As I mentioned in the about me section, after having to pull out of this years London Marathon, as I would no longer be running 26 miles I challenged myself to run 26 races.
Some were booked as marathon race prep, others booked to support friends who were running, some for fun, and others to just complete the challenge & now I am back to thinking about marathon race prep again
So this can be a complete journal of my training I thought I would do a little recap and review of the races
Race No. 1 – The Love Run 10k, Finsbury Park, London
I was actually surprised this event took place, the day before was the windiest day of the year, several local Parkruns were closed, there were trees down in the park & the Love Runs sister event in Cardiff had to be postponed.
In February I was still fairly confident with my running but the wind OMG, part of the course we were blown around the other part we were running into the wind which honestly felt like we were being pushed backwards.
Highlight of the race for me was seeing Sarah, one of my Weight Watchers members and a fantastic runner, she puts me to shame & I am so proud of her determination to better herself every time she runs
Race No. 2 – Test Track 10 miles, Ford Test Track, Dunton, Essex
I had been really looking forward to this race, its a unique opportunity to run around a race track, with its sharp chicane’s, unexpected hills and long straights.
Unfortunately the few day’s before the race I had come down with a cold and sore throat and it was touch and go whether I would run, I wanted to be fit for the Bath Half the following weekend, but I had promised my friend Laura who was using this for her London Marathon training, so I decided to go along, give it my best shot, walk if and when needed, actually that’s my philosophy in all races, but for this one I expected to have to walk most of it
On the day the race was much easier than I expected, but those straights OMG they were boring, and the wind along the final straight was a killer, I knew two other people running, Julie & Laura and we all said before the race our aim was 2hrs and I am very pleased to say we all smashed it.
This is definitely a race I hope to do again next year
Race No. 3 – Bath Half Marathon
After last weeks run at Dunton, I was looking forward to Bath, I had gone along the year before as cheering squad to 4 friends who were running, Bath is a beautiful city so I was looking forward to seeing more of it as I was running.
Unfortunately I woke up the morning of the race and was sick, I am not sure if it was a bug or the fact I had enjoyed to many diet coke refills at Nando’s the day before, either way it wasn’t the way I wanted to start a race, I struggled to keep down my breakfast but again went down to the start with the attitude I would walk if needed
As we queued for the race to start the heavens opened and we got soaked, I like running in the rain but I don’t really enjoy standing around in it, I got to about 5 miles and was feeling fine, it wasn’t as scenic as I had hoped for and the first 3 miles were incredibly congested with some of the most selfish runners I had ever had the misfortune of running with, then just after 5 miles I took some Lucozade from the water station, it only took one sip to set my stomach off again, and just a few 100ms further down the road Iwas dashing to the side to be sick again, this really knocked my confidence and it took me until about mile 7 to find my pace again and to soon we were at mile 10 and I think it was the memory of mile 5 but my stomach started to churn again.
The last 3 miles were so hard, I knew my sub 2.30 was within reach but I felt I had nothing left to give, it was raining heavily again & all I could think about was my poor friends waiting for me at the finish, they were the only thing that kept me going, the end just never seemed to come, we turned a corner & suddenly a sight I wasn’t expecting just yet, even though my Garmin told me it was close, the finish line.. One final push, my sub 2.30 was in sight…. just!!
I did it!! & as I crossed that finish line I burst into tears, by far my hardest ever race & not one I will be repeating anytime soon, there are to many other races I want to try that usually fall the same weekend, Silverstone & Reading to name just two.
Race No. 4 – Roding Valley Half Marathon, Woodford Bridge, Essex
This race seriously needs to be renamed the Half from Hell, 13 hills in 13 miles WTF?!!
This race was a last minute booking and a freebie, we only booked to help Laura with her marathon training, she had been taken very ill at Bath so wanted to do another half but closer to home & maybe add on a few extra miles if she could and this fitted in perfectly, Laura had warned me the route would be tough but nothing could prepare me for how tough the route would be.
I set off with Laura and Rebekah for the first mile but as soon as we hit our second hill I knew I would struggle to keep their pace so I let them go off and decided to run my own race.
The route was very local to me but not an area I know well so I enjoyed the sightseeing aspect of today, hills are not my thing and are probably the thing that started off my ITB knee injury last year, so my stratargy was to walk the hills and run the flats
This was my 4th weekend in a row of racing and the first weekend we didn’t have bad weather in fact today was the complete opposite gorgeous sunshine and 20 degrees, not perfect running weather, but as soon as I saw the 2nd hill I knew today was never going to be about a PB and it was just going to be about finishing a punishing course
About mile 7 I caught sight of Laura again, she was to far ahead of me to catch up but it was good to see her, gradually I managed to get closer and in between mile 8-9 I caught her up.
As part of her marathon training Laura had ran the 3 miles to the race, I think she was glad to see me, I find it easier to run with water, Laura hates running with anything, so I offered to carry water for her as I was worried about her getting ill again, we agreed to stick together for the final 4 miles, we actually run well together, I probably run slightly quicker as I normally run shorter distances, whereas Laura is obviously pacing herself and focusing on much higher mileage and can run a lot farther than I can without stopping, but that makes us perfect running buddies as I won’t stop as I don’t want to let her down so she pushes me to run further and I probably up her pace very slightly.
I had no idea what my time would be at the start of this race, when I saw Laura at mile 8 she said she wanted to finish within 2.45, & i promised he we would & I am very pleased to say we shaved almost 10 mins off the time she wanted and only 7 mins off my PB but with those hills I will happily take an extra 30 seconds a mile over all those hills, very proud of my result here, especially in the heat
Race No. 5 – Sports Relief Mile, 6 Miles, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, East London
After the last few weeks this race should have been easy, I had run in the Olympic Park last year, but hadn’t really taken in the scenery, so this year my plan was to enjoy the run, I was running with my friend Jemma who I was meant to be doing the marathon with, she had been training on her own so wanted to run her own race & OMG he was amazing, she had improved so much since our last run together, was so consistent in her pace, I didn’t see her stop once.
After completing our 6 miles, we had promised Jemma’s daughter Frankie we would run the mile with her as Frankie had often come along and cheered us on at races, we expected it to be a brisk walk but Frankie had other idea’s she charged around the whole course with us weaving in & out of other runners to keep up, at the end Jemma was yelling to Frankie to slow down so they could cross the finish line together, to which Frankie shouted back the classic runners line ‘no mum, think about my time!’ and tapped at an imaginary watch.
Frankie is 6yrs old and ran a mile in 11 mins, so proud of her, even though she completely wore me out, we definitely have one to watch in the future there.
I wouldn’t rush to do another Sports Relief run, I know this is meant to be a fun run but they have a duty of care to all participants, so rather than letting people select a time wave they should put people in waves according to expected finish times and they should also keep the family runners separate, it was dangerous having toddlers weaving in & out of runners, especially when a race is laps and you have people running 6 miles in 36 mins cutting in between you and they toddlers running amok and pushchair walkers out for their morning stroll, I am not saying any of us shouldn’t have been able to take part, but I certainly don’t think we should all have been on the course at the same time.
Race No. 6 – Electric Run, 5k, Wembley, London
This was another race I was looking forward to, running in the dark through neon tunnels, whats not to be excited about!!
I ran this race with my husband, my intention for the race was to enjoy it and take loads of photo’s my husband unfortunately still saw it as a race and had me tearing around the whole course.
If I am honest the course was a little boring, there were only 4 or 5 neon lands across the course and you were through each of them in seconds, would I do the race again? Yes if I got early bird entry and was with a group of friends, it was worth the entry fee for the festival atmosphere at the start of the race & the party at the end, this race is easily the most fun you will ever have running
Race No. 7 – Womens Running 10k, Lea Valley. London
My running mojo really seems to have lapsed since watching the girls run the marathon, its like no one else is training so why should I
I don’t drink very often but the night before this race we went to watch a friends football team in their cup final and then went out for a curry, we got home around 2am, not the best race prep in the world.
Again this was another race I had been looking forward to, Lea Valley was used for the rafting during the 2012 Olympics, I expected to be running on the towpaths along the canals, but instead we were running across fields, through forests and down very narrow paths, this could easily have been described as a trail race in my opinion but wasn’t advertised as such, I don’t know if it was the terrain or the hangover but I didn’t enjoy this race & it has put me off other events held at Lea Valley. The plus for this race I would say is the goody bag, by far the best I have ever received, a fab medal, a technical tee, water, bars, cereal, sweets a copy of Women’s Running magazine and much much more
Race No. 8 – Nike We Own The Night 10k, Victoria Park, London
Another race I looked forward to after missing out on it last year, although I nearly didn’t make it to the start, there was a huge downpour before I left home, meaning I left late, then took a bag with me something I don’t usually do so I had to queue for the bag store, then I needed the loo, by the time I got into the start pen the race had already started but thankfully I was in one of the final waves
I loved this race, I felt strong, I loved the route, I love this park, the bands they had playing were a huge buzz & more neon tunnels, love, love, love!!
This was the first time in 6 months I had managed to run, 10k alone without stopping, I even managed a sprint finish in honour of Laura, I had felt so strong, so I was disappointed when I looked at my watch after crossing the finish line and saw I was only 10 seconds quicker than last week.
Would I do the race again, most definitely, but I would want friends running with me, as I didn’t get to enjoy the party as I didn’t want to walk across the park after dark alone. This race did have a downside, with this race Nike do not send out your packs you have to go and collect them and apparently I was given someone else’s pack so I didn’t receive an official finish time, I contacted Nike but they were unable to sort it out, this race is quite expensive and although you get a pretty necklace, there is no bling and i am definitely a medal chaser so £30 for no chip time and no bling was very dissapointing
Race No. 9 – Bupa Westminster Mile, 1 Mile, Westminster, London
This race was in its 2nd year and is run in honour of Roger Bannister who was the first person to run a 4 minute mile.
While I didn’t expect to break any records I was interested to see if I could push myself to achieve a sub 10 min mile.
I have always considered myself a plodder, no matter how far I run if you look at my splits my first mile is always roughly the same speed as my last mile, and recently my pace is around 11-11.30 in miles but in 2012/2013, I regularly run 10.30 min miles
I unintentionally started off this race way to fast and at half way I was looking at under an 8 min mile, but I knew I couldn’t keep the pace up, i intentionally slowed myself down, determined not to stop, before I knew it I could see the 400m marker, then 300, 200, 100 & suddenly I was crossing the finish line in front of Buckingham Palace
Thank you Sweatshop for my free place, I will definitely be making the effort to make run club more often as a thank you
Race No. 10 – Windsor Trail 6k, Windsor, Berkshire
Races two days running isn’t a typical ank holiday for me, especially when one entails getting up at 6am to drive to the other side of London
I had been looking forward to this race until Lea Valley, I love Windsor but I do not love running on grass and I knew this was gonna be all fields or dirt tracks and I wasn’t wrong, I was hoping to run along the river again as the half which happens on the same day mentions Dorney Lake, but we barely saw the Thames which was disappointing, we did however get a really good view of Windsor Castle for much of the race, which was beautiful
I would love to run in Windsor again, but I will be looking for a road race rather than a trail race
Race No. 11 – The Colour Run, 5k, Wembley, London
Billed as the happiest 5k ever, it was good, but the route left a lot to be desired, running around Wembley Industrial Estates will not make anyone happy.
When I entered this race it was one of the first colour runs in the UK, but over the summer there seems to have been one almost every weekend, so its definitely something I would try again, just not this particular one
Although this was a very similar route to the Electric Run, in the darkness and neon lights you didn’t notice the blandness of the course, the paint stations were few and far between, maybe if they had been every 1/2km rather than every km, it wouldn’t have been so bad, that said I had a fab time running with Jemma again & definitely a great fun run to do with friends
Race No. 12 – Grand Union Challenge 25k, Little Venice, London
When I booked this my intention was to run the whole thing in under 3hrs & with my previous half times there is no reason to think that wasn’t achievable.
Unfortunately my only training was pretty much the races you have seen listed, the only time I seem to lace my trainers is on race day and for this sort of distance that simply isn’t acceptable.
I wasn’t prepared for this race, I entered thinking it was 2 miles more than a half & ok yes it was BUT & its a big BUT this is an endurance race, I was only taking on a quarter of the challenge, other participants were taking on 50 or 100km, I was expecting loo stops and water stations ever 3km, erm no.. It was only reading the race pack the night before that I realised the first water/loo stop wasn’t going to be until 7 miles
That I could cope with, but it was reading download a map app so you can obtain your co-ordinates in case you get lost that made me panic a little, how could you get lost, surely there will be marshalls at every junction, erm no again, after leaving the start you didn’t see another race official until the 7mile rest stop
& then you had to cross the river via a bridge to get to the rest stop, the rest stops were huge, I was expecting paste tables with water, energy drinks and gels, but these were full on tents offering hot drinks, sweets, cakes, crisps, bars etc, I suppose they were equipped for the 100km entrants but for me it was an unexpected distraction, I found myself thinking what can I eat, where a I usually wouldn’t need something for that distance, I grabbed an extra gel, some wine gums and a banana
I have ran hundreds of miles over the last few years and luckily have never had a blister but by mile 3 I was aware something didn’t feel right today so I took advantage of the pit stop to take off my shoe, but it didn’t help within minutes of starting again I had to readjust my shoe again
I found this whole race tough, partly due to my lack of training, partly because of the lonliness, I met 3 lovely girls from Bristol who let me run with them for a few miles, but for much of the course I couldn’t see anyone in front or behind of me, I will be the first to admit I am a scaredy cat so I found the course quite intimidating, not to mention my fear of water and some of the paths were very narrow
I was so tempted to quit at the first stop, but pigheadedness made me carry on, I am disappointed in myself with my time but I am glad I didn’t give up, I have a pace band to prepare me for next years marathon and according to the pace band I was only out by about 18 mins and at least 10 of that was spent at the 7 mile stop so with some training I should be fine but I have to also be prepared for long loo stop queues at the marathon so this really needs to be my wake up call
Race No 13. – The British 10k, London
Another race I had wanted to do for along time, one that I should be able to complete easily, but again I rock up with no training, when will I learn??
I was lucky enough to get a place for £15 via Diabetes UK, this race usually £5o price tag for entry and receives a lot of bad press for being badly organised and very expensive, I was fairly fortunate in both respects, I achieved my fundraising target easily as Diabetes UK are my employers charity of the year, so it made my fundraising so much easier, and I didn’t really see any disorganization at the start, yes the start was well over a mile from where the bag drop was, but I didn’t take a bag so I just enjoyed the walk, while I was queueing for the start we got to see those who had already started the race and were running their first few 100m’s and I loved spotting my friend Julie and Lisa one of my Weight Watchers members
I was doing ok until about the 4 mile mark, when my knee started to niggle again, my focus was Big Ben, I had been looking forward to running along Westminster Bridge, this race has so many double backs, its billed as London’s best 10k, personally I think the Bupa 10,000 better route, the whole race was hard work, London has so many amazing sights and sadly we don’t get to see many of them
I am glad I got the opportunity to take part in this race I won’t be rushing to do again for the full race price
Race No. 14 – The National Lottery Anniversary Run, 5 Miles, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, East London
I am actually surprised I made it to this race, seeing as I didn’t go to bed until 4am, must stop accepting party invitations the night before a run
I got up at 7am had a shower and got ready to leave for the race, thought about making breakfast and then thought, who am I trying to kid I will throw up, so decided to go back to bed for the 20 mins it would have taken me to make and eat breakfast, all the time I was lying there i was battling with myself, stay in bed and miss the race, go & walk the whole thing, at the last possible minute I dragged myself out of bed and headed to the station.
When I started running all I could think about was slow and steady, don’t be sick, I ran the first 2k, then adopted my run/walk stratergy, I am not going to lie it was tough, this race has so much potential and the park is lovely, I was lucky enough to take part in this race last year when we finished in the stadium, but OMG this race is still boring and with no stadium finish its understandable why this race didn’t sell out this year
Because of my hangover (actually i was probably still drunk) I had decided I would enjoy the scenery and take some photos, there was a guy running with an Olympic Torch which he was passing around and letting you run with, easily the highlight of my race and something that gave my legs that extra something for the last mile that helped me shave 3 minutes off my time over the same distance from last week
Proof that I need not be afraid of the run/walk stratergy but thats a whole other blog post
Race no. 15 MIND 5k, Hornchurch, Essex
This was a little race compared to many that I have done recently but it was an important one to me, as I have suffered with severe depression myself and my Uncle is actually under the care of MIND
I was expecting this race to follow the Parkrun route but from what I can gather it didn’t, it was two laps was about 400m shy of a full 5k and had some very narrow paths which could easily have been avoided with a little planning.
That said the race cost £7 to enter with no minimum fundraising, & you got a medal, a certificate, a thank you email and a bottle of water, a lot of bigger races could learn from this.
MIND is a fantastic charity that does great work, they could easily charge £10 entry and get the same numbers even £12 which would generate much needed extra revenue would be a bargain, I will definitely try and take part again next year