Race report: North Norfolk half marathon

Everyone has races where time is important. We all have times where we train hard for a race, and are desperate to beat a PB or slip under an illusive but ultimately arbitrary milestone. And everyone has races where time could not matter less. This was one of those races. There were parts of it I really didn’t enjoy, like the heat (remember that one really hot Sunday we had a couple of weeks ago?!), the hills, running over sand, loose gravel and lumpy grass, but ultimately, none of that matters. I ran this race alongside my Dad and my brother, so I’m going to let them tell you how it went…

Kevin/Dad’s Race Report

NORTH NORFOLK HALF MARATHON – Sunday 18th May 2014 

I awoke early on the morning of the race with a mixture of feelings ranging from trepidation to concern with a very small amount of excitement, bordering on anticipation. Looking out of the window, the sun was already shining brightly. As forecast, it was going to be a nice, very warm day. Just what we needed!

Arriving at the start, it was noticeable that a large percentage of the participants were members of running clubs but I found it somewhat reassuring to note that there were a few competitors who actually appeared to be older than me. Or was that just wishful thinking resulting from unrealistic optimism?

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The training in the preceding weeks had not gone smoothly. A number of rest periods were needed to enable me to recover from calf injuries and, as a result, less than a third of the planned miles had been covered. It had become obvious that my warming-up routine was somewhat lacking, i.e. no stretching and very little in the way of warming-up before running. Over the last three weeks of the training, this had been rectified and, as a result, I had remained injury-free.

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We had thought about the tactics for the race and had come to the conclusion that discipline was required from the very beginning. It was important not to start too quickly. As we set off, I glanced at my brand new Garmin watch and pressed the button. We were away. I would look at that watch at least 500 times during the race (or so it seemed). As we set off, a quick look over the shoulder revealed a few runners behind us, but not many. It dawned on me that I was actually running with my son and daughter.

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It soon became evident that, due to the ever-increasing temperature, our planned times per mile would not be achieved. Thankfully, there were watering stations every two miles or so and full use was made of these. A number of runners were feeling the effects of the heat at a fairly early stage. They were walking, possibly having started too quickly. The route took us along the coastal path and then through the centre of Wells which was rather crowded. We had planned to run together but agreed that if any of us felt able to go quicker, they should do so. Over the last three miles, it was obvious that Marcus had more fuel in the tank and he soon disappeared into the distance. Melissa soldiered on with great determination despite suffering from the heat and running with an injured knee.

After about 10.5 miles, we received a welcome boost as Alison, Hollie and Freddie were waiting to cheer us on. I think they had been there for quite a while, enjoying a snooze in the sun. The final two miles of the race were uphill and on the roughest terrain but finally Holkham Hall came into sight, just as I overtook Sydney the “dog”. He had been blatantly cheating by carrying his head! A quick look at the watch revealed less than a mile to go but, rather frustratingly, the course went past the finish and away from it, before doubling back in a loop. As the finishing line was crossed, the button was pressed and a time of 2 hours, 38 minutes and 53 seconds showed – a personal best! (First ever half marathon).

Freddie the real dog...
Freddie the real dog…
...and Sydney the not-so-real dog
…and Sydney the not-so-real dog

It was an absolute joy running with my son and daughter. Dare I say it? I am already looking forward to doing it again.

Dad at the finish line!
Dad at the finish line!

Marcus/little bro’s Race Report

The North Norfolk half marathon was my first proper run. I have always played sport, predominantly football and cricket, and have therefore stayed (fairly!) active. This run however felt another step up. Looking at the weather forecast on the days running up to the race, it looked as though it was going to be a hot and sunny day! And as Sunday arrived, it didn’t disappoint. I had gone for a last pre-race run on the Friday prior to the Sunday in very warm temperatures. This may have been a bad idea! I struggled, and in turn casted doubts on my ability to run the half marathon.

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When it came to race day, I was running with my sister and father. We took it easy for the first half of the race. I think we all felt pretty good. For me anyway, surprisingly good. It was very hot and on differing terrain. With it being such a hot day, hydration was paramount. The organisers had numerous water stations along the route. I think originally we had been given every 3 mile stop offs as our water stations. Thankfully they turned out to be much more frequent!

So we carried on until 2 miles to go. At this point I increased my speed slightly, as I still felt ok. Again, against what I had expected! Overall I found the run enjoyable, and as I finished, after thinking about what I was going to get from the fish and chip shop, my thoughts went straight to planning my next race.

Marcus at the finish line!
Marcus at the finish line!

Can you believe they have both finished saying they want to do it again?! *proud face*

And I’ll leave you with a few more shots that make it a proud AND a happy face…

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Running has taken over my life

Sounds like a pretty obvious statement, right? Especially for someone who writes a running blog and whose Twitter bio starts ‘Mostly just running’.

But it wasn’t until last week, when I found the photo below, that I realised how much it’s become the case.

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I’ve been a runner for four years. I can say this with certainty, because it wasn’t a gradual process. I never ran, not really even at school. Then one day, I signed up to my first race, and I ran. I pretty much became a runner overnight. Simple.

That photo up there is my medal rack as it was after We Own The Night in 2013. Just five. Now, one year and one week later, this is what it looks like.

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I’ve gone a bit crazy, huh? But like I said, I genuinely hadn’t realised quite how much. In the last year I’ve run a marathon, four half marathons and countless other shorter races. But running is the least important thing. People, experiences, travel, friends, support. That’s why running has taken over my life.

Scared of racing

Today I will run my fifth half marathon.

The last two were part of marathon training, so they were 'just' training runs. They were at a time when 14, 16, 18 mile runs were the weekly norm.

The furthest I've run since the marathon six weeks ago is 7 miles. I've run a lot since then, but I've run short and I've run fast.

I feel very blasé about today's race, but at the same time very apprehensive. For the first time ever, I'm going to race on what I would call an injury. I'm very sensible normally and wouldn't usually have chosen to run, but today I'm running with my 59 year old Dad and 22 year old brother. It will be my little bro's first race, so there's no way I'm not running.

It's also forecast to be very hot. And the race doesn’t start until 11am, so we will literally be running in the beating midday sun. I hate running in the heat. I am not a hot weather person. Yesterday we panic bought new vest tops, white tshirts and hand held water bottles. At least I have my visor.

And then there's the route. The field is 339 runners, it's all primarily off road, it's rural, it's a little but hilly. Just look at the map.

Wish us luck!

Race report: Hampton Court half marathon 2014

I feel pretty indifferent about this race. I thought about whether to even bother writing a race report at all. Not because it was terrible, but mostly because after the absolute joy of last week, nothing was ever going to come close.

In comparison this race was just a bit blah. There was no bright sunshine, no beautiful seafront route, no glorious weekend away wrapping it’s lovely arms around the race. But (most of) those things aren’t the race’s fault.

A lot has been said already about a few teething problems with this inaugural race. I’m not too fussed that my new PB of 2:12 doesn’t count as the route was half a mile short – if it wasn’t so close to my 2:14 in Brighton last week, I might’ve just taken it. I’m not too fussed at the seriously boring route, mostly along main roads, because I needed to run 12 miles anyway, so I might as well have done it in the company of several hundred other runners. I’m not too fussed that the weather was pants, because let’s face it, it could have been a hell of a lot worse. I am pretty miffed that my bag was just left insecurely on the sports hall floor at the end though.

And I am also really, really miffed about something that no one else has mentioned yet – the complete lack of toilets en route. Now I know for most people this isn’t an issue, but as all of the ladies I do my weekend long runs with will tell you, I need the loo often. Like, really often. I haven’t managed to go for a run longer than about 8 miles without having to stop off mid run. I am becoming quite the authority on the location of public toilets in central London. (This map of toilets on the Tube network is particularly useful!)

I really try for this not to be the case. I don’t drink loads before I run (before this race, I had one cup of tea in the morning, and used the portaloo literally 2 minutes before the start). I just can’t help it. So, the Hampton Court half for me was mostly spent trying to distract myself from my own bladder and eyeing up every bush and tree in sight (I decided there weren’t any that were appropriate for the task in hand). Which really wasn’t that enjoyable. Despite all the marshals I asked telling me that all the pubs along the route had said it was okay for us to duck in and use their facilities, none of them were open at the time we were running. There was (THANKFULLY!) one hidden public loo on the Thames path heading back towards Esher College, which I only noticed because someone was coming out as I ran past. Misery averted.

photo by Leah

Enough TMI then, and onto some more positives… I ran a half marathon, on my own, with no music, at a fairly even pace. Like last week, I felt mostly comfortable. I got a pretty cool medal (nice and weighty!) I got to hang out with my friends. So it wasn’t at all bad. Next up: EIGHTEEN miles. Gulp.

For some other race reports that don’t mention wee at all, see the following, (they’re also much more comprehensive):

Laura – life.laura.london

Charlie – The Runner Beans

Stephanie – a magpie in the sky

Ashley – a healthy, happier bear

Lucy – Lucy Lunges

2013 and the medals that made it

A look at my year in running – without a doubt the best so far – through the medium of my medal rack…

1. Energizer Night Run, April

My first race this year and my first race for over a year. I stupidly wore the massive race cotton tshirt (it’s like that in a year I forgot what not to do whilst running). And then it rained. Hard. So that was nice.

2. We Own The Night, May

Somehow, in 5 weeks, I managed to knock off 9 minutes from the April race and land a 10k PB – which is still standing. I drank the free Prosecco within about 17 seconds of crossing the finish line, then felt really sick for the rest of the night. So that was nice.

3. Wimbledon Common 10k, June

At this point, I’d lived in Wimbledon for four months and hadn’t set foot on the Common. I did not realise it had mud and hills and trees like an ACTUAL FOREST. I came about three from last. And, despite being less than three miles from my flat, it took bloody ages to get there. So that was nice.

4. British 10k, July

Waiting for what felt like forever (I think it was actually about 40 minutes) on the hottest day of the year, to then run 10k on the hottest day of the year. My least favourite race ever. Oh, and then I went to run The Colo(u)r Run that afternoon. I was so grumpy, so very grumpy. So that was nice.

5. Copenhagen half marathon, September

I was still so grumpy from the double runday Sunday in July that I decided not to run for most of August. I went to Copenhagen and had a really lovely time in a great city with some ace people. Then I ran a half marathon after nowhere near enough training, cried throughout the last 3k and had to be escorted over the last kilometre. So that was nice.

6. Whole Foods Women Only Run (5k option), October

Again proving that just because something is in South West London, it doesn’t mean it’s anywhere near my flat – which is also in South West London. I walked further to the race than the rest itself, but despite having the previous two days off work sick, I smashed my (albeit ancient) 5k PB. Now that one was actually nice.

7. Mo Running Battersea Park 5k, November

I now think an HP Sauce van pumping out the smell of freshly cooked bacon is the secret to race success. Because I was so bloomin’ hungry at the beginning of this race, that despite promising Leah I was in it to ‘take it easy’, I literally did race back to the manwich goodness. And broke the previous month’s 5k PB in the process. Another quite nice one.

8. The Running Show 10k, November

On the surface, this race was back to not-so-niceness, what with the boring course (and the three glasses of wine the night before). Oh, and the migraine that came on in the last mile or so. Bleurgh. But, I ran sub-60, showing that 9-something minute miles were now my new norm. Nice!

9. Mo Running Greenwich Park 10k, November

Blimey, to think I thought Richmond was far away. Greenwich is something (or rather, somewhere) else. But a beautiful day, a course on the right side of challenging, and 70+ other RDC runners made this a perfect race. I loved it.

10. CAFOD Nativity Run 5k (oops!), December

On a chilly, but clear and gorgeous December morning, me and 14 other lovely running ladies decided to dress as elves and go for a little run around Clapham Common. I felt awful and the course was the windiest I’ve ever run, but it just goes to prove that this running thing is about far, far more than just the running. I was surrounded by brilliant, like minded people, none of whom I knew a year ago. And that made this the nicest race of them all.

Oh 2014, you’ve got a pretty big racing year to top…