Tag Archives: PB

Cardiff World Half Marathon Championships 2016

On Saturday the 26th of March I took part in the Cardiff World Half Marathon. This was my first big race of 2016, one that I had marked as an A race and wanted to finish in a certain time. I wanted to run sub 1:15. The main reason being this gets you championship entry for the London Marathon (and other races). Having completed the Old Deer Park Half Marathon and the Colchester Half Marathon in the 1:16s I was feeling confident going in to the race.
The Saturday before the Cardiff Half Lorna and I did our last long run in training for Paris Marathon. We ran 20 miles at around 5 min/km pace along the river to Greenwich and back. Having done the Colchester Half marathon the previous weekend and with track on Tuesday I was feeling pretty knackered but it was good to get another long run under the race belt. Due to feeling tired after the long run I took it easy for the rest of the weekend and it made me realise my week long taper needed to include more rest days (no running at all) than running days. However, I found it good to run with The Running Works Run Club a couple of days to keep the legs ticking over. I also ran with the Nike lot on Wednesday night.

After getting through the taper without going crazy I travelled to Keynsham (between Bristol and Bath, where my sister lives). With it being a bank holiday weekend and having the race in Cardiff we thought it would be a good chance to catch up and splitting the journey into smaller chunks would be better for me. On Friday night Sarah cooked us an awesome meal, we had a chicken carbonara concoction with Rice. It was a perfect pre-race meal. I got an early night as we had to be up relatively early on the Saturday morning to get the train to Cardiff. We arrived in plenty of time, the expo hadn’t even opened and there weren’t many other people around. Dean and his crew were there though, just chilling in the short queue to get in. I collected my race number with no fuss, had a little look round the expo area, caught up with a few of the Adidas tech reps and chatted with Dean and Alan.

Due to the race not starting until 2 o’clock we had a fair bit of time to kill. I’ve never been that great with hanging around before races but it’s much better when you have someone there with you so you’re not just thinking about the race constantly. It can be tiring thinking about all of the various outcomes and things that can go right or wrong. We found a nice little coffee shop and just chilled in there for a couple of hours. Normally before races I don’t eat a lot, maybe just some cereal, but due to the late start I had a tuna baguette. In an interview last year, around the London Marathon time when Jo Pavey joined Adidas, she said she wakes up really early the morning of a race and has a tuna sandwich. I thought if it works for her I’ll give that a go ha. Suitably fuelled up my sister and I wandered around Cardiff for a bit before heading to the bag drop. 

I carried out the normal pre-race procedure of warm clothes off, race kit on, race number pinned on. With the weather taking a turn for the worse (typical as the weather was ok all morning when we would normally be racing) I poncho’d up and headed for the start line. 

 I ran up and down the start pen a couple of times; my legs were feeling good due to the week-long taper. The elite women sped off and then it was just a short wait until start time. It was cool to see the elite runners coming out of the castle and onto the line. After the contenders had been introduced we were off. I was approximately 100 metres back from Mo and co on the start, therefore there was a bit of a delay crossing the line due to the slight pile up caused by Kamworor tripping on the line. Once across the line the pack spread out pretty quickly, it was always going to be a competitive field being the World Half Championships. I quickly settled into the pace I needed to run to achieve the sub 1:15 half. There was a large group of runners on this pace to begin with.

I knew that I had to run on average 3:33 min/km. I went out a little quicker than required but wanted to bank a decent amount of time so that I wouldn’t be sprinting for the line to finish in the 74s. I’d done a little bit of course research and knew that there were a couple small hills; this is another reason I wanted to do a few kilometres at quicker than 3:33 min/km. The first hill was around the 5k point, still feeling good and on pace I overtook a fair few runners. I carried on at closer to 3:25 min/km for a few kilometres and went through 10k in 35 something. The first 10k was good, the weather was cold (probably not used to racing in a vest and split shorts! Ha) and the wind wasn’t too noticeable. It had rained briefly when we were on the start line but up until about 11k it was relatively dry. This soon changed dramatically, it started tipping it down. Despite the rain the crowds were out in force and the atmosphere was awesome.  

With 10k or so to go I started thinking about the runner in front and was aiming to chase down as many people as I could. I also started thinking about the amount of time I had left a) to suffer and b) to go sub 75 minutes.

I was racing the clock. Over the last 5k the wind had picked up, or at least it felt like it had. At points throughout the race I could feel that the wind was strong but it varied a lot. At certain points it was right behind me pushing me along but the last 2k it was horrendous, holding me back. With 2k to go I had 10 minutes or so to make sub 1:15. I knew I had it in the bag; I maintained my pace and crossed the line in 1:13:22. I’d managed a pretty big new PB and most importantly London Marathon championship entry. I was relieved that the race went to plan. After crossing the line I bumped into Emily, she wasn’t running because she has been suffering with a niggle/injury and has the Paris Marathon coming up. She was carrying bags for Jonny and Andy (Jonnys boss) and therefore was waiting for them to fly through the line. Due to the woeful weather I shuffled my way straight to the bag drop to collect my stuff and then meet up with my sister again. It was great to have her there, I saw her out on the course around midway and it gave me a big lift. I can’t wait to experience the atmosphere at the London Marathon and have a good amount of family there cheering me on. 

 We went back to the coffee shop that we were chilling in in the morning and had a coffee to warm up. Then we met up with Jonny, Dean, Emily and Andy in Slug and Lettuce for a drink to celebrate before heading to L&R for food. As is pretty standard after finishing a race I went with the high protein option of buttermilk fried chicken burger and sweet potato fries, it tasted like the best thing ever after being out in the cold and rain all afternoon. L&R was that nice we got a bit too comfortable meaning we had to run to catch our train back to London. A shakeout run was just what I needed after pushing myself in the race ha. We had to change trains a couple times meaning we didn’t get back in to London until around 11, it was a long day. Luckily I could lie in on Sunday morning before heading to Colchester for housewarming drinks at Alex’s (Lorna’s brother) new pad. Before that we went for pub grub with Rob where I had a massive chicken and leek pie, recovery food done the right way. On the Monday we had Sheila’s awesome roast and Lorna and I made an awesome (If I do say so myself) Easter cheesecake.

Overall it was a great Easter weekend. Well done to everyone that raced over the weekend. I’m travelling to Paris tomorrow ahead of the marathon on Sunday. Good luck to everyone racing this weekend. See a lot of you soon. 

Steve

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Mo Santa Olympic Park thingy 

Yesterday I took part in the Queen Elizabeth OR Mo Santa Olympic Park 10k race (I have no idea what the actual official name of this race is/was!). I signed up a while ago because a lot of friends wanted to race it. Originally the plan was to dress up and do it for fun but as the event got closer I wanted to see what time I could get. Myself, Jonny and Alan were going to dress up as Mary, Joseph and Jesus but Alan didn’t race in the end. I decided to wear a Santa hat and some tinsel to get into the festive spirit as well as race. Lorna, Emily and I got on the tube to head over to the Olympic Park, due to the weather we were not looking forward to the run. However knowing the rest of the Bartpack were going to be there we knew it would be fun even in the cold and rain.

Racing in the 10k was Lorna, Emily, Freya, Mary (I mean Jonny!), Toni, Greig, Michalis, Eilidh and a very weary Steve, 11 days into Advent Running. A lot of the group signed up to the race aiming for certain times. With tinsel attached to trainers and a Santa hat squeezed on my head we made our way to the start line. Queue a couple of pre-race photos:   

Greig, me, Lorna, Freya, Eilidh, Toni, Michalis, Emily and Mary… I mean Jonny.  

Due to wanting to see how fast I could run the 10k, I snuck my way towards the front of the field. Once near the front I bumped into a runner that has been reading my blog, it’s quite strange when you meet people that know you via social media. Joe had stumbled across my blog when researching the Thames Meander Marathon and he did really well in the November race finishing in 3:06. I’d done the August race which I loved, mainly because I got a personal best and finally went sub 3. We had a quick chat and then the race started. My legs were feeling a little ropey from the trailscape marathon the previous Saturday but I was hoping after a mile or two I would settle into a good pace and be able to do a time somewhere around 36 minutes. Luckily this ended up being the case; the route was nice and relatively flat. Also the weather was good for running in, just not standing around before and after the race. I set off at around 6 minute mile pace aiming for that 36 finishing time. I was in about 10th place or so and made it an aim to chase as many runners down as possible. In recent races I’ve found it much nicer to chase people down and move forward as the miles go by. In order to achieve a PB in shorter races I’ve found you have to enter the suffer zone as I like to call it. I spent a long time in that zone for Bristol 10k when I did 35:31 earlier in the year. Due to going to track for the last few months and racing a fair bit my fitness has improved quite a lot and therefore holding a pace of sub 6 minutes per mile felt relatively comfortable in the early stages of the 10k. As the race went on I felt strong and focussed on overtaking the runner in front. I enjoyed the route as it was two laps and due to zig-zagging around the Olympic park you got to see lots of other runners and give them a shout.

The first lap went to plan and I felt I still had a lot left in the tank to go through the gears over second 5k. Mark was feeling a bit under the weather (maybe hungover from last Saturday like Alan!? Haha) so he was there supporting instead of racing. It was good to see him at halfway; he got some good photos of everyone. Here’s my mobot:   

 I had a couple of runners to chase down and with 3 miles to go I started thinking about how many minutes I would have left to suffer for. I kept thinking “the quicker I run the quicker I’m in warm clothes and eating food” ha. I quite enjoy routes that are two laps, probably because I’m not the biggest fan of surprises, especially surprises like massive hills around corners on races (you all know what I mean). I also enjoyed the route because it weaved around the Olympic park; I find it boring and tedious running long straight sections of road, so this broke it up in to chunks.  

I managed to pick up the pace quite a bit and finished 7th with a time of 34:58 on the chip. This meant I’d got a new personal best by 33 seconds. I’m really happy with that result, especially after the trailscape marathon in Cuxton the week before and I’d done a relatively high number of miles in the week due to the Advent Running streak. After finishing, I caught up with the cheer crew (Mark). We cheered in the rest of the Bartpack; they all did really well. A lot of them got personal bests, well done Lorna, Emily (knocked a massive 3 minutes off her PB), Freya (went sub 40 mins for the first time), Toni (finished first female) and Michalis. Greig and Jonny also had really strong races. Jonny went sub 40 which is a great effort in that attire:   

 Mary and Freya on sub 40 pace

 Post race selfie with Lorna (@lorns_runs)

Overall the race was well organised, Run Through always do things well. My only constructive criticism would be for them to put a sheet under the bags in the bag drop tent, as afterwards when I wanted to be in warm dry clothes I ended up having to wear wet jeans, not great. I would also try and position the finish line on a straight so runners don’t have to change direction when sprinting through the line and over the timing mats. This is something that I have found a little frustrating when doing the Battersea races but overall the route was good, the marshals were really supportive and the finisher’s tees and race medals are great.  
That’s my racing for 2015 done; it’s been great fun doing races from one mile to 100k and everything in between. Thanks to all of you that I’ve run and raced with this year. Here’s the medal collection:  

 Which of these races have you done this year and what is your favourite race and/or medal? Comment on here or contact me on Twitter/Instagram @StephenSkinner6.

I will be writing a blog post soon about which races and events I’m doing next year and what goals I am setting. See a lot of you soon

Steve

Photos courtesy of Mark and Lorna. 

Sometimes not racing

Over the last few weeks I haven’t raced much. Having run quite a few events throughout the year I felt as though it would be good to have a week or so not pushing myself and to relax a little. I have still been running around 60 miles a week including track which is pretty big and I did a few long runs with friends on the Sundays between the Isle of Wight Fell running series and now.  Two weeks not racing was good, it was a little strange but it was actually great fun to be the other side of the barriers cheering on friends at the Royal Parks Half Marathon on Sunday 11th October. Myself and Lorna used the app to track everyone and make sure we were in the right place at the right time to see everyone fly passed. Having taken it relatively easy for a couple weeks I decided to have a weekend of 5ks. I had already signed up to the Battersea Park 5k on Sunday 18th and also decided to do the Hilly Fields parkrun on Saturday.

Since joining The Running Works/ Run Fast and finishing Race to the Stones 100k I have been going to Mile End Stadium for Track Tuesday consistently, sometimes just a couple days after a race. My times on track have been coming down and therefore I knew I was due a 5k PB at some point. This was mainly because I hadn’t done a flat fast 5k in a while. I went to Hilly Fields parkrun on Saturday because I knew it would be great fun, having been a few times over the last couple years to promote the London Marathon Store when I was working there. As well as being fun I knew it was Hilly as the name suggests so wasn’t aiming for a PB but a course PB. Feeling well rested I went out with the lead pack and managed to hold a good pace hitting the inclines. I guess the training weekend on the South Downs Way, running over Seven Sisters and doing the Isle of Wight Fell running series has helped me in terms of getting stronger running up hills. I was pushing the pace but felt good so went with it. I managed to open up a gap at the front and finish in a time of 17:05. I love runs when you surprise yourself, this was one of those runs as I felt strong and managed to get a personal best by one second. 

   Having clocked a new PB I was wondering whether I would feel tired for the Run Through Battersea 5k or whether I would feel stronger because of the hill running. Luckily I woke up on Sunday feeling good. A few friends had signed up to the race, Jonny & Mark (aka Freya) for the 5k and Anna doing the 10k. Jonny has been training for Dublin Marathon and therefore is in great shape at the moment. Due to having to pay the same amount of money for the 5 or 10k not many people do the 5k so I had a feeling it might be me and Jonny running together at the front.  

 We sped off pretty quick, we were running at about 5:30 min/mile pace and ran together for most of the first lap. Having done 18k the previous day Jonny couldn’t quite hold the pace so I pulled away a little and managed to keep a consistent pace for the race. Generally when I’ve raced in the past I sit on someone’s shoulder and then try and take them near the end but on Sunday I wanted a PB and to push myself well under 17 minutes so I went for it. It was good to have Jonny racing, I felt under pressure to hold the pace and get across the line first. I managed to finish in 16:34 knocking 31 seconds off my 1 day old personal best. 

I felt relief that I’d managed the sub 17 and that the track work and reasonably high mileage was paying off. Jonny finished in second in 17:09 which was a massive PB too. Mark knocked one second off his PB as well; basically what I’m saying is if you want to run a PB you should run on track and get involved in the next Run Through 5k/10k in November. If it fits in the race calendar I’ll definitely be back again.

Basking in our glory, a few friends (Emily, Michalis & Mark) met us in Battersea Park to add on a few miles and head for food. We went along the river banking 8 or so miles and rewarded ourselves at Byron burger which is becoming a bit of a regular thing.  

 Around the 5ks at the weekend I chilled out and I now feel ready to take on the Bristol + Bath Marathon at the weekend. There won’t be a PB but it’ll be a nice run and great to have family up from Devon to support me. Luckily I have a week off work next week to recover and then I’ll be gearing up for another marathon, the first of the Trailscape race series on Saturday 31st October.

I would give people shoutouts for incredible achievements over the last couple weeks/weekends but this blog post would be the longest ever. You know who you are, keep being awesome and inspiring!

See a lot of you soon

Steve 

Matter of time: Sub 3 

Yesterday I did the Hermes Running Thames Meander Marathon. It had been a while since aiming for a goal time, probably North London Half and Reading Half being the races this year when I was going for PBs and sub 1:20. Obviously doing the Brighton Marathon earlier in the year I would’ve liked to have gone sub 3 there but due to the lack of training, both in terms of total mileage and long runs, I had to settle for 3:02:48 and getting GFA for London. 

Since Brighton I’d raced a lot but hadn’t put in any specific training for the marathon distance. If you’ve been reading my blog posts or tweets or Facebook posts or Instagram (I don’t use social media enough!) you’ll have seen I’ve raced in mile races, 5ks, 10ks, a 10 miler, 100k, two 24 hour team relays and various other distances. I’ve really enjoyed my running in the last few months mixing it up between road, track and trail and I’ve just generally been having fun. Therefore I was going into the Thames Meander Marathon relaxed and confident knowing I’d done some big mileage weeks and good speed work on track. Although I hadn’t done any real long runs close to marathon pace I knew I was in good shape just because I was getting quicker on track and paces that were previously a struggle had become easier to hold. The only time I started getting a little nervous was on Friday night when it suddenly dawned on me “I haven’t really done any specific marathon training and I’m expecting to go sub 3! Uh oh!” 

Luckily this thought lasted for a few seconds so I could relax and get a good nights sleep. I woke up on Saturday morning around 6 o’clock, bit annoying that, as the race was to start at 11. I’ve never enjoyed the waiting game before races but I had some porridge and listened to music to chill out. Before I knew it the couple of hours I had spare had gone and I was on the tube across London. I arrived at about 10 to pick up my race number. This proved to be a significant point in the day. I was given the number 255  

My first thought was “that could be my finishing time!” This gave me a little bit of extra motivation and made me think beyond sub 3. I pinned my number to my race vest, took a photo for a couple of runners, dropped off my bag and headed towards the start line. You know I’m in race mode when I’ve got a race vest and split shorts on. 

I still had about 30 minutes until gun/foghorn time, so walked along the river and started to get pumped up. I kept telling myself “there is no way I’m not going sub 3 today!” We all made our way to the start, it was time to deliver. I began the race on sub 3 pace, the first few miles ticked off feeling comfortable despite the heat. I was wishing the start time was 8am as opposed to 11 but that couldn’t be changed now. As I was feeling strong I decided to stick at a pace well within 6:52 per mile and then try and hold on at the end. I went through mile 7 with some seconds banked for later in the race:

I took my first gel and was efficient going through water stations, drinking sips on the go and chucking water over my head to keep cool. I kept trudging on ticking the miles off, I tend to think of a marathon in three chunks. The plan to get the first half done at a comfortable, but pushing it, pace. Then 7 miles to consolidate and the last 10k to either give it all you’ve got or hold on for dear life.   I was holding pace well and went through halfway in around 1:27. I was still thinking “that 255 is on!” so kept pushing it. The GPS was a bit dodgy but due to doing more track work I knew how much effort I was putting in and what pace I was at. It seemed to be getting hotter so I made sure to keep taking on lots of water at aid stations (of which there were plenty!) Around mile 14 (I think) myself and another runner got a shout from a pedestrian. Despite the gallons (may be an over exaggeration) of sweat in my eyes I recognised it was none other than ultra runner extrodinaire Cat Simpson. Thanks for the shout Cat! This was one plus point of running along the river, there were quite a few people to cheer you on. This was also a negative thing but I’ll get on to that. Just after seeing Cat I made the turning point and started heading back towards the finish line. I knew I was homeward bound and was thinking “the quicker I run the quicker I get there” simple. You get a lot of encouragement from runners going the other way too and I love these little interactions. Some of the runners let me know what position I was in which was cool, I was 6th just after the turn.

Knowing how marathons pan out I figured if I could maintain my pace not only would I be well within 3 hours but I could challenge for a top 5 finish at least. I kept a relatively even pace until mile 20, this in turn meant I passed three runners in quick succession. Two of them were stopped at an aid station getting refreshments, I decided to plough on through. From mile 20 the race got a lot harder, my legs started to feel heavy and my hamstrings did not enjoy going from pavement to soft muddier uneven city trail (some of you will love that term!). However, I kept on pace. As I was running along the river in London my mind drifted to Chamonix where a handful of my friends were running UTMB. I was in a relatively rough place, my legs were fatigued but I knew that no matter how much I was hurting James from Advent Running would be hurting more and getting UTMB done. I thought “I’ve just got a few more miles and I’m there, the quicker I run the quicker it’s done!”

 

I got to mile 24 having not gone over 6:52 for a single mile. I knew I had the sub 3 marathon I’d wanted for so long in my grasp. My legs were feeling heavy and my hamstrings were tightening. I contemplated easing up and making sure I’d get the sub 3. My body had other ideas and decided it was better to keep a pace closer to 7 minute miling to get it done. Those miles felt like the longest I’d ever done and I was almost starting to doubt whether I would finish under 3 hours. They probably felt twice as long as the rest due to the weaving around tourists and pedestrians. At one point a dog came flying at me, straight through my legs, as if we were performing at crufts. Luckily the last mile or so was quiet apart from passing a few runners. This included Marathon Man UK who was running with and encouraging a half marathon finisher. He gave me a shout of “strong running today buddy!” It was very much appreciated and I scurried onto the finish straight. 

I was pretty spent. I attempted a sprint finish but my left hamstring didn’t appreciate that. Instead of flying through the finish I ended up shuffling. It wasn’t spectacular but it was done, sub 3 complete. I stopped my watch and was then handed a trophy for 3rd place, I didn’t know for sure I was third so I was chuffed. I had a photo with 1st and 2nd place (probably looking horrendous!) and then chatted with a few runners I saw on the course. 

I then looked at my watch to see:  Not just sub 3 but 2:55, my race number! Also the best birthday present I could’ve given myself! 

Overall a thoroughly enjoyable run and the medal is pretty epic!I’m looking forward to getting back on the track and doing shorter quicker stuff with the Great North Run in two weeks time.

I hope those of you that ran and raced this weekend had a great one! Also thank you to everyone that posted comments along the lines of “well done” on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Strava, I appreciate it. See a lot of you soon.

Steve X

  

#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. 

 

 

 

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 

Stepping into the unknown 

On Sunday 7th June I joined Advent Running (arcollective) for their Bridges Ultra. The reason I decided to do this was I have Race to the Stones 100k on July 11th and I thought running 50k before taking on 100k might be a good idea. It was also good timing as I’d just finished a long stretch of races throughout May, so it was good to not worry about pace so much but get some (36) miles in. We started at 9am and the route was along the River Thames and we crossed every bridge along the route until we arrived in Richmond. 

The weather was pretty hot so it was good for me to practice keeping hydrated and eating on the run. We stopped at various bridges for photos and to make sure the group was all together, this was good as I need to know that when I am tired in Races to the Stones I can walk parts and then get running again. Due to racing the Bristol 10k and PBing by 30 seconds and because I had ran a fair bit during the week I was pretty tired but it was a confidence builder to know I could for further than a marathon. 

When we got to the 42k point I was knackered but I then had a strange out of body experience. I felt almost as if I couldn’t run any further but at the same time my body was running a 8 min/mile pace for a few miles alongside James Poole (one of advent running’s founders). Somehow we lost our bearings and headed back East for a few kilometres meaning the run would end up being 58 instead of 50k but I think that’s a good thing really. I would “just” have another marathon to go come race day! 

It was a great day of running and I enjoyed sharing the journey with the advent runners.   I rest for a couple of days after the ultra run but then got in a few miles in the latter part of the week. On Saturday 13th I joined friends for a trail run along parkland walk and around North London. I decided to carry on running and luckily Andrew is training for Race to the Stones aswell so we ended up doing a fair few miles. Andrew ended up doing 30 miles and I did 27.5. I decided to cut the run that littl but shorter because of the long run the Sunday before and I took part in and was working the City of London mile on Sunday 14th June.   My decision paid off as I somehow managed to PB the mile in 5:02, which seems kind of crazy the day after running 27.5 miles. Oh well, I’ll take it and hopefully when I’m fresh before a mile race at some point I’ll get into the 4s. 

I know I said I wasn’t going to race much in June but I’m about to head off to the LBH relay near Westminster Bridge and I’m probably going to do the Orion Fell Race on Friday evening before trying to get in some big runs on Saturday and Sunday. I will also be at the women’s Nike 10k supporting so that should be fun.

See you out there

Steve x