Race Review: Tewkesbury Half Marathon

I last ran the Tewkesbury Half Marathon in 2008; it was unseasonably hot, so hot in fact that the organisers ran out of water, and I had possibly the worst run that I’ve ever experienced. To compound matters, it was my husband’s first Half Marathon and I was DETERMINED to beat him; I didn’t and I spent the evening in pain vowing never to run the Tewkesbury Half again. Fast forward eight years, I returned to Tewkesbury and this time, it was personal! This year, my sole aim was to banish those demons from yesteryear and send them back to the abyss where they belong.

Since 2008 lots of things have changed about the race including the organisers and the course. One thing that had not changed however was the weather! Throughout the week, I checked the BBC weather forecast with more frequency than a lovesick teenager checking their phone. It looked perfect; high’s of 12ºC, no wind, slightly cloudy at the start, perfection. It was not meant to be, and place of a slightly overcast, dry spring day we had glorious sunshine. My nemesis, the Sun, had returned!

Race information

  • Where: Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire
  • When: 12th May 2016
  • Distance: 13.1 miles
  • Weather: Sunny and hot.

Swag

The swag was awesome, especially as it was a small race. After a determined sprint finish, I was presented with a chunky medal, a really nice technical t-shirt and a bottle of water. Apparently there was also someone handing out Twix bars, but in my slightly dehydrated state, I missed those.

Support/Marshalling

The whole race was well supported by both members of the public and marshalls which really helped (especially up the hill at mile 8). The new course takes in far more of the town than I remember which allows spectators to get around the course to cheer the runners on. For the final mile, the course cuts back into town and the residents of Tewkesbury were out in force, it was lovely to be cheered on by so many people in such a small race. In hindsight, I am very glad I put my name on my club vest!

This was not a closed road race, and the marshalls  had a tough job of keeping the traffic moving while also keeping the runners safe, and I think they did a fab job. If anyone from Tewkesbury Half Marathon is reading, thank you for a great race.

Scenery

Now, I have to admit, I don’t think that I could tell you where the course went as for the majority of the race I was fixated on my Garmin. However, one thing that I can remember was how pretty the course was. Tewkesbury itself is beautiful, and the little villages that surround it look like they have been plucked from the lid of a chocolate box. Breedon in particular.

 

Breedon

 

The course was relatively flat with the exception of a long drag up from miles 6.5 to 8, and if it had been slightly cooler, I think I would have been close to a PB. It certainly has the potential to be a very fast route.

Organisation

I am a seasoned pro when it comes to internet shopping, yet I still managed to screw up entering the race online. I am still not sure how I managed it! However, after a couple of emails to the race organisers, everything was ironed out.

This seamless organisation continued throughout the event.Mike and I arrived at the Tewkesbury Rugby Club around 8.45am (an hour and a bit before the start of the race) and picked our numbers up after a quick pit stop. Collecting our numbers was really easy as they had lots of people on the desk and were getting people in and out nice and quickly.

With around 40 mins to go to the start of the race, and after I had slathered every inch of visible skin with factor 50 suncream we stowed our bags in the luggage area and headed to the start. The race started promptly at 10am and as it was a small field, it took me only 14 seconds to cross the start line.

 

Course

As I mentioned earlier, the course was very scenic and there seemed to be a lot of support out on the course. Looking back, I don’t really remember any large sections where there were no supporters at all, unlike in Manchester where miles 20-24 were very sparse.

The route itself is relatively flat, with the exception of a long drag up between miles 6.5 and 8. It was one of those annoying inclines that don’t look like much but you can tell in your legs that you are going uphill. On the plus side, miles 8-10 are downhill all the way!

The course was not closed to traffic, which was fine for the majority of the run once the runners had spread out. However, as we crossed over the motorway by Morissons, some cars appeared to be ignoring the marshalls and the runners had to weave between the cars trying to overtake them.This brings me on to the first of only two criticisms of the race, and I know this will be controversial; but in an OPEN road race such as this, headphones really should be banned.

My only other minor criticism of the race would be the spacing between the water stops. It was a very warm day, and thankfully the water was provided in bottles, however, the water stops were front loaded with more stops in the first half than the second. Water was available at 2.5, 5 and 7, and then a three-mile gap until 11. I probably should have remembered this from the course map, but I forgot and took my second gel at mile 10. This meant that I was absolutely gasping for a drink by the time I got to the final water stop at mile 11. It would have been nicer to have the first water stop slightly later which would have then reduced the gap between the third and fourth water stops.

Neither of these things detracted from the day, and I will definitely be back to try for a faster time next year.

Getting there and getting back:

My husband is from Tewkesbury, so I did have a little inside knowledge when it came to where to park. This made getting to and from the race very easy indeed.

Verdict:

It wasn’t a particularly good race for me, but that was more due to my refusal to adapt my race plan on account of the heat (stubborn runs in the family). The race itself though is well organised, well supported and on a very nice course.

Advertisements

A spectators view of the London Marathon (part 2)

(Read Part 1 here)

Race-a-runner!

In 2011 when I ran the Marathon, my sister and my Dad came down to support me and managed to miss me all along the course. I eventually saw my Dad at Mile 21 only to miss them all again at the finish, so I knew that it was going to be tough to see Mike on-course, but I was determined to try.

This year, I thought, I had technology on my side! Prior to the Marathon, London Marathon released an app that would let spectators like me track their respective runners around the course. It started very well, and by the time the last runner crossed the line the little blue dot that represented my husband was already bobbing around the two-mile mark. The race was on! Unfortunately, I think the London Marathon organisers underestimated the popularity of their app, as Mike bobbed around the 2-mile mark for a number of hours after then. In fact, one of my other friends I was tracking never left the start line.

Nevertheless, I knew that time was not on my side. I had promised Mike I would try and get to the pre-agreed Strider Cheering Spot at Mile 12. I now had lost 30 mins and was still in the start area. Some quick maths said I had around an hour to get across London to Tower Bridge, which would be tough, but do-able.

Getting to Greenwich was easy, it was about a mile walk from the Blue Start through the very picturesque Greenwich park. As I picked my way through a sea of discarded running clothing, I was suddenly told to get off the road; the lorries were coming through.

This was the second good thing about being a spectator, I got a glimpse into the back-end organisation of a running event. As I jumped onto the pavement, I turned back to see a police motorcade worthy of any visiting dignitary. Behind the 3 rows of police outriders, complete with lights and sirens, and in front of the back marking police car with two more police motorcycles, was a convoy of lorries. I recognised them immediately, the runner’s luggage was getting a police escort all the way to the Mall. It made me feel strangely proud.

As I mulled over the project management that must go into pulling off the London Marathon, I suddenly became aware of the sound of a crowd. The crowd and the spectators at London are legendary. Ask any runner and they will talk about the wall of sound that follows you around the famous course. Until Sunday,I did not realise just how loud the crowd was; the sound I could hear from half way down Greenwich Park hill was the roar of the crowd at the Cutty Sark. That was the first of many “lump in throat” moments of the day.

I didn’t have time to dwell, by this point I was sure that Mike was at the Cutty Sark, so I was way behind and had some serious catching up to do if I wanted to see him at Mile 12.

Cue my second naive moment of the day. In hindsight, I think that Mike and I arrived at Tower Bridge around the same time, unfortunately, I had wildly underestimated the number of people that would be at Tower Bridge. When I arrived, the crowd was three people deep in the sparsest of places. I know there were runners there as I could see the top of their heads, but even standing on my tippy-toes I could not see their faces. It was hopeless, even if I was in time, there was no way that I would ever be able to see him come through.

I made an executive decision to give up and go straight to Mile 23, our second pre-approved meetup place. I hoped that I would be there soon enough to get a good vantage point.

By this stage, I’d had enough of the tube. Some rudimental maths in my head told me I had around an hour and 10 mins until he would be coming through Mile 23 so I had time to walk down. Getting between the two was actually really easy, and I soon found myself positioned on Upper Thames Street just opposite a jazz band dressed as chickens! In fact, I got there soon enough to see the back of the elite race come through.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
My very picturesque walk to mile 23

A sneaky call to my parents confirmed that Mike had passed through the 30km marker, so I knew that he was close and I was determined to see him. So I found a spot and fixed my sights firmly on the growing dribble of runners starting to form. I saw a couple of Striders and a very fast banana before I saw Mike.

There is a quote from Katherine Switzer which says,

“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.”

After Sunday, I now understand this quote a little more. It is amazing how a sporting event can bring people together. It was very touching to be part of it. The runners I saw coming through before and shortly after Mike were awe inspiring. They were the best of the best, running faster at mile 23 than I will probably ever run while looking like they have barely broken a sweat. I suffered from some serious running envy and it has spurred me on to work on my speed and try and get faster.

I saw Mike come through shortly after the 3:15 pacers, and I spotted him before he saw me. In fact, I almost had to jump in front of him for him to see me. But he did see me and apparently it gave him a boost. I now  just needed to try and beat him to the Mall.

The End

As I got off the tube at Embankment station it was time for another sneaky call to my parents to find out where he was. The answer? He was cruising around the final corner, past the Victoria fountain and onto the Mall. The race was still on. I was in sight of the Mall by now and I knew that he would have some time to wait before he could filter out into Horseguards.

He finished in a PB time of 3:17 which is just phenomenal, I am one very proud wife.

Before we started, Mike reiterated that whatever happened, I had to be at the end. So I was on a mission to get to “S” before he did. Thankfully it took him longer to filter from the finish than I expected, so I made it with time to spare.

Standing in the finishers area, it gave me a chance to admire the sheer magnitude of the event once more. One million finishers in its 35-year history. Given the events enduring popularity with runners of all abilities I wonder how long it will take to surpass the 2 million mark. I imagine less than 35 years, but I look forward to finding out.

Happy Running

Helen xx

A spectators view of the London Marathon (part 1)

I have only ever been to the London Marathon once before. It was 2011 and I was one of the 30,000+ runners lining up on the start line to attempt the 26.2-mile course. My personal experience was one of pure joy (with the exception of mile 24-25 which still haunts me to this day). I knocked 30 mins off my PB and my London Marathon PB of 5:06:23 stood for 4 years until it was beaten.

This year, I was in London in an entirely different capacity; this year I was supporting my husband in his first London Marathon. Out of the two of us, I think I was the most excited about the prospect of the London Marathon. He was not concerned about the marathon at all (this was number 3, so he was well prepared); he was more concerned about all  the people. He hates long races and only applied because I did. Either way, he got in and I was determined to be the best support system ever for the day.

The Expo

The weekend started with a trip down to ExCel for the London Marathon Expo. I don’t understand why, out of all the Exhibition Centres in London, they insist on using ExCel; it’s a pain to get to and involves a long and tortuous journey for everyone who doesn’t fly in.

My dislike of the venue aside, the Expo itself is fabulous. Although we weren’t there that long (we still had our suitcases with us) I think we went around most of the stands. I had to be very strict on myself so that I didn’t spend too much money. In the end, my biggest “purchase” was signing up to sponsor another Guide Dog puppy.

We had to leave promptly as we still had our suitcases with us, but Mike and I both agreed, next time one of us gets into the Marathon we will come down on the Friday rather than the Saturday. That way we can happily explore the Expo without having to cart around all of our weekend gear!

For Mike, one of the outstanding points of the whole Marathon weekend  was the organisation of the whole event. The London Marathon is run with military precision and the Expo is the first time that you will experience this.

Pre- Start

After a very leisurely breakfast, we made our way down to the Lewisham Station to take the train to Blackheath (one stop away) and the Blue Start. By this point, I think my excitement levels were far higher than my husbands. We have very different pre-race strategies. I am a pre-race panicker and want to be on the start line nice and promptly. This is why on Great North Run day I often arrive at the start around 8:30 even though the race doesn’t start until 10:45. On the other hand, Mike would happily rock up with only half an hour to go

When I ran it in 2011, I remember the train not stopping at stations nearer the start because it was full. We passed platform after platform of runners, and this year, I was determined that we would not be one of those people. This is why Mike and I arrived at the start at 8:30am, one and a half hours before the official start time. Oops….

101_0495.JPG
The Blue Start at Blackheath

Blackheath itself is beautiful. We stayed in Lewisham, only one and a half miles away but definitely has a “city” feel. Yet Blackheath feels more like a sleepy country village than a suburb on the edge of one of the world’s busiest cities. As a spectator, I got to appreciate the tranquillity of the place, rather than having to worry about trying to find a toilet, dumping my bag etc….

After I left Mike I went to find a good place on the start line to cheer the runners on and caught the start of the Elite Women. WOW, they can run!

The Start

After cheering the start of the Elite Women and the IPC Marathon runners, the countdown was on for the Elite Men and the Mass start. I had my camera and my cheering voice ready. There were 13 Spa Striders in total racing at London not including Mike, so I was on the lookout for a green and red vest as well as Mike’s Cancer Research one.

I was, however, a little naive thinking that I would ever see anyone. The runners flooded the streets of Blackheath with the ferocity of a damn breaking. A never ending stream of luminous coloured vests crisscrossing across London on their way to the Mall. Half an hour later, as the last runner went by,  I started the second phase of my spectating journey, trying to get across London to see Mike on the course.

101_0504.JPG
Here they come!!

This post was so long (almost 2000 words) so I split it into two posts. Read the second post here

 

A touch of the post marathon blues

Since the Manchester Marathon,  I have suffered from a touch of the “Post-Marathon Blues”. I had been training for so long and the 10th April 2016 was burned into every facet of my consciousness (and if my dreams are anything to go by, my subconscious as well). So it is not surprising that, after a disappointing race, I felt a little deflated.

This does not sit particularly well with me, as “deflated” is not my natural go-to emotion. Unnerved by my current funk and unsure as to how to bounce out of it, I did what any self-respecting grown-up would do; I asked my Mum.   Unfortunately, not being a runner, she came up blank, so I Googled it.

Apparently the post marathon blues (or post-race blues) are a real and documented thing, and there are loads of helpful articles on how to regain your running mojo. Knowing that I was not the only person to feel a little blue after the event, did actually make me feel better. What’s more, alongside the advice were some practical actions that I could complete to banish my blues and regain my positivity.


My plan for getting over the Post-Marathon Blues

There were many different sites that focussed on helping you to get over your post-marathon slump. These were the most common suggestions.

  • Rest

Yup, done that, although not from choice. Another reason why this week has been so shitty is because I have been in pain from Sunday. The Marathon has rendered my left foot almost unusable, due to two very painful (and now, very manky) blisters on a couple of my toes. Currently, the only way to describe my little toe is mangled. So after a week of being called “hop-along” by my every so supportive work colleagues, I have had enough rest. It sucks.

  • Sign up for another race.

For me, this one was easy. Prior to the Manchester Marathon, I had already pencilled in the Swansea Half Marathon as my next big target. It is currently 11 weeks away, so plenty of time (I hope) to gain some speed and attempt a sub 2-hour half. Swansea holds a lot of memories for me. It was my university town, it is the place I met my husband, and it was the place I first discovered the joy of running. If any race is going to snap me out of my current doldrums, this is it.

  • Carry out a race postmortem

Yeah, not so great at this. As I said, I am a “do-er” and really like the internal audit, but in this case, I know exactly where I went wrong. I went out too fast and I didn’t do enough long runs, both of which should be an easy fix for next time

  • Join a club

Done that, and loving it!


In the spirit of finding positives amongst the negatives, it is actually refreshing to be disheartened by a 4:48 marathon time. I completed my first marathon  in 5:45 and, until London 2011, my fastest marathon was a 5:30. In fact, the London PB of 5:06:23 stood for 4 years before I broke it in Chester last year.

I will be putting up a race review of Manchester in due course, but I need to get back in the swing of running before I do.

Has anyone else ever suffered from the post-race blues, and if so, how did you manage to get over them?

Happy Running

Helen xx

T-minus 12 hours

In 12 hours time, I will be on my way. The marathon will have started and I will find out exactly how the last 16 weeks of training have gone. I am feeling nervous, but I am also feeling strong. I realise that I owe you two weeks of round ups and I will tackle that tomorrow; for now I just want to say Good Luck to everyone running a marathon tomorrow. Go out and give it your all!

Personally, I am feeling good. I had an awesome run on Wednesday and just hope I can replicate in the race what i can achieve in training. Also, this is my first race outing for my new club vest…. And I want to do it proud!

  
I’ll update you all once I have crossed the line. But for now, goodnight and happy running!

Helen xx

Knee-rly there! 

From a running perspective, this week has been absolute shocker. I should have been up to 40 miles but have barely managed 14. Why? My body seems to be falling apart and I am starting to panic.

Annoyingly the start of the week was fantastic with an excellent run with the running club on Monday, but then a couple of old injuries have resurfaced in the form of a stabbing pain in my right knee and hamstring. These little niggles brought an unscheduled end to a couple of runs mid week leaving me thoroughly annoyed and grumpy.

Normally, I would just try and power on through, but I am very aware that my race is not that far away now and I really don’t want to do anything now that will hurt my chances of completing it. Also,  I took the power on through option last year and ended up spending a lot of money on a physiotherapist and having 7 weeks of enforced rest during which I missed two races and was a joy* to be around.

Clearly, that is something I do not want to repeat, so I have rested for a few days and developed a love/hate relationship with my foam roller. Foam rolling is great and I fully appreciate the benefits, but bloody hell it’s painful. I was rolling my IT band on Thursday night and the pain brought tears to my eyes. It was excruciating.

I was feeling a lot better on Sunday so I thought a long run was in order to blow away the cobwebs. The less said about that run the better! It was a “run to be forgotten”. My knee started playing up almost immediately thanks to my chosen course being slightly more undulating than I expected. Unfortunately, as I had not been out properly since Monday, my stubborn side came out in force and I willed myself to continue. I managed just shy of 12 miles in total, but it was embarrassingly slow and  by the time I got back, I was in agony. I am my own worse enemy at times.

Here’s to a better week next week!

Happy running

Helen xx

* I thought I was managing it OK, those that have to spend time with me thought otherwise. Oops.

Race Review: Spring Shakespeare Half Marathon

No, the header image today is not some child’s feeble attempt to draw an aeroplane on gb.mapometer or map my run. It is in fact, the course for the Raceways Spring Shakespeare Half Marathon which was held at Long Marston airfield on Saturday 12th March.

Weather wise it was the perfect running day, the kind of day that you dream about, and wish for, before any race. It was warm but not too warm (around 12°C), sunny, and dry with no wind.

For those that are not familiar with the Raceways set up, there were four races taking place on Saturday, a 5K (one lap), 10k (2 laps) a Half Marathon (4 laps + an out and back loop) and, for the mentally toughest runners only, a Marathon ( 8 1/2 laps).

Race information

  • Where: Long Marston Airfield, Stratford
  • When: 12th March 2016
  • Distance: 13.1 miles (my Garmin registered 13.31 though)
  • Weather: Sunny and calm!

Swag

It is a very small race so the finishing pack was limited, but saying that I still got a medal, a banana  and a bottle of water. There was also a plentiful supply of biscuits and chocolate I could have helped myself to, but as I gave up sugar for lent I passed on the opportunity!

Support/Marshalling

Marshalling at this race is always excellent. There was a very enthusiastic marshall at every turning on the point cheering you on, and as you entered the finishing straight (or start of the next lap) there was a mass of spectators and finishers cheering you on.

The support levels dwindled as the race went on, and people left the area, but the marshalls’ enthusiasm was boundless.

Scenery

There is no way to sugar coat it; it’s a boring course but then four laps of the most picturesque park would get dull by the end. The course may be boring but you don’t run the Raceways events for the scenery, you run them for the flat, traffic free course and excellent PB potential.

Organisation  

The organisation was excellent. I entered online last year, and received many emails since then letting me know about the plans for the day. In the week before the race I received an email with a full race information pack with timings and directions of how to get there.

No numbers are sent out in advance for Raceways events, and all race numbers have to be picked up in advance. The organisation team is very clear in their pre race emails that registration for all events closes at 9.30am, and they mean it! The registration process itself was smooth and pain free, and within a few minutes of arriving, I had my number and was ready to go. Simples!

Course

The course was slightly different this time around as it was run in reverse meaning that what was the finishing straight previously was now the starting straight. As Saturday was a phenomenally calm day, this made little to no different, but on a windier day, this change means that the wind will be with you, rather than against you.

Another change was that the starts for each of the distances we’re staggered and that the additional loops required for the half marathon and marathon were run first. Once this loop was over I was free to concentrate on getting around my four laps. I have run the Raceways Half Marathon before in 2014 and did the 10km race last year, so I knew what I was getting myself into, but it was still tough. The first three laps were fine, but the final one was tortuous. I don’t know how the marathon runners do it. You honestly couldn’t pay me to do the marathon course; 81/2 laps? I’d go insane.

Getting there and getting back:

As the run is held within the confines of Long Marston airfield, getting in and out is easy. The race offers copious amounts of free parking for all competitors, and as each of the distances finish at different times, there are no bottlenecks when leaving.

Verdict:

Top marks! I didn’t  manage to crack my PB this time around, but I had a lot of fun trying. My failure was more down to my piss poor pacing rather than the race, I learnt as I started my final lap that I can run 10 miles at my ideal half marathon pace, but not 13.1! The organisation was impeccable and I will be back in the Summer for another PB attempt!

Join the club!

This week just gone has been very exciting for me. Firstly I would like to say a big “Thank You” and “Hello” to all my new followers. It is great to know that I am not talking to myself on here!

It has also been an exciting week for me running wise, because on Monday 7th March, I joined the Spa Striders running group; something I NEVER thought I would do.

I have been running for many years and until last year, I would swear blind that I hated running with other people. That all changed in November 2015 when my husband and I went on holiday to Club La Santa, Lanzarote where I discovered the benefit and enjoyment of running wth others, especially people that were just that little bit faster than me. Since then, I have been looking for the right club to join and on Monday, I went for my first club run.

Since then, I have been looking for the right club to join and on Monday, I went for my first club run. I wasn’t particularly good, I was feeling very stiff from my 18 miler, on Sunday, and I struggled to keep up on the hills, but overall my average for the run was faster than it would have been on my own. I left the club after the run wishing I had joined years ago. I am back at the club on Monday and I cannot wait!

The rest of the week was fairly standard with an 8 mile run on the Wednesday and then a half marathon race on the Saturday.

The half marathon was at Long Marston Airfield and consisted of 4 laps of a 5km course and a 1km out and back loop. I was looking forward to this race having set a 10km PB on the same route in November last year, so I was convinced that this was going to be a fast time. I will post a full race review later in the week, but for now, I can tell you this with some certainty. I can run 10 miles at my ideal half marathon pace; I can’t run 13.1.

That race ended up the week for me as my Sunday run was replaced with going to the cinema to see London Has Fallen. Having seen the film, I wish I had gone for a run!

Until next time, happy running!

Helen xx

(Just as an aside; if you have never heard of Club La Santa, then it is sports heaven for fitness lovers. It is a purpose built sports retreat in the north of Lanzarote and just amazing. Google it!)

Race review: Coventry Half Marathon

On a very cold and crisp winter’s morning in February, I, along with  around 5,000 other runners made the early morning trek to Coventry for the Decathlon Half Marathon. With the high of the day barely reaching 4°C the  overriding word of the day was COLD! As we lined up for the start, I was beginning to regret my decision to wear shorts; half way around as I went up the hill into a headwind, I definitely regretted wearing them. However, that did not spoil what was a very good and very well supported race around the Coventry countryside.

Race information

  • Where: Coventry
  • When: 28th February 2015
  • Distance: 13.1 miles
  • Weather: Cold and dry

Swag

IMG_7168
The contents of my Goodie Bag!
As I crossed the line I was immediately wrapped up in a foil blanket and presented with a chunky medal and an overflowing goodie bag, full of food. What more could a runner want?

I stupidly gave up sugar for Lent, so I cannot eat the majority of this. But they are in the cupboard ready for me to enjoy after Easter.

Support/Marshalling

I have run a lot of half marathons and the on-course support was up there with the big city races. There were so many people about, bands on the course and a superfluity of running clubs with their flags screaming their support as we climbed up yet another hill.  As we ran into Allesely Village we were met by a brass band and carnival atmosphere, which was very appreciated at the top of the hill. A particular mention has to be made to the group at mile 2 (which was also mile 12) who were handing out oranges to runners as they came past and urging us all on. How they all managed to maintain their enthusiasm on such a cold day is beyond me.

Water stops were frequent and well manned, and water was served in bottles rather than cups which is always preferable in my experience. I don’t know about you, but I tend to wear more than I drink when the water is provided in a cup!

Unfortunately, marshalling was one area where this race let itself down. There seemed to be a lot of support, but very few marshalls monitoring the course. At one point in the course, between miles 8 and 9, there was a short out and back loop to make up the distance. At most races there is a marshall at the top and a timing mat at the bottom to stop the more unscrupulous runners from dramatically shortening their race. Coventry had none of these, and I saw a couple of runners straight line the corner and in doing so knock a mile off their race. I know that this doesn’t impact me in any way, but it irritates me nonetheless!

Scenery

Surprisingly scenic! Who knew the suburbs of Coventry were so picturesque? I didn’t and I lived there for 2 1/2 years! 

Organisation  

The race started in Festival village which is not a very large area of Coventry and it felt very cramped with so many people around. It was so busy in fact that I lost my husband and didn’t see him again until after the race. Even though it as cramped, the start area did need some more toilets. Having arrived very early and after the parking kerfuffle, I needed the loo. Unfortunately, the queue was very long by this point and it took me nearly 25 mins to actually get to use one, by which time I was running to the start to make it to the pen in time.

Course

Hilly.  The course went up hill out of Coventry for around 8 miles before turning back towards town. There were two very steep hills between 5&6 and 7-8, but physics dictates that what goes up must come down and the final 5 miles of downhill were pure bliss. 

Getting there and getting back

The less said about the parking situation the better. I am not going to incriminate myself by admitting to where I parked, but I was pleasantly surprised not to find a ticket or a clamp on my car when I returned. Next time, I am getting the train!

Verdict:  

 Amazing support, great, but challenging route. Organisation needs improving and a timing mat on the little loop at mile 8 wouldn’t go amiss. However, those little niggles do not detract from what is an excellent race. I’ll be back, but next time I’ll go for tights not shorts! 

Weekly round up: 28th February

Since my last update,  my training had got better, until post run Friday (19th Feb) when I succumbed to the plague that has blighted the office for the last month. Oh how I love open plan offices. Unfortunately, this particular lurg was not at all conducive to an effective training regime.

Monday and Tuesday were out of the question, not just because I felt like death, but also because I was suddenly incapable of staying awake beyond 7pm. Wednesday, I did feel a little better so went out for my first run of the week, a gentle 7.5 mile wander around Rugby. One thing to note about Wednesday evening; it was COLD. It was 2°C when I went out and was literally freezing by the time I got back. While I was running I felt fine, and the cold weather seemed to be helping my breathing that was impacted by the cold.

Unfortunately, Thursday was not so great; and at lunchtime (after spending the majority of the morning coughing, sneezing and wiping everything I touched with hand sanitiser) I was persuaded by my colleagues that I would be better off at home.

Luckily I was back up to peak physical fitness by the weekend, which was fortuitous as I was entered into the Coventry Half Marathon, and I am now ready and raring to go for the week ahead.

Talking of which, here is my ambitious plan for the week. Find out next Monday how it went!

  • Monday: Recovery Run 5 miles
  • Wednesday: 9 miles including 4 x 1 mile at marathon pace
  • Thursday: Rowing (land based)
  • Friday: 10 miles including 7 mile threshold run
  • Saturday: Rowing (water based)
  • Sunday: 20 miles steady (aiming for 10 minute miles)

Happy Running

Helen xx