Thursday, 29 March 2012

Yeovil Half Marathon Race Report

Well, that was a much better Half Marathon!  Everything just went right.  I felt really comfortable for the majority of the run, it only started to get tough around the 11/12 mile mark but by that point I could hear the crowds, music and radio chatter at the finishing point so that kept me focused and determined to finish.

Yeovil Half Marathon Route & Pace (Click to Enlarge)
Out of 780 runners that finished I ran on average 09:58 per mile, came 619th and achieved a new Personal Best of 2 hours, 10 minutes and 28 seconds for the Half Marathon, beating my previous time by a whopping 15 minutes!  The time was also quite close to my Galloway Magic Mile predicted time of 02:09:26!  I also managed to chalk up a new Personal Best for 10 miles too while I was at it!  For the King of the Hill section I came 399th with a time of 3 minutes and 59 seconds.

I didn't have a pace strategy on starting this race, I just wanted to vary my effort depending on how comfortable I felt throughout.  This seemed to work really well.

The walk breaks, when I finally started them as I lacked the confidence to do so at the very start really helped to break up the run into manageable chunks.  Despite no music, I amazingly didn't get bored or lose much motivation during the run.  This was also helped by the excellent atmosphere and buzz all around the course.  The event organisation was excellent and even running along busy Yeovil roads and around an industrial estate didn't deter my enthusiasm!  The finishing medal was ace too...

My food intake and refuelling strategy seemed to work well.  I certainly benefited from the extra drinking station at mile 9 and the handful of jelly babies that I snatched at the last station.  I had the start of the odd stitch at various places but they didn't come to much and the walk breaks helped to shake them off.  The other runners were friendly and it might be the push I need to join a local running club as I can certainly see the benefits of a running community who can support you at these events, out on the course and in training.

I also suffered no chafing this time around thanks to my excellent running shorts that I bought this month and my new shoes seemed to perform well although some blistering was evident after the run.  I'm hoping that this is just a sign that they are still wearing in...

The only thing I wasn't keen on was the horrible drink they gave out at the finish line (pure coconut water, Go Coco)...thankfully there was water available too!  

So not a bad day at all.  The finishing medal was the icing on the cake...a great memento!  Looking back now I can't remember running through particular segments, a sign perhaps that I found a good groove during the race which helped the time and miles fly by.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Do I feel ready?

Yes, because I've paid and booked my spot for Sunday's Yeovil Half Marathon!

Apart from the one remaining 30 minute run this week, I've completed all my mini training plan runs to hopefully get me back up to Half Marathon fitness with a 10.5 mile run in the bag at the end of last week.

The 10.5 mile run wasn't without its challenges though.....walk breaks seem to come at the wrong time and despite my efforts to practice my pre run refuelling strategy; a stressful work day led to a 3 hour delay to my run which completely messed up what time I should eat and then during the run for some reason I only had plain water to rely on to keep my energy levels stocked up.  As a result the strategy or lack of didn't work all that well as I had the normal motivational wobble at the 8-9 mile mark and the warm weather certainly made me feel severely fatigued after some of the difficult hills!  However, I managed to keep going and even with the walk breaks, I managed to beat my 10 mile / 15Km personal bests by 4 minutes!

Despite the fact that I'm about a stone lighter in weight and what some people have said, I am certainly not as fit as I was when I completed the Salisbury Half Marathon last year as I could not of run this 10 mile run non stop and in all honesty I don't want to run those kind of distances non stop any more!  It was great having breaks as they relieved a lot of pre run anxiety/stress, they allowed me to enjoy the scenery more, collect my thoughts and refocus on the remainder of the run!

The main challenges for the race will be breathing control, motivation and energy levels.  There is no music/headphones allowed so it will be difficult for me to keep track of my pace and in the later stages music normally helps keep me I'm hoping that the familiarity of the running route, the atmosphere of the race, other runners and the thought of getting a completion medal at the end will keep my determination in check!  Obviously, I will be trying hard to get my fuel strategy right on the day and leading up to the run as well so that my energy levels remain topped up throughout and don't flag when I need them most!

I certainly will be using the Galloway technique of walk breaks in the race although despite untested I may for the race to change their ratio.  I currently run 5 minutes in every 6 on longer runs but, for the race I'm may look at dropping this to 4 minutes in every 5 which is closer to what Galloway suggests for my pace level.  The added bonus of these breaks this time will allow me to keep my pace in check and to take maximum amount of water on board at the drinking stations!

Let's see if I can finish the race and if I do so, how close I can get to my Personal Best.  As always, I will complete a full race report following the run, so wish me luck and check back next week to see how I got on!

Friday, 9 March 2012

Spring in my step

Is it my new shoes, the warmer weather, better nutrition or the feeling of heading towards a goal  that has given me a spring in my step in the last couple of weeks or is it a combination of all four...?

My new shoes seem to be wearing in quite well; there is some rubbing on the ball of my right foot but I'm hoping that this will disappear once they are fully worn in and when I find the right balance with respect to lacing tightness.

So far, I'm happy with their performance and I feel that my running bio mechanics have become more efficient.  Either that or I am caught up in all the shoe technology hype!  On the last couple of runs when I have got into a good rhythm I have felt that the shoes have helped propel/spring me forward without expelling much energy whilst keeping me on a straight line...

It’s nice that warmer spring weather is starting to emerge although it is likely a certainty with this being the UK that this will bring in more wet weather in the coming months...

In the last couple of long runs I have attempted to improve my nutrition and hydration regimes to try and give me more energy throughout the runs.  It's too early to tell whether my current pre run routine consisting of a cereal bar 2 hours and 500ml of fluids 45 minutes prior to each long run is working as of yet.
I might try to introduce coffee into my pre run routine as some researchers seem to suggest that it will help improve focus, act as a pain killer for any niggles and make carbohydrates work better when running.

Hydration and nutrition is certainly an area that I will be looking to perfect and experiment with over the coming months as my mileage base continues to increase.  I will also need to start looking at which type of fuels work better for me during longer runs to help sustain and boost energy to stave off fatigue i.e. Isotonic fluids/water tablets (as opposed to hypertonic fluids which take longer to enter the blood stream), gels, jelly bean/midget gem sweets, etc.  Problem with the latter type is making them last...

I always seem to run better when I'm heading towards a goal.  It gives my training focus and purpose.  As a result, I have completed some solid runs; 3, 4, 2.5 and 6.5 mile non stop runs last week along with a Galloway 7, 3.5 and 2.5 mile run this week which has helped me to slowly build my base mileage back up leading into an important training milestone next week.

If I can complete the 10 mile Galloway run next week without any major issues then I will be booking my spot in Yeovil's Half Marathon race at the end of the month!