Monday, August 27, 2018

The 2018 Severn Bridge Half Marathon

Chester Marathon Training -7 weeks to go

Cotswold 100 Training - 5 weeks to go

Both of us - Blue 
John - Orange 
Kelly - Purple 

We were both looking forward to having a good blast at our first Half Marathon this year - the Severn Bridge half. It's a race that's really special to us because we've ran it every year since it began in 2014. 

2014 - This was the first race. We'd both just started running. 
John = 1:39:46
 Kelly = 1:38:29 

2015 - We met Sir Steve Way this year! 
John = 1:26:05
 Kelly= 1:45:58
 John's men's team won the team prize.

2016 - This year was a different course. 
John =  1:23:16
Kelly = 1:35:50
Kelly's women's team won the team prize!  

2017 - Back to the original course this year. It was a beautiful sunny day. 
John = 1:30:13
Kelly = 1:30:20
Kelly finished as 3rd Lady. 

What does the 2018 race have in store for us? We'd find out on Sunday. 

Here's what this last week of training looked like...

Monday 20th August 2018

A rest day for me today so just a yoga class at pure yoga in Wapping Wharf. 

Today I also picked up a new prescription of iron tablets. I've not been on them for over a year and my Gluten-Free diet should really have solved my anemia. However, recently I've been feeling 'low' it's not an easy feeling to describe but I feel it especially when I am running uphill. When I was last on iron tablets, I was able to run uphill without completely getting out of breath. My legs felt like they had the energy and oxygen they needed. Whereas, recently, I've been lacking that feeling. I booked myself into the doctors for a blood test which concluded that, as I suspected, my iron levels are low. Hopefully, the tablets can get my iron levels back up and hopefully it will help my running too. 

This is going to get a bit repetitive from me... 5K Recovery run. Keeping the running every day streak going and genuinely having to recover as best I can as 2 x 40+ mile runs in 8 days is really taking it's toll - I am knackered!! 

Tuesday 21st August 2018

Speedwork today. After 2 weeks of attempting 2 x 4 mile efforts at sub marathon pace, I was getting a bit frustrated with myself for not being able to do it. How was I going to run 13 miles at 6:45 mm pace on Sunday if I can't do two blocks of 4 miles in training? I decided to try for a change of scene today and use the Towpath. It is quite undulating and a bit rocky but it's more interesting than the Portway. 

My aims for today (other than trying to hit 6:30mm pace) were to run a more controlled effort and try to get into a rhythm. I set off and quickly realised that I could still feel Saturday's 18 miles in my legs. I tried to put it out of my mind and focus on getting the speed up. The first mile came in at 6:44. Not as fast as I'd have liked but I felt more comfortable and I felt like I could keep going for longer. The next few miles were similar pace despite me feeling like I was putting in the effort for 6:30 pace. I think that's due to the bumpy nature of the course. 

Mile 1 - 6:44
Mile 2 - 6:55
Mile 3 - 6:43
Mile 4 - 6:46 

I stopped at the end of mile 4 feeling pretty tired but not exhausted. I wasn't feeling especially pleased with my speed but then a middle aged man came past me on his bike and yelled out "Cor you're quick, I couldn't catch you on my bike!" Now I don't know who he was or anything about him but it was nice to be reminded that, even if I'm a few seconds off my target time, I'm still running pretty quick! Thanks random stranger! 

I was feeling rather thirsty and wished I'd brought some water with me. Then I spotted a blackberry bush...natural sugar and energy! I had a couple and it felt like a magic elixir! I was ready for round 2. 

The first mile of set 2 felt pretty hard after stopping for a few minutes. It didn't take too long however, for me to get into a rhythm again. No, it wasn't a 6:30 rhythm but I was working hard and managed (for the first time in the last 3 weeks of speedwork ) to keep of my miles under 7:00. 

Mile 5 - 6:48
Mile 6 - 6:57
Mile 7 - 6:53
Mile 8 - 6:42 

I finished feeling pretty pleased with myself. It was the closest I'd come to my target and the most comfortable and controlled of all of my efforts so far. I even managed to run the mile home rather than walking it as I had the last few weeks. 

In the evening, John and I went to Yoga together. He's not been for a while so it was lovely to have him join me.

An early morning pre-work recovery run with the lads! Fellow Ring of Fire racer Gary and streaking enthusiast (running every day) Steve joined me running round the block. In the evening a very beneficial yoga session with KD. An hour of stretching which helped a lot.

Wednesday 22nd August 2018

Another lunchtime yoga session for me today. Flexibility is really increasing. 

John was still recovering from last week's night run so I went to club by myself this week. Initially, I'd just planned to run 10 miles as I figured I'd be feeling pretty fatigued from yesterday but actually, my legs felt alright so I decided to keep going! 15 miles in total with an average page of 8:32 and 1320 feet of elevation. Not bad for a Wednesday night. 

I'd planned on running 10 miles with the guys at club... not to be! I found myself getting more and more tired through the week. My body has always tended to wait a few days before punishing me for what I've done on the weekend.. I opted for another steady 5K plod around the harbourside, finishing up at the shop where I bought tonnes of food to help me recover some more :-)

Thursday 23rd August 2018

A little 2 mile run this morning with John and our friend Steve who has recently moved back from America. Nice to stretch the legs out and catch up. 

I went to see Jenny, my physio, for a sports massage, this afternoon, to hopefully get me ready for the Severn Bridge half on Sunday. 

Another pre-work 5K with Steve and this time KD joined us half way round. Legs starting to feel normal-ish...

Friday 24th August 2018

Last run before Severn Bridge today. Just a gentle 5 miles. My legs felt pretty good. I had to keep reminding myself to slow down - which is always a good sign before a race! 

Legs are feeling good - lets break them again! 

5 X 400M @ HMP with 100m rolling recoveries
(1:29, 1:34, 1:29, 1:30, 1:30)

Wanted to make sure race pace felt OK before Sunday. They did! Running at pace felt good and fun. I finished the workout feeling positive and excited about racing on the weekend.

Saturday 25th August 2018

No running for me today. Just a really nice relaxing day with my feet up ready for tomorrow! 

A slightly hungover 5K plod after partying with friends at fellow club mates wedding party the night before - Congrats Phil and Jemma! 

Sunday 26th August 2018

Race day! 
My alarm went off at 5:30 am. I found that John was already awake and had started preparing my breakfast for me (how kind). My pre-race breakfast is always home made egg fried race with mushrooms and cheese. Yum! After I'd eaten a small portion and had a pint of water, I went back to bed for an hour until we had to get up at 6:30. 

We packed our bags, drove to pick up Marcus and then headed to the race. John's work colleague Ami lives near the start of the race so we parked at her house - this was fantastic as we avoided the pretty hefty queues. 

We collected our race numbers, payed a visit to the porta-loos before checking our bags and getting ready for the start. The weather was pretty hideous so I'm really glad we packed some bin bags to keep warm in. The start is on the very middle of the Severn Bridge. I did a half mile warm up while wearing my very fashionable bin bag. We took up our usual start position right on the line and, after a quick count down from Nick Rose, we were off. 

My goal for today was to finish in sub 1:30. I knew I had to keep my average pace below 6:50 mm. 

Tim, Woody and I had already realised that we were aiming for similar times so we started off together. The first two miles are downhill and I'd made the mistake in the past of going off too fast so I got into a comfortable rhythm and had a bit of a chat to the people running around me.

The first 3 miles flew by and I was feeling great. I felt pretty confident at this stage that it was going to be a good day. I had one women in front of me (I'd spotted her at the start; she looked pretty speedy) but I couldn't see anyone behind. I'd love to finish in 2nd place, I told myself. 

I really like knowing what's coming in a race so I did some strava revision last night. I looked up my pace from last year and analysed each mile. It was really helpful because I knew, for example, that mile 3 and 4 contained more uphill than downhill so not to worry when my pace slowed in those miles. In about mile 5, I dropped off the pace a bit and ended up running on my own. I don't really mind this - I've learnt to run my own race and not try and keep up with others. 

Mile 1 - 6:37
Mile 2 - 6:33
Mile 3 - 6:52
Mile 4 - 6:45
Mile 5 - 6:40
Mile 6 - 6:48

I knew that mile 7 contained 'the hill' the whole route is pretty undulating to be honest, but this hill is really quite tough. Up until mile 7, everything was feeling great. My legs felt amazing and the pace felt comfortable. I reached the hill...I still felt great. Yes, my pace slowed, but I was still running strong. I even overtook 2 men! I felt like my iron tablets had kicked in and I was feeling strong and full of energy. 

Miles 8 - 10 are downhill. I was feeling amazing. I picked up the pace and just focused on getting to the bridge where the next challenge lay. 

Mile 7 - 7:47 (quicker than last year)
Mile 8 - 6:18
Mile 9 - 6:38
Mile 10- 6:48 

Mile 11 is where I struggled last year. I felt sapped of energy (I think partly due to the heat) and my pace slowed dramatically. This year however, I felt great. The rain was keeping me cool and my legs felt like they'd just started. I caught up with Woody who gave me loads of encouragement to push on. Only 2 miles left and I had 15 minutes until my 1:30 target - easy! With a huge smile on my face, I picked up the pace again, I passed about 10 men as I ran back down the bridge and towards the finish line. 

Mile 11 - 7:14
Mile 12 - 6:11
Mile 13 - 6:21 

I crossed the finish line in 2nd place in a time of 1:28:54 absolutely delighted. I was given £80 cash as prize money and a beautiful wooden trophy. Even the pouring rain couldn't dampen my spirits! 

I had a similarly positive race to KD! In light of running speedy efforts a couple of days before and them feeling OK - I set of with a target of Sub80... 3 miles in I decided this was STUPID! Months and months of running off road and up hill averaging 5MPH tops - there really was no need to try and run my third fastest ever half marathon less than a week before taking on the Ring of Fire! I changed to screen on my watch to show just my heart rate and ran with a couple of guys who were running strong but comfortable, promising myself to back off if ever I was uncomfortable... Very sensible taking the pressure of but also very rewarding! Although I didn't know what pace I was running through the mile, my watch would beep at every mile stone and I was surprised every time - running very comfortably at 6:05 - 6:15 pace! By the time I'd got through half way, I'd have had to work really hard to throw away a Sub85! Well chuffed with how the race was going, I got to mile 11 and felt similarly to KD - awesome! I changed my watch screen back to pace and decided to work a little bit harder - if anything to make sure I finished ahead of the mini group I was part of. I managed to take over a couple of runners, improving my position and was cursing myself for not making an effort earlier... I really could have ran a Sub80 after all...

13th Place with a time 1:20:37! It's amazing what 3 months of no speed work and running 5000+feet of elevation work can get you when you decided to take the pressure of an run to feel!

Celebratory double burger followed and realisation that there's to be no more double figure runs until the big race - the Ring of Fire - next week. We've spent the rest of the weekend packing - everything - and we're really excited to be heading of to Anglesey tomorrow :-)

Massive congrats to KD for getting 2nd lady but more excitingly is bagging a comfortable Sub90 on a hilly course in tough conditions at this stage in the marathon training. Sub3 at Chester is looking good!

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