Tag Archives: Half Marathon

Race Report: Silverstone Half Marathon 2017

Silverstone  Half Marathon has been a race on our list for a couple of years now. It’s ideally placed as a warm up for many spring marathons, though it tends to clash with other major half’s. This year, given that we lived an hour closer than we used to, we thought it was the best time to do it.

Organised by the London Marathon company, It really is excellently priced compared to other events of a similar scale. Signing up was hassle free and our race packs arrived in the post with plenty of time, along with a very detailed “Final Instructions” magazine. it was all very similar to the London Marathon process, and I wonder if they use this as THEIR warm up prior to the big event from an administration point of view!

Pre Race

Unusually the start time of the race is 12.00 noon. one of the advantages of running on a race track is that along with a traffic free course there is no time pressure to reopen roads so they can start it at a sensible time! I wasn’t sure how I would feel running at Noon. Usually I’m a morning racer and this meant I had to change-up my usual pre-race routine, particularly on the breakfast front!

We woke up at the same time we always do (thanks to having a 7 month old baby!) which was quite nice, not too early a start, and drove Ivy to her grandparents where she would stay for the day, before we made our 90 minute drive to Silverstone. The conditions when we set off were horrendous, it was a difficult drive. It started to clear but it remained drizzly right up until the start of the race.

I’ve never been to Silverstone, but as a former F1 fan the thought of running on the race track was really quite exciting! We were forewarned about parking and that it was a bit of a walk to the race village in the far end of the circuit from the car park. There was a special car park for sub 1.35 runners, though I’m not really sure if there was any benefit to parking there. Though the traffic was congested it kept moving and the parking marshals were excellent.

The walk to the village itself was definitely less than a mile, but the problem was the foot traffic had to go across a couple of bridges with some tight bottle necks. This slowed everything right down, so a 10 minute walk ended up being about 20. But we were there in plenty of time and there was actually quite a lot of hanging around.

There were more toilets than I’ve ever seen with the shortest queues I’ve seen as such a big event, really well maintained too and they were proper toilets, in portakabins! It was positively luxurious! The bag drop was instant and easy with so many volunteers on hand there really was no hanging around. This was organisation at its finest.

The other thing I noticed was the number of “official photographers”. They were absolutely everywhere, I’ve never seen so many. Not that I ever buy them as they are horrendously overpriced, but for those that like that sort of thing or wanted a decent memento from their first half, then you’d be guaranteed at least one good snap.

We headed to the start pens in plenty of time and they were enormous – lots of room for a proper warm up, particularly down near the front where there was even extra toilets! I took care of business one last time whilst there, just because I could!

The drizzle started easing off just in time for the start and before long we were off – the official starters were apparently the band “Scouting for Girls”, not that I knew that at the time, who then jumped into the pack and ran the race themselves.

The Race

The start of the race was on the F1 circuit.  The wet surface made it very squeaky, but it was a great wide track and meant for little congestion. The first few miles were all on smooth race track, and I found myself trying to hit the apexes like I was an F1 driver taking the shortest possible route. Though i have to say, even running the tangents, by the end of the race I’d run 0.25 miles farther than advertised distance. I didn’t weave  around THAT much and being near to the front there wasn’t a huge amount of traffic to get around.

Seeing the sights that the drivers pass at considerably faster than we were running was quite a thrill. It was a lot of fun running through and around the F1 pit lane though, past the F1 podium and rounding famous turns like Maggotts and Stowe. Looking at the map from Strava below, you’ll see just how confusing it is. If it wasn’t marked out, you’d never be able to go and do it as a “freedom run”!

Sadly the race also spent a lot of time on support roads and other minor race tracks where people weren’t easily able to get to support. So crowds were sparse in places and it got quite lonely sometimes, but where there were crowds it was quite dense and had some good cheers.

The number of marshals were plentiful and I have to say they were outstanding in terms of encouragement and support. First rate!

The course itself is reasonably flat, the climbs though are long and gradual and it’s not till you crest them, blowing out of your arse that you realise you’ve run uphill. Additionally there were two bridges to cross that were quite steep – and you definitely knew about them, they really take the wind from your sails.

The last couple of miles seemed mainly uphill, and seeing the finish gantry in the distance was torture! The support on the final stretch was great.

Post Race

Crossing the finish line was a relief. The funnel was well-managed , with the ramps and volunteers cutting off the timing chips, and I was able to quickly move through to get a pretty decent goody bag – lots of food, drinks and a nice medal. The only thing that could have topped it would have been a technical tee instead of a cotton one. I don’t understand why the event is sponsored by adidas and there is no tech tee, whereas events like the London 10,000 are not sponsored by adidas but you DO get a tech tee!

After I finished I stood waiting for Jodie watching the masses come in, the event really does have a great vibe and a wide range of abilities.

After Jodie crossed the line we started heading back and got a selfie on the way through.

Getting out was a bit more of a problem than it was to get in. The walk back was much slower as there were more people and the same pinch points. Traffic on the way out was busy, but in line with the scale of the event.

All in all a good event which I am glad we have done. It was fantastic value for money and would recommend it – though don’t think we’ll be hurrying back, as I preferred other events in the same time of year like Reading, and I also want to do Bath next year which is usually on the same day.

My Race Analysis

I was using the race as a tune up for London, like many others. I was a bit unsure how I would perform for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s the first half I’ve run with a decent block of training for over a year. Secondly, because when I ran Cardiff last spring I blew up after about 10 miles. I still PBed, but I felt I was in shape to run a bit quicker. Thirdly, when I tried my last threshold run which was 7 miles with 11 at lactate threshold, it all fell apart.

The numbers however, looked good. If I was targeting a half rather than using it as part of a marathon build up, I would have tapered a bit more than I did. As it was, I just reduced volume and intensity for the last couple of runs before the race, and my Fitness Trend looked like I had a mini-peak (I was at + 11 “Freshness”), so I felt I could give it a good go.

To be on target for my sub 3.05 in London, using McMillan I knew I’d need to run under 1.28. That was quite a scary prospect as it was a good minute quicker than I’d gone last year, it was totally uncharted territory. That’s about 6.40 a mile, so that’s what I had in my head when I set off.

Almost immediately, my watch was short of the first mile marker, and I was 8 seconds over my target. I felt pretty comfortable though, so stepped it up a gear for the next couple and was probably a little too fast. Up until 7-8 miles I felt pretty good, but there was a long drag uphill there. I managed to claw some back up until 10, and my watch said that if I kept going I might sneak under 1.27! However I knew pretty quickly that was optimistic, and instead I focused on trying to hang on for dear life for that sub 1.28. With 2 to go I was really struggling, and the last mile really was a case of sheer bloody mindedness.

I crossed the line delighted, but as I had been manually lapping I didn’t stop my watch, I just pressed lap again! I did stop it and I knew I had comfortably beaten my target. Later that evening my time was officially recorded as 1.27.24 – a PB by over 2 minutes! I finished in P160 of 6690, beaten by only 6 ladies and 117th in my age group. Not bad for a (former) fay lad!

Looking at the Strava analysis, I can see it wasn’t the best executed of races, with the second half definitely being slower, but the course profile naturally causes this with most of the climbing in the second half.

From an effort point of view, I really couldn’t have given a lot more. Strava recorded it as “Epic” and rightly so. Looking at the line graph you can see a progressive increase, peaking just toward the finish. I really was spent.

Walking away with such a PB I can be nothing but delighted, and I am perfectly on target for London. Now, I just need to stay in one piece!

Strava Activityhttps://www.strava.com/activities/897381889

Race Report: IAAF World Half Marathon Championships

Back when it was announced that the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships were announced to be in Cardiff, Jodie and I immediately signed up. Cardiff is a city close to our hearts, as Jodie studied there, its where we met, and its also where I graduated with my MBA.

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Thursday

We were keen to make a weekend of it, and as it was Easter, I took Thursday off to get up good and early. Much like the London Marathon, the event had an “Expo” where you pick up your number and goody bag in advance of the race, and there were stands/booths for major brands and events to advertise their wares. We won a couple of tee shirts from the Cardiff University stand for beating their buzzer game, and I ate a whole lot of Clif bar samples! The expo wasn’t as large as London but then it is only a third of the size. One thing I was glad of was that we went on Thursday. It was very quiet and we got to see all the stands in relative peace! This also meant picking up our numbers took seconds.

After getting our numbers and having a look around we headed to our hotel as we wanted to get a run in. Whilst we were out, we saw the Canadian elites out on a run which was pretty cool!

One of the most interesting parts of the expo was the guest speaker programme. The main highlights were, Paula Radcliffe on the Thursday evening, and Mo Farah on Friday Lunchtime. We decided to head down to see Paula, and got there good and early, only to find out that she was delayed (eventually, by an hour and a quarter) but whilst we were waiting we heard some inspirational stories I wouldn’t have ordinarily gone to hear.

Steve Jones, former Marathon World Record holder and welsh running legend spoke of his times at the peak of the sport, breaking records, and stopping for a sh!t on the way to winning the London Marathon.

Then, unexpectedly Dave Bedford was asked to speak on stage to fill in for Paula in the meantime. What an absolutely top bloke! Dave Bedford is the former world record holder over 10,000 on the track and became the race director of the London Marathon for 20 years. His most famous story was that he actually ran the first London Marathon as a bet. On the Saturday night he went out, had a skinful, had a late night (early morning!) curry and then dragged himself round in less than 4 hours. His witty repartee was excellent entertainment and he really seemed like the sort of guy I’d like to have a beer with, and could have listened to him for hours!

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Eventually, Paula Arrived and she was as inspirational as I expected. She spoke so eloquently of her experiences as a runner, as a running mum and I’m sure she struck all the right chords with Jodie. It was a real honour to see her in person and rounded off a great first day of the event.

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Friday

I slept in, but Jodie went for a walk to casually bump into team Kenya! Lucky girl, shame she didn’t get a photo! As today was “Mo Farah Day” at the expo we headed over there at about 10.30 to get good seats – and we weren’t disappointed, we got into the second row. We arranged to meet Nikkii and Steve and they joined us on row two as we waited the guest of honour.

The seating area filled quickly, and then there were people standing 4 or 5 deep all around the seating area too – it was crazy!

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When he eventually got on stage the crowd went wild! During his introduction he walked behind the projector and project a mobot onto screen to the delight of the fans.

When he was on stage I was so impressed with how he spoke. He was so enthusiastic, passionate and dedicated and clearly appreciated all the people that came to see him. Often when I’ve seen him with the media he seems a bit closed, or a bit “stiff” but this was the opposite – he was in his absolute element, and was thoroughly entertaining.

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As he left the stage he was totally mobbed by people trying to get his autograph and if he had is way, he’d have stayed to sign every single thing. Unfortunately he had to be dragged away for other commitments.

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We then left the expo to go for a walk and have a picnic. We walked past the start area into the park, ate, then walked back down the finish area to see the finish gantry and grandstands they were building. It was quite exciting!

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We chilled out for the rest of the day before having our usual pre-race ritual dinner – Fish and Chips – and watching telly.

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Saturday

Race day was a weird day. With a 2.10 race time we had an awful lot of anxious waiting around to do. We went for a wander to find the start area and take some snaps. At the time, the weather was good, almost perfect conditions for running. If only it stayed that way!

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I really struggled trying to work out what to eat. I had a porridge pot at about 9, and another at about 11. Other than that I was just drinking lots of water. We were literally in our hotel room bored, waiting to check out and head to the start.

Chris came to meet us at our Hotel, as did Nikkii and Steve. We got a good club photo before heading off to the baggage areas.

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This is when things started buzzing. The atmosphere was great, and organisationally the whole race was fantastic. From the runners village, baggage storage, signage, access to all the right areas, road closures and start pens were all superbly managed.

Unfortunately, the sky got darker. Thankfully the temperature was OK and the wind was quite low, so putting on our free ponchos we deposited our bags and headed for the start pens. Chris and I were in White near the front, so had to leave Jodie quite early on. Again, the marshals getting people to the right pens were superb, even to the point where when Chris and I got separated they were very strict. I was meant to be in the pen ahead of Chris – we tried to get Chris forward one, but instead they offered for me to go back one… Sorry to Chris, but I chose the forward pen!

There was plenty of room so I managed to have a bit of a warm up as I got there so early, but the pen soon filled up. The pre-race entertainment was quite emotive, with the Cardiff Arms Park Mens Choir singing welsh hymns with Rhydian off of the X Factor and after some speeches from the Chairman of the organising committee and Lord Sebastian Coe, the elite ladies were paraded out (that sounds kinda wrong…) and off they went, lightning fast as you’d expect.

Nervously we waited for another half an hour before the men got their big announcement and we were ushered toward the start… After a good amount of fanfare and some giant flames coming out of the castle… we were off.

The Race

The course itself was advertised as “fast, flat and iconic”. The course itself is similar to the one which is run in the regular October edition of the race, which is held annually. The course has changed slightly from that but not too much. I’m not too convinced on the “flat and fast” part, though it is certainly flatter than most – though not as flat as I remember! There were some tough longish climbs which to be honest, I wasn’t expecting. The elevation profile below shows that the second half seems to be most uphill!

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The route takes in Cardiff’s biggest landmarks. Starting in front of Cardiff Castle, you run past the Millenium Stadium, Cardiff City Stadium, Penarth Marina, The Barrage, The Doctor Who Experience, Roald Dahl Plass, the Millenium Centre and Roath Park before finishing in the grounds of the university. Aside from a few industrial areas, the route was varied and interesting – not that I was able to take much of it in! The crowd support in places was amazing, which, considering the weather was testament to the people of Cardiff.

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Speaking of the weather, it was a hot topic of conversation throughout the weekend. It was just destined to be a torrential downpour at some point with reported 41mph winds. The first half of the race for me was relatively weather free. But at the 6/7 mile mark, the wind kicked in and the heavens opened. Within seconds, I was drenched and the howling wind, no matter what direction we ran in, seemed to be in our faces. The worst of it passed in a few minutes, but it was still rainy and windy for the second half.

The grandstand finish was excellent, it was fantastic hearing the cheers of all the magnificent supporters as we rounded the last corner onto the wide finish straight. It was quite an experience crossing the line of such a big event, with sponsor board and TV cameras lining the funnel.

Additionally, the bling and finish tee shirt were superb!

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My Race

My race itself was a tale of two halves. The first half I went out a little ahead of pace. I felt like I was in control to a degree, I was running with people of a similar pace and tracking quite nicely towards a comfortable 1.27. After about 6 miles it started to feel a bit of a struggle, but this was expected. I hoped I had built enough of a buffer to continue slightly behind pace and still come in at 1.27. But then there was a long uphill which I really struggled with. My quads started to burn and I started thinking about revising my goal.

This became inevitable when the weather hit me and really took the wind out of my sails. I struggled on for the rest of the race. Roath Park was really hard and another seemingly endless uphill to the far end. I had to walk a few steps at 10 miles and I at that point I knew I’d have to fight for every second to try and come in under 1.30. As we turned at the end of Roath Lake it started gradually going back downhill until the 12 mile marker which was a short sharp uphill that I just had to walk up for a few steps. After this it was pretty much downhill as I puffed and panted my way through to the finish. As amazing as that finish funnel was, I wish I could have enjoyed it more.

Looking at the race analysis below you can see it all fall apart during the second half.

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Yet my heart rate maintained a steady pace. This meant I literally couldn’t have put any more effort in – my legs just couldn’t keep up with my heart rate.

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I’v been annoying Jodie trying to analyse where it “Went wrong”, even though it didn’t really. My finish time was 1.29.27, a 40 second PB which I am really pleased with – But I was hoping for a bit faster.

The conditions obviously didn’t help, and I do think I went out a bit quick. I think a few seconds per mile slower in the first 10k probably would have helped. My legs feeling dead though was purely fuelling. I needed more to eat in the morning. If it had been a 9am race, I think I would have been just fine as I’m used to that routine and what to eat pre-race. With hindsight, I probably should have taken on some gels. Additionally, a 22 miler 6 days before probably affected things too.

Jodie finished in an amazing 2.01 – faster than Yeovil last week, and 5 months pregnant. So very very proud of her!

Summary

We had a brilliant weekend. Cardiff were the most welcoming hosts to such a big event as you can ask for. It is a shame the weather tried to ruin the party but everyone seemed to enjoy it. It was a brilliantly organised race and the crowd support, considering the weather was excellent.

Thank you once again Cardiff. You were ace.

 

Great North Run – Not worth the hype!

Yes, I said it. I don’t think the Great North Run is ‘the worlds favourite half marathon’.

I just don’t know by what metric it can be considered even close?

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We traveled up from Leeds, where we stayed with family, on the morning of the race and parked at the recommended Metro Station as listed in the official booklet – Heworth. It’s about halfway between the start and finish so should have been easy access to both. No problem parking, but lots of problems getting on the metro!

We queued for the ticket machine which isn’t a problem in itself, but just as we were getting our tickets, they closed access to the platform. It remained closed with no explanation as to why, and the station was getting more and more filled with anxious runners worried about getting to the start on time. After an hours wait, we eventually were allowed on. Turns out the trains coming from South Shields were unsurprisingly full. More, frequent trains needed and much better communication required.

When we got to Haymarket station, we followed the swarm of runners beelining to the start. The baggage buses closed at 10.05 apparenty – No problem I thought. Jodie needed the loo so I said my farewell and wished her luck as I took her bag to the baggage bus. Just as I got there I heard an announcement… ‘The baggage buses will close in 5 minutes’. No worries – I was just about in time.

Unfortunately the police on their horses had different ideas and I was told in no uncertain terms that the buses were CLOSED. I got a bit angry… The Metro being rubbish and the announcement telling us contrary information made for an unhappy Matty! I got the bag on the ‘late baggage truck’ (even though we weren’t late) but this meant that at the end we had to wait for 25 minutes for them to unload it!

Anyway, Jodie was at the start safely – or so I thought. Despite her being there on time, they closed the start pens early and she was told to go to the very back – despite there being plenty of room! People were climbing and ducking the fence, doing anything they could to get in. Surely that is more unsafe than keeping the pens open longer and letting people in the right way? Anyway, Jodie saw an opportunity to hop in the Orange start (she was in the White wave) and took it. And off they went.

I should mention here that I wasn’t actually a participant in the race. I was there to support Jodie and get my own long run in – I figured the best way to do this was to run to the end! There was a perfectly good course laid out after all. Just to clarify, I did not set a single foot on the course except to cross the road. I ran on the footpaths and pavements next to the course, as if I were any other supporter – I just happened to be running. I did not take any water, supplies or use any facility other than a toilet, which are fair game for supporters anyway. So I got a good, different view of the race.

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I started at about the same time as the female elites, and was able to give Gemma Steel a quick cheer. Then I potted along the course at my long run pace. I tracked and supported some of the blind/guided runners – one of the guides thinking I was James Cracknell – until I heard the chopper coming, so I pulled over and watched Mo and company run past.

Mo Farah – Great North Run 2015 from Matthew Warr on Vimeo.

He made it look so effortless, tucked in among the Africans. And I even made it on the telly!

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I continued on my merry way as the faster runners came along and eventually, a steady stream were just flowing past.

The positive side of the Great North Run is that the support is FANTASTIC. But course wise, it’s not a lot to write home about. The Tyne bridge is good, and Jodie was lucky enough to be on it when the red arrows did their fly past (we think this is her below on the telly). But there is nothing else to get excited about other than the finish.

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The goody bag, for the price, was disappointing. A bag of crisps, non technical tee, craisins and some waterproofing and that was about it. For such an expensive race you expected more. The medal was similar to all the other Great Run medals.

After the race, the Metro is about 2 miles walk away it seemed. By the time we got to it we found the queue. Apparently it was a MILE long. And I’m not even using that term figuratively. We weren’t up for the wait and I’d have paid a taxi driver ANYTHING to get bag to the car – so we went to find one. it was only by sheer luck that we stumbled across a bus that happened to be stopping at our station. Sure, it took a while to get through the traffic, but rather sat on a bus than stood in a queue for hours to get on a cramped Metro.

Getting out from Heworth station was a straight forward affair, and we even got a glimpse of the Angel of the North. We got on the motorway and started the long journey home.

I just don’t think the infrastructure is there to take my pain points away from the event, and people keep going back regardless of the problems. But in my view many smaller events like Bristol (if 10,000+ people is “small”) has good support and relatively few problems. The course isn’t much there either but the organisation is superb. Cardiff is another excellent example of a smaller event, but the curse at Cardiff has a lot to see too. The Great South Run, same company, is an EXCELLENTLY organised race. So it doesn’t really make sense to me.

I don’t know, perhaps our woes aren’t a fair assessment of the event. It must be hard organising something of this magnitude.  There are plenty of other brilliant events to try without the chaos and long travel.

We agreed we are glad we experienced it – but we shan’t be going up again. Jodie has the medal, but I won’t miss not having it. We’ll let a couple of others have a chance in the ballot.

 

Where’ve I been?

Its been a while since my last post. A lot has happened since Hope 24, and there is a reason why I am back posting…

Hope 24 left me pretty damaged. I was mentally and physically exhausted afterwards, and looking back on things I can see this may have been a root cause of some of the things that happened in the following weeks.

The week following Hope, I entered the Royal Berkshire 10k in Reading/Green Park at the very last minute as Jodie and her sister were doing it. A nicely sized event, a flat course and good support. I came close to my PB which I was pretty pleased with. I felt in good shape. I was heading to Iceland again for work and of course was planning on taking my trainers so felt like things were going pretty well.

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Whilst in Iceland I managed a couple of runs in earnest. Just easy paced ones on Monday and Tuesday. I was primarily running to burn calories, as when I’m away with work I find it very difficult to make healthy choices and end up drinking beer on nights I normally wouldn’t. Plus, I was going on my Stag Do on the Friday and would miss a couple of runs due to that.

Unfortunately, disaster struck. On Wednesday I came down with a stinker of a cold, and by Wednesday afternoon it was full blown man-flu. I was shivering, weak and sweating. It was a horrible experience, and i was worried that I wouldn’t enjoy my Stag! “With a very sore throat and massive cough I was able to soldier on through the training course I was on, and flew back very late on Thursday, only getting about 4 hours sleep before the Stag (Which almost certainly didn’t help). Waking up still feeling ill. I manned up and got on with it.

After leaving the casino on the Friday at 4.30am (Saturday), unsurprisingly I was a little unwell for my Stag parkrun at Southampton.

Believe it or not, this was BEFORE the run.
Believe it or not, this was BEFORE the run.

There were very good, made a little announcement about it being my stag etc and a couple of us ran. I felt awful but couldn’t work out if it was illness or hangover. Needless to say, I still looked rough, maybe even rougher, after the run!

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This was followed up with a game of Dodgeball, after which I decided enough was enough and went to the doctors in case I had contracted something that needed antibiotic treatment. It turned out it did not, but I did have some form of nasty virus.

It took nearly 3 weeks before I felt something close to human again, but whenever I tried running it just resulted in failure. I was heavily fatigued whenever I went out and my mojo was completely non existent.

It was made worse by a flareup of Plantar Fasciitis.

Given I was getting married in a week or so, desperate to lose a final bit of weight before the big day, this resulted in impatience, I kept running and kept making things worse. Looking back I can see what a massive mistake that was. I should have just stopped, but in my head I argued that I’d have 2 weeks rest on honeymoon.

Keeping running, like the fool that I am, also meant I was lucky enough to run a parkrun on the morning of my wedding! Martin came all the way from yeovil for the run, which I was really grateful for, and Steve was coming to the wedding. But it was a good social run, and strangely one of my more comfortable ones if I compare it with the previous weeks!

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Then this happened… Best day of my life without question, but this is about my running and fitness so will skate over the details! Needless to say it was an amazing day and everyone had fun.

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And we went on honeymoon for 3 weeks. 2 weeks in Orlando and a week cruising the Caribbean. it was bliss. We even managed to get in our first foreign parkrun at Clermont Waterfront, just 10 miles from our holiday villa! It was a lovely event though referred to everything as a “race”. Fantastic volunteers and friendly faces as ever.

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I even managed to run every day on the Cruise, once on the outdoor running track (Which was mind blowingly hot and humid) and then the remainder on the treadmill.

It was on the cruise that I seemed to find my running mojo. I enjoyed the treadmill runs and found myself itching to get to a “proper” run outside back home. The Plantar Fasciitis seemed to have eased and all the fatigue I was experiencing before the wedding seemed to be gone too. I was able to actually put in a 6 mile run and even a tempo run! Much better than before.

On the treadmill I was able to reflect on what had gone wrong. Clearly, Hope 24 had left me a broken man. I think by not giving myself enough recovery time before racing a 10k left my body pretty vulnerable, and the virus caught me at the right time. My immune system took a battering and it just took a long time to get over it.

During my reflection I also wanted to work out how I could get back into things and progress from where I was before. I still have long term objectives I want to achieve, and have come back with some holiday weight to lose.

I found my most effective results for both training motivation and weight loss has always been through writing my blog. it keeps me honest with myself.

Friday will be the first weigh in, and operation “13st3lbs by 33” kicks in. It’s my 33rd birthday on the 10th November and my weight loss goal is to reach that level by then. All the 3s made it an appealing number!

Running wise, my primary goal is the Great Birmingham Run in October. My currently ambitious goal is to break 90 minutes, but how realistic that is I don;t know. Until I get into the bulk of the training I’m not really sure what condition I’m in.

I’m working on my training plan and will post it later once finalized, and I’ll be back on MyFitnessPal this week too to keep me accountable there too.

My mojo is back. It’s time to shift those pounds and smash those PBs!

 

Race Report: Yeovil Half Marathon 2015

The start of British Summertime not only signals an hours extra daylight at the end of the day, but its also the day that Total buzz Events hosts the Yeovil Half Marathon. Growing each year, its an opportunity for local people to set their sights on a challenging but achievable goal, and it boosts runner numbers that I see pounding the streets over the winter, hopefully to continue their running careers!

For me, its a poignant reminder of how far I’ve come. 2 years to the day since my first race, my first half marathon time was 2:07, and at Reading last week it was 1:30.

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Its not a massive race, and there are only a few road closures which can make it difficult I think to attract more people to the event. Furthermore the route could be improved to take in some more of the lovely countryside of the area (Camp Road would be a good addition). But it is what it is.

The weather this year was miserable. Cold, wet and windy. I needed to do 20 miles, which meant a super early start (5am in real terms). I decided to drive to the venue, the magnificent Huish Park, home of Yeovil Town FC! As I was so early though, the gates weren’t even open. I resorted to parking at nearby Abbey Manner to run my 7 mile loop. I found it tougher than i thought it would, which didn’t bode too well. Once I finished the loop I got to the car and headed to the car park, by which point there was a massive queue!

The parking was great, once you got in the car park. The problem was, they had 2 lanes of traffic which they merged together which caused a bottle neck. I think they’d have been better with a single stream.

Packet pick up was collection on the day, so i got out of the car to go and get it before heading back to pin on my bib and attach my chip in the comfort of my car. It was very easy to pick up the packet, and I was surprised just how many people I saw that I knew, either socially, through parkrun, or through the running club. I remember that first year being stood in the freezing cold, just me and Jodie, too scared to speak to anyone and not feeling like I really belonged – which I know know to be ridiculous!

I met with the guys from Running for Time where well chatted about our ambitions for the race, and moaned about the weather. We got a photo, and then Simon and I ran to get the obligatory club photo too. I was trying my hand at pacing for the first time, as I was only using the run as part of a 20 miler I offered to help Ryan round to a 1:57, who was struggling a bit with Injury.

Credit to Olly Ayles
Credit to Olly Ayles
Credit to the Western Gazette
Credit to the Western Gazette

With a relatively small field, there were no timed start pens, and unlike other years there were also no signs which advised people where to start based upon their expected finish times. With a few minutes to spare people headed for the line and without too much pomp and ceremony we were off.

The route started with a 3/4 lap of the Huish Park Stadium, and gave us the opportunity to find our pace. Simon and Hannah were pacing for a similar time to us and we spent a good portion of the race going ahead/behind each other.

The route was run over a lot of roads which are the bread and butter of my training, and aside from the weather it was quite a straightforward, sociable run. I saw so many parkrun friends, Strava friends and club friends and chatted with people all the way around – not only runners either, the support was great, better at some parts of the course than others though, but for a smaller race I think it was quite well represented.

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Despite it being so called “bread and butter” running, I still managed to go head over backside. Running towards the Airfield Tavern, I put my foot down on the curb and slipped off it. I managed somehow to hit the deck, protect my Garmin and carry my momentum into a forward roll of sorts, which meant I was able to get back up, feeling only a little sheepish and with a small graze to the elbow. I did hobble a bit afterwards but seems OK now. Thankfully, this was 100 yards before the biggest cheer point on the course so that saved my blushes! Though my friend Will captured these snaps of me right after my tumble.

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We managed to maintain pace all the way through to about 9 miles until we had to slow. As Ryan’s injury had prevented him training as much as he needed to, he started cramping up and struggling, so it was a tough last 4 miles for him, and the last 2 involved a few walk breaks too. Though I did manage to motivate him into a sprint finish for the line, and I have to say the support at the finish line was brilliant.

We got a decent medal, though they are always like a chromey/silver and look, to be honest, a bit cheap, despite being sizable. The goody bag wasn’t much to write home about, though the dairy milk chocolate went down a treat!

All in all, another good Half Marathon – Maybe I’ll even race it next year. Though this was still a course best for me!

 

Race Report: Reading Half Marathon

I’m not a huge fan of waking up before 7 on a Sunday morning, but when its the morning of a half marathon I’m shooting for a PB at, I make an exception.

Reading has been on my “To do” list pretty much since my first Yeovil Half 2 years ago. It’s billed as the fastest half marathon in the UK*, has 16,000 runners, a big city race vibe and a fantastic finish in the amazing Madejski Stadium, home of Reading FC and London Irish RFC.

It’s an added bonus that Jodie’s folks live in Basingstoke, just 20 minutes down the road. This made travelling to the event a breeze. I’ve visited Reading before and I am categorically NOT a fan of the roads there. I always end up lost or angry, so I made sure I picked a car park nearby, on the Basingstoke side of the course. Parking had to be pre-booked, and I was “lucky” to get a space. All car parks were full, though they released extra spaces a few weeks beforehand in 2 car parks. The Blue car park was close to the M4 with easy access to and from it. The Red car park was smack bang in the middle of the course and advised that cars wouldn’t be allowed out til 2.30 at the earliest.

Imagine my (un)surprise when people were complaining on Facebook that they were still in the Red car park, despite all other car parks seemingly having no issues! People need to exercise common sense, my my sympathy for these people is limited.

That sympathy however, only goes so far to the event organisers though, who charged the princely sum of £9 to park and in exchange for a lovely blue parking ticket to hang from the rear view mirror. That’s all very well, but on the way in, no-one checked it – and no more than an hour later the parents-in-law parked in there, totally gratis without a problem, so that seems to me to be a bit of a rip off.

Aside from that though, I have to say the traffic was managed excellently. From approaching and getting into the car park everything was incredibly well sign posted, coned and cordoned off, and for such a large event I actually thought this was very impressive.

Walking to the stadium, the runners headed to the village were buzzing. The sun had come out, and despite it being a little chilly in the breeze, I had a feeling the weather was going to defy the forecast – and I was right. All day the sun shone, to the point Jodie got a bit sun-burnt.

I’ve not been to the Mad Stad before (Despite a couple of close calls for the football) but it really is a lovely stadium. Walking to the race village we thought we’d stop in and look at the finish area, and it was magnificent!

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There weren’t many people around yet, but there was a commentator already waxing lyrical and I just knew it would be buzzing for the finish. We soon realized the reason the commentator had started was the “Green Park Challenge” race had started and the first runners were coming in for the finish! It was quite the race for the win, the first 4 or so were all from Reading AC and the first two were only seconds apart!

It was here that we met Lucy who was doing her first ever Half Marathon, and she was suitably excited/nervous!  We headed to the race village which was starting to get busy. It was still cold, but the sun was trying to get through. The race village itself was enormous – it was more like a festival site. Much bigger than similarly sized events like the Bristol Half. We met Dave and had a chat with him whilst we waited for Simon to turn up, who we met near the bag drop. And speaking of the bag drop, what an absolute delight! Zero queue, stacks of amazing volunteers and both drop off and collection were a pleasure. Great people, many races can learn a lot from the team here. Good job!

Jodie and Lucy were in a different starting pen to Simon and I so we wished each other luck and went our separate ways. It was a bit of a walk through “Green Park” which was quite picturesque, but the lake was a bit smelly – maybe it should have been called “Brown Park”! We got to the pens about 30 minutes before the start, which, unsurprisingly, were excellently controlled. Marshals were checking the colours of race numbers to grant access to the fenced start pens, and each marshal seemed to know exactly what they were doing and where to send people. It was absolutely seamless. We decided as were were targetting 90ish minutes we’d head toward the front, which is exactly where we found ourselves! The joys of getting to the pens early!

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I started getting a bit nervous, mainly because everyone around me was talking about 80-85 minute times! But I held my own in there and pretended I belonged there. There was the obligatory Zumba style warm up and when that was over the chap leading it strapped on a 1h30 pacer flag and the proceedings were getting underway. After an (underwhelming) speech by John Madejski, the first wave was counted down and started. The waves were separated 3 minutes apart, which was intended to ease congestion. Although we were only the second wave, I have to say from my point of view, it worked, I had to do very little weaving around and was another sign of an excellently organised race.

As our wave was heading for the line, I shouted “Cheers John!” to Mr Madejski, who gave me a little wave and after an agonising 25 second wait, the gun went and we were off.

Not 200 yards later did an unfortunate woman absolutely stack it into ground and I was lucky not to get ripped myself, but I kept my head focussed and carried on.

From here on in, my memory has gotten a bit flakey. because I was absolutely flat out, and I can’t really remember much of large portions of the course, so here’s what I do remember.

Mile 1 – 2: We headed around Green Park and ran through a trading estate. I felt comfortable at 6.45m/m pace, which was faster than my 7m/m target, so i decided to keep at it. Brilliant support.

Mile 3: UPHILL! For a good half mile this was just up hill and then started what seemed like a gradual downhill towards the university. Pace slowed and I was worried I might not be able to maintain it. Brilliant support. *Apparently its the fastest half because of the number of fast runners who do it. It’s definitely not because its sodding flat after this mountain!

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Miles 4-5: Slightly down hill and I remember heading around the university. It was really windy and my Garmin messed up with all the sharp bends. A bit sparser but still good support. Thought Sub 90 might be on.

Miles 6-7: Through town, windy a few uphills, I remember brilliant support but this is where things started getting a bit hazy. Thought sub-90 had gone. The onset of runners tummy came on.

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Mile 8: UPHILL! This one seemed to go on and on and on. Convinced myself sub-90 was gone. Sparse support I think I really can’t remember.

Mile 9-11: Flattened out, brain was mush and basic addition and subtraction was beyond me but figured if I did 7m/m for the rest of the race I’d break my target. I have no idea what the crowd were like. Bowels growling on a consistent basis.

Mile 12: Pain, suffering and torture, but somehow banged in a quick mile. Crowd sparse, long drag bag to the stadium, which didn’t seem to get any bloody closer at all. Bowels were screaming at me and had to try my best to talk them out of doing a Paula on the A33.

Mile 13: More suffering, wound round into the stadium complex and wow, what a sight, the run up to the stadium was just lined with people cheering them home. I looked at my watch but I had no idea what I was going to do except that I know I’d beat my target 92 minutes. Saw Dave here, but I could barely raise a hand for him, I was spent. Had to go around the outside of the stadium before reaching the last…

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Mile 13.1: As I entered the stadium it was deafening! Such good support, the commentator was going and I had about 30 seconds to beat 90 minutes. I gave it all I had, but nothing was in the tank. On the home stretch I heard Jodie’s Dad yell “Go on Matty boy!” and I managed a little fist pump in the general direction (I couldn’t see anything) and crossed the line in 90:08 official time!

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That’s a massive 5+ minute PB which I am absolutely over the moon with, but I keep reflecting on the time and wondering if I should be upset not to go 9 seconds faster. Ultimately though, I gave the race absolutely everything and left nothing out there. That was as good as I could have given on the day – though I could have gone quicker on a flat course on tapered leg instead of in the peak mileage phase of marathon training, but thats another story!

Much like the rest of the race, the finish funnel was absolutely exemplary. Well orchestrated collection of goody bag (With tee shirt and water bottle – good haul!) and the most magnificent Half medal I’ve ever gotten, all the way through to collecting my bag again, which was an absolute pleasure.

After collecting my bag, I headed over to where I thought I’d seen Dave – and though I didn’t find him, I did see Simon, who smashed his target with an amazing 88m plus change! We got the obligatory victory photo in our vests!

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Then I headed back to try and find Jodie’s parents and watch Jodie come in. But I couldn’t find Jodie’s parents for ages until I called them. When I found them we waited for over half an hour, watching people carefully trying to spot Jodie. As the pacer flags came in, it was getting more and more difficult to come up with reasons why we hadn’t seen her. “Maybe she started at the back of the pen”, “Maybe she started a pen back”, “Maybe she started with Lucy”. Eventually, worried, I headed to the original meeting point – and lo and behold, there were both Jodie AND Lucy! Jodie had even seen Lucy cross the line! I felt awful for Jodie’s parents who came along to support but only saw me! But on the plus side, both Jodie AND Lucy smashed their targets.

Unfortunately due to the kerfuffle I didn’t get a chance to head to the Reading Road Runners tent to see Kezza from parkrun, but even so it was great to watch people come home. We saw one guy, who unfortunately had to be carried near the end, but was totally out of it. He collapsed and the St Johns Ambulance people had to go and get him. Its a stark reminder to people that a half marathon is a big challenge and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Train well, eat and hydrate properly and you will be fine though.

Anyway, before we saw Lucy of and headed to the car we got a photo together.

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We walked back to the car and left the car park without a hitch (Because I wasn’t stupid and didn’t pick the Red car park…)

What a truly brilliant race, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Top marks in every single department except for parking value for money. Credit to all the volunteers for making it possible, and absolute kudos to the thousands of people who either came to support or had their travel disrupted for the sake of this magnificent race.

Reading, we will be back!

 

Race Report: Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon 2015

What seems like ages ago, though was actually only the 22nd February, Jodie and I took part in the Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon. Its taken that long for me to find time to write about it!

Back in December we noticed both our training plans had a cutback week this weekend, and thought a cheeky half might fit in quite nicely – the prospect of added bling helped the decision making process! I always prefer running a race (Even at training pace) as there are aid stations and other people around – less to worry about yourself and people to keep you motivated – far less lonely! We spotted this race as it was relatively local, was reasonably priced, had a medal and was pretty flat. So we pencilled it in, booked a budget hotel for the night and though we’d give it a try.

We arrived with plenty of time on the morning of the race and parked up by the seafront near the Race HQ, and we could see it was a much smaller race than the Great South Run! There were actually around 1000 entrants. It was “packet pickup” on the day in the Pyramids centre, which was seemingly an entertainment venue. The venue was bustling with runners. HQ was excellently organised, number pickup was slick and there was well attended bag storage.

When we arrived, we noticed how, although it was cold and a bit windy, the weather was actually quite pleasant. This would soon change… Inside the Pyramid Center was warm and toasty though and we hung out there, attaching our numbers and hydrating. it got busier and busier, and before long we were called to the start.

We got an obligatory pre-race selfie though!
We got an obligatory pre-race selfie though!

There were no instructions to gather according to perceived pace or anything here, just one giant corral, which undoubtedly caused some congestion at the start – but as we were only training and not PB hunting we weren’t too concerned. The race started on schedule and we made our way along the promenade. There was a bottle neck early on which caused many to walk whilst a promenade ramp was negotiated.

The weather seemed all too good even at this point, even the wind had dropped! (Or so i thought…) I decided upon my pace early on and Jodie went ahead of me for the first 3 miles. She was on fire!

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The course itself kicks off with 3 miles along the front all the way down the headland of “Lock lake” before doubling back and doing a quick loop of the “Muddy beach”, which is basically the shore of Lock lake. The beach itself wasn’t too bad, if you picked the right line to run. Some people didn’t pick a good line and had to come back for their shoes! It was around this section where I caught Jodie and ran with her for a bit. There were some good photos along the beach.

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I had to stop for a bathroom break though and then spent the next mile or so gradually catching up with her. This was still all along seafront on coastal path until we reached some civilization and cycle path. Jodie and I ran together again for a while until about half way. And that’s where things got a bit silly…

Remember I said it didn’t seem windy? Well that will be because the wind was behind us!

Remember I said the sun was shining? This is when it started raining!

Remember I said I was running at a training pace? This is when, for some stupid reason, I thought it would be a good idea to run a Marathon Pace for the rest of the race! Idiotic I know. 6 miles at MP with a strong headwind meant my perceived effort was much higher and made it a tough second half.

We came through some playing fields, around some football pitches (Including one that had a funny marsh name) before we ended up back on the seafront for the brutal last 4 miles. The weather got worse and worse, and then we passed the Start/Finish for the final 2ish mile loop. Psychologically that was quite hard, and it seemed much longer than 2 miles! You would have thought though after that final loop things would have gotten a bit easier as the wind would be behind again? Nope, you would be wrong. Somehow it was in your face no matter what way you ran.

I saw Jodie as we “crossed over” in the last section, I’m sure I looked a sight! Coming toward the finish I was relieved to see the end, but still managed to pick up some pace for a sprint finish.

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I'm even off the ground!
I’m even off the ground!

One of the issues with the race seemed to be distance measurement. When we passed what my watch determined to be the first mile, I heard a rapture of watches beep all around me, but the first mile marker was about 0.18 miles after that. Each mile marker seemed to be consistent after that though. So the race ended up, by my watch, to be 0.18 miles long! Normally I wouldn’t mention it as GPS can be anomalous, but both mine and Jodies, and every other watch beeping around me at the same time every mile was a little too much evidence!

I managed to catch some Snaps of Jodie as she finished, along with the official ones I’ve liberated.

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The marshalling was excellent, the aid stations were great too and had Jaffa Cakes and Chocolate! I’m not a fan of water in cups, though that’s my own preference and I can’t complain about that.

The medal was nice and the goody bag actually contained goodies, much better than the usual flyers and nothing else! Peanut butter, cereal bar, energy gel, energy drink mix and a bottle of water.

It was an brilliant race, and we both said we’d do it again. In the days after the race, my body really knew about it though and I struggled for the week after. I clearly over did it in the context of my training plan, the perceived effort being much higher than it should have done. Add to the mix I set my 5k PB at Newbury parkrun the day before I really was a bit stupid.

Cold and wet we may have been, but happy and pleased we were too!

Oh, and did I mention that despite running it at a “training pace” Jodie set a Half Marathon PB? On a long course in bad conditions? WELL DONE! Bring on Reading!

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Race Report: Blackmore Vale Half Marathon 2015

This was somewhat of a late addition to our race schedule. Jodie and I are both marathon training, and whilst we are trying to do some “Races” this didn’t really fit with our plans. However, the announcement that personal inspiration Steve Way was doing it made us change those plans a little! (And I did get to see him briefly, regrettably though I did not speak to him 🙁 )

I was scheduled to do a 20 miler, my first of the campaign, and Jodie 19. We switched Jodie’s cutback week so this would be her “recovery” week, and I decided to do a 7 mile “warm up”. The intention was to both treat the race like a training run and take it nice and easy.

As such, our preparation wasn’t the best! A friends birthday the night before resulted in one of us (And it wasn’t me…) getting in at 2.30am! A very short nights sleep later, thanks to my need to do 7 miles beforehand, meant we got there super early and we were the first car to park in the car park – and there were plenty of attendants to help with this. Very slickly organised. Though it was a sunny, pretty morning, it was bitingly cold in the wind. I went off on my first warm up to clear my head and after 3 miles I’d forgotten about the cold, and the wind and my head was relatively sober!

Getting back to the carpark, I couldn’t believe it was the same place I left an hour before! It  was a transformation, heaving full with runners everywhere. I found the car and Jodie and we went to get registered. I was a little surprised it wasn’t chip timed, but that’s not really a big deal to me and on the whole the registration was very well organised. Though like seemingly every race it was a bit short of toilets with some long queues.

It didn’t take long for us all to be called to the start area – no time allocated start pens here! Proper old school. And then we were off.

I spent the first bit with Jodie before going our separate ways. The first mile or so was downhill and good to get some momentum. The sun was shining and the countryside route was stunning! Picturesque views and although there were no road closures, traffic wasn’t much of a concern. The drivers were very accommodating.

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Water stations were plentiful, though in plastic cups which I find it tough to drink from, especially at race pace. All the volunteers were an absolute credit and as I wasn’t racing I think I managed to say thank you to every one I passed. Their efforts really are appreciated!

The route was very much “Undulating”, with one enormous hill in the middle – at the top of which were parkrun friends Neil and Aime taking some pictures and cheering us on! Thank you to them for the motivation!

I’d managed to keep my pace at around 8:30s, which was faster than I really should have been going/wanting to go. But Dave summed it up afterwards – you just roll off the hills. I actually think its not a slow course at all, just not brilliantly fast.

I even managed to stop for a (prearranged) cup of team in Kings Stag, as my friends farm was directly on the route! Made a nice pitstop, though it did mean trying to re-overtake everyone I’d spent 9 miles passing!

The last mile and a half was a slog though, all uphill! Crossing the line I forgot the free tee shirt, a nice cotton souvenir which was nice for such a cheap race. Catching up with Dave and Si (Dave paced Si to a massive PB! Good work both of them!) after the finish, we started chatting about what time Jodie was going for. I thought she was only doing a training run – so it was quite the shock to see her, with the clock just ticking over 1:59, rounding the last corner! Dave saw her first and I couldn’t believe it – Jodie was going to do it in under two hours! That was her target for the much flatter Reading half in 2 months!

She absolutely smashed it and she was beaming from ear to ear after the run. I am extremely proud of her. 16 minute PB, sub 2 hours. Chuffed as nuts!

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It was a brilliantly organised and beautiful race and I have nothing but praise for it. Despite not being chip timed, the results were up very promptly! I wouldn’t hesitate to do this again, though I can’t promise I’d be saying the same if it was cold and wet!

More Photos:

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Race Report: Bristol Half Marathon

It’s the evening of Sunday 21st September 2014 and today I, along with Jodie and Simon, ran the 26th edition of the Bristol Half.

This was a target race for all of us. We’d all focussed our regimes around this race and we all had different goals going into it. Additionally, YTRRC had over 50 runners taking part, so it was a big club event too.

Jodie and I had stayed locally with family the night before, and parked with ample time to spare. Which was good as I was having ‘digestive issues’ and needed a loo stop! Simon was less lucky, and had car issues getting to the start but thankfully he got there in time!

It was a wave start, I was in wave 1 and the others in wave 2, so without much fuss I made my way to the start pen after wishing Jodie the best of luck. As it was her first I was nervously excited for her, with a little fear. I really wanted her to enjoy the experience, but I also knew she was capable of a good time if she wanted it.

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The weather was perfect. A clear day, with no wind and the sun was shining. Walking to the start pen, I saw Danny, who I know from parkrun and chatted with him while we waited to get going. This was the first time I’d put a fast time into a race entry form, and I wasn’t used to being so close to the start. It only took 2 minutes from the gun to cross the start line!

The first mile or so was really well supported, but congested. I was bobbing and weaving a lot to make my way through and find a bit of space. I think with hindsight this helped me with my pacing. I had an ‘A’ goal, which I set as my top end pace on my Garmin, and a ”B’ goal for the low end. The first 3 miles I managed to stick with this quite well. It helped that the mile markers matched my watch ‘laps’.

As we left the city on the A4 Portway the crowd started getting sparser. Still quite congested but the road widened and was manageable. After 4 miles or so I saw the lead pack of East Africans running back towards us. And for me, this was when the funniest part of the race was! Though the ‘out and back’ was long and straight (though I have to say I think the ‘out’ was slightly uphill for 3 miles…) there was so much camaraderie. I cheered anyone I saw in a Yeovil vest, and the same was reciprocated back. This helped miles 2-8 fly by! I even saw Rich from the RW forum who spotted me and gave me a yell. Great fun!

I spent a good deal of this portion passing people, and that didn’t really stop happening until about mile 11 when everyone seemed to be similarly paced and the runners were spread a bit thinner.

Anyway, with all this fun I got a bit of a shock as I saw Jodie! Somehow she made it into wave 1! As I passed her she was in great spirits though so I was very pleased for her. Pace wise, I knew I was ahead of even my ‘A’ target by about a minute, and coming back down the partway I managed a sub 7min mile. I felt strong. Then I started seeing wave 2 runners coming down the other way too so I kept my eye open for Si, and sure enough I saw him looking good too!

Not long after this I reached the 8 mile mark and the route deviated from the 10k route. We crossed a bridge and did a long double, double-back going up an actual hill! Wasn’t expecting that! But managed to get through it pretty unscathed, and meant a nice bit of downhill to rest the legs. All in all, the course is not as flat as you think. Ignoring the spikes in the elevation chart below – these occurred when i run through the tunnel under the Clifton bridge, there were 3 or 4 noticable climbs as you progress the course.

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As my watch beeped for the 9 mile mark, we came back into the city and I knew the family support would be there. Sure enough they saw me coming and gave me a big cheer! Now, at this point there was a loop around a mile long and I’d see them again. It went around queen square and there was a drum band and some hot air balloons. The problem was, my Garmin went a bit mental. The tall buildings and trees meant my pacing a went a bit wrong. This, along with the fact I was clearly reaching my limit being around 90s up on my ‘A’ goal, meant when I passed the family the second time I wasn’t nearly as comfortable. I had to hit lap on my watch when I passed the 10m marker to reset my pacings.

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Mile 11 was my slowest. 7.45. At this point I had 2 options. I could go for it, smash my goal, and hurt in the morning. Or, I could let the pace ease off and make my goal by a whisper. Needless to say, my ego won!

Credit to Steve Membury, posted on the YTRRC Facebook page
Looking in pain at the 10m mark. Credit to Steve Membury, posted on the YTRRC Facebook page

11 to 12 was the toughest mile. Not only was I digging in, but there was a slightly slippery cobbled section, and what can only be described as a totally isolated industrial section. (There was no-one but a string of runners, and it was eerily quiet, save for the panting of runners.

But as I reached the 12mile mark we were back in town. The crowd was back. It was just the city centre ‘one way system’ to go. At this point I had to get my maths head on. I thought this section was the same as the 10k. Looking at my watch, I though sub 95 was on, so I picked the pace up. Unfortunately the course was a bit longer, but I decided to give it everything I had anyway. I’d trained hard and wanted to get the absolute best time I good. I passed the 13m market and sub 96 was on. I dug deep. It was going to be close! The crowd were magnificent and as I rounded the last bend to see the finish gantry I looked at my watch. I had 20s to get there… I gave it a sprint and just dipped under! I couldn’t believe I made it, but I didn’t have chance to enjoy it as I had to lean over the rail to throw up!

It felt amazing, but it was short lived as I wanted to get over and cheer Jodie on. I made my way through the funnel, picked up a nice medal and a medium (yes MEDIUM! Go me!) tech tee. The goody bag however, was rubbish. A Freddo bar, cereal bar and electrolyte tabs just didn’t cut the mustard.

I jogged to the meeting point to greet the family who were all very proud. They’d seen Jodie once and we were expecting to see her again in the next few minutes. And low and behold we saw Simon! I gave him a cheer, he looked good. Jodie was a few minutes behind him and also looked good! The look of focus was in her eyes and I’ve never been so proud!

We then moved on and managed to cheer her on at 2 more points, and she even had a strong finish. Meeting her at the finish funnel was emotional, I was so happy for her! Best of all she didn’t hate the experience!

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In the funnel we saw Joe Thomas, of ‘The Inbetweeners’ fame. Not convinced it was him, we shouted ‘Joe Thomas!’ And he looked round and waved! Wish we’d said something cooler and got a photo, instead of sounding like a run wanker!

After the race we wound down. Spent some time with the club and went to Za Za Bazaar for some well earned food. We were all very proud of our achievements in a great, well organised and decently supported race.

YTRRC milling around post race. Credit to Simon Eadon, posted on the YTRRC Facebook Page
YTRRC milling around post race. Credit to Simon Eadon, posted on the YTRRC Facebook Page
Team photo. Credit Steve Membury (I think) from the YTRRC Facebook Page
Team photo. Credit Steve Membury (I think) from the YTRRC Facebook Page