Tag Archives: racing

Lucerne Swiss City Marathon 2019

Over the last few years Lorna and I have travelled with friends to various European cities to take part in races. This year we opted for Lucerne in Switzerland because it offered a half and full marathon, the course looked scenic on the flyers and we were guaranteed great food and chocolate after the race. I signed up to the marathon while Lorna, Alex, Rob, Ray and Robbie decided to go for the half.

We flew into Zurich early on Saturday morning before catching a train to Lucerne. Lorna had found a lovely apartment not far from the train station, race expo and start. Having dropped our bags we headed to the expo at Hotel Schweizerhof.

Collecting our numbers was easy as there weren’t any queues, so we could head straight to the pasta party to continue the carb loading.

As the sun was shining we picked up an ice cream before taking some photos and heading out on the lake on a pedalo. Lorna and I sensibly saved our legs and let Emma and Ray do the hard work. For dinner we decided to play it safe and have some pasta and pizza from the local supermarket. Without a TV in the apartment we played cards in the evening to relax before getting an early night.

The race started at 9am so we woke up at 7am to shower, have breakfast and sort our race kit. I was feeling really relaxed about the race. Since the London Marathon in April I hadn’t ran/trained much so I planned to run the first half with Lorna aiming for around 1:35 and then see how I felt for the second lap. The conditions were perfect, the sun was shining again and it was cool as we walked towards the start. As the apartment wasn’t far from the finish we didn’t have to drop bags so we could get straight to the start line. We wished everyone good luck and positioned ourselves near the 1:35 pacer. Alex was hoping to finish in a similar time so we started together.

One thing I love about smaller marathons (in comparison to London & Boston etc) is that you don’t have to stress about bag drop and waiting around for ages. We got to the start line just 10 minutes before the gun and then we were off.

As the road was nice and wide we had lots of room to run in and settle on goal pace. We knew 4:30min/km pace was what we needed to hold to finish in 1:35. I let Lorna and Al run slightly ahead of me to dictate the pace they felt comfortable at. This was slightly inside goal pace but not too fast to be worried about. It’s pretty normal with fresh tapered legs and the adrenaline of starting a race to bank a few seconds through the first 5k or so. There were a couple of hills towards the end of the opening 10k which levelled out our average pace to be pretty much spot on.

Running alongside the lake the views of the surrounding mountains were incredible. Alex joked that he was glad he only had to run the hills once but I was thinking “I don’t mind two laps with views like this”. Of course I knew it would be a tough second half having not trained much and running it on my own but I was feeling good and looking forward to the challenge. After 11k or so Lorna was feeling good so we picked up the pace while Al eased off a bit.

The second half of the loop weaving through the city was fun and we kept pushing. The kilometres passed really quickly and we were on the long home stretch before we knew it, Lorna said “it feels like we were only just walking down here to the start”. I could tell she was digging deep as we neared the marathon turnaround point but I was so proud of her for working hard throughout the whole race and crossing the line in 1:34. I really wanted to carry on running with her through the finish line but with 800m to go I took the u-turn to start my second lap.

It felt really strange to have been running with Lorna to help with her race to then be focused on seeing what time I could achieve. Surprisingly my legs felt good so I decided to see if I could get as close to 3 hours as possible. I knew I’d have to average around 4min/km pace through the second half so picked it up and got into a rhythm. The roads were really quiet so I could focus and stick to the racing line. Despite wanting to regularly check I was on the correct pace I kept my head up to enjoy the mountain views again.

I felt relieved to get through the hilly part of the course with the legs still feeling ok. As it was getting hotter I took on water at every aid station and stuck to my nutrition plan, taking a Maurten gel every 7k. This worked well in both the Seville & London Marathons earlier in the year. Making my way back through the city centre I was still holding around 4min/km pace. The crowd support was awesome and there were lots of bands dotted along the course playing great music.

I knew the last couple of kilometres along the lake would be tough but I kept pushing as I was going to clock over the marathon distance on my watch and had to account for this. As I neared the finish Alex, Robbie, Ray and Rob cheered me on as they were walking back towards the apartment. Rob shouted “run faster!” but I was thinking “if I try to run any faster my hamstrings will go”. I held it together and eventually the finish gantry came into view. The clock was ticking ever closer to 3:00:00. I broke into one of those sort of sprint shuffles and crossed the line with the clock reading 3:00:04. Luckily we hadn’t crossed the start line bang on 9am so my official time was 2:59:25… phew! Another sub 3 marathon in the bag. Considering the lack of training throughout the summer I thought I would have to settle for nearer 3:10-3:15 so I was really happy.

Everyone else enjoyed the scenic route and ran well. Robbie clocked another sub 1:30 half, Al finished in 1:38, Rob finished under 1:45 and Ray crossed the line in 1:48. Overall an excellent and very successful race.

Now the legs are recovering we’ve all been thinking about future races. Lorna, Al, Robbie and I are all taking part in the Barcelona Marathon in March so after a couple of easy weeks the mileage will creep back up in a bid to go into 2020 in good shape.

Now that I am back in London, working for adidas in the flagship store on Oxford Street, I hope to catch up and run with a lot of you soon.

Steve

Ruby Run Half Marathon 2019

On Sunday 9th June I took part in the Ruby Run Half Marathon for the fourth time. I first raced between Holsworthy and Hatherleigh in 2011, running it alongside my uncle. That year we crossed the finish line in 46th and 47th positions in a time of 1:45:29. I travelled down to Devon with my sister Sarah and her boyfriend Joe to spend time with family. As I had ran the Stour Valley Marathon the previous weekend, I wasn’t too sure if my legs would be up for racing but after a few shakeout runs during the week they seemed to have recovered well from the hilly, trail route. My uncle was taking part again, cousin Tilly was racing in a relay team and my mum and sister opted to walk it (starting earlier at 8am) in training for a marathon walk later in the year. 

After catching up with family throughout Saturday I nipped out for an easy 5k to keep the legs ticking over. I ran an out and back route; on the way out my legs felt good, then when I turned around, I realised the wind was behind me and it was gradually downhill. I had my fingers crossed for nice weather for the race. We carb loaded up on pasta and bread before watching a film to chill out and getting an early night.

Iffley Road vest, Suunto watch, adidas split shorts, Stance socks, Runderwear & adidas adios

With the race not starting until 10:30 I had a decent lie in. I woke up around 8am to have some breakfast and get kit ready. As my sister’s boyfriend Joe dropped her and my mum in town for the walk, he picked up my number, so I didn’t have to worry about that.

I met up with my Uncle Andrew, Auntie Hannah, Eliza & Tilly outside the memorial hall before we all walked down the road to the start point. As there were some road works the route had been changed slightly so we started halfway up Whimble Hill. We were very relieved we weren’t starting at the bottom, it’s steep! I was wondering if I would bump into any old football teammates or school friends. Through Strava I had seen that George Butler was running a fair amount, it was good to catch up with him before the race. I also saw friend Paul Piper on the start line and knew he’d be flying off into the distance having ran sub 2:30 for the marathon.

The pre-race briefing was done, we jumped off the verge onto the road and we were sent on our way. As I remembered the route being relatively hilly, I started at between half marathon and marathon pace. I figured I could either pick up the pace a little if the legs felt strong or ease back if they started tightening up. Having seen the previous years results I knew there wouldn’t be too many runners around the pace I wanted to hold but luckily there was a runner called Jim to run with/race. As I expected Paul opened a big gap early on and I knew we wouldn’t see him again.

My goal became sticking with Jim for as long as possible and seeing if I could finish second. I wasn’t too worried about the finishing time as I knew I wouldn’t finish anywhere near my personal best. It was good fun/refreshing to not worry about the clock but stick to Jim’s heels. I felt bad because he was pulling me along, but I didn’t really have it in the legs to get in front of him and push it anymore than we were. 

Throughout the race I was cheered on by my Auntie Hannah, cousin Eliza, stepsisters Nic and Kelly and their children Caleb and Kensa. The route change at the start also meant I got to run past my gran and grandads house and they came out to wave at me. This was nice because they’d never seen me in a race before. It was also great to be cheered on by old colleagues and people from Holsworthy Football Club etc. I felt relatively comfortable throughout most of the run. However, there is one long steep hill around 8 miles and that cost Jim and me a minute or so. After that climb I knew it was relatively flat, so I got back into a good rhythm. As we neared the final 5km I was starting to think about when I was going to make a move past Jim. I tried to recall the route from previous years and then remembered that the last kilometre is quick downhill into Hatherleigh. I could tell Jim was tiring so when my watch showed 20k I made a burst and opened the legs up down the road to the hall.

It was great to be cheered on by my family at the roundabout just before the finish. I mustered a sprint to cross the line in second place in 1:18:53. 

I congratulated Paul (1st in 1:13) and Jim (3rd in 1:19:13) on their runs before joining my family to cheer George (1:29), Uncle Andrew (1:45) and Tilly to the finish.

My mum and sister had fun and completed the walk in around three and half hours, they are going to smash the marathon and I’m sure they will be running the Ruby Run Half next year. Overall the event was so much fun! Fingers crossed I can get back for it again next year. 

It seems like there were plenty of epic races at the weekend. Well done if you completed one of them, hope the recovery is going well. 

Steve

The London Marathon 2019

On Sunday 28th April I took part in my third London Marathon. I’m incredibly lucky to be able to qualify for the race having ran sub 75 minutes for half marathons. My previous London Marathon experiences in 2016 and 2018 were special so I couldn’t wait to do it all again and enjoy the amazing crowd support. After running the Seville Marathon in February in a PB of 2:52 I was hoping to squeeze in some specific training and shave a little more time off. Five weeks after Seville I ran the Colchester Half Marathon crossing the line in 1:13:58 so I knew I was in good shape. However, the marathon is a different ball game and I doubted I had done enough long runs near marathon pace to warrant chasing a big PB. After completing a couple of 20k+ runs it was soon time to taper again. I headed to track on Tuesday nights for a couple of weeks to sharpen up before dialling back the mileage but kept the legs ticking over. 

The race came around quickly with being busy at work and fitting in training. On the Saturday before the race Lorna and I made sure to have a relaxing day; we prioritised carb loading, meeting up with friends Hayley, Will & Jackson for brunch and having dinner with her brothers Alex and Rob who were also taking part in the marathon. Having ran 3:11 in Seville Alex was opting to go out fast and try to hold on while Rob was running his first marathon, celebrating his birthday and raising money for the charity Sense. Having to travel in to Greenwich from Chelmsford we got an early night ahead of the big day. I slept well and was feeling relaxed about the challenge.

 

Lorna and I left our flat at around 7am to begin our journey to Greenwich; we got the train to Stratford where we met up with Alex, Rob, Ben, Liv and Harrison. Ben was taking part in his first marathon while his wife Liv and son Harrison were going to cheer us around the course.

 

 

We got the jubilee line to London Bridge before going our separate ways; Lorna and I were allocated the blue start on Blackheath due to gaining our places through GFA & Championship entry. The boys headed to Maze Hill as they got in through charity places.

 

 

Once we arrived at the blue start area, I wished Lorna luck and headed to the Championship entry corner to drop my bag. It was good to see lots of familiar faces while walking to the start, I had a quick catch up with Sorrell and Claudi before the elite runners were introduced and Andy Murray got the race underway. 

My plan was to try and run an even race, I set out near 4:05min/km (2:52 marathon pace). With the first 5k or so being gradually downhill I purposefully held back to save energy as opposed to bank time, I clocked 20:08 for the opening 5k. I settled into a good rhythm, took my first Maurten gel at 7k and went through 10k in 40:25.

 

Thanks for the shouts Liv (@liv_chiv)

Having ran London twice before I know it is a good race to enjoy and appreciate the crowd support. Running around the Cutty Sark I kept my head up and soaked up the atmosphere, it was electric. I thought it may be quieter as the weather wasn’t as good as last year but if anything it was busier than ever. Despite rarely looking at my watch I was holding pace well and feeling comfortable, I ran the third 5k in 20:35 going through 15k in 1:01. 

Between the Cutty Sark and Tower Bridge I shared a few miles with Adam Lennox and Steve Hobbs (The Milestone Pursuit founder/coach); Adam was aiming for a PB and Steve was using it as training for Comrades Marathon. It was nice to catch up with them both, the miles went quickly and I was soon approaching (for me) the highlight of the race. The crowds grow and grow as you run up over Tower Bridge, it gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. It’s special to be running down the middle of the road with thousands of people cheering you on. In comparison to running London for the first time in 2016 I felt fresher and more relaxed knowing what lied ahead. My fourth 5k split was 20:23 and I went through halfway in around 1:26. I knew the hardest part of the race was to come but felt ready for the challenge. I continued to sip on water at every aid station and take a Maurten gel every 7k which worked well. 

Heading away from the crowds and towards Canary Wharf is always a little demoralising, it seems quiet after the high of running over Tower Bridge. However, I felt more present throughout the race than on previous occasions. I think because I averaged 4:05min/km pace in the Seville Marathon I was relaxed and felt more comfortable holding that pace. It allowed me to look around and spot friends in the crowd. The miles through Canary Wharf seemed to go a lot quicker thanin 2016 and 2018. I’m not sure if it was just me but I got the impression more people opted to cheer there. I was relieved to get through what is normally one of the harder sections of the route and looked forward to running past Tower Bridge and along Embankment. Plenty of the run crews had set up cheer stations roadside which always helps, especially when you’re really starting to tire. 

It was great to see so many friends along the route. Thanks for the photo Rocco (@roccoroy)

I made it along Embankment and was still feeling good. In a marathon you never quite know what pace to start at and what you can hold but I was relieved to get that far and not suffer too much. I took the right turn at Big Ben and knew I had just over a kilometre to endure. I picked the pace up a little, passing quite a few runners. Another right turn onto the mall and the finish line was in view. I hadn’t managed a PB but was happy to clock another sub 3 finish, crossing the line in 2:55:08. 

 

Iffley Road London Marathon Cambrian T-Shirt

On one hand I was disappointed not to PB but on the other I was pleased with how I executed my race plan and that I got to enjoy the London Marathon again. As the conditions were good so many friends achieved incredible times, well done to those of you that ran. It is such an inspiring day to take part in, it is definitely time for me to set some new goals and get into a good training routine again. The marathon takes a lot of specific training if you are aiming for certain times, you definitely can’t wing it. Over the next few months I’m going to focus on the shorter distances for a while and then I will build up for another marathon later in the year.

Thank you so much to those of you that sent messages of good luck &/or well-done last weekend, I really appreciate your support.

Hope the recovery is going well for those of you that raced. Catch up with a lot of you soon.

Steve

Colchester Half Marathon 2019

On Sunday the 24th of March I took part in the Colchester Half Marathon. It was my fourth time running the race; it is easy logistically because Lorna’s parents live a mile from the start/finish. As the event was 5 weeks after the Seville Marathon I was a little apprehensive as I didn’t know if my legs had fully recovered and I hadn’t ran at or quicker than half marathon pace for a long time. However, with the London Marathon coming up I was keen to see what shape I was in. In the week leading up to the race I was in two minds whether to race it or run it at marathon pace. As the weather forecast looked good, I decided to ease off training and make a call on the day.

The Colchester Half Marathon is always a competitive affair for the Elliott family, this year was no different with Lorna, Alex, Rob, Rachel and Phil all taking part. We opted for an easy 5k shake out run on Saturday morning to loosen the legs up. I was looking forward to seeing how everyone else would get on, knowing they had been training well. Most of the group, including Robbie, Smithy, Helen and Andy were gunning for PBs. Our good friend Simon made the trip to Essex to take part in the race, with Abi and Beau as cheer crew. Despite losing to Lorna’s Dad we had fun playing crazy golf in the afternoon and then fueled up on Nandos (plainish, if you were wondering) in the evening before getting an early night.

With the race starting at 9am we woke up at 7am to have breakfast and get our race kit ready. I slept well and my legs felt good. Over the last few years I finished the Colchester Half within 75 minutes, qualifying for London Marathon Championship entry. As the conditions were perfect, I decided to aim for sub 75 again. I figured it isn’t very often you get the chance to race in good weather so wanted to make the most of it. I also thought if I can hold 3:30 min/km pace for a half then marathon pace would feel more comfortable in the following weeks once recovered. We all headed to Colchester Community Stadium to drop our bags and get on the start line.

Having finished 2nd and 3rd in 2017 and 2018 respectively I positioned myself near the front. Last year I opted to attack the first 5k and bank some time, on this occasion I settled into 3:30min/km pace and held back on the downhill sections. I remembered suffering through the last 5k or so in the race previously, so I tried to conserve energy.

As the first couple of kilometers are flat/gradually downhill I kept an eye on my watch to check I was on the correct pace. With half marathons it’s incredibly easy to go out quick and suffer trying to hold on. Luckily, I felt really relaxed in the opening stages, my legs felt fresh and I knew if I could get through the first 10-11k on goal pace I would do well as the second half is relatively flat.

I managed to keep a consistent pace despite the short sharp North Hill. I always push up the hill and then get back into my stride down through the High Street. As always, the support was great. Heading along Ipswich Road, which is a gradual uphill, I was still holding goal pace and feeling comfortable. In contrast to the last few years I had a couple of other runners for company which was nice. I was soon winding my way through the industrial estate and got a few cheers from friends around the course.

Running along Langham Lane and Dedham Road it is quieter. Luckily, I had closed the gap to a runner, so I worked with them from 16k onwards. My legs were starting to tighten but they didn’t feel half as bad as they did in 2017 and 2018 along this part of the route. I turned onto Straight Road which lasts for a good 4 to 5 kilometers. I knew this was where I needed to focus and work hard. The long straight road is demoralising but Lorna’s parents live a mile from the stadium so I always look forward to support from her family and know I can grit my teeth to the finish line.

Nearing the football stadium I checked my watch to see I was still holding 3:30min/km on average so I knew I was going to clock inside 75 minutes. I managed a sprint finish to cross the line in 73:58 in 9th position.

Iffley Road Lancaster Vest, adidas Split Shorts, Stance Socks & adidas Adios.

I congratulated runners nearby before grabbing my bag to watch everyone finish with Abi and Beau. There were some cracking performances including personal bests from Robbie (1:22:53), Alex (1:25:20), Helen (1:29:39), Smithy (1:32:04), Andy (1:33:52) and Rob (1:39:49). Lorna clocked another great time (1:33:52) while pacing Smithy and Andy for parts of the race.

The squad: Me, Andy, Helen, Phil, Alex, Smithy, Rob, Lorna, Rachel and Simon.

Another couple of Colchester Half Marathon medals to add to our collection.

Overall it was a great event, no doubt I will be back in 2020 to try and go quicker.

Steve

Seville Marathon 2019

On Sunday 17th February I took part in the Seville Marathon having signed up with my girlfriend Lorna and her brother Alex. Having struggled in the heat running the Boston Marathon in 2017 and London in 2018, Lorna and I thought Seville would be a great race as it boasts “the flattest route in Europe” and the weather is generally good. I was really looking forward to exploring the city and predicted it would be perfect timing as over the last few years I have felt in better shape in February as opposed to April. 

 

In October, 17 weeks before race day, I wrote a rough training plan. It included going to the Run-Fast/The Running Works track sessions at Mile End Stadium on Tuesday nights, sessions around marathon pace on Thursdays and easy long runs on Sundays. I always find training easier when the temperature drops; I managed consistent weeks of training throughout October and November. Averaging around 130k per week I felt as though I was balancing speed work, tempo sessions and long runs well. Some of the marathon paced runs along the river and around Battersea Park on Thursday evenings felt tough two days after hard track sessions, but I figured it was the most specific training to replicate how my legs would feel nearing the end of the marathon. In the past I have been guilty of running either a lot quicker or slower than goal marathon pace. 

 

To see how training was going I ran the Run Through Victoria Park Half in January at around marathon pace. Considering I had run two 20ks on consecutive days before the event I was glad I could hold goal pace. As the race neared Lorna, Alex and I ran long runs spending almost marathon time on feet. I was feeling confident that with a good taper and race nutrition strategy I would be able to achieve a sizeable PB. Learning from previous years I lowered my mileage considerably in the two weeks before the race and made sure to keep hydratedand eat well. 

 

We travelled to Seville on the Friday to explore the city, pick up our race numbers and get into a routine ahead of race day.

 

 

On Saturday morning we did a 5k shake out run to stretch the legs and see the start/finish line. Staying in an apartment near Plaza Nueva (close to Seville Cathedral) it was only a couple of kilometers to the start on Paseo de las Delicias which is very close to Parque de Maria Luisa and Plaza de Espana. To save our legs for the rest of the day we took a bus tour, it helped us visualize the marathon route. From the bus Lorna spotted a pizza place so we jumped off to carb load at lunchtime. On Friday we found a restaurant serving chicken and chips so opted for that at dinnertime. We thought we would leave the amazing paella, tapas, ice cream and alcohol for after the race. 

 

As the race started at 8:30am we set our alarms for 6 to eat breakfast and get to the start area in plenty of time. The last thing you want on race morning is to be rushing around and stressing over small things. I was feeling relaxed about the race. I knew I had trained well and was excited to see what I could achieve. I also couldn’t wait to see what Lorna and Alex could do. We dropped our bags and headed to our start pens. Having run sub 75 for half marathons I was in the sub 2:45 pen, I decided to start the race around 3:55 min/km pace (2:45 pace) and see if I could hold it. With the London Marathon lined up I figured I had nothing to lose and that it could be achievable having managed more marathon paced runs in training than in previous years. I settled into a good rhythm and ticked off the first few kilometers between 3:55 and 4 minutes.

 

 

I saw Lorna’s dad Bob and her brother Rob early on, it was great to have them supporting us around the course. Just before the 5km point we crossed the Puente de la Barqueta Bridge that provided great views of Puente del Alamillo Bridge, designed by Santiago Calatrava.

 

 

 

As Maurten gels provide 25g of carbohydrates, and they are smaller in size than SIS gels, I opted to use them throughout the race. Previously I felt as though I hadn’t taken on enough fuel so I planned to take one every 6 kilometers while sipping on water at every aid station. I ran through 10k in 39:49 feeling comfortable. I was enjoying the race; it was nice to be in a group running alongside the river on perfectly flat roads. Roughly every 5 kilometers there were bands playing which was good entertainment. The first half of the race included quite a few long straights. As we hadn’t turned many corners I was surprised to be clocking 400m or so more than when passing kilometer markers. I crossed the halfway point in 1:23:36, just slightly behind goal pace but I felt good and was hopeful that I could pick it up near the end. 

 

Having consumed four gels by 25k unfortunately I was starting to feel a little sick/nauseous. I think because the Maurten gels are thicker and have a neutral (but sweet) flavor I was perhaps taking on too many carbs/glucose and fructose. My legs were tiring so I needed to keep taking on fuel but I didn’t really want to. In hindsight perhaps I should have taken some of the sports drink from the aid stations but I didn’t really feel like taking on anything. I should have practiced more with the Maurten gels in training, generally they are great but I think I need to experiment with the frequency and or drink mixes. 

 

Just after running through Plaza de Espana at around 35k my left hamstring tightened forcing me to stop and stretch it quickly. I knew the last 7k would be tough but despite my goal time being out of reach I was still hopeful of running a PB. My 30-35k split was 20:42; I lost the best part of a minute stretching. I got back into a rhythm albeit at 4:30min/km pace.

 

 

It was frustrating to have to suffer through the last 7k but it was a great learning experience. The marathon is always hard to predict, as there are so many factors. After another quick stretch and a few kilometers of “shuffling” I crossed the line in 2:52:09.

 

 

 

A new PB by a couple of minutes but not as large as I would have liked. 

Overall it was a great experience, it had been a while since I attempted a marathon PB and I learnt a lot while enjoying the training process. I now feel like I’ve built a good base to work on for the London Marathon and other races. I would definitely recommend the Seville Marathon; it is perfectly flat, the weather is often favorable and the support is superb. Lorna and Alex had terrific runs; Lorna ran 3:25 equaling her PB and Alex knocked 25 (yes 25) minutes off his PB running 3:11. 

 

 

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I’m glad to have got a marathon PB under my belt so early in the year and can’t wait to see what the rest of the year has in stall. I love this time of year when everyone is motivated and inspired building towards their goals/challenges.

 

Hope everyone’s training and racing is going well. See a lot of you out on the roads. 

 

Steve

The Run Through Victoria Park Half Marathon 2019

On Saturday 5th January I took part in the Run Through Victoria Park Half Marathon. A group of us signed up because we have marathons etc lined up and we wanted to dust off the cobwebs after Christmas. With Victoria Park featuring heavily on my regular running routes I was looking forward to trying to hold a solid pace, making the most of the flat course. 

As we planned to go to our friends, Liv, Ben and Harrisons for lunch, Alex (Lorna’s brother) drove us to theirs. We then took the central line to Stratford and walked to the park helping to loosen the legs up a little. Ben joined us in taking part in the half marathon as he is building up for the London Marathon and we met Dean at the number collection point, chilling. 

We arrived at the race village nice and early so we could fit in a decent warm up. Number collection, toilets and the bag drop were all nicely spread out so everything was really efficient. It’s always important to be relaxed before a race so it was good not to have to stress about these things. Ben and I ran a few laps of the cinder track to try and warm up, before dropping off our bags and getting on the start line. With Run Through organising a 5k, 10k and Half with various start times there was a great atmosphere as friends cheered each other out of the start funnel. 

A couple of days before the event, James from Midnight Runners dropped me a message on Instagram asking if I was taking part to see what my strategy was going to be. We decided we would see how we felt on the morning but were both leaning towards running it around marathon pace. Due to Christmas and New Year I hadn’t ran much at the start of the week so I had done a few quicker 20ks on Thursday and Friday so was more than happy to try and work together around the 6.5 laps and hold a decent pace. Off the start line we settled into a pace around 3:50min/km, it felt harder than it should have due to recent mileage but I figured it would be a good test 6 or so weeks out from Seville marathon to hold it on tired legs. 

The first few laps went really quickly as James and I chatted about training and race plans for 2019. Passing the race village Matt Wood and others shouted words of encouragement to our little group; Markus and Sam had joined us. Sam was targeting a PB so we had an extra motivation to keep the pace consistent and get him across the line under 1:24. Throughout the run I had moments where I doubted I could hold the pace but the group was keeping me honest. It was tough but it was the sort of challenge my mind and body needed. 

Overall, we paced it really well. It reminded me that in the longer races you need to be persistent and work through the tough spells because your body can often handle more than you think. We crossed the line around 1:21:30 covering positions 14 through 17 and Sam clocked a minute and a half PB, result!

It was a great way to start the year and I feel I’m in good shape building towards Seville & London Marathons. 

Everyone else enjoyed the race; Alex smashed his PB, clocking a 5k PB as well on his way to 1:26:24. Lorna ran with Ben and Dean for the majority of the race, they clocked 1:39:11, 1:43:01 and a DNF respectively. Dean won’t mind me saying that, he planned a long run on Sunday so decided the laps weren’t worth the hassle. There were some other standout performances from friends including PBs for Michael Wiggins and Tony To to name a few, great work guys! 

It was the perfect start to the weekend and I can’t thank the Run Through team enough for braving the cold conditions to put on another superb event. I’ll be trying to fit in a few more Run Through races throughout 2019 for sure. 

Hope everyone’s running/training is going well. See a lot of you on the roads soon. 

Steve

The RunThrough Colchester Stampede Half Marathon 2018

On Sunday 9th September I took part in the inaugural Colchester Stampede Half Marathon. Lorna and I had been meaning to take a trip to Colchester Zoo for a while and with her brother Rob racing we thought it would be a good opportunity to visit. Having fully recovered from SVP100 and Clacton Half I wanted to see what sort of shape I was in ahead of Munich Half on 14th October. I’ve done several Run Through races in the past so knew it would be well organised and that a few friends would be there.

In the lead up to the race I banked a couple of solid weeks training including tough track sessions running at quicker than half marathon pace. I also added a few longer runs around 16-20k into my week to improve my speed endurance. On the Friday before the race I ran 20k along the river in London with the first 10k easy and the second 10k around marathon pace. I didn’t run on the Saturday but Lorna, Rob, Sheilagh and I walked 8 miles around Alton Water with the dogs. In the evening Rob cooked chicken and sweet potato frittas to fuel us up and we got an early night as the race started at 9am.

Ahead of the race I was feeling really relaxed, I was looking forward to the challenge and seeing how my body would cope with pushing the pace. As I struggled to hold a decent pace in the Clacton Half I was wondering if I’d have to take it easy and settle for getting around at near marathon pace. However, I decided “there’s nothing to lose, I may as well set out around half marathon PB pace and see how it goes”. I figured the worst-case scenario was that I would have to ease up. This would still mean I’d put in a good effort and feel stronger after the race building towards Munich.

Speaking to race organiser Matt Wood before the start he let me know that the course was quick but undulating with a sharp hill near the end. Taking the start line I had a good catch up with Ken Hoye, then some elephants were brought into their enclosures before we started. The race began promptly at 9am and we weaved through the zoo for the first 300m or so. Sticking to my plan of pushing the pace I clocked an opening kilometre of 3:18, chasing two runners in front. A little further down the road the leader dropped out, my chances of competing for the win increased. I settled into a pace closer to my half marathon PB and got around the first (small) loop clocking 17:05 for the first 5k. Despite this being only 45 seconds slower than my 5k PB the legs felt good and I was enjoying the route. Having grown up in Devon I used to love running around the hilly country lanes.

Heading into the first of two longer loops I was closing the gap on the leader. As I was aiming to run as close to 75 minutes as possible I kept an eye on my watch to check I was around 3:30min/km pace. Some kilometres were a little quicker when running downhill. I let the legs do the work, it felt like I was getting a little rest before working harder into the wind or on the gradual inclines.

Thumbs up for the Iffley Road Lancaster Striped Track White Vest

I moved to the front of the race part way through the loop and ran through 10k in 34:26, again only a few seconds over my PB for that distance but I was feeling strong. I think the combination of doing regular track sessions and finishing SVP100k has improved both my speed and endurance.

Over the last lap I slowed a little as my legs began to tire. However, I knew I’d banked time in the first half of the race, so I could ease up and still finish around 75 minutes. Running passed people on their first long loop I received lots of shouts of encouragement which was great. It really helped distract me from the fact my legs were tightening. I made it into the final kilometre and tackled the hill before entering the zoo. Weaving by the animal enclosures I lost a few more seconds but crossed the line in 75:20.

I cheered Lorna and Rob through the finish then we spent the day looking around the zoo. All in all, it was a great day in Colchester. I will be back to try and improve my course record (disclaimer: this was the inaugural event) if it fits in the race calendar next year. The Run Through team organised another great event.

Steve