Things I thought I’d never say… ‘I’m writing this on a Bank Holiday Monday, sat in the garden in the glorious sunshine… in England’. ‘I have two 10k races in 2 days, one of them is a trail run’. ‘I lost 11lbs in 5 weeks’. And yet, here I am saying all of those things!
The Bristol 10k is now a week away and I’m feeling pretty optimistic that I might be able to pull a further PB out of the bag. While I’m obviously going for a course PB AND an all time 10k PB, I’m wondering whether aiming for a 55min PB is out of the question! I don’t want to crash and burn by running outside of my actual ability. There has to become a point where I physically cannot achieve a certain time which is nothing to do with how hard I push??
Monday | Shins Shins Shins
I’ve been really really suffering with my shins lately and foam rolling was just way too painful to try and ease it off so I ordered a ‘body roller’ which is like a big stick with little wheels on that you use to roll away your aches and pains. I’m a little sceptical but I’m getting desperate at this point and need to feel like I’m doing something. I’ve watched more YouTube videos than I can count on how to ease the pain and this was one of the things that was highly recommended. It’s such a difficult area to try and stretch out, I find myself trying to contort into all sorts of positions to try and get a stretch there but nothing really works.
Tuesday | Cardio Day
I’ve been embracing these ‘non running cardio days’ these past couple of weeks and my legs are definitely feeling the benefit of it. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t do this workout in constant pain on the inside of my shins though! I wanted to do a little longer but I thought I’d be silly to push it, especially with 2 races this weekend so I did just over an hour.
Wednesday | They See me Rollin’
The ‘body roller’ was delivered today, hooray! I gave it a little test on my legs, they’re still sore, and I can’t say they felt any better afterwards but I’m assuming persistence is the key here. The Labrador was also very interested in this new contraption!
Thursday | Rest Day
I’m feeling nervous about Saturday’s run because I feel very under qualified to run it. I always imagine that there’s going to be runners there who look at me and think ‘she’s definitely no runner, what on earth is she doing at a trail run’. And while they’re right, to date, I’ve never felt like this when I’m at a run. There are always many different abilities at races and everyone is encouraging. I’ll admit that I have thought about not going. It’s such a long way and I really don’t want to fall over ahead of Sunday’s run and do myself an injury.
Friday | Out Out + New Trail Shoes
I had the day off of work today and my main goal was to get some much needed new trail shoes. The guy in the running shop was very helpful and I sauntered around the store trying on as many different shoes as they had and running up and down stairs. I was surprised that I ended up with a size 4 as I am actually a size 4… and I know running shoes are usually bigger than your normal shoe size. Anyway, they felt comfortable and I went away new shoes in hand – also knowing I was going to commit the sin of running in a brand new pair of shoes… ah well, what was I going to wear, my battered Nikes or my toe crippling trail shoes!
The evening followed by a trip into town to say goodbye to a work colleague but I had to leave fairly early because of the lovely early start tomorrow!
Saturday | Brecon Beacons 10k Trail Challenge
This race may have taken over as my most favourite one yet! Before that, I’d like to share a fun fact about myself that, if you don’t know me, you may not know. I am rather silly. Which means that silly things happen to me… A LOT. While I’m the kind of person who cannot fit any more information into my brain until the last possible moment, I do like to have a general idea of how far away a race is ahead of time, which means I’d looked to see how far away the Brecon Beacons were and my sat nav reliably informed me that it was just under 2 hours away from home. The sensible part of my brain said ‘that’s weird, it’s only across the bridge into Wales and up a bit’, but I reasoned that perhaps the roads into the Brecons were slow and winding which is why it was going to take so long.
So we’re at race day, hopped into the car at some stupid o’clock, and I’m following the sat nav to get on our way. What I thought was really strange was the way that it was taking us, up through Gloucester and onto the M5… weird, I need to be on the M4 and I know this isn’t the right way. I pulled over on the side of the road and instantly realised why we’d gone so far off course… my sat nav was set to ‘avoid tolls’! So we weren’t going across the bridge into Wales we were going ALL THE WAY AROUND IT! Great start to the day, I could have had an extra half an hour in bed!
Crisis averted, we eventually made it to Race HQ, which was a tad troublesome in itself. Because there was also an Ultra, Marathon and Half Marathon on the same day spaced an hour apart, we’d arrived during the half marathon set off and we had to wait for all of the runners to cross the start before we could get into the car park and we were sat there for quite some time. Phew, we made it. The views in this part of the world are stunning and I was feeling a little nervous as to what these trails were going to be like. I’m 100% no technical runner but the views on trails cannot be matched which is why I come back to them time and time again. During this race I had a very brief discussion with another runner as to the fact that we were both here for the ‘experience’ and not the PBs, which is how I feel about nearly every trail run I’ve completed.
We had to gather for a race briefing 15 mins before the start and I’ll be honest, it wasn’t great. They were using a tannoy system which didn’t seem to be working and I couldn’t hear a thing. People were shouting that they couldn’t hear but that didn’t make the instructions any clearer to me. They held up signs which I assumed meant that we had to follow them… easy enough.
The puppers set off 5 minutes before the main race and then we were off. As soon as we started I felt knackered! Even though the race started early, it was already pretty hot. Because I have the Glastonbury 10k tomorrow, I’m not going to push myself today that’s for sure because that IS a time I care about! The views on this course were absolutely stunning and I’m not even ashamed to say that I stopped on multiple occasions to either take in the views or to take photos of the views. The terrain was great and not very ‘technical’ in my mind, with the exception of a couple of rocky places towards the end. Had it been raining and more muddy, it might have been different (that’s not to say there weren’t some muddy parts as there were).
My new trail shoes held up well, they could definitely still do with some breaking in, but otherwise they felt okay (not like my last pair where I actually thought my toes might fall off after wearing them) and I was a teeny bit upset when they got mud on them, not gonna lie haha.
Coming up to around mile 6 and I thought I was on the home stretch but my watch clocked a final distance of over 7 miles, and it’s usually pretty accurate! (Reading some peoples’ Instagram posts after, the Half Marathon was more like 16 miles – eek).
Overall this was a great race, I loved it and I’d love to go back again and not race as I wanted to really take in the stunning views instead of running away from them! The medal wasn’t too shabby either, one of my favourites. Also worth noting, I had zero pain, niggles, nothing. My shins didn’t hurt one tiny bit.
Sunday | Glastonbury 10k
This was the first ‘race’ I’d done (since 2012 when I ran the Bristol Half Marathon) in 2017 so I felt there was a bit of pressure to get at least a course PB and then under the hour was my goal. I adore Glastonbury, it’s such a unique place. Unfortunately last year I didn’t get a chance to look around much as I felt absolutely horrible after and wanted to get back to the car and home as soon as possible.
Glastonbury, as you might expect, is also a very chill race and it doesn’t start until 11.20am which is the latest start time I’ve ever had. This also meant that the temperature was absolutely scorching by the time we set off at around 24 degrees. I couldn’t remember much about the course, although I vaguely remember thinking it was pretty hilly the first time around, and there’s ‘Heartbreak Hill’ on the very last 1k of the race, which I didn’t manage to run up in 2017 (I think I may have said a curse word when I saw it around the corner then too).
I’d set my pace time on my Garmin to 59:30 (definitely not going for any kind of 10k PB after running trails yesterday and it being so hot), getting around in under an hour was my number one goal. I set off quite well and managed to get 1min lead time fairly quickly so I just needed to hold onto that pace as long as I could. Last weekend, at Bridgwater 10k, I only stopped at the water stations for mere seconds because I knew that was going to make a massive difference to my overall time but today, I couldn’t run past them I really needed that few seconds break and a bit of water intake.
I managed to maintain my pace right up until mile 5 but by this point, someone had notched up the temperature and I was absolutely boiling! I scraped by this mile, managing to hold onto about a 50 second lead but it was tough. The photographer (also, free race photos at Glastonbury!) takes a photo of you with the Glastonbury Tor in the background, which is a great backdrop and I knew that Heartbreak Hill was just around the corner from here. There is even a sign ‘Welcome to Heartbreak Hill’ at the bottom. I looked up (mistake), did a little internal cursing, and ran up the whole flippin’ thing, which already meant I was better than last year. Then it’s a nice little downhill to the finish line and boom you’re done! I looked at my watch and it said ’58:44′ and I was over the moon with that time! 5 minutes faster than 2017 which (to me) is a huge difference. Another sub 1 hr 10k in the bank, which makes this the 3rd run so far.
I’m so thankful that I found the pacer on my Garmin, I honestly don’t think I’d be able to get the past sub 1hr times without it. Before, I’d look at around mile 5 and guestimate whether I’d be able to get in under or not but with this, I know my estimated finish time and whether I’m on course or not – it’s absolutely brilliant!
After the race, I felt horrible. I’d been feeling sick since yesterday and the heat didn’t help but I’d also had completely blocked ears. Every step I took, every time I breathed in, I could ‘hear’ it and I felt like I was on a plane. We had ice creams and a wander around the Abbey and then came back to the start to watch the drummers and then headed back to the car. I must have sat in the car for around 20 minutes trying not to feel sick – nonetheless, great day, great race and I may come back again in 2019 we’ll see. I did get a bit sunburned though, being a pale English Rose hahaha. How silly of me not to wear any lotion! I also had no pain at all during or after this race, which I didn’t even realise until I’ve sat down to think about it now! I’m really hoping that it stays pain free as this is the only way I’m going to continue to get better race times. (Pray to the shin gods).
Next Week – Week 4
The week of the BIG run, which I’m looking forward to but also I’m going to be so nervous trying to get that ‘need for speed’ and all time PB. The weather forecast is showers and definitely cooler than this week, so I’m feeling better about that! While I will never, ever, ever, complain about it being too hot in England, I may complain that it’s too hot for running.