Dovestone Diamond 2017

Race:Dovestone Diamond
Location: Greenfield, Saddleworth
Distance: 6 ish miles (who really knows with trail!)
Time: 58:48

 

It’s a popular one. This year it sold out in about 12 hours. It is organised by my running club and last year I marshalled it, so was pleased to get a place on the start line this year.

I was extremely nervous. Possibly because it was a local race with so many runners from the Greyhounds were either running or marshalling and partly due to it being my evening race since last year. Also despite being on my local turf I hadn’t actually run the entire route, only sections of it and some of those not for a long time.  So I told myself I was just going out for a little run and nothing else mattered whilst secretly hoping I would be able to pull off a good performance.

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I love the terrain covered by this route.  Rough lanes and rocky paths, boggy fields and muddy woodland in the first half, with a nice fast second half around the reservoir.

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It was a slow start due to narrow paths and people walking up hills however I didn’t mind as the first half of the race has most of the climbing, and the toughest terrain. Saved my legs from going off too hard, and meant I could put in a good second half.  Definitely shows in my splits. Once we hit the good paths at 3k a lot of people seem to have run out of steam.

Mile 1: 12:16 /mi
Mile 2: 11:43 /mi
Mile 3: 10:07 /mi
Mile 4: 8:11 /mi
Mile 5: 8:19 /mi
Mile 6: 7:46 /mi

I’m proud of that effort. The first half of the run has a lot of tricky terrain, steep hills and stiles to climb over, so for me that is a fast off road pace.

I owe a lot of thanks to someone from my running club who was carrying an injury and decided to run the last couple of km’s with me and share wise words of advice on form and technique. I doubt I would have managed those splits towards the end without words of encouragement.  It was most definitely a lesson in the meaning of digging deep and pushing through the pain.

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Half a mile to go. Still smiling despite wanting it to be OVER!

If the race goes ahead again next year, do sign up. It’s a great race. Plus the race HQ  is at a brewery so plenty of good local ales to drink and there is usually a pizza oven for post race food too.  Even though I won’t be living round here next year I will definitely be getting the train over from Yorkshire for it.

Bluebell Trail 2017 – I Trooped the Trooper

Race: Bluebell Trail 10 mile
Location: Hilly Halifax
Date: Sunday 7th May 2017
Finish Time: 01:51:07

A sunny Sunday morning in May and early start for the trek over to Yorkshire for us Greenfield Greyhounds. Having not raced since January I was nervous about this one. I even struggled to get my porridge eaten thanks to pre-race nerves. Telling myself it was ‘only a training run’ was not good. I definitely secretly wanted to put in a good attempt at this one having not raced much this year.

Hosted by the Stainland Lions running club, it was a fantastic race. Brilliant marshalls, lovely route and great facilities. It’s always nice to have proper changing rooms to get ready in and proper toilets.

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The route can be described as undulating Yorkshire style. Meaning the up hill bits feel like mountains.  Starting somewhere south of Halifax there is a little bit of running around some woodland before joining the canal and following the Hebble Trail towards Halifax. Then comes Trooper Lane. A hill so horrible that everyone around me was walking up it. Reassuring when everyone decides to walk.  Then some undulating off road running through fields and bluebell filled woodland.  The end of the race is a real treat with the River Calder to run through before the finish line.

I was very pleased with managing fairly consistent pacing on this run considering I’ve not raced for a while. And all the hills! There were a lot of bottlenecks in the first mile or so, with narrow paths and people walking up hills so my start was slow.  This probably helped later on but I found it frustrating and couldn’t get into my stride. I should have started further up the field as I was near the pack and couldn’t overtake slower runners and walkers. But as I say, probably helped in the long run. My mountain walking experience meant I could power walk my way tp Trooper Lane for one thing.  The river crossing at the end was so much fun. Cold but fun. Big thanks to the strong volunteers on hand to drag me ready to out of the river.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wirral Half 2016: A Sub 2 Hour Half Marathon

Race: Wirral Half Marathon 2016
Location: Birkenhead to New Brighton
Date: Sunday 11th September 2016
Finish Time: 01:57:47

This is one of my favourite races and the 3rd year in a row I have run it.  Last year I got a half marathon PB with 02:08:07 and I wasn’t sure I could match that this year. I’m not sure why I felt so un-confident going into this years race, considering I’ve run further, trained harder and actually continued to run over the summer.

I love the course for this half marathon. I grew up on the Wirral and love running by the sea. The race starts in a beautiful park, passes by the docks, and then follows the coastal path. There is only a couple of sections on roads which makes a nice change to most races. You get views over to Liverpool across the Mersey and then lovely running alongside the sea. It is also very flat which is a welcome change from my usual hills.

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This wasn’t taken during the race, but on a training run earlier this year. Similar weather though.

I didn’t have a set idea of pace in my head at the start. I positioned myself in between the 2hr and 2:10hr pacers and thought I’d see how I went. I started off fast, and was very aware of that, but felt ok so just kept going. About half way I caught up with the 2hr pacer group, so attached myself to them. I suspect if I hadn’t my pace would have dropped off at this point in the race because I was finding myself running out of energy.  I was struggling to keep up with the pacer and dropped back.

It was a warm day so I took the opportunity to pour water over my head at each water station.  Eating Kendal mint cake helped with a much-needed energy boost. Around 11 miles I caught up with the 2hr pacer again, and he told me to keep on pushing, so off I went. Thanks for the encouragement whoever you are!

It was just a case of digging deep and pushing myself to the finish then. I past 12 miles and realised I had 10 minutes to get to the finish before my watch hit 2 hours. That was all the motivation I needed to just keep pushing onwards.

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I can see the finish line!

I found some energy for a sprint finish which completely finished me off. I love a sprint finish. Especially if there are other runners around because it always feels great to overtake a couple of people on the way to the finish line.

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The timing of this race always coincides with my birthday week and friends birthdays so it is always a hectic time of year. My pre-race preparations were once again less than perfect. I went on holiday, lots of birthday celebrations for my 30th during the week and a friend’s wedding on the Friday night. This means I am extra happy about smashing my PB.

 

Mossley 10k 2016

Race: Mossley 10k
Location: Mossley, Greater Manchester
Date: Sunday 17th June 2016
Finish Time: 00:57:41

It’s been over a week since the Mossley 10k and this post has been sitting neglected in my drafts folder because I’ve been so busy having a good time running.

The first great thing about this run was the fact it passes very close to my house, and my journey to the start line was a nice gentle jog down the road. None of the usual stresses about traffic, public transport delays or finding somewhere to park.  Less great was the hot and humid conditions. I really don’t like summer running so this was a challenge.

 

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The course is all road apart from the start and finish which is on the pitch at Mossley football club! The course is undulating, with a couple of painful hills, round here it could be a lot worse. The start is the downhill section though so it starts off fast.  A nice fairly flat last couple of km’s for a good fast finish.

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Everyone charges off extremely fast down the hill and its a challenge not to get caught up in it all. I am always fearful of starting too fast and burning out. I felt like I had gone out too fast on this one, and had to stop for a tiny walk break at the 5k water station to catch my breath and walk out a stitch.  I managed to pick up the pace towards the end and finished with a 9.40 min mile and then a 8.58 min mile. I had ambitiously set my Garmin to beep at me if I went slower than 9 min miles. Definitely ambitious given the hot sunny day.

I ran the Mossley 10k last year in 00:58:41 so this year was exactly 1 minute faster. If I’m honest I was secretly hoping to be faster than that but I’d had a couple of weeks of rubbish running in the lead up to the race, so I’ll take that time happily.

Finally the medals were fab this year as they came with little stickers to add your own finish time. I’ve never seen that before and didn’t actually realise it until someone else pointed it out.

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Race Flashback: My First Ever Race, Blenheim 7k 2010

I’m going to write a series of posts on this blog about all the races I’ve done in the past. I thought it would be good for me to reflect on races past and see how far I have progressed in the last 6 years!

Race: Blenheim 7k 2010.
Location: Oxfordshire
Finish Time: Around 47 minutes

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I signed up for it with a work colleague to get some experience of doing a race before the 10k I had been training for. On the day I was very nervous.  It was a smallish local fun run but there were lots of serious looking runners warming up at the start which was daunting for a first timer.

I remember we got there ridiculously early expecting traffic problems, parking chaos and crowds. It wasn’t that big a race so we were just there unnecessarily early. So early we had time for a wander round the butterfly house and gardens. I learnt my lesson about turning up too early but better than too late!

The Blenheim 7k was a lovely scenic route around the grounds of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. All on good paths but very undulating. At the time I thought it was an hilly course however I doubt I would even notice those inclines these days on a short race.

I cant find any results online to confirm my finish time however I think it was around 47 minutes.  I’ve got a bit faster in the last 6 years and looking back it is amazing to think about how much I have improved. After this 7k race I recall needing an afternoon nap and having very sore legs for days!

 

Liverpool Rock n Roll Marathon 2016

On Sunday I ran my first marathon. In 04:48:42. I did the Rock n Roll Liverpool Marathon (having previously done the half marathon in 2014). I wasn’t planning on running for charity however people kept asking me where they could donate when I said ‘I’m running a marathon’. So I thought I’d raise some money for my efforts.

Thanks to all who have donated, £386 has been raised which is more than I ever imagined on my fundraising page.

The Brain & Spine Foundation

My chosen charity was the Brain and Spine Foundation.  It took a lot of careful consideration to pick my charity. I felt like the Brain and Spine Foundation were the best fit, the most meaningful choice. I don’t usually talk about what happened, so this marathon fundraising has become my outlet for reflection on a part of the past that will forever be with me.

My Broken Brain

In 2003 I had a massive brain hemorrhage. A stroke. It was caused by an AVM (Arteriovenous Malformation), which is a vascular problem in the brain. A tangle of weak blood vessels. Mine burst, which was the first I knew about it, leaving me with paralysis on the right side of the body.  I came home from school as usual, went to bed with a headache, and woke up on the floor unable to move or talk. Thankfully I made a full recovery after a couple of months in hospital. After some radiation and years of follow up tests I now don’t even have to visit the hospital for check ups. I’m lucky that I can run when there was a time when I needed nurses to roll me over in bed and a hoist to move me from my bed to a wheelchair.  I always remember these horrible moments when I moan about not wanting to go for a run. It’s hard to forget.

All set to run for the Brain and Spine Foundation

All set to run for the Brain and Spine Foundation

The Marathon

I wanted to run Liverpool because it is my home city and my favourite city. Other marathons may be at a better time of year, or flatter, but I wouldn’t hold as much love for the course (I’m thinking of you boring boring Manchester). My training hadn’t gone entirely to plan although I’ve covered a lot more miles so far this year than ever before thanks to my amazing running club. I encountered terrible hip pain on my planned longest run which meant I had to cut it short to 14 mile instead of 20 miles.

I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be on race day, although the heat was a concern as I am not a fan of hot weather. I don’t even like sitting out in the sun nevermind running in it.  I told myself I just wanted to get round but secretly I think I was hoping to be under 5 hours, closer to 4:30 if luck was on my side. I set off and felt great. The first 10 miles flew by, and thanks to living in a very hilly part of the country, I didn’t notice the hills on the first part of the route.  Reaching Goodison Park was a highlight and of course I had to stop for a quick selfie.

I can't believe I ran all the way to Goodison Park.

I can’t believe I ran all the way to Goodison Park.

It all started to go wrong at 13 miles when I felt sharp pain in my left shin. I knew it was probably more than the usual aches and pains of a long run. I carried on running, telling myself I would do the second half with regular walk breaks and strech stops. Jeremy suprised me at mile 19 which was a boost. I carried on at decent pace until mile 22. Then I heard a charity cheering point woman say ‘ooh she looks like she is in agony’. Yes I was in a lot of pain but plodded. I text my Dad at 23 miles with an update, then my  Dad appeared at mile 25 to get me though the final mile. This was the best thing ever. We walked for a bit and then jogged together to the final stretch. Running down the finish was an emotional experience.

I’m glad I let myself stop for walking breaks when I realised I was going to do myself serious damage if I pushed too hard. I could have cried through the pain for a better time but I love running too much for months out with a more serious injury.  I came out in horrific bruises on both shins straight after the race which I really don’t think is normal or a good thing. So I’m glad I chose to listen to the sensible voice within and go easy. There will be more marathons!

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