Race Report: Tricera-TROT

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In 2016, by this point in the year I think I’d run about 10 races altogether, this year, I’ve run zero, until today.  Injury put paid to a few events i’d signed up for early on, and then I’d gotten out-of-the-way of running, but also didn’t want to pay to sign up for more races I couldn’t do.  However, earlier on in the year I noticed that Phoenix Running were putting on a series of three dinosaur based races, one of which fell on my birthday, so I had to sign up.  I’ve run a couple of their races in the past, the Top Gun run being one of my favourites.  The race follows a standard format – it’s a timed 6-hour event, and you can run a minimum of 1 lap (3.28 miles) or as many as you can eek out in the 6-hour time limit.  Today I just went for one lap; I’m out of practice.

The race is run a towpath which runs along the side of the Thames in a lovely town called Walton-on-Thames.  I always enjoy driving up past some stunning houses, vowing to buy on if I ever win big on the lotto.  Except day the satnav let me on a merry dance all over the bloody shop, and I made it to registration with about 10 mins to spare before the race was due to start.  It’s a fairly relaxed set-up though, so no dramas.  I have to say it was a beautiful day today, crisp, fresh air and the towpath was in great condition with only a couple of muddy bits underfoot.  We set off at 9:30, and I just stayed towards the back and settled into a run/walk of 2:00/0:45.  I’d been for a 2 mile run on Saturday, so just wanted to take it easy as life has been so manic and stressful in the last couple of months that I’ve let the running slip, so just wanted to enjoy it today.  All the way out until the turnaround point I was wondering whether to make it 10K for the day and do another lap, but in the end I decided not to as my right hamstring/glutes are very tight and have been bothering me somewhat lately (the same hamstring I tore last year, albeit a small tear!).  The upshot of it is that I REALLY need to start working on glue activation and hip mobility to sort this issue out once and for all, so i’ve found a set of exercises I can do daily for the next month to gradually build up mobility and strength which will help the running and hopefully prevent injury.

So today wasn’t about setting any records time-wise, but just about starting back at it with the Cotswolds Tri flitting about in my mind as my ultimate goal for next year.  The tri is in early August, so I’ve got a training plan set up and ready to go from March.  In the interim it’s just about building up each discipline so I’m comfortably doing a good amount of training every week.  I like running over winter (just as well), so today felt like a good gentle start, and was a nice way to herald in my 42nd year of life!

Final scores on the doors: 3.3 miles in 41:01.  A good target to beat 🙂  The medals from Phoenix Running are always great, and today’s was no exception.  The dinosaur in the middle also doubles as a fridge magnet 😀 but for now it’s hanging with all of last year’s medals, just so it doesn’t feel too lonely!

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Race Report: A Day at the Movies

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Waking up at 3am the night before a race with raging period pain, feeling as if your entire insides are about to make a wholesale break for freedom is never the best prep in the world.  However, thanks to the miracle that is loads of painkillers, I’d made it to the start of Phoenix Running’s ‘A Day at the Movies’.  Throughout the year they’ve laid on a number of 6 hour events based around famous films.  My first race with Phoenix was in fact the Top Gun run.  As it turns out, they had a few medals left from a number of the runs, so decided to put on a charity event today, where the remaining medals would be doled out.  You had to pick your first, second and third choices of medal, so I chose The Goonies as my first choice, and was lucky enough to get it, woo hoo!

I’ve been trying to tie in my long runs on my training plan to a race where possible, and the good thing about these events is that you can choose to do 1 lap (3.25 miles approx.) or as many as you can manage in 6 hours.  Today I was scheduled to run 9 miles, so 3 laps it was.  I knew I’d come in over the 9 but that was okay.

It was a parky start to the race, as the crisp, clear skies provided not much warmth, but after we got underway, I soon started to warm up.  I never know what to wear in the cold; on Tuesday I went out for a 5 miler in the dark, and convinced I’d be freezing a put a baggy running jacket on, and my god I was roasting.  So I opted for a short-sleeved Skins top under my t-shirt and that worked okay.  I wore my Outlaw team t-shirt which I got when I ran the marathon as part of a relay in 2013.  One guy just saw the Outlaw bit and every time he ran past he’d shout well done Ironman, and I felt a bit guilty.  The final time I shouted “I just did the marathon!” as he sprinted off into the distance and I heard a fading “well done though!” as I plodded on, hehe 😀  The good thing about these out-and-back races is you never feel as if you’re on your own and you see people the whole way along as you go back and forth.

Today was just about getting it done.  I was purposefully a bit slower as I wasn’t feeling top-notch, and being a lapped run I didn’t want to give myself any excuse not to go out for the third lap, so just took it easy and plodded along.  The run is along the bank of the Thames, and switches between tree-shaded path, to open path and back, and it’s always lovely.  Thankfully it remained dry throughout and it was really beautiful.  One day I’ll stop and take pictures along the way!  So according to my watch I hit the 9 mile mark at 1:57:03, and finished the whole race at 9.91 miles in 2:08:20, where I was presented with another stonking medal.  So a few minutes slower (and 0.9 miles shorter!) than the Brighton 10, but I can live with that.  My official time will come out in a couple of days, and might be slightly longer as you ring a bell to tell Rik you’ve finished, and he manually records the time, but three  of us finished at the same time, so my time might be a bit slower.  No matter, it’s done.  Thankfully.  Now for some food and a warm cuppa.

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Race Report: Bright 10

6am, all I can hear are tweeting birds.  No, not from outside, from my alarm.  Outside, it is pitch black, and all you can hear is the howling wind and pissing rain.  Oh happy days.  I must admit that for a few seconds I did wonder about pulling the duvet over my head and making up some excuse (as if the weather wasn’t enough) for not bothering.  However, having DNS’d my last race due to a stomach issue, I couldn’t bear to bail on another race.  Going through my mind I also thought “what will I do if it pisses down for the marathon??”  I wouldn’t choose not to run it, so I had to get it done.

So everything’s ready and I trot out to the car in the dark, walking around the back to put my new dryrobe in the boot, as I’m SURE to need that later.  Oh look, the darkness has hidden that blocked drain and my feet are completely submerged in a giant puddle.  Cue running back indoors to change socks and trainers, thanking my lucky stars I have two pairs.  Eventually I get underway, and all I can say is i’m glad the roads were clear because the rain was HORRENDOUS.  Massive pools of standing water all over the shop, it wasn’t looking good for the race.  I gave myself a get-out: if the forecast thunderstorms are overhead when I get there and I see any lightning near me i’m turning around and heading home.  Alas, when I got to Brighton, it was dry!  Surely this won’t last?  Regardless, my excuse was gone, I had to run.  I also found a toilet next to a cafe at the last-minute, thank God – my very final excuse now kiboshed, as the pre-race stomach nerves were now, erm, gone, to put it politely.

My trusty bin-bag cloak working a treat against some of the wind, the time came, and we all lined up to embark on our ten-mile journey.  They’d put some pace markers along the fence for everyone to self-seed, and I stood in-between the 12 min mile and 15 min mile placards.  Judging by a lot of the people around me, however, a LOT of people were clearly kidding themselves and would likely be running much faster.  Lo and behold, once we crossed the start line a few minutes later, there was just me, and about 3 people behind me then the two bike sweepers.  Hmmm, I really don’t want to have them at my back all day.

Anyway, I knew I couldn’t concern myself with that.  Since the Bacchus Half, I’ve done a few runs, but nothing over about 4 miles, as a bout of lurgy kiboshed my training for nearly two weeks.  In fact, in the run-up to Bacchus the longest I’d run was 8 miles, and at the end of it I was totally fucked.  Needless to say I was a bit nervous about this run.  I knew just finishing was the aim, but at the same time I didn’t want to come last.  So the plan was to run/walk the whole way, using a 2 min run, 1 min walk strategy.  The only time I didn’t do that was right at the start, where I ran the first walk break as it was still fairly crowded and I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way.  I also missed one walk break – must have in a dwam, and towards the end when it was downhill and i’d just overtaken someone and wanted to capitalise on that!  Other than that I stuck to the plan rigidly.  I decided to run the run bits to feel – I was wearing a HRM, but decided to keep an eye on pace, which i’ve not been doing lately.  The first mile I was running at 11:30 min miles.  Hmm, not sure I can keep this up, but fuck it, I feel okay.  I have a tendency to start off faster than I know I can maintain, but what the hell, I’m sure it’ll be fine.  From about mile 1, I’m beginning to see that there are a lot of people towards the back in my kind of category (fat, old!) who are running at paces i’m not convinced they’ll be able to maintain.  Hmm, I wonder if I can pass any of them.  Of course I get close then the watch beeps to walk, so I let them go. Miles 1-3 pass in 12:13, 12:20 and 12:25.  Not bad for me, especially since i’m essentially walking a third of it.  Mile 4 is slightly uphill, and that passes in 12:33.  There is one woman who I play hopscotch with the whole 4 miles, and we have a quick chat as we approach mile 5.  She says “I think we’ll finish quite close to each other” and I agree, as I can’t seem to stay ahead of her.  As we get to mile 5 though, I get ahead and she doesn’t manage to pass me before my walk break is over.  I’ve done it, woo hoo!  First recorded kill.  I’d passed some others I think but I wasn’t really noting it.  So I decided to start counting them off.  Miles 5 & 6 completed in 12:24 and 12:01 – unsurprisingly this was downhill a lot, and mile 7 also partially downhill so finished that in 12:08.  Three miles to go, just a 5k.  Having forgotten to have breakfast (bar a couple of bites of a flapjack I bought at the loo-cafe  – it tasted hellish so went in the bin), so far I was surviving on a coffee in the car, 2 flapjack bites and 1 Clif Shotblock.  I took a second one for good measure and kept going. There are a few switchbacks in the race and normally I find them pretty de-motivating but actually I was fine today.  I was running my own race, I felt much better than expected, and I had only 3 miles left.  I continued to pass people in miles 8 & 9, completed in 12:23 and 12:27 respectively.  Honest to god I think that is THE most consistent I’ve been in a race EVER.  Usually I slow right down towards the end, but I was still managing a fairly similar pace for each mile.  In the final mile you run past the finish line before turning left and left again to run the last half mile up the sea-front.  I had to stop for a second to remove my HRM – I could feel something not quite right after about mile 7, and I realised my HRM had worked its way loose and the strap had come apart.  It’s a pretty crap hook that closes it, but that’s the first time that’s happened.  Anyway, I managed to get it out from under the two layers I had on and shoved it in my back pocket and carried on.  I thought about running the whole rest of the way, but keeping in mind the bigger picture, I stuck to the run/walk, and managed to cross the line in 2:04:01 chip time. In the last 5 miles of the race I overtook 31 people.  So if ever I needed confirmation that run/walking works for me, that was it.

I can honestly say I am sooooooo happy.  I was dreading it, and nearly didn’t start, but I bloody loved it.  The organisation was great, minimal fuss and no issues.  Other than the Bognor 10k I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many marshals in a race, and they were all really supportive and encouraging.  There were quite a lot of supporters all along the seafront too, so it was lovely being cheered on by them all.  I even got a few pirate cheers as I wore my pirate cycle jersey.  As I ran down the finish line the guy on the mic said my top was great and very easy to recognise, haha!!  He wasn’t wrong 😀  I love the medal and ribbon, both really colourful.

So that’s the first of my three Brighton runs completed.  The next run is Brighton half in February, and the full marathon in April.  Yikes!  Today has given me a lot of confidence though, especially since I felt if I’d had to, I could have run another mile or so.  If I maintain the running, backed up by good nutrition and gym work to build my strength and keep my back in a good place, then I should achieve my goal in April.

Happy days! 🙂

 

Race Report: Bacchus Half Marathon

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Last year, when I had visions of getting back into running and doing more events, I signed up for the Bacchus Half.  Organised by my lovely pal Nicky and her team at Events to Live, the Bacchus is a race for the running elite, for those serious about perfecting the art of running and ….okay, just kidding.  Essentially it is a race with wine.  Say no more.  Count me in.  Except last year I may have neglected to do that little thing called ‘training’, and so, like many other events I signed up to, I didn’t do it.  I knew I didn’t have a half marathon in me back then (you can also do two loops for the full marathon if you’re insane you fancy it), so I opted to volunteer instead.  I spent my day helping out at registration, then helping set up the finish line, including giving t-shirts out at the end.  While it was easy to see the amount of organisation that had gone into the start/finish, I was totally oblivious to the sheer enormity of the organisation that obviously went on to ensure the 13.1 (or 26.2) miles in between went off without a hitch.  Anyway, more of that later….

So the Bacchus weekend fast approached, and I found myself heading to a local Travelodge in Dorking, Surrey to meet my sister who was doing the race with me.  This is the first time we’ve ever done an event together, but hopefully not the last!  This was her first half marathon, but it’s been a while since my last one, so it’s fair to say we were both a bit nervous about covering the distance.  However, when there’s wine on offer at a feed station, you don’t anticipate a record-breaking finish time, so we’d resolved to run walk as far as we could, then walk the rest.  If nothing else we’d have a lovely day out in the Surrey hills.  The weather on the Saturday was not inspiring confidence though, despite our vow to just enjoy it.  Suffice it to say it totally pissed down.  Thankfully though, the clouds started to clear in the early evening, and we managed to get to-and-from dinner without getting soaked.  Fingers crossed the rain just stayed away…..

Sunday morning and the alarm went off around 7:30.  Quick peek out the curtains, hurrah!  Cloudless sky 😀  The race didn’t start until 10:30, but we wanted to get there for 9am just to get sorted and prevent any pre-race, faffage-induced nerves.  Despite only being a mile away from Denbies Wine Estate, where the race was held, we got a taxi.  Feck it, 13.1 miles is plenty without walking there and back!  When we arrived there was no queue to register so we got straight in and sorted our numbers out then just sat and waited until the start.  It didn’t take long for the hall to fill up with people in all manner of fancy dress, faffing about themselves, waiting for the action to begin.  Surveying the myriad costumes was great, and passed the time without the nerves taking hold.  We had to drop bags off before the start, so we wandered off to do that and managed to see the marathoners head off at 10am.  Hiding in the shade until race start – it was already getting warm – I started to get excited.  There was such an atmosphere of fun and excitement all around us it was quite contagious.  We opted to stand towards the back until we realised that there were MASSES of people gathering behind us getting ready for the off.  Oh well, let’s hope we don’t get trampled.  A quick warm up took place, which was like a party for the uncoordinated, then the 3-2-1 countdown and WE’RE OFF!!!

The first section of the course takes you round the back of the Denbies buildings and round their beautiful vineyards.  Marshalls everywhere, and no chance of getting lost as you’re pointed up and round the vines.  It still astounds me that we can grow grapes and produce wine in this country!  We’d decided to employ a 2/1 run/walk strategy, and started with that from the off.  It didn’t feel like we’d been going for too long before the first feed station was upon us.  Quick selfie opportunity with my pirate pal Flat Footed who was marshalling the first station (he was fully clothed for those of you wondering…) then we started to queue for the wine.  I think the queue was about 5 deep when we got there, but it moved fairly quickly.  The relief set in for me at that point – this definitely isn’t going to be a quick race, so we might as well make the most of it and just enjoy it.  It was clear my visions of being near the very end with no-one else in sight was totally inaccurate!  The first taste of wine was fabulous, and because we’re proper athletes (and it was only about 1am), we washed it down with some water.  Right, time to keep plodding on!

Never having actually been into the Surrey hills before, I wasn’t sure what to expect but boy it is a beautiful part of the world.  What I mostly loved about the race was the diversity of the landscape.  We ran through woods, past fields, through a little bit of Dorking town then back into the woods, along a variety of little trails, slowly winding our way higher and higher.  The views were magnificent.  I took a few pictures but I wish I’d taken more!  We saw donkeys & cows, including one who had become separated from her herd and looked as though she would come and trample us all as we ran along a little track.  Everyone squeezed to the edge of the track to clear a path, but after a woefully bellowed ‘Mooooooooo’ the cow caught sight of a slightly higher path and cantered along that back to her mates.  Phew, crisis averted.

All in all there were 7 feed stations along the route, 6 of them serving wine.  We drank wine at each (sometimes drinking two ;)) and it was all so lovely.  There was white, rose, sparking and red wine.  I’ve no idea of the name of any of them, but it’s fair to say Denbies make fabulous wine.  The best thing about each wine station was that there was a little party going on at each!  There was music and invariably lots of people dancing about and just having a great time.  I think my favourite station was the one on top on Ranmore Common, even though it was the dry one!  I’m not a total lush you know.  The views were second-to-none, and the drummers at the top were fantastic.

Eventually we had to leave though, and carried on around the course.  Thinking back on the day, I honestly can’t wait to do it again.  It is far and away the best course I’ve ever raced (using the word in its loosest sense).  Something for everyone I think.  I wish I lived a bit closer so I could just run there more often!  Before long, we only had 5k to go, and knowing the last mile was downhill, we knew we were home and dry (ha, the irony!).  Up until that point my legs had been feeling pretty good (there was a lot of walking and recovering at the feed stations!)  but that last mile was hard going!  We were back onto tarmac which felt surprisingly hard underfoot compared to the previous 12 miles, and decided to run the whole of the last mile to get in under the 4-hour mark.  My previous half marathon attempts were both 2:38hrs, so this just shows you how relaxed the Bacchus is! We eventually crossed the line in 3:57 (chip time), and another selfie with FF who had migrated to the finish.  Medals on, and we’re done. Wooo hooooooo!  😀

What can I say other that this is a really fabulous race.  The organisation was seamless as far as I could see, the marshals did an amazing job and the post-race Hog Roast and wine was to die for.  We collected our bags and being the jammy bugger that I am, I managed to squeeze in (despite a queue!) for a fabulous post-race massage from the therapists at Fine Fettle, who were doing the massages for a donation to the Princess Alice Hospice in Esher.  Money very happily donated, we set off for the Hog Roast.  It was still beautifully sunny so we found ourselves a table outside and scarfed down the food.  Delicious.  Two bottles of wine then duly purchased from the Denbies shop (thanks sis!!)), we were all set for an afternoon in the sunshine!!  I managed to catch up with another pirate pal Chris and his family, and Penny from ETL, but eventually it got to the point that they needed to take our table away as they’d nearly finished clearing up, so a taxi was called.  Happy to be one of the last to leave, haha.  You can take the girls out of Scotland…..

All there is left to say is thanks so much to the ETL team and the hundreds (literally!) of marshals and volunteers who made the day what it was.  I will definitely be back for more next year, and this time in fancy dress.  Who’s with me?! 😀

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Bad Cow 10K: Race Report

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Another weekend, another event.  Happily fortune favours those training for half marathons it would seem, as on the week I was scheduled to run a 10k, I managed to get a space in the Bad Cow 10k, run by the fabulous White Star Running.  Run by my pal Andy “not a postman” Palmer and his team, WSR put on mostly hilly events in Dorset (near France).  It’s fair to say that their events usually involve huge hills, and tend to be slightly longer than the stated race distance, so I turned up not being quite sure whether the race would be 10K or maybe 11 or God only knows how far.  I was assured that it was, strangely for WSR, flat.  I confess to not believing this, but it turned out to be true!  Despite having helped out at a couple of Giant’s Head Marathons, I’d never actually run any WSR races, so this would be my first.  The Bad Cow weekender takes place over two days in Holton Lee near Poole, which is a purpose-built charitable trust for the disabled.  Set in a Site of Special Scientific Interest the centre promotes physical, mental, spiritual and social wellbeing.  Well, it certainly sounded like an interesting place, and as it turns out it is really beautiful.  The Weekender includes a marathon each day, with an additional 10K on the Saturday and a half marathon on the Sunday.  The 10k was a two-lapped route, each lap about 5.3K through the lovely Holton Lee heathland.  The terrain varies from fields to heathland, woodland, and you even run close to the sea at one point.

Initially I’d planned to camp overnight, but having been totally and utterly drenched at Parkrun that morning (volunteering, i’m not mad enough to run twice in a day!), I decided not to risk getting drenched camping so just popped along for the afternoon.  The race started at 6pm so I got there just after 5pm to pick up my number and happily bumped into some friends that I hadn’t realised were doing the race too.  After pottering about for a bit, the race brief began, and in typical WSR style it was short and sweet, and faff-less.  Then we were off!  As usual I started near the back with my pals, and stuck to a run 3/walk 1 strategy throughout.  As a consummate road runner, running on pretty uneven ground over a field is something new, but I managed to stay upright (for someone who, as a child, was forever in A&E for badly rolling my ankle, this is no small feat).  Round the edge of the field we went before turning left into the heathland.  There are paths all over the heath and through the woods, all wheelchair accessible and therefore great for running on.  The course was well signposted (follow the yellow arrows!) which is just as well because there are so many criss-crossing paths that without the arrows I fear I’d still be out there, ambling about trying to find my way back to the start.

One of the best things about WSR races is the Lovestation.  The Lovestation is basically a feed station where you can of course get lots of water and food, but also booze and hugs.  This time, the Lovestation was upgraded to the wonderful Fernando’s Cocktail Bar and All Day Disco!  Happily you could hear the Abba-themed feed station long before you could see it, and to turn a corner and be greeted with dancing volunteers clad in spangly 70s outfits was brilliant :D.  Even better was the offer of a cup of Sangria, and seeing as I’m in training for the Bacchus Half where you get wine at the feed stations, I thought it only right to have a practice-Sangria.  Aaaah it was lovely.  I snatched a couple of jelly babies and plodded on.  Normally I’m not a fan of a lapped races because I always worry I’ll never want to start the next lap, but actually they’re growing on me.  The route for the Bad Cow is so varied and pretty that actually I really enjoyed the second lap.  Oh yeah I have to say that even though i’m slow, I was hoping to reach the end of the first lap before the winner shot past, but alas not!  He blasted past just as I reached the 5k mark (ish), and the guy that took second sprinted past when I was about 100m away from the end of lap 1.  I could have pretended that I was actually 3rd and headed straight for the finish, but I’m not sure anyone would have believed me…

So second time round and back to Fernandos for some sustenance.  This time cider was on offer, so with the Bacchus in mind I gladly imbibed (I take all my training seriously).  Just to be sensible I also had some water, and a little dance with a hot blond in a flared-pink number before plodding off again.  (For some great videos of the antics at Fernandos throughout the day, check out WSRs Facebook page).  Off again and the rain had started to spit slightly.  However, it didn’t come on too heavily, so it seemed we were going to be spared a drenching.  Before long the end was in sight, and I finally crossed the line in 1:27:02 (chip time) for approx. 10.6K.  I was pretty happy with that.  One day I’ll work on trying to speed up, but for now I’m just enjoying my running and not worrying about speed.  Over the line with a hug from Andy, the fabulous Bad Cow medal was placed round my neck, and I was handed a goodie bag containing a mug, a flapjack and a bottle of cider.  Ker-ching!  At this point the heavens decided to open and it pissed down for a few minutes but then stopped again.  I watched my pals come in a couple of minutes later, and after a bit of a mooch about I headed off as it was getting chilly.  All in all a fabulous event.  Everyone was really friendly, loads of folk dressed up which was great, and of course fabulous Fernando’s bar was the highlight of a lovely course.  If you’ve not tried a WSR race, then have a look at their website & FB page, they have a great collection of races going, especially if you’re mad enough to love hills.

Happy days.

 

 

Dark Phoenix: Race Report


Whenever I’m training for something like a half or full marathon (which is to say rarely), I like to try and fit in a race, where possible, in place of a long run, as it makes it more fun. Obviously the word ‘race’ is used in its loosest possible sense. Anyhoo, this weekend I was due to run 7 miles, so happily the Dark Phoenix (by www.phoenixrunning.co.uk) was scheduled for today, so I signed up a few weeks ago. All their runs are along the Thames, and start at Walton on Thames. The general premise is that the event is 6 hours long, and you can do a minimum of one lap (out & back) which is 3.28 miles, or as many as you can manage in 6 hours. So I did two laps, total distance 6.62 miles by my watch. Not quite the 7 I needed but who cares! I could have kept going but opted not to be a numpty and stopped. 

Normally their runs start in the morning, and indeed there was a marathon race earlier in the day, but this race was scheduled to start at 4pm, and finish at 10pm. Head torches were required from 8pm onwards, since there’s no light at all along the towpath. I didn’t take a head torch, but if I was still running a 10k by the time sunset was due, after a 4pm start, a lack of torch would be the least of my worries!

The race started promptly at 4pm, so off we shot. My plan of attack was to run 2 mins, walk 1, and just run to feel (i.e. ignore pace). Since it was busy at the start, I ran through the first walk break but then stuck to the plan after that. It’s fair to say it was pretty bloody scorchio out there today, but thankfully I’d remember my baseball cap so that helped a lot. The first/last half mile or so are pretty shaded, so that was good, but the rest of the path is pretty exposed. Having run the route for the Top Gun race they held in May, I knew what to expect so just settled in to plod it out, and make the most of it. As you’d expect, it’s a really friendly crowd, and the advantage of out & back races is you see everyone lots, and there are plenty of opportunities to shout “well done!” and give the odd high five. Most people were running a lot further than me, so I was never alone out there! I had planned to stop and take some photos of the lovely scenery, but didn’t in the end as it was a total faff dislodging my phone from my running belt. Ah well, maybe next time!

Having only done one lap at the Top Gun race, I did wonder if I’d struggle with the thought of having to go out for another lap, especially in the heat, but after a few cups of water and lots of sweeties at the tuck shop (feed station at the turnaround point) I was actually quite happy to keep going. The fact the laps are fairly short makes it much easier – you’re only ever about 1.64 miles from the start which doesn’t feel too bad. That said, I was glad to stop after two! 

When you reach the end of your race, you ring a bell at the tuck shop to signify that you’ve finished and Rik marks the time down. He asked if I’d done two or three laps, just to check and as tempting as it was to say “three!” I was honest 😄. My finish time (by my watch; official time will arrive in next day or two) was 1:27:48 for 6.62 miles and I’m happy with that. My 5k time was quicker than it has been lately, but I slowed down on the second lap due to the heat, and also I wasn’t really bothered about time, I just wanted to enjoy it which I definitely did. I’ve a long way to go until Brighton marathon next year, and consequently time to work on speed. 

Oh, erm I’ve also agreed to do the Outlaw marathon in a relay team, so plenty more opportunities for improving my running await me ☺️. 

Thanks to the team at Phoenix for another great event, and pretty stunning bling too. Here’s the inside of the medal:


👍🏻

Tiny edit to say that my official race time was 1:27:46. Those 2s make the world of difference 😉😄

Race (support) report


It’s fair to say that virtually all my annual leave from work this year revolves around sport in some way or other.  It’s also fair to say that I’m not the one actually exerting myself on 90% of those dates, thankfully. The weekend of July 23rd was to be no exception, so the day before I set off bright and early for The Lake District, to watch a bunch of complete tits swim the entire length of Lake Windermere. I’m not being cheeky (for once), they really are all T.I.T.S.*

Miraculously I managed to miss all the crappy traffic and landed in Coniston around midday, to set up camp. My pal Julie joined me a couple of hours later. Julie was supposed to being swimming the following day, but sadly needed to withdraw from the event due to a bad back. So although I was meant to be crewing for Julie, I was able to swap to another team and was lucky to be able to help out another swimmer, Phil. Never having met him, or the rest of the crew, I did wonder if we’d gel okay in such a short time to be able to be the best crew for him, but my fears were unfounded. Phil seemed suitably daft, and Ollie and Bradley the other two crew were as easy going and friendly as i’d hoped, so I knew we were on for a good day. Well, the crew were at least; swimming all that way was clearly insane. Relaxing on a boat in a beautiful lake was definitely the way to go. 

All the swimmers and crew met at Bowness, half way down the east of the lake at 5:45 on Saturday morning to load up the boats and get organised. Judging by the amount of stuff being loaded on to some boats, I did wonder if a few swimmers were planning to relocate to the Lakes.  For the triathletes among us (the term athlete to be used in it’s loosest sense) multiply transition kit by about 10 and you get the idea. So boat loaded, we all clambered aboard and set off for the 30 min trip to the southerly end of the lake. I don’t know about Phil, but if you made me motor 30 mins down a mahoosive lake, knowing it would take me hours to swim back to where we’d just left, and that I’d still only be half way, well, I’d tell you to ram it.  Thankfully Phil was too polite to say anything. Or it may just have been terror-induced silence. Either way, we all congregated at the end, the swimmers lubed themselves up and suddenly they were off. 

So time for the crew to kick back, relax and crack open a few tinnies before settling down to a nice breakfast of all the food Phil had loaded on board.  Well, something like that. Having three of us on board was great. Ollie and Bradley shared the driving (or should it be sailing?) and had a tricky job of not going too fast so we were aligned with Phil the whole time. The other main duty of the crew was to feed Phil every 30 mins. He’d prepared a detailed list of what he wanted to eat and drink every half hour, and judging by the list he was expecting to be hungry. The first few feeds went okay, and he managed to snaffle down the requested energy bars, biscuits and energy drink (he said it was maltrodextrin, but I think it was 2 keys of coke in that box. I’m just glad the coastguard didn’t stop us…). However, a couple of hours in, Phil started to say he felt sick, and I can honestly say I’ve never seen anyone projectile vomit so impressively.  The grapefruit squash in the drinks gave the vomit a pinkish hue, such that he looked slightly like a poorly dragon spewing fire into the lake.  At this point of course, he definitely didn’t want to try and eat anything else, so we let him carry on swimming until the next feed. A quick chat with Tracy (head coach extraordinaire) and we determined to re-assess when he stopped 30 mins later. Sadly for Phil, the nausea didn’t really abate much after that, though thankfully he did managed to keep down some fluids and amazingly energy gels got him through. There was another post-paracetamol vomming incident, but the less said about that the better. 

That lake itself is stunning. It’s large enough to feel fairly quite, even though there were lots of other boats out and about. Other than a couple of times it felt like the boat would capsize after encountering the wake from a speed boat, it was a beautiful, calm day for us on the boat. Feeding every 30 mins meant that time actually passed really quickly (well, not for Phil I reckon!). 

A couple of times throughout the day, two other swimmers Iain and Wayne jumped in and swam alongside Phil to give him encouragement and a bit of a boost. Wayne was good at telling Phil to stop pissing about during feeds, to stop faffing and get a move on (okay so he was a wee bit more polite), but it was great to hear because it meant we could just tell him to get a move on and stop fannying about as he got more tired. We were a caring crew, as you can see. 

So nearly 10 hours after we left the southern extremity of the lake, Phil reached the end in Ambleside. I have to say that I’m completely in awe of what he achieved, esp. after being so ill less than a quarter of the way in. He is one hell of a stubborn bastard! All the swimmers were nothing short of inspirational. Such a close knit bunch of lovely people with fantastic swimming abilities, guts and determination. We had the easy bit on the boat. It was great to be a part of it, and though I’m sorry Julie didn’t get to swim that day, I know she’ll be back to smash next year’s challenge. 

Every swimmer that started out that morning finished their challenge. It was phenomenal! The evening celebrations were fantastic, and suitably hilarious. It was a real pleasure to be a part of their day, and if you’re reading this and thinking about getting involved in race supporting of any kind, just do it. You’ll meet some fantastic people and be a little part of helping them reach their goals. It’s a great feeling 😊 Oh and it’s much easier than actually doing the bloody race which gets a big tick from me 😉
*Total Immersion Thursday Swimmers. See, I told you I wasn’t being cheeky.