From Meltdown to Marathon

Kat running in Coniston Marathon
Coniston Lake
Coniston Lake

I’ve been pretty rubbish about blogging recently, there’s been a lot going on at home and work and also it’s been hard to put into words some of the feelings I have been having whilst running.  I’ve had a bit of a black patch but I think things are looking up and so hopefully I will get back into the swing of posting more regularly in the next couple of weeks, but to tide you over until I have a chance to do some more lengthy posts, here’s a quick summary of what I have been up to.

 May 25th – BUPA 10k in London

An awesomely well organized race, not quite a PB but pretty darn fast for me (59:39).  It was a warm day but I coped well and we’ve signed up for next year’s race already

 May 31st – Lakeland Trails: Staveley 17km

A nightmare, I stupidly decided to run without music, it was hot, I struggled, I wanted to quit and almost had a complete mental meltdown.  I started too fast, had to stop at 5km to remove my ankle support because it had turned my foot numb.  At the just past halfway point I got 400m past the marshal, stopped and had a quick ponder about going back and getting them to call someone to collect me.  I was really conscious of the fact that I was the last person in the race, felt bad for the volunteers that I was keeping them standing around and pretty much hated the whole thing.  I wanted to cry a lot.

I did finish, it took me 2:36 and I was the very last person on the course. (Photos)

 June 22nd – Hitchin Hard Half Marathon

Definitely hot and definitely not easy, but I survived and wasn’t last.  I was ridiculously hot, I took walk breaks as necessary but pushed onwards even when I didn’t really feel it. No music again as headphones were on the banned list.  I hate long races where I can’t wear headphones, the evil quitty voices are much easier to hear! Official time 2:32:37

I learned that no matter how silly it looks wearing a soaked Buff on your head keeps you that little bit cooler when all around you are melting.

 July 6th – Lakeland Trails: Coniston Marathon

I loved it!  We swapped our entries from the “Race” with a 6 hour time allowance to the “Challenge” with an 8 hour time allowance and it made all the difference.  I started off with a plan to still try and hit my planned “race” splits to the aid stations and was ahead of schedule for the first 2, then the terrain got a bit harder and the weather a lot hotter and I eased off a bit.  This time I had music which really helped as for most of the course I was on my own.  I really felt pressure free knowing I had plenty of time to get round the course and there were no evil quitty voices to put me off.  I walked when I wanted to, took pictures when there was a good view (there were a lot, it was a gorgeous day and location) and I finished!  Final time 6:38:51, 50 minutes of which was me stopping at aid stations, taking photos or standing n the stream to briefly cool off. (Photos)

It was a relief to get round my first marathon with a positive outlook on running again and I hope that I can continue to put a little less pressure on myself and ensure I have fun whilst racing.

I have a half marathon this weekend, so fingers crossed I will have fun despite the predicted heat and will have a nice blog post for you next week.

Race report: Women’s Running 10k, River Lee Country Park

River Lee
Keep breathing
Keep breathing

When the new dates for the Women’s Running 10k series were announced I was pleased to see a new addition to the list with their first event of the series at Lee River Country Park. This was billed as a flat course (hopefully flatter than the allegedly flat Finsbury Park course!) and I decided to use this as an opportunity for a PB ahead of the BUPA 10k later this month. I had finished Finsbury Park in 65:17 but my training has been going well & I recently put in a fast 5km at Chelmsford parkrun so my runcoach prediction for 10km was sitting at 60:15. Not really trusting the course flatness I decided that I’d be really pleased with 61:00 if I could do it and my plan was to use the 60 minute pacer they had provided to make sure I was close to my goal.
We got to the race with 15 minutes so spare having driven up (& round in circles to find the event) from Gunpowder Park parkrun, as I felt it was a bit mean for The Boyf to miss out on a run and a parkrun t-shirt point given there was one so close. A quick loo stop and I joined the start pen slightly back from the 60 pacer, I didn’t want to go off too fast and decided if I took things easy and kept her in sight all would be good.

image sprint finish
Sprint finish

I was also testing out gels again and had taken a Key Lime Accel Gel (4:1 carb:protein ratio) with my coffee before we left and then I took a Passion Fruit Push in the start pen. The plan being that I would be nicely topped up and able to give everything I wanted to in the race.
We counted down and we were off bang on 10:00. I shuffled through the start, hit start on my Garmin and we were off. Determined to take things easy in the first kilometre, I made sure I stuck to a gentle jog and didn’t feel under any strain, that said a couple of glances at my Garmin showed me sitting around 5:55-6:05 pace and I started to make up ground on the 60 pacer. By about 800m I was starting to find it a bit frustration sitting in the group behind her, I felt penned in and was having to concentrate to much on my strides to avoid clipping other runners. I decided that it was going to be better for me to run at my natural pace for the day and so gently eased past around the 1km mark. The course was 2 laps mostly run on path with some grass around the start/finish zone and

image still sprinting
Still sprinting

I decided to take the first lap at a comfortable pace to get to know the course and identify any tricky bits for lap 2. It lived up to its promise though and except for some slight inclines onto and off bridges it was a pretty flat course. The first water station was at about 3.5km but already having some grape nuun with me I skipped that and kept pushing on. I felt really good on the first lap and The Boyf was definitely surprised to see me coming round to the half-way point so quickly, and ahead of the 60 pacer too. I tried to keep the same steady pace going for lap 2 and so kept focused on my breathing and keeping fast even strides. It started to feel harder at around the 7km mark but by now I was determined to finish sub60, all I had to do was keep going and if the 60 pacer caught me then I’d just have to stick with her and hang on. I stayed strong though, grabbed a water as I went past the drink stop and managed to cool my hands and de-salt my face. I get very hot when running and if I feel like I am over-hearing then panic sets in and that’s not good. Still focusing on my breathing I kep pushing forward and it was great to see the 9km marker. I was still comfortably ahead of the pace group, I could hear them periodically but knew they weren’t right on my tail and just kept thinking of the finish, then we hit the 200m marker which involved a short climb up to and over the bridge and then a run in to the finish on grass. As we hit the bridge I picked up the pace, I wanted to get over it ahead of the 2 women just ahead of me, I did that and then pushed on for a sprint finish across the grass. I managed to overtake 3 more women as we headed for the line so was really happy with that.

Thank goodness that’s done! #newPB

By the time I had collected my medal, t-shirt and goody bag I had received my text with my official finish time of 58:48…..PB smashed! To say I am pleased would be an understatement, when I hoped to get 60:00 for this run it felt realistic but it all seemed to come together on the day and I never felt that I over-strained myself (shown by the fact that I didn’t have to take any walk breaks to lower my heart-rate). I think that fuelling with the gels beforehand helped, because I normally train fasted my body must feel like it gets a special treat when I fuel and it obviously makes the most of it. I’ll continue to train the way I do because it means that I know I can do it when I’m empty and I won’t panic if I don’t manage to eat pre-race. Then when I give myself a pre-race treat I know it’s going to make me even better.
Tomorrow I’m running a half marathon but will be treating it as a Long Slow Run not a race (at least that’s my intention now, who can tell what will happen in the morning).

Garmin stats (pretty stoked with 85th)

Two races, one PB and very tired legs

Wimpole PB

I’m a bit late in posting this as it’s been a hectic few weeks with work, trying to get my latest OU assignment done and general laziness but a couple of weekend’s ago I had a mad Saturday of running. I’m not sure what was going on in my mind when I suggested that in addition to doing the Glow in the Park 10km race in the evening, we also do our usual 5km parkrun in the morning. Anyway The Boyf thought it was a great idea and so we headed off to Wimpole Estate first thing, it was a bit nippy but after a quick warm-up we were ready to run (parkrunners don’t race – well we do but only ourselves). I had decided that I was going to aim for a new PB on the course, so had set myself up with Zombies to escape from and had also pre-programmed my Garmin with split times to aim for (making sure I factored in the hill of doom in kilometre 2). The run went well, I walked the hill but managed to maintain my planned ace for most of the course, with only a couple of sneaky walk breaks, The Boyf was waiting for me at the last bend and paced me to a fast finish . I think I surprised him actually as I kept gaining on him but not quite enough to pick off the guy in front of me. I had a feeling that I had snuck in a new PB but it wasn’t until I received my text a couple of hours later that I knew just how well I had done having finished in 30:36. I had shaved 23 seconds off my best time at Wimpole, and even beaten the time I had set at Ashford parkrun (a fairly flat, tarmac course) by 2 seconds. To say I was pleased would be an understatement!

Wimpole PB

I spent the afternoon in recovery mode (napping), and then we kitted up again before heading over to Box End in Bedford where they were running their first Glow in the Park race. This was to be a 5km or 10km race in the pitch black armed only with LED leg bands, glow sticks and head torches. A couple of snowboarding friends had joined us and it was a really fun idea to bring us together in a slightly different setting for a catch-up.

93rd at Glow in the Park
The race started and we were off. I have to admit my legs were feeling pretty heavy and once we reached the undulating section I did put in a few walk breaks on the ups. It was a really strange feeling running in the dark, especially once the field had spread out and I was running on my own in a little bubble of light. Thankfully I had splurged a bit when I bought the head torches and as The Boyf put it, “it was like running with a lighthouse on my head”. If you are in the market for a head-torch with a strong, adjustable beam (and rechargeable battery) then I can highly recommend the LED Lenser SEO7R. It was so bright even other runners commented on how good it was. The race was two loops, and coming to the end of the first I was seriously considering quitting, I was tired, grumpy and if I am honest a bit scared (it really is eery running in the pitch black). Luckily for me they looped the 10km runners round before they passed near the actual finish so I dug deep and ploughed onwards. In the end I kept up a mix of running and walking and came through to finish in 93rd position in 69:27, not my best time but not bad for my second run on the day in tricky conditions. It was a really good day of running, hardwork but it left me with a feeling of achievement. Now I just need to set a new flat-course parkrun PB so I have something to aim for when I am next back at Wimpole.