Posts Tagged ‘10km


jack of two trades

Longer evenings and a more temperate climate of late has meant that I could ramp up the training a little bit. The purchase of a new bike a few months back has also made me split my time between running and cycling.

Which means it would be sensible to split my planned events throughout the year into a combination of separate cycling and running events… So I have.

Last year, a cyclist friend and I found out too late about the Ellis 50 Miler so decided to schedule a long ride on the same day and aim to get to the Ellis 50 finish line as the main chunk of the field should begin to finish. Embarrassingly, a few bystanders mistook us for entrants and “clapped us home” as we were cycling towards the finish to cheer the real competitors home. There will be no such mistake this year as we got our entries in early and we can hopefully accept the spectators applause without guilt.

There is also the Dunwich Dynamo – one of my most favourite events – and Hauling My Carcass and I will once again tackle this overnight monster of a ride. Unusually, this year will be the first that either of us has had the luxury of a geared bike as all previous attempts have been on our single speeds. It will be interesting to see how the addition of gears alters the experience.

Running wise, I was disappointed to see that this year, my home race, the Hertford 10k isn’t being run. I love this race and was sniffing around for something else to do. My boss suggested that the next best thing to a home town race is a race local to your place of work so I have signed up for the Ealing Half Marathon at the end of September. I am hoping that the combination of a summer of running coupled with my cycling training will mean that I will get super skinny and super fast in time for this…?!?!

There is also the annual ridiculous European Adventure that HMC & I do every year. Regular readers will know that last year was a cycle trip to the Maas Half Marathon – this year is a little less ambitious although I suspect just as much fun as HMC, his wife and I head to Jersey to run a 5k on the Friday, a 10k Saturday and a Half Marathon on Sunday before flying home Sunday night.

And if that lot doesn’t get me motivated, I don’t know what will! It’s nice coming out of Winter and into Spring with a bunch of different events to aim for. To get me started, HMC have planned a 75km cycling jaunt across the South Downs next week which I am very much looking forward to. So it’s all go once again – exciting and a little daunting: just how I like it.



a sentimental story

Winter evenings mean that I will often forego my usual canal towpath route in favour of more well-lit paths. A few times, 11 year old SonNumberOne has asked to run with me. Because I will generally run about 10-12km in the evening, I have politely declined but suggested that he cycle with me whilst I run. This is great for both of us as he enjoys going out on his bike in the dark and I have someone to talk to whilst pounding the streets.

A few weeks back, SonNumberOne once again asked if he could come out and run with me. As it was relatively early, I agreed and we settled on a looping course that meant we had a number of opportunities to cut the run short if he began to get too tired. He has run a couple of 2k kids races and we have attempted 4kms (at his request), but these were stopping and starting runs and I could see that he was struggling.

Tonight however, he was adamant that he wanted to run 10kms – I said that we could try but that at any point, we could cut the run short if he was getting tired. We set off and I fully believed we’d get to 5km and he would say he’d had enough. We chatted through the first couple of kilometres and I gave him the choice of stopping at 2kms or carrying on – if we carried on, we would not be able to stop again until 5km. He chose to push on and we set off up a long unlit hill with just our torches to guide us. Again at the top, we could have cut the run short but he was determined to continue. He began to slow but was  desperate not to stop and walk so we carried on. As we got towards another fork in the route where we could have taken one of 2 routes, I again gave him the choice which way to go. This time he chose to finish the run so we turned right and headed home. We covered 9kms and he ran all the way. Not bad for an 11 year old who hasn’t run any sort of substantial distance for about 4 months! I really enjoyed having him run with me and he has asked if we can do it again.

And, without being too saccharine, there are 2 morals to this story:

1) As unlikely as it may seem, at some point and for however briefly, you will become a role-model for your kids so try to be a good one.

2) Your kids are probably more capable of some things than you think


hatfield broad oak 10k race review


Bank Holiday Monday and an unusually warm and sunny morning. Hatfield Broad Oak is a few miles from Stansted Airport but the sleepy, villagey feel and the lack of plane noise makes this feel more rural. The race is timed to coincide with the local Flower Show so there are stalls in the church grounds, a hog roast outside the pub and what seems like the entire occupancy of the village out on the streets to enjoy the sunshine and the events.


Runners mingle with locals prior to the race, the race HQ is buzzing and with 5 minutes to go, everyone gets themselves to the start. Bang on time the race starts and we are off through the village, the streets lined on both sides with cheering crowds filling the pavements. The village is soon left behind and the field thins out as we make our way along country roads and through the beautiful Essex countryside. The course for the first 4k is mostly flat with a few gentle undulations. Just before 5k, the route heads back towards the village and dips down. We see the front runners coming back the other way and then veer right and head off up a long slow incline between kilometres 6 and 7. So we know what lies ahead of us…


A water stop at 5km and then we too are on the route back out of the village and up the slope. It is tougher than it appears, partly because it is now very warm and partly because it is what the have been referring to in the Giro D’Italia as a “false flat” – it is a continual gentle upward slope which flattens out periodically before slowly, almost imperceptibly rising upwards again. At about 8km, I am gritting my teeth and hoping that the end will come soon. I start mentally ticking off the distance… 2kms to go, 1500 metres to go…


At 9km, the course plays it’s nastiest trick of all and suddenly steepens. This is made worse by signs at 200m intervals telling you that it is 800m to go, then 600m to go. But those 200m increments seem to be very slow in coming. With 200m to go, you still cannot see the finish and it is only with 100m left that you reach the brow of the hill, see the crowd and the finish and have a 100m sprint on wobbly legs to the line.


Orange slices and water after the finish line and then a slow queue for the (admittedly very nice) red race technical t-shirt and to have timing chips removed.

Post race, I bought myself a slice of home made cake from inside race HQ before accompanying SonNumberOne and SonNumberTwo on the free kids Fun Run. A mile run around the village on streets closed to traffic.

Al in all a very nice day. A great, friendly event, a scenic route and good support from the locals who all came out to cheer us on



Hertford 10k race report


Or what used to be known as The Hertford Charity Run – I have run this race a few times now and I still really enjoy it. It could be the proximity to my house (I walked to the starting line from home – took about 15 minutes). The picturesque, well marshaled route – out along the Cole Green Way and then through a number of small, Hertfordshire villages before rejoining the Cole Green Way to head back to the finish. Or it could be the finish itself – a tough uphill that sees many give up and walk before a big finish right in front of County Hall and the crowd of cheering spectators.

I did get caught up a little at the beginning, positioning myself too far down the field before the start, meaning I had to try and pick my way through the runners on the narrowest and most congested part of the course. So the first mile or so was spent in a bunch of 6-6.30mins/km paced runners when I wanted to be doing 5.30mins/km. Also, I was running in Vibrams along a bridle path so needed to try and keep a little distance between me and the runners in front to ensure I could see enough ground in front of me to avoid landing on any stones of bits of tree branch.

Once out onto the road, the race opened up and the sun/breeze combined to create almost perfect conditions – if a little windy on the exposed sections. Marshaling, as always, was frequent and encouraging with an added water/Jelly Baby station just before 5km.

Because I have run the race before, I am aware of the big hill at the end. Subsequently, I began to slow (not sure if it is consciously or unconsciously) around the 8km mark and a handful of people slowly overtook. I think I have some inbuilt mechanism that tells me to ease up and conserve energy for the hill at the end. Once at the hill, many of my “overtakers” end up just ahead of me and walking up the hill. Some were run/walking. I am always intent on not stopping to walk, although my legs and lungs protest. The encouragement from the crowd and the knowledge that the end is imminent make it bearable but it is still one of the toughest and most satisfying finishes.

My only criticism from a few years back was that the race used to be “approximately 10k”. I am not sure if the organisers have taken heed and tweaked the route to find and extra 500m (the race used to be about 9.5km) or whether my Garmin had mis-measured, but Sunday’s distance showed as 10.11km

Incredibly, this was my first race this year and therefore not as quick as previous years (approx 3 mins slower than last year. Also, I think the combination of mixed training I have been doing (forsaking some runs for longer cycle rides) and getting stuck for the first 1-2kms contributed to the slower time. It’s still a great race though and I’ll be back again next year.


the loneliness…

It’s not often that I get a sudden urge to run quite a long way. When it rears it’s head, it is such a surprise that I often just blindly follow it’s calling. Which is exactly what happened last Sunday.

On Saturday evening, a glance at the following days weather forecast showed big yellow radiant spheres all around where I live and this prompted the thought of getting out for a long run. So when Sunday morning brightness shone through my curtains, it was an easy decision to make. I had a loosely planned route in my head which was to encompass a little loop of my locale before heading off along the Cole Green Way. I’d been told that there was an underpass at some point that would allow me to get to the neighbouring town without getting mowed down trying to navigate a particularly busy section of dual carriageway.

Off I ventured, heading through familiar territory before looping back and taking the Cole Green Way as far as I could. There is indeed an underpass and it is quite a contrast to enter the underpass, leave the tree lined avenue of the previous few miles and emerge the other side on an exposed tarmac path flanked with freshly planted small trees at shoulder height. From here, a run into the town centre before heading back out the other side to close the loop and tackle the home stretch. At 20kms, I suddenly began to feel tired. Until this point I was feeling positively spritely but a combination of hills and a lack of footpath made me tire quickly. I was having to run right on the edge of the tarmac on a country road as cars whipped past inches from my elbow. My tired feet were beginning to go numb as every detail of the ruined edge of tarmac was felt through the sole of the Vibrams.

25.5kms run and my longest distance ever. I did feel very, tired when I arrived home but it was bolstered by the sense of satisfaction at completing my longest run. It dawned on me that the route would have been much kinder if it were run in the opposite direction – fresh feet on the road edge to begin with and then a (mostly) gentle downhill.

All of which has no doubt helped today when I ran the Wheathampstead 10k. I have written about this race before (here, here and here) and so will not bore you with the details but SonNumberOne ran a great 2k (about 4 mins faster than last year) and SonNumberTwo managed to get a couple of minutes off of his time before I set off on my own 10k. The course seemed a little more congested this year and it was difficult to pick my way past at some points. The queues at the stairs and the kissing gates seemed a little slower than usual and, as I was feeling quite fresh, I was finding this a little frustrating. Apart from that, a very nice off road race. Hilly and challenging but with a good atmosphere. 54.14 this year – a couple of minutes slower than last year but think the hold-ups accounted for a good portion of that.

The question is… do I squeeze in one last Half Marathon in St Albans before my Berlin Training Regime starts. I think I’ll sleep on it…

Soundtrack to this post: Mugstar – Sunburnt Impedance Machine


run ‘n’ ride ‘n’ rock ‘n’ roll

Another weekend and another step closer to the Marlow Duathlon. During the week I’ve completed a couple of short (10k) runs and one longer cycle (30kms) so Saturday afternoon was designated Duathlon Training Day so I tackled a run and a cycle together. After the hell that was my Brick Session last weekend, this was a far more civilised affair with a 26.6km cycle followed immediately by a 7.1km run. The whole thing, including a particularly shoddy transition in my hallway, carried out in almost exactly 1hr 40 mins keeping me bang on schedule for my estimated 2:20 – 2:25 finish time. The change from cycling to running felt less traumatic than it had done previously so perhaps the half-hearted training that I am doing is paying off.

In other news, I received an email the other day about the Rock ‘n’ Roll Edinburgh Half Marathon.

I was a bit frustrated as I can’t make it but for those of you North Of The Border or who are able to attend, it does sound like a great race. The race replaces the old ADT Edinburgh Half Marathon and now starts and finishes in Holyrood Park after making a loop around the city centre. I can tell you from experience that Edinburgh is a lovely city in which to run so am sure that it will be an enjoyable race to take part in. In addition to the great location, there are also stages at each mile with live bands playing for the duration of the race. The final stretch travels along the Royal Mile with a glimpse of Arthur’s Seat in the background and runners will also get views of Edinburgh Castle while running downtown, and the Firth of Forth as they pass along the seaside stretch on Portobello Promenade. So, a bit gutted that I can’t make it this year but hope that it becomes a regular fixture and that I can take part next year.

Soundtrack to this post: Chemical Brothers – Hey Boy Hey Girl


cold feet

3 runs this week. All along the same route, all just under 11kms, 2 in Vibrams and one in the Saucony Kinvara 2’s.
The more I run in the Vibrams, the harder I find it to run in regular running shoes. The Saucony’s are magnifcent – light, comfortable, bright yellow(!) but it becomes increasingly difficult to transition from no elevation from heel to toe and no padding to a minimal running shoe with only 4mm of lift and a little cushioning – perhaps I need to take the plunge and go for the Saucony Hattori’s with their flat, minimal soles.
The problem with the Vibrams is one of temperature…. in as much as my feet get bloody freezing in temperatures below about 5 celsius.
Vibrams are great for feeling exactly what is beneath your feet and this is also true when the ground is icy – you feel the ice on the surface and the cold. The slippery sensation is oddly reassuring – big padded trainers only usually let you know that the ground is very slippery as you lose your footing and scramble to maintain your balance. The Vibrams allow you to feel exactly how slippery the surface underfoot is and you are able to adjust your pace / gait. Unfortunately, they offer little grip but I suppose forewarned is forearmed. Perhaps some of the other more “off-road” style VFF’s may offer more grip but I’m not about to shell out £120ish just to find out. And the problem with your feet getting cold is that you lose feeling and end up pounding the ground harder as you can’t feel exactly how hard your feet are hitting the floor. Ah well, roll on Spring… we’re only 3 days from the shortest day and then we commence the giddy descent into longer daylight hours. And that was my attempt at optimism….

Talking of Spring and Optimism, I am currently thinking of races I could take part in that would be a bit different from the standard 10k and Half Marathon. I’m already signed up for the Grim Night Terror in February but am considering a Sprint Duathlon in the Vibrams and on the Singlespeed. I’ve never done a duathlon before, and perhaps making it more difficult by doing the run in minimal footwear and the ride with no gears is lunacy, but I think it has the potential to be fun. And I’d like as much fun as possible please before I begin seriously training for the Berlin Marathon.

Soundtrack to this post: DRC Music – Hallo ft. Tout Puissant Mukalo, Nelly Liyemge

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