Race Report: Monaco 10K

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1930.DCIM100GOPROGOPR1929.

What was supposed to be my third race of 2017 actually ended up being my first race of the year. The Coastal Endurance race at the beginning of January ended up being cancelled due to safety concerns and I then consciously decided to pull out of the London Winter Run in February as my feet were in no fit state to put in a good race, so I wanted this to be a good debut for the year. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

The Monaco 10K is my favourite race that I do each year – Monaco is somewhere I spent a lot of time whilst growing up so there’s a level of comfort and familiarity with racing there, it really does feel like home. This year my uncle and cousin were planning on racing with us too, but my cousin fell down some stairs and broke her foot shortly before the race so had to pull out (Sasha – I’m convinced you did this deliberately and we will get you racing with us next year). We were blessed with really beautiful weather once again, and after spending a few days relaxing by the pool felt in pretty good condition by the time race day arrived.

Then I woke up on race morning and felt so unenthused to run – not to the point where I wanted to pull out as there really is no pressure with this race, but I didn’t feel like I was going to put in much effort. So, we went down for breakfast and whereas usually I’d be quite strict about just eating a bowl of porridge before the start of a race, I actually decided to fill up on croissants and discard any nutritional needs my body might require for a good performance. I then got dressed into my race kit and swapped my shorts out for tights, despite the fact that it was approaching 14’c outside and I knew I’d be overheating within 10 minutes of starting. Essentially it was an exercise in self-sabotage, or so I thought…

We got to the start of the race with just a few minutes to spare, heard the announcement that Seb Coe and Paula Radcliffe were running in the relay event after our race, and then set off on our way into Fontvieille to run a lap around the Stade Louis II and then back into Monaco Ville to tackle the first of the hills. Monaco is hilly, though not ‘properly hilly’, and what I refer to as hills during this post are more steep but short inclines – but there’s a lot of them during the first half of the race and you really have to dig deep to keep momentum going. I’m the type who usually struggles on hills quite a lot but I actually breezed up these ones and felt great (I’m going to credit this with the Barre classes I’ve been going to religiously since last September), I was certainly overheating though as I had predicted and then drank far too much water at the 5K mark to cool myself down…nobody really enjoys running with a full tummy of water, but I’m greedy and never learn from my past mistakes. At this point I could tell that my husband was starting to struggle with his ITB so I dropped my pace a little so that we could continue to run together. I was still feeling very strong at this point. At 6K I had another hill which really hurt my bad feet but still didn’t slow me down as the pain was just about manageable. We then took the switch back down onto Ave Princesse Grace and took the last 2.5K in our stride before crossing the finish line at the Stade Nautique Rainier III, still feeling strong.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1939.DCIM100GOPROG0101951.DCIM100GOPROGOPR2035.

Despite all the consciously-made rookie mistakes I made in the lead up and during that race, I really enjoyed myself and had the strongest and most consistent race performance that I had had for years. Considering I woke up that morning not wanting to run, I was just amazed at myself for pushing through and getting the job done whilst genuinely enjoying myself…I think there’s certainly something to be said for forgetting any external pressures and racing just for yourself. Now that my feet are slowly deteriorating and I can’t get to the times I used to be able to reach I’ve had to really adjust my approach to running, and this race really helped me to see that when I forget about everything else going on, I can still be good. Not brilliant, but good. And good is good enough for me. This is also the only race my husband will run so it always feels a little fun and special to be taking it on side by side.

So what’s next? Well, I haven’t mentioned this on my blog yet as I want to do a proper post after the launch weekend, but I am now part of the UK ASICS FrontRunner team. This is a really exciting opportunity, and we’re making our debut at the Manchester Marathon on the 2nd April…so watch this space!

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2077.DCIM100GOPROGOPR2111.DCIM100GOPROG0152164.DCIM100GOPROG0152140.

Race Report: Hever Castle Triathlon

img_2780img_2785img_2788img_2791img_2795img_2820img_2823

In terms of picturesque triathlon locations, it doesn’t get much better than Hever Castle. I had been booked onto this race for an entire year and knew that this was the one I wanted to take part in to close my season. Aside from the fact that it is extremely pretty, it is also the most challenging course I did all year.

Whilst the swim was not particularly challenging, the lake is rather grim underfoot. Our wave was due to start at 9.15am so by 9 we were at the side of the lake being briefed by the course director on what to expect throughout the race. The day beforehand we received an email with the good news that the water temperature was 17’C and therefore wetsuits were non-compulsory. I did have a brief moment where I contemplated discarding my wetsuit in favour of a faster transition, but was glad I dismissed such a silly idea before racing. I sat on the side of the pontoon and dipped my toes in the water and thought that the water felt ok, however when I slid off and submerged my whole body I realised just how cold things actually were. Lakes always feel colder than the sea to me which is why I prefer sea swims in events. The good thing about Hever is that the lake is shallow enough to stand up at the start, however underfoot is so squishy and grim that you really don’t feel inclined to put your feet down for fear of what it is you are actually standing on.

Somehow I ended up at the front of the start line which was not my original plan – I had wanted to hang back to avoid getting kicked in the torso whilst swimming as I had some bruised ribs which were pretty painful, but clearly racing mentality took over. Soon enough we were off on the swim and heading out towards the turnaround buoy. The water soon warmed up whilst swimming and unfortunately I ended up swallowing a fair bit of it too as there was so much splashing up front – this was something I desperately wanted to avoid as the water looks horrid (I drank a lot of coke after the race so hopefully won’t get too sick from this). Eventually we were on the homestretch and were being pulled out of the water by the very helpful marshals (it’s quite steep climbing out of the lake so you need a hand) and then running up hill into transition. I heard a lot of people moaning about how steep the 100m run out of the lake and into transition was, but it wasn’t anything like the Oysterman slope so this didn’t cause any concern for me.

img_2829img_2847img_2851img_2853img_2855img_2867

Getting through the swim felt easy, and mentally I was telling myself that I was a third of the way through the race and could easily do the other two disciplines (in reality in terms of distance, completing the swim is nowhere near a third of the way through the race but it helps me to visualise it this way). I tried not to faff around too much in transition and before I knew it was heading out of transition and onto the bike route. Just as I made it to the mount line I realised there was something wrong with my pedal so had to spend a minute sorting that out, but once I was on the bike I felt comfortable and confident…initially. Now, I know the Hever bike route is hilly, but I think I had forgotten just how hilly it was. The first 2Km of the cycle was a climb and I secretly hoped that that would be the worst of it…oh how naive I was. It was climb after climb after climb after climb. And I really hate hills. Also, as it was undulating country lanes a lot of the route was shaded from trees, which may have looked pretty, but also meant I was suffering from the cold a bit whilst not drying off fully. There were some great bits to the bike though; every KM was marked which helped me to tick off the distance mentally and break it down into manageable sections, when some of the super speedy men overtook me on a climb they would shout words of encouragement to me, one of my fellow coached triathletes was out cheering in one of the villages, and I received two comments from ladies complimenting me on my trisuit. There were also some very nasty bike crashes I saw and a few punctures too…I was most worried about the bike section and just kept willing myself to get through it unscathed and without any mechanical issues. Because of this I didn’t push myself as hard as I perhaps should have, although certainly wasn’t just coasting my way through it.

Eventually I was on the last climb with only 2KM to go and knew I could make it back safely. By this point my whole torso was aching from being hunched over on my bike and I really felt like I needed a good run to shake things out.

img_2883img_2892img_2897img_2898img_2910img_2920img_2921img_2923

Heading back into transition I quickly had a sachet of baby food and a drink of water, put some lipbalm and my Advent Running hat on, moved my race number to the front and then out I went. By this point the sun was really warm and I was so excited to have my run and knew the finish was in sight. At the start of the run you have to climb a bridge to clear yourself of the bike route, and that was enough to make me keel over in pain (as evidenced in the above photo!) before managing to compose myself once again and giving the run all I could. The run is essentially a trail run but my shoes seem to be ok coping with all kinds of terrain, of course though, the first third of the route was pretty much all up hill again – I was certainly starting to feel the burn in my legs. Eventually things levelled out and I was at the next water station where I stopped for a few seconds to drink properly rather than run and drink, this was such a welcome break as the water felt ice cold and really left me feeling refreshed and ready to attack the rest of the run. After a bit more running I could feel the end was near and after one last gentle incline I could start to see and hear the crowds cheering us on. I didn’t quite give my usual sprint finish but I did have a consistent and well-paced run from start to finish which left me feeling incredibly happy.

img_2929img_2933img_2936

And so, there I was having finished my season of triathlon, feeling exhausted but proud of all that I had accomplished over the course of the year and ready to grow stronger throughout the winter so that I am racing fit for 2017. My little biceps are starting to grown (well, on my right arm…not so much on the left) and I feel as though I have really trained my mind to be able to take on anything that is thrown at me. Whilst I have found the training exhausting and draining at times, that feeling of accomplishment on race day more than makes up for it. I really do love the sport of triathlon.

 

Race Report: Oysterman Triathlon

How would I sum up my performance in the Oysterman Triathlon? Sloooooooow. Really slow.

IMG_2491IMG_2495IMG_2513

I didn’t go into this race in the best condition unfortunately. After my last big race I developed a chest infection which lingered for 3 weeks, and as an asthmatic that sort of thing really does hinder me when it comes to training. I then had one week before Oysterman to enjoy training sans chest infection, however became ill in other ways during that week and was hit with the very sad news that my grandfather had passed away. Add to that mix the fact that my bad feet (I was diagnosed with hyperextension in early summer and spend most days in pain) flared up three days before the race, and involved me trying to force my toes to dislocate so I could re-set them on race-mas eve, and well, you pretty much have a race that shouldn’t happen.

But it did happen, and boy am I glad it did, because…I got to race with my family! Whilst my uncle was off running an ultramarathon nearby (he’s a modern-day superman), Bex and Sam tackled the triathlon with me. I liked to think that Bex and I were the female version of the Brownlee brothers. However in reality, whilst Bex is very hardcore, I am far less focussed and spent most of the race just enjoying the scenery.

IMG_2544IMG_2573

I think the swim was my favourite part of the race, although I really did enjoy all elements of it. Sea swimming is one of my favourite activities in life and although I consciously recognise that my technique becomes pretty poor when swimming in the sea I find it incredibly soothing (perhaps not quite the feeling you’re aiming for when racing…). Despite the fact that there was a really strong tide on the day and some rolling waves forcing us back on the longest stretch of the swim, my time was actually quicker than in the aquathlon – and it was 100m further too. On the whole I was rather pleased with the swim however the one annoying part for me was that just as I had broken away from the group I had been comfortably swimming with and headed towards the last buoy before swimming back into the beach, that group were told they no longer had to swim around the buoy. Whilst I am really pleased that I swam the entire course, I was annoyed that at least 10 people left the water having swam approximately 75m less than me. I did still leave the water before them though so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much.

Unfortunately de-wetsuiting became a bit of an ordeal. I had been distracted in transition when preparing for the swim so didn’t vaseline my wrists and ankles properly and so inevitably I got stuck. I’ve only included one photo of me exiting the water whilst struggling with my arms as there are already far too many photos in this post, however trust me when I say I have a whole sequence of me pulling weird faces whilst my monkey limbs were flailing about. Still, I eventually managed to free my arms on the run up to transition, and then had the exact same problem with my legs. Unfortunately this meant transition 1 was still a good 4 minutes for me but soon enough I was out on the bike.IMG_2577IMG_2604IMG_2606IMG_2614IMG_2623IMG_2633IMG_2650IMG_2654

The bike was 20K out into the surrounding countryside plus a busy carriageway. My method of fuelling for this race was to have two sachets of baby food whilst on the bike as I can’t really stomach gels and thought baby food would be better than nothing. I actually only ended up picking up one sachet in transition though and soon realised I hadn’t actually secured it properly in the pocket of my tri suit. I heard something hit the ground about 7K into the cycle and looked behind me hoping it wasn’t something falling off my bike, only to see that lone sachet on the floor. I wasn’t prepared to stop and pick it back up as I knew my legs would struggle to get going again if I stopped, so I chose to carry on and forget about fuelling.

Again, I really enjoyed myself on the bike. There were strong headwinds for approximately 60% of it which is something I really struggle with as I don’t have the same power behind me that other athletes do (something I’m determined to work on for next year) but I spent the whole time smiling and not once did I allow anything negative to creep into my mind. The only thing I was worried about was encountering any mechanical issues or a puncture as I had deliberately left my tools at home and knew that if I did get a puncture it would be game over for me. There was one stretch of road which we had to cycle twice and had smashed glass in a few spots at the side, so I became very paranoid about this and made sure I cycled towards the middle of the road whenever passing it. By the time we were on the bikes it was about 7.45am and so the roads, despite being open, were relatively traffic-free and easy to cycle on.

I do recall having multiple conversations with my bike on the route – I really like to talk to myself when cycling. Anyone else do that? IMG_2682IMG_2691IMG_2699IMG_2700

Unfortunately the run for me really let me down. I knew that I would be struggling by this point because of my feet, but had no idea just how much pain I would end up in. The run route was one I was fairly familiar with as it was almost identical to the Whitstable Park Run which I occasionally do. But even being able to visualise the route did nothing to help me get through the run. I had to really dig deep in order to finish as I didn’t want a DNF in this race…plus despite the pain, I was having a really good time.

Eventually I crossed the finish line with my usual sprint finish and heaved a sigh of relief whilst giving high fives and hugs to my husband, Bex and Sam. I had told everyone the evening beforehand that I wanted to come in under 2 hours. My time? 1 hour 59 minutes and 27 seconds. So whilst this really wasn’t my perfect race, I managed to achieve my time goal and left feeling satisfied in the knowledge that I had given all I could possibly give on that day, despite the fact that it wasn’t my best.

Hever Castle Triathlon is my next race in three weeks and after that I will be hanging up my running shoes for 5 weeks to try and fix my feet properly. But until then, training resumes at full pace because Hever is my A race of the season and I have high hopes for my performance.

IMG_2706IMG_2707IMG_2710IMG_2713IMG_2714

I should also say a huge thank you to my wonderful husband who wakes up at 5am to take me to my races and then spends hours stood up taking photographs of us all. He’s a hero!

Race Report: Whitstable Aquathlon

IMG_2228IMG_2232IMG_2233IMG_2237

On Sunday I took part in the Whitstable Surf n Turf Aquathlon and had the most fabulous time. I went into the race with a very positive frame of mind as I had resigned myself to the fact that it wouldn’t be a fast race for me so therefore I could just enjoy myself…I knew I was under-trained, under-fuelled, under-tapered, all-round under-prepared. But I didn’t care because I knew that I had a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and was ready for some fun, and fun it was.

Everyone seemed to be in a great mood which was perhaps helped by the glorious sunshine we woke up to on race day. I received my first cheery hello from a fellow competitor who recognised me from Facebook during the line for registration, and when it was time to register had some great banter with the organisers who recognised me too…and then told me my race number was ‘1’. I had a little giggle to myself at that point because even though I was feeling good, my lack of preparation meant that there was a possibility that race number ‘1’ would get a DNF. Luckily I didn’t need to worry about that.

I set up my kit in transition and was conveniently located next to my Instagram friend and Team GB athlete, Yiannis Christodoulou, who very kindly lent me his talc as I had only brought Lush’s Snow Fairy Dust with me and didn’t really fancy having pink glittery feet for the run. I set everything out in the order I would need it…including my inhaler and my raisins for a bit of a post-swim energy boost, and then walked down the slope to the beach for the sea swim briefing. By this point, the sun was shining and there was a fairly strong breeze, but really and truly perfect race conditions. Until we got in the water…which was choppy.

Waves aside, the swim started off great for me and I was confident enough to swim front crawl from the mass start. Unfortunately before reaching the first buoy the lady swimming beside me rolled on her back and started screaming for help…the safety surfboards were quite far away so I tried asking her if she’d like me to help. She was clearly having a panic attack and couldn’t respond at all with a coherent sentence other than yelling ‘help’, so I took her arm and placed her over my shoulders whilst attempting to tread water until the safety crew arrived. As soon as they had her on the surfboard I was back off to continue the swim. Unfortunately that little episode meant I had lost my front crawl momentum and finished the swim doing breaststroke, at the start someone also knocked one of my feet too which are pretty painful at the moment due to a persistent injury. Still, I wasn’t disappointed because throughout the whole of the swim I was thinking how proud I was for doing this and for feeling happy and relatively strong – a few others had been pulled out of the water too and my husband was stood on the shore worrying whether I’d make it.

IMG_2243IMG_2250IMG_2266IMG_2272IMG_2278

He needn’t have worried, soon enough I was running out of the water, ripping my wetsuit off and tackling the slope into transition. Had my inhaler, a few raisins and some water, and off I went to tackle the run (I actually spent a whole 4 minutes in transition…clearly taking things very easy). I had run a strong ParkRun the day before so knew I was capable of the distance with my feet in their current condition, but thought I would take it as slow as possible and continue to enjoy myself. There was no way that I was going to get a DNF when I was in such a good mood. Although I wasn’t wearing a GPS I think I kept a very consistent pace throughout. I didn’t push myself on the run and didn’t get out of breath and that meant that I continued to feel strong for the entirety. The marshals on the run were brilliant and gave all the support and encouragement you could possibly want in a race, and soon enough I was on the home straight and running into a manageable headwind, back up the slope and onto the final 200m where I gave my usual sprint finish.

IMG_2319IMG_2339IMG_2341IMG_2345IMG_2347

Slow, steady, and finished.

It really was a brilliant event, the organisation was spectacular, the people were friendly, the weather was superb. I couldn’t have hoped for a more positive experience and cannot wait to take part again next year. I feel very lucky to have such brilliant local races right on my doorstep. A huge thank you to the Active Life team for yet another great event…next stop, the Oysterman Triathlon!

Race Report: City of London Mile

IMG_20160619_101248IMG_20160619_110920IMG_20160619_111506

Victoria’s Recap: 

On Sunday we ran the City of London Mile, starting and finishing at the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral in the heart of the city. It was free to enter and the atmosphere and organisation was brilliant. From the moment I stepped off the tube I had fellow Advent Runners in their hats approach me with a cheerful hello, making me feel well and truly part of the friendly runner community we’re all proud to be in. I also had a stranger come up to me and ask about my hat and what it was all about…us Advent Runners were out in force, with lots of the team volunteering to be the ‘Mile Makers’ at the event (essentially ensuring everything ran smoothly and was a success).

The best thing about a mile race is that you don’t feel quite the same pressures and anxieties that you would feel in a longer race and with the sun shining down on us it really made it feel like more of a street party celebration than a super competitive environment. James, one of the co-founders of Advent Running, was at the start line sending people off and giving us words of encouragement (whilst looking like a total boss in his AR hat too) which was great. Sahdya and I ran a quicker-than-usual pace and were really proud to cross the finish line, side-by-side, in our usual style ready to collect our medals. Of course, we could have prepared for the race a little better; I was a little bit dehydrated and had been at a wedding the day before and hadn’t gotten home until the early hours so was quite honestly exhausted and had also had a pretty tiring week preceding the weekend. So next year we’ll both hopefully be a little more rested and raring to go, but all in all we had a fabulous time.

We then paid a visit to Ladurée for breakfast; eggs benedict with a side of iced mint tea pour moi, and pain perdu for Sahdya. Because everyone knows that the whole point of attending a race, no matter how short, is to indulge in some lovely food afterwards. And then walked up through Hyde Park to Marylebone as it was the Summer Fayre which meant…more food. Crosstown doughnuts, specifically. I’m taking my bikini body very seriously this year.

IMG-20160620-WA0001IMG_20160619_120810IMG_20160619_134055

Sahdya’s Recap:

On Sunday I ran the Amba Hotels City of London Mile with Victoria. We were blessed with sunny weather which made a change from the weather we ran in back in January when we participated in the London Winter Run during which it rained!

So, how did I come to run the City of London Mile? Well, again I have Victoria to thank 🙂 Last month, whilst I was visiting her for the first time in Kent and Canterbury she told me that she would be running the City of London Mile and asked if I would be interested in joining her, oh, and that it was free to enter. I couldn’t refuse so before I got on the train back to London I signed up for the one mile challenge. It’s only a mile you might be thinking but what worried me was would I be able to run a mile during Ramadan, the month where Muslims abstain from eating and drinking between sunset and sunrise. I knew it would have an effect on my body and therefore I was sure it would on my ability to run a measly mile!

I hadn’t been running consistently since the London Winter Run due to being busy with work which resulted in me finishing late most days. I actually prefer to run nice and early in the morning as I find it energises me and sets me up for the day but this can be difficult to do when you’re rushing round in the morning to get to work! Before Ramadan I started running three times a week and got back into the swing of running pretty quickly.

I was quite nervous before the race probably because I arrived super early and spent my time thinking if I’d be able to run a mile. When Victoria arrived we caught up and took the obligatory pre-race selfie and my nerves gradually settled. At 11:00 AM we set off and I did so at a faster rate than I probably should have. I’m surprised that I managed to complete the mile without stopping. You may laugh but what kept me going was not wanting to let Victoria down and the thought of pain perdu, with raspberry coulis, rose Chantilly cream and raspberries for brunch at Ladurée. I knew that if I stopped I would feel disappointed with myself and undeserving of brunch so I kept going asking God for help along the way 🙂

Our finish time was 9:36 which surprised me as I thought I’d take longer to complete the mile running at the pace I usually do. Victoria and I collected our medals and proudly took post-race selfies with them around our necks and then headed to Knightsbridge for brunch followed by checking out the Marylebone Summer Fayre . Not a bad way at all to spend a Sunday!

Race Report: Monaco 10K

The Monaco 10K has been on my bucket list for a while now. Having spent a lot of my childhood and teenage years in Monaco, it was a route I knew I’d be pretty comfortable with and couldn’t have been a more convenient ‘destination race’ for me. As part of the Monaco Run Festival, they have the equivalent of the race for life (5K), the 10K which you can also opt to run in a relay (3 +7) and then the Riviera Classic which starts in Ventimiglia, Italy and finishes in Monaco, covering 23.8K of riviera coastline.

The race was ridiculously cheap to enter at €15 and whilst there was no medal at the finish line, race entry did include a very nice Nike technical t-shirt with the race logos on which I wore on race day. We had to walk over to Stade Louis II in Fontvieille on the Friday afternoon to register for the race and collect our race number – the race expo was fairly empty and easy enough to navigate if you can speak French. We had already submitted our medical certificates (a requirement for any French race) so the whole process was pretty seamless. I used this walk to get a few easy miles in our legs but ended up taking us on a few detours so my husband could see a bit more of MC – the ‘few miles’ soon ended up being 10K and left us with rather achy calves as it involved a lot of climbing.

The race started at 9.30am on the Sunday morning which meant we were up with the sunrise to fuel up as much as possible (NB: croissants are not the best race fuel) and despite our achy legs were raring to go. Up until this point my husband was unsure whether he would run the race with me, or just watch from the sidelines, being my #instagramhusband. I was absolutely over the moon when he said he would run – and despite the fact that he was really nervous (he hadn’t done any running since December!) he was utterly brilliant. It baffles me that he can do no exercise for months and then run a 10K with such ease…he really is an impressive human.

The start line at Port Hercule was incredibly quiet – we were all in the same pen and it felt like there were only a couple of hundred runners which made for a really pleasant experience after the thousands taking part in my last race. Again, all announcements were in French so you would need a good understanding of the language, however as with all races it’s pretty much common sense. The sun was shining and it was about 14’c at this point – perfect running weather. We set off on time and made our way out to Fontvieille for the first 2K, I was glad they sent us out this way as it’s the least pretty part of Monaco and meant that we had a nice route to look forward to after the half way point.

At about 4K I started to feel really thirsty and was desperately hoping for a drinks station (there was no mention of water stops in any of the race literature), luckily a water station appeared at 5.5K just as I was beginning to flag. I made the mistake of drinking half a litre too quickly and really felt it whilst running the next few K unfortunately – but still, it was good to feel hydrated. At about 6K we hit a strong headwind which lasted for about half a kilometre until we turned the corner at the beach club, giving us a lovely tailwind for the rest of the course. We then ran along Avenue Princesse Grace and had the beach to the left of us, and lots of lovely things to see on the right too – including my family’s apartment. I felt pretty nostalgic at this point thinking about the time I used to spend in this area and the tremendous fun I had.

We then ran through the iconic Grand Prix tunnel, which was really lovely as it provided a bit of much-needed shelter, plus the road was closed so it had the novelty factor of running the GP track, which I’m sure my husband loved. Immediately following on from the tunnel was the 8K marker and the Monaco Yacht Club, and then soon enough we were running along the home stretch, past the Stade Nautique Rainier III and across the finish line. The organisers used the outdoor pool complex as the post-race area, and this included lots of fresh fruit for the runners, water and granola bars. It was very well thought out and the snacks tasted amazing after such a hilly race.

These aren’t really negatives, as such, but more points of difference – firstly, there were very few spectators on the course, unlike a London race. Not that I expect the ageing billionaires to come out and cheer on a few hundred runners. This didn’t bother me at all as I had my biggest cheerleader running by my side and his constant encouragement and tough love each time we got to a hill was incredibly motivating. He also started shouting at me during the last K to speed up and told me I wasn’t running to have fun, but to win instead. Unfortunately there was an Italian chap just ahead of us who had been given a flag in the last few hundred metres to run with…I didn’t want to chick him as it looked like finishing the race meant a lot so I had to forego a sprint finish, but at least my conscience was clear. There were also no official race photographers at multiple points throughout the course, but again this wasn’t an issue as we ran with our GoPro so didn’t miss out.

jump

All in all this was a really pleasant and fun race, and is one we’ve decided to run every year. I may even do the half marathon next year if I’m feeling brave enough. Following on from the race, we went back to the pool to swim (because, #Swimathon…) and then ate our body weight in pasta and gelato at a local Italian that evening. Destination races don’t get much better than this!

12828533_10156618252590557_1364862454388222618_o10338489_10156618254135557_4217363164748281233_o10658866_10156618254210557_4972519876076883789_o

Race Report: London Winter Run 2016

86825_LWR16_OLS_00927086825_LWR16_WJC_010192
If I could only pick one word to sum up this year’s London Winter Run, I would choose ‘wet’. From the moment I woke up the rain was relentless, which isn’t really what you would want for your first race of the year. Nor for your best friend’s first race, ever. I had dreams of glorious sunshine on a crisp winter’s morning, much like last year. The inclement weather unfortunately meant that there were very few people out cheering the runners on which is always a bit of a shame – luckily we kept ourselves amused by talking throughout the entire run, and we took it nice and easy and focussed on enjoying ourselves. I think it’s safe to say that we both had a brilliant time, and certainly appreciated a post-race biskie from Cutter & Squidge.

Human Race events are always superbly organised and I have no complaints with their planning for this race. I experienced the bag drop for the first time, and sailed through within 20 seconds (although this may have been because we were late getting to the race and so the majority of runners had already done their queuing in the rain) before making our way to the start line, pausing briefly for a quick photo to prove that we were in fact still going to run. The starting pen is always a bit annoying, there’s just a little too much waiting around for my liking, although it was much quicker than last year – I suspect this again may be because we were starting later (it seems like it pays to be late to a Human Race event!). Once we crossed the start line we settled into an easy rhythm and soon found a nice gentle pace. It felt like the rain was getting harder by this point and we were both complaining of soggy running shoes. About half way we passed the drinks station and collected a bottle – I drank half of mine and then threw it away as I didn’t want to be carrying it for the rest of the race. Unfortunately when I threw it to the side of the road I lost concentration momentarily and stepped in a giant puddle – not so great for my neon Ultra Boosts, and unfortunately left me with a very heavy running shoe and rather cold toes post-race. The route had changed from last year too and whilst I missed running along the Thames, I certainly appreciated not having to run through the tunnel this time round.

The only negative experience during the race was from a spectator – a boy of about 12 years old with his family was stood on the side of the road and kicked a bottle at a fellow runner who was just in front of us. We were absolutely outraged by this behaviour and wanted to tell the boy off as his parents really didn’t seem concerned at all. We really did feel for the poor lady the bottle hit as she was a lone runner and something like that could so easily break your spirits. She seemed to recover well though and continued at speed without letting it bother her too much.

The KMs seemed to fly past and before we knew it we were approaching the finish line, the finish was again a seamless process. In true race style we held hands and ran the last 100m side by side with our arms in the air. And just as we collected our medals, Sahdya said she couldn’t wait to run this race again next year – much to my delight!

86825_LWR16_IGE_00139486825_LWR16_ROK_00745586825_LWR16_IGE_001395