Severn Bridge Half Marathon Race Recap

So I ran my third half marathon of the year yesterday. I posted about my decision to run this one here. 

I had a nice early 6am wake up, I got a lift to Chepstow which was very lucky as the bus would’ve left 5am and forced me to get up at a ridiculous hour. I was feeling okay about the race, I had my mind set on a pb, but I have been struggling with this stupid knee injury so that took the excitement away a little bit. Also, I had heard rumours about the hillyness of the course and that didn’t help either.

My aim was to run 4:30 pace for the race and finish 1:35 ish. I knew the hills would slow me down but I thought I could catch up on the lost time on the downhill bits. I am usually very obsessed with my garmin and stare at it way too much. So when the race started, I decided I won’t look at my garmin apart from when it beeps for the 1k lap time. I changed the screen to the time of day instead so I couldn’t see my pace all the time. I thought I’d, for once, run based on how I feel and just check the 1k times. The only one I really managed to run in 4:30 was the 1st kilometer. After that it was gentle downhill and obviously the excitement of the start carried me and I accidentally ran a 4:11, then realised I need to slow down but ran another km in 4:15. This is pace I ran in my last 5k race.  So clearly my body doesn’t have a clue how to pace accordingly 😀

Some gentle uphills started and I finally eased my pace closer to 4:30. Everything was going great, every bit I had to slow down on the uphill I made up on the downhills. At 10k mark my garmin showed 44:45. This is when I started doing maths in my head and figured I might get 1:34ish time. So when we approached this famous Hill I was happy that I had some time to spare. On the race website it describes it as an undulating course with one hill. On the event facebook page there was a lot of hype about The Hill beforehand so I was quite intrigued to see what this hill is about. Well, it was definitely one of the worst. It wasn’t even that long but I think it was the steepness of it or maybe because you already had few hills before that but it really did hurt.

I once heard somewhere that if you walk up a hill you waste less energy than if you try jog it, even if it’s the same pace. I don’t know if this is true but when I saw my attempt at running up it, which turned out to be more of a shuffle, and I noticed a man next to me walking I decided to power walk for a bit too. When the man next to me started running again we were still on the hill but I gathered maybe he knows that it’s over soon so I’ll copy him and start running again too. I made it to the top eventually and I felt a lot better than I thought I would. It was nice downhill from the top and I think my walking really had helped me save some energy at that point because I felt amazing running down. My 1k time for the hill bit was 5:44 which meant I was 1 min 15 sec behind my goal 1k splits. I started playing catch up and ran the next few kilometers around 4:20 pace again to get me back to my goal time.

It was amazing and everything was great I was in a flow until out of nowhere it just stopped as if I hit a brick wall (and this is only a half marathon!!). The downhill ended and my legs finally realised how tired they are from the hillyness and terrible pacing because even the downhill is tough on your legs. I feel like my lungs get a break on the downhill but legs won’t, if that makes sense? So I suddenly felt overwhelming exhaustion on my legs and they just felt so weak and I just wanted to stop and collapse. I don’t normally take gels on half marathons but I had one in my pocket just in case and I took half of it because I really felt like I needed something. I think it helped a little bit but when the course began to have some little climbs again I was done. This must’ve been about 15 km in and no matter how I tried to psyche myself and tell how it’s my head that’s giving up before my body, it really felt like it was my body that was giving up, my head was still racing for a pb.

Anyhow, the last kilometers dragged and were a nightmare. I don’t know how I even managed to move my legs, they weighed 100kg each. And no, I am not being dramatic at all 🙂 My paces varied between 4:38 and 5:02 during the last 5k. Until the final bit I still tought I was gonna get a small pb out of it but as I turned the last corner before the final stretch I saw yet another hill and that was just it. Way too much time climbing up that and as always in races my garmin had beeped the 21,1k already but I hadn’t seen the finish line yet so the last hill and that ‘extra’ 140 meters I had to run to get the official 21,1 km took the last bit of pb hope away from me. I finished in 1:37:38, which is 16 seconds slower than my pb from Cardiff half marathon last October. Considering the hillyness of the course I think I should be happy with it. But I’m not gonna lie, it’s always annoying when you miss a pb, and especially if you miss it by so little. I did find out afterwards that I came 3rd in the Senior Female category so that’s always a nice surprise.

Always happy to finish.

I do include hills in my training and run up some hills during easier runs so I’ve never thought I’d struggle to get up a hill. I guess what I’ve never done is run a hilly tempo run. Maybe that’s something to take home from this experience and worth trying in the future.

The weather was perfect for running and my knee didn’t even hurt so that was positive. The race itself started on the Severn Bridge. The bridge and the motorway were closed for runners which makes it pretty special. The views, as much as I did look at them, were beautiful. Unfortunately, at the start I was too excited to look around and when we came back over the bridge I was too exhausted to look around me. But I am sure the views were wonderful 😀 The bridge sure is:

severn bridge
Picture from http://www.wallpapersdb.org/original/383/

 

On a totally separate note, can anyone recommend a good kinesiology tape? My previous one was one from physioroom. It’s been good so far but half the tape came off my knee at 8km into the half marathon so looking to test a new one.

Running Songs

Heya,

I recently updated my ipod to have some new songs to run to. When I say new, I don’t mean actually new as you’ll see, some of the songs are hits from YEARS ago.  I get lazy with updating my ipod and so bored of the songs that I end up listening to the radio during my runs instead. Also, I forget about songs. That’s why my recent update included loads of really old songs I rediscovered. I’m trying to make sure I remember to update it once in a while and have enough variance in there so I don’t get bored and the runs end up more enjoyable too. Music can really make a difference on the run sometimes and motivate you to push that little bit harder and run a little bit further.

Here’s a list of some of the songs that have kept me running recently. Yes, my music taste is weird. I know.

20 songs to run to (in no particular order)

  1. The Offspring – You’re gonna go far, kid
  2. Linkin Park – Bleed it out
  3. Otto knows – Million voices
  4. Florence & The Machine –  Dog days are over
  5. Florence & The Machine – Ship to wreck
  6. Limp Bizkit – Rollin
  7. Martin Tungevaag – Wicked wonderland
  8. Imagine Dragons – I’m so sorry
  9. Imagine Dragons – Trouble
  10. Imagine Dragons – Polaroid
  11. Arctic Monkeys – A view from the afternoon
  12. Arctic Monkeys – R U mine
  13. Scooter – How much is the fish
  14. Kaiser Chiefs – Na Na Na Na Naa
  15. Britney Spears – Work b**ch
  16. Klingande – Jubel
  17. Mumford & Sons – Ditmas
  18. Eminem – Till I collapse
  19. Iron Maiden – Run to the hills
  20. Muse – Uprising

 

I wouldn’t go quite that far but it does help 😀

Suggestions of good running songs are very welcome. As you can see, I’ll listen to anything! 🙂

Have a great week everyone! xx

Half Marathons… and Brecon Beacons

Half marathon, that wonderful 21,1 kilometres  race was my very first race I entered after I started running in 2011. At the time it was all about finishing the course as I had never exceeded 16km in training. I ran the Llanelli Half in 2012, had a goal of under 2 hours and managed it in 1:53. I was instantly hooked and signed up for a full one that Autumn. It took me until 2014 to run my next half due to breaking my ankle and struggling with injuries in between.

The next one was in Bath and I was very excited to break my pb which I knew should be easy considering I had never even ran beyond 16km for the first one and when preparing for Bath I was also training for London Marathon meaning I was doing runs way longer than 21,1km. I got badly injured before the half but ran it anyway in 1:42.  During that half I realised how much I love the distance. As much as I enjoy running marathons and shorter distances occasionally as well, I do think half marathon is the perfect distance. Maybe it’s because I’m not a huge fan of running fast like you would have to in 5ks and 10ks but I like to run long. Half marathon is long enough to make you run it in a decent pace but not all out and also short enough that it doesn’t require as much from you as a marathon. It’s also long enough to make you feel like you’ve accomplished something.

That same year 2014 I managed few more pbs.. I did Swansea half in that July but due to lack of training and my pretty bad lifestyle at the time I didn’t improve my time. A month later in Finland I ran a 1:39 finally getting my sub 1:40 which I was very happy with. The course had fair bit of downhill making me think it wasn’t a “proper” pb. In October I ran Cardiff half, which didn’t have that downhill advantage and managed a 1:37:22. My current pb which I accepted as “proper” pb 😀

This year I’ve not had much luck with half marathons. I did Bath half again in March, I injured myself beforehand and lacked all the long runs in training so didn’t break my pb but ran 1:39 anyway. Few months later in June I did the Swansea half again and this time I had done a bit longer training runs, I was still struggling with injuries but regardless I thought I was a lot fitter than for the Bath half and with a flat course I was optimistic that I would break my pb. The recap of the race is here. Long story short, it was the worst half I’ve ever raced. I felt nauseous and dizzy and had to stop 3 times in order to avoid collapsing. So no pbs.

I’ve been very annoyed at my this year’s half marathons and after a long consideration (due to my injuries) I have just entered my next half which will be in less than two weeks; the Severn Bridge Half. I am pretty excited because I have a good feeling about finally breaking my last year’s pb and having a successful half for this year. My slight concern is that I am struggling with a knee injury AND the course is meant to be really hilly. I’m just hoping the hilliness doesn’t affect my time too much. There isn’t many other halfs that would fit in my schedule at the moment until next year and I really don’t want to wait until then for my favourite distance. So fingers crossed I’ve made the right decision and my legs are ready for a half marathon pb. 🙂

Anyone else love the half marathon?

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On a separate note, me and JP went hiking in Brecon Beacons the other day. It is so beautiful there I’d highly recommend.  Here’s some photos:

 

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Miles or Kilometers?

I’ve always used kilometers to measure distance because in Finland we use the metric system. The first time people started talking in miles to me in the UK I found it very confusing but luckily google has helped me a lot. I’ve learnt to know miles pretty well and can convert some of them in my head but I have stumbled upon a new issue now with paces. It’s easy enough for me to know now that if I run 16k that’s 10 miles but if I run that in 5:20 pace (min/km) what is that in minutes per mile?

When I first started running I didn’t understand pacing at all. I remember my friend once mentioning  she needed to run 5 minute/km to break 3:30 in a marathon and I just looked at her like she was speaking in a different language.

The first time I started paying attention to paces was when I bought my first garmin. And then I was obsessed. As much as I love my garmin and all the information it gives me, it has kind of also taken the freedom of running away from me. Instead of just running for fun I am now obsessed with knowing my exact pace and distance.

But the paces have always been minutes per km. This year I’ve discovered that most people in social media report their distances and paces in miles. As I have a need to compare myself with others (healthy I know) I want to know what their paces are in minutes per km. The only thing I know is that 5 minute/km is just under 8 min/mile but every other pace confuses me. Worst thing is that when I run 5:30/km for instance I don’t think that is slow but if I hear someone saying 9 minutes/mile I think that sounds really slow, but turns out they are the same. I’ve considered changing my garmin to minutes per mile to figure them out but I think that would really confuse me and annoy me because I wouldn’t understand while I’m running how fast (slow) I am going. Miles have already changed my running habits; before I liked to run certain distances such as 7k or 15k, I now unintentionally think of the distance in miles as well, and when I go for my 15k run I end up thinking that 10 miles would be 16 and it sounds better than 9 point something so I have to run 16k instead. I know I am weird. If I changed my paces I would confuse myself even more, having to recalculate everything.

Had to make it a 8k tempo so it's 5 miles. Pace definitely in minutes/km though :D
Had to make it a 8k tempo so it’s 5 miles. Pace definitely in minutes/km 🙂

 

runningmileskms

I once heard that running in miles makes distances seem more manageable because there are less of them than kilometers. Sounds like it makes sense. Especially when I think about a marathon, and someone whose watch is set to miles their watch would beep 26 times during the marathon and they have 26 “chunks” to go through as such, whereas my watch in kilometers would beep 42 times and make me think I have 42 parts to run. So maybe mentally miles would make a marathon more manageable? I have no idea if there is a scientific base for that though. I guess it’s worth trying. I am so used to kilometers that whenever I see something in miles I still like to convert it exactly into kilometers in my head so I would still think of marathon as 42k not some weird 26 miles 😀 Stuck to the habits? Yes. But are they changeable? Maybe.

:)
🙂

Happy miles or kilometers to you all!