Wednesday, 18 September 2013


After my slightly disastrous race last weekend I was planning on taking it a bit easier at parkrun this week. We were heading to the lovely Wimpole Estate parkrun to visit our friends there and tackle The Hill (we are edge of fen-dwellers; we don't see many hills...) but by midweek they were still short of volunteers, I love the fact that parkrun is run by volunteers and although it sometimes frustrates me that some runners don't pull their weight, I also love volunteering so offered to marshal rather than run. Cheering people on is as enjoyable as running and you still get cake so it's win win really. 

Marshalling at Wimpole also means setting up the part of the course nearest to your marshal point, so at about 8.30 I set off in the drizzle to my gate at between 1 & 2 K and was glad that the cows were grazing elsewhere!

Wimpole Estate is a National Trust property and is beautiful (even early on a grey Autumnal morning). I feel privileged to be able to take place in a parkrun there.

You can just make out the runners making their way along the first part of the course: 
I really enjoyed cheering them on and trying to motivate them to keep powering up the hill. It was great to hear stories of PBs in the cafe afterwards and the rest I gave my legs worked- on Sunday I ran 11 miles and maintained my target pace throughout.

Have you volunteered at parkrun or another event? When you're running what's your favourite marshal shout?

Sunday, 15 September 2013

A weekend of two halves

I realise the title of this post might sound misleading- I didn't run two half marathons last weekend, although I am in training for two (the big city Royal Parks half and the local St Neots half) but my weekend of running had two very different halves. 

On Saturday I got up for parkrun not sure how I was feeling - I contemplated trying to smash it, then I wondered about running my average time and then I thought about running with my friend Michaela who was pacing 30 minutes. In the end I ran naked (without my watch) and just went for it, trying to stay ahead of the 25 minute pacer. This resulted in a massive 21 second PB and an only very slightly frustrating time of 24 minutes dead. I spent the rest of the day feeling smug and like my training was paying off!

On Sunday I had a local 10 mile race planned- according to my plan I had to do 10 miles anyway so thought I may aswell use the race as a training run. 
(Testing out different fuels)

My legs felt a little heavy after the previous day's PB and it was warmer than I expected, but I started well - I maintained my target "race pace" of 9 minute miles (which would get me under 2 hours for a half) until about 6 miles, but suddenly the wheels fell off. I've never suffered quite so badly in a race before - the combination of a tough course, warm weather and tired legs plus messing up my fuelling strategy meant I ended up with stomach cramps wondering if I was even going to finish. Usually I love local races but this one ended up being quite lonely- it was clearly a popular club race and I was much further back than I usually am which meant that for most of the race I was on my own. I stopped at the water station at 8 miles and it was a real effort to get going again. I stopped at the bottom of a hill with the 9 mile marker at the top and leaned over with my hands on my knees wondering if I was going to be sick. Runners who had already finished started driving past me and I briefly considered flagging down the St Johns Ambulance that was driving the course. Ultimately however I dug in and kept moving. My 90 minute target was long gone but I stumbled across the line in 95 minutes. I felt awful but knew that I'd won the mental battle and that that would stand me in good stead for future races. 

(Recovery time)

Once I'd recovered I vowed to do a few things differently, including not running hard at parkrun the day before a race!

Have you ever had a really bad race? What did you learn?