Posts Tagged ‘Hertford 10k


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.



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.


Spring forward…

Easter: 4 days off for the ceremonial eating of chocolate. But not for me. The return of snow the previous weekend had me forlornly looking out of the window and wallowing in guilt. I had retreated into that horrible pre-race dilemma – I have a race preceded by a big cycle trip in 5 weeks time. I should be training. But if I train and it is icy, I may fall over whilst running or fall off the bike and not be able to do the very event that I am training for. Therefore I won’t train. But I  will feel guilty for not training.

So each of my Easter mornings consisted of either a run or a cycle. I alternated – run the first day, cycle the next, run the third day, cycle the fourth. By the end of the 4 days, I at least felt smug that I had done 4 consecutive days of training as I gingerly made my way up and down stairs or struggled to get up out of a chair.

And then Winter seemed to ebb away, leaving some comparatively mild days. I managed a 16km evening run after work without the use of tights, gloves and a head torch. And then Sunday morning, I actually had sunglasses and short sleeves on for the run for the first time since… probably October!

And the sun does have such a psychological effect on me. I bounded out of the house on the Sunday morning and headed off – with only a vague idea of where I wanted to run. In the end, I sought out one of my old Berlin Marathon Training Routes – running along shady bridle paths into the next town and back again clocking up 19km in the process. And it felt good.

Most of my recent runs had been the day after a long cycle ride and the difference was noticeable. My legs no longer felt heavy – I was bounding along – a spring in my step. Mentally, this is a massive reassurance for me. I had been agonising over the heavy-legged feeling for a few weeks… Maybe I was just getting old and this is how it was going to be from now on. Turns out the legs were just knackered from the previous day’s exertions.

So Sunday will see the annual running of my local 10k – The Hertford Charity Run. I love it because it is a small, local race with a friendly feel and a killer hill right at the end. Most of the route I run regularly when out training but the hill is generally avoided – except on race day when I treat (!) myself. So I shall stay away from the bike this week and hope for sun on Sunday morning so I can fully enjoy the race.



True to form, the long Bank Holiday weekend was wet from start to finish but that was OK because in a moment of madness I had agreed (oh, alright, partially instigated) that I should spend the time redecorating the bathroom. As always, I enter into these projects and then, after about 5 hours of preparation and sanding down, wonder what on Earth I was thinking of when I suggested it. For those of you that have never tasted the bitter, chalky tang of freshly sanded plaster filtered through a poorly fitting dust mask, you really haven’t lived. Sorry, what I actually mean is that you are likely to live a whole lot longer as this stuff really is horrific – it removes all traces of moisture from whatever it touches – tongue, teeth, skin… at the end of the first day I felt like I’d had all the liquid in me replaced with talc. Horrible.

Of course, 3 days spent cooped up in a dusty and noisy bathroom made me yearn to get out and run but I was so drained at the end of each day, it was all I could do to drag my sorry self off to bed.

In addition to the above, SonNumberOne and SonNumberTwo had begun to ask if I could take them running as they are both entered into the Wheathampstead 2k and take their training veeeery seriously. So yesterday, with all decorating duties complete and with specks of paint still dried to the backs of my hands, I decided to go for a run with them… SonNumberTwo, age 6, completed 1.03kms and returned home happy and red-cheeked. SonNumberOne, age 10, was then put through his paces and we chatted as we looped away from the house to run what was just a tad under 3kms. I did feel a bit cruel as he only needs to run 2k for the race but thought he would gain some added satisfaction from knowing that he can comfortably run further. He even managed a final push to the finish when I threatened to sprint past him on the home straight. Very impressed by both of them.

Not quite so impressive was my longer run today. I set off mid-morning and didn’t feel like I was running slowly but a glance at the Garmin told a very different story. It was a truly lack lustre performance nicely finished off by getting caught in a short but sudden hail shower which seemed to halt the second I got back inside. Still, 16.5kms in the bank and the Hertford 10k to look forwards to on Sunday.

Soundtrack to this post: Fugazi – Waiting Room


trion:z dual loop review

I’d been curious about Trion:Z products for a while. After reading testimonials from sports professionals in the press I was intrigued to know if they worked. So when I was contacted and asked if I’d like to test their Dual Loop Bracelet, I jumped at the chance.

Trion:Z Dual Loop Bracelet

“Designed to balance the body’s magnetic and electrical fields, Trion:Z combines the therapeutic properties of magnets and negative ions, bringing you the most powerful complementary health product on the market today”.

Unsure if my body’s magnetic and electrical fields were out of balance, I decided to just wear the Dual Loop Bracelet and see what happened. There are many different colour combinations available on their website, but I went for the plain black version reasoning that it would be the least obtrusive and go nicely with my black running top and black shorts.

The Trion:Z website doesn’t make any claims to improve performance and a search of the internet fails to provide any hard and fast evidence of positive effects of magnetism on the body so I was unsure exactly what to expect. I didn’t feel any different when it was on but then was I supposed to? I got a few compliments about it (“that’s a nice bracelet”) and a few curious questions from those who were familiar with Trion:Z (“ooh is that one of those magnetic ones? So… do they work?”)

So, having now worn it for almost 2 weeks, I can confirm… actually, I still don’t really know what can be attributed to the bracelet and what is just a product of circumstance/luck/training/nice weather. In the past two weeks that I have been wearing it, I have run the Hertford 10k where I got a new pb and I have also shaved another 32 seconds off my 14.7km regular route. Maybe there is an element of “placebo effect” coming into play… who knows? Certainly, the Trion:Z Dual Loop has not had any adverse effect on my performance… it’s just difficult to prove it has any positive effect. Maybe if you’re curious, you should get over to their website, order one and see for yourself.


hometown pb – hertford 10k race review

I’d been looking forward to this race for a while. I ran it for the first time last year and really enjoyed it. This year, I had persuaded Hauling My Carcass to join me (I shall, in return, be joining him for his local race, the Ashtead 10k, later in the year) and as he was bringing the family with him, it seemed the ideal opportunity for us all to get together and make a bit of an occasion out of it.

The event itself was organisationally very similar to last year, the Race HQ at the local school with real toilets (not portaloos) and very little queueing, and a hassle free bag check (name, race number, hand over your bag, thank you very much), there is lots of parking space and a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. I was also happy that one of my (tiny) criticisms from last year had been addressed, namely that the race was just under 10k. This year, it had had an extra little piece added on bringing it to (according to my Garmin) 10.11km. Perfect.

The start is a short walk from the school and there was very little hanging around… we were led to the start and minutes later we were off. The race follows the first part of the Cole Green Way before looping off and through some of the many small villages on the outskirts of the town…. Hertingfordbury, Staines Green and then rejoins the Cole Green Way further up and returns back to Hertford. It is a quiet, varied and rural route with none of those long stretches of road that head off into the distance that make you feel like you are not actually getting anywhere. The first 6-7km are mostly gently uphill and which turn into gentle downhills as you again join the Cole Green Way for the return stretch. Marshalling is frequent, good humoured (one marshall good naturedly admiring my tattoos as I ran past) and efficient.

The sting in the tail is the last 500 metres, a good portion of which is an uphill stretch toward the finish line which saps the energy. Fortunately, this is where the majority of the spectators gather and you can hear their shouts of encouragement from about half way up the steep hill. This alone is enough to make you grit your teeth, go for the finish line and banish those thoughts of walking. And it is an impressive finish on the doorstep of County Hall with its imposing facade and sculptures of Harts either side of the doors.
I wanted a personal best… It’s my local race and had felt that I had been getting quicker over my training runs so felt that a sub 55min finish was acheivable. I hardly looked at my watch for the last half of the race so was delighted when I crossed the line in 54:58… it might only be 2 seconds under 55mins but it was 37 seconds faster than my previous 10k pb so was very happy. I have the BUPA 10k in May (the scene of my previous 10k pb) and think that without the killer hill at the finish, there is at least another 30-45 seconds to be shaved off of that time come 30th May.

So all that remained was to collect the goodie bag (water, t-shirt, shot glass) grab a banana and then cycle home. Then to the serious business of eating, chatting and removing a seized seatpost from a frame for a bike build project for Mrs Hauling My Carcass.

It is a good race, organisation this year was spot on – everything just seemed to happen as and when it should, and it’s nice to have a race you can be proud of on your own doorstep.

Soundtrack to this post: Maceo & All The Kings Men – Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself



This week has been non-stop. So much so that my Sunday run was to be the only run accomplished. With the Hertford 10k next Sunday, which I am very much looking forward to, I had a little dilemma before I set off this morning. Should I go for a quick 10k to see how my time looked in preparation for next week, or should I go for the now customary new “Sunday Favourite” of 14.7kms?
I had kind of made a rod for my own back with my last post and knew that the 14.7kms ideally needed to be at least 45 seconds quicker than the last time I ran it – or the synchronicity would be lost and this would put the whole of life as we know it in potential danger, probably.
In the end, I decided on a compromise… I would run the 14.7kms route but aim for a reasonable 10k time within that – after all, I had run it a number of times now and knew, to within about 100ms, where the 10k point was. I started off with out with the audiobook of Michael Palin’s Around the World In Eighty Days (still a favourite for my Sunday runs) but I realised very quickly when he arrived at Shaghai Station for the second time, that someting very odd was happening and the mp3 player seemed to be playing each track twice. A quick on-the-fly fumble got rid of the repeating Mr Palin but left me with a lot of noisy, upbeat tracks that were a little bit of a shock after MP’s measured enunciations.
But not to worry, the sun was shining and the air was cool and crisp and a week of no runs had allowed my body to recover a little bit and also given me an incentive to put in a good run today so I bounded onwards. I was feeling pleased as I passed the 10k point at 54:48 – 55mins is a psychological barrier for me and to go under on a run of more than 10k gave me a bit of a boost. I decided I’d push on and see how I fared over the whole 14.7.
Around about the 12.5k mark, I again glanced at my watch and was pleasantly surprised, I hadn’t lost any of the time from the first 10k and the rest of my route was the easiest part – either flat or slightly downhill so decided just to press on as quickly as I could. The end of my run drew ever nearer and I hit the “finish line” – the bus stop opposite the train station – in 1:22:04.
I was delighted with this time, firstly as it was 1:01 faster than last week (and 2:41 faster than the same route 3 weeks ago) and secondly, as I came in over 45 seconds faster than my previous run, the universe and existence as we know it was once again safe. Phew!

Soundtrack to this post: Jocelyn Pook – Masked Ball

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