Why Brighton is an awesome place for running

Before heading down to Brighton last weekend, I was thinking about all the races I have completed there during the year. I realised that I had managed pb’s in all my Brighton races during the year so far- although with the wind I had put that thought out of my mind for the 10k.

So here is a little recap of my Brighton races, and why I love running there so much!

February 2015– I did the half marathon as part of training for the marathon. I didn’t want to push too hard because I needed to be recovered right away for the next week of training, so I was rather surprised to get a pb- 2:04.10! The route is great and because I know it, having run it before, it helps me to pace myself a bit better. Yes, there is a little hill near the start, but you get to run back down it, and then it is flat.

25 miles in and still holding the pace band piece of paper!

In April 2015 I did the Brighton marathon. I really wanted to get under 5 hours, as for my first marathon in Stockholm I had been aiming for that but things had not gone my way. I managed Brighton in 4:53.24, which was nearly half an hour faster than my first marathon time. It was brilliant- so much crowd support, lovely sea views, the sun was shining (which did make it tough at times, and I did get sunburn on my legs as I forgot to put suncream there), my parents came down to watch. It was brilliant!

In October 2015 at the last minute (well a week before) I signed up to the inaugural Bright10, a new 10 mile race along the seafront. I had a bit of a cold, but the mainly flat course helped me along to a 10 mile pb of 1:33.51!

I do love a good medal!

Then finally in November we both did the Brighton Brooks 10K- another pb for me, despite the wind- 54:53! I realised when looking at my race calendar that it was my 50th race! When I think about that, it seems crazy to me, because as a child or teenager I didn’t run, and didn’t really think I could. It was only in my late 20’s that I decided to train for a Race for Life, and now I just could not imagine life without running.

See how much the wind was blowing the medal ribbon!

So why is Brighton such a good place to run?

  • There is always such good crowd support, even on horrible windy and cold days there will be people out with signs, or instruments, cheering everyone on.
  • The seafront is a lovely flat place to run- very good pb potential.
  • The seafront is a scenic place to run.
  • There are other landmarks like the Royal Pavilion.
  • The marshals are always fab- I think the Bosh running group should take a lot of credit for this, but there are so many marshals in all of the races and they are always very supportive.
  • It seems a place that encourages people to be active with cycle paths along the seafront, lots of running groups, loads of cycle parking at the station.
  • There are loads of awesome cafes and restaurants to pre-race fuelling and post race treats.
  • Of course, I am in vegetarian heaven with so much choice while I am there.
  • There are several parkruns in the Brighton area so if you are visiting for the weekend you can still get your parkrun fix- the Hove Promenade one was easily walk-able from Brighton town centre (1.4 miles from Brighton station so a nice warm up walk or jog).
  • Finally, the train station is nice and central, so you can get the train back, listen to a podcast and have a snooze on your journey home. Fab.

This is the view in February! Awesome!

So thanks for the pb’s, the medals and the memories Brighton, I shall be back next year!

Freezing runs!

So, winter is now here!

This week has been a funny one with running. We did the same route on Tuesday night as we have the last 3 weeks, but in the wind (and with tired legs from the weekend) it felt tougher.

On Wednesday I had a lovely run by myself, 3.3 miles in a figure of 8, and it wasn’t too cold. On Thursday I missed pump as we were taking Andy’s parents to the airport, and on Friday I did think about a run, but I was tired and my throat was sore, and it was cold, so I didn’t.

Anyway, Saturday morning I wrapped up very warmly as it was snowing and I was marshalling at parkrun. I had a couple of crumpets and some mint tea before- I would not eat if I was running, but because I was just marshalling I knew I would need something. Thankfully the snow stopped, and hadn’t settled, but the wind was bitterly cold. My dad picked me up as he and my brother were running- they waited in the car while I walked to my marshal point!

2015-11-21 08.53.33

This is the track that the parkrun begins along, and my point was at the end where runners turn and head up a gravel track.

2015-11-21 08.53.40

I could see the lakes, which you run around near the end.

2015-11-21 08.54.54

Walking along the track was fine as the trees kept you sheltered, but where I was stood was right in the wind- when I took some photos my gloves nearly blew away! And even though I had on my hat and a scarf, the band holding my ponytail had nearly fallen out- it really was so windy.

2015-11-21 09.10.36

As my point was near the start, I only had around 5 minutes where runners ran past, so I was (hopefully) very cheery, shouting “good morning” and “the faster you run the warmer you’ll get”. I do love being a marshal and I love how many runners manage to say thank you through their heavy breathing too. At 9.10 the tail runner went past, so I took a photo of them heading up the hill- like a line of high viz ants! Then I took down the arrow and walked back to the start.

As I got there, the first runners were finishing, and it’s always amazing to see these speedy runners power up that final hill. While I was waiting for my dad and brother I chatted too a few other spectators- there was a big turnout from a Stevanage running club, and it turned out they were doing a similar thing to my club with the beginner running group doing the 5k as their “graduation” which was lovely. My dad and brother finished well, and I think they were relieved I was at a point close by so they didn’t have to wait for me. I had planned on running once I got home, but it was so cold!

I am on a running facebook group, and I posted on there about being reluctant to head back outside (it was soooooo cold) but one of my friends (who did timekeeping at parkrun that day) said “I will if you will” so I changed before I got too warm.

2015-11-21 11.04.03

I did a new route, which ended up being 3.5 miles, but my ears were so cold the whole way around they were properly aching.

2015-11-21 11.57.35

I tried some of this neat nutrition vegan protein powder, which actually tasted quite nice, but even though I used my little milk frother thing, it didn’t all mix and was very very thick. I have another packet and I might add some to porridge to see if I like it like that.

2015-11-21 18.06.23

Then I was off to London for an afternoon tea. Although they weren’t serving the festive food yet, it was decorated beautifully.

2015-11-21 14.58.03

Mmmm this was all mine!  Those crumpets (and that protein drink) were a long time ago.

2015-11-21 14.57.58

They went for the science afternoon tea (the hotel was near the Science Museum)- they did say they could make me a veggie science one, but I liked the sound of my one more. It did look eye catching with the pipettes, chocolate dinosaurs, macaroon planets and all the smoke. Our booking was 2.30 and we left just before 6! A long catch up. Then the tube was so busy we ended up walking for 10 minutes (including past Harrods with all the tourists!) to get to another stop (we would have been waiting for over 10 minutes to get into the station), and then on the overground it was so squashed because people were not moving down inside the carriage that a nice man had to shout “move in please” so I could squash in, otherwise I would have been waiting another half an hour. Phew.

This morning I was off for the 8am club run- after being so cold yesterday I wrapped up warmly- a t-shirt and thin long sleeved top, buff, ear warmers, gloves and tights. That turned out to be just right- I didn’t even take my gloves off and we ran fairly quickly- all sub 10 minute miles. I needed a tea when I got home before I could face getting undressed for a shower!

2015-11-22 09.46.47

We had to pop to town for a few jobs, and I also did a bit of baking! Hooray!

2015-11-22 15.41.18

I used my mixer to make the stollen dough and it was so much easier than kneading it by hand. We are going to see my parents later so will take one around for them.

Are you a fan of going into London? I love being close, but a day is enough!

Parkrun tourism, a windy weekend and a windy race!

Hey peeps!

I had a brilliant weekend in Brighton! We got the train late on Friday, and our hotel was right by the station so we headed straight there.

2015-11-14 08.35.54

On Saturday morning I jogged the 1.5 miles to the start of the Hove Promenade parkrun (which is a fairly new one- this was event number 17). I left way too much time, so ended up hanging around for a while before the start, sheltering from the wind by standing between some beach huts.

The team were welcoming, and the new run briefing explained the course; two laps of the promenade section, starting in the middle. It was so windy, and we starting off running into the wind which was just so tough. But I think that was the better way, as you then had the long section with the wind behind you, one long section into the wind (and as you ran past the start/finish the timer person was calling out times which was a nice touch), another long section with the wind behind you, and then the final  half length back into the wind again. It started raining gently after about 10 minutes, but as I finished this got heavier to I quickly scanned by chip and headed back to the hotel. The national results were down, so I didn’t get my time through until the afternoon, and I had no idea because I had started my watch on the run down there. Anyway, I ended up position 64/108, 27.39, which is my fastest parkrun time this year! I was impressed with that! On a side note, I wore my 50 top for the first time and love it- it’s lovely and long, the neck is a bit wide so the bra straps show, but it is so comfy and the fabric is lovely and soft.

Anyway, on my way home it started bucketing it down. I had worn a top on the way, which I tied around my waist when running, but even with that I was getting very cold, and I was near a Pret, so I popped in for a bottle of water and a hot chocolate, and then had to get the courage to go the final half mile back to the hotel. Our room only had 2 towels, so when I got back I asked for another one and the lady behind reception looked very shocked and got me 2- I was dripping all over the place!

After a shower we headed out to Cafe Coho for breakfast, and then spent the day wandering around Brighton. We had booked for dinner at Food for Friends, which was fantastic. We shared a started of tahini dips, I had the most amazing salad of sweet potato, avocado, quinoa, tomatoes, green beans, hazelnuts and feta, and Andy had a portabello burger (and lots of my feta as I am not a huge fan of that and there was loads), and then we shared sticky toffee pudding- we were so full after that and attempted a walk along the seafront but it was so windy that we changed our minds!

In the morning the alarm didn’t go off, so I woke up at 8.20- the race started at 9.30! Thankfully we had enough time to eat our Clif bar, get dressed and head down to the start. I took my long sleeved top with me to wear before and after. It was still so windy! Argh! This year the route was the same as previous years, but in reverse, so instead of heading east at the start, where it was narrow, to ease congestion we would head west towards Hove, as they use the road at that point. That made sense, but it also meant that everyone was arriving from the west, and then having to battle past the start line, bag drop and tents to then face the other way in the start pens. I think we got there with 5 minutes to spare!

2015-11-15 09.20.24

I had looked up pacing for 55 minutes, as last year I managed 55.23- it is a flat course, and in Bournemouth earlier I managed 56.07 with stomach ache (it was after lunch). This time meant 8.51 minutes for each mile, but because it was raining on and off I left the actual mile split times in my pocket as the ink would just run, and decided to try and use the km markers instead. We started off running into the wind, heading west on the road towards Hove. This was tough, but I felt OK. I looked at my watch at the km markers, but for each one I was about 10 seconds behind the 5.30 per k that I would need to get 55 minutes. But seeing as that was into the wind I was not too bothered and just wanted to get as close to it as possible. It did seem less congested than previous years, and I didn’t ever feel like I got stuck behind people (although with the wind, that would be a good thing!). At around 3km, we turned around to come back in the other direction but along the promenade instead of the road, and I tried to pick up my speed as the wind was really blowing me along (and kept smacking my pony-tail into my face). I overtook a lot of people between that and the 5k mark, where the path narrowed (as they are building the big sky tower)- again though I didn’t feel like I got stuck at all because by then the field was more spread out. At the 7k point we ran past the finish, and the speedy ones were already done- I saw a few ladies but mainly men at that point- very impressive in that weather. That next section was not so enjoyable as I had got used to the wind blowing behind so I didn’t feel like I was getting such a boost, and the final turn-around point seemed to take a while to come. I occupied myself by looking at the runners going the other way- I saw Andy heading back towards the finish. Then, the dreaded turn around point. Honestly, you think the wind has died down, and then you turn, and realise how hard it is still blowing! But at least it was only 1.5km to go. At this point I looked at my watch and realised that I had a chance to break 55 minutes, so I really dug in, and pictured my lovely run leader geeing me along, made sure I pumped my arms to help me keep going. I told myself I would try to speed up when my watch beeped for the 6 miles, but then I could not see the finish line (I was looking for an inflatable arch, which they have had in previous years, but I think maybe because of the wind they didn’t have it), so it was only when I saw the finish chute fence that I really sped up.

2015-11-15 10.28.05

The finish area was very busy- I had to stop as soon as I crossed the line because of people being in front of me. We kept being told to keep moving, but there was no-where to go. I think this was the downside of the reversed course, but also we had to turn left around a van, collect our banana, water and medal, and then were out onto a narrow section of pavement. In previous years with the finish area going in the other direction it is much longer and so did not jam up. I was very excited to see my Garmin time, but had to wait ages (until the evening- the text result didn’t come through and the website would not load for ages) before I got my official chip time- 54.53! Wooohoo! A sub 55!

2015-11-15 10.34.20

Andy took my photo (see how windy it is- the medal ribbon was flying everywhere and my ponytail was being flicked up behind me!) and then I put my top on over my vest. Then it started raining so we didn’t hang around, stopping to get a tea on the way back as we were both very cold. Andy was aiming for sub 50 and managed 48 something so it was pb’s all round! Not at all expected in that weather.

After a shower, we checked out and went to Bill’s for lunch, did a bit more shopping and the got the train home- listening to the radio 5 film podcast.

2015-11-15 19.44.15

I bought a slice of bakewell cake for us to share in the evening, but the icing fell off on our journey home! It was still tasty!

Another successful running trip to Brighton, and my final race of the year (apart from virtual runner ones) finishing with a pb!

I am sure I will be back again another year! Are there races you do again and again? What did you get up to at the weekend?

Hooray for Tribesports!

So a few weeks ago I did my 50th parkrun, and was emailed right away to be welcomed into the 50 club. I didn’t order my t-shirt right away, because we were going away. Then when we got home, I clicked on the link (it takes you to Wiggle as they stock them now) but the size I wanted was out of stock. Anyway, they emailed once it was back in, and as you have to either order something else, or pay a few pounds for postage, I got myself some winter running gloves (at the moment I have one blue and one black, one medium and one small, given to me from a warehouse clearance). Anyway, it arrived this week!

2015-11-11 07.24.31

It’s fab! All technical, plus it seems like a nice cut.

2015-11-11 07.24.45

Plus, how amazing is it that Tribesports make these (and the volunteer 25 t-shirt, and the 100 t-shirt, and the 250 t-shirt, and the 500 t-shirt….) and send them out for free to parkrunners around the world? It’s a great reminder of all those enjoyable parkruns.

2015-11-13 06.53.20

I am hoping to go to the Hove Promenade parkrun tomorrow (as we are travelling down this evening ready for the 10K on Sunday), so it shall have it’s first outing!

When I went to order it the first time, an offer popped up for Tribesports (£10 off I think) so I bought a couple of long sleeved tops. Although it has been too warm to wear them yet.

2015-11-06 18.14.23

I ordered the long sleeved tops in a medium, but the parkrun top in a small, as all the reviews said they were roomy. When I compared them, they are the same size- it did say the Tribesports tops are fitted, but that is good for when it is a bit colder. I was also sent a link to share for £10 off (the link is here) if anyone is interested.

2015-11-10 21.23.54

Also, I made my first ever cake in a mug! I used a recipe that Laura (Wholeheartedly Healthy) posted, using pumpkin, but I realised too late that I didn’t have coconut flour. I used regular flour but there was a bit too much liquid I think- I ended up cooking it for about 4 minutes. Tasty though.

What are your weekend plans? I am very excited for a weekend of parkrun, walking around Brighton, a tea latte from Bluebird, a 10k race on Sunday and just generally getting lots of fresh air. Hooray!

A lovely weekend of running

So last weekend we were home for once, and as my dad and brother were also home, they were heading to Panshanger parkrun, hooray! It has been ages since all three of us ran together as my dad has had to rest his knee for bit, and they have been away cycling. It was a Halloween theme, but as I have mentioned before, I am not a dressing up fan, and all I had was a witch hat, which was at school (locked at the weekend)- a good excuse to wear normal bits!

As I had not run for 10 days, I stayed a bit further back at the start, and it was great. I was cold at the beginning, having chosen to wear my vest (the weather said it would be 16, but I think they meant later on…) but anyway, after a mile I warmed up. I passed one of the OH ladies trying to get a sub 30 (she managed it! Hooray!) and I did think about my parkrun style. I don’t tend to go for a pb or even go flat out. I am always struggling to breathe at the end because of the final hill to the finish (it’s very steep) but then of course that is not what it is all about. I really enjoy the scenery, and waving and saying “thanks” to the marshals, and just being out in the fresh air. I could run a bit faster, but then I would not enjoy the whole run, just the split second when the text comes through. I am trying to stay under 30 mins for this course (I think I did 29.24 or something) but really I don’t mind.

That’s how you feel after the finish hill… (from their facebook page)

Anyway after that it was home for a shower and breakfast, a walk into town to return our Iceland guide book and a few other bits, soaking the fruits for the Christmas cakes…

2015-10-31 12.19.22

(And you can all remember what happened with that last Sunday…)

Onto Sunday morning, and I was off on a club run. They usually meet at 8am on a Sunday, but I don’t tend to run with them because either I want to run a specific distance, or I want to not set an alarm (even though I often wake up around 8, or just before, it would not give me enough time to get there). Anyway, we did an 8.4 mile route, with some big hills. It was very foggy, so at points I could not see the runners ahead. The route is mainly through country roads and tracks, and we all wait (well, they all waited for me) at the top of each of the three biggest hills for everyone to catch their breath. Near the end we had to cross a dual carriageway and even though it was still foggy, so many cars had no lights on, so it was hard to see them. Scary. It was an enjoyable run, nice to chat with others, and lovely to run through the countryside- I would have got lost if I had tried it on my own.

2015-11-01 11.01.28

I had pumpkin pancakes, maple butter and blueberries to warm up when I got home.

Later, I popped to town, in my massive hoody and coat (because I was cold after that run)- well, it was so hot out!

2015-11-01 15.14.02

Sainsbury’s were doing 25% off clothes and I could not resist this cute penguin jumper!

2015-11-01 19.40.21

As well as the Christmas cake baking, I made a gingerbread cake for work, although I don’t remember which recipe I used now. Sadly the tin fell over in the car (up-side down) so it looked more of a mess when it finally got to work!

I do like going away (especially for a race) but a weekend of parkrun and then a relaxed long run on Sunday is such a lovely way to spend a weekend.