Little Runner Gal

Running, eating, sleeping and all the bits in between

Pacing at Women’s Running 10k Nottingham

Last weekend I had the immense pleasure of pacing one of the Women’s Running 10k events. A series of 10km races (also a 5km option) for women of all levels of running experience, sound the country.

As part of a fab race package, including technical t-shirt, medal, and packed goodie bag, the event offers 10k race pacers pacing 50, 55, 60 and 70 minute finishes.

I paced a 55 minute finish at the Nottingham event.

Despite a rainy start, the eager runners and families arrived in huge numbers with smiles and waterproofs! The race village was buzzing, and the warm up, led by 53 Marathons:53 Days legend Amy, had nearly everyone involved and the sun emerged to start the race. I was interviewed on stage to explain the role of the pacers, then we walked around the friendly crowd, displaying our huge time flags, so that people could come and ask us questions.

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The other pacers, Nicki, Annette, AJ, and I got positioned in the start area and the race got going. I saw Nicki’s flag disappear off into the distance and settled into a comfortable pace with my 55 minute group. We took a lovely route back and forth along the scenic Victoria Embankment, which made it not only a beautiful course, but a great atmosphere as we all kept passing each other so everyone could cheer each other on, and the pacers and groups around us got very vocal!

Some of the ladies around me wanted to talk more, others were happy just keeping up. I made it a point to cheer at every kilometre marker and let them know how well they were all doing.

As the race went on it became a bit quieter around us, but a core group of ladies stuck with me. Every time I congratulated them one lovely lady congratulated me back for the good pacing while being cheery and with a flag strapped to me!

As we came up to the final 200m I turned round and explained I was expecting sprint finishes from everyone. As we approach 50m I told them I’d be moving to the left and they were all to fly past me on the right, and sure enough they did!

I came in at 54:31, so a bit under 55 mins but pretty darn ideal.

Runners came to find me after to say thanks, which was lovely. To be part of so many people’s journey was amazing.

The event and the team behind it was fantastic. There were a lot of people running their first race and it was well organised to make it easy for them. The Women’s Running team and the volunteers made it a great day.

I continued to receive lovely feedback on social media afterwards.

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Loads of people have asked me since how you get in to pacing. These events, and the organisations that run them, are often looking for pacers. Just contact them and ask. settle on a pace that will be VERY comfortable for you (not too close to your PB or anything daft!) and make sure you get some practice runs in at that distance and pace. You’ll likely be carrying a flag. The ones I’ve used aren’t heavy but they can be a bit unwieldy, so take that in to account.

Well done to everyone involved in the event. Runners, organisers, volunteers, pacers and supporters.

And if you fancy it, HAPPY PACING!

LRG x

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Race Review: Mizuno Endure 24

I don’t even know how to start this one! It might be the sleep deprivation, but every time I think about the weekend just gone I have so get all overwhelmed!

Endure 24. 24 hours of solo runners, pairs, and teams of 3-8, running 8km laps around the woodland of Wasing Park, Aldermaston.

After hearing about last year’s event, a club mate and I started talking about entering for 2015, and by September we had roped in 6 others from our club and we were registered.

Fast forward 9 months, 3 marathons and countless other events later and I’m at Decathlon the week before frantically “investing” in a tent!

Me and my new investment arrive at the Endure 24 site after work on Friday and promptly (very promptly as it’s a pop-up job and was up and pinned down in next to no time!) set up camp with some other teams of friends. One big happy Endure 24 village! When you’re in a large team you spend most of your time in the camp, so having some amazing people around you really helps with encouragement, motivation and just general fun.

I then take the easy way out and go home for a final night in my own bed, with running water, before getting back to camp the following morning with my cousin, Beth.

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Before long everyone from our team and the other teams in our “village” are all arriving, unpacking cake, cake and more cake, and we head off to the race briefing.

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Donning the baton band, Sarah, our first runner, starts with the huge pack at the beginning and we all cheer them through and off to complete lap 1. The rest of us head back to camp and wait anxiously for her arrival.

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She arrives back in no time absolutely buzzing and telling us all about the course. All I hear is “huge hill just after the aid station”….!!

Koji and Joe were up next, our fastest runners, so I knew my turn would be soon. They fly round the course and we all gave them a huge cheers as they passed the course right by our camp.

Standing in the changeover area the atmosphere was electric. A lot of us were just waiting for our first lap and we’re all craning our necks to see if our runner is that streak appearing round the final corner darting towards us.

And then Joe was there and I was off! The start of the course was through the camp, so the cheering was great. All my teams and friends cheered me passed, and then I was up the first incline and in to the woods. The course is really beautiful. An undulating, firm trail path through the woodland. At 3 miles there’s a great looking aid station, but I don’t stop! Then just afterwards an amazing camper-van with music blaring and very encouraging volunteers. Then, the hill that everyone had been talking about. It was as bad as they said. Pretty long and steep, but I managed to run it, lungs burning once I was at the top. All that cross country training in the rainy winter months was well spent.

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Zig zagging through the trees on the decline back down to the camp site was great. No sooner had I emerged from the trees than my team mates and friends were there cheering, a few more back and forths through the tents and I was through the finish gantry and flinging the ‘baton’ band at Ben.

I LOVED IT!!

Back to camp for a stretch, refuel and a sit down.

As people came and went we were all comparing stories and looking forward to our next lap.

Ben, Beth, Kerry & Lisa all enjoyed it just as much as I had.

We cracked open the prosecco, beer and cake (Beth’s birthday, you understand….all in the name of celebration!) as our rota of laps continued.

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My second lap came around 7:30pm. It was still relatively light and the course conditions were similar. We were pretty lucky as, although it had been raining the night before, the course was pretty dry and fairly stable. I kept a good pace around the course, not stopping at the aid station again, and managed to run the full hill once again. The solo runners and the pairs are amazing! At this stage they’d been going for 7 and a half hours, and every single one I saw was still in crazily high spirits. Huge respect to these people and their support. Passing friends, I bounded back to the handover once more. A practically identically timed lap, excellent!

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More prosecco, more cake and a bit of maths to work out when my next lap would be.

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It would be around 2am. So we retreated to the pop-up palace to attempt some sleep. It didn’t happen for me. And despite knowing that Koji would be back to wake me up in time for me to get ready for my lap, I was kitted up, donning my head torch and sitting around in camp way before he returned.

I was worried I wouldn’t spot Joe at the handover but it was pretty easy and I headed off, following the trail of bobbing lights, into the darkness. My head torch was bright but I was still unsure of my footing for the first couple of miles. That, coupled with the sleeplessness, was making me feel slow, but the other runners around me made it easier. Still loads of solo runners out on the course. You can’t complain about anything when you think about what they’re going through!

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The course became lit up with glow sticks and the aid station (which I didn’t stop at again) was a welcome beacon on the trail. The blaring music of the camper-van has been replaced with flourescent lights and isotonic ‘shots’ and ‘cocktails’, which I admired but didn’t take…my stomach was already in bits with the interesting version of refuelling that I’d been practicing.

Not ashamed to say I walked the final third of the hill this time and thanked the glowing strips of the volunteers’ jackets. Then the magical zig zag forest was lit up with fairy lights all around the tress, which made this stretch a lot easier to negotiate. Another good lap, an easy change over to Ben and back to the camp for some sleep. It didn’t go well as I was buzzing from the run and keen for my next lap, which would be around 7am.

I must’ve finally drifted off for a couple of hours, but as soon as the sun rose I was back up for coffee, porridge and watching very sleepy heads emerge from the tents! We were all tired but excited.

Off for my final lap. Despite the lack of sleep I felt fab and had a fantastic run. And the solo runners were still out in force, the cheering for them getting louder and louder. As I sprinted through the finish I remembered to soak up the amazing atmosphere of such a great event.

One by one the rest of our team finished their last laps and we all joined Kerry on the last few metres of her final lap to cross the finish line together. What an accomplishment!

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I’m so proud of the team, and so proud of everyone out there. All my friends that took part. Parkrun friends, twitter friends. All the solo runners, the volunteers, the event organisers. It was truly an amazing experience.

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We all felt sad packing up our village, although the talk of showers, baths and beds was plentiful!

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I enjoyed a pub celebration with my medal! And a bit of stat analysis….pretty chuffed with my times!

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my laps

A huge well done to everyone that took part and everyone involved.

If you’ve not done something like this before I can highly recommend Endure 24. I’m not a camping convert, but the whole atmosphere makes the sleeplessness pretty irrelevant. Being in a big team with even more friends around me too, made it such a fantastic experience.

Top marks for the technical tee and the medal too.

I’ll most certainly be back in 2016.

LRG x

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Race Review: Yateley 10k – Race 1

Organised by Sandhurst Joggers, this is a nice local series for me. 3 races, on the first Wednesday of June, July & August (normally, although for scheduling reasons July is the 2nd Wednesday this year) and it’s the same 10k road route each race. They’ve won best mid-week series from Runners World and it’s easy to see why.

I did 2 of the 3 races last year and loved them. Club runners come from far and wide as well as lots of local runners, charity runners and anyone up for a well organised, timed challenge.

The course is on road and is undulating in parts. You wouldn’t necessarily look at the profile and call it a PB course, but so many I know have PB’d there, so it just goes to show, you never know!

Yateley 10k Map

Just under 900 people took part in the first of this years series, on June 3rd. The conditions were great. It had been a really nice day but was starting to cool off and a bit of a breeze.

I arrived with my brother, Jack, for only his 2nd 10k race, having only started running a few months earlier. We were both going for a PB and chatting tactics.

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Being a local race, once we had our numbers pinned on I saw loads of club mates, parkrun friends, twitter folk and other lovely runners that I knew, so before I knew it, it was 5 mins til the start gun and I’m trying to squeeze my way to 45-50min start area.

The horn went and off we all trotted. Chip timing and out onto the road pretty quickly so enough space to get a decent pace on. I was taking the same tact as in most recent events of not looking at my watch and running a 10k pace I thought I could sustain. The first 3km is a gradual uphill climb. I was running with a friend and my legs felt good. 1st mile beeped on my watch and I had to glace down. 6:57 for the first mile. WOAH reign it in girl, that wasn’t the plan, but it still felt comfortable so I kept on. Focus on form, arms, glutes, drive. It was working.

Mile 2 beeped just as I was starting to free fall down the first gradual hill. 7:08. Still feeling good. I let everything relax and carried on cruising downhill and ignoring the 1st water station. We began to work our way across the flatter section of the course with the evening sun right in our eyes….was I going to regret that water station dismissal?!

My friend had told me to push on. It was starting to hurt but 10k’s are supposed to, right? It’s always at this stage I think “you’re a marathon runner Sarah!”. BEEP! Mile 3 completed in 6:55. I struggle with these splits in an interval session, what’s going on?!

The next section of the course is just over a mile, but it seems to go on forever. I drive the road every day but never is it as long as in that race! A couple of ladies and I are back and forth, overlapping each other then dropping back. Mile 4, 7:01.

A club mate flies passed me. He did the Edinburgh half 3 days ago! “Well done Sarah!” he shouts. I’d love to respond. I’ll thank him afterwards!

Left turn and the start of the steady incline “home”. I start to get overtaken…this is where it all falls apart, I’m thinking. 7:30 for mile 5. Well I’ll still get a PB, even if I slow right down. The road is only going upwards and my legs are NOT happy.

Only a mile to go so I ignore the next water station too. Now my lungs are burning as well as my legs. The 9km marker is nowhere to be seen! Finally, the final climb before we head down and back into the school. I hear a spectator shout to her friend behind me “you’re the 23rd lady”….oooh that make’s me 22nd. Bit of a boost, and I can’t let her pass me now! Mile 6 beeps. I don’t look.

Now it’s my turn to overtake a few people! Not far to go and I’m picking them off. Turn into the school gate and overtake a few more. Towards the finish line and the announcer shouts “44 minutes 50 on the timing clock, you could still get in under 45 minutes if you can hear me”…I crossed the start line 10 seconds or so after the gun, so my chip time has a bit to spare, and BAM! The sprint finish is pulled out and I cross the line smacking stop on my watch. It reads 44:49! 3 minutes and 31 seconds quicker than my current PB! AND SUB 45!

I find friends that have finished and watch other friends come in. Most are delighted with their run and really happy for me! I’m always really cautious though….anyone else think that their Garmin could be conspiring against them….that it might have somehow altered time mid run without you noticing?!

Jack came flying over the line and also got a PB, by about 50 seconds I think.

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The text message arrived quickly….

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SMASHED IT!!!

9/116 in my age category (FSEN)

25/332 women (the lady’s friend had clearly missed a couple of women on the way passed!)

197/873 finishers

And another target achieved. I don’t think I’m going to be able to top it in the next 2 races….we’ll see!

Well done to the event organisers on another fab race, to everyone who ran, all my friends who did so well, and a huge well done to Jack on his 2nd 10k and a nice PB.

I believe there are still spaces in the July & August events. If you fancy it you can enter here.

LRG x

note: full paid entry, no affiliation to the race organisers or sponsors and nothing received for the event review.

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Decathlon: My running inspiration & advice

The lovely folk at Decathlon have published a little interview with me about running motivation & advice. Have a read HERE! Decathlon

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An update on me

It’s very unlike me not to have another big event in the distance, and by that I mean a marathon! I always seem to have the next one lined up and a goal in mind.

Despite having several I’m toying with in the future, I’ve made the decision to shelve an autumn marathon this year. So I must have some grand plan, something bigger or faster or longer or better…

Well, not as such. I’m just loving what I’m doing at the moment.

Never one to be without a plan, the vague plan looks a bit like this:

  • CiRF (coaching course) this weekend – and big focus on coaching and leading
  • The Hurt trail race – June
  • Endure24 team – June
  • 3 x Yateley 10k races – June, July & August
  • Pacing Nottingham Women’s Running 10k
  • Adidas Thunder Run team – July
  • New parkrun PB – by August
  • Cycle commute – start it! Then once a week throughout the summer
  • Enter our first cycling event – cycling is something Scott and I have taken up together to it would be great to do our first event together this summer.
  • Book 2 x half marathons for the autumn – would like a decent PB attempt so will need to research these well. Also fancy trying a new location.
  • Have half marathon plan in place – June/July

OK so for someone without a plan, this seems like quite a plan, but somehow, life feels different without being somewhere in a 16 week marathon training cycle!

But I’m very excited about the no plan, kinda plan, vague plan thing.

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I’m loving encouraging, motivating and watching others improve, and can’t wait for coaching to get bigger and better soon. The events I’ve got coming up are a mix of racing and fun, so it looks like a good summer is on the cards.

LRG x

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Race Review: Windle Valley Pairs Relay

On returning from beautiful Crete, this was the best race I could have done to get me back into the swing of things.

The Pairs Relay is in its second year. The course is a  1km flat, off road loop, which starts and ends at the change-over pen. Each pair completes the 1km loop 10 times, 5 times each alternating. So runner A does 1 lap, high five’s runner B who does the next lap, high five’s runner A who does the next, back to runner B’s turn etc… hope you’re still with me.

Unlike the inaugural year, the weather was pants! The days either side of the event were glorious, but this day was wetter than wet wet wet. But still, over 100 smiling pairs turned up with cakes and competitive glints in their eyes, ready to take on the relay.

Young, old, club runners, fun runners, first timers and veterans all took to the start line and off we went. Scott and I were running as a team and it was his first “proper” running event. He was running the first leg, so waiting in the change-over pen I was surprised to see him flying round the final corner and across the field towards me quite so quickly after the first 1km.

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The loop quickly become familiar, and muddier! The rain didn’t hold off much but we were already wet and muddy so it didn’t matter too much! Our lungs were burning by the end of each lap, and despite the fact that they had recovered once the other runner returned, our legs hadn’t!

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Crossing the finish line, we’d completed the 10km in 45:17 and had a pretty even split of time between us. The laps got a bit slower each time (well don’t we always go off too fast in these things?!) but were not too bad in terms of pace.

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The top teams whizzed round!

Men’s Team – 34.04
Ladies’ Team – 40.53
Mixed Team – 39.04
Junior Boys’ Team – 37.29
Junior Girls’ Team – 39.55

It was a fantastic event, well organised, and I saw many friends from twitter, parkrun and local clubs there too.

I do love something fun and a bit different in an event, and this certainly ticked the boxes.

We indulged in a table full of home baked goodies afterwards and went home not needing any dinner…perfect!

LRG x

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R, R & R….and R & R

Rest, relaxation & recovery.

And boy did I need it!

As you can probably tell from reading about me, I’m not the best at stopping. I don’t like to do nothing, but I also feel overwhelmed when I’m doing everything.

So 2 marathons seemed like a good excuse to book a holiday. 7 days after the London marathon we jetted off to Crete and I literally did nothing! We meandered from breakfast to a sun lounger. Wandered from lunch to the beach. Shuffled from dinner to the bar. It was amazing! I was itching to run, but I HAD to rest. and taking myself away from it all was the best way to do it. I highly recommend it….though running 2 marathons beforehand isn’t essential!

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Refocus & replan.

It was a great time to read and refocus on things. I read some fantastics book which helped me to think about the important things, and where I want to be going in life. I love encouraging, coaching and helping others run, both face to face and via social media, and I very much believe that you should love what you do.

So next weekend sees me taking the next big step in making things happen for me and turning my England Athletics Leader in Running Fitness licence, in to a Coach in Running Fitness one. It’s going to be a lot of hard work, alongside my office day job, but I am so excited and determined to make this happen.

I’ll keep you updated on how it’s going.

LRG x

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Race Review: London Marathon

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The London Marathon. The 2nd of my 2 marathons in 2 weeks.

After listening to my body through the Limbo period between Brighton & London marathons, I’d done everything I could to prepare for a decent result.

My aims going into the event:

  1. Another sub 3:45 – having never done 2 marathons so close together, I had no idea how my body would perform. Rest, nutrition and training between the 2 had all been a bit of an experiment. But I knew I could run a sun 3:45 marathon so maybe I could do it again.
  2. Negative splits – I’d proved I could do this too, a new thing for me! So to have a strong 2nd half of the marathon would be ideal, however the pace was going. If the time wasn’t an option, then a comfortable race would be.
  3. Sub 4 hour finish – that would still be very respectable and, coupled with the above and the below, would mean I’d come to London and achieved what I felt I needed to.
  4. Have a great time – overall I wanted to enjoy the London Marathon this time. Last year it was painful. I didn’t achieve my target, I didn’t remember MOST of the sights and the wall was hideous!

So, as Scott left me at the blue start, eating my ritual breakfast, I had the familiar 3:45 and 3:50 finish pacing bands on.

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Somehow I’d wangled a start in pen 4. The 3:30 pacers appeared…now I definitely knew I was in the wrong place! But I had no intention of following them so it was fine.

The race started. Predictably the start was a slow jostle of people, but I’d already said I’d give it a few miles to find a decent, comfortable pace.

Both the runners and crowds were fantastic. We quickly merged with green start and then red just before the 5km timing mat. The atmosphere was great and I was loving it.

At 5km I saw my friend, Abby, on the timing mat, and crossed at 26:37, then further on saw club mates on the 10km timing mat and crossed at 52:55. Pace remained good.

I made a point of remembering Cutty Sark this time! And taking in all of the support.

I was looking forward to seeing Scott at mile 9 but we missed each other. Mum and Gemma would be at mile 12 so it was fine. My pace remained pretty steady. Just how it needed to be.

At 12 I saw Mum and Gemma, then Tower Bridge, which had me smiling instantly. The crowds were deafening. I ran past Denise Lewis interviewing a runner on the bridge and shortly after passed half at 1:51:54, only seconds different to Brighton.

But this was feeling different. I had a stitch type pain under my right rib. I never get stitch when running. It had been creeping on for a few miles and it was starting to become a case of WHEN rather than IF it was going to affect my race. I was soon to find out.

Miles 16 and 17 I slowed right down. The stitch type thing had me feeling like my lungs were shrinking. The amount of air I seemed to be getting in was rapidly decreasing. My legs wanted to run, my lungs wanted a break. Having never had this happen before, it’s usually the other way round, I had no idea what to do.

I finally saw Scott at 18 miles. “Are you OK?” he shouted. “No!” I replied! Not much help but I really wasn’t OK, and I was at the rather ‘honest’ stage of pain.

By 21 miles my pace had slowed right down to almost 9:30 miles. As I feared, it had been a case of WHEN rather than IF and I was well and truly right in the thick of the WHEN stage. 22 and 23 slowed down further. I didn’t even have the energy to check the pacing bands, but I knew I was well off. 3:45 had gone, the negative splits had gone and I was far from enjoying this.

I saw Scott once more, and then Mum and Gemma. I remembered to take in the Houses of Parliament. I promised myself I wouldn’t have flashbacks of last year, but I did in that final mile. The pain was identical, and I wasn’t moving fast. I was being passed by so many people. I felt terrible. The only saving grace, I kept telling myself, was that I hasn’t walked a single step. I’d never stopped. I had, however, finished, on about a 10 minute mile pace. For me, this hadn’t been the plan.

I crossed the line. Stopped my Garmin. I didn’t want to look at the time. My watch had done some crazy auto-pause around Canary Wharf so I didn’t know how accurate it would be. The finish line clock had said 3:55:something. I’d crossed the start line, full of hope, just under 2 minutes after the start gun so I was pretty sure I’d snuck in a sub 3:55. No negative splits, very little enjoyment and now, I was being held up by a very lovely finish line volunteer while I gasped to get absolutely anything into my lungs

1 out of 4 aims attained.

1.3 if you count remembering to see Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament this time!

Meeting my friends and family afterwards, they were so proud, but at that moment I couldn’t feel proud of myself. Maybe it was because I’d had such a great run at Brighton. As I said at the beginning of this (what has turned out to be) epic tale, I didn’t know what was going to happen. But somehow it hadn’t been enough.

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Consequently I have a lack of photos, which I regret.

Now I’ve had a few days to think on it, I managed 2 sub 4 marathons in 2 weeks. Sub 4 was my dream, and I’ve done it twice in 2 weeks.

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I feel a lot prouder now.

Here are the grizzly facts. They don’t help my view of the race!

Results results 2Results 3Ever the optimist (despite what the above might suggest!) I’m determined to take away something from this experience so here’s what I’ve learnt about myself during this:

  • I wont be doing 2 marathons back to back again! I know plenty of people that can, and do. A great runner at my club even did better at London than Brighton, and he tried hard at both. But I don’t think I’d do it again.
  • I’ll never walk! Despite knowing my lungs weren’t going to keep up the 8:30 minute miles, I didn’t walk a step.
  • I’m probably too hard on myself. I need to set more realistic goals in order to ensure I’m not so disappointed.
  • There’s always new things to go wrong! I’d worried so much about my legs I’d neglected the recovery of my lungs. Something I’d never experienced before. So that’ll be in the recovery plan from now on.

So, onward and upward.

“What’s next?” they ask….A HOLIDAY!

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Catch up soon!

LRG x

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Limbo!

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Not the kind where you shimmy under a stick, although that’s something to return to for holiday!

The time between the 2 marathons, Brighton and London, has been great. But I’m a creature of habit, and having no real plan has been a bit disconcerting for this creature. I didn’t know how I was going to feel after Brighton, in body and in mind, so decided to play it by ear.

My legs were surprisingly OK. Without wanting to irk other runners, I was bounding up AND down stairs! SORRY! Quads were a bit tight, so on the Tuesday I had a sports massage and a swim. Everything felt good. On Thursday I decided I trusted that everything felt well enough to replicate my final taper week before Brighton, so I did a gentle 10k with friends. My legs were still heavy, so lots of stretching followed and lots of rest Friday.

Saturday, as I had done 2 weeks before, I went for an easy parkrun. I was chatting with a club friend, who is also running London, for much of the first mile. Everything felt good and I was keeping it relatively easy. As he broke away I knew I had to keep it gentle, so left him to it. Our 2 lap course saw me soar through lap 1 in just over 11 minutes. It was the first time I’d looked at my watch (as I always do at parkrun – the 2 laps help me know if I’ve managed a negative split). If I kept up this pace I’d get a PB. On the weekend between 2 marathons. Weird. So I did keep it up, it felt comfortable, and I did get the PB. Not what I had planned. This Limbo thing is strange.

Same tapered final long run on the Sunday that I’d done previously, and lots more resting. Rest Monday, along with some stretching, and just an easy one coaching club tonight before an easy 20 minutes on Thursday and Saturday. Ooh, and a sport massage on Wednesday, same as 2 weeks ago!  I feel lazy, but at least I have a bit more of a plan now, so my head is happy.

I’m doing the carb depletion thing again too. I’m not looking for a PB at London, but anything that helps me to NOT hit the wall (and this seems to work for me) and I’m all for it. It’s tried and tested for me. Might all be in my head but, hey, whatever works!

I still don’t know if I’m doing the right thing. I’ve heard it takes a month to get a marathon out of your legs, so London was always going to be a bit of a “jolly” – however jolly 26.2 miles can be! But I’m getting good at listening to my body and following what it says, so fingers crossed it’s saying the right things!

BRING ON LONDON!

LRG x

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Race Review: Brighton Marathon

“Are you ready for Brighton then?” I was repeatedly asked in the week before the marathon, and my response was always the same, “Yes, I’m in the best shape I have been before any marathon. My training has gone well, I don’t have any injuries and I’ve done everything I can do.”

And it was true. This was marathon number 4. 1, 2 & 3 had been exceptional learning experiences, but plagued by undertraining, overtraining and injury respectively. In my eyes, I’d failed at getting my sub 4 hour marathon in 2014, but this was going to be it.

The week before the marathon I began my carb depletion diet on the Sunday. I was less crabby than the last time I did it, which was good, but I was sick to death of meat, eggs and cheese by day 4! My training was slow and careful in the final week; 8 miles Sunday, coaching intervals Tuesday, slow leg turner on Thursday morning and a final couple of miles on Saturday morning.

Carb loading from Thursday was bliss! And a day out with friends to the Expo on Friday had me tingling with excitement, nerves and anticipation. I just wanted to be on that start line!

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Saturday night I slept terribly. I mean properly awfully. On any normal night I’m out like a light. I must’ve had about 2 hours in total. But I was still up like a shot at the 5am alarm and we were on our way to Brighton.

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I met up with friends in the start area and planned where I’d see everyone along the route.

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I was in the first wave of runners from the main start, so I made my way to my start pen and worked my way through to about 10 people from the front. My target was a sub 4 marathon. I knew the splits for that off the top of my head. My training suggested I could sneak in somewhere around 3:50 if all went to plan and I was cautious about my pacing. I had the 3:50 pacing band on. I’d also, rather optimistically, worn a 3:45 pacing band mainly so that I could pitch myself somewhere between the 2, if possible. I’d made my peace with the fact I was likely to be ripping it off after 10 miles.

We started and I was across the line quickly. I knew the first mile would be slow with the crowds and the incline, so I just got myself comfy.

In miles 1-6 everything was going well. I always use the “run the mile you’re in” strategy, and each one was strong. Pace was between the 2 pacing bands. The plan was being executed well. The support was strong and I’d seen friends and my boyfriend, Scott, already. With my name on my club top everyone cheers you on, and I was smiling back at them all. The tried and tested strategy of gels every 30 minutes was working.

I’d read a marathon tip from Xempo the week before and I kept asking myself the question.

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Miles 7-12 saw up heading along the seafront towards Ovingdean. Support was less but still encouraging, and as the course loops back you can see the speedy ones coming back in the other direction. My pace was still pretty consistent and each mile was under the 8:35 per mile of the 3:45 finish band….so I was buying myself some time for the harder miles to come.

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Back along the seafront and into Hove I saw Scott, friends, family and club mates. The support was awesome and a real boost after the quieter miles. I crossed halfway in 1:51:43. The 3:45 finish band said halfway would be 1:52:30, so I had a few seconds spare on that finish time. It was positive, but I was pretty convinced that would be eaten up in the harder miles to come.

Miles 14-18 were pretty steady. Good support along the route and plenty of water stations. Another out and back, it was nice to see the faster ones coming past. People started flagging. Runners that I had been around for the first half were stopping or dropping back, and a few of them I saw on the loop back while they were still heading out. Remembering my Xempo mantra I still felt OK at this pace. I carried on.

Scott ran alongside me just after 18 miles. I could still chat fine and was happy enough, I knew I was alright.

I’d been warned about the ‘grim’ miles up to and around the power station. Not only was the scenery a bit bleak, it was around that time that ‘the wall’ creeps up on you.

At 19 miles I saw the #UKRunChat banners, which was a great boost. Just after that there were runners heading back at their 23 mile mark, and I began to get insanely jealous of them knowing they only had a parkrun to go! Still my pace was consistent and I saw 20, 21, 22 come and go. Each time my watch beeped my mile had been around the 3:45 pacing band.

With a parkrun to go myself now, I had to really dig deep to make these miles count. I was passing people who were struggling. At 23 I saw my Dad and Stepmum, I was still able to smile and wave. Here’s me at 23.5 miles, courtesy of Bob Fudge.

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24 and 25 along the seafront were great. It felt like everyone was cheering my name and I had loads of shouts about girl power. Until that stage I hadn’t realised that when I looked around me I was the only female. Lots of chants telling me how strong I looked. I knew Scott would be at 25 miles, I was starting to flag and I felt weak. I saw him there and told him I couldn’t talk but I was OK.

The final mile and a bit was the only part I found tough! But the crowds were amazing, and I saw a club mate who looked just as shocked as I was to see me there so soon! I saw I had around 2 minutes to spare on the 3:45 finish. All I had to do was keep moving and I might make it. The guys around me were stopping. I couldn’t stop.

I saw it. The finish gantry. I managed a sprint finish and passed a few more on the way through. 3:42:34, a time I hadn’t even dreamt of.

I almost kissed every single volunteer I came into contact with after that!

Medal round my neck and bag collected, I was on cloud 9. Straight down to the beach for a dip in the sea!

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My smiles says it all!

I looked at the stats afterwards and here’s a quick round-up:

1st half: 1:51:43

2nd half: 1:50:51

Finish: 3:42:34

Average pace: 8.29/mile (5.17/km)

Slowest mile: Mile 1 @ 8.59 min

Fastest mile: Mile 8 @ 8.18 min

Finish position overall: 1525 out of 9200

Finish position All Women: 163 out of 3347

Finish position Female age 18-34: 75 out of 1423

I can safely say I could have done nothing more to make that run the best of my life. So far!

So now to invest the same amount of trust in to my recovery and mini semi re-taper type thing for the London Marathon, which is in 10 days now!

As an event, Brighton Marathon was great. Course is good, support is great, scenery (for the best part) is lovely, water stations are frequent and marshals were fantastic. My only criticism was the cups of water rather than bottles, but that couldn’t dampen a top class event.

On to the next!

LRG x

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