Friday, 29 August 2014

Severn Bridge Half Marathon - Race Report

Ever fancied running from Wales to England and back again? Well this weekend I did just that with my super speedy brother in law, Gavin. Want to know how we did? Us too! But we can’t tell you because each time we look at the results, they are different!
Read on for the Severn Bridge Half Marathon race report.

Early Morning Bridge start line
Race Organisation
This was the first ever Severn Bridge Half marathon, and this tied with the fairly lax information given out pre-race (weird attempts at humour and no postcode for start point), we weren't holding out a lot of hope. But I must say I was pleasantly surprised! Race HQ was clearly signed from the motorway, and the event village was really good for spectators. As always, more toilets might have been helpful!

Starting Location

The race started smack bang in the middle of the old Severn Bridge. Pretty cool, and a nice early morning view. However, I think it could have benefited from starting BEFORE the bridge so you got to run over it fully twice. But as far as races starts go, this was a goodie!

Ready to Rock at the start line

The draw of this race is that the route incorporates the Severn Bridge. And this is great. But the bridge part is in fact fairly short! After the first crossing you then go into pretty much 9 miles of small but very scenic countryside lanes, flanked by cows, poo and some rather lovely houses – which is all very nice, apart from the hills which were unexpected. Oh the HILLS.

The website states: ‘The course is best described as 'undulating with one hill’ 
Crandon states: ‘The course is best described as really effing hilly with several hills leading up to one GIGANTIC VERY STEEP AND VERY LONG HILL’

Seriously, there were about 6 hills before we got to what I'm going to refer to as ‘The Beast’ just after the 5/6 mile mark (I think).

This isn't to say I didn't like the route, I just felt unprepared. I like running in countryside but the continual up-hill-down-hill made it difficult to get a proper pace going.

Due to the countryside and bridge route, there were very few spectators. But I must say the marshals were all really encouraging and there were little pockets of supporters along the way which was really nice. Some homeowners had set up camp with seats and a cuppa outside their house, and I was most jealous of them! Running back to the finish line was nice as this is where the majority of spectators were. I say nice, I mean painful and the crowds were needed to get up the final hill. I don’t mind saying that the small crowds at the end, coupled with the pain from an injury, made me well up and feel pretty emotional. But I held back the tears. Just.

Our Champion supporters

On Route Drinks and Snacks
No snacks or gels that I remember, but there were plenty of water stations and each also had a portaloo. I think there were about 3 or 4 in total spread out over pretty equal distance which was good. And again marshalled by very encouraging and lovely people!

Official T Shirt
I might go as far to say this is the BEST official race T-shirt I have ever received. Good design, and they are actually true to size! Hallelujah!
Top marks for medal and T-shirt
A good design featuring the Severn Bridge. Its nice! But light! As my Mum noted, ‘it’s not as heavy or as good quality as the London Marathon Medal is it’. I love you Mum

Mark out of 10

Considering this was the inaugural race, I think the organisers did a really good job. The atmosphere was good, lovely lovely marshalls and I love a local race. They also get top marks for the medal and t-shirt. 
I would have given them a 7 out of ten BUT WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THE TIMING RESULTS?!

Since Sunday I have received 3 different timings on the website of my gun time. All of which are way out of my watch time (but admittedly this did stop for a second or two…oops!). I do not have a chip time, and neither does Gavin, and a fair few others it would seem according to the
 forums. They have emailed all participants and do seem to be trying to sort it out but still no results for us! The website states, ‘As keen runners ourselves we know how important accurate and efficient race timing is.’ Sadly they seem to have fallen at the final hurdle.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

My new er...toy

In training for my third marathon, I finally bit the bullet last night and invested in a new gadget...of sorts. If I'm honest I've been putting off making this purchase but after my legs decided they hated me this week following an 18 mile run on Saturday, I knew it was time...

Enter the foam roller.
Ta Daaa!
Now its not been a long relationship, granted, but after 24 hours here are a few things I have learnt about this weird and wonderful bit of training equipment.

1) It hurts like a bitch
It's true. It hurts. Pressing and rolling and doing all sorts of odd things to aching muscles is not going to be a walk in the park. It's a nice (ish) pain though, like when you get a really good sports massage. But not as good. Obviously.

2) It looks weird.
Try rolling around on a bit of bright orange foam and not feeling like a doofus. Worse still, you look like you are actively trying to have sex with this orange bit of foam. Throw in the noises escaping from the pain and it might be best to alert your loved ones/ flat mates/ neighbours/ cat (delete as appropriate) before they raise eyebrows, and let them know that you are not in fact attempting relations with this new random object you sneaked upstairs after your run...

3) It's a workout in itself
Now I know I don't have the most amazing upper body strength, but this foam rollering lark is hard work! Phew wee! I was TIRED after a mini session last night. My arms, my legs...

4) It (seems) to work!
Now again, its only been a day - but I totally knackered my calf last night on a 5 mile fast run. It HURT. With 6 and a half weeks to go to Berlin Marathon I do NOT want to be getting an injury. I dutifully foam rollered last night, and while I'm not miraculously cured, I can actually walk rather than hobble today.

So there we go - I probably should've got one a long time ago - even if to just give my boyfriend a laugh at me rolling around like a running loon.

Monday, 11 August 2014

We Love Manchester 10K - Race Report

I’ve recently decided to try and do more local races, and with this in mind I entered the ‘We Love Manchester 10k’ and ran it back in July. With a 12 mile run showing on my marathon training plan that week however, I was unsure how to incorporate the race into my weekly schedule. Should I just run the 10k as an extra run? Or sack off my 12 mile run altogether? Neither of these seemed like a viable option so I decided to incorporate the race into my 12 miler. Yes, like a running loon.
Luckily the race start was 3 miles from my house, so I ran to the race HQ, did the 10k (6.4 miles) and then ran the 3 miles home – therefore getting both the race and the training distance under my belt! Phew!
No PB was expected by doing this as I was keen to ensure the 12 mile marathon training was the priority rather than the race, however I did secretly wonder if I’d improved on speed since my last 10K in November…turns out running to a race is a good warm up and I managed a PB by 3 minutes of 45:54. I am also enjoying the symmetry of this number. Wahoo!
So how was the race itself? Read on for my race report:
WE LOVE MANCHESTER 10K - 13th July 2014

Race Organisation
This was OK. It was organised through Sports Tours International, and I was expecting a little more from them I think. There wasn't a lot of information sent out, and I found the website difficult to navigate and find certain info. I had to trawl through it to find even the important info like a course map. But the start details and race numbers were all sent out OK.
Starting Location
This was by far the highlight of the race and I suspect the reason people keep coming back to do this 10K, as it starts and finishes in the Regional Athletics track - making you to feel like a real rockstar runner with support from the stadium seats. However, there wasn't a whole lot of organising. The DJ and warm up were pretty dire and there weren't any starting pens depending on speed. The start was therefore a little bottle-necked, but OK. 
Stadium Start
If I was a visitor to Manchester and ran this course, I would not think ANYONE Loved Manchester. Miserable, industrial and boring is how I would describe the route. Apart from starting and finishing in the stadium, there isn't really anything else going for this course. There was not one landmark I could tell you, but there was an awful lot of tarmac. The route also tricks you into thinking you're almost at the end when you start heading back into to stadium, only to realise that you're actually going out again and back on to the boring old main road. It had more hills than I was anticipating too. Hearing them calling your name over the PA system as you entered the stadium and ran down the track to the finish line was pretty damn cool though. 


The atmosphere within the stadium was pretty good with lots of support, and at the beginning as you ran out into the main route. From there it was pretty sparse though, due to the out of town course route I suspect. 
On Route Drinks and Snacks
I think there was one well placed water station at a decent mile point, but I didn't use it. There weren't any snacks/gels that I remember but in a 10K I think this is OK.
Enormous T

Official T Shirt
The T shirt shows the We Love MCR Charity logo which I like - despite the T-Shirt being GINORMOUS even though it was supposedly a small. Its literally like a nightie! But its a good strong design (although apparently runs in the wash!)


Small but again shows the We Love MCR logo - I like it! 

Marks out of 10
6/10 - an uninspiring route but I managed a PB and the bit in the actual stadium is good. I would do it again but purely due to it being close to home, and a much better price than say the Great Manchester 10K which is extortionate! I wouldn't recommend you make a journey for it if you live outside Manchester though. Although as its for the We Love MCR charity it gets a couple of bonus points.