Tag Archives: london

Ealing Mile, SDW & Hackney Half Marathon

On Friday my work colleagues Nikki, James, David and I headed across London to take part in the Ealing Mile. I’d raced the mile distance three times before and knew that it was going to be a bit of a suffer fest, especially due to it being hot weather. My first mile race was the City of London Mile in 2014, I ran in the post Hackney Half Marathon wave and managed to get round in 5:40 something. I know I’m biased as I now work for Run-Fast but it was a great event, I made it in time to watch the elite and family waves, it was great seeing so many people running whether pushing themselves to their limit or having fun (or both!). Last year I ran the Westminster and City of London Miles finishing in 5:03 and 5:02 respectively, both of which were the day after doing long runs in training for Race to the Stones 100k. As I wrote in a previous blog about goals, I wanted to do sub 5 minutes in 2016 and therefore I thought this would be a good opportunity to go for it. Still recovering from the London Marathon etc I didn’t know whether I would have it in my legs but with a mile you may as well go out fast and hold on as it’s such a short distance you’ll only have to suffer for a little while.

Myself and James jogged around the route to warm up, “This seems much further than a mile” we said. It’s really deceiving how long a mile is, after doing half marathons, marathons and ultras I guess you’re always going to think of it as a really really short distance, it’s still a fair way. Legs loosened up and numbers pinned to our tops we were ready to go. The race started at 12:30, we toed the start line drawn in chalk on the path. “3,2,1, GO!” We were off! Having researched what pace I needed to run to break 5 minutes I set off around 3:05 minutes per kilometre pace. I glanced down at my watch a couple of times to check I was staying around that pace. The first section of the course was flat; you then take a left round a corner to a nice slight downhill section. After a few hundred metres I was breathing heavy but my legs were feeling good, due to the downhill probably ha. As the organisers knew the “Run City Milers” were attending the mile, they had written a couple of motivational messages on the ground; “Go Nikki!” and “#RunFast” to name a couple. 

Note: this pic wasn’t taken mid-race.

The course was marked in chalk which was good. You run passed a little playground and down into the corner of Lammas Park. As the path wasn’t closed off to public there were a few pedestrians to negotiate round. After taking the corner at the bottom there’s a tree which splits the path, I opted to go right around the tree as off the bend I was on that side of the path (not sure this was quite the racing line ha). From here you head up a slight incline. It lasts for a few hundred metres but given that the first part of the course was slightly downhill it feels like you’re climbing Everest and its taking forever. Finally there’s a left turn and a short flat section to keep pace. There was one more turn to take; I could hear another runner breathing down my neck so kept pushing. On the corner there was a couple pushing a buggy, there was a small gap to go on the inside of them but I quickly made the decision to just run around the outside. This allowed the runner behind me to close the gap, with 200 metres he edged passed me. This was the first time in the race someone had been in front of me, luckily my legs had a little kick in them, and I managed a little sprint to finish first in 4:58. Now that I’ve done sub 5 I don’t have to worry so much about my time in the City of London Mile, therefore I might do the Orion Harriers Fell Race on the 17th of June (great fun last year!) and a long run the Saturday before the event due to training for the Zagori Marathon.

  

Team Run-Fast (Run City Milers) and the Ealing team

On Saturday Lorna, Emily, Michele, David, Todor and I headed to Seaford. Post road marathons we all have a couple of trail races/events coming up so thought it would be a good idea to run on the South Downs Way (over Seven Sisters) to Eastbourne. Late last year I went on a training weekend with Run-Fast to the same location and therefore knew how steep the climbs were over Seven Sisters, I also knew just how beautiful the views were along the coast and couldn’t wait to run there again.   

   
We all ran steady and walked a few of the climbs; we were just after time on feet and some hill training. It was really nice weather, not too hot because of the breeze off the sea. It was a great 19k or so route from Seaford to Eastbourne, one which I hope to do again soon. Once we arrived in Eastbourne we found Harry Ramsdens Fish and Chip shop, it was so good. The girls then had a little dip in the sea before we got a MASSIVE ice cream and headed for the train to get back to the concrete jungle.

To end the weekend of running I took part in the Hackney Half Marathon. Initially I wasn’t going to enter, mainly due to racing the London Marathon a couple of weeks ago. However, Jon who runs with The Running Works Run Club had signed up, using it as a training run/race heading towards his Ironman later in the year. He said he wanted to run around 1:40 and I thought this would be a good pace to run post London and in the heat. It’s always boiling hot on Hackney Half race day, I’d raced it in 2014 and 2015. Another friend, Michalis, was aiming for 1:40 too and Lorna was going to pace him. 
Unfortunately before the start we got split up, I was with Lorna, Jon and Ash who ran with us. Michalis must’ve got into the start pen earlier. We were due to start at 9am but for some unknown reason we were stood waiting for about 15 minutes, not ideal in the heat, I just wanted to get running. Once over the start line we weaved are way through a few runners, we had to do this because we got in the start pen a little late and were nearer the back of the 1:30-1:45 group. To go sub 1:40 we needed to average 4:44 min/km pace, wanting to find some space and run with Ash with the tunes, we averaged closer to 4:30 through the first 5k. With it being really hot I knew we’d pay the price for going out fast in the end but as we were having fun and everyone was feeling good at this point we carried on at a quicker pace.   

After a couple of miles Lorna caught up with Michalis and went on to pace him. We were banking quite a lot of time in the first half of the race; we went through halfway in around 46 minutes, that’s a couple of minutes quicker than we wanted really. 

 It was great fun running with Ash, he supplied the tunes and at every water station he’d run ahead quickly to grab me and Jon water bottles. 

He was also taking lots of pics and selfies; screw spending £50 on finisher’s photos!! Ha As we were running we passed quite a few runners, it was funny when people heard the music, turned around and were like “Hey Ash, how’s it going!” We saw so many Advent Running, Run Dem, Nike, Victoria Park Harriers etc people and the crowds were great. We were still holding closer to 4:30min/km pace throughout most of the second half of the race.   

We got to around 19k on this pace but then the fast pace at the start and heat took its toll. When you’re running around the Olympic Park there’s very little shade and as you are nearing the end of the race it’s getting hotter and hotter. We were putting in a lot more effort to try and hold a decent pace, long gone were the moments of enjoying the music and high fiving kids. 

We got to 20k, Jon was suffering quite a lot. We had to reduced are speed drastically and just get it done, we knew we weren’t going to go sub 1:40 but could still PB. After a short walk to steady himself he got running again. We finished in 1:41:49, a shiny new PB and a good race in prep for Jons ironman. I was happy with the run, obviously it would’ve been better if we’d have gone sub 1:40 but there were a couple of reasons why we didn’t. Overall it was a fun race and I’d made it a Hackney hat-trick.  

 I hope you had a good weekend and enjoyed the sun.

See a lot of you soon

Steve

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The London Marathon 2016

It’s been 8 days now since the big event; I think this has been long enough to reflect on what was an incredible day. I always wanted the London Marathon to be my first marathon, mainly because of seeing how great the atmosphere was on TV when I was younger. However, due to being unlucky (like millions of others) in the ballot I decided to take on the Manchester Marathon. It was 2014 when I ran my first marathon; those two years have absolutely flown by. Since then I’ve run 8 marathons, a couple on road and a few on trails.
My preparation for the race went well, last year I ran and raced consistently and over the first three months of the year I managed a decent mileage and went to track pretty much every week. As some of you may have read Cardiff Half Marathon went well, I was really happy to knock 3 minutes off my PB and qualify for Championship entry for London (and other races) next year. That was one of my A races, as such, and London was always going to be my marathon A race. The week after Cardiff I travelled to take part in the Paris Marathon with my girlfriend Lorna and friends. I was treating this as a B race and was there to support Lorna and try to help her get a PB, which we achieved in hot conditions.

With three weeks between Paris and London I needed to rest a lot so I barely ran. It was a combined rest post marathon and taper pre marathon. Over the last four or five weeks I feel like I’ve barely run at all despite doing three big races, I’m looking forward to being fully rested and being able to get bigger mileage and track in again. I felt like I tapered well, I only did the work run club and a couple of short runs the week leading up to the London Marathon. This included a shakeout run with Paula Radcliffe on the Saturday morning that was pretty cool.  

Photo courtesy of Alan Yan (@nikeengineer)

After the event Lorna and I headed across the city to meet my Mum, Stepdad, Sister, Auntie, Uncle and little (not so little anymore) cousin who were in the concrete jungle to support me in the marathon. We did a bit of sightseeing including taking a tour around the Tower of London, it was nice to catch up with the family and do something, it distracted me from the fact I was going to be running one of the biggest races/marathons in the world the following day. We had some really nice food and then I headed home to get an early night.

I woke up at 4:09am on Sunday morning, not ideal. With the race starting at 10 I was hoping to sleep until 6 or 7 at least but I just couldn’t get back to sleep. It was really frustrating but I just put on some music and tried to relax. Being such a big race with huge crowds and having family and friends around the course must’ve made me a bit stressed. I had some breakfast and then headed to Blackheath. On the way to my start area I gave Lorna a call, she was already near Tower Bridge helping set up KenYan Corner. She put friends on loudspeaker and it sounded like they were already having a blast (not literally, although we did wonder with the speaker set up! ha). 

 
I got to my start pen in plenty of time and dropped my bag off with ease; the organisation of the London Marathon is great. With a bit of time to kill I wandered around the green start area; it was the pen where the celebs and Guinness World Record attempt participants were situated. It’s insane what some people do to raise money for charity. Whilst waiting for the start I watched the big screen showing the wheelchair race and the elite women’s race. At the same time I tried to position myself in a sunny patch to keep warm.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1… and we were off! Being in the GFA start I was really close to the line. Having done 1:13 at the Cardiff Half I had set my target time for London at 2:45, I was hoping this would be achievable despite being 4 weeks after Cardiff and 3 weeks after Paris. I set off at around 4 min/km pace, but due to it being downhill for a fair bit of the first 5k or so I was running a bit quicker than target pace. I thought I would go with it and bank a few seconds each kilometre. I was ticking off the kilometres and was thinking about which points I would see family and friends and take gels. The crowds were amazing, I knew it was going to be busy and loud but to be running through London with crowds three deep was nuts.

At regular intervals I sipped on water and after 11k I took my first gel as planned. Things were going well, I’d gone through 10k in around 39 minutes that was a little quicker than planned but not too fast. I carried on at that pace and then at mile 9 I saw my family, it was great to have them out supporting me. Due to me living in London and them living in Devon I don’t get to see them as much as I would like. It was special to have them there to cheer me on, especially because it was with my Uncle Andrew that I ran my first race, the Ruby Run Half Marathon, with. They did really well to get to three points to see me, good work Sar (with the help of Lorna who’s done the London Marathon twice). Seeing my family gave me a real lift, I then knew within the next 4 miles I would get to see Lorna and friends at KenYan Corner. 

 Cheering looked fun! I’m hoping to do Boston Marathon next year and cheer at London. 

The approach to Tower Bridge is amazing, the crowds get bigger and bigger. Living in London and running over Tower Bridge regularly I had been imagining the experience of running over it in the middle of the road with thousands of people cheering me on for a long time. My expectations were surpassed; it was such a great moment. Just after crossing Tower Bridge I headed to the corner, not just any corner, KenYan Corner! It was great to see lots of friends out around the course, this was the best moment of the marathon for me. I was running by and they let off a confetti cannon. Due to it being KenYan corner I shouted Jambo Jambo!  

    Photos courtesy of Emily Hallett (@jemima_runs) & Michalis Vin Koutsoukos (@michalis_vin)

I had gone through halfway in 1:22, a little quicker than I had planned but I was hoping to hold on to this pace and finish in 2:45. Just after KenYan Corner (and Tower Bridge) James Poole came zooming up to run alongside me for a bit. He too was targeting 2:45 to get championship entry for London and entry to Berlin Marathon etc. After a short while I could tell he was feeling really good so he carried on whilst I settled into a pace closer to 4 minutes per kilometre. At this point I knew the second half was going to be a slog. My legs were already starting to feel tired and were seizing up slightly. When you are heading to Canary Wharf it is a little demoralising as you are A) heading in the opposite direction as the finish line and B) the crowds aren’t anywhere near as big as they have been around the rest of the course. I kept getting the kilometres done. I saw my family for the second time, this gave me another big lift and I was digging deep.

I had taken a gel at the 14-mile marker and was planning to take my 3rd and 4th gels at 20 and 23 miles. Due to feeling tired I decided to take my 3rd gel earlier, I took it at around the 18-mile point, leaving my 4th for 23 miles. I could feel my legs getting tighter and tighter, my stride getting shorter and shorter but I tried to keep going at 4 min/km pace. I passed KenYan Corner for the second time, it was great to see Lorna again, I was struggling but just wanted to get it done and still in a PB time. Along embankment the noise from the crowds was amazing. Due to being knackered I couldn’t really appreciate it fully, I just had to concentrate on putting one foot in front the other. I saw the Advent Running cheer crew, which was awesome. Whilst running along I heard “Steve Skinner!” It was Ciaran Saunders who I’d met through previously working in the London Marathon Store and because I work at The Running Works now. He caught up with me so we both ran together to the finish. As we approached Westminster my left hamstring tightened a lot. This was really frustrating as there was only 3k or so left to run but I had to stop briefly and stretch. I obviously knew at this point 2:45 was out the window but I still thought I could creep in under my PB of 2:54.

With my hamstring stretched quickly, Ciaran and I shuffled our way towards the finish on the Mall. At this point we were doing between 5 and 5:30 min/km, it was a bit of a sufferfest! We got to the finishing straight and could see the clock showing 2:53:.. We upped our pace ever so slightly to make sure we got in under our PBs. I finished in 2:54:08 shaving 48 seconds off my PB from the Thames Meander Marathon last year. I was so pleased to finish the race in a time under my PB and Sub 3 in my first marathon major. Overall I am a little disappointed to have not gone quicker but I’m really happy to have finished my first London Marathon and experience the incredible crowds. 

 Pretty decent haul in 4 weeks!

Thanks to all my family and friends for the support, you all made it such an amazing day for me!! 


Lorna (@lorns_runs) and I , thanks for the support!! 

Uncle Andrew, Auntie Hannah, my sister Sarah, me, cousin Tilly, Mum and Stepdad Steve 

I hope everyone else enjoyed the London Marathon and that you’re recovering well.

See a lot of you soon

Steve

The Run Through Battersea Park 10k January 16th 2016

On Saturday I took part in my first race of the year. I signed up with a group of friends, mainly because we enjoyed the Run Through Battersea Park 5k near the end of 2015. Being in marathon training I’ve been doing relatively high mileage weeks and therefore I didn’t set a goal time and was definitely not aiming for a PB. In December I ran a lot, mainly because I was doing Advent Running and I wanted to get in good mileage which would equate to base fitness to start marathon training. On Saturday morning I woke up quite early to head across the city, I was really excited to be racing again. I got to Battersea Park in plenty of time so I collected my number with ease, the Run Through races are always well organised in regards to number collection, bag drop etc. I met with friends and went through the normal “How are you feeling? Are you aiming for a time?” pre-race chat. We did a little bit of a jog to warm up and headed to the start line.
Once we got to the start we all positioned ourselves according to our expected finish times. Myself and Jonny went near the front knowing we’d run about 37-38 minutes or so and that we’d finish quite near the front. I bumped into George Lloyd on the start line; he’d been in The Running Works on a couple of occasions. He was a speaker at our Beyond 26.2 (ultramarathon) running event with OMM and for a triathlon seminar. We had a quick catch up before the start but then we were off. A few runners went out in front and opened up a gap quickly. Myself and Jonny set off around 3:45 min/km pace. We held this pace for the majority of the race and this meant we overtook a few people on the third lap.
Having already run 90k+ throughout the week my legs were starting to feel a bit cranky on the third lap. Just after going through the finish area for the third time I could see George through the trees around a corner. He was probably about 400-500 metres in front of me and Jonny. I was in two minds as to whether to go for it and try and catch him or just hold the 3:45 min/km pace I was around. I took the corner where I’d seen George and decided to start upping it, even if I couldn’t catch him it would mean the race would be done quicker. Also I’m pretty competitive and like a challenge. As I kept pushing the pace I was closing the gap, I got onto the long home straight about 50-100m behind him and went up another gear to catch him. With 50m or so to go I was on his shoulder, he must’ve heard my footsteps as he turned around and said “Shit, Steve!” It was a funny moment. He upped his pace but because I was already sprinting I went passed and finished just a few seconds before him. 

After the race we had a chat and George let me know he got a 10k PB, I love it when people race each other and then that results in someone getting a personal best. If you’re reading this George, well done, especially considering the cold.

I really enjoy the Run Through Battersea Park races, they are perfect for getting PBs and testing your speed. Shortly after crossing the line Jonny came storming through, he smashed his 10k PB finishing in around 36:30. A lot of the group achieved personal bests; I think Mark knocked a bit of time off, being paced by Bart. Hanif, Michalis & Alice all finished strongly and in great times too. Lorna and Liv also did really well. Liv has recently started running due to living with Lorna, she took part in Advent Running and then Lorna signed her up for the 10k, her first race. They were aiming for around 46 minutes; Lorna’s chip time was 46:01 I think, pretty impressive pacing. They both looked as though they enjoyed the run as they flew over the finish line. It was cool to be there to cheer them in. 

 Another great Run Through medal added to the collection

Overall it was a great first race in 2016. Next up is the South trailscape marathon on Saturday; I’m looking forward to hitting the trails and racing with the Advent Running trail team again. I hope everyone had a good weekend whether you were racing or training.

See a lot of you soon

#NeverNotRacing

It’s been over 4 weeks now since I did Race to the Stones 100k and in that time I have raced 7 times, hence the use of #nevernotracing frequently on Twitter and Instagram recently. Now I know I’m not literally always racing but at times I do feel like I’m in a race I would call a “Race to personal bests”. Now it’s obviously hard to predict when you will run your best race and manage your best results, I may have already done so, but realistically I still have a few years to get quicker and reach my potential. This is incredibly exciting as I look forward to finding out how far and fast I can run but it’s also daunting how quickly time goes by and that the time to get quicker will run out. 

 

As some of you may have read in previous posts I raced Southwark parkrun and the Harry Hawkes 10 miler the week after RTTS. I then ran multiple 10k laps for the Adidas Thunder Run in the Advent Running team. After TR24 I got some speed work in at Track Tuesday before racing again on Thursday 30th July. It was the Assembly League race around Victoria Park. I had done this race in May previously so knew what to expect and knew roughly what time I was capable of. Having done quite a few miles in the lead up to this race I was thinking “I’ll just take it steady” in other words “I’m going to push it, see how the run progresses and then knacker myself out!” I ended up finishing in 19:15 in 22nd place, beating the time I got in May by 2 seconds.

  

 

On the Friday I did the Advent Escape the City/Reclaim Darkness trail run in Epping Forest and definitely didn’t get lost. The next day Lorna and I decided to head to Epping Forest and take part in the Orion Harriers Forest Five. I’m lucky enough to hear about these races through one of my work colleagues Mary who is basically a running and racing Encyclopaedia, especially when it comes to Orion Races. The race was as it says on the tin, five miles through the forest. It was great weather and despite a late night due to the AR trail run I was feeling good. Lorna and I felt a bit odd racing amongst all the club runners but we more than stood our own. I thoroughly enjoyed the cross country/trail course and despite a few ups and downs managed to hold just over 6 min/mile pace to finish in 30:30 finishing in 9th place just behind Neil from Victoria Park Harriers. I kind of used him as a pacer. This was the second Orion Race I’ve finished just behind him in 9th having done the same in the 5k Fell Race a month or so ago. Lorna smashed the 5 miler despite the fact she had completed the Snowdonia Half Marathon the previous Sunday. She finished in the top 10 females in 35:35 which was amazing considering the number of club runners there. The only way to celebrate such a good running performance was to go for one of the best brunches I’ve ever had. Can’t remember the name of the place, but I’ll be back! 

  

On the Sunday it was strange but I DID NOT race. Instead I ran in to run with Advent running and then I carried on and ran to Primrose Hill with Freya and Paola. So still a fair bit of running was done. This has resulted in the appearance of the hashtag #RestSchmest on the odd occasion. I’m not saying I don’t need rest but to be honest if I can run I’m going to do it. Also then when a rest day comes about it’s extra nice and I generally feel tip-top the day after. Also running back to back days means I’m increasing my pain threshold, stamina and endurance and almost replicating how I will feel, knackered, near the end of a race. Or at least that’s what I think I’m doing. Obviously there are levels to this and now and then I might be pushing myself and toeing the line between running and injury but so far I’ve stayed just the right side. 

The AR long run! Pic via Gabi 

#nevernotracing made a reappearance on Saturday 8th August when Lorna and I decided to do Burgess parkrun. She hadn’t done a parkrun in a little while but was wanting to go sub 20 minutes. We had a great run but due to the hot weather and a late night doing the Advent Running X Adidas trail run the night before we just couldn’t quite manage it. Still 20:22 and 3rd female isn’t all too bad. Burgess parkrun is a one lap course which is really flat and I think it has PB potential. The only negative is that you do two laps around a pond and therefore may have to weave around people on their first pond lap. I am planning to return in a few weeks time in a bid for a PB and possibly a sub 17 minute 5k. Hopefully I will be able to run with Chris who works for Adidas and we could have a good race. Oh wait parkrun’s not a race!

  

The AR X Adidas Escape the City/Reclaim Darkness trail run! Photo courtesy of @adventrunning & Gabi @giftofthegabii

Having run with Lorna, Freya and Alan for the Harry Hawkes 10 miler, we were all talking about races and wanted to do a quick 10k. Having done some race research we stumbled across the Run Through Battersea Park 10k and with calendars and diaries checked we were all signed up, bar Lorna who was planning a long run. The aim for the race was to run with and pace Freya to a sub 40. Being a hot day again I knew it would be a challenge and that it would be a close run thing (pun intended!). We planned to run even splits and therefore my aim was to stick at 4min/km. This proved to be a tricky task as the GPS was on and off but luckily as each kilometre was being ticked off up until 7k we were on track, 27:55 was the time then I believe. Nearing the start of the 4th lap me and Alan were still holding pace but unfortunately Freya had started to slow up a little, probably due to the heat and just generally not running at the pace regularly. Alan decided to carry on and go sub 40 but I eased up a little to join Freya for the last lap. We grabbed some water to keep cool and then cracked on with the final lap. I said to Freya to try and keep Alan in our sights so we’d know we would be close to 40, probably just over. We picked it up again on the last lap after that slight blip and managed to finish in 40:17. Later that day we found out she placed 2nd and was only 6 seconds behind 1st place. Maybe we should have raced to win but I just didn’t realise how close we were to first, probably due to looking at my watch a lot.

The sun shines on the sub 40 man. Photo courtesy of Freya @fhotson

After the 10k we met up with Lorna who was running along the river. We ran 7 miles to Spitalfields market for an epic brunch. The pancakes, bacon, eggs and milkshake were amazing especially after running 15 miles in the heat. We all went our separate ways, I decided to chill in the afternoon before heading out for another 10 miles in the evening. The weather was so good I wanted to make the most of it. The final 10k of the 10 miles I managed in just over 36 minutes which was pretty crazy considering I was finishing a 25 mile day and 83 mile week. I’m not complaining its just surprising how quickly you adapt to double run days and can recover. 

So far this week I’ve done a few miles plus track and I’ll now be taking it steady before Spitfire Scramble. I’m looking forward to testing my speed and recovery rate at the weekend and meeting lots of like minded runners.

See a lot of you soon

Steve

If you want to see what I’m up to follow me on Twitter & Instagram: @StephenSkinner6 &/or just search Steve Skinner on Strava. 

 

 

 

Conversational Race

I have been meaning to write this post for the last week and a half but due to work, events and running I have only just found the time. After doing Race to the Stones 100k I was presuming I would need a good week or two off running to allow my legs to learn to walk again. Luckily this wasn’t the case, after two days of rest I was back running on the Tuesday, doing 4 miles pre-work and testing out my Hoka One One Cliftons in the evening doing a reasonably speedy 5 miles. It was strange to be back running so soon and I managed to clock a couple 6 minute miles. My recovery rate has always been pretty good, I’m guessing it kind of helped that my hamstring was a bit dodgy for the 100k and I ended up taking it steady.

Throughout the rest of the week I ran a normal amount including The Running Works run club on Thursday. I also ran along the river, taking the scenic route home, amounting to nearly 9 miles. I bumped into James on his run commute so we had a catch up and discussed the Friday Advent Running trail run and the upcoming Adidas Thunder Run (Keep your eyes peeled for my next post!) On Friday I headed to Chorleywood with the Advent Running lot for some fun trail miles. This included the momentous occasion of wearing a head torch for the first time. I wasn’t the only person excited about this. Gill put a head torch on and then said “I’ve fulfilled a lifelong dream” in which I replied “Gill it’s not even on!” It was good to run with a head torch knowing that a week down the line I would be in a field in basically the middle of nowhere having to run a number of 10ks for the Adidas Thunder Run 24 hour team relay.


The next day I decided to head to Southwark parkrun. The main reason for doing this parkrun was that my Mum and her partner Steve were up in London to visit and I was meeting them by Tower Bridge. Having finished in first place on the 3 times I’d previously done Southwark I decided despite in “recovery” I would give it a good go and try to keep the run going (pun intended!). My luck was in and no real speed-demons turned up so I ran with a guy for the first couple laps and could then hold my place to finish in a new PB time of 17:09 and finish first. I enjoy Southwark parkrun as it is nice and flat for getting a PB and the volunteers and runners are all really friendly. I had a good catch up with Frankie who had a strong run and finished in fine form. I also bumped into Claire who I had met through working at the London Marathon Store. She was doing a bit of parkrun tourism. I need to head up and do the Hampstead Heath parkrun as well as various others soon. 


Feeling incredibly smug with finishing first and getting a new PB the week after 100k I headed to Tower Bridge. The weather was really good so we decided to walk along the river and head to Hyde Park for food taking in the sites. Obligatory selfie in front of Buckingham Palace: 

 

 I then headed home to relax for a few hours and rest up ahead of the Harry Hawkes 10 miler. Living up to my most used hashtag of #nevernotracing I persuaded Lorna to do this race with me and I said I would pace her. We were going to watch the Great Newham London Run at the Olympic Park and do a trail run but on the Thursday I stumbled across an email. It was from Iffley Road saying they were the sponsors and that you could enter on the day. This email included a little picture of the medal and that was it, it had to be done! 

 

I could lie and say that due to my amazing pacing Lorna got a PB but it was just down to the fact she hadn’t done a 10 miler before. Not knowing Alan and Freya from Niketown run club were doing the racewe bumped into them and had a good catch up. They weren’t quite in race mode, Alan having been out the night before and Freya nursing an injury. Despite that we all started running together. We didn’t really decide on a time to aim for but we knew we would run about 70 minutes taking into consideration the course was flat and we’d seen the previous yearsresults. The race started and we ran together for the first few miles. I find it good but strange running with people in races because you talk and almost forget you’re in a race. When racing I’m guessing you shouldn’t normally be at conversational pace but then again 10 miles is a long way to be pushing it and breathing heavy for the whole run. In the first mile we were chatting and Alan said “I had 8 pints last night!” to which another runner that we were passing shouted “should’ve had 10!” It’s mightily impressive that lots of runners can go out and drinkthe night before and do well in a 10 miler the next day. I would be the furthest place away from a race if I were drinking the night before. 


We ran at around 7 minute mile pace whereas Freya and Alan sped up after a couple miles and went off into the distance. I kept an eye on the watch to make sure we were on pace to finish around 70 minutes. Negotiating a couple bridges meant a few of the miles were a little slower but overall we were doingwell. I hadn’t really paced before and having not run with Lorna much I didn’t know whether the pace I was setting was good or bad but every now and then I’d ask to make sure she could still talk and her legs were ok. We kept a consistent pace and later in the race we passed Alan only for him to get a second wind and fly passed and cruise the last couple miles. We also ran alongside Freya in the latter part of the race but she did the same and finished really strongly. We carried on running close to 7min/milepace and there were parts we had to dig deep. As we neared the finish line there was a woman that runs for Serpentine in the distance. Knowing Lorna is really competitive, although we were pushing it, I said “Do you want to beat a Serpentine runner?” She didn’t answer but our pace increased and we could see she was slowing. We pushed and managed a really strong sprint finish. This resulted in Lorna finishing 10th woman in a time of just over 71 minutes. Overall it was a great run and amazing placing considering the number of serious club runners at the event. We claimed our medals, caught up with Alan & Freya and spoke to a few other friends before getting a drink and heading home.  

 

It was fun to pace and run with Lorna, you get a great deal of satisfaction helping someone compete and finish a race. I have raced quite a lot so far this year and have enjoyed them all. Some of them because I have ran well and achieved PBs, others because I have ran at conversational pace and enjoyed the event. I’m looking forward to pacing again soon and am looking into doing it for some bigger events in the future. 


I hope everyone else is enjoying racing. I will be racing again soon, that you probably knew, and aiming for certain times. If anyone wants a personal pacer for a parkrun or race in or around London anytime soon let me know.


Steve

From flat to fells 

Last week I was lucky enough to take part in two fun short distance races. The first of the two races was the LBH relays. I was asked by Kip, at work, to run for team run-fast and do one of the four legs. I apprehensively said yes as I’ve recently been trying to get more miles in than I have ever done before, so knew I wouldn’t be fresh. This is because I am now less than 3 weeks away from Race to the Stones. I was also apprehensive to say yes because I knew team run-fast had won the event the previous two years in course record times and we were aiming to do the same again. On the flip side to that I also knew I would have Kip (a 2:17 marathoner), Pete Huck (a sub 30min 10ker) and Vincent (a Ugandan) on my side. This meant if I could do a time of around 13 minutes we would probably break the record.  

 The race was really good fun. You start opposite Westminster and run along the river to Vauxhall Bridge. Having not raced 2.3 miles before I tried to think about the efforts I would put in for mile and 5k races and stay between the two. In hindsight I probably went off a bit quick considering I’d ran 20 miles in total the day before but luckily I could hold on to a decent pace. That was despite the steps at Vauxhall Bridge and some relatively tight turns over the bridges. Overall it was a really fun race and I finished my leg in 12:24 and handed over to Pete Huck inside the top 10. I was relieved to have done my part and could then relax as Pete tore around the route and amazingly took the lead just before handing over to Vincent. Vincent and Kip then brought home the win and new course record. It’s awesome to run with people that can run inside 11 minutes for 2.3 miles and it makes me want to get a lot quicker in the next few years. Here’s the team results and individual times:  

 Due to Race to the Stones 100k creeping up on me I decided to get another 20 miles in on Thursday. This comprised of running in to work for The Running Works Run Club at 1pm doing the run and running home again. This totals about 9 miles. I then chilled for a few hours before running with the Victoria Park Harriers. We did approximately 8.5 miles, I then added a loop of the park and ran home. 

The second race of the week was the Orion Harriers John Clarke memorial Fell Race on Friday night. Again not feeling fresh I had no idea what I would be capable of, especially being my first fell race. It is the only fell race within the M25 so I couldn’t pass up the oppportunity of running it. It is a 5k route including 951ft of climbing. I knew this before the race but found it hard to visualise just how steep this meant the inclines would be given it was just a 5k race. I started in the middle of the pack on the start line and my plan was to try and pace myself and move up through the field (pun intended!) This soon went out the window. The course started straight up a hill and I just decided to go for it and pay the price later on. Some of the descents were incredible. It’s hard to put into words how it felt to fly down the hills through the trees. I found myself thinking “how on earth am I still on my feet going this fast down here!” There is a certain art to running downhill really quickly and I am nowhere near mastering it but luckily I didn’t end up flat on my face. 

As the race went on the descents became harder to negotiate as I felt myself braking more due to feeling fatigued a) from the race itself and b) from the cumulative fatigue from the previous couple of days (and probably weeks). Of course the finish line was positioned at the top of a hill! I just about had enough strength to get/crawl up there and to my surprise finish in the top 10. I managed a time of 23:08. Funnily on the start line the announcer said “I hope you enjoy the course because the guy that thought of it is dead” Bit of a strange thing to say but luckily John Clarke made a great race. As you may have spotted in the results a certain Mr Ronnie O’Sullivan was running aswell and it was pretty cool to have a chat with him about his running at the finish line. He finished in a good time and was so casual just wearing board shorts and a loose fitting t-shirt ha 

Since the race I have found myself being pulled towards the hills in London. I’ve done a few long runs along the canal, up Primrose, Haverstock and Parliament Hills. I’ve also added in Swains Lane just for “fun”. The hills are definitely worth it for the views! Check out my Instagram page to see where I’ve been: @StephenSkinner6 

 

 Over the weekend I also went and cheered the girls on at the Nike 10k in Victoria Park. I supported with Cheer Dem Crew who are always a roudy bunch! Well done to everyone that ran and congrats to those of you that PBd. I find it strange being the other side of the barrier for a change but it is inspiring to see people reach their goals. As mentioned on Helenas @the_fitadvisor blog we also found out my long arms are handy (pun intended) when it comes to taking selfies. I also learnt I’m a better photographer than I thought! Ha Watch out Matt aka @thebaldrunner I’m after your job! 

See and speak to a lot of you soon! 

Steve 

Explorunning, parkrunning, We own the morning!

This weekend began early for me, having Friday off. What better way to start the long weekend than with a 7k run with the Nike Covent Garden guys. They have been doing a morning 7k at 7.30 for the last few weeks and I had been meaning to try and get along for a while. It was a nice route along the river and a great way to start the day.

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After this I headed into work to drop my stuff off to then carry on running. I decided to go big and use my run as a way of exploring London (this is where the word explorunning comes in!) I went round Regents park, through Hyde park and along the river past Westminster, it was a decent run. The only thing that wasn’t great was the weather, I got drenched and sunburnt at the same time basically, all fun and games.

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The third and final run of Friday was the 5k run at 1 from the London marathon store with the #adidas26rs which was a nice run along the canal. All in all a productive Friday totalling 23 odd miles.

Due to doing a fair bit of running on Friday I decided to do my local, mile end, parkrun. I planned to use it as a loosener/recovery run but this went a bit askew and I got a bit caught up in the race and ended up finishing just 20 seconds off my PB in a time of 18.19. After this I headed into shoreditch to meet up with the guys at Nike Boxpark for a 10kish run. We called this “We own the morning!” Paying tribute to all the nike girls running “We own the night” around Victoria Park that evening. It was a nice route along Regents canal and we weren’t even that knackered so we got in a very professional, band album cover worthy, photo. If we were to put out an album the first track would obviously be BoxParklife!

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Next up was the big event, We own the night. Myself and the lads took on cheering duties. This was strange for me as I’ve never cheered/supported before and I was actually getting nervous for the girls running. I caught up with Charlotte from the London marathon store before the start and couldn’t believe how calm she was really. She started the race on her own but then Michelle who is now the assistant manager at Oxford Sweatshop caught her up to pace the rest of the way. It was actually good fun cheering even if what I was cheering was utter rubbish like “good running”, “keep going”, “own the night!” Etc. I think cheering is an art form and I think I will stick to the running for the most part in the future. However I think you should all tweet me your favourite motivational shouts just in case I am having to provide support again.

Well done to all the girls that ran the race, you all “owned” it!! I’m too funny!

After the race I was lucky enough to get into the hospitality tent where I got to meet and have a little chat with Paula Radcliffe.

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Sunday was all about the 13 miler I was pacing for work. Considering I had ran 32 miles the previous two days and used so much energy in my cheering/support role at we own the night this was a pretty hard run. We ran a really nice route along the river through Battersea park and over Albert Bridge and back passed Westminster. Luckily the rain stayed away but the wind was pretty mental. Still it was good to get those miles in, after all it’s #themilesmakeus!!

Tweet you later!

Keep explorunning, parkrunning and owning the morning and nights!

Steve

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