Brighton Half Marathon 2014

I didn’t run today. I was going to. The weather was perfect for once and I’ve grown to love those long Sunday morning runs, but this morning I had other plans. This morning was the Brighton Half Marathon and I wanted to check it out. Not just to support my friends and all of the other runners, but because maybe, just maybe, I might think about running it next year.

Despite the recent storms, the organisers had made a pretty good job of clearing the pebbles from the promenade, leaving a nice clear path for this morning’s runners.

Hove Seafront Pre Half Marathon

After taking some pictures to test out my camera, I positioned myself by the beach huts somewhere between miles 11 and 12 and waited for the front runners to come in. And boy did they come in fast! The first twenty or so were looking really strong and I really had to be on the ball to get some pictures. But I did manage to get a few decent shots.

Front Car
Approaching Mile 12
Male Leader
First Man
Women's Winner
First Woman

About one hour and three hundred or so photographs later, however, I ran out of pictures. But I was having so much fun that I decided to stay and cheer the rest of the runners on. There was only a smallish crowd of spectators at this section of the course so I joined in and clapped and cheered, shouting words of encouragement for those who had been running for close to two hours.

Brighton Half 2014

A lot of them looked pretty exhausted, but they were still smiling as they walked, jogged and paced themselves along the promenade to the finish line.

Marmite

For many of these runners, this was their first Half Marathon. Some were running for friends or family, some for charities or good causes, and some were doing it just because they wanted to run. And I realised that, tired and exhausted as many of these later runners must have felt, I wanted to feel it too. Not just the exhaustion, but the determination and the exhilaration in knowing that they were about to achieve something amazing – their first half marathon!

Brighton Half Marathon

Who knows who’ll be joining them next year!

There’s still a few more photographs to upload, but you can check them out by following the link here.

Parkrun PB?

I’d been looking forward all week to today’s Parkrun. So after a rather unsettled night of being woken up by the wind battering on my windows, I was happy when the sun came up and the gusts began to weaken.

There was still a bit more than a breeze when I headed to the park to join the other two hundred or so runners for this morning’s run, so it wasn’t surprising that the turnout was a bit lower than usual – that and the fact that it’s the Brighton Half-Marathon tomorrow!

I was hoping that, after conquering my first 10K race last weekend, I might be on for a 5K PB today, so I’d planned to start more towards the middle of the pack than the back to give myself a better chance. With such a low turnout, however, I was still near the back even though I started closer to the line than usual.

Perhaps it was a fear of coming last, or the fact that many of the slower runners had decided to stay at home today, but I found myself setting off at a much faster pace than usual. I had planned to do the first kilometre in something close to 6:30 and then go for negative splits, but ended up doing 6:13 and then got progressively slower for the first three kilometres.

I could use the excuse that I was running against the wind, but as the Parkrun is a circuit, I found that the wind was actually behind me on the inclines. Although, perhaps that’s why the first kilometre went so quickly? Either way though, I was feeling pretty good.

5K Splits-2014-02-15

I hit my slowest kilometre in the third, at just under 6:30, and tried to maintain that pace until the final stretch to try to recharge some of the energy I had spent by going out too quickly. This seemed to do the trick as I was able to pick up my pace and finish the run in 32:08 for 5.09K, according to my Garmin.

I was feeling pretty excited as, even though Parkrun had recorded my PB incorrectly as 32:12 on a previous run (I emailed them about this but they never sorted it out), my actual Parkrun PB was 32:25. So, not only was I pretty certain that I had a new real PB, but I was also hoping that the incorrect one would be cancelled out at long last!

However, when I received my official time, I was shocked to discover that I had recorded 32:52! Now, I know that’s not right because my watch was pretty much in synch with the timings we were given as we ran round, so I can only assume there was a mix up with the barcodes or something.

I have emailed them and I guess it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it is kind of annoying to take part in a timed run and then be given the wrong time at the end of it.

Still, the main thing is that I got up this morning and went for my run and, PB or no PB, it was still a lot of fun. And apart from anything else, it will definitely give me some more motivation to run faster next week!

Do you do Parkrun? Have you had any problems with incorrect times? What’s the best way to get it sorted if you do? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

Chichester Priory 10K Road Race

Sunday was the twenty-third Chichester Priory 10K Road Race and my first ever 10K race. Having only completed the distance three times in training, I was a little bit nervous about the whole thing – not least of all because of the weather forecast. While the prediction was that the rain would ease off for the big day, we were still expecting winds of around 30 mph with gusts of over 50 mph – great if it’s behind you, but the chances were that it would be hitting us head on for the final 3K – not fun!

CH10K_Weather

Still, despite the weather forecast, I was pretty excited about the whole thing as I headed off to Chichester on Saturday evening. I had decided to get the train the day before and stay in a hotel over night as, for some bizarre reason, there were to be no trains between Hove and Chichester on Sunday and I didn’t want to rely on the replacement bus service getting me there on time in the morning. Also though, I kind of liked the idea of being able to relax and chill out in the hotel the night before.

As soon as I got off the train though, the heavens opened. The short walk to the hotel was wet, windy and downright miserable. And, to top it all off, I managed to do something to my ankle while trying to open the door while juggling my key card and an arm full of snacks from the vending machine. It wasn’t good, but at least I’d brought my ankle support that I’d been using since my Achilles injury.

Despite the wind and rain, I had a really good night’s sleep and woke up early feeling refreshed and excited (although still nervous) about the race ahead. I occupied myself with a light breakfast, some stretching and tried not to think too much about my race plan.Yes, I had a race plan! Well, sort of. The idea was to go out slow, keep my pace over 7 minutes per kilometre for the first half of the race and then go for negative splits for the final 5K. But, of course, it didn’t quite work out like that.

The meeting point for the start of the race was only about a five minute walk from the hotel, so I arrived slightly earlier than the recommended hour before the race. It was nice just milling around for a while, but in hindsight an hour was way too much time to be hanging around in the cold. Luckily, I did bring an old hoody with me, which I was able to get rid of before the start of the race.

At about 10:15, people were starting to get in line for the race itself. There were local cadets holding signs to show you where to line up according to your predicted race time. I knew I was going to be slower than most so it wasn’t hard to find the sign that read over 50 minutes. It would have been nice if they’d had one that read over 60 minutes or under one hour ten minutes, as this didn’t do much for my confidence, but there did seem to be rather a lot of people like myself who were trying to get as far back as possible so as not to slow down or trip up the faster runners.

Once in line, we all made our way to the start line. I didn’t actually see the start of the race, being amongst the last fifty runners out of around 1,600, so as soon as I saw people ahead start running, I guessed that we had started and turned on my Garmin. As it turned out, I was about a minute and a half early as we hadn’t actually crossed the start line, which was marked by two bright blue mats which I assume were used to read our timing chips.

Once we got going, the crowd started to thin out a bit and I overtook a few runners until I found myself running at a nice comfortable pace. The route itself was very flat and I did laugh when one of the marshals kept calling out, with more than a hint of irony in her voice, watch the speed bumps!

CH10K_Map

As we ran through the Chichester countryside, I realised that I was glad in a way that I wasn’t going very fast. It was nice just jogging along enjoying the view and the fresh country air. Even the sun had decided to make an appearance and the wind wasn’t causing too many problems – in fact, it was quite nice having some cold air blowing to cool me down a little bit.

Most of the roads had been closed off for the first few kilometres and drivers were very considerate as they slowed down and gave way to us as we jogged along trying to keep close to the kerb while avoiding the puddles from the recent downpours.

As we found ourselves running in single file along these stretches, I decided to pick up the pace a little bit and try to overtake a few people in front of me. It was a lot of fun trying to pass people, especially on the inclines (I love inclines now – as long as they’re not too long or steep!), and didn’t mind when they whizzed past me on the flatter sections. Well, it was a race after all!

As my competitive edge had started to kick in, I decided to forego 5K water stop and just keep going. To be honest, I never bothered with water during my training runs so I didn’t see the point. I knew I could do 10K without it and I kind of needed to pee a little bit so I figured I had enough water in my system to keep me going.

The second half of the race went pretty much like the first half. I tried to keep the pace going and I thought back to my fartlek training as I used short bursts to kick it up a notch and get past other runners, and even though by the eighth kilometre I was starting to feel pretty tired, I kept pushing on.

By the final 100 metres or so though, I was feeling pretty much done and I really struggled to keep the pace going on the final part of the descent to the car park. But, as I turned the corner and saw the finish line was within reach, I gave it one more final effort, picked it up as much as I could and got myself across the line. I was completely exhausted but very happy knowing that I had given it everything and, as I found out later, my chip time gave me a new PB of 1:08:00.

CH10K_Splits

CH10K_Data

If you live in the area and haven’t done the Chichester 10K Road Race, I’d definitely recommend it. As my first 10K race, it was a great experience and, despite the absence of a medal at the finish line (we got a mug!), it was well worth the effort!

10K Hills and Hail

It’s one week until the Chichester 10K, which means it’s time to ease off on the training and taper down to Race Day… but not before one more long(ish) Sunday run!

My last 10K run was a couple of weeks ago and, although my 5Ks over the last week or so have been pretty good, I’ve still been a bit concerned about how I will cope with the distance – especially as I’ve only attempted it twice.

So, today I got up early and headed out for my final 10K run before the big day. The weather was a bit grimy so I decided against the seafront and headed for Hove Recreation Ground and Hove Park instead. The plan was to do a couple of 1K laps of Hove Rec and then head to the park for a bit of variety – that way I could wear my hoody and if the rain eased off I could drop it off on the fence and pick it up again on my way back round.

The other advantage of running this route is that it has plenty of inclines. So far I have only ever done my longer runs on the seafront and, even though I’m told that the route next Sunday is pretty flat, I suspect that what’s flat for some people probably won’t feel quite so flat for me.

The gentle slopes of Hove Rec provided a good warm up and, as I’d hoped, after the first lap the rain stopped and the sun came out. I decided to keep the pace nice and slow and kept going round until I started to get bored with the monotony of running along the same path.

After three 1K laps I headed for the park, which offered some respite with a nice downhill jog before I reached the familiar path that we use for Parkrun on Saturdays.

The park seemed fairly quiet at first, but just as I had completed my first lap, I noticed a group of runners in neon jackets heading my way. Soon, they were joined by another group, and then another and pretty soon I found myself sharing the park with dozens of runners who, judging by the logos on some of their jackets, looked like they were out training for the Brighton Marathon.

It was nice to see so many people out so early as the park can often be pretty quiet on a Sunday morning. But they didn’t stay long. I passed them as they moved down to the grass and by the time I ran back round on my third lap, they were all heading off somewhere. I watched in awe as they jogged off up the road and thought to myself, maybe next year…

By this point I had run about 8K and, even though I knew my pace was all over the place, I was still feeling pretty good. I figured that, if I took it easy enough, I could probably do another full lap, which would take me over the 10K mark.

And then it happened. The sky went dark. The heavens opened. And down it came. Not rain, but hailstones accompanied by a cold icy wind. Luckily I was just approaching the part of the fence where I had left my hoody after the first lap, so I grabbed it, pulled it on and got my hood up before the ice cold pellets froze my ears off!

Of course, at this point, most normal people would have stopped and found shelter. But not me. Not the other runners on the path. Not the man walking his dog and not the boys playing football on the astro pitch. Instead, the whole park seemed to come to life!

The boys on the pitch were laughing, the woman jogging while pushing her young daughter on a bike grinned as they hurried past, I held my hands out to feel the drops of ice on my hands and beamed as I said to the man with the dog, Wow! This is crazy!, to which he replied, It’s just wonderful!

Wonderful as it was, I was glad that the hail only lasted for a few minutes. So much so, that as I approached the point where the path splits, I decided that I’d take the shorter lap and just stick with the 10K for today.

10K-2014-02-02

It sounds weird being able to say just stick with the 10K, but it’s a great feeling. I was so happy that I had made this morning’s run. Happy to have changed my route, happy to have taken on the inclines, and strangely happy to have caught the hailstones in the process.

Who’d have thought a year ago that I’d be saying that?

From Dark Clouds To Blue Skys

I wasn’t sure if I was going to run this morning or not. The weather was looking a bit grim, but that wasn’t the problem. I was tired, grumpy and basically just not feeling it today. Deep down though, I knew that I really needed it.

My last run was Monday and, as there’s just over a week to go until my first 10K race, I wanted to get a couple of decent runs in this weekend so that I can have a few rest days before the big day. So for once I took my own advice. I switched off my brain and got myself dressed next to the coffee machine, which really does help by the way.

It was pretty cold this morning, but I just wore my usual kit – a long sleeved shirt under a short sleeved one and leggings under my trousers so that I wouldn’t freeze. As soon as I stepped outside though, I started to regret it.

It wasn’t just cold. It was raining too. A cold icy drizzle that almost made me go back inside for a jacket. But I decided against it. I always get hot when I’m running and the jacket would get heavy if it started to pour down – I know, I really should get a proper running jacket instead of my old hoody. But that’s for another pay packet.

So, I headed down the street and across the railway bridge, feeling cold and damp while trying to get my mind into focus for the run. I figured that I wasn’t going to bother today with negative splits or beating my PB. Just get a nice easy run in and enjoy being out in the park. No pressure, just good fun and a bit of exercise.

Just as I was getting hold of my mind, I reached the end of the railway bridge and realised that the heavy rain had turned to hailstones! This wasn’t good. Hailstones hurt. Perhaps the universe was trying to tell me something. Go home. Today is not your day for running!

Fortunately I tend to become quite stubborn when I’m told what to do or not do, and I make no exceptions for the weather or the universe, so I thought Sod you! I’m up, I’m out, and I’m cold and wet already so I’ll bloomin well run if I want to!

And I did. And it worked. The weather, universe or whatever it was that was casting that dark cloud over my day promptly buggered off, leaving a beautiful blue sky and bright sunshine behind. And the run was pretty good too!

I completed the Parkrun in 32:25, which worked out at just under 32 minutes when taking away the extra 0.10K (I start right at the back!) and the 4 seconds that it took to get moving, so all in all it turned out to be not just a good day for running, but one of my best so far!

I guess it just goes to show that some runs are meant to be, regardless of what the weather or the universe would have you believe.