Oh deer, deer, deer! A tale of 3 races

Three races in recent weeks – it’s all or nothing here! Back at the end of June I wrote about the Great Chalfield 10K, a race I’ll stagger round even if I can’t race it because it’s just such a great event. It was definitely a staggering run this year, and as I wrote in my race report a huge highlight for me was spotting a deer watching us climb the last hill.

I love seeing deer, and I’ve spotted more when running than at any other time. I’m always amazed that a wild animal of such a size can live along side us, relatively invisibly.  I always think if you see a deer, it means it’s a GOOD day.

On 2nd August I ran the Stripped Back Bustard 5 (miles), and wrote about it here. On the longand soggy drive home, in a car that now resembled a sauna on wheels, I thought I saw a deer-shaped thing at the side of the road going down Bowden Hill. It wasn’t moving, so I wondered if it was a model. I slowed right down, eventually stopped, and a fallow deer leapt out and trotted across the road right in front of me. Magical. Another good day!

Last week, I had another race, the last in this season’s Heddington 5K series. I was idly thinking of trotting around at about 9:30 minute mile pace which would get me in under 30 minutes, when I bumped into Nikki. I ran June’s Heddington 5K with Nikki when we were very disciplined and ran at a steady 10 minute mile pace together. (Read about it here). It turned out that she was thinking of running at about 9:30 pace because she was desperate to finally go sub-30 for a 5K. Again we agreed to run together, and started near the back. The first mile was fine (it’s mostly downhill!), the next half mile to the halfway point was still okay, we were passing a few runners and just keeping going.

Still smiling!
Still smiling!

At 2 miles though, the chatter stopped and we were working hard to keep to our pace. At about 2 and a half miles I could sense Nikki starting to drop back slightly, so I nagged and verbally pushed her to just keep her legs moving. We made it to 3 miles. As we came to the “200 metres to go” sign we both glanced at our watches, gave an excited squeak, and Nikki pushed off on her finish line sprint (how do people do that??!) I crossed the line in 29:21 and Nikki in 29:17.  She was so happy – and I’m glad its not just me who cries when they set a new PB that they’ve been wanting to hit for a long time. Well done Nikki – superb gritty running!

I left straight after the prize giving as I’d left my son with cooking instructions and wanted to make sure he hadn’t burnt the house down. As I came back down Bowden Hill again, I thought about the deer and wondered if I’d see it again. I looked and looked, but no such luck. As I headed along the road to Corsham though, I could see something moving at the edge of the road. A cyclist with no lights? A runner ill-advisedly wearing brown at dusk? No, of course on a special day like today it had to be another deer. As I slowed down it cautiously crossed the road in front of me and disappeared through the hedge. I *knew* it had been a good day!

Great Chalfield 10K. Sometimes it’s enough to finish

I love the Great Chalfield 10K. Beautiful course with enough undulations to be challenging but not so many that you can’t appreciate your surroundings. Low key organisation, but with accurate timing. Race HQ is the small scout hut on the Common in Broughton Gifford and profits from the race go to the Scouts. Always a medal, weather that varies from torrential rain through to scorching sun. Perfect!

Sometimes a race is run for a PB. Sometimes as a new challenge. Sometimes it feels like you’re taking several steps backward, and just hoping the forward steps will come in time. Last night was one of those, and bearing in mind my lack of recent running I was thinking of this 10K less as a race and more as a little trot with a number pinned to my front.

This year we had rain, and an altered start and finish (we did the ‘running around the common’ at the end rather than the start, but it worked fine and was less onerous than the usual “round a field to make up the distance”). Course was all on quiet roads apart from the tiny bit of field at the end (at least they’d cut the grass this year). Water station marshals promised us cider next year, there was no sign of Poldark at Great Chalfield Manor (it’s used as Killewarren, home of the Penvenens in the BBC drama), but I did spot a deer watching us runners climbing the last incline with a very puzzled expression on its face (“Why??!”)

I had promised myself a little walk up this hill, but actually because I’d been sensible and taken it easy from the start I felt okay and carried on running. I had an interesting chat with a man who’d dragged his son along for his first run. The son was swearing away at his Dad, but made it to the end just behind me. Kudos to him!

I was delighted to see (and hear) my fellow Chippenham Harriers who had waited for me urging me over the finish line (probably so they could go home out of the rain!)

Harriers at the finish line
Bless’em for waiting for me #lastharrierhome

I was also delighted with my medal. Apparently you’re supposed to get fed up of “participation” medals after so many years of running, but this one felt like a real achievement and that I’d really earned it.


Looking back, I see I ran this race in 2012 (hot and muggy); in 2013 (really really wet but an amazing PB); in 2014 (the disappointing one with the stitch) , AND in 2015 (first one in a Harriers shirt, just not MY Harriers shirt). Rather sad I missed last year now!

Juneathon Day 25. Great Chalfield 10K Race Report

Tonight it was the Great Chalfield 10K. It was very hot, my legs were  still tired from Tuesday’s race, and I was still haunted by the awful stitch I had last year on this race. However it was beautifully sunny, the race route is beautiful (if a little lumpy), I was smothered in suncream and was wearing my attractive running cap. Race time!

As I arrived at the scout hut in Broughton Gifford, I could see small groups of Harriers shirts. Yet again, I recognised just a few of them – this is such a big running club I keep coming across completely different people! However they made me feel very welcome, and it was good to stand and chat in the sunshine.

This race is such a lovely low key event, that I’ve run it for the last few years. I love how you park your car right next to the start / finish area. This year, the common hadn’t been cut, so it was a bit of an adventure getting the car onto the common, and wading through the grass to pick up my number.

Off road parking

As 10K races go, it was hot, it was fast, I felt like I was pushing as hard as I could but Tuesday’s Lacock Relay was still in my legs so i didn’t worry about the time but figured I’d take it a little easier in the first half and see how it went. In the second half I was still feelingokay so I pushed a bit harder. Past the Great Chalfield Manor, past the scary barking dog, up the long long hill at 8K and sudenly I was passing a few runners. This felt good! As the long straight road led to the finish I could see groups of Harriers shirts again, and here “Come on Chippenham!” and also “Come on Lucy!” being shouted. It felt good, so I pushed for my sprint finish.

The warm bottle of water at the end has never tasted so good! I had finished strongly, I hadn’t got a stitch this year, and I hadn’t let my* Harrier’s shirt down. I stood with the other Harriers, clapping the rest of the runners in, and shouting wildly when we saw another Harrier. It was lovely, when people started to talk about leaving, one lady said “Are all the Harriers in? We don’t want to let any of them come in after we’ve gone!”


On getting home and uploading the data, my time was 57:28   which is definitely not a PB. However, my final 0.2 mile sprint finish, according to Strava, was the fastest I’ve run it at 6:58 minutes per mile. This is fantastic, although I don’t know if I believe it! Roll on those stiff legs tomorrow!

* Actually I still haven’t got my own shirt – this is still a borrowed shirt from another, very lovely Lucy. Thank you Lucy!

Juneathon Day 26. Race day!

A race report shouldn’t start with feelings of disappointment, should it? Shouldn’t end with those feelings, either so I’ll do my best.

A time of 56:39 for a 10K shouldn’t be a disappointment, even if you were hoping for faster, and even hoping to beat last year’s time of 55:20. In this race in 2012 I was delighted to get 59:26 which was my first ‘road’ 10K that was below one hour.

The disappointment is not just because of my time. The race was going well, I started off too fast (doesn’t everyone?!), so slowed myself down, then realised I’d slowed down too much and had to speed up again. This meant overtaking the couple who had just passed me. Sorry – I know how annoying that is. Kept it nice and steady, but with enough effort to know that I was pushing it (it was a race, after all). In the back of my mind I knew that after we passed Great Chalfield Manor (very pretty) at 8K the route then went up a long steady slope. Not steep, but a drag at the end of a race when I was planning on using this stored energy to power up the hill and overtake people on the way up (I can dream).

Just after Great Chalfield Manor however, I got a stitch. In fact not a stitch, but the worst stitch in the history of stitches stitch. I felt like I was being stabbed in the side. I tried my breathing exercises, my ‘pushing-a-fist-into-my-side’ trick and even the ‘arm-in-the-air-looking-like-I’m-asking-for-help’ but nothing helped. As the two ladies behind me overtook me, I slowed to a walk and felt like crying. I walked, breathed on alternate sides, pushed in with my fist and finally felt able to run again – just as the slope started. I felt sluggish and it was slow, hard work but I made it up that slope, and even managed a sprint finish.

Lovely Mr B&T had cycled over to be at the Finish line, and I’m afraid I wasn’t very cheery as I was just so disappointed.

Not looking delighted to be at the finish
Just see how happy I look

Later on I sat, clean and dry after a lovely shower, with a plate of lasagne, a glass of red wine and a medal around my neck and tried to think of what I’d learnt from this race.

I learnt a 10K is hard if you haven’t run much over 4 miles for the last couple of weeks. Any race is tough going when you’ve not slept properly all week. And lasagne, red wine and a medal make many things much better.

So now I’m feeling more positive, does anyone have any foolproof ways to sort out an awful stitch mid-race?

Juneathon Day 28. Great Chalfield 10K Race Report

So one of the secrets of a good result is good preparation.  In this house that usually means good food.  So good race preparation means a good carb load.  Cue the ultimate triple carb meal.  Pasta,  potatoes AND bread!  And jolly tasty too


It’s actually Minestrone Soup with Focaccia bread. All home made, and even eaten outside because it was a lovely evening. It was so good I even had some more for race day lunch (I find evening races really weird to get myself organised for – wot no porridge?)

Thursday dawned warm and sunny again, so with a line full of washing drying I spent the day gardening and allotmenteering. Maybe not as good race prep as the meal. I was worried about the heat though, as running in the sun tends to push my heart rate sky high, meaning I feel shattered and have to slow down. My rain dance must have worked, because bang on 4 pm the rain started.

By the time I made it to the race it was pouring down, chilly and quite miserable.

View from my car at the start
View from my car at the start

This is a great little race run with, and raising funds for, the local Scout group. Last year there were 97 runners, the sun shone, and everyone was cheerful and friendly. (See last year’s race report here, with some much prettier photos!) This year, there were 71 runners, the sun was nowhere to be seen but everyone was still cheerful. Bless the marshals who had to stand out in the rain until we’d run past. One was heard to cry defiantly that he didn’t need an umbrella, he was a Scout Leader!

It was freezing standing around waiting for the off, I dutifully listened to the pre-race briefing and was most amused to hear that each kilometre would be marked by a big sign. Apart from Kilometre 6, because they couldn’t find the sign. You’ve got to love these little races!

Great Chalfield 10K 2013 Start
The start. Already soaked

Eventually we were off, and i was amazed to find that, as I’d hoped, by the 1Km sign i was already warm. I was wishing I’d worn my compression socks to keep my calves and shins warm though, because I could feel my right shin just feeling a little sore. I did a Jens Voigt, told it to shut up, and ignored it. I was aiming to keep as close to 9 minute miles as I could, which I duly did. With a small field, once we were off the Common we quickly separated and I found myself running on my own. I did overtake one man, but after that there were long sections where I couldn’t even see any other runners.

It was all feeling good, but as I got to the 5K marker I did question if I could keep this pace up for another 5K. My legs just kept on going though, so I told my head to shut up and pushed on. As last year, Great Chalfield Manor surprised me by suddenly appearing and then disappearing at around 8K. After this I had memories of a long hill back up to the Common (and the finish line) from last year where I overtook a couple of people who had slowed to a walk. Maybe they’ve taken a steamroller to the course since last year, or maybe I’m a bit fitter, because there was a just small incline there this year. No walkers to overtake either. Curses – always an ego boost!

I splashed my way back along the Common and as I crossed the finish line I heard them shout out my time, 55:21. Wow, wow and wow!

Great Chalfield 10K 2013 Finish
The End is Nigh!

A new PB! To put it in context, my time for the same race last year (but in the warm sunshine) was 59:26. My previous 10K PB, from 2011, was set on the pancake flat Castle Combe Circuit and was 58:35. How lovely to see this as I uploaded my times to Garmin Connect:-

new 10K PB
Oh yes, I think I’ll accept this new PB!

Okay – so I take it ‘resting on my laurels’ will count as an activity for the rest of Juneathon??! (Just in case it doesn’t I’ll do my Abs DVD again later).

Juneathon day 20. Race Indecision

After the winter’s Marathon training, and autumn’s inevitable half marathons, I decided this summer was the time to try and improve on my 10K and 5K PBs. Currently these stand at 58:35 (from 20/11/2011, on a pancake flat motor racing circuit), and 27:46 (from 12/7/2012, the only 5K race I run every year!)

So just before Juneathon started, I headed off to the Runner’s World website and started searching for races within 10 miles to me. Whooh! Talk about being spoilt for choice!

Sunday 9th June – Chippenham harriers 5 mile road race

Monday 10th June – Westonbirt 10K

Wednesday 12th June – Springfield 5K

Wednesday 19th – Specsavers Longest Day 10k

Thursday 27th June – Great Chalfield Manor 10K

Wednesday 3rd July – Chippenham 5K River Run

Wednesday 10th July – Springfield 5K

10th August – Lacock 10K

11th August Castle Combe 10K

31st August Malmesbury 10k

Sunday 15th September – Chippenham Half Marathon

Sunday 22nd September – Malmesbury half Marathon

I asked on Twitter which 10K should I enter. The wisdom of Twitter spoke “The flattest one” – Choose the flattest 10K  Thanks to @LaraineWynjones for this great advice – she blogs over at http://6hourmarathonrunner.blogspot.co.uk/  do pop over and say hello!

As it happens, life got in the way and for all sorts of reasons I couldn’t do most of the races. However today I entered the Great Chalfield 10K next Thursday, and the Chippenham River Run 5K in July. I’ve also entered the Chippenham Half Marathon in September.

I was hoping that entering 2 races would count as my Juneathon activity for the day. Or the two hours I spent allotmenteering this morning. Just in case neither was enough I also managed my first plank for 1:30. A new PB!