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Run Hackney Half Marathon 2015

Since the Wings for Life UK run on Sunday the 3rd of May I’ve been pretty busy running and racing. I went to #TrackTuesday, ran the Assembly League Victoria Park 3.5 miler, did Mile End parkrun and enjoyed the Run Hackney Half Marathon.

Surprisingly after doing 23 miles for the Wings for Life run I felt pretty fresh and therefore in the last week I managed to do over 50 miles including the three “races” I mentioned before. #TrackTuesday was great as always, I’m looking forward to tonight’s session. It would be good to see more new faces soon. We run at Mile End track from 7.30pm (it costs ยฃ3.25 for track access) message me if you’re interested and want anymore details or head over to the Run Fast blog. 

My first race of the week was on Thursday. It was the Assembly League Victoria Park 3.5 mile run. It just so happened to fall on the day we have run club from The Running Works store. I was day off but decided to run in to do the 4 mile route around Shadwell Basin with the group. I decided to do this because I have found that I often run stronger after I’ve ran earlier in the day. The race was at 7.30pm so I had a good couple hours to rest/chill. I didn’t really know what to expect for the Assembly League run. Over 300 people ran coming from all the different London run clubs. I ran for Victoria Park Harriers as I have ran with them a few times in the last couple weeks and am joining them aswell as team Run-Fast.   One of my colleagues, James, was running the race aswell. Off the start line he managed to weave his way through the group and set off at a good pace. I decided it would be good if I could keep him in my sights and try and close up the gap as the race progressed. Having people to follow and keep pushing myself is a great motivation for me and I enjoy this aspect of running on track. The plan is to close the gap, not necessarily throughout the session but week after week, to the front runners. My race strategy, if you can call it that, worked well and I finished two seconds behind James. I finished in 19:20 in 34th place and considering the amount of running I’d done prior to the race I was more than happy with that. You can see the finish here (James in yellow and me in Green from 1:40 in). http://youtu.be/v8uy4Jy8YAY

I decided Friday should be a rest day. Then on Saturday after much deliberation I decided to run Mile End parkrun as a loosener ahead of Run Hackney Half. The run soon changed from a loosener to a race (again I know it’s parkrun not parkRACE!) I guess I’m just too competitive with myself to not push it at parkruns. I enjoy the Mile End course as it has a few little ups and downs and I try to keep a constant speed going up them. I managed to equal my Mile End PB with a time of 17:49 finishing 2nd. 

Now to the main event, the Hackney Half Marathon. I didn’t really know what to do pace wise considering the amount of running and racing I had done the week leading up to it but I just thought I’d go with the flow. I ran with Alan (a friend and pacer from Niketown) for the first half of the race. We set off at a steady pace in the first couple of miles then started picking it up. In the first few miles we saw Georgia (another Nike friend) and as strange as it is to chat during a race we had a quick catch up (pun intended!) talking about the London Marathon which she smashed in 3:17 after getting the place two days before, mental! 

Me and Alan went through 10k in 39:07. Just after this Alan got a bit of a stitch and had to ease up but as I was feeling comfortable I went on maintaining a decent pace. I knew I was pushing it a bit because my calf had twinged half a mile into the run. Luckily my legs cooperated with me for the rest of the run. After mile 6, when I was on my own, I just kept thinking about people around the course and the cheers I would get especially at mile 10 where Run/Cheer Dem Crew were situated. It was great to see so many friends on the run and I really appreciate the support.   Also big thanks for the photo and shouts from the Advent Running guys.

I managed to hold on to a decent pace despite the heat and finished in 54th place in a time of 1:20:30. That finish time is quite rewarding, I obviously would have liked to go sub 80 mins again but a better taper would be required for that I think.  I feel incredibly lucky that I can do what I’m doing and I have been enjoying every race. I am so relieved that I got through the half unscathed and I can now look forward to Richmond Park Marathon on Sunday. I’m going to take it steady between now and then as doing a half the week before is probably pushing it enough. I’m going to the Christopher McDougall “Natural Born Heroes” book launch on Thursday which should be good. I will then be working at the Night of 10,000 PBs as we (The Running Works) will be retailing at the event. It should be a great day, I’m looking forward to cheering everyone on and picking up issue #5 of Like the Wind magazine.

Looking forward to seeing lots of you at #TrackTuesday, The Running Works Thursday Run club and at the events mentioned above. I hope you all had a great weekend.

Steve

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Wings for Life UK run 2015

A few months back I heard about the Wings for Life World Run through some of my friends at the Nike run groups and friends I made at the Ashmei Ambassador day. I was interested straight away as the concept sounded really cool. It was explained to me that you run around and out of Silverstone and you create your own finish line by running as fast as you choose to then be caught by David Coulthard driving a catcher car. 

Similarly to how I signed up to Race to the Stones 100k, every now and then the Red Bull event would be mentioned on Twitter or Facebook and make me want to sign up. So it was only a matter of time really. Also the entry fee funds research into finding a cure for spinal cord injury, so we were running for those who can’t. I’m going to blame James from work aswell because he pointed out it was the day before Bank holiday Monday so I would have a rest day to make the most of. 

The main reason I was contemplating entering for so long was because I have four other events in May. It’s going to be pretty tiring this month but hopefully I will be able to recover quickly enough off the back of each event to get respectable times and give them all a good go. I’m so glad I signed up in the end, I’m still on a bit of a high now I think. 

I managed to get a seat on the coach with some of the Nike crew which was a good laugh so the journey there and back didn’t seem too long. We got there nice and early and because there wasn’t  a huge number of participants it was straight forward with the bag drop and getting to the start etc. On the start line we managed to see David Coulthard briefly and Sophie being a pretty big F1 fan got a picture with him. I’m surprised but she hasn’t really mentioned we met him!! 

I decided to start quite near the front as I was aiming to do about 33k if not a bit more. We started at 12 o’clock coinciding with all the other countries. It was amazing to think there were around about 100,000 runners toeing the start line at the same time. I decided to go off at about 7 min/mile pace which was nice and comfortable around the track. Within the first few kilometers a guy called Eric asked me how far I was aiming to run. He wanted to do as close to marathon distance as possible and asked if he could stick with me so I ended up pacing him the whole way round. It was good to chat and the miles flew by (pun intended!!) after about 8k we were out of Silverstone and into the countryside. We spoke with another runner at the same pace. He ran the event last year and was aiming to do 30k. This made me think well if he’s going at this pace now he’s factoring in something… Hills!!?? Hmm.

Yep there were hills. This made it a more challenging course but also meant we got to see some great views of the countryside. It reminded me a lot of running and training down in Devon which was nice. Me and Eric kept a steady pace and went through 13.1 miles in 1:34. Due to the hills we slowed quite a lot but we kept pushing and he said if we couldn’t get to a marathon distance we had to do 35k at least. We did well to keep a decent pace taking on lots of water and having a couple gels. It was good to have bananas at the stations too. Lots of water was needed as it was quite a hot and windy day (sunburn and windburn are my only injuries!) An underlayer was definitely not needed but then who would be stupid enough to wear one of them! (Yes me! Ha) 

We got through 35ks with no sound of the catcher car behind us. Just after the 36k mark the cyclist accompanying the catcher car came passed and let us know it was 30 seconds behind us. We upped the pace and sprinted a well timed downhill section. The car got closer and closer and me and Eric began to race each other. He caught me off guard a bit and gunned it. I wasn’t having any of that, pacing him all the way round to be out sprinted near the end, no way. So I got passed him before the car got to us and then I started to feel reasonably comfortable at 6:30 min/mile pace for a bit so I kept pushing and took another place. I then got to an uphill section next to another runner I sprinted passed him with the car just behind but he had a sprint in him too so I surrendered the position and David Coulthard came past smiling with his thumb up. It was such an adrenaline kick it’s hard to put it into words but i’ll remember it for a long time. I managed 37k in the end which made me 13th for te UK run and just inside the top 1,000 worldwide. After being caught we got picked up by a shuttle bus. It was cool to pick up the guys who had finished further up the road. At one point we thought we were going to have to drive to get the winner, Tom Payn. Luckily we didn’t have to as he managed a big 61ks. Working with Tom he said he was aiming for 70ks but in tough conditions 61k is a great effort especially due to him cramping around 40ks.   The event was amazing and if I can fit it into my calendar for next year I will be back to hopefully get in a few more kilometers. I recommend you keep an eye on Toms running in the next few months and years, he gets to do the wings for life run in another country next year so I’m sure he will get in some big mileage then as Silverstone is probably one of the hardest courses.

Overall the event was great, I would recommend everyone giving it try. Whether you want to do 10k or 70k you can create your finish line due to pacing.  Well done to everyone that did the Wings for Life UK and World runs. If you ran or supported how did you find it? Tweet me or message me on instagram: @StephenSkinner6

Well done to everyone else running events this weekend, hope you all had a good one! 

Steve 

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Mixing it up

Last year I wrote a blog called “20 odd miles”. It basically summed up the way I keep running fun and mix it up. In that post I wrote how I ran 4 times in one day running a parkrun, with friends, at an event and home from the event. Although I am in the “tapering” phase of marathon preparation I am still mixing it up and thought I would document what I’ve been up to this week. 

Last Saturday I ran Hilly Fields parkrun (@hillyfdsparkrun). This isn’t my local parkrun but I make the the effort to get there because it is a great, fun course and the race directors (Adele, Emma & Glenn) and volunteers are awesome. I enjoy it mainly because it is hilly, as the name would suggest, and consequently is a bit of a challenge. This was the first time I’ve been back to do the parkrun in a long while due to work and other things and so I wasn’t sure what time I would manage. My Hilly Fields PB from around this time last year was 18:57. Recently my running has been going well, especially at Reading Half, and therefore I knew I would get close to PB if not better. I set off at 6 min/mile pace and aimed to stick at it for as long as possible. It definitely helped I was in second place, I kept pushing to stay a constant distance from first place. I think I may have even gained some ground (I know parkrun is not a race!) It’s kind of amazing how another runner can help you without knowing it. I finished with a big course PB time of 18 minutes dead. This made it three PBs in the last 3 weekends. I’m wondering if I can make it 4!? Ha  

 

In the middle of last week I spontaneously decided to sign up to Kingston Half Marathon. I was thinking I would take it reasonably steady or use it as a marathon paced run having already done North London and Reading Halfs the two previous weekends. This didn’t quite happen. I felt good on the start line and ended up running the race at 6.30min/mile finishing in 1:23:52. Next time I want to do a steady or marathon paced run I’ll know not to sign up to a race/event.

I had a rest day on Monday and then went to Mile End Stadium for #TrackTuesday with Run-Fast (@RunfastLtd). I started work for The Running Works (@RunningWorks based along Houndsditch in London) / Run-Fast on Monday and had been invited to track sessions with them months ago but hadn’t been able to make it due to work etc. This was my first ever time on the track and I loved it. It was good fun and great to run with people much faster than me. The track session was lead by Peter McHugh, the founder of Run-Fast. I didn’t know what reps we would be doing as Peter likes to keep it a surprise. We ran 3x2ks at 10k pace with 2x400s in between, finishing with straights and corners (striding the straights and jogging the corners). I think it will take a few sessions to get use to the surface and knowing how much to push it but I can’t wait to get back on track. It’s kind of ironic but I know running in circles is going to get me much further than doing lots of steady, possibly “junk” miles. In the next few weeks I will try to balance speed work and getting in the miles for race to the stones.  

 

Although I should probably be tapering more than I am I think it has been good to work on speed and sharpen up before Brighton Marathon. A few months back a customer described tapering to me as sharpening the pencil. I like this analogy and expanded on it a little by sketching “If runners were pencils”. 

Obviously in the drawing I should have drawn a track on the sharpener.

I rested on Wednesday and then got in a fair few miles yesterday. I ran one of my standard 5 mile Victoria Park routes in the morning. I then ran 3 miles into work to run nearly 6 miles with a few of the guys from work to think about routes for the run club we will be starting soon.

Today I ran 6 miles to Covent Garden to do a short run with the Nike group. The weather wasn’t great but it meant it was nice and quiet along the river. I will be parkrunning tomorrow but haven’t decided where to go yet. The weather may play a part in that decision. 

I hope everyone is enjoying there running and you all have a great Easter weekend. 

Steve 

Twitter: StephenSkinner6

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A Mile and a Half

On Sunday I ran the Run Hackney Half Marathon and the City of London Mile.

My preparation for Run Hackney was good and bad. Recently I have made more of an effort to taper, similarly to before the Ruby Run I only ran a couple of times during the week. This was also due to sale prep at work and generally being pretty busy. In the last couple of weeks when I have been able to run I have been running up and down some hills in Greenwich Park which has been good.

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On Sunday the weather was pretty hot! It was probably the hottest conditions I’ve ever ran in but thankfully there were quite a few water stations and a couple of those mist/shower things even though I missed the first one at mile 8.

The course was pretty good, a bit up and down but reasonably quick. Had it been a cooler day I would like to think I would have PBd. However taking into consideration my not so great preparation and the heat I was really pleased to cross the line in 1:21:56, 1m19s off PB.

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As you can see I ran a positive split in a pretty big way but I was always going to tire nearer the end and tend to go off a bit quicker than maybe I should. Something I want to work on soon is pace, I’m wanting to get some shorter distance sessions and hill training in soon.

Something I thought was a clever thing to do was to sign up to the City of London Mile on the same day as Run Hackney. After crossing the Half Marathon finish line I immediately regretted this but I shuffled my way to Leyton and stretched on the tube. There were a couple of reasons I still wanted/needed to do the mile, I love a good medal and I had never ran a mile race before so wanted to see what it was like.

I arrived in good time so was able to watch some of the elites and there was such a buzz seeing some epic sprint finishes, well the whole things a sprint I guess. I really enjoyed the mile once I’d got through the first couple of strides and loosened up a little. It was a good flat route and the atmosphere at the finish line was awesome albeit it was a reasonably small free event (compared to Run Hackney). I finished in a time of 5:42 which I was surprised to see and am happy with, again considering the conditions and having just done the Half.

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After the post half marathon “cool down” I was pleased to receive a nice goodie bag and the medal is awesome! Well worth the effort making it across. Plus it was the first time the event has been run so nice to get the first medal and i’m sure there will be many more. I enjoyed running the distance and want to do more mile races soon hopefully with fresh legs next time.

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My medal collection is growing and so far this year I have run some big events including 1 mile, 10k, half marathon & marathon distances which has been good. I need to book some more races soon and I’m very open to recommendations. Next up is the British 10k and then the 5 mile Anniversary run in July.

I hope everyone had a good weekend of running!

Steve

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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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20 Odd Miles!

Something that I tend to do is run a fair amount on Saturdays. This is generally because it’s a day off and I can get up to all sorts and do what I want. This Saturday was no different, in fact it included more odd miles.

The first of my 4 runs was at Hilly Fields parkrun (@hillyfdsparkrun) at 9 in the morning. I went to this parkrun to hand out vouchers for the London Marathon Store but before doing this I ran the course. The course was awesome, it’s a 3 lap course that includes a few grassy sections and a few ups and downs which was great fun! The first couple steps onto the grass made me instantly think of a few cross country races I did at school which I used to really enjoy. The volunteers and organisers at this parkrun (especially RDs @AdelePrince & @slowishrunner) were awesome aswell and I was warmly welcomed by everyone (nothing to do with the vouchers! Haha). I enjoyed the ups and downs of the course so much I ended up surprisingly finishing in second with a time of 18.57, really pleased with that.

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So I swiftly left Hilly fields park, after handing out the vouchers, and headed into the city for my 2nd run of the day. This run was a 10k+ run with some friends that run from Nike Boxpark. It was good to catch up with the guys as I have struggled to make a run with them recently due to races etc. The 10k route was a nice one along the canal and around part of Victoria Park. Me, Tim and David decided we were up for a few miles extra as we are all doing the Run Hackney Half Marathon so we carried on along the canal for a bit and headed back to the store.

After a quick pit stop we grabbed some money and headed out for another couple miles, this was the third run. We went to Borough Market to grab some food, it was epic!! The pictures below are from when we did the same thing last week ha

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(These photos are courtesy of Harry who unfortunately couldn’t make the running this week due to being ill, get well soon mate!)

The fourth run was the electric run that was around Wembley. It was a cool event. The organisation of it wasn’t great especially when people that had their numbers were in the queue for race pack pick up, but I wouldn’t fancy organising an event with 14 or so thousand people so can’t really say much ha. Apart from that it was fun and it was a good laugh especially because I was running around and messing about with glowsticks with Sarah and David who also run with a few Nike run clubs.

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The night was hilarious and this wouldn’t be a good blog about electric run without a picture of David showing off his new neon hair!

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(Picture courtesy of Sarah! hope you don’t mind David, photo removal on request.)

Wait I just remembered it was actually 5 runs ha. After the electric run 5k we decided we wanted to get a few more miles in, mainly after being a little frustrated at the lack of running involved in the electric run. We got the tube to Green Park and then ran along the embankment. We then went our separate ways lighting our paths with our glowsticks ha. This run was really nice because it was quiet and we could run however fast we wanted. However the speed was dictated by the fact we had burgers in between these runs, all about getting the balance!

Overall a productive Saturday totalling 20 odd miles!

Speak soon on twitter via @UKRunChat #ukrunchat #fastesthouroftheweek and on Facebook etc.

Steve

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