Cycle Map Run

Hello 2018

We are a week into 2018 and I am just getting round to finishing a blog post I started on New Year’s Day. I am hoping it isn’t too late to reflect on 2017 and the novelty of New Year’s Resolutions hasn’t worn off just yet. First of all, I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and weren’t too hungover on NYD. I spent NYE with my family, introducing them to the UK Run Chat hour on twitter and planning races for the upcoming months. 2018 is set to be the year of new challenges and hopefully smashing some PBs but before I get into all that, I will take a look back at 2017…

2017

After the GWR smiling because I surprised myself with a new PB.

I wasn’t running too much at the start of the year as I was finishing my Masters dissertation alongside my full-time job. Looking back, I don’t know how I fitted it in but I completed it, presented a poster on my work at a conference in Vienna, passed with distinction and had a lovely graduation back home. Having free time again in summer meant I could really enjoy getting out running again! The first race of the year was the Jurassic Coast 10K in August, memorable for the hills, heat and my first insight to off-road running. The Great North Run in September was a fantastic experience. I will never forget running across the Tyne Bridge just as the Red Arrows flew overhead and I definitely won’t forget the pain in my quads which forced me to walk a bit at around mile 9 (tip: don’t cycle 50 miles the weekend before a half marathon). With a half marathon PB of 1:56 gained at GNR, I felt relaxed as I lined up for the start of the Great West Run in October. Clearly having a carefree attitude is the way to go as I powered up those hills and achieved a new PB of 1:52! Lastly, I took part in Run Up 2 Christmas with my club UKRC Exeter and collectively we ran nearly 1000km (that’s the target for this year!) and despite having a cold and all the usual Christmas distractions, it was good to have motivation to get outside.

New Year, New Me?

 I like throwing that phrase around to wind people up when discussing resolutions, however I did tweet recently that I am very much pro resolutions because why not try to make some positive changes in your life? Sure you can decide to eat healthier in June or try spin classes in September but the start of the year seems like a good time to start afresh. I do have some personal goals to achieve this year but I know you just want to hear about running so I will get to it!

2018 is the year of the marathon.

I am just a bit terrified. I tell people that I am now officially in marathon training and it tends to sound quite casual and generally in a calm tone. Then this happens:

Friend: Oh a marathon, how far is that again?

Me: twenty six point two miles

Friend: TWENTY SIX MILES?

Me: twenty six POINT TWO

Friend: WHAT! That is so far, how on earth can you run that?!

I know it will be ok. I have very supportive friends and family, no other major commitments (outside of work) and plenty of shorter races to run between now and the end of May including a few 10K races in Exeter and a half marathon in Taunton.

Of course, I will then be running the marathon at the end of May. That’s ages! Isn’t it? Isn’t it? Currently I feel quite motivated and ready to tackle the training but I’m sure that will change over time. I am sure you will all agree that the best thing to do is not get too worried, keep up consistent training and enjoy the challenge. I will try to listen to that (plus any other advice) over the upcoming months.

Before my first run of the year! Smiling on the outside, crying on the inside.

I guess now (finally at time of writing and posting) I have finished week 1. My first run was on New Year’s Day and it was horrific in the rain & hail at a hilly forest at home. Since then, I have been back to my running club (@UKRCExeter), been to the new Exmouth park run & completed everyone’s favourite – the long Sunday run! I ran a total of 38.8km this week (I do not like leaving it so unrounded but I’ll live) and not had a drop of alcohol or a bite of chocolate (chocolate ban only started on the 2nd) so I am feeling pretty pleased.

Just in case you’re a bit nosy like me, my other goals/thoughts for the year ahead are:

  • Read more books. It takes me forever to read a book unless I am lying on a beach in 25 degree heat. I want to read/listen to more this year to stop myself looking at a screen all the time and maybe it will give me something else to talk about other than PBs and negative splits.
  • Drink less alcohol. I am taking part in Dry January just to give myself a bit of a boost and yes I probably will have a glass of wine as soon as February hits but I am going to try to not drink so much this year. I can tell this one might not go to plan…
  • Work hard. I’m currently listening to What Happened by Hillary Clinton (she even reads it herself, it’s fab!) and it has filled me with motivation in nearly all aspects of life but especially my working life. They key thing here is to not doubt yourself and what you can achieve.
  • Save money. Yes another typical one but to be fair this already happens, I just need to maintain it and that’s what direct debits are for.

I’m sure I will come back to these in a few months time and think “How did I think I could give up alcohol, are you mad?!” but at least it’s all written down and that means I will at least try to focus on the list above. I’m going to go drink a nice cup of tea now and read my book (see, I am already a better person).

I hope you all have a productive and successful week ahead!

Here’s to 2018!

Rach x

Exmouth Park Run. It was freezing!!!
Post-long run selfie today. I managed 8 miles in the freezing cold after helping at Junior Park Run.

This week in running (Oct 30th – Nov 4th)

It’s Sunday night and I’m thinking back over my week of running. I usually run 3-4 times a week including a Monday & Tuesday but due to relatives visiting and a friend’s birthday my first run of the week didn’t happen until Thursday. I was more than ready for that run and ended up clocking 10km. You know some nights you just need a run or you might explode? It was one of those. Next up was Parkrun on Saturday morning. Last week I hit my PB bang on (24:56) so this week I thought I’d push myself and try to beat it. I made sure I wasn’t too far back to begin with & kept a good pace to finish at 24:37 – a new PB! I was running into the wind for the last km which was tough but I kept the 25 minute pacer in my sight and ended with the obligatory sprint finish!

This morning, I ran 1 mile (wait for it, there’s more) to Junior Parkrun where I gave out the finish tokens as well as cheering and giving high fives to enthusiastic little kids (and their parents). Once that was over, I set off again and ran an additional 10 miles out and back along the quay. It was cold yet beautifully sunny so once I got going I was pretty warm but able to keep a steady pace. On the return leg of the run I was once again battling with the wind, which meant I had to work hard for the last 4 miles. I rewarded myself with a coffee at the quay afterwards before heading home to eat everything in sight!

I’m pleased with myself for getting out and doing a long run despite not having any races to train for in the next couple of months. I don’t think I have ever kept up the long distance in the weeks after a race but I am determined to maintain it over winter so that I’m not struggling in the new year! I have signed up to Run Up To Christmas to keep me motivated in December so hopefully that will also help balance out all of the chocolate & prosecco I will be consuming!

Anyone else trying to keep motivated now that it’s turning colder & darker?

Great West Run: A Review

On Sunday 15th October 2017 I ran the Great West Run, a half marathon through the streets of Exeter. I had a great time and managed to achieve a new personal best of 1:52:59 so while I am still reeling over this achievement I thought I’d write a quick review!

Registration & pre-race organisation

I signed up to the Great West Run in August when it cost the full price of £36 (early bird prices are already available for 2018) and I received a lot of information in the run up to the event. Thankfully, I didn’t need a shuttle bus ticket but those were also available to take you from the city centre to Exeter Arena. I think all races are expensive but I think this might be one of the cheaper half marathon options (please tell me if you know of cheaper races in the South West!). I received my bib number about a week or two before the race so everything was under control and I was feeling prepared!

The route

See for yourself! Symbolised according to elevation, this map shows the low-lying roads close to the River Exe in pale yellow and higher ground (university climb) in dark purple. Click on the mile markers to find out more.

The route was different this year than last and having chatted to friends that have also ran in both 2016 and 2017, I have heard mixed opinions. As you can see from the map above, the race starts and finishes in Exeter Arena, home of Exeter Harriers, where Jo Pavey started her running career. With speedy flat roads through the city centre, challenging uphills and a testing out and back section, I think the Great West Run really does have it all. There are plenty of supporters there to cheer you on but with the start/end being out of the city centre, you might need a bike if you want to cheer at multiple points. I enjoyed ending on a downhill and the out & back section wasn’t as bad as I anticipated as I could watch those right at the front speeding past me on the other side of the road. You also finish by doing a lap of the track so you can feel like the professional athlete that you truly are!

Let’s go! Running up Pinhoe Road.
Cheers from the crowds in the city centre

The Goodies

Now to the good stuff. On finishing the race you are awarded a medal, t-shirt and a goodie bag. The t-shirt this year was white with purple writing, definitely one of my new favourites and the medal is now proudly hanging up in my bedroom. I have to say the goodie bad was disappointing in comparison to other races I have done. It contained a Clif bar (I did not actually pick one of these up but I am sure it would be lovely), a bag of popcorn (which I also did not pickup because the flavours sounded terrible) and an ginger flavour energy drink (which tasted strange but also healthy).

Will I run the Great West Run again?

Yes I will, mainly because this race is on my doorstep but also because it gives you a challenge without being an absolute killer. I wouldn’t say a PB is always guaranteed because of the hills but it definitely provides an interesting route. Exeter is a city with a small town vibe so if you are looking for a friendly place for your next race then it’s for you.

If you ran the GWR last weekend let me know how you got on and what you thought of the race!

Rach x

 

 

Race ready the night before
Medal + bib number

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