Monday, 21 March 2016

Coniston 14 - Race Report

When I signed up with my running club last year, I heard a lot about the Coniston 14 race, and after running it this weekend, I can certainly see why it was so raved about!

This race has it all: amazing scenery around Coniston Water in the Lake district; hills, hills and more hills; great atmosphere and support and did I mention the hills? Also, with a 14 mile distance to cover, you're pretty likely to get a distance PB!

Coniston 14

Starting in Coniston the race starts and finishes at a school and takes in the entire of Coniston water giving you a pretty awesome view as you run. We drove up in the morning, and after a quick warm up we were off on our way and immediately climbing the first of many hills. There were lots of ups, but with those came a lot of downs too which I had loads of fun on! It had a great atmosphere and there were little pockets of support throughout the race. The climbs were certainly tough, especially at the 11 mile mark, and I was really pleased we'd been doing some hill running during our marathon training as this definitely put me in good stead. I managed to run them all and even managed faster than 7 minute miles at one point. Oops! I was meant to be taking it steady, but I quickly got caught up in race mode and managed to keep pushing through.

I was really glad when a fellow runner pointed out the amazing view to me at around 7 miles as I'd been looking down until then. What a mistake!

The final mile is a quick one too as you run back into Coniston to lots more support and cheering. There was a lot of pushing to be done in this final leg, especially when a lady over took me from nowhere! I kept going and managed to overtake her again to finish in 1.45.06 - which has really boosted my confidence for the marathon in three weeks time. Maybe my goal of 3.30 might be achievable after all!

Its a tough course, but the hilly route makes it interesting. Ill be back next year for sure!

It was a successful run for the club as we came 1st Men's team, and 2nd ladies team. We were so shocked, we didn't quite believe it was true and almost missed our prize giving on stage! We also had two individually placed men so a good day for the Harriers all round! We celebrated with a LOT of beer and a LOT of food.
Successful Harriers
The worst bit of the race was definitely the fact that after I was finished, I had another 6 miles of training to do. Phew - these were TOUGH! But I'm glad I got them done as that's it for the long runs for the marathon. It's time to taper. Hurrah.

Next up - Cardiff Half marathon. Fingers crossed it's as much fun as this weekend.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Winter Run 10k - Race Report

Marathon training makes you do odd things. Odd things to other people, but things that make perfect sense to people trying to fit in training around their life. This weekend I planned to do an 18 mile training run, but I also had a place in the inaugural Manchester Winter Run 10k. I'd seen the London race all over social media last year and was keen to give it a try, so obviously I ran 9 miles there, ran the 10k race and then ran 3 miles home.

So how was it?

A few races were on offer to runners on Sunday; two 10k waves, a 2,5k and a 5k. Starting near the Eithiad stadium, I was a little apprehensive about the route as previous races I've run there before left a lot to be desired. Whilst this route was better, it was still pretty dull - two laps of a 5k course around the car parks of the Eithiad Stadium, with a lap of the Regional Athletics Running track thrown in for good measure. I've grown to quite like lapped courses as it means you know what's coming and I do understand that these types of route mean little to no road closures, but it wasn't very inspirational. 

What did check the 'inspiration' box however was the atmosphere. Pre-race the DJ reminded us runners that ultimately we were running to raise money for Cancer Research, and I realised that the Race for Life and raising money for this charity is the reason why I got in to running in the first place. Essentially the Winter Run series is the winter version of Race for Life, and a lot of people running both the 5k and 10k had chosen this as their first ever race. There was excitement and a good fun atmosphere.

The race blurb promised 'snow zones', polar bear hugs and a ski themed water station (which if you ask me was placed a little too early in the route, especially for the 5k-ers). I didn't really appreciate the fake snow blowing in my face whilst trying to run and breathe - and I found the offer of a sweaty hug from a stranger at the finish line a little odd, dressed as a polar bear or not. But if you're looking for a first race with a fun and inclusive atmosphere, or something to keep your training ticking over in the cold months, then you could do worse than enter the Winter Run next year.

I was kindly given a free place in the run and they knew I'd be blogging about the race.