Category Archives: charity

Bristol Half Marathon – 21st September 2014

It was a glorious morning to go for a run, and after an amusing Chinese whispers form of warm up in college green where only the front row could see the instructor and everyone else had to work it out from what they were doing, I toddled off to the yellow pen for a wave 1 start. At this point I found that my ipod, which I had been careful to charge up, was completely out of power, so it got packed away and I had to hum seven nation army to myself as we gradually walked towards the start line, crossing it over 7 minutes after the gun had gone off.

As I was carrying an injury and had set my target at 1hr 55mins I set off at what I felt was a comfortable pace. I was aiming for 5:20min/km but each time I checked my Garmin I was significantly faster than that (oops). But it was feeling easy, so I went with it, taking in my surroundings and the sounds of the crowd. All too soon we were under the suspension bridge and this was the part that I wanted my ipod for. The course goes out along the portway all the way to Shirehampton, then turns you round and brings you all the way back again. Watching the faster runners coming towards you on the way out, and then the rest of the field on the way back (into bright sunshine) could have done with a bit of musical accompaniment.

I checked my time at 10km and it was under 51 minutes, so readjusted my target time to 1hr50. This meant I did have to push on a bit and try and keep my pace consistent. I wasn’t able to stop for the £10 note in the middle of the road at Hotwells, but did point it out to the people behind. Hopefully someone picked it up for their charity. I was still feeling good when I entered Queen’s Square, where there were a couple of hot air balloons tethered and a samba band was kicking it. I was in wave 2 last year and the tight corners of Queen’s Square were a bit of a bottleneck, but being in wave 1 meant that there was plenty of space for everyone to negotiate it safely.

Out of Queen’s Square and it was the 10 mile mark. Only 3 more miles or 5km to go. A quick watch check and I was still on for 1hr50mins. But I was slowing down. What had been easy to maintain was now less so and the terrain was getting more difficult. Sometimes I would like to run this race backwards even though it would mean there would be less support towards the end of the race. From 11 to 12 miles are a couple of nasty inclines and a shed load of cobbles to sap whatever remaining strength you have in your legs and by the time I popped back up by the fountains opposite the Hippodrome I was flagging. A slightly modified route here as they are building more student accommodation next to the road we normally take, and I almost stopped to walk at the 13 mile mark. A final GPS check and I thought I would be around the 1hr50 mark, maybe a little over and figured a pb was totally out (which I was thinking was 1hr49mins09secs, confusing it with my old 10k pb) so eased myself into the finish straight and across the line in a Garmin time of 1hr49mins42secs. This was only 18 seconds slower than the pb I set in Bath earlier in the year, so I probably could have got a pb but I’m pretty sure I would have thrown up at the finish line if I’d pushed for it, so just as well I didn’t know the right time.

I got a lovely medal and t-shirt to add to the collection

Bristol Half Marathon

but what would be really great is if people donated to my justgiving page for Cancer Research: Donate, you know you want to. Thank you to all of the organisers and volunteers.

UPDATE: the official results are in and my official time is 1hr49mins43secs and finishing position is 2823. This compares to last year’s time of 1hr53mins55secs and finishing position of 3824.

Lacock Abbey 10km

I was woken at 5am by neighbours heading out to see the 6am mass balloon ascent, just the three hours before my alarm was due to go off. Not perfect preparation for an off-road 10km race (only a week after the off-road 10km race at Blaise Castle) but nevermind. I trundled along to Lacock Abbey via the back roads since it was so early, but had a bit of a panic at the car park where the price had risen to £3 from the advertised £2 and I had to run to a nearby pub to get some change. I headed straight to registration from the pub to find that my name was missing from the list, but they rustled up a number for me and I dashed to the car park and back, returning just in time for the start of the men’s race.

It was a narrow course with some pinch points going over stiles, so the men went off 10 minutes before the ladies to reduce the traffic through those points. It was particularly satisfying therefore when we started to pass some of the men, knowing that they had that head start. I tried to keep an even pace instead of my usual dash from the line and seemed to be in better condition than last week. This was backed up by my time which was faster (though the course was a little shorter according to my GPS). Official results aren’t in yet, but I think I finished 12th lady with a time of 50:34. Another bib and medal for the collection.

Lacock Abbey 10k

UPDATE: the results have me as 11th lady, 10th in my age category, out of 123 ladies with a time of 50:38.

Women’s Running 10k series – Blaise Castle

I will confess that I hadn’t had the best preparation for the Bristol leg of the Women’s Running 10k series at Blaise Castle. The last time I had run had been Monday 21st July and the only exercise I had done since then had been a Body Pump Express and a dynamic yoga class which had left my legs aching. The reason for the lack of activity was a nasty cold that I am still in the process of shaking off (and being in Ireland away from my usual classes). I had also taken the skin off the back of my heels by wearing a new pair of shoes to Tesco yesterday (I took them off and walked home barefoot) and had to use double layered plasters (though it was an added incentive to keep on my toes).

I figured I would still be OK though, and having finished last year’s race in 50:48 in baking hot conditions thought I should sneak under 50 minutes in cooler conditions under cloudy skies, so went to the front at the start. I was in the lead group as we set off and held 6th place for the first couple of km. My legs were heavy though and I gradually got overtaken over the next 8km, slipping down to what I thought was 15th when I finally crossed the line. There had been an unscheduled walking break at one point when we encountered a group of riders being led on horses along the path, and got shouted at (someone forgetting about transmitting emotions to horses and setting off the horse she was leading – clearly they hadn’t thought to check whether there was an event on that day before setting off).

The course was slightly longer than last year, taking a turn around a large yew tree instead of cutting across the side of the hill in the last 300m, and I didn’t make it round sub 50 minutes, but did manage sub 55 with an official time of 53:37 (texted to me at 11:02, less than 10 minutes after finishing). My official finishing position was 11th out of 383, though I was pretty sure I’d counted myself in at 15th, so that may change if it turns out some people in front of me didn’t get logged correctly.

Another t-shirt, race bib and medal to add to the collection.

Bristol 10k 2014 – 11th May 2014

The weather forecast for the Bristol 10k was not good. 20mph winds gusting up to 35mph, rain. Not ideal running conditions. The Ashton Court parkrun core team were out marshalling though, so a weather window of sorts opened up (apart from a nasty shower just before the start). The wind (which was my main concern) had died down a bit overnight, and the showers were mostly holding off as I walked in (to acclimatise). I caught a bit of Rastamouse as I returned from the bag drop and followed the pipers in to the red pen to huddle together with other runners.

After a false start (which is a new one for me) we were off and once again I was struck by how many people apparently lie about the time they are going to do and hold up people behind them dawdling along like Sunday drivers. I managed to weave my way through them though and my Ashton Court hill tackling stood me in good stead as I powered up the overpass and down onto the Portway.

I was still worried about the wind along the Portway as it can be a bit of a wind tunnel (not to mention the potential for rocks to drop from above) but it seemed pretty sheltered (or there were just enough people ahead of me to act as wind breaks). I was doing steady 4:30 min/km, which was faster than my 4:45 min/km plan, but it felt good so I tried to keep it going.

The lone wheelchair racer passed to applause, then the lead group (one of the benefits to being in the first wave). No spotting anyone dressed as a banana going faster than me this time (which didn’t mean there wasn’t one, runners can get awfully short-sighted). Some friendly faces marshalling along this section and it was the turnaround and back into town.

My Garmin decided that it had lost satellite reception just after 7km. The time seemed to keep running, but the pace function was no use and it ended up deciding I had only done 9.55km. It will have been at least 10km, probably more as no-one runs the shortest, tightest line, but that did screw up the timings of the final few kms and their pace readings. I corrected the Garmin entry manually to be a round 10km (I went 10.14km last year). I couldn’t be sure that the timing was correct as I was running, so I just kept pushing and when I came into the final 100m saw that I could get under 48 minutes on the clock if I kicked on, so I did. My pre-race target had been 48 minutes, but I was going to allow extra time if it was windy and wet.

The official time came in at 46:10 and placed me 1,322nd. My Garmin time was also 46:10. A pretty substantial pb over my 47:57 from last year at Castle Coombe, with traffic. I lost an earbud from my yurbuds disentangling myself in the finish area and now have two lefts and no rights from my two pairs. But I got a delightful yellow technical shirt and a medal for my troubles.


I was running in my Cancer Research vest and any donations can be made here: Just Giving

Bridgwater 10k 2014

A nice flat 10k (there’s a reason they are called the Somerset levels) on a Sunday morning to see what sort of condition I am in for the Bristol 10k in 5 weeks (which I don’t expect to pb in due to congestion, but am hoping to break last year’s time of 49:09). Mostly on roads but in some places the roads gave way to tracks which then gave way (literally) to mud. A pb was most definitely not on due to the muddy sections, and I had to peel off my jacket in the first km as the lanes were protected from the gusting winds. I did make it through 10km in under 50 minutes though, it was just that the race distance was a bit further. I had a shoulder monkey for the final 4km, but he got away from me at the finish. It was good company to have and kept me pushing on, as did having a target to chase down. I ran mostly on feel, just looking at the GPS for distances.

Official results won’t be final for a couple of days, but I did get a lovely medal (and a banana).

Provisionally I was 89th out of 290 with a chip time of 50:17, and 4th in my age category. So a bit like a parkrun, just longer.

Castle Combe ‘Chilly’ 10k

I was aiming for a pb on this flat course around the Castle Combe race circuit, and spurred on by the news that another of my juggling friends had received a cancer diagnosis (I run to raise money for Cancer Research donate here) I went for it straight from the gun. I didn’t think I’d be able to maintain the pace, but I dug deep and my tunes kept me going, as did the supporters on the side of the track (dogs included).

I finished 78th out of 278, was 11th lady and 5th in my age category.

The event was very well organised, we got printouts of our splits as soon as we finished as well as a medal:


Bath Skyline series – race 1

I nearly didn’t make it to the start of the first in the Bath Skyline series races this morning due to Sunday drivers going 20mph in a 40mph zone, then 30mph in a 50mph zone, backing up at least 2 miles of traffic. My warm up was therefore sprinting to registration and then back to the start again.

We had been warned that the route would be a bit on the generous side and my GPS clocked it at 10.8km. My hopes of getting around in under an hour were dashed by the very congested start which continued for the first km. There was a faller in the first 50m and very few opportunities to pass slower runners. The narrow paths in the wooded areas also nixed overtaking, so there were a lot of times when I was just walking behind someone else. My competitive edge left me about half way through the second loop and I switched from race mode into recovery mode. I have another 10km next week after all and am only just back following injury.

I bumped into Emma at the finish line (who charged past me up the hills at the Ashton Court 10km), who confirmed she’d be at the rest of the Skyline races, so she can whoop me at those as well 🙂

I finished 31st out of 148 ladies (the results were split by gender), 22nd in my age grade and got this delightful medal:

Ashton Court off-road 10km

A year after my first race and it was the Ashton Court off-road 10km again. I volunteered at the parkrun beforehand, so only had a little bit of time to kill (in the car where it was warm and dry) before the start of the 10km. I had taken the opportunity whilst marshalling to clear some of the wet conker husks from the tarmac at the turning point, and this year had proper trail shoes to tackle the hill in (and a Wonder Woman outfit). I still took a couple of walking breaks, but shorter than last year and I made it round 5 minutes faster than in 2012, with a bit of a monster sprint finish (for all of about 15m), and a little extra mileage whilst avoiding the worst of the mud.

This put me in position 151 out of 635 runners, 14th lady.

Bristol half marathon – 15th September 2013

That was fun, can we do it again?! My initial thoughts when crossing the finish line of this year’s Bristol half marathon. The weather held off until after I’d finished and gone through the finish area, depositing my timing chip and picking up my goodie bag. I was aiming for sub 2 hours and my unofficial time was 1 hour 53 minutes 55 seconds, so I am more than happy with that, especially since it felt pretty good all of the way around (curse those cobbles close to the finish though, and having to climb that hill by the Galleries). I pretty much stuck to my race plan and mostly kept a constant pace throughout (though this fluctuated more wildly towards the end) and tried to pick it up a bit in the last 5km. I think I passed more people than passed me, it should be interesting to see the official results (and any splits data).

Thanks to all of the volunteers who made it happen, the marshals, the cadets handing out water and gels, and all of the people lining the route and encouraging people they had never met and who were running their own races against themselves. See you all again next year?

Anyone who wants to donate but hasn’t yet can click the button in my blog sidebar or follow this link: JustGiving.

Cheddar Gorge 10km – 18th August 2013

If you were waiting until the Bristol half-marathon on 15th September 2013 to make a donation to my fundraising effort (, don’t. The Cheddar Gorge 10km today was the hardest physical challenge of my life to date, the half-marathon surely can’t be as bad as that. I began to realise this when I decided to walk to the start point as I had arrived early. It was a 15 minute scramble through a wood over slippery boulders, tree roots, loose branches and stones, and lots and lots of mud. A lot of respect to the half-marathon and marathon runners who had that as part of their course, I anticipate many drop outs and a fair few people not meeting the marathon cut-off time by the 13 mile point). I was puffing when I finally made it to the top (the view was nice, if a bit blurred by the sweat in my eyes), then had to turn round and go back to get myself ready for the actual race (this is the only race I’ve been to that had a drinks station at the start).

The first 6 or 7km were pretty much OK, a couple of scary (and slow) descents down steep hills punctuated with rocks, and a nasty bit of woodland where the bright sun made it even harder to tell through the shadows where it was safe to place your foot, but the ascent up towards the 8km marker broke me. I’d already done more than 8km at this stage picking my way through the gorge and the steep hill (so steep it had steps) was almost too much. I very nearly threw up halfway up and if I had been able to drop out then I probably would have, but the only way down was via the finish line so I very slowly ascended. There was a flatish but twisting section after this, where there was a lot of support from people out walking (thanks), then down into the basin where we started and another wooded section before the finish. I had to check myself a couple of times here as I was descending out of control at times, and towards the end the path seemed to disappear and there was a real possibility of getting lost (with only bits of ribbon in the trees to guide you). My GPS watch gave up the ghost at this point, so I will have to wait for my official finishing time, but it was well over an hour, probably an hour and 10 minutes. I could maybe have gone a little faster at the finish, but the last 250m or so was uphill and I decided “bugger that”, it wasn’t worth it for a few seconds off the time at that stage. Getting round was the main achievement in this one.

The hardest won medal to date: