Warning – this post includes a Pudding

Normally I would say hilly and muddy beats just about any other run  hands down (unless you’re after a PB of course). So a showdown between a hilly and muddy 10K race vs. flat and fast 10k race would normally be easy to call. Add in the fact that you get a medal at the hilly and muddy race, but not at the other, and you’d assume I didn’t even have to spend a second agonizing over a decision. Simple pimple.

Hang on though, put those trail trainers down – the flat and fast race isn’t an ordinary race. It’s the 10K “Pudding Race”. It sold out in a week back at the start of October, and you might not get a medal at the end but you do get a Christmas Pudding. Ah – that muddied the waters for you, didn’t it?

Mmmmm pudding!

To cut a long story short, I put my trail trainers back in the muddy bag they live in, and took my road runners out this morning for some ‘bursts’ to try and get my legs used to running fast without getting distracted and slowing down. Apart from the large tractors on little lanes which meant I had to leap into the hedge, they went well.

Roll on the pudding! race!




Another Week, Another 10K Race

After last Sunday’s 10K, (a  muddy, hilly off road race with some organisational hiccups) I ran another 10K race this Sunday. This one was flat, fast and organised like a clock winding event in a Swiss cuckcoo clock factory. Last week was the Bath Skyline 10K,  this week was the Chilly 10K at Castle Combe race circuit, organised by DB Max.

Last week I was excited and nervous at the start, just running to finish with no thoughts of what time to expect. This week I was quite anxious at the start, because I was putting pressure on myself to aim for sub-54 minutes. My PB from last year was 54:02.

Castle Combe Race Circuit is an exposed location, just outside the beautiful Cotswold village of Castle Combe. The circuit isn’t quite as picturesque as the village. It’s also very open and seems to always have a head wind – the only question is from which direction will it be? As a motor racing circuit it’s great if you have an interest in motor sport (there’s a pit lane, chicanes, banks of tyres in case of crashes etc) but this also means it has great facilities –  lots of parking, toilets, and the ‘Tavern’ for a greasy spoon fry-up afterwards. The organisation was immaculate, speedy number and chip pick-up followed by a warm area to wait in.

I always find laps in a race hard to cope with mentally, and this race was three and a bit laps of the circuit. This meant on the first lap passing the 2K marker then a few metres later the 5K marker, and then in a few more breaths the 8K. I found it soul destroying on the first lap, was on the verge of giving up on the second lap, but was still hanging on by my fingernails on the third and final lap.

I didn’t quite bag myself a new PB, and missed out on my sub 54 minute target by 12 seconds. However despite the finish line video showing me crossing the line and looking with disgust at my Garmin as I see my time, I was pleased with my race. I haven’t been doing any speed work lately (concentrating on hills and mud instead), so to come so close to my target time is great. Oh and I got another amazing medal (always a bonus!)

Mmm. Bling

So two very different races. Very different surroundings, terrain and organisation, however I was very happy to have run both of them. Roll on the Bath Skyline number 2 in a few weeks, and the next Chilly 10K in a few months!

Bath Skyline 10K #1 Update


Quick update to my somewhat nit-picking review of the Bath Skyline 10K #1 which I ran on Sunday.

The medal mix-up has been sorted. Apparently, halfway through the ‘handing out of water and medals’ at the end of the race, the second box of the first part of the interlocking medals was mislaid. Disgruntled runners like myself ended up instead with the (still very lovely but not interlocking) medal that will be given out to anyone only doing one of the series of races.

Relish Running posted on their Facebok page and website that they would exchange the medals for anyone who sent it back. I duly wrapped and posted mine back this week, and was very happy to recieve the correct medal this morning. It’s not that different to the incorect medal, but it now gives me the impetus to complete the rest of the series and complete my medal, even if that does mean running hilly trail races in December, January and February.

As an added bonus this morning, the photos from the event have been published. Not only did I manage to have a good photo with Sham Castle in the background (my eyes are open and I’m smiling), I even managed to have a photo of myself running with both feet in the air AT THE SAME TIME! Excellent!*

Look no strings!
Look no strings!

* On looking at this foot again, I look like I’m about to do a perfectly executed heelstrike. I can only blame my uncomfortable clumpy trail shoes, concentrating desperately hard on not slipping over on the muddy downhill in front of the photographer. 


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?

Swindon 10K 2013

A cold, misty, drizzly, Autumn Sunday morning – what better than to get up early for a race? A 10K race (a distance I’ve not run for a few months) with the chance to meet up with some online friends from Runner’s World.  It was one of those complicated mornings – daughter staying in London for the weekend, husband already out cycling in Somerset, and son to be dropped off at grandparents. I hadn’t registered for the race, but the instructions said you could sign up on the day by 10.45, with the race starting at 11.

10 o’clock saw me throwing my son out of the car at my parents’ house (because we were already running a bit late), belatedly followed by me sneaking in to use their loo (race day morning – I don’t need to say any more). Then a quick read of the directions to the race HQ and I was off again. Although the race is called ‘Swindon 10K’ its actually in Wroughton – a few miles south of Swindon, at the edge of a disused airfield. I always feel anxious heading off to new places, and instructions like “don’t use a sat nav because our postcode will take you to the wrong side of the airfield” don’t help.

Driving through North Wiltshire following the directions all was going well until the HQ (a large ex-aircraft hangar) came into sight – just beyond a large queue of cars waiting to park. As I crawled forward I was trying not to clock watch as I knew time was tight. At a quarter to eleven, I was still queuing to park and desperately trying not to imagine being told I was too late to register. I was finally directed to a lumpy bit of grass to park on, grabbed my pre-filled form and cheque and sprinted inside the hangar. Fortunately I was still allowed to register, and holding onto my race number I shot back outside to find the loos.

Between queuing for a portaloo and walking to the start I’d managed to meet up with all of my online friends. We all agreed that far from being a small race like we’d expected, there were over 500 runners and it was busy. One friend, Yvonne, said she was hoping to beat 55 minutes, which was my target as well, so we lined up together. Before I’d left that morning I’d scrawled my last 10K PB time and pace onto my hand so I could keep an eye on it as I ran.

Previous PB and pace
High Tech previous PB and pace reminder

The man with the megaphone summoned us all to the start, explained how we had to complete a short turn round the car park, then two laps of a bigger loop (turning left at the end of loop 1, and right at the end of loop 2 to head for the finish line), then a sprint for the finish. These race instructions always sound complicated but I always have plenty of runners to follow so I don’t worry about it. The race wasn’t chip timed, so although we didn’t hear a starting whistle, air horn or even someone shouting “GO!” we just started shuffling forward when everyone else did, and started our Garmins as we crossed the line.

The first little loop was quite narrrow, and we found ourseves running slower than the pace on my hand. With some “excuse me!”s and some wriggling we found ourselves some space to run. Running the main loop for the first time it was discouraging to see a “3K” marker, swiftly followed by a “7K” marker, and knowing we had all this to run again. My friend was running strongly, and it was only at this point that she told me that although she wanted a sub 55 time, in her recent half marathons (4 in 4 weeks!) she’d been passing the 10K point at around 53 minutes. Our pace was around 8:30 minutes per mile (and faster) and I was starting to wonder if I could keep that pace up.

I took my mind off it by looking around me. Part of the route was a fairly busy road, with cars trying to overtake us whilst dodging vehicles coming the other way. Not quite the quiet country lanes we’d been promised. We turned off from this road after a kilometre or two and then we were on smaller lanes. Much more peaceful, but the misty drizzle meant it was hard to take in any views. I bet its isolated up there in the midst of Winter!

The 5K mark had a water station, and much like in the Devizes Half this was in a muddy farmyard, but the water was still very welcome. At this point I realised we were running at faster than my 5K PB pace, and I was starting to feel a stitch after glugging some cold water. I told Yvonne to push on ahead as I had to slow down a little.

I watched as she pulled ahead but tried to make sure I kept my pace up. At the end of the first loop we approached a large sign telling us to turn left for the second loop. This time around passing the “3K” marker I felt smug as the “7K” marker was the important one here. Off the busier road again and onto the narrow lane I could tell there was a very slight incline this time. My legs were feeling heavy and I was paying for my fast start.

A few runners passed me at this point which is always disheartening, but I also passed a some runners which made me feel better. The kilometres passed quickly and soon I reached the 9K mark, by the water station. “Time to turn it up!” I thought. Sadly, my legs were pretending they couldn’t hear me and carried on at the same pace. I could see the final turn in the course ahead leading onto the last hundred metres or so to the finish, and I did manage a short sprint finish. Well, it felt like a sprint finish to me – I expect it didn’t look like one (other than in a ‘bionic woman slo-mo” style). I was so greatful to cross the line I almost missed collecting my medal, which would have been a shame as its a great medal.

Swindon 10K medal
Loving how the female runner is ahead of the man…

I caught up with Yvonne at the end. I’d been abale to see her all the way around but couldn’t catch her. She was pleased with a new PB, and I checked my watch to discover I also had my new PB – of 54:02. If I’d known I was so close to sub-54 I’d have persuaded my legs to find an extra 3 seconds!

I finally met up with the rest of my friends to find the two other PB hunters were happy as well, including my friend Mel who managed his first ever sub-60 10K. Whoo ho! He beat the 10K PB he’s had for a few years since we last ran a 10K together and he beat me on the final straight.

Often at races I’ve not even finished when they have the prize presentations. The once or twice I have been, not many people have hung around. Fair enough when you’re getting cold and wet at the end of a race. At the Swindon 10k they had a great way to ensure as many people as possible stayed for the prize giving. They had two vouchers for running shoes from a local running shop and they chose the winners by a draw of race numbers. If they pulled your number and you weren’t there, you missed out. It was exciting, but sadly neither I nor my friends won anything. However as they presented the age-related prizes, Mel realised that he only needs to stick to his current pace for another 9 years and he could win the over 70’s prize!

Flushed with success after another PB I belatedly drove back to my parents for a roast dinner. It was delicious and highly recommended as recovery fuel. After having to stay for the prize giving I was late getting there so didn’t have time for a shower before lunch. Bless my parents who said they didn’t mind, and just sat me nearest the open kitchen door 🙂

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!

One last PB for the year?

Did I mention I’ve PB’ed at every distance this year …. apart from 10K? Might have mentioned it, because I’m incredibly proud of this achievement. I really wanted to manage to PB at EVERY distance this year, no exceptions, but this was going to be difficult as my 10K PB was set last year in perfect conditions.

The race was the ‘Castle Combe Chilly 10K’ which is run around a racing circuit and so is pancake flat. If its windy the course can be windswept and desolate, but the weather behaved itself and was calm but cool. No traffic, wide flat ‘road’ so no weaving around other runners, and plenty of people running at about the same pace as me so lots of people to chase down. Oh, and my children were able to stick bags of chips through the gaps in the Pit Lane wall whilst shouting encouragement like “Hurry up or we’ll eat yours!” A surefire way to make a Northern lass speed up!

Nnnnnnnnnnneeeeeeooooooowwwww and other F1 noises

This year’s Castle Combe Chilly 10k was set for Sunday November 25th 2012, so I’ve had my eye on this date for weeks, trying my best to run my intervals and do my tempo runs. I had even reached the point of working out what pace I should aim for. And then …. disaster struck, in the form of a snotty son needing cuddles. By Friday I was full of cold and feeling dreadful. By Saturday night I had abandoned plans to run unless a miracle happened overnight, and by Sunday morning I acknowledged a miracle hadn’t happened, and went back to bed.

So no PB, not even an attempt at a PB, just a pile of germ-y tissues and a feeling of disappointment.

Ah well – next race is the Dorothy House ‘Santa Dash’ in aid of our local hospice. I’ve never done a Santa Run* before, and its a 6K run which I never done before, so I guess that’ll be a new PB then, won’t it!

*I did overtake Santa in the Chippenham Half Marathon a few years ago – the jingle bells on his trousers were driving me mad!

The Great Chalfield 10K

What a beautiful night for my first race since the London Marathon!

I wish it had all been as flat as this, but great for a finish line sprint

It had been warm and muggy all day, definitely not the best racing conditions for me. Thankfully as the afternoon drew on the temperature dropped a little, and a blustery breeze was making it feel a little cooler.

On arriving with about 25 minutes before the race started, I had plenty of time to park (about 10m from the start line) and walk to the Race HQ (the Scout Hut). I collected my number, queued for the toilet, and then still had time for a little warm-up jog. Gotta love this little local races!

Starting at the back means I missed most of the pre-race briefing, but I did catch a bit about “having to run on the common for further as the original route is like a swamp” and “the grass is so tall we’ve lost the footpath”. Such a change from London!

I found the footpath okay, it was a little soggy in one patch, but all okay. The lanes were mostly quiet, a few of the kilometre markers had blown down, and the water was at nearer to 6K than 5K (and by then I was desperate for a drink!), but it was a great race. For most of the way round I was following (in the distance) 3 ladies. I was determined to catch at least one of them before the end. Sure enough, I was gradually catching them up, until on a nasty little slope just after 5 miles I overtook two of them. I was delighted!

On the final run in along the Common towards the Finish line though, I could hear someone coming up fast behind me, and could see a shadow of someone approaching. Curses! I thought, but sportingly moved to the side so they could overtake. Yes, it was one of the ladies I’d overtaken doing a magnificent sprint for the line. Well done, Corsham!

Understated Finish Line – but I was still very glad to see it

On this straight I saw my lovely husband, and ace race photographer on the other side of the road. What a good photo from his new phone! Also my son who was determined to beat me to the line (another sprint finish!)

What a lovely little race. Lovely to know the race fee is going towards the local Scout troop with their lovely little Scout Hut. Great to run in a small race where you can park 20 seconds from the start line. Fantastic to run with such friendly runners, who even apologise for beating you on the final straight. Oh – and a great medal too (always a bonus).

Medal – All worthwhile!

Oh – and didn’t I mention? 59:26. Under the hour, which I wanted. Not a true PB, as I ran faster last October. However, since that race is run around the Castle Combe motor racing circuit (completely flat and smooth) its always felt a bit of a cheat. So I feel I have an official ‘road’ sub-60 PB now.

The proof! 59:26

Roll on the 5K race on 11th July!