Friday, 27 March 2015

Running with Radcliffe - Crandon Runs Friday Photo #26

A round up of Crandon Runs in one weekly photo

So the highlight of my running week? New half marathon PB by 6 mins? Nah! Loads of rest days? No sir! Meeting and running with this legend? HELL YEAH!

Crandon Runs meets Paula Radcliffe
That's right, last night I was lucky enough to go for a run with, and briefly meet the World Record Marathon holder, the legendary Paula Radcliffe.

Earlier this year I applied to be one of six Radcliffe Great Runners, a group of women who want to get active and inspire others by taking on the Great Manchester Run. Although I wasn't selected to take part, all those who applied were told that Paula would be attending the Great Run Local at Salford Quays as a reward for applying. I think this just goes to show that you should take every opportunity you're offered, as you never know what might happen and where they might take you.

What I really loved about the run was meeting other women who had applied. I got chatting to a lady who had also run the Wilmslow Half last weekend, her first half marathon at the age of 53 and had recently lost 4 stone in weight through running. Wow! We had a great chat and she was so fun and friendly. I love that although we were in the company of an inspirational world renowned pro, we were also running among motivational and impressive ladies of all abilities. It was great.

The run itself was really well organised with lots of encouraging marshalls. They offer a 2k or 5k route and have a great timing system with a chip on your own personal wristband. The numbers this week were double that of usual (I wonder why?!) and the atmosphere was great and really friendly, with a few kids giving the adults a run for their money too. After a quick briefing, and a few words of encouragement from Paula herself, we were off on a very windy route around Salford Quays.

Great Run local events are free weekly timed runs for all abilities. Register online for your free wristband and then head along to your nearest event.

Don't forget you can get Crandon Runs straight to your inbox by subscribing top right. 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Wilmslow Half Marathon Race Report

You know when you're pounding the city streets faced with concrete upon concrete, and you dream of running through the countryside with gay abandon, surrounded by fields and basking in the spring sunshine? Well enter Wilmslow Half marathon and you get to do exactly this!

My main goal for Sunday was to run happy, without putting too much pressure on myself. I had a small but mighty team supporting me en route and I wanted to really enjoy the race, not hate every second trying to get a good time. That said, in true contrast one of my New Year's Runolutions was to run a half marathon under my PB of 1.45.54 and I had Wilmslow in my sights to do that there. Hmmmm a running conundrum. So can you ever run happy AND fast? 

Well yes, after completing the run in 1:39:45 with a big (but knackered) smile on my face, it turns out you bloody well can!

Miles of smiles
So on to the race itself, it was brilliant! The sun was shining which definitely helped but the whole organisation was great. Before hand, the rugby club acted as race HQ with lots of club runners milling about, meeting up and generally chit chatting and getting excited. Tea, coffee, bacon sandwiches and pre/post race massages were all on offer as well as a bag drop and LOADS of loos. Bonus points for that, Organisers. It was a great and friendly atmosphere which continued throughout the whole race. The route was also the only race I've run which is lined with little collections of cheerful balloons and the 10.30 start also means you're not awake at horrendous o'clock to get your pre-race porridge in. 

The route itself is really pretty with an out and back loop, which runs through the country roads through fields and back towards Wilmslow. At times all you could hear were the birds and the metronome tap tap tapping of runners feet. Due to the rural course, the route isn't packed with supporters, but there were little pockets full of people cheering, my favourite being the 15 or so kids at 6.5 miles cheering every single runner by name and offering plenty of high 5's! Thankfully I missed the escaped horses which apparently had to be wrangled back into their farm by marshalls, nothing like the fear of trampling to make you speed up a bit.

Like almost every race now, the Wilmslow Half claims to be a very flat course - and I would agree, although that's not to say there aren't any inclines - there definitely are. And what might be a small descent at 1-2 miles felt like quite a hard climb at 12! It was here that Jamie and Chantal had chosen to cheer, but I had no idea. Seeing them at the top of this little hill was a blessing and a curse! They'd definitely chosen one of the toughest spots but it was great to see them near the end and it gave me a huge boost when I really needed it.  

Supporter selfie
I found the first half really enjoyable - it was the first race I really kept an eye on my pace at each mile. At about mile 5 I noticed I was in synch with a fellow runner and we pretty much paced each other to about 11 miles and I enjoyed it (we had a little chat at the finish line and thanked each other for the help in pacing. I bloody love running sometimes!) I was tired by this point and I knew that I could afford to slow down slightly here and still get a good time. I also hadn't learnt from my London Marathon spring clothing dilemma, and once again overdressed for a warm day. Running at that pace was a challenge for me especially in the last three miles. I knew I was on for under 1.45 but when I saw the finish line and saw that I might, just might, make it under 1.40 too I sprinted as fast as I could, and made it over the line at 1.39.45!

All in all, this is a pretty flat, well organised race with a great community feel and a lovely route. I'm looking forward to it again next year.

PBs and Pints

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Happy Running vs Fast Running - Crandon Runs Friday Photo #25

A round up of Crandon Runs in one weekly photo

I have been loving running recently. I have come to terms with the fact that I'm not running a marathon this year and without the pressure of marathon training, running feels bounce-around-the-roads-gleefully-not-thinking-just-running-freedom again! Hurrah!

That said, I've still been logging some double digit runs in preparation for the races I've got looming on the horizon. First up is the Wilmslow Half Marathon this weekend.

Wilmslow Half marathon race number

I am really excited to be running this, mostly because of the pub lunch and beer I've got planned with some of my favourites post race. But also because I feel like I've not run a race in ages and I am more than ready to get back out there and get me some more running medals. One of my resolutions was to beat my PB and run under 1.45. That said, I also want to really enjoy the race and continue with this 'no pressure' running. I realise how contradictory this is, but such is the mind of a self competitive runner. 

So, my number one goal on Sunday is to run happy, number two goal is to get under 1.45. Either way, the beers, roast and friends will still be waiting for me at the end. Fingers crossed I'll manage to achieve both goals and run happy AND fast. That's the dream.

I'll keep you posted.

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Friday, 13 March 2015

Running and International Women's Day - Crandon Run's Friday Photo #24

A round up of Crandon Runs in one weekly photo

The internet was full this Sunday of awesome women, and men, taking to the roads en mass to run in celebration of International Women's Day. GREAT STUFF. Runs were taking place all over the world, from huge organised runs to women running solo because they can.

But it wasn't always this way for us female runners.

Not so long ago, women were thought to be 'unable' to run marathons. In 1967 - yes only in the sixties - Kathrine Switzer entered the Boston Marathon to prove to her coach that she could not only take on but also finish the distance as a woman. Having entered legitimately and surrounded by an all male crew, Switzer put on her lipstick and began her first marathon.

Kathrine Switzer 1967 Boston Marathon
Despite male organisers trying to grab her number off her mid race and push her off course for having the audacity to run as a woman (pictured above), she finished and became the first female to ever complete a marathon. The event, and Switzer, made headlines all over the world, paving the way for all of us female runners today.

We still battle on a daily basis; from street athletes continually reporting receiving harassment while out training, to large organised races still offering smaller prizes for female participants, there is still a way to go. But people like Katherine Switzer really forged the way in showing the world that we are equal in everything, including our sporting ability and running. Looking at my twitter feed, instagram, whatever - the level of support us female runners show to each other, many of whom we've never met in person, is strong. And I am proud to be part of that community. 

So ladies, and supportive men, keep doing what you're doing and inspiring us all.

Talk about This Girl Can.

Friday, 6 March 2015

#MCRwomenbike - CrandonRuns Friday Photo #23

A round-up of Crandon Runs in one weekly photo

This week it's not about running at all but instead my beloved Bobbins Birdie bike.

I heard about #MCRwomenbike, a great photography project running in Manchester aimed at shortening the gender gap in women and sport, and inspiring women to get on their bikes. What a great cause! I have dutifully submitted my photo and am awaiting moderation.

Based on the New York project #ibikebecause the project is aiming to collect photos all types of female cyclists on, or near, their bikes with a sign stating why they ride, or their biking achievement in celebration of International Women's Day.

The project welcomes photos from all female cyclists in Manchester, so whether you commute every day or just ride at the weekends, take a snap of you and your bike with reasons why you ride, submit it and get voting to inspire other awesome ladies to get out their too and discover the joys of riding a bike.

I've just scrolled through loads of submissions and they brought a HUGE grin to my face. Casting my vote is going to be tricky.

Here is my submission. 

Happy cycling folks.

Do you cycle? What do you love about it?

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Marathon Motivation

...Or 'Where's my mojo gone?'

After running both London and Berlin Marathons last year, I'm no stranger to losing my running mojo. That feeling of being on a constant merry go round of running, working, sleeping, running, running, running; endlessly getting up at what feels like the middle of the night or running at lunch in a bid to get your god damn run in; and the boredom of plodding out alone, on the same old tired routes and wondering where the hell you can run to to get those 18, 19, 20 milers in. We've all been there. 

With the London Marathon in 8 weeks, spring time marathon training is firmly under way and your big day is almost here. But with the normal loss of motivation littering my twitter feed, I thought I would share some tactics I found useful in getting myself out of my running slump and getting excited about running again.

1. New kit, new kit, NEW KIT
It's no secret that I love new kit. Whenever I'm training and start to feel the lack of motivation creeping up on me I visit the Nike, Adidas, or Sweaty Betty website - let's be honest, usually all three - and get spending. There is nothing better to make me look forward to a run than new snazzy kit to try out. So I suggest you head on over to your preferred running brand's website and get purchasing. 
Those new snazzy tights you've been eyeing up? Get them! 
The swanky new jacket you don't need but really want because it's pretty? Get it! 
Hell even a pair of new running socks have been known to get me giddy about a run the following day. And don't worry about the expense, you totally deserve it after all your hard work and seeing as your life is now just constant running, think of all the money you're saving by having next to no social life.

2) Read read read
You may feel like the last thing you want to do is immerse yourself even further in the world of running right now, but do. Become a running geek and throw yourself at it's mercy. Books or articles which share other's inspirational running stories can be so helpful and give you a huge boost to get  back out there and remember why you're running in the first place. 
My favourites are Chrissie Wellington's 'A Life Without Limits' and Alexandra Heminsley's 'Running Like a Girl' which are both inspirational and funny. Hemmo's section on looking good while you're getting your race on is brilliant - hello race day nails

If books aren't your thing try out some podcasts. I love Marathon Talk, which again is hilarious and informative and really lets you get your running geek on.

Reading, or listening, to these make me realise I'm not the only one doing all this training malarkey and stoke the fire in me to find my missing enthusiasm.

3) Run with People
I cannot stress this enough, running with others is WAY more fun that running on your own. For starters, I find a good old chat while running makes the miles fall away and you will also discover new routes to run. Making a running date also makes you more accountable to get your run in and if you're strapped for time do what I do and coerce your fellow workers into a lunch run. For free running you can't beat parkrun, which is easy to incorporate into your long runs at the weekend, giving them a bit more of an interest; or join your nearest Sweatshop Running Club
If you live in Manchester check out this Time Out guide to free running groups.

4) Reward yourself
Get yourself a massage; treat yourself to a pedicure to help those tired manky feet (boys, I'm looking at you too); go out for a swanky dinner and spend a night not thinking about running; buy yourself that new top; go for a walk; visit a mate you've not seen in a while; basically do whatever the hell you like to do when you're not running. Go and do it, and don't think about your training. A little time off really helps, as does eating cake I find. 

5) Release the pressure
Now this one is way easier said than done, but trying to let go of the pressure you put yourself under while training, really really helps. I'm not saying don't aim for those amazing goals, or stop trying all together, no way! I find that sometimes thinking 'what is the worst that will happen if I don't achieve this and what will be the repercussions' can help and make me focus on the amazing thing that you are doing. Remember, you are training for AN ACTUAL REAL LIFE MARATHON. Don't forget how amazing this is, and in turn how amazing you are for actually doing it.

Hopefully these things will help you find your missing mojo. If you've got any other tactics, share them in the comments below!