Monday, 25 October 2010

Birmingham Half

What a day! I won't go into all the drama I had with my car breaking down before the race, but I'll stick to the event and the run itself! 

Another early start! Kick off was 09:00, which meant I had to get up at 05:30 to get up to Brum on time. For some reason they closed the baggage drop at 08:30, which didn't help, so I decided to forget the baggage drop completely and just head to the start straight from the car park. I'm really against such early starts when its so cold, at this temperature you should only run when the sun is high in the sky!

The start was really messy, there were signs displaying the colour coded pens, but they were small and everyone seemed a little confused as to where they should be. It took me a while to find my place and I had to climb over the barriers to get a space in the pens. Luckily there were a couple of nice young men in the pen who helped me over, which was a good start. It was a slow start; I was close to the start line, but didn't get across until 09:10. That was a bit of a farce as well as once we got over the finish line we had to walk for the first 200m! I think the problem was because the course narrowed suddenly so the was just no room to run ahead. Either way it  added valuable seconds to my time.

I started without my usual fuel drink, as I forgot to take it out of the fridge, so I decided to put my faith in the organisers and go with whatever was available on the course. Luckily the water stations were all n the right places and I managed to get water at 5km, Lucozade at 6km and well after that I wasn't exactly worried! Luckily I had spent the week training without taking fuel or water on up to 11km, so it didn't put me out too much. The cruelest part of the race was when we went past Cadbury World and I could smell all the lovely chocolate! The aroma just filled the street, I've never been to Cadbury World, but a trip is now in order!

The thing I enjoy most about my running is my innate ability in the run up to a race to forget things like 'undulating', or 'hilly' in the race description... Nonetheless, it wasn't long before I remembered... Considering how hard I found the inclines I did really well time wise. It was a serious struggle, I went into this race certain of a PB and I had hit just under 11km at the half way point so I was certain I would make it. Unfortunately the last 5 miles of the course were the hilliest points and it was a serious struggle on tired legs; even my usual mantras couldn't keep me going for long.

I eventually finished in 2:02:23 on a slightly long course of 21.3km and received a text confirmation of my time (always nice). The rest of the finish line was yet another joke! The finish was so congested that you had to push your way forward to get on the mat to register your chip time. It then took 15mins to walk through the congestion and get to where they were handing out space blankets and goody bags. The one good thing is that the goody bags contained sized t-shirts in ladies and mens styles and sizes and I was able to get a shirt that fits for once! The medal is nice and shiny too, but I wasn't hugely impressed! All in all it was a good and challenging race, there were however too many organisational issues that really let it down. Would I do it again? Yes, just maybe not next year...

Splits - in km as I find it works better for me as I'm running!
1km - 5:18.4
2km - 5:28.68
3km - 5:42.43
4km - 5:35.2
5km - 5:53.4
6km - 5:52.16
7km - 5:45.66
8km - 5:54.44
9km - 6:04.29
10km - 5:11.16
11km - 5:42.62
12km - 5:34.2
13km - 5:39.86
14km - 5:56.68
15km - 5:50.7
16km - 5:41.2
17km - 5:34.37
18km - 6:54.53
19km - 6:20.84
20km - 5:57.06
21km - 4:57.95
0.3km - 1:27.56

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Royal Parks Foundation Half

Wow! What an amazing race, maybe it was just the date; 10-10-10 has real significance for me, maybe because it's a few days before my birthday, maybe its just the symmetry of it. Either way I always knew this race was going to be special and that I would get a PB here. 

It was another early start for me; the race start time was 09:30 and I was setting off from home so my alarm sounded at 06:00... I may or may not have actually gotten out of bed at that time... After getting a bowl of porridge I got out the house at 07:30 and then spent 20 mins driving around Milton Keynes to find a petrol station that was open. Not being able to use my debit card at the pump is becoming a problem! Luckily being early the motorway was quite clear and even though I set off late I still made good time and got to Hyde Park before 09:00.

I had been on a course during the week and met a lovely woman who was also running today and planned to meet her before, but being so late I just went straight to the the baggage area, the toilets and then the start. In my pen I notice pacers for 2:00 and decided to try to stick with them, my ultimate goal for 2010 is to get a sub 2:00 half marathon and I was feeling so great today I thought it was worth a shot! My personal best (PB) up to this point was 2:07:21. My last race was 2:17:11, which is even worst! But hey; I'm a chancer! At it was there were two 02:00 pacer and annoyingly they ran on either edge of the runners then one of them kept running to the other to chat even so often, which made it hard to follow! After the first three miles I lost sight of them and actually it made for a more enjoyable run.

The other 'problem' I encountered along the way was with my Garmin. I had checked that it was in running mode, but forgotten to take it from metric to statute. So I was a bit shocked when it buzzed 1km and I had barely started running. Luckily I didn't panic; if this had happened when I first started running half marathons I would have panicked, but I quickly decided to work in kms and aim for 21.09 instead. This also made it easier as I knew I needed to get under 6:00 per km to hit my target. This was the hard part! I already knew I could run under 5:00 per km, but only for short distances, keeping it up over 21km was going to be a challenge! 

At first I thought the route was remarkable quiet, but then it did start at 09:30 on a Sunday morning! Getting into it though it livened up a lot and I heard many people calling out "Well done Sheryl!", "Keep going Sheryl!". I would seem wearing Sheryne on my shirt doesn't work well, I think I'll stick to Ms Sweets in future! lol The Scope cheer spots were great as always; they were around the 6.5 & 8.5 mile points and gave you a real push, just when you needed it. One of the great things about this race is they had a halfway point marker with a timing chip pad too - so no cheating! The great thing about that point is that my Garmin buzzed to mark 1hr complete; great just another hour of hard running to do!

I'd been hitting 9min miles at the mile markers all the way through, but at 9miles I started to fall behind. Only by 10secs to start, but it could have been the beginning of the end. At 10miles I had to pick it up and found a new mantra! "I refuse to lose!" I repeated it over and over in my head, and I think I may have said it out loud once or twice! It kept me going through the last few miles and when I hit the 12mile marker I threw down my Lucozade and the sweets I had in my hand and just made a break for it! That last mile took a hell of a long time to come to an end and it really felt like it was going on forever and ever! It finished where it had started and both me and my Garmin agree that it was much longer than 13.1 miles. In fact it was 13.25!

Hyde Park is one of my favourite places to race and the route didn't disappoint. It encompassed parts of the Bupa 10,000, the British 10k and the start line of the Women's Challenge. It made for a very familiar run that I really enjoyed. The medal was pretty unique too; it was actually made out of wood, apparently from the parks we'd been running in! The festival of food afterwards was really interesting; there were lessons on how to fillet fish, all types of food on sale (I had my my favourite crepes), Army training teams were there stretching the runners out and there were even two obstacle courses for the kids (that looked pretty fun!). All in all it was a great day out and I can't wait to come back next year for a new sub 2:00 PB!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Bananaman Chase 10k

This is the second time I have ran this race and I have to say it was much better last year! Last year it was held in September, a week after the Women's Challenge if I remember rightly, and I was all psyched up from the PB I got there by the time race day came along. More importantly last year the sun was shining and it was a great day out, today, however, it rained. I must admit it was kind enough to stop raining during the run and it conveniently started raining again as I crossed the finish line, so yes I am thanking God for the small mercies!

I went out for a run yesterday, just 6k to get the legs warm as my training has gone out the window this week due to the weather and my hiding out inside as much as possible to avoid it... Yesterday was glorious however so I had to get out and enjoy it! My Garmin wasn't charged and died in the middle of my run, so I popped it on the charger so it was nice and ready for todays run. It worked perfectly whilst I was out running, but when I  got back and tried to sync it, it lost all my data and only recorded a zero run for yesterday! ARGH!!!! Never mind, I checked all the details before I sync and luckily I have a photographic memory so it's all in my head...

The race is run by Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and ten people dressed as bananas set out around the course at different paces 5 mins before the runners start. The aim of the run is to chase the bananas around the course and try to overtake as many as possible. It's great fun and when your time is recorded at the end they tell you just how many bananas you managed to beat! Last year was fantastic, I had been training well and managed to get around in 53:53! I haven't even come close to that time since that race! This year I know my training has been slack, but I was still determined to do my best and whilst I didn't think I could get anywhere near that PB I wanted to get my best time for this year, which so far stands at 57:20; set way back in February.

This year the race really felt like a bit of a mess; it didn't start on time, which isn't a problem as we had some entertainment from a young girl who danced to Michael Jackson for us, then and interesting Zumba warmup. But as I made my way around the course Bananas 9 & 10 were running together, some of the bananas didn't have numbers on their backs which made it difficult to know who you were overtaking and I managed to pass Banana 3 (50 mins pace); who I was aiming to catch at 5km? That didn't impress me. He was walking, so he may have had an injury, which is in no way his fault, but it does take some of the fun out of it. 

Another disadvantage of this race it that they use timing chips that are attached to your race number and read by a wand at the end. So timings are not accurate as there is not record of the time you passed the start line and then you have to wait in line after passing the finish line to have your number read! As I passed the finish the clock read 54:30, which is great, but it's exactly a minute out from what my watch read: 55:30? Not sure what happened there, I'll have to wait until the results are published, but either way I'm pleased with the run. It's a nice course around Willen Lake, I do like running there, and there were plenty of water stations and marshalls around the course all in all a good day out, it just the rain that had me running for my car the second I crossed the finish line!