New Forest 10K

Our race didn’t start until 10.25am, and we weren’t too far away (and had picked up our numbers the day before), so we didn’t need to get up that early. Because of the other races (full and half marathon, a 5k I think) all starting at earlier times, we didn’t want to get there with the other racers. We decided to leave around 9am, knowing that it was around 25 mins but the traffic was doubling that. We did get a nice t-shirt in the pack (and a wrist sweatband) but I always think it’s a bit unlucky to wear it before- what if you don’t finish for some reason?

Anyway, the traffic was fine until we got to the entrance to the car park where we joined a queue (this must have been at around 9.40am). It was moving all the time, but very slowly, and snaked through the forest. We had paid for parking when we picked up our numbers, but it seemed that each time one person had to pay, the entire queue stopped while the marshal sorted out the money and change. We ended up parking at 10.15am and then speed-walking though the fields to the start. We thought we had 10 mins, but in fact the race started around 10 mins late, so we got to join in with the rather enthusiastic warm up.

The plan was to run together and enjoy it with no time in mind (hopefully under an hour but not really minding). The route went through the forest, gently undulating but no big hills. There were some funny signs to read along the way (“Watch out for bears” being my favourite, as well as signs over a bridge saying “dry feet” and then another one pointing to the river saying “wet feet”) and the scenery was gorgeous. At first it was very congested as the paths seemed a little too narrow for the number of runners, but after a mile or so the paths opened up and we could stop the constant overtaking and settle a bit.

I’d be interested in seeing all the routes on the same map (as an overlay)- there was marathon and half happening at the same time, and every now and then we’d join with another lot of runners with different coloured numbers. Sometimes we’d follow them, other times we would peel off in a different direction. Our numbers were blue so we had to follow the blue signs- it was very well signed plus there were loads of marshals at every joining point so you couldn’t go wrong.

There were a couple of water stations but we avoided them. I did like it that they said if you were caught dropping litter you would be disqualified, but then at the water stations they had cups (good) but were telling people to throw their cups on the floor, even though they had a few bins- I really don’t think putting your cup in a bin is going to slow you down that much.

At times the paths were quite stony and a few times I twisted my ankle or got a big stone wedged in my shoe- I should have worn my trail shoes because the soles are thicker but as it had been dry I’d gone for my normal road shoes. It was fine as most of it was on soft forest paths and a few bits of tarmac. Although it was a bit cloudy, it got really warm and I really regretted not having a headband on to keep the sweat from my eyes. I had worn the sweatband on my wrist but that got soggy fairly quickly so wasn’t much use!

The miles ticked by quickly (they actually had km signs for the 10k but I used my watch) and it didn’t seem like long before we were heading around a field and into the finish area. Andy wanted to have a strong finish but my legs were feeling tired from the 7 miles on Saturday, so he ran off and I tried to catch up with him (flashbacks to every parkrun with my Dad!)- mile 6 was my fastest mile at 9.03 with an 8.37 for the mini bit.

My chip time was 58:42, and there was a lot of detailed info on the website (I was 98th women out of 747/ and position 364 out of 1259 runners). The text didn’t come through for a few days which was weird as usually the text things come instantly, but that doesn’t bother me as I could see my time on the website if I really needed to know asap (I didn’t).

The finish area was well organised too- lot of teenagers (in sort of army uniform) handing out medals, water, bananas and goodie bags. A banana after a race is my favourite. I was a bit miffed because Andy got some bourbon biscuits in his bag whereas I got some plain ones. The goodie bag had a big box of fish oil in it (not so good for vegetarians) as well as some sun cream which will come in handy. The medal is a lovely chunky one, with different coloured ribbons for each distance (to match the numbers and signs).

On the website they also had this cool image to show you the people finishing around you (I’m the blue dot).

We wandered around the stalls for a bit and bought some brownies from the Peachy Cakes stall- a vegan peanut butter one which we shared that evening, and then one with oreos and m’n’m’s which we shared on Monday.

I quite liked the magazine that we got with our numbers. I’d been to the New Forest before but never seen that many horses, however this time around we saw so many horses, plus wild donkeys and even wild cows. I wasn’t sure if some had just escaped but it said in the magazine that there were something like 150 wild donkeys and loads more cows.

After the wander we found the car (thankfully we’d parked near the end of a row as I think it would have taken us ages otherwise) and headed home. We stopped off at the services for a hot chocolate as for some reason I really fancied one, and made pretty good time (considering the M25 on a Sunday).

All in all I really enjoyed the race- it had a lovely atmosphere, loads of marshals, nice scenery and was well organised. I think if they made people pay for parking in advance then there would not have been the long queues to get in (or just add the fee on to the race entry as it was fairly reasonably priced).

Have you been to the New Forest? Would you wear a race t-shirt during the actual race?

Brighton half 2016- believing in myself

So for a long time now, years in fact, I have been working towards a sub 2 hour half marathon. The reason for this is stupid. I know it’s stupid. But I have still been wanting to achieve it. Back in 2008, when I started running, I bought this book after following a run/walk programme in Zest magazine:

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(I still can’t flip images any more…)

I found it very useful in my beginner days- it had tips on what to wear, training plans, what to eat, race guides…. But one sentence stuck with me:

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That sentence about how long a half marathon should take: “about 2 hours is respectable”. Now realistically reading that, it’s probably true. But I did my first (albeit hilly) half in 2.32. And yes I was near the back. So near in fact, that some of the marshals were packing away and I nearly missed the turning to the finish. But some people did it in 3 hours so I wasn’t really that close to the back.

Anyway, since then I have run 2.19, 2.27, 2.20, 2.12, 2.10, 2.16, 2.06, 2.42 (this was a trail one), 2.04, and 2.11. And do you know what? With my rational head on, I should be proud of every single half marathon. Running one is no mean feat, and from each one I have taken away something. But there has been a little voice in my mind about achieving a sub 2 hour half. I want to be a “respectable” runner. I like goals to aim towards- I managed a sub 30 minute 5k, and a sub 60 minute 10k, and then a sub 5 hour marathon, so  the sub 2 hour half seemed similar, and the next goal to aim for.

So, with that in mind, I signed up to the Brighton half. I had already run it twice, so I knew the route- it’s lovely and fairly flat (apart from a gentle hill near the start, which you then get to run down), it has great crowd support, nice views of the sea for most of it, is easy to get to…

Because last year I felt so good running it, I tried to replicate some of my marathon training. I often struggle between miles 8-11, so I decided that adding in a few longer runs, and some over the distance, would help me get through those miles on race day.

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We travelled down on Friday evening (listened to the Film Podcast on the train), and then the next morning went to Cafe Coho. I love it there, and was sad that the pancakes with nutella and banana was no longer on the menu, but this beauty was- pancakes with fruit compote and Greek yoghurt. It was delicious.

We had a lovely walk along to Hove.

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It was gorgeous out there.

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We went out to Food For Friends for dinner- this time we shared the tahini dips to start, and then I had a lovely salad with roasted sweet potato, hazelnuts and avocado.

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Staying hydrated with a pear juice, strawberry and elderflower drink.

We had bought a slice of carrot cake from this amazing cake shop, and so shared that later whilst watching Trapped (take me back to Iceland!).

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The next morning I had a clif bar and some water for breakfast, before getting dressed and walking down there. I had my flipbelt on with tissues and a pack of yo-yos (just in case) but no phone. Our hotel was close to the start, and Andy walked with me so I could hand him my jumper instead of using the bag drop. I was actually in the sub 2 hour pen, which made me feel very inadequate indeed, so I went right to the back. I had copied down the pacing I would need to achieve 1.59- (the Lucozade website only does minutes, not seconds, and I thought at least that way I have a bit of leeway). It was 9.05 per mile, but I was hoping to see a pacer. 9.05 per mile does sound fast to me, but I reasoned that I ran 10 miles at pretty much that pace back in November, and I have been increasing my long runs since then, so I was trying to be positive! The 2 hour pacer was in the pen behind me, so once they removed the tapes I walked to the start line and let the pacer go ahead so I could watch him.

The first mile was so congested. I have never felt so claustrophobic in a race before. My legs got clipped so many times (through no fault of anyone, it was just very busy) and at one point I tripped on some road paint (the thick lines I think) and just caught myself before I face-planted the floor. Not a good start! I suppose I should have realised that it would be busy, and of course if I had started further back it would have been clearer, but I wanted to see the pacer as I think that helps so much.

Anyway, the first mile (flat through the town) was bang on 9.05! It felt fast, but OK. The second mile heads back to the seafront, and we sped up then, doing 8.59! Someone said “maybe he is going fast in the first half so we can slow down in the second half”, but I think it was just because of it being so busy.

The route then heads up the coast, and I was glad that I knew the course because I was expecting it. I don’t find the hill too bad- it does go on for a fair way (until just past the 4 mile marker) but it’s fairly gentle. There was a point where it narrowed to about the width of two runners, as the fast runners were heading back down on the other side, and here we had to actually stop. The water station was congested too with people running across to grab a water- I had no idea where I should go to avoid it. I had only written down the times for 3, 6, 9, 12 and 13 miles, because I didn’t want to be looking at each mile, but also I could get a fair idea as it was so close to 9 minute mile pacing. Anyway, mile 3 was a 9.12, and when I checked my watch and post it note I was only behind by a few seconds which was fine with me because of the hill.

I was watching the other runners head down the hill and saw another 2 hour pacer on the other side- I had time to think to myself “they must have more than one” before I reached the traffic cone- yup, we were turning around and heading back down! Whoops!

On the downhill I tried to keep the pace going, and enjoyed looking out to sea too. It seemed more blustery here, but of course this was when the runners seemed to thin out a bit- no-one to act as a windbreaker!

Miles 5, 6 and 7 are downhill and back towards the start. I was on course at the 6 mile point, and could hear the winner being cheered home (around 1 hour 10 I would guess- some very speedy time anyway)- at least you can’t see the finish line as you run along the top road, and the finish is on the promenade below. Miles 6 and 7 were run in 8.57 and 8.49- I’m pleased with that speed at a parkrun so I was hoping my legs would last the course.

This is where it began to get tough. Mile 8 and 9 were OK (9.09/ 9.06), and I was pleased that my training had meant I still felt strong for these miles (too far from the end to be “just a parkrun to go”). There were loads of crowds cheering- especially as we were with the pacer lots of people were going “go on two hour runners” which was lovely. One lady shouted in my face at the top of her lungs “OH” (down to my Old Hatfield OH top)- it was funny but also a bit intimidating! I am sure she meant to be supportive as she was cheering all of the runner names and club vests- our OH is a bit weird if you don’t know what it stands for! At the 9 mile point I was still OK, but when I glanced at my watch a few times I was below the 9.05. I wished that I had also typed in 2 hours straight (it’s 9.09- I just looked) as that would have helped settle my nerves. I was getting warm too- I only had on tights and a vest, so I decided to have some water at the final station. It’s at the turnaround point past the Hove Lagoon, just before the 10 mile point. I had to stop to pick up a bottle, and then I had a few sips but that made my stomach ache, so I left the rest of it.

Here I lost the pacer group a bit- I could still see them but they were inching further away and I had no energy to sprint- I still had a parkrun to go! The final 3 miles are along the promenade, so I occupied myself with looking out to sea, thinking about the walk we had yesterday, thinking about the parkrun I ran along there last year, and a lot of counting up to 100. At the 10 mile point my watch said 1 hour 29 (which is my fastest 10 mile time, even though Strava thinks it’s my second fastest- possibly down to a mix up), so I knew I had 31 minutes to run a 5k= 10 minute mile pacing. Then I just had a battle in my mind:

Why not just slow down and enjoy it? You are meant to enjoy running after all? Why not stop and walk for a bit?

No! You have wanted a sub 2 hour for so long! The pacer is still in sight. You can run 10 minute miles. Keep going!

But if I slow down, I will still get a pb, just not a sub 2 hour time. I could still get a pb. My legs hurt a lot.

Come on- you have done the hardest part! You’ve kept up with the group the whole way up the hill, for the first 10 miles- you can do this final bit.

Those final miles were my slowest- 9.20, 9.18, 9.27, and even as I passed the 13 mile point I looked at my watch and looked at the finish gantry and that doubting voice crept in saying “you’ve missed it”- I actually said out loud to myself “No, you can do it- don’t give up”- hopefully no-one heard! I could see the time on the clock ticking closer to 2.05 (I think I crossed the start line at 5 minutes) so I gave it all I had for the final “sprint” (9.06 pace!) and was so elated as I crossed the line and saw 1.59.11 on my Garmin (but of course I had to wait for the chip time). I thanked the pacer as he was stopped right by the line- I really don’t think I would have kept going for the final 3 miles if I could not still have seen him and the group.

Then I felt a bit dizzy, so quickly got a foil blanket and drank some lucozade. Then it all got a bit stressful. I had arranged to meet Andy by the ferris wheel- he was going to bring me tea and my jumper. I hurried (as best I could) past the yoghurt raisins (no thanks), cereal bars (thanks, took one for later), carrier bag (it’s empty- well I guess it’s worth 5p!), water (take one for later), medal (hooray! I love my medal) and t-shirt (yes, finally a technical t-shirt from Brighton!!!!!) which I put on. I tried to get out of the finish area, but it was jammed, and the bit outside with spectators was only wide enough for 2 people, so in the end I went back through the medal area as I had seen an exit further down. I actually ended up running a bit here, as it had already been 20 minutes- I didn’t want Andy to worry but also we had to check out by 12! I finally met up with him half an hour after finishing- just due to the huge crowds. The tea was lukewarm but it was amazing!

We stopped for a quick photo, before heading back to the hotel. We got back at 11.45- I had to have a very quick shower and then spent a long time trying to dry my hair as much as I could. (In the end we checked out about 10 minutes late, which panics me but they were fine).

I then got a text through confirming my time- 1.59.09!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am still so amazed! I have finally achieved that time!

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Brighton always make fab medals- this one with the pavilion on is great, and I love the silver with a hint of pink. I wore it all the way home!

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I love the t-shirt too!

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I have lost count of the number of races I have completed in Brighton- and this is my first technical top! (I do have a cotton one from the marathon which is being kept for posterity).

Andy had also bought me a cinnamon roll, so as we checked out, I started to eat it and realised I was rather hungry, as there were no bananas at the finish and I didn’t fancy the cereal bar- then we were in such a rush I forgot. Not good!

Anyway, after that I felt a bit more humane, so we walked around Brighton and ended up going to Bill’s for lunch. I was soooooo tempted by a new item on their brunch menu (peanut butter and banana French toast- I think it was designed for me) but knew that more sugar would not be a good thing (right away…)- instead I had a lovely salad with lentils, roasted squash and goats cheese. Better re-fuelling I think.

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We bought another slice of cake (this was mint and lime) to take home, got a chai latte from Bluebirds, and then got the train home. I thought I would nod off but I was so excited still, plus a few of the OH ladies had been running the Cambridge half and the Gade Valley 17 so I was checking on our facebook group to see how everyone got on.

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Are you impressed with my cake slicing skills? I managed to slice it properly in half! After soup and sourdough for dinner we shared the cake- it was delicious!

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So the moral of the story? Believe in yourself. Not like a “if you can dream it you can do it” kind of way, because I often dream that I can fly. Like a bird. Frequently. But believe in what you are capable of.

And also sometimes not being able to walk properly the next day is very worth it! That time is mine forever!

Jabra Sport Pulse review

Earlier in the year I was sent some research from Jabra about 2016 being The Year of Stronger, Fitter and Faster:

It’s that time of the year again when millions of people vow to turn over a new leaf by making their New Year’s resolutions. Global research* by Jabra has today revealed that more than 40% of people are resolving to make their bodies stronger and fitter in 2016, rather than opting for more traditional resolutions of just focusing on weight loss.

With over half of people surveyed (52%) admitting that they have never made a fitness related New Year’s resolution before, 2016 looks to be the year of first-time resolutions with people focusing their attentions on a healthier and fitter lifestyle. 2015 has seen a healthy shift away from the traditional ‘thin’ celebrity images depicted in magazines, to the more favourable ‘fitspiration’, ‘real body’ trends led by social media channels such as Instagram.

This refreshing shift in attitude reveals an increasing emphasis on strength and fitness training and dispels the notion that most people either won’t make a resolution, or will simply fail to reach their goals. Teamed with growing confidence, 67% of people feel completely confident that they will stick to their fitness resolution. A determination to succeed is clearly evident with 45% admitting whilst they may take a few breaks, they will still ultimately accomplish their goals.

Finding and sticking to a New Year’s resolution is no mean feat, motivation is clearly the key to success. Over 35% are motivated by music with a further 34% saying that the buzz they feel post-workout is what inspires them most. To succeed, 68% revealed they would almost certainly consider investing in some sort of technology to keep them on track. 57% would most likely purchase new sports ear phones and 39% would invest in a fitness tracker or GPS device.

Karin Piscitelli, Marketing Director at Jabra, said “The research is clear. Globally we live in a culture where staying motivated is the key to success. Whether people opt for training apps or upbeat music, finding that inspiration to suit you is key. What is really positive is that people are already willing themselves to succeed, particularly when their goals are related to health and fitness.” 

Karin Piscitelli continued, “As we begin a New Year, more and more people are opting for fitness-based New Year’s resolutions. In order to succeed, it is crucial to retain focus whilst setting realistic and achievable steps. As a company, Jabra provides integrated training solutions to help people with motivation, personal training management so that they can keep track of their goals.”

Jabra has conducted this research to prove just how much sound and hearable technology play a part in people’s fitness and training goals. With motivation the key to success, an overwhelming 82% of people surveyed reveal that they currently use some form of technology to assist them when they work out. The majority (69%) utilise music through in-ear buds to spur them on, 33% use some form of fitness tracker/GPS device, 26% use a heart rate monitor and 27% use a running or training app. 

Jabra’s wireless sports earbud range offers superior, state-of-the-art hearables and has been developed using Jabra’s heritage and unrivalled R&D expertise in delivering audio innovation. It is designed specifically to deliver the combination of intelligent in-ear coaching or training tips and music to sports enthusiasts.

Features such as heart rate monitors (Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless) and motion sensors (Jabra Sport Coach Wireless) combined with the Jabra Sport Life app, can significantly enhance any workout. The free app which has been developed by Jabra, offers the ultimate all-in-one solution and contains optimised tools to help plan and monitor your fitness. Whether you’re a casual gym goer or a seasoned triathlete, there is a headset to cater for your workout needs. Designed to US military standards and leading the market in audio fidelity, Jabra’s innovation enables you to hear more, do more and be more.

As a result of this research, Jabra has initiated a new online community (the Jabra Fitness Community) to further support those that have set a fitness or training goal for the New Year.  In addition to their portfolio of products, Jabra will be offering motivational and inspiring tips for success from fitness and training professionals, as well as highlighting “real” updates from those in the Community who share their progress and highs/lows.  The Jabra Fitness Community can be found at: and posts can be made to #thisiswhereitstarts.

 The website has some articles about working out as part of a group, making goals manageable, as well as photos submitted by users (and the chance to win headphones too), so it’s worth a look.

They also sent me some Jabra Sport Pulse headphones to review:2016-01-30 13.34.01

The set up was simple enough (this may sound silly, but I am not very good with technology and often have to get Andy to help me with setting things up)- they work via bluetooth, so after turning the bluetooth on my phone, and entering the code on the pack, they connected (and if you put the headphones in, you can hear a voice telling you “Jabra sport pulse connected”).

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They charge by a little USB wire, which is hidden behind one of the ear buds- the light goes green once charged. I have never had headphones that need charging, but according to the app they will last for 4 hours, and I took them on my accidental 15 mile run last Sunday and they were still going when I got home, so for me they would last plenty of time for my longest run.

I had to download two apps- one was the Jabra music one, and the other was the Jabra sports one, but these were easily done via the prompts on my phone screen. I am not 100% sure I needed the music one, because I mainly listen to podcasts via the Pocket Cast app (which is amazing by the way), and it connected fine via that app.

At first I used them as I use my normal headphones- on a walk, or on a run, just to listen through. I turned on the bluetooth on my phone, turned on the headphones (there is a little button on the wire) and then played my podcasts. I had to take the headphones out to check it wasn’t coming out of my phone too, but it wasn’t. Clever stuff! I do love the lack of wire- on my walks I just had it the small wire in front of my neck, but on runs I have tucked it behind, under my ponytail, and it’s been really good. I didn’t get particularly annoyed with the long wire on my old ones, but it would get caught on my arm sometimes, plus when using my flipbelt I would have to flip the same way otherwise it would get wrapped around and around the belt.

I did swap the earbuds for a smaller size after a few wears- they come with 4 different sizes (although the small and extra-small looked the same to me!)- the fact you have so many sizes is great and although I was worried about swapping them, they were easy enough to pop off and swap over.

After a few times, I used the Sport app to track my heart rate. This was so clever! When you start the app, it detects your heart rate and the voice in your ear tells you your heart rate, and once you press “start” it counts you down to go. You the start the app, and it runs while you are exercising. I tried it on a walk first, as I didn’t want to have to stop and fiddle on a run if needed. When I set it up, I selected metric (as you add in your age, height and weight), but I need to go back and change it, because it is now set to kilometres, and I prefer miles.

At each km a voice would tell me heart rate, distance, pace, speed, cadence (steps per minute)- it was interesting hearing my heart rate, although the first one was a walk to Tesco so it slowed a lot as I wandered around inside the shop. I think it tracks using the location of the phone, because when you get home and stop it, you can open the app and look at your history, and it shows you a map of where you went, and gives you detailed splits for each km, what your heart rate was and so on. As my Garmin does not have a heart rate monitor, this is really interesting information to have. You can even see a graph of your heart rate, and not surprisingly it went up for me when I had to run through a field of cows!

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Some of the cows were very close to the path! I took this once I was safely through the gate at the other end!

The one drawback is that the voice is very loud, and it does take time to get through the list of stats after each km, and at times when I was listening to podcasts it would be a bit frustrating as I would be trying to hear what was being said, but all I could hear was my heart rate, distance, pace and so on. But once I got home I looked in the settings and turned off the “on the go readouts”, although you can just turn off some, and keep some (for example I might sometimes keep the heart rate one as I find that interesting, and I could not get that information from my watch). Once I tried them again, I didn’t have any audio updates, but was still able to look at the map, graphs of my heart rate and so on once I got home, so for me I will probably leave it like that for most of the time as I prefer to look at the data once I have finished.

It does occasionally drop out too, I think when my phone is updating or doing something else, as it tends to happen at the start of my run, but it pauses the podcast for the split second of drop out so that I don’t miss anything. Not having used wireless headphones before I imagine that this is to be expected every now and then.

Also although I have swapped the earbud size over, I am not sure that I have the correct fitting just yet (they also have ear-wings to hold them in place, and again include 3 or 4 size options)- but as it’s been so cold I have been wearing a headband over my ears, or a hat, so that has held them in place.

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I was trying to work out how best to show the earphones- you can see the headband is sort of holding them there for me.

I think they are great though- the fact they can measure your heart rate is just so clever, and if I didn’t already have a GPS watch for running, this combined with the app does pretty much everything a watch does.

So thanks to Jabra for letting my try them.

Do you measure your heart rate when you are training? Do you think that technology can help with motivation and keeping your goals going?

If you are a podcast listener, which are your favourites?

*Sent to me in exchange for a review. As always, all opinions are my own.

Fred Hughes 10 miles (round 2)

So I did this race last year, as it fitted into my marathon training plan. I wasn’t going to do it again as it is fairly hilly, and a bit stressful with the car par filling up quickly and things. But then quite a few girls in the club signed up, and so in the end I decided to as well.

I had a clif bar first thing- it seems like ages since I have needed to eat before a race, and I could not decide what to do. I had to leave home just after 8am to walk to where I was being picked up (I ran, because I left a bit late!)- but the race didn’t start until 10am, so it was hard to know what would keep me going until the end. We arrived with loads of time, got our numbers and milled abot chatting to other runners. It’s a big one for clubs, and there were huge groups of clubs nearly taking over the hall. We managed a couple of little photos (although a few of ours were in various queues when we took them I think), before walking to the start, 5/10 mins down the road.

I look very excited here!

At the start! I love the guy photo-bombing us in the background!

I had no idea what to aim for- last year I did it in 1.37 something, but after being a bit unwell this week I knew I should not push it or anything.

We started off in a fairly big group, running and chatting when we could. The first mile sped by, (then it’s single figures to go) but then the hills started coming. It is fairly up and down.


The elevation does not look too bad here, but you can see it’s not flat anywhere. You go out for a couple of miles, then do a loop twice, before heading back. It’s all fairly undulating, and most of it was fine. We stayed in our group for the first lap (getting lapped by the front runners of course- amazing to see how fast they run), and most hills were OK, but there is one, with the 8 mile marker (and the first time you do it, you are only coming up to 5, so not even half way) is really tough. I walked last year I think, and when that thought popped into my mind I promised myself I could walk up it the second time around.

In the middle of the second lap I lost the group I was with, as I had to catch my breath- it wasn’t even a hill, it was a flat bit of residential streets, but for some reason I could not get my breathing down. I made myself look at the nice scenery (apart from a little bit of residential, most of it is through country lanes, past cottages, farms, woods and fields), but then the hill came. I decided to run up half of it, but stop and walk at the 8 mile sign (at least the second time around, it’s correct!)- I decided that as I wasn’t aiming for a time, why stress myself out and struggle, when I could walk for a bit and enjoy the last two miles. I was overtaken by a lady who said to me “there must be a better way to enjoy yourself on a Sunday morning, but I haven’t found it yet!” Just after I had started running again, there was a water station (there is only 1, but you pass it 3 times) so I decided to have a drink as it was really mild. I had worn a long sleeved thin top with my vest over the top (and a jacket to tie around my waist for the walk back to race HQ, as I got so cold last year) but I was very warm at times and I think I overdressed.

Once this was done, I was finished with the two loops, and on the home stretch- still a couple of hills to go, and I had another walk break on one of those hills. But then after seeing the 9 mile marker I had a talking to and tried to pick up a bit.

On the final stretch (they have 400m and 200m to go signs, but I have no idea how long that takes me!) I was overtaken by a guy going so fast, so I shouted to him “good going” or something- when I finished he came up to me and said “well done” which was nice- I think looking in races can look competitive, but actually everyone is really cheering everyone on to do their best.

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As you went down the finish funnel, you were given a medal (also a bottle opener), and a buff with a fleecy section on it- fab! Then someone handed me a banana (I looked like I needed it!) and you could choose your crisp flavour from a box (which I like, because last year you got given a bag with leaflets and crisps inside, and I got cheese and onion, when everyone knows that only salt and vinegar will do). I went to get some water, and then met up with the club girls who had already finished. They also did print outs of the time, so I went to get mine- 1:40:50– so only a few minutes behind last year, and according to Strava, although I am trending slower on this route (having only run it twice!) I did my fastest loop- a positive split I think- whoops!

There were a few girls behind me, so we cheered them over the line before walking back to the HQ- that was when I was very glad of my layers. Race HQ were serving huge cups of tea or coffee, and lovely home-made cake (it rivals the spread I have seen at cross country races!) so I got a piece of fruit cake and a tea- started to feel human again!

I do like the 10 mile distance, but I don’t think I will be doing this race next year- partly because it covers a lot of the same roads from the St Albans half marathon, so I feel like I have run up some of those hills many times! I think if a lot of girls sign up next year, I might marshal instead. It was great to be at an event with a few more club members there- very different to racing on your own, and it meant the before and after bits were more enjoyable too. For some of them it was their first race, some of them their first 10 mile distance, so it was great to be there while people were achieving these things too.

On that note, the marshals were brilliant- in groups of 2-4, instead of just 1, and really frequently placed, and they were all so encouraging and enthusiastic. That really helped. Plus it is such good value- I think it wa £19 or something, and for that you get a race, tea and cake, banana, crisps, water, medal, buff… It wasn’t closed roads but as they are small roads mainly, and a few pavements, there were not many times when we had to move over for a car.

Because of the fairly late start time (10am) I didn’t get home for a shower until nearly 1pm, so it did take over the day a fair bit too. My phone did not stop beeping all day with girls from the club adding photos of letting everyone know their time, which made the fun last even longer.

12 months of running

I love looking back over the past year, and so I thought I would choose a photo or two for each month to sum it all up.

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Not all of the races had medals- some had t-shirts, or a chocolate santa, but this is I think the 2015 collection!

Last year the big race for me was the Brighton marathon, but the “10 miles before Christmas” prep didn’t go well, as I had an awful cough and chest infection, and so hardly ran at all in December. But probably the rest did me good as the training went very well (with a little extra motivation from Jantastic).


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Marathon training kicked off after about a month of rest, with the freezing cold Fred Hughes 10 mile race.


Brighton half! Pb! I didn’t want to push myself as I needed fresh enough legs for my longer midweek runs, so I was amazed that I managed a pb and felt pretty strong throughout. If I had been training for just that race, I feel confident that I could have managed a sub 2 hour half. I will keep dreaming!


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My highest mileage of 132 miles in March as marathon training ramped up.


Brighton marathon!!!! I loved it! I was so nervous, but I kept an eye on my pacing, didn’t start off too quickly, enjoyed seeing Andy and my parents in the crowd, and was so proud to get that sub 5 hour goal.


(We can’t have a post without any cake)

Birthday course pb at panshanger parkrun!


Whipsnade 10K- hot!

St Albans half- fairly hilly!


This photo is from tail running at Panshanger parkrun. I marshalled, tail ran and did the new runner briefing that month, and won the Sweatshop monthly prize of new trainers too! Awesome!

These are identical to my current trainers, so are still in the box for when my old ones die.

Me very excited before the Ware 10 miles! There were other runners from the club doing the 10K, and it was so lovely to have some company pre and post race.


Many runs in Hawaii, including a 5K race.

parkrun tourism at the Crissy Fields parkrun in San Francisco! 4th women! 1st in my age category!!! Yes there were only 31 runners (all very friendly) but you have to be in it to win it! Or come 4th!


One early morning run, sunrise looking like a fire.


Bournemouth 10k. The afternoon time wasn’t the best but I managed a pretty speedy run, giving me confidence to aim for a pb in Brighton later in the autumn.

Brighton 10 mile- another pb in Brighton!


My 50th parkrun, and Panshanger’s first birthday!

10K in Sherwood Pines (I was drenched in those picture, before it even started!)

10K pb in Brighton! I love Brighton! My 4th Brighton pb of the year! Is that a pb full house?


Running club run to brunch (why don’t we do this every Sunday?)

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Christmas day parkrun with my brother (and jingly antlers- I found out that if I wedged them into my buff they stay put during running).

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December 5K series for Virtual Runner UK.

There have been more races this year (the full list I keep on my Race Calendar page), but that’s plenty to be getting on with.

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To sum up:

Brighton pb’s for 10K, 10 mile, half marathon and full marathon (full house?).

parkrun = awesome

Being in a running club= brilliant

I still love running.