Race Report: Reading Vitality Half Marathon 2016

So after running the Thames Half Marathon on Easter Monday the following Sunday I was signed up for Reading Half marathon! Probably the worst idea ever! But the spinny bling and my stadium finish was just too tempting! I took it easy in the week between races and on the day woke up feeling mentally strong!

My Dads company has offices in Green Park where the race starts so we arrived early and set up camp in one of the kitchen areas, settled down with my porridge and sat watching the news. Eventually it was time to head out and we wandered along to find the Green start pen. Dad headed off to find his own place to watch from.

The details I had said the race started at 10. It turned out it was 1030 but it hadn’t been very well advertised. Either way I got chatting to lots of lovely runners around me and eventually 20 minutes after the race started our wave finally crossed the start. Initially I tried to stick with the 2.10 pacer but within a couple of miles I knew this wasn’t going to be possible with my tired legs.

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The first half of the race goes through residential areas and the university. There was plenty of support and frequent water stations but my head was fighting a battle with my body. It became a game of setting myself targets to reach before I was allowed little 30s walks. As each mile went on I knew my initial goal was out the window. It then became just survive.

The second half of the race moves into the town centre where again there is alot of support before going back to more residential areas. At mile 8 my Dad was at the top of a huge hill to give me a cheer – knowing he was there was the only reason I ran up that hill! LOL. It was starting to get really quite warm and very little breeze. I was running in the shade where possible and was delighted at mile 9.5 to see a fire engine creating spray for runners to run through. I didn’t see a single runner avoid it!

The last few miles were dark mentally. My feet were hurting something chronic and I just wanted it to be over. The final stretch is along a dual carriageway. There is very little support. Faster runners are walking back to town with their medals around their necks. It was rough. I got chatting to a lovely lady and we ended up carrying each other through. Pushing each other on. As we came up to the stadium there was another up hill and she couldnt face running it but I managed to find something from somewhere. I knew by my watch if I wanted under 2.30 I had to push through the pain. I pushed as hard as I could, round the outside of the stadium and then up the tunnel and into the roar of noise which was just awesome! Sprinting around the pitch I crossed the line in 2.24. I was satisfied with that seeing as how tough it had been! A few people had told me to soak the atmosphere up as they try and move you through quite quickly. So I did 🙂

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A few pictures later and we wandered out to find our space blankets, water, medals and tshirts. The map showed there was going to be a ‘meet your runner’ area but I couldn’t find it and neither could my Dad so we ended up on the phone playing a game of ‘where are you’ before we eventually found each other and made our way back to his offices.

As a race I did like it. It had a nice course, although not as flat as they make it out to be! Great medal. Lovely finish.

Would I do it again? Yes!

Hello 2016

Well its been a long time without blogging. Its now the 3rd month of 2016 and I hadn’t written anything on here! For all of January I don’t think I even thought about my blog! Towards the late part of February I started considering coming back to it. And here we are 8th of March and I’m actually writing something!

Theres been so much going on over the past few months. Not least the fact I’ve found my love of road running again. In late 2015 I injured my back, it turns out my hips were misaligned, my lower spine has too much of a curve and it was affecting the muscles around it. Since seeing a Chiropractor for 3 weeks thats been feeling a million times better! But what it did mean was that from the time I injured it at the beginning of December until end of January I didn’t do anything in the gym, any lifting or twisting was a no. But running felt ok, so I started to get back out there regularly. And then I just got nervous about going back to the gym!

Because I was half marathon training it was easy to feel like I didn’t ‘need’ the gym. But part of me wanted to go back because I’d been loving it so much! At the end of January my gym ran a 6 week course and that was the motivation for me to step back in the gym having avoided it for so long. Since then I’ve got the bug back!

So what else? Well I ran Brighton Half Marathon and knocked 8 minutes off my personal best as well as running my first ever sub 60 10k in the first 6.22 miles! I’ve been trying for 3 years to get a sub 60 10k and never managed it! Wasn’t exactly thrilled I did it during a half marathon as kind of feels I can’t celebrate it as much but it shows I can do it! Now to knock that out solo!

This weekend I did the Nuts Challenge. I was dreading it. I haven’t been near mud or cold since doing JD goes Nuts in December and I had zero desire to get muddy and cold. The weather conditions did nothing to help my mood prior to the start. But with my friends hugs and gentle encouragement she got over the start line and once I got going I was determined we would make the finish line! And we did. But I have no desire to get muddy and cold again any time soon. I am praying that my next OCR which is booked for April is much warmer, or I may be transferring the place! Road running is where my heart lies at the moment. You don’t get cold and wet and near on hypothermic. You don’t end the race shivering so much you can barely speak! Why did I ever think OCR was fun?!

Last week I also made a decision after 5 weeks of marathon training to transfer my place to someone else. I’ve got a lot going on in my life at the moment which is taking up a great deal of my time and thoughts. Its nothing thats going to change or ease off anytime soon and it was going to start impacting training. I was already dreading the mental battle of long runs and I knew I’m not mentally strong enough for the marathon distance at the moment. Its so much more mental than it is physical for me quite often. I’m content that I’ve made the right decision. I’m going to book a few more half marathons instead. Its a distance I’m happier with and it doesn’t require such mental strength for me.

Will I be blogging more regularly? Who knows!

Tapering Madness

Tapering madness isnt new to me. I was the same in the week before edinburgh marathon this year. This week ive tapered off my longer runs in preparation for Bournemouth half marathon on Sunday.

Yesterday i woke up with pain in both knees. I never get knee pain!  Today i had pain in my ankle whilst walking. Oh and my calves have been oddly tight! I know its all in my head though!

Strangely im quite excited about Sunday. I remember before my first half marathon in March i was an absolute mess! I hated those nerves. Ive never felt so sick in my life. I had originally wanted to get a pb at Bournemouth but in reality ive changed my expectations and have decided to just go for the enjoyment factor. If i beat my pb then fantastic. If i dont so be it. Im going to soak up the atmosphere and have fun! Im signed up for another half marathon in November which should be totally flat so Im going to push harder for a pb there!

Half Marathon Training Update

Wow its ages since I updated on my half marathon training back in August. I wasn’t in a good place when I wrote that. Things had been really tough. But I’ve also been away on holiday since and in doing that its given me some space from the issues that were hounding my head and also provided some solutions to the long term pain. I’ve managed to find my focus again. I want to beat my Half Marathon PB in Bournemouth. I dont know how possible it will be but I am going to try damn hard! I’ve pretty much stuck to my training plan as much as has been possible, adjusting the mileage occasionally in accordance with fatigue, and life!

Running in cornwall, with the extreme hills, was interesting! I’m not used to hills! I live in flat little surrey! That being said coming home to the same boring routes wasn’t thrilling! I was glad to be back to the flat though.

I have recently changed my training plan, which may not be such a fab idea in the middle of training but I wasn’t feeling confident that I would be ready with the My Acsis plan that I was using so I’ve moved back to my trusty Hal Higdon plans!  I’ve also found out when I will be starting Marathon training and know which Higdon plan I will be using. I am hoping to do another half between Bournemouth and Marathon training though as I want to enter marathon training being at half marathon capabilities as I did when I trained for Edinburgh.

Hotel has now been booked for that weekend which is a relief! Have to admit I’m pretty excited about it!

HM Training : Not going so well!

Training, hmm, interesting word, that would suggest I had actually done some running to contribute towards my goal of running a PB half marathon! In reality I haven’t ‘Trained’. I can’t put an exact reason on why not, theres been a number of contributing factors.

1) Fragile emotional state. For a number of reasons I’ve not been in a good headspace. In fact I’ve been in an entirely awful one. I’m grateful that although I’ve not seen many of my friends physically I’ve discovered some amazing friends in the skydive team who have been there for me through this time and I love them for it. They are being my rock!

2) Its summer, running during the day in heat is horrible I just cant do it, i struggle too much with hydration and low blood pressure and end up feeling awful. I can’t do early morning runs because I’m a single mum so it means asking my Mum to come over which isn’t fair on her as its her school holidays so she doesn’t want to be waking up at 6am so I can run. I can do evening runs but I’m not an evening runner naturally! I hate running in the evening. It means I’ve had to mentally prepare myself the whole way through the day for it to try and get myself to go out the front door, and often by the evening I’ve failed at that mental prep, I’m exhausted and just can’t be bothered!

3) Summer holidays. Whereas when I was marathon training and half marathon training I had 2 days a week where youngest was at his childminder and then he would spend a morning with his godmother and a morning at creche for an hour I was able to fit in my runs, this time both kids are off and I dont have any childcare which means relying on my Mum and thats not always easy, we both have commitments and I feel guilty to ask her to have the boys so I can run, it doesn’t feel a valid reason.

I know ultimately these are excuses and really I should just give myself a massive boot up the backside, sort out a new training plan and get my legs moving but I am struggling. Come September when the kids are back at school it will be easier as youngest will be at nursery 5 mornings a week and I will just have to use those 3 hours to get myself out and going but thats 4 weeks away and although that will be valueable training I also have to train before then if Im going to meet the goal I want in bournemouth!