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Entries in half-marathon (3)



Hark! Is that the sound of time's winged chariot whizzing past once more? I believe it may be. Whoops. Time for a quick round up, I guess. 

The weekend after the Bath Half it was Clarkie's turn. The Cambridge Half this time. The weather had changed somewhat, and not for the better. It snowed for the build up and the first... oh, hour I'd say. Wet, sleety snow. I, however, was perfectly dressed for my role of jumping up and down and cheering like a loon as all the runners went filing past. 


Note to self: Get rid of that hat. It doesn't fit. In that jacket and my waterproof trousers I often feel like I'm in my own reeeally small tent. I stay so dry and cosy. I had a cracking time, and it turned out I knew about 6 or 7 runners. Plus the first three home were from Brighton Phoenix, and at least two are regulars at Brighton & Hove parkrun (not that they knew me - they normally whizz past so fast they can't possibly see anything...). Sadly, although I had Clarkie's big camera with me I failed to take any decent photos, because she'd been playing with the settings and I didn't think to check. She didn't do as well as she'd hoped, but did finish in spite of the awful cold she had and the atrocious weather, so I'm calling that a win. She even (apparently) indulged in a sprint finish, due to a slightly larger gentleman trying to overtake her. Nothing if not competitive. 

Clarkie'd been playing with the camera settings to take photos while I indulged in a spot of parkrun tourism at Cambridge. Fortunately I thought to take my trail shoes, because it was fun! Oh, and muddy. 


A fellow runner told me it was the first time they'd seen someone running in a woolly cardigan, but it was colder than I had expected. I think I took around 4 minutes off my Cambridge PB, but it's been around 3 years since I last run it which is cheating. Actually I beat my Brighton PB too. Looking forward to getting back to it. 

Last weekend I was a bit tired. I didn't exactly mean to, but I went and spent Sunday making a new cover for my Kindle. It worked out rather well in the end. 

Patchwork kindle cover

The material was a birthday gift 2 birthdays ago from Emma, so that's probably why they tone so nicely. I followed a tutorial from Clover & Violet, and I am really pleased with it. 

Tomorrow we are off for a few days in Berlin. Should be... Well... A little chilly I suspect. But fun even so. March has been really quite a good one so far! 



Bath Half

What a fabulous 3-day weekend! Friends, food, and a spot of running. What more could you ask for?

Bath is about 4 hours away, which is slightly further away than I'd normally go for a half marathon but we have friends in Bath (hi Jo and Pip!) so it seemed like a good excuse to go and visit. I've been training hard for it, feeling pretty confident, and then about a week and a half ago Clarkie got sick. Very sick. Positively flu-like sick, and I don't say that lightly. I didn't feel entirely hot either. This was not ideal, frankly. My last attempt at a half was derailed by sinuses and high temperatures (my sinuses, weather temperature), and I really didn't want this one to be. My taper was slightly more dramatic than I meant it to be!

Fortunately it all eased up around Thursday, and I managed a short, easy 3 miler that actually turned out to be around the top end of my pace range without actually trying too hard. So I was still on.

The trip to Bath was uneventful, and Pip and Jo's house is gorgeous. As were the chelsea buns. And the bolognaise. And the wine. Barney the puppy was lovely and Hattie the somewhat older dog didn't seem to notice us too much, so all was well. Sunday dawned, and frankly I got very nervous indeed. I had a slightly surreal moment where I could hear myself talking to Pip about hiring people and so on, but really was almost entirely taken up with trying not to panic. The pre-race panic is very strange, and actually seems to be getting significantly more severe as I get happier with my training and pace. I think it's a weird kind of performance anxiety - it's weird because no-one else really cares what your time is, and there's almost always another run to be done if it goes wrong, but there it is. 

Eventually I got to head down to the "athletes' village" (the thought of me being an athlete still makes me giggle), and the scent of deep heat that was filling the air kind of started to calm me down. It's a bit like exams - there's nothing more you can do once you're there. I've always quite liked exams (getting results is worse),so I settled in. 

It was a two lap race, and it took me about 10 minutes to get across the start line. I got lapped by the front runner at around 4.5 miles, which sounds depressing but really wasn't. The crowd was a little quiet in places, and I spent the first lap acting the loon and waving at people and trying to get them to wave back. It's pretty good fun and makes them laugh. Next lap I didn't quite have enough energy to spare! So I just tried to keep plodding.  

I had three goals going into the race:

  1. Beat my PB.
  2. Run the whole 13.1 miles (confession time: I've finished 2 marathons and never run more than about 8 miles continuously). 
  3. Run sub-10 minute mile pace.

I got them all. I finished in 2 hours 6 minutes 48 seconds. That is around 17:30 faster than my PB, which I set back in 2005. When I ran Cambridge last year I finished in 2 hours 39, so this is over half an hour faster. Why? Well, a combination of poor preparation (the halves I've been doing have always been a bit of an afterthought for one reason and another) and illness. My pace really kicked up when I got my asthma a bit more sorted last year (steroids rule, yo), and not-entirely-coincidently I have been more consistent with my training since. So there's a lesson!

The run was quite crowded, and so there are no pictures. My poor support crew froze, and still can't quite believe she managed to miss me 3 times, even when warned that I was on my way. I can totally believe it, it just never seemed to open up the way that I'm used to. That might be the pace. I was totally emotional crossing the finish line, I couldn't quite believe what I'd done. I did manage not to actually cry this time though. 

I went and got clean and then we had a slap up feed before eventually (sorry Jo and Pip if you thought we were leaving earlier!) wending our way from Bath to Bristol to catch up with my Uncle Dickie and Ali (who doesn't like it if I call her Auntie). They fed us curry. We nearly burst. All in all, a bloody lovely weekend!


Cambridge half marathon

Way back pre-marathon, this race showed up. I can't remember where I found out about it, but as soon as I did it was a Must Run. Dad used to do the Cambridge half when I was growing up, but they stopped running them. This was the first in something ridiculous like 17 years.

I think when I signed up I had this image that I'd have completed the marathon, bounced back to full and happy health and be training lots, so a half would be easy. I mean, it's only a half. And Cambridge is so flat, it struck me as something of a PB possibility. Of course, as it happens it's not worked out like that. I completed the marathon right enough, but never quite got back into full training. I've been knackered this term. People have been telling me I look wiped out for weeks now, and frankly everything has suffered as a result. So once again I rocked up to do a race with somewhat less than perfect training (nothing over 8.5 miles since January), some impressive blisters (I must write about that), and somewhere around 3/4 lung capacity (I may have to admit that chest infection has made my asthma worse and go back to the doctor).

To add to the excuses list, I cunningly also forgot my trainers. Given that I have two pairs of road trainers sitting at home this was particularly stupid. Ok, so one of them is giving me blisters after about 5 miles, but the other pair are totally good for more miles yet. But no, I forgot both. So I had to break all the rules and go out and buy a new pair. I ended up with this fetching pair of bright yellow Inov-8 Road-x 155s. They feel a lot like slippers, which is great, but they do have a 3mm heel drop. Inov-8 do a 0mm drop shoe now, but nowhere in Cambridge stocked it.

Inov-8 Road-X 155

I do know you're not supposed to do a long run in new shoes, but I had no choice and besides, it's only a little half...

Then my stomach started playing up. I think if I'd thrown up I'd have said enough and not run. As it was, I gratefully accepted some Immodium and got to the start.

I think in the end all of that took the pressure off. It was a beautiful morning, the route was very central Cambridge and was mostly fabulous architecture, the river, various greens and lots of my student stomping grounds. There were no tricky hills - I know it had Garret Hostel bridge twice, but these days I've met a few more 'proper' hills - and I just pottered my way gently round. It shows in the photos. I seem to be beaming in almost all of them. I had a slightly rough patch around 10 miles, so I gave myself a talking to, ate a shortbread biscuit and got on with it.


(I love the two people in the background who seem so utterly aghast at my shoes...)

My long-suffering support crew was out and about again, this time armed with a banner and a Brompton for getting between sighting spots.


Apparently the banner got a lot of comments from the total strangers, so that's good. Normski's an old school friend of mine, who always used to kick my arse at cross country (not hard) and unsurprisingly did again here. I didn't manage to see her at all, but Clarkie did. She was running with her brother in memory of their nan.

Also a shout out to some people I ran with and chatted to who were running for a girl at their school who had a brain tumour, and a woman who was running as a warm up for London, which she was doing in memory of a friend's husband who died of pancreatic cancer. All these people running for good causes, and there's me just doing it for me. Of course, the plus of being slow is having time to chat!

I finished in 2 hours 39 minutes, which is 15 minutes slower than my PB (set in Reading 2005) and 15 minutes faster than my PW (set in Reading in 2006 - and not including the one I didn't finish). I'm happy with that! I'm also nearly at the end of term and have some downtime planned, so hopefully energy levels will be somewhat restored soon,