DISTANCE – HALF MARATHON
LOCATION – PRIORY PARK, BEDFORD
COURSE – FLAT & HUGE PB POTENTIAL!!!!
COST – £30
FINISH – MEDAL & TECHINCAL T-SHIRT
REDWAY RUNNERS DO BEDFORD!
After completing the London Marathon in April, I set myself some targets to work on speed over the Summer Months.
This I did, and ended up shaving quite a bit of time off of both my 5k and 10k PB’s
Start of 2017 48:30
Bedford 10K – 18th June 44:15
MK 10K – 27th June 43:38
Womens Running – 2 July 43:27
Draycote Water – 13 Aug 42:29
Start of 2017 – 22:54
Marston 5K – 16th June 21:19
parkrun – 26 Aug 19:56
On top of this I have since won a race – the Ultra 5K, 5 x 5k laps of Box End Park, come second at the Women’s Running 10K and 3rd at the Draycote 10K. Quite an achievement for me, never in my dreams would I ever think I would podium at races – but three!!!
After feeling quite accomplished with my speed work, I wanted to tackle the Half Marathon distance. One I’ve always found extremely hard. It’s a very different kind of race to a 5 or 10K. I’ve found that if you go out too quick at the start, you have to really dig in for the remainder, but over shorter distances, the pain doesn’t last forever. You overcook it on a half and boy you’re in trouble.
I’ve hit the dreaded wall at mile 10 on a number of occasions during a half marathon and the last few miles have sometimes been brutal.
My running journey actually began with a half marathon, back in 2012 when I wanted a new challenge. I ran Run to the Beat in London and completed this in a time of 2 hours and 4 minutes. I was pretty happy with this as my first half, however, was also slightly gutted I hadn’t gone sub 2 as my training was telling me it was possible. But, on reflection, back then I was a real novice to running and had no idea what I was doing at the time.
Fast forward to 2017 and I’ve tackled various half marathons mostly coming somewhere between 1 hour 45 and 1 hour 50. This year in March I was able to break the 1hr 45 barrier at the MK Festival of Running during Marathon Training and achieved a time of 1 hour 43 and 2 seconds.
I’ve gone off on a tangent, I have a habit of doing this – sorry, back to the Bedford Half…
7 weeks ago, I felt I had a built a good base at the start of the year and was ready to take on endurance race once again.
My original target race was going to be the Northampton Half on 3rd September (the day after Bedford) but had seen that a lot of members of the club were signing up for Bedford.
This year was its first year and after checking out the website it looked like a flat PB potential course. The branding looked sleek and after a few minutes, I was sold, signed up, and would worry about Northampton Half closer to the time.
So, as quick as that, a new goal was in place and also a new training plan.
The next 7 weeks were INTENSE, more so than the marathon. I was challenged in new ways that I never thought possible, pushed outside my comfort zone on multiple occasions and had to maintain this as well as keeping energy levels high for my job as a Personal Trainer.
There were some LONG days, double run days, a lot of food consumed, countless coffees but with that came a purpose, focus, drive and determination.
I find having a plan to follow keeps my motivation at an all time high and a sense of huge accomplishment when I nail a run or session exactly as prescribed by the plan.
I must admit, this training cycle went extremely well. From being a Personal Trainer and quite a bit of experience and knowledge around me, I channelled this with the years of strength training, focus on core work, stretching, yoga and good nutrition fuelling me each week, making me Stronger, Fitter and Faster.
The week before Bedford, I PB’d at parkrun, hitting a PB I never thought possible of myself, 19:56 – sub 20 – and first female. With that, came huge expectations from others and pressure I applied upon myself. Through no fault of anyone else’s, I definitely felt the need to deliver.
As Clean Coach Katie and through my social media platforms, I expose my training and running for all of those to see and with that the pressure built. I know that it’s only support and belief from everyone, but even though people think I’m a very positive person, I am only human and on various instances doubted my own ability.
Despite this, in the week leading up to the race, I felt quite good and training went like so…
Sunday – 75 mins easy
Monday – 1 hour recovery run (was meant to be half hour but I ran with my coach and he said it was OK to do 60 mins as long as I felt good)
Tuesday – Speed Session – 4 x 1 miles @ HMP
Wednesday – Rest & Sports Massage
Thursday – Rest (my legs felt heavy, mild panic, but due to the sports massage)
Friday – 5K very very easy and yoga
I had booked out my diary from 6pm on the Friday to ensure I could finish in the PT studio early to relax before the big day and a decent nights sleep. As a Personal Trainer I have a lot of 5am alarms and sometimes don’t finish until 8 or 9pm at night. I had my usual dinner of chicken and sweet potato (I’m not a pasta carb loading kinda girl!) and headed to bed for my early night.
I woke up on Saturday morning feeling refreshed and race day ready. Full of nerves, excitement and confidence in my ability.
I always prepare my kit and bag the night before a race as I don’t like the feeling of being rushed. Face wipes, flip flops and a protein recovery shake are essentials in my bag.
If you’re interested in the kind of stuff I pack – I wrote a blog post back in April about the essentials I pack for race day. (I often get comments from the baggage marshals that my bag is heavy HA, but a girl can never be too over-prepared).
Pre-race breakfast for me is always porridge. I had that with coffee and sipped on Science in Sport electrolytes throughout the morning. We left at 7am to ensure we could get to the start area around 8am. I never used to like turning up to races early, but since meeting James, he always likes to be there at least an hour before. I hate the hanging around, but I realise now there’s nothing worse than feeling rushed before a race.
As we walked through the start area, there were various food stalls and a big stage for the Picinic in the Park after. There were a lot of people there and created a good atmosphere. On top of the sun shining and located by the lake, it built a great area for the start.
At 8:20 there was a warm up on the stage. At this point I was changing from my flip flops into my Rymora Compression Socks and New Balance v3 1500’s and slipping into my race top. Another habit I’ve picked up from James, never wear your race top whilst travelling to a race – always put it on once you’re there.
Not long after this, James and his Dad set off to get to the first point they were going to watch from and I stayed with some of the other members of the Club. A lot of people were chatting about expected race times, PBs and tactics and we walked the short distance up to the starting area. I positioned myself in Wave 1 which was the Sub 1 hour 45 pen and again stood around with many Redway Runners.
The race organisers gave the safety briefing and I quickly went off for a short warm up and completed a few strides to get myself ready. We were then ushered up to the start line.
The start was quite thin although I didn’t push too close to the front as I always go out too quick on races. Being too close to the start wouldn’t help this and I’m very glad I positioned myself where I did.
Target Race Pace – 7:15 min/per mile
(This was 7:25 min/per mile all the way until race week – Coach JD had kept this very quiet, knowing the whole time he was going to change it. His reasoning behind this was that he thought I would have got scared if he had been from the outset, but after solid training I would have recognised this would be possible).
I was under strict instructions, mile 1 no quicker than 7:30, ramp up to 7:15 by mile 3, hold this to mile 10 and then just a parkrun to go, giving one final push and using everything in the tank for a strong finish.
Around 9am, the klaxon went and we were off, a few hundred metres in I looked at my watch, oh no, I had got caught up in the rush and pulled myself back to slow down.
Mile 1 – 7:17 – oops.
Then in the distance, I could see James and his Dad. It’s like I had been found out by my own coach already. By now, I had been joined by a few other RR’s and we (or should I say I) dubbed ourselves the breaking 1 hr 40 crew.
Mile 2 – 07:28 – I was going the other way – this pacing thing is hard!
Just before this there was a small hill to kick up before reaching the Grange Estate which we had to complete 2 laps of. This was pretty flat, but by lap 2 we had been joined by the other waves of people and the course was at times congested.
I had to ask people to kindly keep left a few times and it challenged me by having to slow down behind people and kick start again when there was a gap. I found it difficult to find a rhythm which also reflected in my times. I saw a few Redway Runners and said hello and well done. It’s always nice to see friendly and familiar faces.
Mile 3 – 7:17
Mile 4 – 7:04
Mile 5 – 7:16
Mile 6 – 7:16
Mile 7 – 6:58
A sub 7 minute half way through!!!! Must have been the boost at the 6.55 mile point (marking half way) that gave me a confidence boost to push on.
This part of the course was quite shady which was good considering the sun was shining on Saturday. I’m not one to moan about heat in races, probably because I sweat buckets so my body must regulate a good temperature, but I also had to be thankful of the shade all the same.
We passed the same water station on both laps which was laid out and marshalled well. The signs were very clear for the laps and there an ample amount of marshalls directing runners around this part.
As we exited this part of the course we came back over the A421 and another short hill.
I love hills as it gives me an opportunity to push on and as they say, whatever goes up, must come down.
Mile 8 – 7:06
As we reached 8.5 miles, there was a huge influx of spectators and a ‘cheering point’ from the club. A big sea of green! This fuelled me with adrenaline and Lizzie (also a client of mine) had my own personal box of jelly babies waiting for me (I only eat the red ones!). I believe this isn’t too far from the start so a good point for people to cheer.
Just after this was James, his Dad and a few other club members. It was a fantastic feeling going past coach at this point and for both him and I to know that I was on target.
Another guy I had been running near for the majority of the race made a joke that I was quite popular from all of the cheers I had received so far. It made me giggle, but shows how special it is to be a part of such a supportive club.
Mile 9 – 7:07 – still seeming to be going strong
This is where you run past the start and along the embankment. I was beginning to feel like I had maybe overcooked it in the middle, but knew I was doing well and was not going to let any demons get to me.
Mile 10 – 7:19
Just a parkrun to go!!!
At 10.5 miles in, I took my first and only gel. During marathon training I had trained with gels but during the last 7 weeks hadn’t. At this beginning of race week panic set in that I hadn’t trained with them, so how was I going to react on race day?? You hear of horror stories and toilet troubles with gels – I did not want this to happen to me!
Coach advised me to take a few gels out during training runs during race week for my body to get used to them, but also reminded me that I had trained without them, so were they really essential to my race? Fair point!
I think I only had about half of the gel in the end, but I was hoping that by taking one, it would help me mentally more than anything.
Mile 11 – 7:11
This felt like quite a long stretch as this was the same pathway that we had walked up from the car park in the morning. This was mentally tough but I kept pushing on.
Legs were starting to fatigue now. But being so close, I gritted my teeth and dug in.
Mile 12 – 7:25
The final mile we ran around Priory Park to the end and this section of the course was on grass which made it more difficult to run on as the fatigue was taking its toll.
It’s funny how you talk to yourself during a race, but at this point I did.
Approximately 7 minutes left of running and I reminded myself I had just put myself through a 7 week plan. A minute left for every week I had gone through in training. I COULD DO THIS!
Mile 13: – 7:23
I could see the finish arch and gave everything I could at the end, although when you’re this tired it doesn’t feel like you’re running extremely fast.
I finished in a time of 1 hour 34 and 4 seconds. A huge PB of 9 minutes and well under my target set in May of 1 hour 38 and coaches predictions of 1 hour 35!
I was full of emotion but it took around half hour to really register what I had just achieved.
James, Terry, my friends Holly and Dawn met me at the finish for sweaty hugs and an opportunity to show off my new shiny medal.
The quality of the medal was awesome and it’s now sat on my medal hanger with pride! The technical T-Shirt is great too – I look forward to wearing that on a training run soon.
I think they handed out biscuits and bananas too but I was a bit delirious at this point to grab anything. The only slight negative comment I will make is that there wasn’t much in the goodie bag, I was expecting a few other bits but maybe my fault for not seeing the free food.
We found an area for me to sit down and change back into my flip flops before seeing many other of the club members finish. Live music was playing and as the crowds gathered for the afternoon picnic, it was creating a wicked atmosphere.
The course and race itself is one to be recommended and one I know many people will be back for next year. A huge amount of PBs at Bedford and some great achievements that day!
We headed back to the car park and celebrated with a Nando’s YUM! Then home to prepare for the Northampton Half the next day which I had signed up for. 2 half marathons in 2 days – yikes!
John and I paced Izi to a PB of 1 hour 56, so a successful weekend all round. Compared to Bedford, it definitely didn’t feel like a PB course, but enjoyable all the same and a nice feeling to be able to help someone else out with their own goals and achievements.
I write this whilst on the plane to Turkey for a very well deserved break.
Don’t fear though, my trainers have been packed 😉
I wonder what my next target/challenge will be…