Vitality North London & Reading Half Marathons

As many of you will have seen I recently took part in both the Vitality North London & Reading Half Marathons. I thought I would just write a quick blog to summarise how these events went and let you know how I found them.

The North London Half was what I would consider my first big event of 2015. I have run a few 10ks and did the Richmond Old Deer Park Half in February but the number of runners in these events was relatively small. In total 4,713 people finished the North London Half. In comparison to Reading which had over 13,000 runners it was still pretty small but that’s due to it being the first year of the event. 

Due to running the Old Deer Park Half in 1:21:21 I knew I was in good shape going into this event. I had a good feeling that I would get close to sub 80 mins but hadn’t done any real research on the route so was a little surprised when there were a few ups and downs. I went out at a pace that would comfortably get me sub 80 (a pace I’m not used to running at!!) and then just tried to hold onto it in the last few miles. It was strange running at this pace as the majority of the miles I do are closer to 7 min/mile+ but I felt ok as I had a good couple rest days and a nice short run at the Ashmei Ambassadors day in the lead up.

  

Here you can see my splits from the race. I’m happy with how it went considering the undulating course and squeezed in sub 80 mins finishing with a PB time of 79:27 in 29th position.

Another reason I think this race went well is because I was relaxed. On the morning of the event I met up with a former colleague Amy @AmyJayneHughes to travel to the start. We were busy chatting about running and things so I think I basically forgot to get nervous about the race. She also had a great run, well done Amy! and is now gearing up for the London Marathon. Good luck sure you will smash it! 

 

The event was really well run (pun intended!) and I will probably be back next year as long as my growing race calendar allows it. Here you can see my somewhat lacklustre sprint finish!! 

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10205294514355387

Right, onto Reading! The week between North London and Reading I ran a fair bit through work and just because I wanted to. I did rest up on Friday and Saturday though just running a couple miles Friday and working, helping out with the Adidas Boost Bootcamp, on the Saturday. I also got in some carb loading in the form of #adidas26rs biscuits! 

I was a little more nervous about Reading due to the fact I knew I was capable of another sub 80 mins Half and it is flatter than North London so expected to PB again. It was great to bump into a friend of mine Chris (@InvisibleTrail) on the tube so again by chatting I became less nervous about the race. I had arranged to meet up with @the_fitadvisor aswell who I met at the Ashmei Ambassador day so we headed to the race village together. 

I had chosen to do Reading because I had really enjoyed it in 2014 and it was the home of my PB. The huge medal enticed me back aswell. 

  

I wasn’t quite sure how to pace the race and therefore just set out in the same way I took to North London. This worked well as I got into my stride and due to Reading being flatter I could hold onto a quicker pace for longer. I managed a time of 77:01. Bit annoying that 01 but overall happy with the run. I finished 199th and it means I am 172nd in the Run Britain Grand Prix rankings currently which is pretty cool. See below a pic of me and @the_fitadvisor with the awesome medals! She ran a great race and got a huge PB, well done! I’m sure sub 2 isn’t very far away. Chris also did really well achieving just over 1:26 which is awesome as he’s recovering from an injury. I also saw Michelle (former colleague at Sweatshop/London Marathon Store) and she PBd by almost 5 mins!! Awesome work and look forward to seeing you at Brighton! 

  

Overall a great Reading Half, special thanks has to go to Nick Pearson @NickPearsonRuns and the organisers for such a great race and again I will be back if it fits with the Race calendar in 2016. So far I have enjoyed the Vitality race series and am looking forward to Run Hackney half in May but first up I have Kingston half this Sunday to do at marathon pace (need to decide what that is!) and then Brighton Marathon in two and a bit weeks!

I hope everyone’s running is going well and if you did the North London and/or Reading Half had a great time!

Speak and see a lot of you soon!

Steve

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Ashmei Ambassadors Assemble

Last year I applied to become an Ashmei ambassador. I was lucky enough to get on the shortlist, however the day clashed with the Adidas #getready professional footballer experience and I was gutted that I had to give up my place.

I have been keeping a close eye on what Ashmei have been up to over the last year or so via facebook and Twitter and was delighted when I found out they were after more brand ambassadors. I applied again and luckily managed to get on the shortlist. This for me was the prize. I love talking about running and meeting new people that are enthusiastic and passionate about the sports they take part in. Therefore the event on Saturday was great fun. I was a little bit apprehensive because I didn’t know if I would really fit in amongst all the other runners and cyclists. This is because I am relatively new to running and therefore haven’t ran super quick times or really long distances. I soon found out none of that matters. The only thing that really matters is you enjoy your sport and get as much out of it as you want (for me this means pushing myself to run faster and/or further than I’ve ran before).



The event began with a talk from Stuart Brooke, the owner of Ashmei. He gave us an insight into the brand and materials that are used to make their clothing “The worlds finest running clothing in the world”. It was really interesting to hear how much time and effort goes into designing and producing the products we use everyday when we are out there trying to perform at our maximum. Ashmei bucks the sportswear trend by opting for the quality is everything approach. This is quite refreshing to see when there are obviously a lot of brands opting for less quality more volume. I spoke with Simon Freeman of Freestak briefly and he made the point that we all have favourite pieces of kit/clothing for running and cycling. Ashmei produce that peice of clothing. The peice of clothing that will last a long time (without being washed too!). Their clothing really is a game changer, when you take part in your sport you want to reach your full potential. This is only going to happen when you are in comfortable kit designed to allow you to push your limits. It was great to hear about the current Ashmei ambassadors and how they are challenging themselves and the clothing. 



Luckily for us #ashmeiambassadors we were all given a pair of socks to try out on the run or cycle. We all put them on with the same response of “Ooh these are comfy!” They are super comfortable. Because they are made of merino wool and carbon they are fast wicking and drying, thermo regulating and don’t stink! (I literally just smelt them after going out for a 5 mile run this morning). These socks are now my favourites and will be used more often than the rest of my cheaper polyester collection. 



The run on Saturday was a 5ish mile trail run. It was nice to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a while and the views were awesome. We also did a spot of cheering as a local trail race overlapped our route. I will definitely be looking into trail races in the near future and will venture out of London more often. 

I left the event well and truly inspired by both the people I met and caught up with, and the run. I spent the rest of Saturday relaxing ahead of the North London Half on Sunday. Due to how well the last few weeks of running have gone I was aiming for a PB and sub 1:20. I maybe should have taken into account how “undulating” the course was but I still managed to stick to a good pace and finish in 1:19:27. I’m really happy with that time and am looking forward to Reading Half next Sunday and Brighton Marathon. 

Overall a good weekend, if you haven’t seen #ashmeiambassadors on Twitter go and follow the people on there because they all have great things planned and have achieved so much. Also check out this awesome video filmed by James MacKeddie @jimmymacke 

http://youtu.be/f5kIGZzcdyI

Hope you all had a good weekend and the running is going well.

Steve

Times in mind

Due to the fact I wasn’t running much the second half of last year I have found it hard to put goal times on the races I have coming up. I have recently done a few races so now I have rough times in mind but it obviously depends on how many miles I can get in between now and the events and how the tapering etc goes.

Last Sunday I ran the Old Deer Park Richmond Half Marathon. I signed up to it quite late in the day so wasn’t really tapering for the race or planning to go for a certain time. Also being my first half in 2015 and first half since Royal Parks in October I didn’t really know what I was capable of over that distance. I did the Royal Parks Half in just over 1:27.

The few days leading up to the run I was in Bath catching up with family so I got in some great carb loading! This included fish and chips, a massive Calzone and a cream tea. Turns out that all of this is good fuel as the run went well and I finished in a time of 1:21:21. Not far off my PB of 1:20:37 that I got at Reading last year. I was happy with that however it was a strange feeling to look at the watch in the last couple of miles and know the PB was slipping away although I wasn’t necessarily aiming for one.

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Today I ran the Nice Work Mornington Chasers Regents Park 10k. I have done a few 10ks so far this year including the Regents Park 10k in February. I managed a time of 36:42 today and am happy with that knocking 15 seconds off the last time I did the course. Another reason I’m happy is because I ran 21 miles on Thursday at 7:30 min/mile and therefore would have been carrying those miles in the legs.

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This week I am going to try and get quite a few miles in so that I’m in good shape for the North London Half in two weeks time. I am unsure how undulating the North London Half course will be so not sure what time I will be capable of but I will give it my all and hopefully get as close to 1:20 as possible.

The week after that I have Reading Half. They have changed the course to make it even flatter I believe so I’m hoping I may have a good chance to go sub 1:20 there fingers crossed. Then it will be about getting a few miles in before Brighton Marathon. The time I currently have in mind for Brighton is 3:27. That’s because I would really like to beat the time I did Manchester in last year. I would obviously like to go even quicker than that but we’ll see.

I hope everyone’s running has gone well this weekend. I love this time of year when there are so many races. Yesterday I was on cheer duty at Hilly Fields parkrun which was great fun. I wish I had done Bath half today, the bling looks great and I’ve seen loads of people have achieved great times!

Steve
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