Tag Archives: speed

Salomon Sunset Series – Box Hill, London

On Saturday the 24th of June I took part in the Salomon Sunset Series London 10k. I always keep an eye on Salomon Running on social media because their kit is great, they create some awesome videos and sponsor many of the best trail/ultra-runners. When they announced they were organising the Sunset Series a few months back I was really keen to get involved because I’d never ran around Box Hill, I knew some friends would be taking part and with OCC coming up I need to get some hills in. I was lucky enough to be offered a free place as I have reviewed some Salomon shoes in the past and I’ve recently been selected to take part in the Suunto Training Squad.

I was really looking forward to the event but knew that it would be a big challenge as I took part in the Orion Fell Race in Epping Forest on Friday night. The 5k included 900+ft elevation gain. I finished 7th in 22:20 knocking 48 seconds off the time I ran in 2015, my legs were not happy. During the day Lorna and I travelled east to have lunch with friends. It was nice to catch up with Ben and Maz and meet Will, Hayley and baby Jackson. Late afternoon I started my journey across London to Box Hill. I bumped into Mollie and Frankie on the train, it was good to have a catch up and speculate how tough the event would be.

We arrived at Box Hill an hour or so before the start meaning we could have a good chat with some of the Advent Running/Adidas Running lot, sort our race kit and drop bags. Throughout the afternoon Salomon had been putting on trail workshops and Q&As, it was cool to hear from Max Nicholls about his training, racing and goals. To loosen my legs up a bit I did a few strides before listening to the briefing and positioning myself near the front in the start pen. Knowing the 10k course included 250m+ of elevation gain I took it relatively steady off the line; I wanted to keep the lead pack in view but was confident that I would be able to move through the field once we got to the hills.

Having not taken part in many trail races recently I was excited to tackle the challenging course and I enjoyed the fact I didn’t need to look at my watch as I wasn’t aiming for a time.

Photo courtesy of @claudi8s

After 2k of running on the flat I arrived at the first hill, we gained 60m in 500m then from 3k to 3.7k we ran up another 100m. Thanks to the OH Fell Race my legs were tired but strong at the same time; I managed to overtake quite a few runners on the first couple of hills and was feeling good and enjoying the descents. From 7k to 8.5k there was a really nice smooth downhill section where I let my legs go. With more than a kilometre to go though I knew there would be another sizeable climb. There was a U-turn at the bottom of the hill to pretty much go straight back up again.

The final big hill was really demoralising as it was open, you could see the brow of the hill from the bottom and couldn’t help but long to be at the top with the click of your fingers. I could see two runners up in front and used them as motivation; with some words of encouragement from JP who was descending parallel to me I got my head down and refused to slow to a walk.

Iffley Road Cambrian River T-Shirt, Iffley Road Thompson Shorts, Stance Run OTC, Salomon S-Lab X-Series

Once at the top of the climb the last 500m or so was pretty flat. I crossed the line in 45:04, surprisingly in 3rd position.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1052324835/overview

Photo courtesy of @claudi8s

Overall the race was a lot of fun; I definitely need to run more trail races. After grabbing my wooden coaster, bottle of water and clif bar we cheered in the rest of the runners.

In the next few months I am going to try and make it a priority to run more trails and venture further out of London.

If you haven’t given trail running a try I would definitely recommend one of the Salomon Sunset events, fingers crossed they’ll be around next year and more people will get involved.

See a lot of you soon

Steve

The Strava Mile – London

A month or so ago I received an email from James Poole (Advent Running co-founder & Adidas Running Captain) inviting me to an event he was collaborating with Strava on – the Strava Mile. I’m good friends with JP, use Strava and really enjoy mile races, I was in!

Before I knew it race day arrived. After a big weekend of mileage at Endure 24 and a tough 10 x 1k track session on Tuesday night my legs were feeling a bit sorry for themselves. I opted to run the 4k or so from work to Mile End track to try and loosen the legs up. Struggling to hold a few 4 minute kilometres I wasn’t expecting to be breaking any records on #MyMile.

I was greeted at the track by Claire, Bill and Johnny from Iffley Road. They were supporting the event and providing tees to runners. As I’m a Team Iffley ambassador Claire gave me some of their lovely Thompson shorts in a new blue colourway to race in.

The event was a lot of fun; it was great to catch up with friends that I hadn’t seen in a while due to training predominantly on my own for the last few months. As the start time of 7pm neared James hit the mic to let us know the schedule, there was to be 4 mile races: Sub 9, 8, 7 & 6 and below. With my legs beaten up I was glad the final mile was sub 6 and not 5. I thought I would be left suffering at the back in a sub 5 race. It was great to watch friends flying round the track, many of them achieving personal bests. For some it was their first mile race, I suppose there aren’t that many around so it’s great for events like this to be organised.

I ran a few strides to try and get the legs ready for action. There was a large group in the sub 6 race. I positioned myself near the front but decided I would try and crank the pace up in the final two laps if the legs would allow me. With my mile PB at 4:44 I knew I wouldn’t be able to get near that but thought 5 would be a good target. In hindsight I should’ve tried to get the inside lane like James Brewster (pro!) or started a bit further up as I was forced to take a wider lane on a couple of occasions costing valuable seconds. I got into my stride and was on the right pace for sub 5, 3:06min/km.

It was great to have people to chase down, surprisingly my legs felt good after completing the first lap and going under the Strava gantry to cheers from friends.

Going through halfway I was still on pace and another sub 5 was within reach, I started to pick it up to try and bank a few more seconds and make sure I would achieve the time.

The last few laps went by in a blur; I gained ground on some of the runners in front and crossed the line in 4:55.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1036670638/overview

I was really happy and surprised with the result. It always makes me wonder what time I could achieve if I trained and tapered specifically for a mile race.

After everyone had run their miles we grabbed some tacos and beer. The event was a lot of fun, thank you James, Strava, Iffley Road, Eddie (Camden Town Brewery) etc for putting it on. I really hope there will be many more events like this in the future.

I hope everyone else that was there had as much fun as I did. See a lot of you soon.

Steve

Hampton Court Palace Half Marathon 2017

On Sunday the 19th of March I took part in the Hampton Court Palace Half. I signed up because Lorna, her sister Rachel, Marie (Lorna’s manager) and her husband Quentin had decided to run. As the race was organised by Run Through I knew it would be good, I was looking forward to running along the river and finishing just outside Hampton Court Palace. I didn’t really have a race plan as I knew my legs would be tired from the Escape to trail run, organised by Dean, on Saturday.

Despite the trail run I thought it would be good training to see how quickly I could get round. At the end of the day in Boston I will no doubt get to a point where my legs are feeling heavy and need to try and hold on to a decent pace.
We woke up at around 6am on Sunday morning so we could enjoy breakfast and get organised. Furthermore, we wanted to leave ours at 7am to make it to the palace in good time to park the car and walk to the race village. Lorna and Rachel were excited to see what time they could achieve. Rachel hadn’t raced since the London Marathon 14 years ago but had increased her mileage well over the few months before the race so we were all pretty confident she would run well. Ideally she wanted to beat Phil’s time of 1:43 from Colchester Half the previous weekend. We bumped into Tom (@tom.runs) and had a catch up before dropping our bags off. I headed to the start line and had a quick chat with Joe while we positioned ourselves near the front.

Off the start I went out pretty quickly, I was through the first kilometre in around 3:35 (75 minute pace) alongside Joe and a handful of others. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold that pace for long but decided to go with it and see what happened. I stayed with the group for a couple of kilometres but then I started to open up a little gap, first place was no longer visible but I could still just about see second place. I decided I was going to try and stay in third place and keep him in view for as long as possible. My legs were already feeling pretty heavy and tight from around 5k but I could still hold a decent pace, I was around 3:40-3:45 pace at this point. I knew it was going to be a long 16k but I wanted to have to dig deep and test the legs.

As I was on my own it was tough going especially running into the wind along the river. I didn’t turn around at all to see if I was being caught but when running past big crowds I could hear how close the runners were behind me. The support along the river was great.

Going from running on concrete to running on the towpath my legs were not happy especially having been on my feet for 4 hours, running 27k the previous day. I was relieved to make it to within 5k from the finish line and knew I could suffer for just less than 20 minutes to get it done. The final few kilometres were into the wind, which wasn’t great, but I just couldn’t wait to see the finish line and the palace. With 800m or so to go someone let me know there was a runner about 30m or so behind me, I upped my pace a bit to make sure no one was going to overtake me and then I was on the home straight. I crossed the line in 1:18:55 in 3rd, job done.


I cheered Tom, Hanif, Lorna, Rachel, Marie & Quentin through the finish. Lorna and Rachel smashed it finishing in 1:42 to beat Phil’s time. We went for a nice roast and then chilled for the rest of the day.

Overall it was a great day, if you’re looking for a quick scenic half next year I’d definitely recommend considering the Palace Half. The route was scenic and relatively flat, the crowds were good and the medal was cool (as to be expected from a Run Through event).

After racing the last four weekends in a row I’m looking forward to doing a steady long run at the weekend before tapering ahead of the Boston Marathon. I hope those of you that raced or had long training runs at the weekend enjoyed it and got the results/times you wanted. I love this time of year when everyone is racing and training hard. It’s inspiring to see so many great performances every weekend.

See a lot of you soon.

Steve

Brighton Half Marathon 2017

On Sunday the 26th of February I took part in the Brighton Half Marathon. It was my first ‘A’ race of the year and a good opportunity to see where my fitness levels are leading up to the Boston Marathon in 7 weeks’ time. In February last year I ran the Old Deer Park Half Marathon (1:16) before the Cardiff Half (1:13:27) in March. I decided to aim for sub 1:15 in Brighton mainly because I wanted to achieve Championship entry for the London Marathon next year. It felt like it had been ages since I’d raced a half marathon properly. I was excited to see what I was capable of but nervous at the same time as in training for the marathon I’ve either been doing track and tempo sessions (much quicker than HM pace) or long steady runs (much slower than HM pace). I was worried I wouldn’t be able to hold the pace required to go sub 75 (3:33min/km), however I tried to remind myself that I didn’t train specifically for Cardiff Half last year but felt good then.

My girlfriend Lorna, and Alex (one of Lorna’s brothers), had also signed up. We travelled down to Brighton on the Saturday morning so we could relax and do some sightseeing.

Once we arrived Lorna and I headed in to town for some food and a look around the shops whilst Alex had a nap. Having only been to Brighton once before, for the marathon, it was nice to explore and go in some of the quirky independent shops. Alex then joined us, despite the cold and windy conditions we walked to the pier to try and win some prizes. We had a bit of a shocker, Alex and I couldn’t throw for toffee and we weren’t much better with the football.

Being competitive I was really annoyed and we decided we’d go back for another attempt after the race. As the weather was rubbish we went for dinner at Bills earlier than planned. Suitably fuelled up we got back to the hotel to prepare our race kit before watching some Saturday night tele and getting an early night.

My race kit

Alex’s race kit & nutrition

As is often the case on race morning I beat the alarm clock. We were up around 6:30 so we could get ready for breakfast. I opted for toast and a coffee despite being tempted by croissants and all of the nice food on offer. Alex had brought his own slab of Soreen (see pic above), like he’d said the previous day “proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance.” Having woken up nice and early we had plenty of time to don our race kit and make our way down the road to the race village. As we were heading to the hotel door we had our fingers crossed for calm weather, we knew we’d be in for a tough run if the wind was up. It was a bit gusty which was a shame but I guess that was to be expected post Storm Doris and being on the seafront. Having not really looked at where the bag drop was situated on the map, none of us realised we had to walk through the start/finish line and through loo queues. Fortunately we’d given ourselves enough time to get there and negotiate our way back through to the right start pens.

I wished Lorna and Al good luck and headed to the sub 1:20 (grey) pen. My legs were feeling fresh after a couple of easy days and the coffee had kicked in, I was ready for the challenge.

I caught up with a couple of friends on the start line (Enrique, Dominic and George) and then we were sent on our way. It took a little while for everyone to spread out so the first kilometre was marginally slow. I worked my way past a few runners and was soon tucked in behind George and a couple of others for a few kilometres. It was good to be shielded from the wind for a while and ticking the kilometres off comfortably. As I previously mentioned I’d run the Brighton Marathon in 2015 so I knew where the inclines and turning points were. We made the turn at mile 4 to start heading back West towards the city centre, unfortunately the wind was against us and we had 5 miles or so to make the next turn. I was still amongst four or five other runners but as we had completed 8k or so they seemed to be dropping pace slightly so I had a decision to make: a) stick with the group for a while and then try to pick up enough time in the final 5k or b) go it alone and try to hold around 3:33min/km pace. I opted for the latter as my legs were still feeling good and there was another group ahead which I thought I could close up on and tuck in behind after a while.

Around the 10k point I saw Alex and then Lorna; we gave each other a shout knowing we wouldn’t see each other until the finish. When I’m in the same race as Lorna I always worry about how she is getting on so it was nice to see her looking good and with a decent group around her. I knew she’d run well as her training has been great over the last month or two. I went through 10k in 35:25, not far off my current 10k PB (34:50). It felt quick but my legs were ok, my breathing was a little heavy but that was always going to be the case running into the wind. I kept ticking the kilometres off counting down until the turning point where I’d finally have the wind pushing me to the finish. I had gained on a group of four or five runners and was alongside them between mile 8 and 9. They were slowing up so I went straight past, unfortunately meaning no rest from the wind. The crowds were starting to build, my legs were tiring but I knew I’d soon be on the long home straight.

I took the turn at Hove Lagoon, immediately breathing was easier, the wind was at my back and the crowds were making more and more noise. After 10 miles/16k I looked at my watch to start working out how much time I had left to go sub 75 minutes. I figured I had 18 minutes to make it, so if I could maintain my pace or pick it up to closer to 3:30min/km I’d be home and dry. I was soon passing the beach huts along the seafront, my legs were tired and I was just about holding it together.

It felt like deja vu as this was exactly how I felt running the same section in the Brighton Marathon. That day I managed to run 3:03 and qualify for the London Marathon through GFA (Good for Age), this time round I was closing in on qualifying for a championship entry. The final few kilometres seemed to last forever; I tried not to look at my watch too much and tried to focus on racing a couple of the runners nearby.

The final kilometre arrived. The support was awesome and then with 400m left I could see the clock, it had just ticked into the 1:14s. I sprinted through the line knowing I’d achieved my goal: London Marathon Championship entry. Job done!

I caught up with George (finished in just over 75 minutes, as part of a long run) and Dominic (71 minutes, well done mate!) and then went to the bag drop to get some warm clothes on. I met up with Alex who’d just crept under 1:30 and Lorna finished in 1:33:55, well inside her target of 1:35. Overall it was a great race for all of us.


We made our way back to the hotel to freshen up before going to Harry Ramsdens for fish and chips.

When you’ve been out in the cold for a couple of hours the hot shower and nice food is so rewarding. As we failed to win anything on Saturday we went to the pier to try our luck again. With the advice of the man running the tin can place, I threw my first bean bag like a dart knocking the bottom right can and subsequently flooring the rest of them, winner! I was handed minion Stevie which I rightfully (unwillingly) handed to Lorna.

After attempting to eat a couple of scoops of ice cream (so full from fish and chips) we picked up our bags from the hotel and made our way back to London.

It was a great little weekend in Brighton, over the next few weekends Lorna and I are in Colchester for the Essex 20 miler and Colchester Half. We then have Hampton Court Palace Half before winding down for Boston. I hope those of you that raced over the weekend got your times and enjoyed it. A massive shout has to go to James Poole for smashing Transgrancanaria 360 in 72 hours placing 8th. Well done to the Advent Running collective for finishing various transgrancanaria races as well as everyone completing the Tokyo Marathon. I’ve seen some great results posted!

See a lot of you soon.

Steve

The Soar Indoor Mile/Winter Warmer

On Wednesday the 1st of February I decided to take part in the Soar Indoor Mile at Lee Valley Athletics Track. I heard about the event a few months back and wanted to get involved, I was in two minds whether to opt for the mile race or do one of the 3,000m races. I decided not to sign up in advance due to being in marathon training, I wasn’t sure if my legs would be up to a fast mile or 3k the day after a big track session. I made the decision to race after doing The Running Works club run at lunchtime as my legs felt “ok”.

Having raced over the mile distance on a couple of occasions I’ve learnt about the pain and heavy breathing that comes with the occasion, despite the tired legs I still thought it would be “fun” to see what I was capable of. Plus I’d never had the opportunity to run a mile on a 200m indoor track and I wanted to see how it would compare to doing a road mile. I got the train from Liverpool Street Station to Ponders End to make it in time to watch the BMC 800m races. Once off the train I bumped into Martin White and Lydia O’Donoghue and we had a good catch up whilst walking to the athletics centre. We spoke about training, races coming up (Lydia is running Tokyo in a couple of weeks) and whether we were looking forward to the mile and what times we were expecting.

At the City of London Mile last year I had a solid run and clocked 4:43. Factoring in Track Tuesday I decided I’d aim for 5 minutes and see how it goes, if I had to ease up then so be it. Having arrived at the track I caught up with Andy Cohen-Wray (Athlete in Mind), Alex Van Oostrum (Freestak), Marcus (The Marathon Marcus) and Douglas Cameron (Southwark parkrun) whilst watching the BMC 800s, 3k races and some of the mile races unfold. 

With money on the table, the standard was high. The women’s and men’s A races were just before the men’s B and C races. The winning times were 4:05 by Dale King-Clutterbuck and 4:50 by Faye Fullerton. As well as their great performances two age-group mile world records were broken; Anthony Whiteman ran 4:12:94 to beat the V45 record and Lucy Elliott crossed the line in 5:03:60 to break the V50 mile record. In the 3,000m races the winners were John Sanderson and Tamara Armoush in 8:22:81 and 9:34:10 respectively. It was really inspiring to see these athletes tearing it round the track putting in cracking performances.
As race start time was nearing I headed up to the warm up area to do a few strides. My legs were feeling tired just putting in a few hundred metres of effort and so I knew the race was going to be hard. With 10 minutes or so to go we were summoned to the call area so the organisers could check who was present and line us up in number order. 

Having signed up on the night I was given the number 147 (maximum break!) and this meant I was to start in one of the outside lanes, ideally I’d have been on the inside lane. We lined up and before we knew it we were off.

 Photo courtesy of AVO (@alexvanoostrum)

I sprinted off the start line to take to the inside lane before the bend, it was myself and Douglas setting the pace for the first lap or two. I went through the first 200m in 37 seconds; on pace for a 5 minute mile (Andy and I had discussed the pace required). 400m down in 75 seconds and my legs were feeling ok, a quarter of the race was completed and they went by pretty quickly. After the first couple of laps I went passed Douglas and tried to hold sub 5 pace. This was when it got harder, I was racing the clock.

The laps were going by really quickly yet I still had time to think, I remember thinking “try to keep tight on in the inside lane especially around the bends and off the corners push on using the cambers to pick up speed.” I was still on pace after lap 6 but I could feel my legs tightening and I wasn’t able to stride out as well as over the first 400m or so. With 400m left I had 75 seconds to go sub 5 with 200m 35 seconds. I tried to up my pace over the last lap but struggled over the final 100m. My legs wouldn’t cooperate so I had to settle for crossing the line in 5:02.

 

Immediately I was disappointed not to go sub 5 again but I was pretty pleased taking into account the big track session on Tuesday and having done the Southern XC champs on Saturday followed by a 26k run on Sunday. Excuses excuses I know! 

Overall I enjoyed the race, it was really well organised and it was great to catch up with a lot of friends I hadn’t seen in a little while. I would definitely recommend keeping an eye on Soar running and signing up to their next event, even if you aren’t in PB shape a mile or 3k can act as a great speed session and give you a good indicator of where you are fitness wise. Over the next few weeks I’ll be focussing more on mileage as I prepare for the Boston Marathon, I’m really looking forward to banking some steady long runs.

See a lot of you soon

Steve

The Christmas 5ks 

On Saturday the 10th of December I took part in the Christmas 5ks at Battersea Athletics Track. The event was organised by the Clapham Chasers. Since the Fast Friday 10k track race I took part in early this year I have been on the look out for more track events. I’d mentioned this to Sam Cornforth (runs at track on a Tuesday night and works at Runners Need) and a week or so ago he let me know about The Christmas 5ks. I didn’t sign up straight away just in case other races/events popped up (I get pretty bad FOMO!) but as the day neared the calendar was still free so I registered. 

It had been a little while since I’d raced the 5k distance (apart from the odd parkrun) so I was looking forward to pushing the pace and seeing what time I could manage. Having only just got over the lurgy/a cold I wasn’t too sure how I would feel trying to run quickly so I calculated what paces I’d need to run for various times. The times I had in mind were:

a) 16:30 – 3:18 min/km

b) 17:00 – 3:24 min/km

c) 17:30 – 3:30

As I had been taking part in Advent Running my legs felt quite tight in the week before the race. I think this is mainly because I took part in a shorter track session (including drills) on Monday. Taking this in to consideration I thought I would probably be capable of between 17-17:30 but if they did loosen up and feel good I would try to get as close as possible to my 16:31 PB. 

I ran 4K to the track to warm up and got there in plenty of time to pick up my race number and watch some of the other races. 

I chatted with a couple of other runners and bumped into Joe Spraggins (Clapham Chaser, we met at the Olympic Park Mo Santa thingy last year). We had a good catch up, discussed our goal times for the race and jogged a couple of laps. 

I headed to the start area and did a couple of strides just before the 11 o’clock start. The event was really well organised, there was a special area coned off for us to warm up in. We were all called to the start line where we discussed what our goal times were and what paces we’d have to run. The pacer in our race was for 17 minutes. Initially I was thinking to aim for 17:30 and then up it if I felt good but due to there being a pacer I decided on the start line to follow him and see if could hold on. 

After waiting for the last two runners to join us we were sent on our way. Straight from the off there was a group of four or five of us tucked in behind the pacer. I positioned myself at the back of the pack initially as I didn’t want to have to take a wide line and clock more distance than required. It took a couple of laps for me to find my stride but the legs soon loosened up and I was feeling comfortable running around 3:25min/km pace. I was focussing on keeping close behind the pacer, as the group thinned out a little I passed one or two runners to make this easier. 

At the halfway point the group had shrunk. One of the runners dropped out and two or three others had eased up. There was three of us still on the tail of the pacer, sub 17 minutes was still in our sights. The laps went by really quickly, I guess only having the Fast Friday 10k to compare to it would feel quick. The legs were starting to tighten but there was only a few more laps to go. With 2k left I picked up the pace a little to get alongside and eventually pass the other two sub 17 hopefuls. Before I knew it we were into the last kilometre, I surged again. Due to some decent pacing I had some energy for a sprint finish to cross the line ahead of the other two runners in 16:49. Mission accomplished. 

Here are the stats/splits:

I really enjoyed the race, it was just what I needed to assure myself I still have some speed in the legs despite small mileage over the last few months. Racing with quicker runners is always great too, I feel as though I have picked up some much needed motivation. I will definitely try to race over 5k and 10k more in the new year. 

Joe crossed the line sub 17:30 which was bang on his plan. Well done mate, cracking run! He is going to be training for two Ironman triathlons next year, good luck with that. After my effort I watched the final race with Calum, Scott & Ben (Run Fast cheer crew). This race included a fellow Run Fast member, Davide. 

He ran well and finish in 16:30ish in what is only his third proper race back from injury. Well done mate! 

I hope those of you that have/are racing or training this weekend run well and enjoy it. 

See a lot of you soon

Steve 

The Royal Parks Half Marathon 2016

On Sunday the 9th of October I took part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon. I decided to enter the ballot earlier this year because I ran the event in 2014 and really enjoyed it. Back then I wasn’t in great shape so I thought it would be good to take part again and try and achieve a better time. When I signed up I didn’t know I was going to be doing the Cologne Marathon the weekend before so my approach to the race changed slightly.
During the week between Cologne Marathon and the Royal Parks Half I rested quite a lot. The only real running I did was for The Running Works Run Club and even then I did less sessions than normal. Thanks Nikki for looking out for me and telling me to rest. As the race was approaching my legs were feeling more normal as the days were passing. I knew they wouldn’t be completely fresh but I was hoping they’d feel good enough for me to give it a good crack.

With the race starting at 9am I got an early night on Saturday. Lorna and I woke up a bit before 7am to give us time to get stuff together. She would be cheering me on from the sidelines as she had chosen not to enter due to other races and the entry fee being expensive. For the second week running (pun intended) Lorna looked after all my stuff so I didn’t need to use the bag drop and gave me lots of loud cheers. It definitely helps having someone alongside you at races to take away some of those little stresses. We got the bus to Hyde Park Corner and met up with Tom at the entrance to the park and Ash, Julian, Laurent & Mark in the race village.

The race start time came around really quickly. As I had put in an estimated finish time of around 1:20-1:25 (I think) I was in the orange start pen, which was good as it meant I didn’t have many people in front of me. Mark Foster and Ben Fogle did short speeches about the Royal Parks and the race and before we knew it we were off. I’d decided to aim for around 1:20 so set off at 3:45min/km pace. I wasn’t really sure whether my legs would have it in them after Cologne Marathon but I was willing to find out. I think its good every now and then to push it on tired legs, as I mentioned in my last blog post I am trying to use races to pick up fitness and get back into the shape I was in when I ran Cardiff Half.

I started the race with a 3:43 minute kilometre, which is testament to getting in one of the front start pens and the width of the roads in that section. After 1km you are running through Green Park and shortly after you head past Buckingham Palace and along Birdcage Walk. Running in that area of London always gives me flashbacks to finishing races like the London Marathon, London 10,000 and the Westminster Mile. I’ve got some great memories of racing near Buckingham Palace, I feel incredibly lucky to run in London day in day out around such epic landmarks. The next few kilometres were less scenic as you are running along a few main roads, you run east to near Somerset House before doing a U-turn to head back along the strand and onto The Mall. At this point I was feeling strong and maintaining my goal pace. That said it was early days as when you are running along The Mall you have covered 5 miles.

The crowds were out in force as it was such a nice day. It was particularly busy around Buckingham Palace and up Constitution Hill, which was good, as when trying to hold a quick pace, that straight seems to go on for a while. As mentioned by Ben Fogle on the start line you don’t want to be struggling as you enter Hyde Park, there is still 7 miles to go. I still felt good at this point but knew that at any moment my legs could tighten reminding me I’d run a marathon the weekend before.

 I covered a few kilometres within Hyde Park but then unfortunately came a first for me in a race; I needed to nip to the loo. I was around the 8 mile point and had to ease up. I ran at around 4min/km pace for a while before getting to the toilets near the bandstand on Serpentine Road. After a quick stop I was back on my way, I knew that 1:20 would definitely be out of reach but I aimed to claim a few seconds back over the next few kilometres. Despite my best efforts my stride had been broken and I could only manage around 4 minute/kms until the finish.

 I was a little frustrated that I couldn’t run quicker and get closer to 1:20 but on the other hand I was happy to be able to run a nice half marathon the week after a marathon and enjoy it. My legs were tightening as the final kilometres were passing and I was entering cruise/damage limitation mode. I got massive cheers from the Advent Running crew at mile 12 and from Lorna and Nat as I was running down the long home straight of Kensington Road. Thanks for the shouts everyone, really appreciate it! 

 I crossed the line in 1:23:11 finishing in 86th position, pretty happy with that considering the circumstances. One day I’d like to race the Royal Parks Half fully rested and see what I could do. 

  

I collected my medal and then joined Lorna and Nat in cheering other runners through the line. We didn’t quite have the same effect on runners as the guy with the megaphone 800m or so before the finish line shouting “push, push, push, push!!” but we tried. A big shout has to go to Ash, Tom, Laurent, Mark, Julian etc for all running great times.

Overall the race was great fun, I’d definitely recommend it to anyone. I’d kind of class it as a mini London Marathon so if you want to run a flat, fast route and be cheered on by great crowds then enter the ballot. After all everyone loves a ballot right! Ha

Hope those of you in the ballot for London got in and to those of you who didn’t there are plenty of other great marathons out there so start doing some research.

Next up for me is some cross-country on Saturday with Advent Running. See a lot of you soon.

Steve