Race Review: Inverness Half Marathon 2019

The Inverness half was not one I’d done before. It’s a long way to travel from Newcastle, and so it’s a bit out of my way. However, I’d first seen it advertised in the Edinburgh branch of Run 4 It a couple of years ago, and this year I needed to do a half in early March as part of my London Marathon training, so I thought it was a good opportunity to do a race a bit further afield.

Inverness Half Marathon 2019 medal
Not to mention a race with a gorgeous medal! A new favourite among my collection.

The race started quite late in the day, at 12:30pm, so Geth and I were able to have a fairly leisurely morning before heading to the Inverness Sports Centre to collect our race numbers and get ourselves ready. It was a very cold day, so I appreciated that the organisers didn’t lead us out of the building and down to the start line until the race was nearly due to start! Of course, as soon as we walked out, it started to drizzle, when it had been dry all morning. I was hugely thankful I’d thought to wear a baseball cap, meaning that unlike during the Yorkshire 10 Mile last October, I was actually able to see through the rain, as my glasses were sheltered.

The course actually reminded me of the aforementioned Yorkshire 10 Mile in that only about 10% of it is in the centre of town – the rest is either surrounding countryside or suburbs. There were a lot of twists and turns, though, which kept things interesting, and the only tough-ish hill was over and done with by the five-mile marker.

What felt a bit strange was that they only closed one side of the roads to traffic, so we were running up one side of the road while cars whizzed down the other, and there were many points where the marshals had to act as lollipop men and women, holding up signs to stop cars so that runners could get through. The marshals and police were all brilliant, though, and this aspect of the race is clearly very well organised.

Unfortunately, the very last section of the race was a bit of a letdown – the course finished on the track at the Sports Centre, but the path leading up to the track entrance was absolutely rammed with people who’d already finished the race, which is a real pain when you’re trying to build up speed for the finish! The marshals at this point seemed a bit confused as well, and kept pointing us in the wrong direction.

Another disappointment was that by the time I finished, they’d run out of size small finisher t-shirts. At size 10 these days, I’m fairly average for a female runner, but even a small is usually a little big for me (because race finisher t-shirts are ‘unisex cut’, and as we all know, ‘unisex cut’ means ‘designed for men’, so a size small is designed to fit a slim man). I was stuck with a medium, which on me is a tent. Not one I expect I’ll be wearing often, unfortunately. It would have been nice if they’d used the system where your t-shirt size is marked on your race number and checked off at the end, so that everyone gets the size they ordered when they entered the race.

However, it was really nice to be able to go back into the Sports Centre for some food and a change of clothes before we headed off again. On the whole, it was a very friendly, pretty race, and if they ever invented a means of guaranteeing better weather, I’d be back like a shot! As it stands, though, I expect it’ll be a few years before I consider venturing so far north for a race again.

I didn’t get a PB – my PB from the Town Moor Half still stands – but I was really happy with my much steadier pacing, which shows that my treadmill pacing practice is starting to pay off.

Next stop: London!

parkrun touristing: Pendle

I did Pendle parkrun a couple of times in 2017, as it’s the local parkrun for Colne and so Geth and I run it whenever we visit his family (and happen to feel like parkrunning that weekend – sometimes we don’t!). I hadn’t realised that it had been so long since I’d last done it.

Pendle parkrun
Geth (in apricot) waiting for me at the end of Pendle parkrun yesterday. Photo from Pendle parkrun Facebook page.

We were in Colne this weekend, so we decided to give Pendle another go. It’s certainly one of the toughest parkruns I’ve done – it’s a two-lap course, with the first half of the lap being on grass and the second half being a steep freefall sprint downhill followed by a steep slog of a climb back up again. It wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t have to do it twice.

I felt very slow out there – my current marathon training means that I’m not focusing on pace, and so I’m not nearly as fast as I was when I was getting consistent parkrun PBs last summer, but I still managed to get a course PB by a few seconds, so I’m happy with that.

Since we’re in the area so often, I’ll undoubtedly be back at Pendle again soon.

Race Review: Town Moor Half Marathon 2018

Geth and I hadn’t done any races put on by the North East Marathon Club before, but having heard good things about the Town Moor Half Marathon, we decided to give it a go this year – even though it did mean (a) running a half marathon the night after a gig and (b) stretching our race season into November, which is when we’re usually curled up at home for our winter running slump!

The North East Marathon Club’s aim is to put on affordable marathons for people in the north-east of England.  Most of their events are lapped courses, so you can choose what distance you do – the Town Moor Marathon is seven laps of the Town Moor, and if you choose to do the half, you do a special half distance lap first before doing three laps of the main course.

I’m glad I did it for the experience, but boy, doing a lapped half marathon is tough.  You have to run past the finish funnel three times before finally being able to run into it on the fourth occasion, and every time you pass it, your legs beg you to call it a day and your brain screams ‘do we really have to run that full lap AGAIN?’  I was better trained for this one than I was for the Great North Run, and I did end up running it about three minutes faster (so I got a PB, somehow!) but it felt much, much harder.

Also, that gravel.  It hurts your feet and gets in the way when you’re running a 5k parkrun.  It hurts much, much worse when you’re ten miles into a half marathon.

Great goodie bag though.  Gloves instead of a t-shirt!  Gorgeous medal!  And I really, really needed that chocolate bar.  Good stuff.

Race Review: Yorkshire 10 Mile 2018

This is the second year running that Geth and I have run the Yorkshire 10 Mile.  Last year, it was a very pretty race, and although I was struggling a bit as my training had suffered, I really enjoyed the scenery.  This year, it was the opposite way round.

As forecast, it was absolutely chucking it down in York today, and it was the wettest race I’ve ever experienced.  My running glasses are not water-resistant, and so, because the rain was so heavy, I was basically running the race blind.  I couldn’t see the puddles, resulting in very wet feet.  My hearing aids were getting waterlogged and kept cutting out.  In short, I was pretty sensory-deprived and unaware of my surroundings.  I didn’t notice a single mile marker, and I only realised two of the water stations were there after I’d already run through them.  Luckily, it was so wet and cold that I really didn’t need to drink much water en route today.

However, Geth and I were both hopeful of PBs, as last year’s race was the only 10-mile race we’d done and we both felt we were in better shape this year.  Geth took a good chunk off his time, as he’s had a really good year training-wise, though he is suffering with a knee issue that needs to be seen to.  Last year, I’d aimed for sub-2hr but had ended up with 2:06:38.  This year, I aimed for sub-2hr again, and was fairly confident I’d get it as my training between the GNR and Yorkshire has been much better.  I ended up with a time of 1:47:31 – a 19:07 minute PB!  I’m really happy with that, especially as the conditions were so miserable.

I doubt we’ll do this race again next year, as the organisers are moving it to later in October and it doesn’t really fit in with our race plans for next autumn.  However, assuming I don’t end up saying ‘never again’ to marathons after I do London in April, I may come back and do the full marathon sometime.

Race Review: Great North Run 2018

Great day out racing today!

An early start, aided by my new Spotify playlist that collects all my favourite running-reminiscent songs!  After getting our stuff together, Geth and I headed out for a good walk to the Great North Run start line.  We put our rucksack on the baggage bus and got ourselves settled in the start pen.

GNR start line selfie
Start line selfie! I am still no good at taking these.

It was a good hour-long wait until we finally started moving, and probably another twenty minutes after that walking down to the actual start line (being the world’s biggest half marathon, it takes a good long while to get nearly 60,000 runners over the line), but before too long we were off, and I was able to settle into my comfortable pace for the first few miles.

Unfortunately pretty much all of my recurring aches and pains showed up during the course of the race, and so I didn’t get anywhere near the sub-2:30 I would have liked.  I did get 2:43:19, which is a 10 min 36 sec improvement on last year’s PB – ergo I can’t really complain!  Looking forward to the winter, though, as I will be able to train a lot better for the various races I will be doing in the run-up to the London Marathon in April.

South Shields and its pubs were as wonderful and necessary as ever.  We hung about for a while to avoid the Metro queues, but are now finally home with pizza and prosecco.  A very quiet day planned tomorrow.

OOTD 9th September 2018
OOTD: the only piece of clothing that matters today! Glasses Moschino (2006), t-shirt Great North Run (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Ashford & Simpson – Solid

(Another short playlist due to a whole day of having music played at me!)

parkrun touristing: Horton Park

As part of Infest day 3, Geth and I got up early and went to Horton Park parkrun – a nice convenient parkrun that’s only a twenty-minute walk away from the Jurys Inn, where we stay for the festival.

I did Horton Park for the first time last year, with friends Ruth and Mark (Geth was recovering from injury so didn’t join us).  Ruth drove us last year, so the walking route wasn’t familiar to me, and Geth was having some trouble with Google Maps so it took us a while to find the parkrun and we only just made it in time for the run briefing.  That’s why you leave in plenty of time when parkrun touristing!

Horton Park is quite a tough route.  It’s a three-and-a-half-lap course, with four downhill stretches and three uphills, so not at all a PB opportunity.  Still, I got 32:20, which is a big improvement on my 35:44 from last year, so I was very happy!

It’s also a very pretty course, and the multiple laps make it feel quite quick.  Definitely my go-to parkrun now for whenever I’m at Infest.

I spoke too soon

After bombing it round Edinburgh parkrun last week for a PB, I was sure it would be months before I managed another one.

I got another one this morning.  Whoops.

Today’s parkrun didn’t feel anywhere near as fast as last week – there were many stretches where I felt I was taking it easy.  I still somehow managed a 30:38, a fourteen-second improvement on last week.  Very happy!

I really feel like sub-30 might be on this year now.  If I’ve not managed it by the second week of November, I will be making use of the Newcastle parkrun pacer week and attempting to keep up with the 30-minute pacer.  The pacers at Newcastle tend to be a bit too fast so I’m not sure how I’d get on, but we’ll see!  Sadly I’m doing races and/or otherwise engaged on all the intervening pacer weeks (Newcastle does one the second week of every month), so I will have to be patient.

Another quiet afternoon and evening working (and listening to Geth working out DJ stuff for a wedding disco playlist!).

OOTD 4th August 2018
OOTD: super comfy hanging-around-the-house outfit that could have been easily dressed up if we’d decided to go out tonight (we didn’t). Bonus mirror selfie as Geth was busy DJing. Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), t-shirt modified Deviant/Fruit of the Loom (thrifted from Geth 2014, originally from the early 2000s), leggings Primark (2018), shoes La Redoute (2018).

parkrun tourism: Edinburgh

When Geth and I were in Scotland this weekend, we went out to Cramond on the Saturday morning to do Edinburgh parkrun.

I’m in Edinburgh fairly often for obvious reasons, and so I’ve done Edinburgh parkrun five times now – second in quantity only to Newcastle.  It’s a lovely flat out-and-back course with a lollipop loop at the halfway point, and on a good day you get fairly spectacular views of the Firth of Forth.  They also have an infamous ‘parkrun weather window’ – so although I’ve often been there on days when it’s been pissing with rain before or after the parkrun, it’s never rained during the parkrun itself!

This last weekend, the conditions were particularly good – not too hot, not too windy, could have been less crowded but it wasn’t too bad.  I went out fairly fast, and I found I was able to keep it up.  I knew I was doing well, ’cause I was knackered most of the way round – but it wasn’t until I got to the finishing straight and Geth was standing there shouting ‘PB is ON’ that I allowed myself to hope.  I couldn’t pull off a sprint finish, ’cause I didn’t have the energy left, but I was able to speed up just enough to get a time of 30:52 – which is 54 seconds faster than my previous PB from April!  I doubt I’ll beat that again for a while!

Looking forward to being back at Edinburgh parkrun around Christmas time.

parkrun tourism: Whitby

Canada part six…


On the Saturday in Toronto, Geth and I got up very early, and went to Ontario’s only parkrun, Whitby parkrun.

We walked for about forty-five minutes to get to the train station, bought tickets, spent another forty-five minutes on the train, and arrived in Whitby shortly after eight o’clock.  It was at that point that Geth realised he couldn’t really remember how to get to the parkrun.  I’m not leaving him in charge of directions in future!

After a bit of a saga involving asking lots of people at the train station and the nearby leisure centre for directions, we made it to the parkrun start line with just a few minutes to spare, and met a few other Brits who were also parkrun touristing.

The parkrun itself was a really nice route – a simple out-and-back course through a lovely quiet park with nice wide paths.  There were only twenty-odd people taking part, and so Geth and I both came first in our age categories – something that I doubt will be repeated any time soon!

parkrun sprint finish
A rare running photo where I actually look like I’m running! Photo by Whitby parkrun.

I got my standard-for-now sub-33, which I was fine with considering I hadn’t run for two weeks.  I’m really pleased to have done some international parkrun tourism at last!

Whitby parkrun
Far-flung parkrun souvenir photo! Photo by Whitby parkrun.

Summer mugginess

Somehow, despite saying after last summer – which involved a busy work period and four weekends on the bounce in August where we were travelling away somewhere or hosting guests – that I wanted to have a much more chilled summer this year, it’s ended up being similarly hectic.

Fortunately/unfortunately work has been quiet during June and July (so I’ve been able to get on with other things, but I’m also a bit broke now).  Fortunately/unfortunately this will not be the case during August as I have two huge projects lined up (more money – yay!  More stuff to do – argh).  However, the house stuff is still ongoing, the now-finished Now! marathon ended up taking up more time towards the end than I thought it would, and Geth and I ended up booking a lot more trips away than we expected.  As such, I find myself doing the whole ‘argh! can’t wait till autumn when I can relax a bit!’ thing yet again – and I shouldn’t wish the summer away, especially when the weather has been so nice this year.

Today is yet another hectic day – I’ll update more fully later this week – so I’ll leave it there.

Oh, and I went swimming again this morning.  Eight lengths this time, although I think I’m actually getting worse!