We Do Like To Be Beside the Seaside

I hope everyone has had a good week, enjoying the beautiful weather and met at least some of their running goals.  As it turns out I didn’t spend last week attacking week one of my marathon training plan, instead I repeated the previous week.  That meant two short 3 mile runs during the week and then another Half Marathon on Sunday.  David suggested the idea to me as I wanted to do another Half that was flat after the South Downs hill fest, and the Torbay Half Marathon still had places Sunday, so I signed up – fool.

Torbay Half Marathon route

We went down to Paignton on Saturday and had a bit of fun along the sea front.  A round of mini golf, fish and chips and an ice cream.  Not exactly pre-race food, but very tasty nevertheless.  We found a lovely little place to stay, the Devon House Guest House, a mere 5 minute walk to the start line on Paignton seafront.  Richard and Clare, the proprietors were very kind, they started breakfast slightly earlier for the runners and they allowed us to return to our room after the race for a quick shower.

We collected our numbers from Race HQ, a bit of a queue, but it moved quickly, and visited the facilities before lining up for the start.  The course was one lap of the green on the seafront, then run to the pavilion at Torquay turn and back to the pier on Paignton seafront, then repeat for a second lap. It was sunny and very warm, not my favourite running weather, but at least the course was going to be flat, or so I had been led to believe.  As it turns out, the road between

Torbay Half Marathon elevation

Paignton and Torquay is not as flat as you might think.

David had decided that he was going to run with me rather than his usual much faster pace.  He has a long run (very long) coming up soon and wanted to practice a slower pace whilst trying not to pick up an injury just before it, which often happens.  Things weren’t too bad for the first 6 miles, but I struggled after that.  A mixture of the heat, hills and still being tired from the Half Marathon the week before, meant the second lap was another walk/run mixture to get to the finish line.  The hills were nowhere near as bad as the South Downs, but they were tough enough in the heat.  There were plenty of water stations provided and I mostly used the water offered to tip over my head and cool slightly.  A friendly garage employee washing cars also helped out with a spray of his hose pipe.

Paignton Pier

My finish time was 2:35:26 so I managed to knock 11 minutes off my previous Half Marathon time but still not as good as I would like it to be.  The winner came in at 1:09:05 for the first man and 1:17:05 for the first female.  They also had a race going on between a group of American Marines and a group of the Royal Navy.  They were all near the front when they lapped me, but unfortunately I don’t know the outcome as the Marines were not listed as a club on the results page.

This was a lovely spot for the race and it was well run and well supported by friends, family and the people of the town.  The roads were closed for the race, at least for three hours, so there was no worry about traffic.  It is also clearly a quite popular event with some 1546 runners, I came in position 1365.

I need to work on my stamina at slightly higher mileage, if I am going to run more half marathons.  I have run a lot of 4-6 mile runs and so now I have no problem being able to run 10K, but I can count on my hands the number of times I’ve run 8 miles or more.  I need to  build my strength to be able to run 10 miles strongly to tackle half marathons.  Keep moving forward.IMG_1720.HEIC

After the race and a quick shower back at the guest house, we headed up the coast to Sidmouth and a long awaited visit to the Donkey Sanctuary.  Was lovely meeting the donkeys and walking the grounds and finished off with a much deserved ice cream.

Happy running, enjoy the sunshine.


Hills, Hills and More Hills

Well this was the week that I’ve been working towards, my first half marathon.  Hope you’ve all had successful weeks with your running. My training plan had three short three mile runs leading up to the race on Sunday, as my race was on Saturday I decided to do two three mile runs.  I did one on Tuesday and one Thursday, both times running the long route to Sainsburys, doing the shopping and walking back home.  Who says you can’t fit exercise into your day?

Coming up to the start of the race

We had been invited out in a boat for the day on Friday, which was great fun but probably not the best preparation for my first half.  Still, it had the added affect that I was absolutely shattered Friday night from all the fresh sea air and slept quite well, something that rarely happens the night before a race.

We were up early as David had entered into the Marathon that started at Slindon College near Chichester, and followed the South Downs Way to finish at Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Petersfield.  He had to catch a bus from the finish to the startline at 7am.  My race didn’t start until 10am with the start and finish being at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park.  So I pottered about getting ready which gave me plenty of opportunity to visit the toilet.  I have nothing to eat or drink on the morning before a race because otherwise I need the toilet as soon as I start running.  This however does not prevent numerous visits before a race, I think there were at least ten, with three once I’d arrived at the race site.

It was a bit lonely going by myself, usually our races start in the same place, even if David and I then don’t see each other again until the race is over.  Parking was free and in the field at the start which was good because I could leave my bag in the car, and could sit in the car until the start as it was a bit blowy and damp.  I collected my number, which wasn’t the best organised as there was a long queue, and went back to the car to prepare.  I decided to wear my trail shoes, although my ordinary running trainers would have been fine.  I decided to run with a bottle that I’d put some still Lucozade in.  I don’t usually bother with this but after my experience of my long 12 mile training run in the hot sun I thought it might help.  I was worried I would get fed up carrying it, but it was OK and I was glad I had it even if I was a bit sticky by the end.

Heading out of the Park

The race started with a short uphill at Butser (why not start how you mean to go on) before heading out through the park.  We hadn’t gone more than about two miles before the first steep hill, and that was pretty much how it continued for the whole thirteen miles.  When we turned out of Queen Elizabeth Country Park towards the village of Chalton, we had to queue to get over the stile, but once over it was gorgeous running down through the wheat fields.  From Chalton we headed along the Sussex Border Path, mostly up hill, until it met the South Downs Way, were we joined the marathon route.

Did the path level out here? Absolutely not, it was a continual up and down that was very hard going.  Two miles to go and we headed back into Queen Elizabeth Country Park up the most enormous hill.  This was tough, my glutes were hurting just walking up and I was tempted to even stop, but once at the top it was downhill back to the finish at the bottom of Butser Hill.  My target time had been 2 hours 40 minutes, and I was just outside this with an official finish time of 2:46:57 hours.  Considering that I walked up all the hills and ran the flats and downhills, this wasn’t too bad.  David came in from the marathon just behind me in a time of 4:09:51. fullsizeoutput_408

This was a really hard hilly course and probably not ideal for your first half marathon.  The hills was often steep and they were relentless, and some of the paths were very flinty which was hard underfoot.  I had no option but to walk the hills, I’m just not up to the standard of being able to run hills like that.  As such I found it a bit demoralising, walking after just two miles.  On a flat course I should have been able to run it all.  So I will try again and this time check out the elevation before I book.  Having said that it was a beautiful course running/walking through the Sussex/Hampshire countryside, most of it being off road.  The weather was good as it wasn’t too hot and the sun made occasional appearances.

My only injury seems to be a small blister on my left big toe.  Let’s hope it stays that way because I’ve just printed off my training plan for the York marathon in October – only 17 weeks away!  I’m using the same plan series as I used for the half marathon, Jane Tomlinson’s Marathon Training Plan for Beginners, as I found the half marathon plan straight forward and didn’t over load me.  So here we go again, and hopefully a flat half marathon will be added to the plan along the way.

Have a good week,




Training Begins (just about)

This week has had its ups and downs in terms of getting back on track with running.  My first half marathon, the South Downs Half Marathon, in the middle of June is my next main goal.  Due to injury for the last couple of months it is only last Saturday I managed my first 5km at Parkrun, since mid February.  I had printed off Jane Tomlinson’s training plan for half marathon for beginners.  This week I should have been on week 6 of the plan, 5 solid weeks of running behind me and 18 miles in the bag this week.  Instead I have no running behind me and have managed 10.8 miles this week.thumbnail-4

As I mentioned last week, on Monday I completed the 3.7 miles for #FinishForMatt.  This was for Matt Campbell who collapsed at 22.5 miles at this years London Marathon, and later died.  Many people made donations to his charity, the Brathay Trust, and completed his distance in the marathon.  I joined them and at the time of writing his Just Giving page shows a balance of £351,479. An amazing tribute to a seemingly very popular young man, and one reason why I love the running community.

Wednesday on the plan called for 4 miles Tempo (race pace).  Even though I want to run outside as much as possible, I’m pretty rubbish at being able to control my pace, or even have any idea what pace I’m doing, so I decided to do this run on the treadmill.  That way I can set the pace and keep to it for the entire run.  Set to 9.0 (6.40 mins/km), a reasonable pace for me, I finished the 4 miles, but I’m a long way off being able to keep up that pace for 13 miles!

Thursday I had a steroid injection in my shoulder to try and help a long-standing shoulder injury.  The doctor suggested I not exercise for a couple of days to let the shoulder rest.  Initially my shoulder felt much worse, but it has started to improve since Friday.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it helps, one less injury to worry about would be good.

Top of the hill at Queen Elizabeth Parkrun

Saturday morning was absolutely glorious and we did the Queen Elizabeth Parkrun at Queen Elizabeth Country Park in Hampshire. It was lovely running through the woods, but it is a very hilly course, more of a trail run, and gave me a taster of what my half marathon will be like – tough!  It also exposed my lack of fitness, due to my injuries, and I had to walk up the hill.  It is so frustrating that it takes months to build up your fitness, but weeks to loose it.  Just keep going.

This week I also signed up to Running Down Dementia.  This is a joint initiative, in it’s third year, between Alzheimer’s Research UK and Parkrun.  If you sign up you are challenged to walk or run 100km before the 31st August 2018 and raise at least £100.  850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia, it is devastating, not only for those suffering but also for their friends and family.  I’m hoping to do my little bit through my training, races and parkruns.  If anyone would like to follow my progress or make a donation, please click on the link heather-6, thank you.

So next week I move onto week 7 of my training plan, lets hope I manage to complete more of it than this week.  Enjoy the beautiful weather, let’s hope it lasts a while.

Best wishes,