Sunday, 26 April 2015

Blackpool Half

2015 Blackpool Half Medal
2015 Blackpool Half Medal
I originally planned to go to Blackpool to support my friend Bryan whilst he ran the marathon.  He had wanted to run Manchester but it was the same day as the first championship race for Warrington Road Runners, Whitley 10k, so he decided to run Blackpool instead.  At the Manchester expo I was told that Blackpool was going to have a very good medal so I decided to sign up and just plod, treat it as a long training run.  There was a couple of other club members going too and a number of Warrington Running Club members running so it would be a fun event even though the rest of the country was focussed on that other race in the capital.

The race HQ was on a field next to the Hilton hotel.  This was my first Fylde Coast Running event (I've been looking at them for a while but they're hard for me to get to unless someone who drives is going to) and I was really impressed with the organisation.  Number collection was really easy and there was lots of toilets, including the ones in the hotel.  We were there pretty early, so that Bryan could get himself ready for the 26.2, and it was quite fun to watch the build up of runners.  There was around 1,000 runners in total for the three distances and they pretty much just took over the hotel so good on them for letting us use it.  I really liked the commentator guy too, he made the morning a lot more entertaining.


Blackpool Half Marathon Route
Route
The race started just outside of the hotel at 10am.  It was a very slow congested start but only for the first couple of 100 meters and then everyone spread out a bit and started moving pretty fast, probably too fast for some of the marathon runners.  Our first mile heading towards the Blackpool tower took 9:02 which is quite fast considering the slow start.  The aim was to run slow with Bryan but the problem was I couldn't get him to slow down so I was actaully struggling to keep up with him.  I'm rubbish at starting fast and always struggle more in the first half of the race so having Bryan pushing me probably did me a lot of good.  We did the 3.4 miles to South shore in 32 minutes which was quite good for a half marathon but not quite as good for him going for a sub 4:45 marathon.  We followed the same road back to the tower which was pretty much a gradual uphill (don't believe anyone when they tell you it's a flat course) and so we slowed down a bit.  Once we got back to where we started the course then headed out towards Cleveleys and Queen's Promenade for another three miles before turning back the the start again where I'd finish and where Bryan would have to redo the entire course again.  


Blackpool Half Marathon Elevation
Blackpool Half Marathon Elevation

I was enjoying plodding along.  The course was actually quite pretty and it was lovely to see
Bonus t-shirt
the beach with the tide out but it certainly wasn't flat.  By mile 8 though I was starting to get that funny feeling I get sometimes where my head goes fuzzy and everything doesn't seem quite real.  I knew if i stopped then I'd start having an episode so i just needed to not think and just run so I had to leave Bryan which I felt a bit bad about but I was probably just annoying him anyways and he was doing really well.  After I left I pretty much just felt like I was flying for the last five miles.  I ran past lots and lots of people along the last stretch of the prom.  The heat was a killer and I felt like I was burning but I kept going.  The last water station had been at mile 9 before we turned to head to the finish and although it was really great to have water every three miles it was really in this stretch that I need it and there wasn't any until the finish.  It was really sheltered so there was no wind at all but the sun was just relentless.  For some bits there was a thin stretch of shade that me and a few others tried to run in but water would have really helped.  



Photo by mickhall-photos.com
I ended up catching up with Tracey and Lindsay (who had just ran Manchester marathon the week before but was still going really strong) from Warrington Running Club and crossed the line just before them in 2:03:22, a pb by 3 and a half minutes.  I even managed a sprint finish.  Am very pleased with my time because I hadn't intended on going fast and I hate running in the sun but I always seem to run well when I'm next to the sea (maybe it's because I hate countryside races, you seen one tree you've seen them all).  I was only 21 seconds off a club standard but my whole aim was just to run the whole race so i don't mind, will get it next time (maybe).  Lindsay had only entered the race because I'd told her that the medal was meant to be good, thankfully it was otherwise she might have chased me round the course again.  We also got a nice technical t-shirt too, which I wasn't expecting, as well as a banana and a bottle of water.  An energy drink would have been nice but for the cost of the race, £22, you can't complain really.  It was great to have the ever amazing Jenna from WRC turn up to support us too (I know Bryan was really thankfully for the cheers that she and the rest of WrC gave him) and it helped give it that last push up a really evil steep ramp just before the final half a mile.


I stayed around at the finish for a while with WRC and watched the marathon winner do a pretty impressive finish.  I then went to get changed in the Hilton so I could get back to watch mark finish.  It was quite a good location because you could watch for the finishers along the bottom prom before they turned around to head back to the finish about a mile and a half later.  Whilst I was watching Mark finish there was quite a bit of swearing and shouting from some people who had been sent the wrong way by a marshall.  Not sure what happened exactly but that can't be good at the end of a marathon.  I have to say that the marshalls I reacted with were all amazing.  Hopefully it will all be resolved.  Bryan finished just over an hour after Mark in 4:36:13, a pb by almost 13 minutes for him.  The support was starting the thin towards the end and he had 7 miles of head wind so he did incredibly well.  The commentator guy was still going and really trying to encourage the people still there to cheer for eveyone, he did a great job.  He listened out for people's names too so that he could cheer them on as well.

Overall it's not a bad half marathon and I enjoyed my first Fylde Coast running experience.  It's cheap but you get a lot for the money and the course is pretty good (as long as you're not expecting it to be flat flat) and there's plenty to look at whilst you're running.  I'm not sure i could have re-done the course a second time for the marathon but as long as the weather is ok it would certainly be a fast course and i really love the medal.  One of the event staff told me that the medal for the Windmill Half on the 19th July is even better but I already have a race that day.


Friday, 24 April 2015

Take 5

I try to stop and enjoy the view at least once on all of my long runs.  It's usually somewhere new that I haven't seen before or a view that I haven't noticed but today it was a sight that I'd seen many times.  I love running in new places but there's something about the old routes that are so nice and comfy, like a fluffy onsie on a cold evening. Today i re-ran my first ten mile route that I used to do a lot when I was building up to my first half marathon last year.  When I first started running I tried to do a 6 mile run with Warrington Road Runners, it was my first time running with others, but I was too slow so I ended up going to the old Victoria Park Sunday social run (mostly because it was just outside my house) with Tony and Lisa.  The first route we did went up Red Lane and over the Canterlever, both of which defeated me on that first run (Lisa was so patient with me). I added both of them to my 10 mile route because I was determined to beat them.  Now, every time I run up them hills it serves as a good reminder of where I used to be and how far I've come.  So whilst today's shoe selfie might not be in the most prettiest location in the world it's a sight I've come to love because it represents everything I thought was impossible 18 months ago.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Medal Watch - *Updated* Liverpool RnR full medal list

2015 Liverpool RnR Mile medal
7. Mile race medal
Rock n Roll Heavy Medals Double Beat
6. Heavy medal
2015 Liverpool RnR 5k medal
2.5k medal
2015 Liverpool RnR Half Marathon medal
1.Half Marathon medal
2015 Liverpool RnR Marathon medal
1.Marathon medal
2015 Liverpool RnR Encore medal
4. Encore medal


3. Remix medal

5.World Rocker medal

This is the full list of medals that you can get for the Liverpool RnR weekend:


1. Full/half medal - Pretty straight forward. Sadly we can not do both.

2. 5k medal - Will be held the day before the main races. 

3. Remix medal - For doing the 5k plus the half or full. The US has had the remix challange for a while.

4. Encore medal - For racing the half/full this year and last. It doesn't matter which distance and you can mix and match.

5. World Rocker medal - For doing the half/full in Liverpool as well as any other RnR half/full in the same year

6. Heavy medals - Same as above but medals for every additional RnR event you do. These are the only medals you have to register separately for.

As the mile fun run (7) is the same time as the half/full I haven't included it in the list but the medal is pretty cool.  It starts an hour and a half after the half marathon so faster runners could do both.  A list of race times is below.

This has to be the greatest medal haul ever.  Can someone tell my husband that I have to go and run Dublin please?

To register for the Heavy medals go here http://runrocknroll.competitor.com/bling?hm=heavy-medals


Medal Watch - Liverpool RnR Remix Medal Reveal

Serious wow moment coming.  How amazing is this medal?  I've seen pictures of the US ones but never realised how big and chunky they were.  The center of the medal is designed like a guitar plec and spins.  I'm so glad I'm doing the 5k and the half because I seriously need this medal.  Even backwards and modeled by Rob a selfie it still looks amazing.  To get it you need to run the Liverpool RnR 5k on Saturday 13th June followed by either the half or full marathon on the 14th. http://runrocknroll.com/liverpool/

Image owned by R Giffiths

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

*Updated* Run like a girl! - Why do some races get more women?

22/04/15 - I came across another race today that currently has more women entered than men  Just under 57% of entries for the Blackpool 10k, by Fylde Coast Running, are women.  Interestingly there is a both a half and full marathon the same day which have considerably less women than men, a tend I've seen for a lot of events which have multiple races.  The shortest distance race always have more women.  It's been true for Liverpool rock n Roll, EHM, Port Sunlight, Milton Keynes half/full, Wirral half and 10k and the Chester Metric and full marathon. I'm running the half (43% women) but will be paying more interest the the 10k to see what is attracting so many women.  I'll be tracking the results after too to see if these numbers hold true for actual runners rather than just entrants.  I wonder if there is a difference in drop out rates for men and women (although it would be difficult to get a true figure due to number swaps). http://www.fyldecoastrunning.org/

Image owned by Fylde Coast Running
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

25/03/15 - A few weeks ago, I wrote the following blog about the percentage of women at races and after looking at the numbers of local races that I know well I suggested that further research was needed.  On Facebook today I came across a post from Liverpool Spring 10k that brought the this blog back to the forefront for me because their current entry numbers consist of 55% women.  Now, the race is still around six weeks away so there is still time for these numbers to change but the race last year also had slightly more women than men at 50.4%.  The race was not included in my original analysis because I tried to stick with races that I knew but it's certainly one to watch.  I have added to 2014 race to the table below.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I used to be a data analyst in a former life, before I got ill and ended up with Judge Judy and the dog as my only day time companions. When I was at the Liverpool Rock n Roll press conference earlier in the week and heard the stats regarding how many women they got at their races last year I felt that niggle that makes me want to know more, to see the numbers.  It used to take me a few hours to do this type of stuff, gather data, try to understand what it means.  Now it takes forever just to do the easy stuff.  I've been working on it since Monday and I have some data now, the meaning part we'll have to see.

Firstly, Liverpool RnR's numbers for 2014 break down into the following:

  • Marathon - 28.7% women
  • Half marathon - 57.8% women


I've only been racing for just over a year but that many women in the half marathon seemed pretty impressive to me.  I wanted to know if this was duplicated in any other races.  I looked at quite a few but I stuck to races that I had done or knew of (I ran 39 races last year so It's not like I didn't have many to choose from) so that I'd know the basics of the race, how much it costs, the route, what goodies you get, the way in which the race is advertised and so on plus I knew where the results were (I have links to them in my spreadsheet).

The first one I looked at was Port Sunlight, I'd just ran it so it was a good place to start.  54.4% of the 5k runners were women.  I thought it might be a fluke and so I checked last year which was even higher, 57.8%.  The 10k was less, just under 43%.  Of the 22 races I looked at, the top 7 all had a longer distance race on the same day that had a much lower percentage of women.  Does that mean that when women are given the option they will go for the shorter distance?  All races that scored over 45% had pretty decent medals and all but one gave finishers free t-shirts but the goods were the same if not better for the longer distances so that can't be the only variable.

So what about route? Is that an issue, does that play a role?  The Liverpool half and the Liverpool Rock n Roll half both use virtually the same route around Liverpool (which I love because it's my pb course) but Liverpool half was 36.6% women compared to the Rock n Roll race which got 57.8%.  It can't be down to the organisers or publicity either, BTR who organisers the Liverpool Half also put on Port Sunlight and Wirral 10K which are both in our top 5 and are not targeted to women any differently than Liverpool Half as far as I can tell.  So what attracts women to one and not the other?  It can't just be the 'fun' element to the Rock n Roll idea of races because Mad Dog 10k, which has won multiple awards and certainly brands itself as fun still gets almost 7% more men than women.

I included a parkrun in the mix, but only my local one which was 44% women last Saturday.  I'd love to know the breakdown of men and women at parkrun overall because it's entire ethos is running for all and is certainly marketed as an inclusive running event so it would be interesting to know if it still gets more men.  I couldn't find these figures anywhere so I couldn't include them.

So, I'm still not entirely sure what this means.  Other than races with multiple events will have more women in the shorter distances, I'm not really sure what I've learnt.  The races I looked at are included below.  I'd like to look at more club rather than corporate races because the ones on the list at the moment, Birchwood 10k and Warrington 10k, clearly have a lot less women but most club race results don't include gender positions so you'd have to literally count every woman.  It will also be interesting to see if each race gets the same gender split this year.  There's no answer yet but results so far have been interesting. 




        Men    Women       Total  % Men       %    Women
2014 Port Sunlight 5k 105 144 249 42.17% 57.83%
2015 Port Sunlight 5k 154 184 338 45.56% 54.44%
2014 Liverpool RnR Half 1650 1871 3521 46.86% 53.14%
2014 EHM 10k 188 201 389 48.33% 51.67%
2014 Liverpool S 10k
2014 Wirral 10k
1296
476
1316
433
2612
909
49.62%
52.37%
50.38%
47.63%
2014 Milton Keynes Half 876 733 1609 54.44% 45.56%
2014 Chester Metric 259 216 475 54.53% 45.47%
28/02/15 Warrington Parkrun 121 96 217 55.76% 44.24%
2014 Mad Dog 10 1017 771 1788 56.88% 43.12%
2015 Port Sunlight 10k 582 438 1020 57.06% 42.94%
2014 Trail Half Marathon Wales 227 163 390 58.21% 41.79%
2014 Port Sunlight 10k 722 495 1217 59.33% 40.67%
2014 Warrington 10k 223 139 362 61.60% 38.40%
2014 Rhyl 10 286 176 462 61.90% 38.10%
2014 EHM Half 1290 773 2063 62.53% 37.47%
2014 Wirral Half 757 444 1201 63.03% 36.97%
2014 Wilmslow Half 2474 1436 3910 63.27% 36.73%
2014 Liverpool Half 4240 2445 6685 63.43% 36.57%
2014 Buff Winter Trail Half 216 113 329 65.65% 34.35%
2014 Stafford half 1389 723 2112 65.77% 34.23%
2014 Birchwood 10k 596 305 901 66.15% 33.85%
2014 Conwy Half 1571 794 2365 66.43% 33.57%
2014 Whitley 10k 250 108 358 69.83% 30.17%
2014 Chester marathon 1764 726 2490 70.84% 29.16%
2014 Linverpool RnR Marathon 1658 668 2326 71.28% 28.72%
2014 Milton Keynes Marathon 1524 583 2107 72.33% 27.67%
2014 North Wales Half 311 117 428 72.66% 27.34%
2014 Trail Marathon Wales 234 73 307 76.22% 23.78%

New Ramathon Route

I really like the new route, especially the stretch along the river.  Shame I can't run it this year but is on my list for 2016.  I didn't really  like the route much last year although that could be because the medical staff pulled me at mile 9.  Have a score to settle although now they've changed the route it's more of a do over http://ramathon.co.uk/


Sunday, 19 April 2015

Tour & Dopey Training

Tour training has taken a back seat lately to marathon training but now that Brighton is over and Dopey is now a definite it's time to get back to it.  There's only 72 days until the 52 miles in one week and 258 days until the 48.6 in four days.  Tired legs from Brighton are an opportunity rather than a hindrance and so although mileage was low this week getting to race Whitley 10k was a good insight into how it will feel to keep going back to race day after day.  I'm finding that it's getting a lot easier to push through the pain and keep going.  I checked out of quite a few races last year and started walking (I think because I put too much pressure on myself to get a fast time) but I'm starting to learn how to slow it down rather than quit all together.  It's hard during a race because you keep getting overtaken and you kind of want a sign to justify why you are going so slow but you just have to change your race priorities and run to finish rather than pb.  

Hopefully by the time the Tour of Merseyside comes around I'll be able to run all six races without walking (which is my main goal) and then maybe by January I can still run the whole of the marathon even after the three races in the three days before.  Hopefully I'll be getting my Runner's World Challenge training plan for Dopey soon so that I can start planning.  I'm doing a mock mini Dopey (parkrun, Cheshire Spring 10k and Milton Keynes half) back to back on the May bank holiday weekend and will be building back up to 50 miles a week ready for the tour.





Whitley 10k

I had to have words with myself at 4k today.  I was getting mad at myself for not being able to go fast and more and more people were running past me.  I tried to push harder but then when my legs started cramping I had to tell myself to slow down and just focus on finishing.  My legs were still really tired from Brighton but that was the whole point of running.  I need to learn how to race when my legs are really tired as training for the tour which is training for Dopey.  So, I'd already sent my friend Ali off because I could keep up with her and when Bryan caught up to me I sent him off too and just ran my own race.  I decided that as long as i didn't walk it was a win regardless of how long it took.


Whitley 10k Route
Whitley 10k is an annual event actually organised by the people of Whitley Village, which is just outside of Warrington near Antrobus. Organisation was really great.  Number and chip pickup was very quick, marshals were lovely and supportive and great water station at 6k.  Although it's a similar price to a club race, at £13 for affiliated runners and £15 for none, it attracts runners of all abilities and times ranged from 30:33 (A new course record I think from Daniel Cliffe.  I've seen him running on the track and he is crazy fast and he won our 10k last year with a really big lead) to 1:41.  Over 50 runners were over the hour so you don't need to worry about being too slow.



Whitley 10k Elevation
The race is part of the Warrington Road runner's championship so there's generally a turnout with 18 members running.  there was also a few warrington Running club too, it's not often that my first claim outnumber my second claim club but the marjoity were off running Manchester Marathon.  Whitley is ran on country lanes (that could do with a resurface if I'm honest) and is certainly not flat.  I was a bit scared after looking at the elevationj chart before the race because the hill around four and a half miles looked quite brutal.  In actuality though it wasn't that bad, every uphill has a downhill pretty much straight after and so i think knowing the course can be a good advantage.  The uphills can make you lose motivation a bit, I know I was ready to give up a few times because you can't see where the hills end.  Yet every time I'd get close to walking I'd come across a downhill that would keep me going.  I think if I knew that these were coming then I wouldn't have slowed down so much on the uphills. If I'm running it next year (I want to do London Marathon and Manchester Relay so it all depends on when those two events fall) then I think I'll go and have a practise run. 


It's actually a pretty nice course once you look at it objectively after and a lot of people do get pb's there so I think it's a fast course (if you haven't just ran a marathon.  Bryan even got a pb the week before his marathon, crazy man!  I actually ran a lot faster than I thought I had.  I lost it a little in mile 5 and slowed down quite a bit on the uphill but for the last half a mile i was running 8:30/mm.  Maybe if I hadn't started so fast in the fist mile it would have been easier but I didn't walk and I finished in 57:22 which isn't a bad time for me.  I've ran faster than it 3 times but they were all last year when i was training specifically for the shorter distance and wasn't distance building.  My average 10k speed over the past 12 months is 57:27 (if i exclude being the Wirral 1 hour pacer) so it's actually not that bad.  It's hard getting into that mind set that you have to be slower than you normally are and that you can't keep getting pb's when you're doing back to back races but hopefully by the time i get to the tour in July and then Dopey in January i'll be more used to it.


Whitley 10k Medal

Just a quick word about the medal.  Obviously, like parents, I have my favourites but i still like them all.  I have to say though that this is the first medal (And i've gotten 36 in the last 18 months) where the runners look like Planet of the Apes cast members running in 80's running apparel.  James even compared them to Daley Thompson.   It's certainly unique anyway so you gotta love it.



The provisional date for Whitley 10k next year is 24th April 2016  http://10k.whitleyvillage.org.uk/

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Liverpool RnR Social Run

I had a really great time tonight running along my favourite prom.  As part of the build up to the Liverpool Rock and Roll marathon weekend, the organisers, Contest Sports & Media Limited, set up social runs once or twice a month.  They're free events and a lot of run.  Last time we got to wear glow paints (be careful who you let paint your face else you'll end up with neon chicken pox) and eat hot dogs for the Vegas Kickoff night and today we got to try on and run in CEP socks and sleeves.

My legs are still not loving me yet and my feet really hurt from Sunday so thankfully Adrienne, who works for Contest Sports & Media Limited, let me be back marker so had a perfect excuse to move slow.  The run was as fun as always.  There's generally quite a mix of abilities and speeds but everyone is friendly and supportive.  No one gets left behind and apart from the few who just can't resist a race at the end it's not competitive at all.  It's a perfect display of running at it's best really and i love the inclusiveness.  Most of us got stuck together for a while near the end of the run because the bridge was up so perfect excuse for a bit of social chatter.  It was also quite an experience seeing so many bright bright socks running around.  You certainly couldn't miss us or get lost but it really was great to get to try them out.

We got measured up before the race.  The socks and calf sleeves sizes are based upon the circumference of your calf.  I'm not sure how this works with feet sizes because I only tried the sleeves but they seemed to fit everyone.  I did learn how to get the socks on though.  You turn the sock inside out, hold the toe with one hand and pull through the heel to create a little foot.  You can then slide your foot in and pull the sock up.  It sounds harder than it is, there's a video on the CEP website that shows it better than I can explain it.  Getting the sleeves on is considerable easier and they actually overlapped the top of my socks really well without moving.   


Running in them was really comfortable.  I have compression socks from Adidas, Asics and More Miles but I pretty much treat them as leg warmers.  They annoy me so much that I generally push them down after a mile or two when my legs get to warm.  I've tried other versions too that push more on the legs but they give too much pressure.  The CEP calves are so light and support rather than push, they feel really great on the legs and sleeves have the added benefit of being able to change the type of socks and level of feet cushioning without having to buy lots of different variations.  They're not cheap, the socks that people were trying on are £39.99 whilst the sleeves are £32.99, but I really think that they are worth it because the quality is amazing.  There's the option of a night version too that have reflectors on the sides.  All are available to buy online at http://shop.cepsports.co.uk/.  I really want some myself but I get a pair for being a CEP pacer for the Rock n Roll half so will just have be patient. My legs felt a lot less angry when I was wearing them so I think they're a must for after the next 26.2 (which is only five months from now, arrgghh!!).

Before the run there was a minute's silence to remember the 96, it's hard  to believe it's been 26 years.  The beautiful sunset over the Mersey tonight was a nice tribute to their memory.




Dopey

Two and a half years ago I was really ill. I was on my third of 5 neurologists who just kept changing me from one evil tablet to another. James took me on the most amazing holiday ever to cheer me up and whilst I was there in the most magical place on earth I realised how lucky I was. Then I found out that I could run and love doing it. It made up for all the things I lost and really was my lifeline. I came across Run Disney and it became a bit of an obsession (much to the annoyance of everyone who knows me :)). Every run I've done has pretty much been in preporation of getting to the point where I could go and run the four races in four days (even the tour is for training) because if it gets to the point where I can no longer running I'll have left nothing undone. Today I got in to Dopey! It took a while to sink in but it really is going to happen. I never question how incredibly lucky I am.  So what if I can't talk sometimes, I'm going to run Dopey!! 


Monday, 13 April 2015

Medal Watch - London Marathon

Really great medal.  If my legs didn't seriously hurt right now I'd be wishing I was running it in two weeks.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Medal Watch - Milton Keynes Marathon & Half

So I wasn't a big fan of these medals when the art work was released a while back and I still hate the colour of the half ribbon but the actual medals don't look that bad in reality. 

Friday, 10 April 2015

Medal Watch - RnR Liverpool and Dublin

Ok, so we've already seen the artwork for most of these medals but how much better are they actually in the flesh (so to speak).  I completely love the 5k medal, I'd be signing up for that in an instant if I hadn't already. I really like the Dublin fun run medal that's just been revealed today too (I actually think it's prettier than the medal for the half marathon).  I wonder if I can get away with entering Dublin without my husband filing for divorce. :)

There's the Debut and Remix medals for Liverpool too and the World Rocker and Heavy Medals if you're going to do Dublin or another RnR event too.  Click here for the full medal guide. For more information about the races http://uk.competitor.com/

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Mind

I don't like to harass people for sponsorship because there's a lot of people asking at the moment (and I might need your charity for London 2016) but I'm running Brighton Marathon for Mind on Sunday. Any donations would be greatly appreciated. https://www.justgiving.com/S-Walls1

Monday, 6 April 2015

Take 5

I haven't stopped to find a new perspective for a while.  Today I found one by accident just by going down a different side of the street.  I was running late (literally, I was running and I was late) to meet some Warrington Running Club people for a pre-club run.  I ended up getting there five minutes late and so I had to do my own little run instead to fill the time so I went and explored a little.  I had a nice run up to the top of the bridge (that I couldn't without stopping the first time I ran with WRC) and enjoyed the lovely view from the top on a perfect blue sky day.  Then I went down the other side of a road I've ran up a lot and found one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen just hidden there in plain site.  I don't know how to describe it other than as a pond/fishing hole but that doesn't really do the place justice.  It's right next to the main road but the tree that surround it shelter it from everything around so it's perfectly calm and quiet and other than the one man that was fishing there was no one else there.  There are signs up saying that you have to be a member of some fishing thing but I didn't think that anyone would mine if I just sat and enjoyed the surroundings for a few minutes (and took a shoe selfie).



Sunday, 5 April 2015

BTR Hale 5 miler

I've decided that running for other people is the way to go.  Today i just wanted to finish the race, I wasn't expecting to get a pb or anything.  My friend Ali needed to around 45 minutes for a club standard and so my main aim was to get her across the finish in that time.  A new friend Claire wanted some company to get around 44 minutes too and so we all agreed to run together.  The plan was to start at 9/mm and then go from there.  I wanted a good last race before Brighton Marathon next week so if I started to suffer I'd slow down and leave Ali and Claire to go on ahead.  

We all ended up smashing it.  I got a pb and a copper standard and it was one of my favourite races.

Image owned by Liverpool Echo
Hale 5 is technically not new, it was around many years ago and is a race on the Tour of Merseyside.  When Run The Bridge was cancelled this year BTR decided to help plug the gap by hosting the event as a race in it's own right.  The race is held in a little village called Hale, in between Widnes and John Lennon airport and about half an hour from Warrington. Ali picked me up at 8:15 for a 9:30 start and we made it in good time.  There's actually no car parks near the race route so Carr Lane (pretty apt name) which runs down the middle of the route was turned into a one way road so that cars could park down it.  It worked pretty well (except for the long trek back at the end of the race which seemed far longer than on the way there).  The start was in Hale Park which was quite pretty and was a good location for the portaloos, baggage tent and everything and it was quite nice to run around it for our warm up.

Hale 5 route
The race actually started a bit slow but the pace soon picked up.  A lot of the first mile is downhill so our pace was a bit faster than I'd planned but I figured it would make up for the uphill that we'd get to at some point.  Although there was a few slight hills to climb it was a lot easier than I'd anticipated.  I think if we'd known the route we could have pushed it more than we did because you can really take advantage of the downhills, especially the bit around 3.5 miles as the up after is a lot easier in comparison to what you get from the down (if that makes sense). I really like the route.  It's one of the few country lane races I've done that is completely closed off to traffic and so you can just run with ease without having to worry about what is going on around you.  The scenery was quite pretty and varies enough to keep it interesting so I hope they keep the race next year.  I think it helped that we had perfect weather too, all we were missing was a slight breeze.  The last mile was my easiest but I could feel the rest of my little group flagging so I tried to push them on to the finish.  I cross the line at 43:24 (7 seconds faster than my pb) with Ali a fraction of a second behind me and Claire a few seconds later.  We all exceeded what I thought we would do and I'm pretty proud of how well we worked together.  I did have to apologise to them both for sprinting off in the last couple of meters but I saw on the race clock how close I was to a pb.  I got under 6:40/mm in that final sprint, all that track training is paying off.

Hale 5 elevation

I got a hug from the lovely Keith once again (And no, I don't
Hale 5 t-shirt
Hale 5 medal
only like you because you give me medals Keith).  I liked that the medal (although not as pretty as the usual BTR medals but still love it) had stickers to put your race time on it.  Really glad I didn't have to use any of the hour stickers and having a pb time on it just makes it extra special.  We got a really great technical t-shirt too and the goody bag was as good as always from BTR.  We got to stand around and chat for a while with some of my favourite tourists (some of the most welcoming and friendly people you'll ever meet) and then it was off home for hot tub recovery and easter eggs.  Great race, pb, lovely time with friends and still home by mid day to enjoy a sunny lazy Sunday afternoon.


I have to say that now that days are getting warmer I'm starting to remember why I love my Fitsip.  I always burn up very quickly during races and so have to throw water over my head. This isn't an issue on races that are 10k or over as they always have a water station but races uner 6 miles are not required to provide water during the race.  Having the Fitsip and being able to sip water throughout the race stops me burning up so much and because of it I could hold a conversation through most of the race.  This made it a lot easier to try and pace Claire and Ali.  the Fitsip really works for me on shorter races and i would have struggled without it.  I just wish there wasn't so much excess material in it cos then it wouldn't make my arm so warm (I reviewed the Fitsip last year if you want to read the full review).  

There's probably many people who will tell me that I shouldn't have raced so hard the week before a marathon but my main concern was having a good race.  If I was happy with how I ran and enjoyed it then I figured I'd be going into the final count down to Brighton with a positive attitude rather than stressing.  I loved every second of today and I think I could have even pushed myself harder so I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself.  Running with a team of lovely ladies made it a pleasure and the pb and second copper standard (only need one more for a trophy now) just made it even better.  I'm feeling ready for Brighton now. Bring on the 26.2! 


Friday, 3 April 2015

Medal Watch - Liverpool Spring 10k

Medal reveal for the Liverpool Spring 10k and children's 1k dash on Sunday 3rd May.  I think they're pretty and I've heard lots of good reviews about this race so am looking forward to it.  The race also attracts a lot of women so it will be interesting to experience the event for myself.  

If you want more information about the race then click here.