The half way point - and I have kind of felt it a bit this week. Some of the undesirable effects of marathon training have started to creep in; I have been tired, at times my hunger has been insatiable, the day after my long run I felt jaded, and restless legs have kept me awake at night. These are signs I know I need to take extra care of myself. Running wise training has continued to go well though, with an extra PB bonus to finish the week...
MONDAY: Strength and Conditioning for Runners class in which I am already beginning to note my personal progress.
TUESDAY: I switched things a little on my plan this week, and with a harder run planned for tomorrow, I kept today’s miles steadier. I ran 7 miles at a comfortably hard pace, which was around 8 min/mile. Body Pump class in the evening.
WEDNESDAY: today I was joined on a run by a friend from my Strength and Conditioning class; he needed some motivation to kick start his training and I always welcome company - especially when they are willing to meet me at 6am for a run! My friend had planned a 10k route known locally as 'rolling hills'. I had heard of the route, but never tried it - probably for good reason! The route weaves around the centre of Lincoln going up and down most of the cruellest inclines the city offers (for those local think Michealgate, Steep Hill, Lindum Hill, Greenstone Stairs, Milman Hill etc) I really enjoyed the challenge and it is certainly something I would not have had the confidence to attempt alone. I also did not stop once, which I am sure I would have convinced myself I needed to if I had run alone.
THURSDAY: after the hill test of yesterday my legs were a little sore today. Keeping today's planned 10 miles at an 'easy' pace was therefore a little more straightforward. My legs were stiff at first, but once I loosened up I just let the miles tick off at a comfortable 8.24 min/mile average pace. Body Pump class in evening.
FRIDAY: with a race planned for Sunday I swapped this week's Rest Day around, heading out for a very easy 4 miles this morning, averaging 8.42 min/mile pace in the process. I nearly did not bother with the run, but I am pleased I did as it helped loosen off some remaining stiffness and also felt quite therapeutic running at a gentle rhythm and not having too many miles to log.
SATURDAY: Rest Day - whilst still getting my parkrun fix through volunteering at my home Lincoln event.
SUNDAY: my first race of 2019 - the Leicestershire Half Marathon (see image). My training plan has a couple of half marathons in and I like to use them to assess a little where I am in terms of progress. I have another race in a couple of weeks, so my mindset approaching today's 13.1 miles was to simply see what my legs currently had in them - almost like setting a baseline marker. It was a lovely day for running with an almost spring like warmth, although there was quite a strong, gusty breeze at the Prestwold Hall setting of the race. Compared to last year when I had completed the course, the weather was heavenly though! Full blog to follow; but in short, I ran a new PB of 1:35:23 - what I loved most however was how strong I felt; physically, mentally and against the at times windy conditions. My splits emphasise this, logging relatively consistent throughout, and to top it off my final mile was the quickest overall, registering at bang on 7 min/mile - even I do not know how I managed that at the end of a half marathon race!
2018 can probably be summarised as a year of things happening that I probably never expected would – both good and bad! Needless to say, running has given me the ‘good’ unexpected outcomes of the year, and looking back at the races, experiences and PBs I have set across the last 12 months I am proud of where my hard work and dedication has taken me. Perhaps the standout of 2018 has to be my marathon PB in Sydney, the trip of a lifetime culminating in a finish time I am not sure I quite believed would ever be possible. Personally, the year has thrown some unexpected challenges; if you were to tell me at the start of 2018 that there would be a change in one of my closest friendships and the deep impact this would have on me, I would probably have not believed you. However, having gone through the past months, I now know that the loss of a friendship you value dearly can indeed cause a great deal of hurt and heartbreak. Throughout the hard times this year, running has been my constant, and alongside my family and friends, the running community of Lincoln has often been my reason to keep smiling and has offered me the support and encouragement to keep believing in myself. Although my legs do the miles, running is not a solo sport for me, and 2018 has shown me that more than ever.
Leicestershire Half Marathon - 1:39:15
My first race of 2018 set on a bitterly cold and blustery winter’s day. The conditions were harsh at times with icy rain, hail, and one mile in particular set against a brutally strong headwind. Despite the weather, I felt strong running and set a new PB, recording my first ever sub 1:40 half marathon.
Cambridge Half Marathon - 1:36:51
The build up to this race was filled with uncertainty thanks to the arrival of snowfall in the UK. I had been chained to a treadmill all week and was therefore exceptionally happy the race went ahead. Set loose on the streets of Cambridge, running on tarmac felt like heaven, and with my parents cheering me on, I felt unstoppable. I raced hard and beat my half marathon PB again.
Milton Keynes 20 Miler - 2:47:33
Or as it is otherwise known - the training run that turned into a race! I entered this as part of my training for the forthcoming London Marathon with every intention of keeping it steady. Swept up in the race environment, I ran a lot faster than planned and definitely paid for this in the latter miles. It was a great experience though, and an achievement that felt like completing a marathon.
London Marathon - 3:54:06
A race I will simply never forget and one of the hardest experiences of my entire life, not just in running. The hottest London Marathon on record, and with no acclimatisation to running in heat whatsoever, it was a battle from the start. How we all completed 26.2 miles I am not really sure, but I do know that when I hugged my friend at the finish I have never felt so much pride at what we had both achieved and also relief just to feel we were both ok. Hugging my parents as I ran over Tower Bridge is also a memory I will treasure forever. Whilst I did not run the time I had trained for or felt I was truly capable of, in the conditions the finish medal meant the world.
North Lincolnshire Half Marathon -1:41:28
Two weeks after the heat on the streets of London I put myself through nearly the same pain again – a hot half marathon. It was hard, as to be expected so soon after racing a tough 26.2 miles, let alone when running in heat again, but I really enjoyed the challenge. I think mentally the race was also what I needed to get back out there after the intense emotions of the London Marathon.
Liverpool Rock'n'Roll Marathon - 3:48:39
This was probably my biggest challenge of the year – a marathon just four weeks after my last. I was very scared at attempting this race, and to make matters worse in the build-up I suffered from a bad cold, whilst race day itself was very warm – again! It felt a little like things were conspiring against me. However, I treated the race like a long run, savoured the wonderful if not slightly hilly course, embraced the support from my sister and her boyfriend, and ran a mere 35 seconds away from my marathon PB. I went from being unbelievably scared to unbelievably proud across 26.2 miles.
Woodhall Spa 10k - 43:57
More heat and more illness, with suspected laryngitis meaning I literally had no voice and slightly troubled breathing, but with a stronger mind and boosted confidence, I raced hard. Tactically definitely not my best 10k performance, but in terms of refusal to give up, one of my best. I gritted my teeth to a new PB.
Round Sheffield Run - 1:41:32
This event is growing rapidly in popularity and having taken part since 2016 I can easily tell you why. It is a test like no other and a concept like none I have seen before with timed stages combined with the ability to run as a pair ticking numerous new boxes. My friend and I took 5 minutes off our previous course PB and enjoyed a wonderful day out; it remains one of my happiest memories of the year and one of my favourite events.
Lincoln 10k - 44:29
If I thought Woodhall Spa 10k was hot, this race was like running a 10k on the sun; somewhat comical considering this was the rearranged date after snow had postponed the event earlier in the year. I love Lincoln 10k day, my hometown event, and as my sister pointed out, I know so many people running it has a special community feel. This year was another one for the memory bank.
Newark Half Marathon - 1:38:23
A cooler day – hallelujah! – and after weeks of long solo training runs for my forthcoming marathon, the chance to race a half marathon distance excited me. I got into a real zone when running, I could feel the strength my training miles had given me, and I was really pleased to log another sub 1:40 finish time.
Sydney Marathon - 3:40:30
My fairytale marathon. The whole thing still seems surreal if I am honest. A massive new marathon PB, achieving my goal of running a Good For Age qualifying time for the London Marathon, running in Sydney, simply being in Australia… the list could go on. The emotion I felt at the finish line was so raw and so personal. Life had been tough before leaving for Australia and it seemed like I had earned this moment more than ever.
Hedgehog Half Marathon - 1:43:20
A new race for me and one I also completed with a new focus on what a ‘race’ actually meant. I approached this challenging course with no pressure to perform to any standard, pushing myself enough without caring what the clock read. A complete freedom run which I enjoyed immensely.
Doncaster 10k - 43:16
Another event in which I put no pressure on myself, but this time left with a shiny new PB. The strength of my performance and the consistency of my 10k pacing filled me with pride, as did seeing my friend’s mum complete her own 10k after struggling with injury niggles. I may have got a little competitive with a running ‘friend’ too which had spurred my running on even more!
Santa Fun Run, Lincoln
I won a race! Albeit a festive fun run, but it was a nice surprise to be crowned the speediest Mrs Claus in Lincoln and also share my love of running with work colleagues and friends.
parkrun has changed my life and I could probably write a book about the amazing experiences, memories and the people I have met through a weekly 5k. This year's standout moments have been new tourist experiences at Ipswich, Southwark and Normanby parkruns, as well as unforgettable international tourism ‘down under’ at Coffs Harbour and Lawson parkrun. The latter was where I ran my 100th parkrun, and I probably never thought I would achieve this milestone wearing a sparkly cape bearing the numbers ‘100’ whilst running trails in the Blue Mountains! I also have set a new 5k PB of 20:22 – which again I am not quite sure how I ever ran that quickly, but I am determined to try challenge the marker one day soon! Meanwhile my home Lincoln parkrun goes from strength to strength and most importantly remains my happy place.
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...