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:
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.
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?
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If you were waiting until the Bristol half-marathon on 15th September 2013 to make a donation to my fundraising effort (http://www.justgiving.com/fak), 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:
Waking up at 4am isn’t the best prep for a race, but at least it meant I could have a nice early breakfast and allow it time to work its way through to where it was needed.
I lined up near the 50 minute pacer, but had lost her by 3km in (she must have finished near the 45 minute pacer). The inclines in the woods were a bit on the muddy side and we had to dodge dog walkers and horses on the flat sections. A hot day and I made full use of the water points. I had originally hoped to come home in around 50 minutes, so given the conditions I was pleased with 50:48 (a result which got texted to me within 20 minutes of my finish, which I was impressed by). I also got to try out my new ipod shuffle (in a little plastic bag to protect it from sweat and water) and my lululemon pace setter skirt. Both coped very well, though my Cancer Research running vest arrived while I was running, so that will have to wait for the next one.
Another medal for the rack, another race bib for the book, and another t-shirt for the pile.
Update: I finished 27th out of 492 entrants.
Race day dawned and I was up at 7am, though I’d had an interrupted night as I kept checking I hadn’t missed either of my alarms. Drove down to Cabot Circus and parked up with a number of other runners and we all ambled down to the Harbourside. The weather was nice and warm and I did a few stretches before making my way to by allotted pen (by race bib colour). There was a big cheer for the wheelchair racer setting off 15 minutes before wave 1 (we saw him later on the Portway and he got another cheer) and a thirty second silence for Boston.
Then wave 1 was off. About four or five minutes after it started my section crossed the start line. It was all a bit crowded and hard to get a clean line and I’m sure if I had been able to get a clearer start I’d have managed an even better time as the stop-start of trying to get through gaps and onto clean road was energy sapping. By the time we got onto the Portway proper there was much more space around everyone, though there were frequent trips up onto the pavement to execute overtaking manoeuvres.
I managed to pick up my pace and pretty much maintain it after the slowish start. I managed to control my breathing and got a drink in just after halfway (though overshot the bin, I didn’t account enough for my speed when throwing). Mind over matter and some deep breaths seemed to help with light stitching. I will also be interested to see what position I crossed the start line in versus what position I crossed the finish line in as it felt like I was passing people more than I was being passed.
The final km was the worst in terms of gradient and road surface. This was the section with all of the cobbles and then a slight incline as you turn with 500m to go. It is then downhill to the finish line though, and I was thrilled to get home sub 50 minutes as I was aiming for 50-55. Thank you to the people lining the route cheering us all on, it can’t have been easy to keep their enthusiasm up for the whole 9,000 or so runners. A week or so off and the training will begin for the Bristol half marathon in September.
Official results: 2,173rd place; chip time: 49 mins 09 secs