Run Tatton Half Marathon

This weekend I (Helen) participated in a Duathlon on Saturday, then headed up to Cheshire to take part in Run Tatton Half Marathon. 

Luckily for me my grandparents live near to the race so I stayed with them on Saturday night and my boyfriend Adam drove me to the race on Sunday morning.

I realised on the Saturday evening that in my manic packing I had actually forgotten my race number… (in my defence I had needed to pack for Duathlon, overnight stay and half marathon in one go) so a panicked email was sent to the organisers and they assured me they could set one aside in the information tent for me to collect in the morning! Amazing news!

Sunday morning it was raining!! I hate running in the rain, it’s cold and it makes me feel like I’m going to slip over. The sat nav said we would arrive at 8.30, but the sat nav hadn’t accounted for so many cars trying to get into Tatton Park. We ended up in stationary traffic approximately 0.6miles away from the event for about half an hour before we decided to abandon the car on a verge and walk to the start! The event have issued a statement regarding the traffic.


The traffic was awful, there is no denying that, but hopefully these issues can be rectified by next year. This is the first year this event has been run and all start up events have teething problems.

There were a lot of people queuing to get into the event and the 10km should have started at 9am but was delayed due to the congestion, even so there were still runners setting off 10mins or so behind the start group as it turned into more of a rolling start. There were announcements that the half marathon start would be delayed by 10mins so I huddled under an edge of a gazebo trying to stay dry.


Plenty of other racers were doing the same… then we headed to the start and we were off, approximately 15mins later than we should have been.

The route was advertised as fast and flat, so I was expecting a pretty easy run. The weather had created puddles and muddy patches so it was necessary to really concentrate on foot placement. The first section had an out and back strip, running out to one of the park gates and then back up the same path. This path was a bit too narrow for the amount of runners, it meant the bulk of the runners heading out ended up a bit bottle necked as the faster runners headed back towards them. This affected striding a little bit and meant there was some dodging of runners and cones to be done. Also they allowed cars to start leaving the park so some of the runners found themselves followed by vehicles despite it being a ‘closed road’ event.

After this it spread out a bit and became a bit easier to run at my own pace. However for a flat course I found the majority of the race was either up or downhill, granted they were slight inclines in the most part not mountains, but I’m used to a flat route meaning ‘pancake flat’ so I found it a little lumpy.


The run headed through a wooded area and for a little while was a bit of a trail run which was a nice change of scene, the route was beautiful, the park is so nice and the scenery really added something to the experience. Then back out into more open paths, a water station at mile 4 and a few more steady hills.


The half marathon route then rejoined the 10km route and headed back towards the start. I had got to just over 7.5 miles and was starting lap 2 (10km was one lap and half marathon was 2 laps) when the lead runner from the half marathon was heading into the finish! 1hr and 8minutes! Sooooo speedy!

Anyway, I wasn’t that quick so I carried on for lap 2, cheered on by a super energetic marshal who jogged a little way telling everyone to ‘keep it up, keep it up, let’s go, let’s go’ he was great! Lap 2 was slightly amended so it wasn’t identical to the first lap. I usually dislike laps but this didn’t feel too bad. I was aiming for a sub 2hr race and by now had realised this would be tight so I needed to maintain my pace in order to make my target time, but I look like I was having an ok time!


Then there was 5km left to go and about 29mins to make it in sub hour… should be ok? Then I was hungry! I’m terrible with race nutrition, I had 2 pieces of toast when I got up in the morning and took nothing with me on the race, by mile 11 I was hungry!!! At about 11.5miles someone spectating gave me a jelly baby! I couldn’t slow down and it’s hard to chew and run so I popped it in the side of my mouth to let it disolve! Mile 12, 10mins to go till the 2hr mark… kept at my pace (I don’t really do speeding up…) Mile 13, then the finish!!!


I had just made it in under 2hrs! Official time 1hr 59mins 19seconds!


This felt like quite an achievement! Especially as this brought my total miles this week to 31.4!

All in all I really enjoyed the race, whilst the traffic problems and the narrow out and backs on the course marred the start these are items that the organisers should be able to take on board and easily improve on for next year. I would do it again, it was a quick course (albeit not my idea of flat), it was fun, the medal is novel, the scenery was gorgeous and I have to say I did enjoy the race! Winter training will continue, but for now I’m super pleased with my achievements this weekend!

Autumn Classic Windsor Duathlon! 

Saturday morning I got up at 5am, dragged myself out of bed and at 6am Lisa picked me up to drive to the F3 Events Autumn Classic Windsor Duathlon.

It wasn’t just early, it was cold as well… really cold… 1 degree to be exact, and when we arrived at Dorney Lake there was a thick frost, but it was a gorgeous morning!


Now I was a bit worried about this race as the event info stated that the course would close at 11.15 (2hrs 45mins after the start time) and I had entered the standard distance (10km run, 40km bike, 10km run) and estimated it would take me between 2hrs 50 and 3hrs to complete, so I didn’t know what would happen if I finished after the cut off?!

That was the first thing I checked when we arrived! I asked the ladies on the registration desk who weren’t too sure but suggested that I might be allowed to continue… slightly reassuring but not fully, so as I was getting my stuff ready before setting up in transition I asked the gentleman who was doing the announcements and he said it would be ok and they wouldn’t be packing up or deflating the finish line as they had a half marathon running in the afternoon!

Transition was a bit cramped and we were quite late setting up so there was practically no room, I actually had to shuffle someone else’s bike over a bit to be able to squeeze mine in! Other than that it was all quite a smooth registration and set up process!

There were a lot of serious looking bikes around, this made me nervous too… was everyone going to be an amazingly super speedy athlete… except me? I had visions of finishing 30mins behind everyone else…

Then the start, we chatted to a few people at the start line and it seemed as though we weren’t the only people who had been nervous about the cut off time. This made me feel a little better, maybe all the competitors weren’t going to be super speedy!

The run! Soon warmed up after being a bit chilly at the start, and the group moved off at a reasonable pace, not the bat out of hell sprint that sometimes happens at races so that was quite refreshing, I was able to settle into a comfortable pace and found the first run (dare I say it) quite pleasant! It was sunny, crisp, I felt good, and after a lap realised my pace had settled to a speed consistent with another girl and we chatted for the remaining 3 laps. Turned out she had also asked the organisers what would happen if she was still on the course after 11.15am!


Then onto the bike, feeling quite happy after a good run, quick change of shoes, out of transition and away. The last time I cycled at Dorsey Lake I was a little bit disappointed with my bike leg so was hoping for a better time. Started well enough but it was cold, and the wind picked up more and more each lap. The bike course is 8 laps which is soul destroying when you are struggling. It got harder and harder and colder and colder and my bike leg felt like a real struggle. Which is no surprise really as I haven’t been training on the bike recently so I am not sure why I had ever thought it would be anything other than a struggle… still 8 laps completed and back into transition to start the run.

For some reason this transition was the hardest part of my race… I was so cold from the bike section, my feet wouldn’t go into my shoes, when they did my fingers were too cold to tie the laces up, it took me ages, I was fumbling around like my fingers were made of ice!


Eventually with my shoes tied I headed out to the run, but my toes felt like ice blocks and every step felt really weird, like I didn’t know where my feet were or how to place them?! My final 5km was a steadier run, but I still managed it, running after being on the bike always feels a bit strange and 5km is my nemesis distance I am much happier over a longer distance. But eventually 5km was over! Lisa was waiting for me at the finish having done the sprint distance event she finished quite a while before I did.

Another race done, another medal earned, and my first ever Duathlon completed! Yep – it was my first! And I’m sure it won’t be my last!


I am now on a train heading up to Cheshire to take part in a half marathon tomorrow morning, providing my legs agree in the morning! No rest for the wicked!

Run In The Dark

Yesterday at the end of the working day, in the cold and the dark and the rain I (Helen) headed to Battersea Park to take part in Run In The Dark.

Run In The Dark takes part in multiple locations (Dublin, Cork, Belfast, Manchester and Taipei) on the same day and is raising funds for the Mark Pollock Trust to help find a cure for paralysis.

Mark Pollock lost his sight in 1998, and went on to become an adventure athlete competing in ultra endurance races across deserts, mountains, and the polar ice caps including being the first blind person to race to the South Pole.
In 2010, he suffered a fall from a second story window. He broke his back and the damage to his spinal cord left him paralysed. Now he is working to fast track a cure for paralysis.

So each year Run In The Dark takes place to help raise funds and awareness for the Mark Pollock Trust.

run-in-the-dark

It was raining after work as I headed to meet some friends and make my way to the run (after a cheeky little stop at Nando’s for dinner).

We arrived at about 7.30pm, there were already a lot of racers ready. Quick queue for the loo (obligatory – happens before every race). Then we popped our bags into the bag drop and headed to the start line.

It was not a staggered start, so everyone was in one long queue, we were a little way from the front and therefore didn’t hear the warm up or the start announcement but we were soon on our way, after a failed selfie (it looked awful) and a more successful picture taken by another participant.

run-in-the-dark-2

The first km or so was a little crowded as people began, it always takes a while for people to find their pace in a run and spread out a bit, but by halfway round the first lap it was ok. The run has options for either 5km (2 laps) or 10km (4 laps). I was running with a friend and colleague Georgina and we were doing the 10km. Although there was a suggestion at some point around 4km that she was considering the 5km!

Runners are given a flashing florescent armband with their race pack so as you look up around the park there is a stream of red lights flickering in the distance which is actually really nice to see. It’s a flat course and the park is lovely, a really nice place to run.

I am doing a lot of running this week, I have a duathlon on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday so I was not going for a PB at this event, I was acting as Georgina’s pacer trying to make sure she had a good run. I’m not sure she felt like it was a good run, but I promise I tried. It can be really hard helping someone else to run, its sometimes difficult to explain what you think would help in a manner that won’t upset someone who is already trying their best. Especially if you want to remain friends after the run! But Georgina puts up with me well!

The rain held off during the run and we actually had a really good time. I think I’ll be back next year – and I’ll be signing up early as there was an early bird offer on a running top and they looked amazing!!!

 

An apology, our plans for 2017 and the start of Winter Training…

So we have been pretty quiet post Chicago Marathon. I apologise for this. There isn’t really an excuse. We have both taken a few weeks to wind down a bit, plan our events for next year and generally have a bit of a rest. I also went to Center Parcs for a weekend with some awesome friends and whilst we were there I carved my first ever pumpkin for Halloween!


Mine is the witch! I know that’s completely irrelevant to this blog but I was so proud! We also ran in the mornings, cycled in the evenings and did tons of sports such as badminton whilst we were there!

As you are aware Jenni was injured prior to running the Chicago marathon, so she needed a rest to help repair a tear in her calf muscle. Hopefully she will be all fixed by the Tatton Park half marathon on the 20th November!


I (Helen) had a pretty nasty ankle injury earlier on in the year. I thought I had sprained it so I had some physio etc, as it wasn’t improving in quite the way I would have liked I went to see a consultant at the London Foot and Ankle Clinic and was referred for an MRI. On the day I went to get my results I was hopeful that the damage wouldn’t be too bad. Unfortunately this was not the case! The diagnosis is pretty nasty.


In English, I have a tear lengthways through a tendon in my ankle, hence the continued instability and painful periods. So the cure for this… An operation… To try to repair some of the damage or possibly cut away the bits that are too broken and sew the remainder to an adjacent tendon… Not really the news I was hoping for. I have a number of events already planned and really don’t want to miss them. I have therefore taken the decision to try to continue to train on the injury, assisted by plenty of kinesiology tape, an ankle support, and supported by my physiotherapists I will hopefully delay the operation until March 2017. With some luck on my side and careful training I am hopeful that I will be able to take part in the Dubai 70.3 Ironman event in January and the Tokyo Marathon in February prior to my operation. Then there will be an enforced rest period for a few months whilst I recover and I hope to be back in action by the Staffordshire 70.3 Ironman in June.

So as you have probably gathered we already have some quite adventurous and exciting plans for 2017! Have a look at the events we are taking part in and let us know if you are going to be at any or might like to join us.

27th January – Ironman 70.3 Dubai – Helen
5th February – London Winter Run – Helen
26th February – Tokyo Marathon – Helen
12th March – Silverstone Half Marathon – Both of us (& its my birthday – come & join us)
9th April – West Lancs Spring Triathlon – Jenni
30th April – Maserati Tour de Yorkshire – Jenni
14th May – Isle of Man Cyclefest Gran Fondo – Jenni
21st May – Southport Olympic Distance Triathlon – Both of us (operation allowing)
4th June – Roman Road Challenge (82mile cycle) – Jenni
18th June – Staffordshire 70.3 Ironman – Both of us
1st July – Cotswold Way 50km – Helen
9th July – Velothon Wales 140km – Jenni
15th – 16th July – Spitfire Scramble – Helen
23rd July – London Triathlon – Both of us
30th July – Ride London 100 – Both of us
19th August – Newcastle to London 24hr Cycle – Both of us (event has now been cancelled)
8th October – Chester Marathon – Jenni

I’m sure this list will grow further in time as well, so feel free to send us your suggestions if there is an event you think we should try out.

So with a hectic 2017 planned its imperative that we continue our training through the winter.


Begrudgingly I have set up my turbo trainer at home so I can cycle inside when the weather is too dangerous to cycle outside. I have a real hatred of the turbo trainer, I much prefer being outside and the miles seem to pass so much quicker then, but indoor training has its advantages. In addition to being warm and dry you can have a more precise workout, adjust the intensity to ensure you are always training at appropriate levels and I am generally tougher on myself at home, whereas I do have a tendency to pick easier roads when I head out for a ride. I find there are various stages of emotion to a turbo trainer session as illustrated below:


Running needs to continue, with a January half Ironman event and a February marathon I probably need to increase my running quite substantially. This can be tough especially when the weather is so cold breathing can be a struggle as the air temperature is so cold. But with a bit of determination and the right clothing it becomes easier. Wearing a wragg/buff around your neck with a layer of it pulled up over your mouth can make the air easier to swallow. Use layers rather than thick clothing so you can take them off and put them on as you warm up and cool down. Keeping ears covered helps a lot and good thermal baselayers help me, I am a massive fan of the Virus Stay Warm kit. I am trying to get some lunchtime sessions in, as at least then I can run in the daylight when the temperature isn’t as low, coupled with running home approx. once a week and I have also joined a Winter Run Club on a Thursday night, starting at TinyTY BoxPark in Shoreditch at 6.30pm. We are all training for the London Winter Run and group accountability makes it harder to back out of training.


A few gym sessions have crept back into my schedule as well, I neglected my strength training during the summer as my training was mainly cardio due to all the events I had entered, now I need to go back to working on my core strength. GRIT Strength classes are a current favourite of mine, I have to say they are super tough and I don’t enjoy them much when I am there but I can feel the benefit even after only a few classes so I am determined to keep it up!


So we are sorry for the silence, we will do better from here on in! Promise! 2017 looks busy but fun we are looking forward to all our planned events and winter training will continue in earnest from this day forward. Starting with run club tomorrow night… Come and join me?