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Half Marathon Training | Week 9 | Diary of an Injured Runner

Tick Tock on the Clock but the party don’t stop… daylight savings are here! And what better way to celebrate spring on the way with a race, right! I chose to wake up an hour earlier and do the Clock Change Challenge 10k, which I felt was only right considering I’d done the autumn version back last year. I was a little sad that I’d missed out on the Cardiff Bay 10k today as I’d booked this one already BUT it’s on next year’s list.

Spoiler alert… the lady handing out race numbers on Sunday said I had the winning timing chip and I won my first ever race… or did I…

Monday | Travelling Day
I had to travel to Swindon today for a meeting and unfortunately there was still a lot of snow on the roads. As usual, I felt completely knackered from driving (it’s not even that far) and I had a snooze around 6pm which never sets me up well for the rest of the evening.

Tuesday | Rest Day
I’ve made up my mind that I’m going to start with my photo food diaries again because I’m really not eating nearly as smart or as healthy as I sometimes imagine that I am. While I’ve been tracking my food on My Fitness Pal for some years, I don’t ever feel like it’s a good visual representation of what I’ve eaten that day. So I may be under my 1,200 calories goal (I’m 5’2), but what if all I ate all day was snacks and cake?? I much prefer to see exactly what I’ve eaten, what was the portion size and how many colours have I eaten.

Wednesday | Hair Cut Day
New hair, who’s dis? I was having my hair cut on the evening so running was out for me today, but secretly I was pleased because I wanted to have as many rest days this week as I could to make sure I can race on Sunday.

Thursday | Travelling Day
Another day of travel today to Reading and, yep you’ve guessed it, another snooze around 5pm – 6pm. I had a weird experience when I woke up from my nap as I looked at my phone and realised it was 6.10am and my first thought was ‘why didn’t my alarm go off, I’ve overslept’! So I got up, went to the kitchen to get a drink and thought I’d better get in the shower and start the day…. when I looked at my 24 hour clock, I realised that it was 6pm! The pitfalls of snoozing eh!

I decided I’d had enough excitement for today and put off my planned run for this evening. I wonder constantly what kind of runner I’d be if I didn’t have any injuries and could just go out and run whenever and however I wanted to. I literally cannot imagine what that would be like. A bit like I can’t imagine what it would be like to have a well behaved Labrador!

Friday | Run Day – 2 miles
I’ll be honest, I didn’t have a Scooby Doo what to do for the best today! I wanted to go out and test my legs because what if I tried to race my 10k on Sunday and I get a mile in and know that I can’t continue! That would just be awful! But so would running before I felt ready to. Oh the dilemma.

I decided to opt for the ‘test the legs’ route and then if I was still bad I wouldn’t go to my race on Sunday (which would be the first race I’ve ever missed). I won’t say that I felt 100% by any stretch, perhaps 65% would be more accurate, but I was pretty pleased overall.  I tried to push myself a little bit but not too much, the pain was still there in my legs but it was more a ‘shin splint’ type of pain rather than pain from the hips down like last week. I’m feeling a bit more hopeful for my race on Sunday now, and while I was going to go for a race course PB, I think I’ll just aim to get around injury free because that’s much more important right now.

This is always one of my fears in signing up for multiple races across the year, what happens if I get injured and can’t run them! I’m trying not to think too much about my half marathon, which is in 2 weeks. If I don’t think I should be at the start line then I won’t be, there’s no way I can risk injuring myself further and end up doing no planned races.

Saturday | Freaky Friday
Someone commented on my Instagram today (of which I’m always grateful for advice, I’m not complaining at all) on yesterday’s run post and said something along the lines of ‘2 miles isn’t the same as 6 miles, you don’t want to injure yourself further’ and it FREAKED ME OUT! I already had so many doubts whether I should race tomorrow and now it’s like a little voice in my mind telling me that I should be smarter and oh my gosh what if I prove this (much more experienced runner) right. I’m still gong to get to the race, and if I end up with a DNF then so be it…

I spent all day today working and in the evening I went to a friend’s wedding party which was lovely and met up with some of my friends. Unfortunately, because of tomorrow’s race, I had to leave early as I was getting up at 6am (technically 5am) and I do not do well on little sleep, I’m an old lady I know.

Sunday | Clock Change Challenge 10k Race
Whoop it’s race dayyyyyyy! Woke up lovely and early, damn you clock changes. I had to share my sleeping quarters with the Labrador last night and she loves to space hog (she’s cute though so she’s allowed). I loitered around before getting ready, not a morning person y’know, and then ended up rushing a little bit and I forgot my race snack!

We got there nice and early, collected my bib number (the lovely lady who handed me my number said I had a fast chip and that I was going to win, so I’m expecting great things here) and ended up sat in the car for around 2 hours waiting for the race to begin. I realised I’d forgotten to pick up any pins but never fear, I had a ton of them in a little compartment in the car which was also full of dog hair and a moustache that I wore for the Mo Run last year. I was also sulking a little that I’d forgotten a snack but wait… are those some cashews on the back seat (having a messy car is sometimes handy I’ll have you know). I chomped on some cashews and sulked a little bit less.

This is the first race that I’ll be running a second time around within the space of a year so I’d put a little bit of pressure on myself to at least get a course PB and if not under the hour but I knew it all depended upon my legs and how they held up. I did more stretching before a race than I usually would and set off feeling pretty good. The course is a fairly flat, completely out and back route so if you don’t enjoy the way out, you definitely won’t enjoy the way back as the last 1k or so is painfully uphill.

The route is all around country roads, all of the roads are open to cars and other vehicles, which can sometimes make for a challenging race, but if you enjoy seeing sheep, listening to roosters and smelling country smells then you’ll love this one.

I seem to be using a different running tactic in 2018, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned in a previous post. I’m pushing myself to overtake when I reach the person in front instead of loitering behind them like a vulture as I have in the past. Even if I’m struggling, I’m still finding a little burst of energy to overtake and then I’m focusing on the next person in front and it really makes me feel like I’m making progress in a race. I think one of the reasons I’ve started doing this is when I look at the race results and see that 5 people were just in front of me and I could have ended up a little further up the finishing list, it makes me kind of annoyed with myself that I didn’t try harder.

At the start of this one, it’s challenging to get a good pace because you’re running on the pavement and there’s no room for overtaking. I panicked a bit and tried to pick up the pace a little as my first mile was not going to do well for my overall time. Time seemed to go really quickly for some reason and before I knew it I was on the final mile. I made a point of not looking at my watch as I didn’t want to disappoint myself if I wasn’t going to course PB and now I’m kicking myself for not checking it!!

Course PB and a 2018 PB for 10k (not my fastest ever time)

I’ve only ever managed to get one race under 1 hour, I’ve been very close before with a minute or 30 seconds over but if I’d had checked my watch I’d have known that I was 12 seconds over an hour…… absolutely gutted! But the biggest victory for me was that I shaved 4 minutes off of my course time and more importantly, it was entirely pain free. To say that I’m over the moon is an understatement, I’m feeling a tad more optimistic about my half in 2 weeks (although let’s be honest, I’m grossly under prepared for it but injuries can’t be helped).

I also have to mention that I got somewhat of a special mention when I’m crossing over the finish line, the announcer said that I had ‘the most amazing leggings in the whole wide world’ so that made me smile haha.

I hope you’ve all had an amazing, injury free, week and I look forward to catching up next week in the penultimate week of my half marathon training. Please keep all of your fingers and toes crossed for me that this week’s training is tip top!

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5k Race Reviews

Two Tunnels 5k Race Review (2017)

The whole route is on a fast tarmacked surface with gentle gradients and heads uphill towards 408m long Devonshire Tunnel and emerges into the wooded Lyncombe Vale.

The Two Tunnels races go through this disused railway line which The Somerset and Dorset Railway closed in 1966 and until 2013 the tunnels have been sealed and inaccessible. The Two Tunnels project was part of the Sustrans Connect 2 National Lottery funded project.

About the race
When: – 
Sunday 14 May 2017

Where: – Brickfields Open Space (BA2 1LX) in the City of Bath. Parking at the Odd Down Park and Ride (BA2 8PA) and catch the Two Tunnels bus to the race site (£2.50 return).

Cost: – £15.50

Organisers website: – www.relishrunningraces.com

Race Aces
The bus shuttle service that is provided is brilliant and takes you to just around the corner from the race HQ. This means there aren’t tons of cars driving around this residential area.

The route was enjoyable and unique thanks to the opening of the tunnels.

A lovely flat course route which is great for beginners and yet it offers more than just a ‘road’ race as it’s mostly through woodland areas.

The medal is pretty cool and it’s part of a set from the relish races which fit together to make a triangle.

Even though this is a 5k race review, there are also 10k and half marathons running on the same day so you can choose the race length that you prefer and, if you’re in a group of people, you can all go together but run different races.

Race Unlaces
Because you are running through woodland area, my GPS was going nuts and it couldn’t give me an accurate pace time which was a bit frustrating when it says one moment you’re doing an 11:00 minute mile and the next second an 8:00 minute mile!

The race start wasn’t that clear. When we got there they were announcing the next waves by megaphone, however, they didn’t continue so I made my way down to the race around my wave start time and didn’t realise that they had started the warm up. While you may imagine that this was just my own fault, there were several people in my 5k wave who were standing around asking each other whether this was our race or not.

At the very beginning of the race there is a terrible bottleneck which means it’s single file until you come out into the clearing a little bit. So you start off running and then you have a nice little break, which isn’t ideal on a 5k race when you’re most likely running at a fast pace.

There’s not a whole lot to do at race HQ as it’s just a giant field. They did have some stalls and food vans but other than that there’s not much else. It was also pretty chilly on the day that I ran and standing around a field with no shelter isn’t ideal.

None of the races are chip timed.

My Race Stats:
Time: 29:02 | Pace: 9:21 | Mile splits: 9:37, 9:28, 8:56, 0:10
Position: 57/130 | Gender and age position: 11/37

Total runners: 130 | Fastest Male: 19:35 | Fastest Female: 24:32 | Slowest: 1:03:44

Organisers’ Social Media Information
Instagram:
 @relishrunning | Twitter: @RelishRunning @TwoTunnelsBath
Official hashtags: #RelishRunning #TwoTunnels

Distances from Major Cities
London: 2hr 36min ~ 117 miles | Birmingham:  2hr 07min ~ 109 miles | Bristol: 35min ~ 12 miles | Cardiff: 1hr 24min ~ 56 miles | Exeter: 1hr 57min ~ 76 miles

Next event: 18 February, 6 May, 8 July, 19 August 2018

Other Events by Relish Running: Bath Skyline, Mud Bath Pipley Woods, Cheddar Gorge, Killerton, Lacock

Overall star rating:

Conclusion
This was a cute little race which was, unfortunately, still open to the public. It wasn’t too crowded when I raced, however, there were lots of people walking around the route and cyclists which can be intimidating to navigate especially in the tunnels as they’re very dark once you’re running inside.

The medal is good quality and you can collect the set if you do all 4 of the races during the year here. There are different coloured ribbons depending upon the distance of race.

There wasn’t much of an atmosphere here as the race start line is away from where most people were congregating and as you are running along open pathways there’s nowhere for any spectators to stand.

I think the race was not bad for the price, the medal is good, you’re running in a unique area (which you can visit without racing obviously) and it was pretty well organised.

Would I run it again? I’d be more likely to run more of the races that Relish Running have to offer but I wouldn’t be opposed to running it again

Please note that the above opinions on the race are my own and based upon my own running skill level (I would consider myself to be an average runner) and while I’ve made every effort to ensure anything contained within this post is accurate, please check the race organiser’s website for full information.

If there’s any more information about the race that you’d like to add or ask, please leave a comment below

Half Marathon Race Reviews

Bristol Half Marathon Race Review (2017)

The course will take runners under the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge with spectacular views along the Avon Gorge and Bristol Harbourside before entering the city centre.

About the race
When: –
Sunday 17 September

Where: – Millennium Square, Bristol

Cost: – £37.00

Organisers website: – www.greatrun.org

The Simply Health Great Bristol Half returns for the 2nd year as part of the Great Run series. The race was first staged in 1989 and over 10,000 runners take part every year.

Race Aces
You receive a medal and t shirt for your efforts.

There’s a really great atmosphere around the course. You really can’t beat running a race in a major city as there’s support the entire way around, even if you’re running a half marathon.

Race is (obviously) chip timed and your bib number is sent to your home address.

Amazing tour around Bristol City centre and some really great landmarks.

A personal favourite of mine, while people were running through the tunnel leading up to the Clifton Suspension Bridge, there was a chant going on and it continued all the way until we went back through the tunnel again on the way back down the Portway.

Headphones are permitted as the race is entirely on closed roads.

Race Unlaces
There were A LOT of people, as you can imagine at a city race like this one. If you’re not a massive fan of crowds and sometimes crowded sections then this probably isn’t for you, although the waves are staggered so it’s not terribly crowded around the route.

The T Shirt this year was a vile shade of green with what looked like a giant gerbil on the front (it is in fact a Bear from the Bear Pit) so I wasn’t much of a fan of that.

Not only was the race pretty crowded, so was every shop and everything around Millennium Square so spectators may find they too are caught up in the crowds.

Be careful on the first mile of this race as it starts downhill and you may find you go off way faster than you would usually and find it more difficult to find your pace.

There’s no parking near race HQ and because all of the roads into town are closed you can’t get close to it.

My Race Stats:
Time: 2:18:11 | Pace: 10:33 | Mile splits: 9:05, 9:28, 9:44, 9:52, 10:07, 10:16, 9:48, 10:34, 10:41, 10:47, 11:20, 11:03, 11:34, 3:47

Mile splits from Strava (above splits from Garmin)

Position: 5909th | Gender position: 1990th

Total runners: 10k+ | Fastest Male: 1:08:37 | Fastest Female: 1:17:42
Course Records: – Men’s: 1:00:03 (Haile Gebrselassie, 2001) | Women’s: 1:06:47 (Paula Radcliffe, 2001)

Organisers’ Social Media Information
Instagram:
 @great_run | Twitter: @great_run @SimplyHealthUK
Official hashtags: #GreatBristolHalf

Distances from Major Cities
London: 2hr 27min ~ 118 miles | Birmingham:  1hr 47min ~ 97 miles | Bristol: zero, you’re already here | Cardiff: 1hr 4min ~ 45 miles | Exeter: 1hr 32min ~ 79 miles

Next event: 23 September 2018

Overall star rating:

Conclusion
This is a personal favourite race for me as it’s in my hometown and I have enjoyed every route I’ve ever run here. I don’t take part in many ‘major’ races as I prefer the smaller ones with less runners but I’ll make an exception for this one. While there are a lot of people around race HQ either spectating or running it’s not too uncomfortable and it’s so well organised that it’s not too troublesome.

The race photos are very very expensive for this race. I understand that road closures and everything else that goes along with races are time consuming and expensive and I do appreciate that, however, it would have been great if they’d also included one race photo in with the price. I’ve just checked 2018’s fee and it’s £40 which I think is really expensive and I’m sure would put off a lot of people and they’ll opt for the smaller/ cheaper races.

You can’t beat the atmosphere of a major race and I’ve got no complaints there and there are so many things for your spectators to do that they could even get distracted and forget that they’re there to cheer you on!

As I mentioned previously, I wasn’t a fan of the race t-shirt and to be honest, I think that a revamp of the medal would be awesome! Compared to the Rock and Roll races (which are equally as expensive), I think they do amazing t shirts and the medals are just out of this world.

Would I run it again? Yes, every year until I can’t run or I move away!

Me looking ecstatic!

Please note that the above opinions on the race are my own and based upon my own running skill level (I would consider myself to be an average runner) and while I’ve made every effort to ensure anything contained within this post is accurate, please check the race organiser’s website for full information.

If there’s any more information about the race that you’d like to add or ask, please leave a comment below

Blog

Half Marathon Training | Week 7 | Diary of an Injured Runner

So the snow has melted and we’ve gone back to ‘normal’, however, I’ve been in a little bit of a grump that I couldn’t get out of this week. I was over tired and just didn’t have any motivation to do anything let alone run but it did pick up towards the end of the week and it ended with a 10k race hoorayyy!

Me having a mini crisis this week

Monday | Week 7 | No Joke I had another rest day
I had a really weird day today for many reasons. While I felt motivated and confident in doing a workout DVD when I got in from walking the dog, the reality was I sat down, felt cold and miserable and ate biscuits instead. What is wrong with me??

Tuesday | Week 7 | Sad Day
I can’t even with today…. I went out for dinner with some friends which cheered me up though.

Wednesday | Week 7 | Bed Day
I literally came straight home from work and had a nap, got up, spent time with the animals and had an early night! I need to get out of this funk!

Thursday | Week 7 | 4.4 miles
Finally, I’m feeling more like myself! That may have something to do with my kind work friends and also… cake… I just went out to test the legs really and my gosh running felt so hard!!! My last run was my race at Slay The Dragon and I only did a 30 mile spin session last week. You wouldn’t think that with my relaxed attitude I’ve only got 4 weeks until my next half marathon would you?? Although, I guess everyone goes through this kind of stage at some point when they’re training so I’m not too worried. I am a tad concerned that I haven’t yet managed to get anywhere near the 10 miles that I did when I was training for my last half marathon.

On another note, I really need to sort my diet out and I’m going to make a real effort to plan this out for the rest of the month. After my run I was starving and I thought ‘I’m going to go to the local shop and pick something healthy up for dinner’ but when I got there THERE WAS NO FOOD! Because of the snow…. which melted on Sunday… England + Snow = World Comes To a Halt… ridiculous.

Friday | Week 7 | Glorious Rest Day
Because I totally messed up my running days this week I didn’t run today like I usually do on Fridays. I did spend some time working on my blog and having a lovely tequila or two.

Saturday | Week 7 | Another Rest Day #Facepalm
Am I even actually a runner at the moment?? I know I have a lot of running shoes and I know I have a Garmin GPS tracker but…. I’ve got a race tomorrow so I can’t really do anything cardio-wise today but I SHOULD have done something instead of just working.

Sunday | Week 7 | Race Day Minchinhampton 10k yayyyyy
I’ve been looking forward to this race all week. For some, unknown, reason I’d bargained with myself that this was going to be a great race for me and I was going to get a time under an hour. I don’t know where this bravado came from and I felt a little defeated when I read the course details last night and they described it as ‘undulating’ which isn’t my strong point (although I’m much much better at running hills now, read how here).

We set off around 8am and it was only a half an hour drive to race HQ through beautiful countryside, I don’t think I’ve ever been to this part of the world before. I picked up my bib and race t-shirt and we headed out to the start line. It was pretty cold waiting for the race to start and I debated whether to keep my jumper on, even though I get hotter than the sun when I’m running.

If I say so myself, I think this is a pretty awesome photo captured mid-race

I started somewhere near the back of the line, that’s where I always feel I belong and we started on time. The field at the first section was pretty muddy and really slippery in places and all I could think about was ‘if I fall over now in front of all of these people, do I get up and keep running or take it as an omen and go home’. Anyway, I didn’t fall over and we soon got out onto the country roads.

The roads around the course were pretty busy in places and at one point we were continuously being overtaken by cars which had to keep pulling aside for cars on the other side of the road, which isn’t ideal.

I have a confession… when I’m in a race, I will always get up to the runner in front of me and kind of linger behind them unless I’m feeling particularly energetic and I’ll overtake. But this time I had a completely different mindset. I decided that once I got to a runner in front of me, if I couldn’t overtake, I’d make it my mission to overtake them at some point when I felt like I could. This meant that I didn’t stay with one person for long periods of time like I usually do and I felt like I was actually getting somewhere in the race as it felt like progress to get just a little bit further ahead. This was a good strategy for me and I knew that I was pushing myself more than I usually do when in a race.

I’d also decided that if my legs hurt, so what. If my breathing was laboured, so what. I was going to push myself and keep going because I’ve run 10k races lots of times and I’m more than capable. My legs won’t hurt forever. Short term pain for long term gain right!

In my opinion this race was tough. The elevation was crazy and there were lots of hills. There was a lovely girl that I got chatting to for part of the way nearly at the end. It was really nice to run with someone in a race and the chatting (even if I was totally out of breath) distracted me from the pain of the final push. So I don’t know who you were but thank you so much, you were a great running buddy even if for a short time.

I realised that I wasn’t going to get in under an hour, it was going to be close, but I was so pleased with my effort, it almost didn’t matter. I couldn’t have physically pushed myself any harder today and that’s all I can ever ask of myself.

The race itself though, I absolutely loved it. It’s probably one of my favourite ones so far. The route is nice, everyone was really lovely and the medal and t-shirt were cute. I’d definitely sign up for next year and I’ll be damned if I can’t get under an hour next time. I got 3 PBs during this race (2018 PBs not all time PBs) of 10k, 5k and mile! It was those lovely downhill parts that did it!

So that was my week! I have a pretty hectic week next week but I’m feeling better about things so I know I can smash out some good runs. My next race is on the 25th and I am feeling super confident now that I really am going to smash this one. I’ve run this race before and it’s an out an back, fairly flat route. I managed 1:04 last year so let’s see how I get on this year.

When they handed me this creme egg I was ecstatic

Has anyone got any tips for getting yourself out of a funk because I feel like this won’t be my only one?

5k Race Reviews

Mo Run 5k Bristol (2017)

The Mo Run supports Men’s Health, Movember and related charities. I never thought I’d say this, I had a job to keep my moustache on!

About the race
When: –
11 November 2017

Where: – Ashton Court, Long Ashton, Bristol, BS41 9JN ~ Parking £2

Cost: – £16.50

Organisers website: – www.mo-running.com

Race Aces
Great atmosphere with a fancy dress competition and warm up.

The Bristol Mo Run is at the Ashton Court Estate which goes through pretty woodland areas.

Raising money for Men’s Health and Movember charities.

There’s also a 10k race held on the same day as well as Mini Ro runs for Mini runners.

Cute moustache medal and the race is chip timed.

Race Unlaces
The course begins very steep and it’s not until the halfway point that you end up on the decline.

There’s not a huge amount to do at race HQ.

My Race Stats:
Time: 38:48 | Position: 87/122 | Gender position: 44/72

Fastest Male: 21:15 | Fastest Female: 24:31 | Slowest Runner: 1:00:08

Organisers’ Social Media Information
Instagram:
 @Mo_Running | Twitter: @Mo_Running
Official hashtags: #MoRunning #MoMates

Mo Runs in Other Cities
Leeds 
3 November | Dublin 3 November | Newcastle 4 November | Edinburgh 10 November | Cardiff 10 November | Glasgow 11 November | London 11 November | Bristol 11 November | Birmingham 17 November | Liverpool 17 November | Manchester 18 November | MiltonKeynes 18 November | Southampton 18 November | Nottingham 18 November | Brighton 24 November

Overall star rating:

Conclusion
This was a great charity race and I did enjoy playing dress up as the 118 guys! The route is really tough as it starts uphill pretty much and you’ve got a long climb until you have the relief of a hill. The medal is great though in the shape of a moustache.

Would I run it again? Yes, I’d definitely sign up for 2018’s race as the medal is too cute not to!

 

Please note that the above opinions on the race are my own and based upon my own running skill level (I would consider myself to be an average runner) and while I’ve made every effort to ensure anything contained within this post is accurate, please check the race organiser’s website for full information.

If there’s any more information about the race that you’d like to add or ask, please leave a comment below

10k Race Reviews

Chew Valley 10k (2017)

The race heads out on the rural roads towards East Harptree in the shadow of the Mendip Hills. The challenge comes in the climb up to Hinton Blewitt up the infamous hill where your energies will be rewarded with wide views over the Chew Valley. The final stretch drops you back into Bishop Sutton.

When: – Sunday 11 June 2017

Where: – Race HQ, Bishop Sutton Village Hall, Wick Road, Bishop Sutton, BS39 5XD

Cost: – £18.50

Organisers website: – www.chewvalley10k.co.uk

Chew Valley is the 5th largest artificial lake in the UK with 1,200 acres. It was created in the 1950s and opened by Queen Elizabeth in 1956. Before the lake was created, investigaions showed evidence of occupation since Neolithic times.

Chew Valley is a world renowned fly fishing venue and one of the most heavily stocked Trout fisheries in Europe.

During the storm of 1968, the lake gained an extra 471 million gallons and rose 19 inches in under 12 hours. The lake provides drinking water for the city of Bristol and surrounding area. The total capacity is 4,500 million gallons!

The name ‘Chew’ is believed to originate from the French word ‘eau’ meaning water. Or the Welsh ‘cyw’ which translates as young of an animal or chicken (the full Welsh title ‘Afon Cyw’ loosely translates as ‘river of the chickens’).

Race Aces
The last section of this race is entirely downhill and you feel like a rocket man coming down from the last hill, Heartbreak Hill, which is how I ended up with my fastest mile on my last split.

There was chip timing at this event, with a tag which attaches to your running shoes along with free parking which was fairly close to the race HQ.

This was a very friendly race, because there were no headphones allowed, people were more inclined to talk along the route (especially when we approached the giant hill in the middle).

Free race photos! Hooray… or nayyyyyy… depending on how you feel about them!

Race Unlaces
Because this was a race on open roads, headphones were not permitted.

Oh, have I mentioned, there’s a GIANT hill in the middle of this race. I didn’t see one single person attempting to even run up this hill as it was most likely more efficient to walk it.

Race HQ was nothing spectacular. My spectator found that there wasn’t much to do here as you’re kind of in the middle of a housing area.

My Race Stats:
Time: 1:02:53 | Pace: 10:08 | Mile splits: 8:48, 9:31, 10:18, 13:07, 10:21, 8:45, 2:17
Position: 498/721 | Gender position: 206/372

Total runners: 721 | Fastest Male: 37:24 | Fastest Female: 41:49 | Slowest Runner: 1:30:05

Organisers’ Social Media Information
Instagram:
 @ChewValley10k | Twitter: @ChewValley10k
Official hashtags: #CV10k

Distances from Major Cities
London: 2hr 45min ~ 124 miles | Birmingham:  2hr 08min ~ 107 miles | Bristol: 30min ~ 11 miles | Cardiff: 1hr 20min ~ 53 miles | Exeter: 1hr 34min ~ 72 miles

Next event: 10 June 2018

Overall star rating:

Conclusion
I liked that this was a really friendly race, and even though the hill was awful, you know that old saying ‘misery loves company’ and it was a nice change to have conversations with other runners. This was quite a lonely race though, as I find with country runs generally as there’s not much support in terms of spectators around the course. At times it can feel a bit like you’re running on your own.

There was a bit of entertainment at race HQ but I don’t think there was enough to keep my spectator amused (although it didn’t help that we didn’t realise there were things going on behind the Village Hall doh).

The race medal wasn’t much to brag about but I did really like the race t-shirt which had a picture of the lake and some ducks on the front. Very often race t-shirts aren’t that stylish in my opinion but this one was nice and I’d actually wear it out.

Once the race was over and we headed back home, we stopped off at the Chew Valley Lake and we spent ages there watching the birds which was just a perfect end to a race. It was so quiet there, if it wasn’t quite so cold we would have hung around a while longer as the views are just spectacular.

Would I run it again? Sure would and actually am. I’m not 100% sure why as I only gave this race 3 stars… I think it’s because I want to come back again this year and ‘conquer’ that hill!

Please note that the above opinions on the race are my own and based upon my own running skill level (I would consider myself to be an average runner) and while I’ve made every effort to ensure anything contained within this post is accurate, please check the race organiser’s website for full information.

If there’s any more information about the race that you’d like to add or ask, please leave a comment below

10k Race Reviews

Glastonbury Round the Tor 10k (2017)

The race starts on Street Road and heads towards the Town Centre. At the top of the High Street, the route turns left and proceeds along Wells Road, sweeping past the cemetery. At the 3k point, the course turns right passing the hospital and left onto the lane that loops the back of the Tor. At the far end, the course turns right up the Old Butleigh Road (aka Heartbreak Hill) onto the deceptively long finish line.

About the race
When: – 
Sunday 30 April 2017

Where: – Magdalene Street, Glastonbury 

Cost: – £20.50 (unaffiliated)

Organisers website: – www.glastonburyroadrun.info

This is the 36th road run, originally held around the Tor in 1981 over a 5.69 mile course. Since it began, the only year it has not been held was 2004 due to the foot and mouth outbreak. The race starts and finishes within a stones throw of the alleged burial place of King Arthur in the grounds of Glastonbury Abbey, a ruined monastery dating to the 7th century.

Evidence shows that the town has been inhabited since Neolithic times when flint tools were recovered at the top of the Tor.

Glastonbury originally went by the name of Glestingaburg and the Tor is topped by St. Michael’s Tower.

Race Aces
Great atmosphere. I think this is what keeps people coming back time and time again to this quaint race around the countrylands of Glastonbury.

The race medal and t-shirt are good quality and you can’t complain they aren’t bright, when the t shirt is neon orange!

The Round the Tor route takes you mostly around scenic country roads and there’s plenty of wildlife to spot as you’re going around and the race is chip timed.

Free race photos! Yay, who doesn’t love free race photos. But also, who ever looks good in their race photos? If you’re one of those people message me immediately and let me know how you do it!

Race Unlaces
There’s no parking directly at race HQ and there’s about a 15 minute walk to the start line which you should probably consider your warm up.

This is not a flat course and they’ve thrown in some nice hilly hills for you to enjoy.

Headphones are discouraged, the course is on traffic free roads, but you must be able to hear marshals and your surroundings.

If you love regimented, start-on-time races then this probably isn’t for you. We arrived in plenty of time at the Town Hall to collect the race bibs and t-shirts, however, there were a lot of people who hadn’t collected theirs yet and they delayed the start of the race by around 10-15 minutes to give everyone a chance to congregate at the start line. This is a much more chilled out race than, say, Bristol.

My Race Stats:
Time: 1:03:41 | Pace: 10:15 | Mile splits: 9:33, 9:24, 10:27, 10:20, 10:29, 11:03, 2:06
Position: 542/614

Total runners: 614 | Fastest Course Time: 30:43

Distances from Major Cities
London: 2hr 50min ~ 136 miles | Birmingham:  2hr 25min ~ 124 miles | Bristol: 1hr 04min ~ 27 miles | Cardiff: 1hr 36min ~ 75 miles | Exeter: 1hr 20min ~ 60 miles

Next event: 6 May 2018

Overall star rating:

Conclusion
This was my first ever ‘proper race’. I was already training for the Bristol Half Marathon in the September and thought that this would be a good gauge of where I was in my training. I was aiming for under the hour but considering it was a fairly hilly course and a bit of headwind, I’m pretty pleased with this result.

Even though the race was mostly on closed country roads and a little lonely at times there was great support all the way around. Lots of residents had come out from their houses and were cheering on runners as they went around.

There’s also quite a lot for spectators to do and runners once they’ve completed the race. There were lots of activities and entertainment going on around race HQ (and obviously I saw a lady in a dinosaur onesie).

Would I run it again? For sure, I’m already signed up again for 2018’s race and I think it will be bigger and better than 2017 I can’t wait!

Please note that the above opinions on the race are my own and based upon my own running skill level (I would consider myself to be an average runner) and while I’ve made every effort to ensure anything contained within this post is accurate, please check the race organiser’s website for full information.

If there’s any more information about the race that you’d like to add or ask, please leave a comment below

Blog

Half Marathon Training | Week 5 | Diary of an injured runner

I’m up to week 5 already! This time last year I’d done my longest ever training run of 10 miles and I felt great! Fast forward a year and I’m nowhere near running 10 miles and my half marathon is just over 6 weeks away (insert tears to blog post). But I have had a great week in running this week and I’m feeling much more optimistic for my half marathon! Hooray!!

Monday | Week 5 | New Trail Shoe Run 5k

I was super excited to come home to my new trail shoes! I opened the box, took a ton of photos of them and then literally shoved my feet into them. They didn’t feel comfortable like previous running shoes have but they were just a little tight across the laces. I loosened them up and they felt much better.

I did a little bit of running on the spot and lunges and they felt ok so I took them out for a short 5k run. To start with, they felt absolutely fine and I thought ‘hooray I’ve found my best running shoes’ but after about 2 miles I was suffering. Badly. My toes went completely numb and I mean can’t-feel-a-thing kind of numb. Now, I know that I’m supposed to wear running shoes a size bigger than my normal shoe size… but my last Brooks pair are 5s and I’ve suffered terribly with blisters on my heels and pain down my legs. So sensible me (!!?) decided I’d order these new trail shoes at my actual size 4 as clearly 5s are just too big for me… logic right…. WRONG!

I have never been in this much pain from trainers before and somehow I managed to smash my fastest 5k of 2018, most likely because I couldn’t wait to tear them off of my feet and put my toes on the cold grass!!

So now, I’m stuck with 3 pairs of running shoes (one of which I was professionally fitted for) that are agony to run in…. which leaves me with NO running shoes to wear! Excuse me while I go an sulk in the corner.

Please can someone tell me that I can stretch these out and that I’ll actually be able to run in them??

Tuesday | Week 5 | Rest Day
My poor toes… they’re still really sore from my run yesterday and I’m starting to think that perhaps I’ll never be able to wear them and I most likely will have to sell them, which is devastating because I love them! I’m not sure whether I’ve done the sensible thing here but I went online and found some really cheap Asics… I mean half price kinda deal. I ordered the Asics Endurant Grey/Coral (in a 4.5) and the Asics Patriot 8 Black/Pink (size 5) because I just can’t afford to waste any more money on a pair of running shoes that don’t fit me or are too uncomfortable to wear. Let’s see how we go with these

Wednesday | Week 5 | 2 Mile Hard Run
After Monday’s terrible run I felt like I needed to redeem myself and get out there again. I put on my really old trusty orange Nikes and pushed myself like I haven’t for months. I originally set my paces for around 9:15 – 9:30 but I felt so good I pushed myself to go faster and did an average of 8:56. I felt like I was finally getting back on track! Although I’m nowhere near as far in my training as I’d like to be, I’m running (fairly) injury free and am liking that I can get out and do even shorter runs, even if I’m a little disappointed that I’ve lost so much fitness from last year.

Thursday | Week 5 | Rest Day
Another rest day for me today and I had to take Pupper to the vet again for a check up. Unfortunately she hasn’t improved since going onto her antibiotics so she’s having to have steroids to try and get rid of her skin infection. This also means that she’s going to be going to the loo a lot more frequently so I’ll have to try and manage that.

I got my new running shoe delivery today and I love both of them! I can’t wait to try them out.

Friday | Week 5 | 7 Mile Long Run
I was not in a good mood today, I was angry, sad and anxious for no real reason and I procrastinated this run for over an hour. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of trying on my new shoes!!! I picked my Asics Endurants and set out of the door, my only plan being to do a reallllllyyyyy slooowwwwwww long-ish run.

I felt absolutely great and like I could take on the whole world, which is probably why even though I was trying to run slow, I managed a 1:03 10k time! I was a little annoyed that today was my slow run and I had to try really hard to keep my pace low. I tried not to look at my mileage on my Garmin and was only interested in my heart race zone and kept it around the aerobic area as much as possible so imagine my surprise when I’d got up to nearly 7 miles. I did a really long cool down and tried to stretch out my foot as much as possible as it’s been feeling really good and I didn’t want to ruin it. I will say though, I was wearing a t-shit and it was FREEZING! I felt pretty warm while running but my arms were like ice blocks and I had real trouble warming up when I got home.

I’m feeling a lot more confident about my half marathon which is in around 6 weeks and I’m not far off of my 10 mile goal for training.

Saturday | Week 5 | Rest Day
Another rest day for me in preparation for my race tomorrow. I’m a little apprehensive about the race as it’s cross country and I’m really not good at cross country, I don’t really know why I sign up for these kinds of races! I’ll never learn my lesson!

I finally took my running shoes out of the back of the car that have been in a plastic bag since the Bath Skyline 2 weeks ago (why am I like this….??). They were still muddy and a little wet so I had to try and dry them out.

Sunday | Week 5 | Race Day 10k Slay The Dragon
It’s race day again, hooray! I’m driving to this race, with my muddy running shoes in tow, wondering how on earth I’m going to run this course. Although I am telling myself I’m not going to fall over, I’m not convinced!

We got there super early and managed to park on the field where the race started which was nice as we got to stay in the car for as long as possible (-2 degrees thanks to the cold snap from Russia they’re calling the ‘beast from the East’). It was a lovely sunny day though which made it not quite as bad, although I did wear a long sleeved top and ear warmers for the first time ever because y’know, sinuses.

The race started around the Village Hall field (by a town crier’s bell) and the second I started to run, I felt like my whole body was lead, which is never a good start. I turned my watch off of mileage and onto ‘effort’ so I didn’t have to look at the miles so by when I was clearly going to struggle. The ground was absolutely frozen which made running across the churned up mud very difficult to run across and my ankle went over so many times I was really worried about giving myself an injury and putting myself out of action! I honestly don’t know how people were managing to sprint across it, I really struggled and it’s not my first cross country race (any tips greatly appreciated here).

The race was across beautiful countryside and there’s lots of lovely little styles to climb over and there were cows, sheep, farms, farm smells and all of the marshals were really friendly and encouraging. There was one section in particular which was a real bottle neck going over a style and it took around 3 minutes of hanging around before it was finally my turn so definitely no PBs for moi.

The course was also fairly hilly but it was mostly quiet roads and I never really mind hills much. There were a couple of photographers for the race and usually I find I either don’t see them at all or they’re hiding out of sight but at this race they were really lovely and telling everyone to smile which was nice as I got to have a couple of photos of me actually smiling! #It’sAMiracle

The medal was cute and had a little purple dragon on it and I also treated myself to a piece of free cake at the finish line and a bacon butty afterwards.

Even though my time wasn’t my fastest and I didn’t enjoy the experience of the race much it was enjoyable and if I was a better runner I’d probably have loved it.

Next Week’s Plan: – I’m going to up my mileage on the runs a bit more (injuries permitting) and incorporate more stretching and cross training.

Blog

Half Marathon Training | Week 4 | Diary of an injured runner

I actually can’t believe I’m up to Week 4 already! I’m so far behind schedule due to injury and it feels like every time I run I end up with a new or an even worse injury!

Monday | Week 4 | Rest Day
You know one of those days where you’ve earned your rest days? Yep, that. While I didn’t particularly push myself in the same way I would usually at a race yesterday, I have this very painful bruise on my thigh. I’ve decided that this week I’m going to only do 1 run (a fairly easy paced 4 ish miler) and the rest of my cardio will be at home workout DVDs and time on the spin bike. I need to get my cardiovascular strength up if nothing else so at least I’m fit for the race (even if my injuries aren’t).

Hello Bath Skyline bruise

Tuesday | Week 4 | At Home Workout DVD
Happy Valentine’s Day from all of my red medals! ❤

I’ve been doing this Ministry of Sound Pump It Up Ultimate workout DVD for nearly 15 years now and I love it just as much as when I first bought it! It’s around 1hr 15 mins from start to finish which includes a warm up, two cardio sections, strength training and a long cool down. Usually I’ll neglect the cool down because it’s pretty boring but I made sure I did the lot.

I did have some pain in both of my legs pretty much the whole time I was doing this. It’s very high impact so much like running really but it’s not the same constant pounding of the pavements.

Can never stop the Labrador joining in too, I must look like I’m having fun and she’s left out!

Calories burned: 435
Time in Zone 5: 10:42
Time in Zone 4: 23:02

Wednesday | Week 4 | Felt the Burn
Definitely feeling my workout from yesterday, trying to raise my arms in any kind of fashion was more difficult than usual! I can’t even remember the last time I did a push up so I’m not surprised.

Thursday | Week 4 | Rest Day
Had to take pupper to the vets today, she’s got a skin infection so I had to pop her into the bath and wash her tummy. Even though she’s a Labrador, she’s no fan of baths so that was almost a mini workout trying to do that!

Friday | Week 4 | Unplanned Rest Day
So today I was going to go on the spin bike, but silly over here didn’t eat enough throughout the day and I was so hungry when I got home from work there was no way I could have done any time on the bike. Instead I put my feet up and had a nice relaxing evening. It works out better if I do my cardio tomorrow anyway because that means it will time perfectly for my race on Sunday…. right….

Saturday | Week 4 | Easy 4 Mile Run
I know I call all of my runs ‘easy’ but that’s because I cannot push myself because of injury. In other news, I picked up my parcel from the Post Office which was my new unicorn running leggings hoorayyy! Although, I actually felt great while I was doing this, I planned for 4 and nearly went for 5 miles but the sensible person in me said that I should quit while everything’s good. I had no pain in my legs at all or anywhere else which was just amazing. I was wearing my old trusty Nikes though which aren’t the best trainers ever as they’re well overdue a throwing out!

I cooled down with a short pupper walk but I could feel straight away that I was going to suffer from this easy run. My foot pain was back and nothing I did was making it feel any better. I tried stretching out my entire leg, doing ankle exercises and then had a bath but nothing eased it at all. This just sucks! My half marathon is in around 6 weeks and there’s no way I’m going to be able to get the mileage up in training to be even half prepared for it.

Sunday | Week 4 | Recovery Day
Let’s not call today a rest day as, lets be honest, I am totally in recovery today! It’s no big surprise to me that today I am suffering from the week’s workouts (and I even skipped a day!!). This morning when I woke up, my old friend plantar greeted me as I stepped out of bed. This just can’t go on, I need to see a physio ASAP.

One good thing about the week, I ordered some new trail shoes! I can’t wait to try them out, although, I did commit the sins of 1) not testing them out first and 2) ordering them in my actual shoe size. My Brooks size 5s are a whole size bigger than my usual shoe size (which I was fitted for and I know that’s the way it’s supposed to be) but I have never had so many blisters from a running shoe ever and that’s including all of the cheaper ‘fashion’ trainers I’ve owned over the years. EVERY time I wear them, I have terrible blisters on the back of my heel and I just have to accept that when I wear them, I’ll be bleeding all over the show and in pain.

I’m always really inspired by other people who have overcome worse injuries than I have and are stronger and better runners for it. It gives me hope. If you’re one of these people I’d love to hear what injuries you’ve come back from.

Running & Fitness Tips

8 Race Day Hacks

It’s race day, you’ve done the training, but gosh what do you need to know when you’re running your first race?

Here are a few race day hacks to help you put your best foot forward, and again, and again etc and then whoop you’re crossing the finish line happy and smiling!

1. Don’t wear new running shoes
You’ve probably heard this a hundred times already, but just don’t! Your feet haven’t adapted to your new kicks yet and it’s likely you’ll end up with race day blisters and tears. And no-one wants that when you’re trying to get a PB!

Running shoes - woman tying shoe laces. Closeup of female sport

2. Drinking from plastic cups
When I first started running races, I always used to think ‘how on earth do people drink from these silly plastic cups?’. Seriously though, is it meant to spill all over your face or what?! I then found out that you’re supposed to pinch the plastic cup at the top on both sides to make a sort of spout-type-arrangement and drink from it that way. Who knew! You’ll thank me later.

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3. Don’t stop at portable toilets
Obviously, if you absolutely have to go then please do. But if you’re going for a PB and it’s a relatively short race, don’t waste your time going to the loo until the finish line. You’ll lose so much time waiting in line and you’ll kick yourself if you miss your PB because of a porta potty stop. Plan to arrive at race HQ early enough to be able to use the toilets in relative peace before everyone arrives and if you can make another trip, do so just before the race starts.

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4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
With the above also in mind, your best bet for hydrating before and during your race is to take sips of water instead of glugging it down because you’re dehydrated.

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5. Have your essentials to hand
When you’re in the full throws of the race, you don’t want to be scrabbling around trying to find your race gels, your immodium, your headphones or anything else that you’ve determined is essential. During my first half marathon, I’d stuffed two sports gels into the tops of my running pants as I thought they’d be easily accessible to me should I need them mid race. What I didn’t bank on was them constantly slipping down and me trying to save them from shooting out the bottom of my trouser leg! Needless to say I abandoned them just over the half way point, never to be seen again.

These days, I use a running belt and it’s a lifesaver. I usually only carry my phone and a couple of other small bits with me as I don’t enjoy it bouncing around while I’m running.

6. Don’t set off too early
It’s so easy to get swept away with the crowds at the beginning of a race. Everyone is feeling energy fuelled and they’re excited to get going but make sure you keep to your own planned pace. You don’t want to crash and burn trying to keep up with the mass of people and regret it towards the latter part of the race.

This is much easier said than done though, you’re also feeling great, pumped up and you know you’re going to crush your PB. Just make sure you’re holding enough in reserve to get you feeling fresh over the finish line too.

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7. Stick to your planned pacing
To help keep you on track, try and stick to your planned pacing times throughout the race. I’m sure you’ve done plenty of race preparation up until now so you know what pace times you’re aiming for. Don’t forget to take into account any hills as you’ll need to adjust your pacing accordingly.

If you’ve got a GPS watch, you’ll usually have a feature for alerts when you’re going under your race pace and above it. I’ll have my slowest race pace set to the absolute minimum for me to complete at a time that I am happy with (for example, I’m always aiming for a 10k time under an hour so I’ll set my watch at a 9.31 pace). This ensures that I’m constantly on track and know that I can’t drop below this pace otherwise my under an hour dream will be less likely.

The same goes for my fastest pace. Say my 10k PB is 52 minutes, which will mean an 8.23 pace. If I’m mid race and I’m going over this, and it’s likely I’m going to burn out, I’ll ease the pace off slightly unless I feel that I can maintain this for a longer period (for example going down hill I know I can gain a bit of speed here).

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8. Make a timings wrist band
So you’ve got your timings set, you’re in broken in shoes and you’ve got a stylish running belt to hold all of your things. It can sometimes be overwhelming on race day and you’ve suddenly forgotten are you doing positive splits, negative splits, or just what on earth are you doing?

It can be useful to work out your mile split times for the entire race. This is especially useful if you’re doing a longer race and you don’t want to lose track of where you’re at. Make a timing wrist band so you know what timings you should be at for the entire race. For example, you know you want to run 9 minute miles so it would look like this (9:00, 18:00, 27:00, 36:00 etc). Put these timings onto a thin piece of paper with the numbers in a column, laminate this and make a wristband that you can quickly glance at while you’re running. Or, you know, write them on your hand!

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I hope you’ll find some of the above useful. I’d love to hear any of your race day hacks, I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve my race days.

If you liked this post, check out my 31 tips for running beginners here

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