Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Hyde Park 10K - May 2019

Run UK Hyde Park 10K 2019

Hyde Park 10km race runner

If there was ever a race I felt like I needed to get down my thoughts about, it'd be this one. Perhaps that's a bit of strange thing to say about a race I had "no expectations" for, but it's left me with a lot to think about.

I booked this race shortly after finishing Brighton Marathon on a day I was sat at home, resting due to a hip injury and feeling like the end of June was too long to wait for my next race. I think I needed to tell myself that my leg would recover fine and I'd be ready for a race sooner!

Yet a week out from the race and I was genuinely questioning whether I should be running it at all. I thought my hip was pretty much fixed, but I noticed some discomfort again during Reading parkrun and the following day. I decided to see how the week went and luckily I was feeling good to run. Not being in PB condition due to significantly reducing my training over the last few weeks, and generally still not feeling 100% recovered from the efforts of the marathon and the training that went into that, I decided this would be a "no pressure" race.

The thing is, it's very easy to say it's no pressure or to tell people I have no expectations, but actually managing my own mind is another thing altogether. I've raced at Hyde Park before (a similar but not identical route) and I know it's flat and potentially fast. I also knew that in previous events for this particular race, the winning ladies' times were slower than my PB. This meant that no matter how much I tried to tell myself I only wanted to take it steadily, there was still a little bit of my mind saying "just go for it, see what happens", although I knew full well that it would probably just result in me blowing up after a couple of miles and hating myself the rest of the way round. 


I arrived at Hyde Park, collected my number and went through a warm up before changing into my racing shoes (this is only the first time I've used them in a race, but I like them a lot!). I find some of these races in London parks a bit strange - there's far less of an atmosphere about them than with similar sized races I've done elsewhere. Maybe that's because they attracts fewer club runners, so you don't get quite the same experience of lots of big groups of people.

Then they called us up to the start line by expected finish time and I put myself with the sub-45 people because I still hadn't quite quietened that little voice in my head saying maybe I should run this as a race. I got a bit nervous though at that point because not very many people had come forward and I knew I would have to be pretty sensible about not going off too fast.

The race got started and I did actually manage to be sensible and not go haring off. A couple of faster ladies were ahead, and another couple passed me in  the first kilometre which actually helped me with this run because it meant that I'd be far less tempted to try and aim for as high an individual placing as I could. I began the run feeling comfortable, knowing I could push the pace a whole lot more but actually quite enjoying that. I'd also decided I wasn't going to check my watch at all - and fortunately caught myself just in time when I very nearly checked it as a reflex as it beeped after the first mile!

I did know my time at the halfway point as it's a 2-lap course so we passed the finish and timer at 5km and I'd done about 22:30. Now that I've actually given some thought to this run, that's something I can be pleased with as that's about the time I've been doing parkruns in the last few weeks and not usually feeling so comfortable! 

For the second half of the race, I had finally managed to get into the mindset of just enjoying it. I was certainly not running at "easy" pace, but whenever I felt it was getting past "comfortably hard" I tried to slow down a bit. As the ever-lovely Delroy (@bunny_pacer) commented on my IG post - "Why try and run your heart out when you physically know you won't run a PB?". Yes I could have made myself run faster, but ultimately I knew I'd only be disappointed because it would hurt and I still wouldn't be close to my PB. Instead I focused on how I felt running right at that moment and although I was tired, I still felt strong. That's a nice feeling to have towards the end of a 10K and definitely fitted in with my goal of enjoying it and finishing feeling like entering another one might not be so bad after all.

The finish line came into sight and in keeping with the way I'd run the rest of the race I didn't sprint to the end - what difference were a few seconds going to make? That said, I have to be 100% honest when I say that my initial reaction was disappointment because the time was showing as 46-something. Even though I'd spent the whole race consciously telling myself to slow down, take it easier, for some reason I was still a little bit gutted not to have done under 45 minutes. Brains, hey?! 

I spent a bit of time afterwards wondering "what if?". What if I'd attacked it a bit more - would I have run sub-45? Would I have maybe even got a podium position? In reality though, I don't think I could have done. Not this time. I've not run further than 5km in a few weeks (hadn't actually realised that until I scrolled back through Strava while writing this!), and quite simply I've just not got that speed endurance right now. I know it'll come back. Plus this race was never meant to be a fast one for me anyway! So ultimately all the what if's are pointless, and instead I can focus on the positives:

1. I ran 10km - the furthest I've run since 21st April
2. I enjoyed it, the run felt good and I've tipped the 10km love-hate balance back the right way!
3. I showed myself that I can enact some discipline when running in a race

My next 10km is just over 4 weeks' away and that's a good chunk of time to keep building up the running. I've no idea how I'll be approaching this one, but the good thing is that I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, May 3, 2019

After The Marathon

Crossing the finish line of the Brighton Marathon was an amazing feeling - knowing that all the months of hard work, and the last 3 hours 42 minutes and 52 seconds of running had been worthwhile. I'd done something that only a couple of years ago would have seemed ridiculous. I'd completed a marathon.

Brighton Marathon Medal 2019

The next couple of days were a mixture of disbelief (had I really run that marathon, or was it all a dream?!) and pride, soaking up all the congratulatory messages and revelling in the post-marathon bliss along with so many other people I knew.

But it's a weird feeling, coming to the end of a marathon and the training cycle preceding it. Training for a marathon took over my life in a way running hadn't done for a long time. And recovering from the effort was going to take a more conscious effort than I was used to.

Before I began marathon training, I was on what felt like a cycle of race-recover-race. I was (and still am relatively) new to racing, and wanted to try my hand at everything coming my way. Weekend after weekend was booked up with 10Ks and half marathons, I had midweek races with my club through the summer, and cross country season through the winter. There was no such thing as an 'A' race - I was giving everything I had every time and just living and training from one race to the next. 

Marathon training was totally different. Four months dedicated to a single goal. Yes, I had races during training but these were all factored into the plan, they all served a purpose. 

And so when my rest period began the day after Brighton, I suddenly felt a bit lost. My next race at the time wasn't going to be until the end of June. In some ways it was similar to finishing my first half marathon - the 2016 Bath Half. I'd dedicated three months to training, achieved my goal of running 13.1 miles, and was done. But I didn't really consider myself a runner then, and I had other things to look forward to such as graduating medical school and starting work as a doctor. 

After the marathon, I took five full rest days. I think I went to one yoga class, but other than that no real structured activity, just some walking. I ran at parkrun the following Saturday and probably ran too hard but sometimes you just have to figure these things out. With no prior marathon experience, I didn't know if I'd still be in peak fitness or fatigued, and I sort of wanted to find out. 

I went for a trail run the next Sunday (a week after Brighton) and took it really easy - walking and pausing whenever I felt my breathing get harder or my heart rate rising. It was nice to get out and not take any notice of pace or distance, and simply just enjoy running as a great way to get out and explore. I also ran the following Tuesday, an easy 4 miles.

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One week since Brighton marathon and today’s run was a total contrast. πŸƒπŸ»‍♀️ Something I missed during marathon training was running just for the sake of running. I enjoyed the training and it certainly paid off, but I was looking forward to being able to just put my running shoes on and head out with no specific distance or aim in mind. 🌲 So that’s exactly what I did today - headed out with only the vaguest idea of where I wanted to go, and not a clue how far or how long I’d be out. 🌿🐿🌲🌳 Rather than 26.2 miles of road, I did 9.2 miles on as many different terrains as I could find! Tarmac, trail, sand, grass... hopping over stiles and getting my feet soaking wet with the early morning dew. I stopped and walked and took photos and paid no attention to how quickly or slowly I was getting anywhere. πŸ₯ Perfect early morning start for Easter Sunday. Happy Easter all! πŸ’œ . . . . #running #trailrunning #runningmotivation #runnersofinstagram #sundaylongrun #runningstories #seenonmyrun #runhappy #loverunning #runspire #ukrunchat #thegreatoutdoors #countryside #running #easterweekend #sundayrunday
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Parkrun-day comes around surprisingly quickly sometimes and again I was feeling ready to test where I was at having had what I thought was a good period of rest and easy running. What started off as a strong run began to feel harder and harder and my time of 22:25 is a long way from my personal best. And for the first time in a while, I was getting hip pain again - probably as a result of getting back to strength training and fast running too soon. So I made the decision to rest properly and take another week off. No running. No strength work. In the interest of honesty, I did go horse riding at the beginning of the week and go swimming towards the end despite saying to myself it would be a "total rest" week. But neither of these activities seemed to aggravate the injury, and it seems far better already.

Parkrun April 2019

So what's to come now? More marathons?!

Yes to more marathons. One more at least... To run the London Marathon is a dream for me, and having achieved the GFA qualifying time I'm determined to be able to run it in 2020. Before then, I'm undecided. Sometimes I think another marathon later in the year could be fun. But I also quite like the fun of running more, shorter races throughout the summer and autumn and I think another marathon would detract from that. I also need to think about studying for exams that I've been putting off doing...

I've got a 10K race booked for mid-May to give myself something to look forward to in the short term. It's Hyde Park, so a flat course, but I'm probably not going to be in PB shape.

I've also got two half marathons booked later in the year that I'd like to have a good go at - Ealing Half and Amsterdam Half. I've got some goals in mind for these, but I'm not sharing those yet!

I'd also really like to work on my parkrun PB, or at least running somewhere close to it again. Plus more parkrun tourism - I'm not quite ready to kick off a serious attempt at the Alphabet Challenge, but I'm starting to think about it. 

So lots to look forward and hopefully plenty to be writing about!
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