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Cardiff World Half Marathon Race Recap

Helloooo!!

I know it’s been a while and I haven’t really been writing here.. Just been busy and it hasn’t been my priority unfortunately. But I did want to come and report about the half marathon yesterday because I like looking back on the race recaps and compare then.

So yesterday was the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff. My aim was to break my pb and ideally I wanted a time of 1:35, that’s what I’ve been aiming for and trained for. But to come up with excuses (haha) I was ill not long ago with a very chesty cough and had to take two weeks off. I’m still suffering from that cough a little bit and I guess it did affect my running because in the first runs back I had to take a break after 2km because I was so exhausted. Also, last week I did the 5km race missing a pb, and really struggled to keep the pace I thought I was capable of which really didn’t fill me with confidence for the half. Then again, I managed a 12km tempo in 4:30 pace couple of weeks before and it didn’t feel too bad. It’s the pace I was aiming to get 1:35.  Before my last half in August I managed a 10km run in 4:30 and it was sooo hard yet I still ran a 1:37ish for the half. So even though part of me wasn’t believing that 1:35 was achievable at Cardiff yesterday the other part was convinced it was doable. Does that make sense?

But then the weather… Wales really showed itself in all its glory yesterday. It was cold,windy and rainy. I mean I don’t mind running in the cold, and rain isn’t that bad either but they were forecasting winds of 40miles/hour and running in that isn’t great. When I saw the weather I started to seriously doubt my chances of a pb.

In the morning yesterday (race didn’t start til 2pm) everything was hurting, I had weird niggles and pains in my knee, achilles, foot.. I wasn’t sure if I was being paranoid or if I was actually in pain. Typical race day morning I guess. The women’s elite field started first and then the mass race started same time as the men’s elite race.

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I made sure to stick with the 4:30 pace from the very start and not get carried away with the atmosphere. I have definitely learnt from my last half (here). Usually the pace feels really easy from the start but I found it quite hard from the very beginning. I guess you’ll know from quite early if you’re going to have a great race or not. By the time we’d ran about 5km I knew it was going to be hard.. it wasn’t even that windy yet but it really felt like I had to work for that pace. I occasionally went slower than the 4:30 but I told myself I’d just negative split and catch up on the second half so didn’t worry too much. By the time we hit half way I did the maths and knew that 1:35 was still doable if I made sure not to drop the pace. At some time around 12-13km a torrential downpour started with horrandeous wind and I was just conveniently crossing a bridge. I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh it was sooo bad. Everyone pretty much turned their heads to the side because the rain/hail was so painful coming from the side. It only lasted for about a minute or two but it made sure that I was completely drenched from head to toe. My shoes felt so much heavier after all the rain had got in them it was ridiculous. At that point I really regretted having shorts and top on as well because it was so cold.

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Anyway I survived and then the wind and rain calmed down a bit again. I saw JP around 14km. I was feeling okay at this point and even smiled at him although in the below photo I look like a crazy person 😀

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After that I thought well it’s only 6km and all I need to do is keep the 4:30 pace to make it 1:35. How hard can it be? Well the wind picked up again and my legs started to feel heavy and suddenly when I felt like I was running 4:30 pace (the effort was definitely there) to my annoyance I saw I was running 4:45 pace. It was so frustrating. I swear my legs were going the same pace and it felt so hard but I just couldn’t pick up the pace. I guess the wind had an effect. We looped around Roath park and this is where I’ve been doing all my runs basically so I kept trying to push because it was such familiar grounds but for some reason my body just wasn’t doing what my brain told it to do. The next few km’s were so much slower that I knew 1:35 had slipped away. My only focus was to make sure I can get 1:36. There’s a bit of downhill in the last few kilometers as well which I was so thankful for, however the wind was against us at that point which made the downhill running slower too. Anyhow, I got to the last bridge just before you turn to the finish and realised how close I am to not getting 1:36 time so the last bit of the course was definitely my fastest bit. I made it in 1:36:48.

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My splits were: 4:29,4:31,4:32,4:31,4:32,4:35,4:28,4:30,4:29,4:33,4:31,4:32,4:33,4:34,4:32,4:39,4:41,4:39,4:34,4:42,4:24 and then 4:11 pace for the last 300meters.

It’s a small pb, exactly 34 seconds from my last half marathon pb that I set in Cardiff at that exact same course in October 2014 (in a lot better weather though!!) I’ve been trying to break that pb many times in 2015 and never managed so even though yesterday’s time wasn’t what I wanted, it’s still proved me that the 1:37:22 time wasn’t unbreakable 🙂

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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:

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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.

Swansea Half Marathon Race Recap

On Sunday I ran my second half marathon of the year, the Swansea Half. It was organised for the second time this year and I ran it last year too. It is such a great course and event in general and I was very much looking forward to it.

I took the train there in the morning and was in a very good mood, 99% confident that I would break my pb by about 2 minutes, running it in 1:35.

My training hasn’t been very good these past months as I keep going from one injury to another and back again to the first injury but the past few weeks have been okay and I’ve even managed a couple of longish runs so I was quite optimistic about the race time. I did a Bath half marathon in March with what I thought was a lot less training and with a very injured leg and still ran 1:39, and Bath is hilly. So I was convinced that I’d run the Swansea’s flat course in at least 1:37 but more like 1:35.

Well the race started and the first two kilometers it was all great and everything was hunky dory and I was pacing myself well (I thought). By 3k I was starting to get stomach cramps but it was more of a discomfort than pain so I didn’t think it’d affect anything much. It was a very sunny, warm day and I hate running in warm weather and sunshine. I don’t know why but I seem to really struggle with it even if I am perfectly hydrated etc I still get very dizzy and nauseous easily. By half way point I had slowed down so much that I knew my goal time isn’t happening and I really just wanted to stop altogether. All I kept thinking was that I have never not finished so didn’t want this to be the first time. The nausea and feeling afwul got worse and worse so I slowed down massively and had to stop in a race for the first time. Well first time apart from London Marathon 2014 where I experienced exactly those same feelings just a bit more intense and ended up collapsing. So I guess I’ve learnt from my mistakes and I actually made myself stop on Sunday before collapsing. My legs almost gave up when I stopped but managed to stay up and stretch and drink water even though I felt like puking. After few minutes I took off again just slowly plodding away. It was almost like running with a terrible hungover. I felt afwul til the end and even 2 k before the finish I had to stop again as I thought I’d faint if I didn’t. I sound like such a drama queen but it was truly afwul 🙂

Eventually finished in 1:44, which isn’t a bad time. But considering I was convinced I could run 1:35 I was massively disappointed. And half marathon being my favourite distance I was so frustrated that this felt so bad. I am most annoyed about why it happened though, as I don’t understand how I can feel so afwul because of the heat and sun when it’s not like it was super warm and 30 degrees or anything… Ah well. Maybe I just have to run in the sun more to get used to it and wear a cap. Or just run when it’s cold 😀

Definitely looking forward to running and training now, after such disappointing race I feel more motivated to run. I haven’t actually signed up for any races at the moment but that will have to change soon. So if anyone has any suggestions for good races, let me know!

 

 

Have a great week guys!