Paris Marathon: 4 (!!) weeks to go

I wanted to do a bit of a round-up for this week. Firstly, because it’s just 4 weeks (!!) until Paris – but also because this is the first week that I’ve really felt on track with my training, and my sub-5 marathon goal. Happy face!

countdown

My colleagues have drawn me a countdown on one of the office whiteboards. It’ll be down to the 20s tomorrow – Gulp!

Monday: I gave myself a recovery day after the Surrey Half, but my legs felt pretty good.

Tuesday: My friend and I joined the ladies at the Reebok run club for a social, relaxed 3.6 miles.

reebokrun1

Photo from the FitHub Facebook page

Wednesday: I forgot my pilates kit, so took another rest day – whoops!

Thursday: 4.1 hilly miles at an average of 10:31, with splits of 10:25, 10:32, 10:37 and 10:29.

Friday: 1 mile swim in 46 minutes.

sunrise

It was almost light at 6am! Spring is coooming!

Saturday: Guildford parkrun’s 3rd birthday! 32:07, with splits of 10:40, 10:21 and 10:26.

Sunday: Kingston Breakfast Run 16 miler. 03:00:28, so an average of 11:15/mile. (Race report up soon!)

Assuming I can keep up the pace for the full 26.2, I’m currently looking at a time of 4h50ish for Paris, which would be AWESOME – but I’ll have a better idea of my expected pace after my 18/19 miler next weekend. (And then it’s the taper! Eeek!)

Are you signed up for a spring marathon? How’s your training going? 🙂

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Race Review: Surrey Half Marathon 2015

After a hot, sunny, festival-esque debut last year, I was seriously looking forward to the Surrey Half this month. And it didn’t disappoint!

Although, on a side note I did notice a few lost and confused runners at Woking station – some signage might be a good idea next time. (Pays to be local!) But once you got to the park, it was brilliantly straight forward. Signs and announcements led you straight to the bag drop, which then led you out to the portaloos, and then directly into the pens. There were exactly 2 people waiting for the portaloos when I got there at 8h45 – winning! And being at the back, I only had to shuffle a few feet down the road to wait for the start.

The Surrey Half Marathon #running #racephoto #sussexsportphotography

Being a complete numpty I forgot my Garmin, so I decided to stick behind the 2h20 pacers and see how it went. Given that my PB is the 2h22 I got last year and I haven’t come close to beating it since, I had no idea what to expect; but I decided to hang on for as long as I could, and then just focus on enjoying the run.

I stuck with the pacers for about 4 miles, before the big hill up towards Jacobs Well forced me to ease off a little. After that, I just stuck to what seemed like a fairly steady pace – and I felt pretty strong, which was a confidence booster 🙂 I finished in 2:25:13, which is slap bang in the middle of my half marathon times. I’ll take it!

The crowds lining the route were AMAZING, and the live bands were brilliant, too. The course was well marked, there were plenty of water stations (long enough and with enough volunteers that I never had to slow down or queue or zig-zag around other runners), and every volunteer I saw gave me a smile and encouragement. Thanks, you wonderful people!

But it wasn’t just the volunteers that made the day so great. Whilst they were all legends, 3 lots of spectators stick in my mind: Firstly, the women at the top of the big hill at 7 miles, who were calling ‘Come on ladies, keep going – let the men do the walking!’ which made me LOL, and stopped me from slowing down (I actually managed to hold out until 9.5 miles before I took a walking break, which I’m giving them credit for). Secondly, the little boy stood just before the 10-mile marker, who with each high-five exclaimed ‘You can make it to the end! You can all make it to the end!’. And thirdly, at 11.5 miles, someone spotted my name on my race bib and yelled ‘Go Lucy! Do it for the Lucys!’ whilst another added, ‘You’re looking fresh, dear!’ (Hahaha .. Haha..)

I love that the Surrey Half bibs have your name printed under your number. I got 3 lots of direct shout-outs, which put a huge smile on my face! Other races, take note!

The live band at the 13-mile marker were playing ‘Run to You’ as I passed, which got me a teeny bit emotional. Silly really, but still!

However, note to self – regardless of the race endorphins, DON’T SPRINT AT 13 MILES. You WILL feel like throwing up by the time you see the finish line. Luckily, I held it in, but the photos at miles 13 and 13.1 say it all:

sprint1

There was just one negative point I’ll mention: The guy doing the announcements. He was pretty patronising, and riled me right up before I’d even started when he said:

The runners towards the front are probably just taking this as a marathon training run, but for those towards the back this will be one of the biggest achievements of their lives!

Excuse me, Mr, but what does speed have to do with experience? For all you know, the guy up in the front pen could be running his first ever half – whilst, I might add, plenty of us in the back were ACTUALLY using this as a training run for a full marathon.

I completely appreciate what a big achievement a half marathon is, but it’s as much of a challenge for the 1h30 runners as it is for the 2h30 ones.

It got even better when my boyfriend mentioned what the guy was spouting at the 2-hour mark:

Wow, with the 2-hour finishers we’re STILL getting sprint finishes!

Again, what!?

Despite that, the atmosphere was brilliant. I had a bit of a chat with a couple of runners around the course, and the whole thing was cheerful, loud, encouraging, and just plain FUN. Whilst it might not have finished on a track this year, the crowds lining the finishing straight made it even better!

surreyfinish

Disclaimer: In the end, the banana was just for the benefit of the photo. I actually tucked into the Wispa I had stashed in my bag…

The medal was pretty great, too:

surreymedal

Are you entering for next year? I know I will!

Race Review: Brighton Half Marathon 2015

I love running in Brighton. I love the scenery, the crowds, and the party atmosphere. Brighton marathon was amazing, and Brighton half was equally fun 🙂 Especially in the sunshine we had!

Mum and I wore our Brutal 10 tops – we’d flipping well earned them, after all 😉 And they have ‘Tough Runner’ sprawled across the back, which makes me happy!

brightonmemumAlong with me and Mum, my Dad and Uncle also ran with us, which made it even better! (This whole running thing is clearly contagious. My uncle – the nutter in blue below – started us all off, by running the first Brighton Marathon back in 2010. Dad figured that if his brother could run a marathon, then he could too. Mum joined him, followed by my brother who took on the challenge for a bit of a laugh, and then that just left me – and if the rest of them had run a marathon, I couldn’t very well not, could I!?)

Thanks, David!

brightonusI took this race easy for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was a training run; and secondly, I wanted to keep an eye on my niggly foot (which held out, yay!). I didn’t feel up to a PB this time round, so I snuck back into the pink corral and decided to just get round in under 2h30.

I say ‘easy’ … but nobody warned me that the first 4 miles were one big fat hill. Every time I thought it was over, the incline started again! It was pretty cool to see the lead runners heading back into Brighton as we neared the turn-around point though. (But the headwind on the way back was a bit of a shock!)

I found the first half to be a little bit crowded. I was elbowed a couple of times, and people would often stop and walk in the middle of the road. But apart from that, I found the whole thing to be really well organised – plenty of loos, clear corrals and pacers, nice big mile markers, amazing crowd support, and a huge funky medal!

There was one pretty bad moment at about 9 miles, when I unfortunately found myself behind a guy who clearly hadn’t taken note of point 3 in this video. Blast radius, dude. Blast radius. Ironically, he noticed me immediately afterwards – and shouted a ‘sorry!’ over his shoulder, whilst his girlfriend told him off. Still, NOT COOL. Especially as it went all down my (bare) leg. I scraped most of it off with my trainer, but the gloves did suffer slightly too 😦

Despite the minor hiccup, the second half was pretty good. I took a few breaks to stretch out my calves, but Dad and I still made it round in under 2h30 (by about 30 seconds!)

Did I mention that the medal was AWESOME?

brightonmedalLove you, Brighton!

Next up is Surrey Half in 2 weeks. Who else will be racing?

Paris Marathon: 7 (!) weeks to go

Training so far has been a bit of a mixed bag. It started with a nasty cold that set me back over a week, and then about a month ago I developed a foot niggle (I’m refusing to call it an injury!!! Don’t make me!!!)

All in all, it’s been a bit of a struggle.

But despite the setbacks, I’ve worked my way up to 16 miles for the long run, which I’m very pleased about! I’m averaging a slower pace than last year, but I think all of the extra strength and conditioning work I’m doing will make me a much stronger runner this time round.

Last year, despite all of my good intentions, my weekly training was generally a 5k or two + a few cycle commutes + a long run, and a few half-assed gym sessions. This year, I generally manage 3 runs (a lunchtime 5k, a 7m run commute, and the long run); a 1-hour pilates session; a swim session (1 hour, which is usually 1600-2000m, depending on how energetic I’m feeling!); a 1-hour PT or gym session (which often includes sets of 200m sprint intervals at 12.5kph), and a cycle commute or two.

I was quite worried about cutting back on the cycling, as I found that my legs initially felt much weaker. Turns out that once I started working the muscles that I’d ignored for years (hello, hamstrings!) everything kind of balanced out, and I started to hold a better posture and even increased my cadence! Win! (Still working on the speed…) I’d still like my quads back, though.

For Sunday’s 16 miler I tried a new route, taking the canal path from Woking out towards Weybridge. It was cold, sunny and crisp – perfect running weather! 🙂 And the views were gorgeous, which along with some Maroon 5 helped to take my mind off the distance.

16mtrack

16swans

I took a gel every 4 miles, which worked great; my energy seemed really consistent over the whole run. The last 1.5 miles were extremely tough (as expected) and I really had to grit my teeth to keep going, but I averaged 11:09/mile which is only 9 seconds off my pace in the Cranleigh 15 last year! I’m getting there!

This weekend I’ve got Brighton Half, which I’m running with my parents and uncle. It’s an event I’ve not done before, but after Brighton Marathon last year I have high hopes!

If someone had told me a few years ago that I’d be excited about a half marathon, I’d have said they were mad…

Are you training for anything? How’s it going? 🙂

Paris Marathon Training: Over half way!

(Well ok, technically I’ve still got weeks and weeks to go – but I’m over the 13.1 mark!)

The past couple of long runs have been a bit of a way off what I thought I’d be capable of by now. Lots of 12:00+ minute miles, heavy legs, aches, pains and grumbling.

As a result, I was quite nervous when I headed out this morning for 14 miles – I had no idea if my body would even cooperate over that sort of distance. But I figured I’d give it a go anyway (despite the SNOW as I left home!)

Miles 1-3 were uncomfortable, to say the least. I was supposed to do the first 10k as an out-and-back along the river path, but it was iced over, so I turned round and headed for my standard (hilly!) loop instead. My calves were extremely tight, and my legs were aching and heavy – I was really worried that I’d have to cut the run short. The weather went from snow, to sleet, to rain, to wind, to rain, to (finally) sunshine.

Miles 4-5 were better – after a few breaks to stretch out the niggles, my legs loosened up a bit and things started to settle. Still a bit tired and heavy, though.

I met my friend at 5 miles, as she wanted to run a 10k (I was supposed to do 7-8 before I met her, but thanks to the route change and various breaks I fell behind a little.) Chatting took my mind off the legs, and we settled into a comfortable pace quite quickly, which was nice. A runner passed us in the opposite direction at about 8 miles and my friend called out ‘HIGH FIVE, DUDE!’ (it worked), which made me laugh out loud. Just what you need on a long run! 🙂

It was at this point that I went to take one of my gels, only to realise it went out of date last June. Running fail. Luckily, by tweaking my route a little I could stop off at Sainsburys for CHOCOLATE at the 10 mile mark – obviously the most effective substitute 😉 This meant that this was the furthest I’d run since Brighton without a gel, and I was pretty impressed to find that I felt pretty comfortable from miles 6-10 without one! Peanut butter on toast for breakfast was clearly a good call.

14milesI counted my friend down to the end of her 10k, which was mile 11 for me – and she waved me off for the last 3. Those were a lot tougher than the rest, and I ended up taking a short walking break almost every half mile. At 13, I passed her (we were doing laps of the park – her walking, me running/jogging/shuffling) and she gave me a cheer, which was hilarious but brilliant 🙂 When I saw her next, I was 0.9 miles from the end and she jogged alongside me, with a ’14 miles! Yeah! You can do this!’ and a bit of a whoop and a cheer. Got quite a few looks for that, but it gave me the energy to pick up the pace for the last stretch! (Why can’t every run come with a cheer squad!?)

When I looked at my Garmin, I saw that my final mile was under 12:00 – a great sign, given that the last 2 were shorter runs and much slower. But it wasn’t until I got home and uploaded my run data that I realised just how much of an improvement this week was:

14m split

An average pace of 11:32 (30 seconds/mile off last week’s moving pace average, despite the breaks), and an average moving pace of 11:14!

I was even more excited to see that the average moving pace of FIVE of those miles was under 11:00, and only one was over 12:00!

I guess the hard work is finally starting to pay off 😀