marathon eventually!) in 2:24:30, making it a PB by 4 minutes – to the second! And whilst there were no creme eggs this year, the medal is awesome. Stars, dude! STARS!

Overall, it was a fantastic day. I’ll definitely be back again next year – and I suggest you sign up, too! We might even get to run the original route next time ..

 

Over half way there!

Whilst I’m still struggling to fit in all of my training sessions each week, I’ve had a few decent runs recently. On Sunday, I had 2h30 on the schedule, which works out at about 13-14 miles or so at my pace. My last long run was only just over 11 miles, so this seemed a little daunting! But with a half marathon coming up this weekend, I wanted to get as close to 13 as possible, as I knew it would be a bit of a confidence boost. I haven’t actually run over 11/12 miles since this time last year!

As always, I went out too fast and ended up clocking a sub-10-minute first mile. Not exactly the slow, steady pace I had planned! Luckily, I was able to settle into a pretty relaxed pace for the rest of the run, though I slowed riiight down for the last couple miles thanks to a combination of a niggle in my right foot, and HILLS. Why did I pick a hilly route? Not only was it hilly, but I had to loop it three times! I’m definitely rethinking things next time ..

garmin1

Today I went out for a 5k run at lunch. Usually I love running with my workmates – it gets me away from my desk and out into the fresh air, and I feel great all afternoon. Also, it’s brilliant motivation having other people (that I persuaded to start running with me) expecting me to run. How can I skip a workout if the whole office then teases me for being a slacker!? But today it came round to bite me in the bum. My legs were still a little heavy from the weekend, and the wind and rain had picked right up. 27mph wind, and (horizontal) torrential rain. It was freezing cold, too. Horrible combination. But the others were heading out, so I grabbed my trainers!

We had a new runner in our group today, who it turns out used to run with a club, and considers 9:00/mile a slow pace. Personally, I have trouble keeping under 10:00 for more than 5k! But having him picking up the pace was great, and without even realising, I hit 9:36 for the first mile. My fastest 5k only averaged 9:40! Brilliant! The second mile was into a side wind, and the pace dropped to 10:02, but it was still much faster than our group were used to running. The third mile, in a word, SUCKED. We were wading through puddles that were more like ponds by this point, the wind had picked up, the rain was so heavy that we couldn’t even see where we were going, and I genuinely hadn’t been so cold since I hiked the Perambulation last year. Not even kidding.

But when you get to a certain point, you really do stop caring. We started to splash through the puddles, rather than slipping and sliding around the edges. We put our heads down, and pushed into the wind. And it was great fun! We had a few people walk past us and mutter ‘they’re effing crazy!’, which made my day – I laughed a LOT! Because when you’re soaked to the bone and shivering, and your trainers are completely full of water, and you have so much rain in your face that you can’t see where you’re going, what else can you do!? My favourite (!) moment was just along the road from Sainsburys, towards the end of our run, when a bus sped past me and sent a wave of water right over my head. It was so cold that I actually couldn’t get my breath for a second!

We got into Sainsburys to grab some lunch, trailing water behind us, and one of the ladies stocking the shelves took one (extremely worried) look at us and exclaimed ‘is it really THAT bad out there!?’ I laughed again. There were seriously no words. We were completely and utterly disheveled.

But I’ll bet you anything that we all felt much better that afternoon than the rest of the office! (Yknow, after we got rid of the water).

Ironically the rain stopped a little while later. But I don’t think it would’ve been quite as fun with just the wind!