My first Christmas Cracker race, which is 10k up and down the beach at Weston-Super-Mare, finishing coming back inland through Uphill before ending at the pier. I participated this year dressed as a Xmas pudding as part of the Bristol & West fancy dress team (we got first prize).
The very high winds meant that I spent the first couple of km with my arms inside my costume, and we went off at a moderate pace. This gradually seemed to pick up somehow and by the time we turned inland at Uphill the carrot (Tracy), turkey (Rosey) and I took advantage of the lack of buffeting to press on. We managed to catch up another turkey, another pud, and Simon before we hit the beach again, ending up with an impressive negative split and finish times a tad faster than we were aiming for.
I ended up 357th out of 1,802 runners, 80th lady and 49th in my age category. Interestingly there were more female participants than male, with 1,061 ladies compared to 741 men.
A double header of runs today, after getting home and showering post-parkrun there was just enough time to shovel in some food, get changed and head out to Blaise for a Gwent League cross-country race. Parking was a nightmare as usual, I had a ten minute walk to get to Blaise from the first spot I could squeeze into. It meant that there wasn’t too much hanging around before the race.
A good turnout from Bristol and West, lots of club vests on show. It wasn’t as muddy as in January when I raced here before. That time I placed 87th with a time of 28:21. This time I placed 51st with a time of 26:22. A two minute gain over 330 days. The coaches seemed pleased with that (if worryingly surprised).
Lots of ‘lasts’ today, it seems. Last time driving to track in this car, last Body Pump class before the marathon, and this was my last track session before the big M. A fairly straightforward one in the dark and the cold: 7 reps of 800m with 200m recovery in between. I was 7th (out of 7) for the first 3 or 4, but others ahead of me started dropping out or dropping down, so I gradually moved up the order. My times were pretty consistent, so happy with that. Garmin Connect even tried to give me a 5k pb, even with the recovery periods. I think I am still recovering a little from Gwent League at the weekend and not getting enough sleep over the last few days. Hopefully things will pick up over the next 10 days.
It still makes me laugh that in the cross-country season the men run a longer distance than the women. I was glad of it though as 6,600m was quite enough of the Bridgend course. It wasn’t particularly wet and muddy underfoot, so trail shoes would probably been fine, but I did dig out the spikes and screwed in the 9mms. It was two laps, with some nasty ‘technical’ (hilly) sections in a couple of places towards the end of the lap, a wooden bridge, and some paved sections to deal with. Everyone started at a blistering pace and it was just a case of holding on. Half way round the second lap I was in 47th according to coach Keith, and I managed to claw my way forwards (I think the marathon training helped here) to finally finish in 40th, ahead of supervet Tracy (which is a first for me, but she did run a half marathon pb last week).
Not sure when the official results will be out, but the coaches seemed pretty happy and I didn’t get run off my bike either on the way to or from Chris’s house, so that’s good. Strava also reckons it was my 2nd fastest 5k time, and my heart spent 27:07 of the 28:00 race in the ‘Anaerobic’ zone, apparently. Cadence was good, averaging 181 spm.
A good track session tonight. I was expecting to be doing 4×1,500m but due to who turned up I ended up doing 4×1,300m with 300m recovery. It was a bit blustery but I used Becci as a shield and managed to do the reps faster each time. Chris was very happy with my running, but less so when I said I was running the Weston Prom tomorrow (but not taking it too seriously). It all felt good and it’s almost 24 hours recovery before the Prom race.
Up early to get to Ashton Court for parkrun. Not to run, but to take photos of the runners in the fog. After which it was a quick bite of tiffin and off to the start of the Uphill to Wells relay to wave off Paul and Gordon (and the rest of the 12:00 starters). The rest of the day passed in rushing from stage to stage, cheering on our team and the other runners, including running leg 3 of the relay. The earlier fog had burned off and it was quite hot by the time my leg came round. Much of the race was in the shade of trees but there were also a fair few slogs across open fields.
I was happy with my time, and it was fun to drive around the stages before finishing in Wells with a slap up meal.
Back to the track again tonight, almost with bonus rugby players (the Georgia team has WISE as their training base). There was the threat of rain, but mercifully it held off for the session which was 2 sets of 4x600m with 200m recovery and a 600m recovery between sets. I was consistently either second or third (which became last once some other members of the group dropped down to 500m reps during the second set), and I was generally happy with my consistency.
I got some nice blue cadence dots for the efforts (plus a couple of purple ones) with an average cadence of 172 spm, getting close to that magic 180 – in fact all of my efforts were 180 spm or above. Good drop-offs in my heart rate once I finished an effort too (it’s a good marker of fitness how quickly your heart rate recovers to something close to ‘normal’).
All-in-all a good session. Legs didn’t feel tired from the weekend and I had a mindful session, thinking about my form (except on the last effort when I was just trying to go as fast as possible).
My first half marathon was the 25th Bristol Half in 2013, which I completed in 1:53:55. This year’s half marks my 5th race over this distance, the third time on this course. Last year I ran it in 1:49:43, coming back from a hamstring tear. This year I was aiming for 1:45:00 (or more accurately 1:44:59) after a good showing at Bath earlier in the year, lots of marathon training and weekly track sessions with Bristol & West. There were some other runners from the club also going for this time, so Alan agreed to pace us around and the 1:45 train set off in yellow pen of the first wave.
The target pace was 8:00 min/mile and the traffic wasn’t particularly bad, so we were able to hit, maintain, and exceed that pace pretty much from the start. We were overtaking more people than were overtaking us, engulfing them in a wave of red and white vests. As Alan was running well within his capability he was able to spot club members both ahead of us (most we caught and passed) and on the other side of the Portway or in the crowds lining the route. A popular and well-known local runner he also got a lot of shout outs which were great for the morale of the train.
No-one else was calling the ‘ogggies’ in the tunnel, which is something I like, so I did it on the way out (and Scott, another member of our train called it on the way back). The race itself was pretty uneventful. We kept to our pace, we encouraged other runners we knew, they and the crowd encouraged us, we waved at Rich taking photos from the bridge (not that bridge). We lost Scott around mile 9 to cramp and Dan was flagging in the last mile. My back didn’t hurt like it normally does in the last few miles, nor did my hip flexors, so maybe I’m getting stronger or my form is better or both. I didn’t quite have it to sprint over the line like Isie and Alan did (but did get blocked a little at that point anyway), but was very happy with my time.
Officially (and provisionally) my time was 01:42:45, putting me in 1,544th overall and 28th in my age category. And I got a medal and a t-shirt to go with my new pb.
Tonight’s WISE track session was a race against the light as the venue was ‘closed’ as we didn’t have the floodlights. It was 3 sets of 900m and 450m with 150m between each lap and 300m between each set. I was feeling strong, but my times did fade over the course of the session. I did manage to catch up with the group doing 800m and 400m reps a couple of times, which was pleasing, but didn’t have anything left for the final 450m.
I either didn’t get this week’s email about what we were doing tonight, or deleted it without noticing, so was completely in the dark about tonight’s track session. It turned out to be 5x1km with 400m recovery (being put in the fastest of Chris’s three groups). Keith’s group was out on the roads, so we had the track to ourselves. Well apart from the temporary stands that were taking up lanes 2-5 on the home straight. At least I knew I wouldn’t get overtaken, but also that I would be last over the line each time (with two other groups, one running 900m and one 800m). I kept things consistent though, coming in at between 04:06 and 04:08 each time, which I am pleased with considering we got no breaks. As soon as we had completed the 400m ‘recovery’ lap, we were straight off on our next 1km. Apparently I am confusing Chris though, because I race faster than I run on the track, but that may be because I do rest a bit before races, whereas my track sessions happen in the evening after I’ve already had a busy day (and run at least 5km).