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Here’s my latest Friday Feelgood Five – some of the little things that have made me happy this week.

La Vuelta

La Vuelta is the Spanish equivalent of the Tour de France. I love bike racing anyway, but this is currently doing a great job of helping to fill the gaping hole left in our lives when the Olympics finished. Still, not long til the Paralympics!

Vuelta

 

Bike Commuting (this week)

I love cycling, but if I’m honest I don’t usually enjoy my bike commute to work much. It generally features a range of bad drivers with little regard for cyclists and/or inconsiderate geese who flock and poo all over the riverside bike path. If I get to work in one piece it’s already a good day! But sometimes, on a summer morning during the school holidays, when the traffic is quiet and the geese are on the river, it’s actually lovely. Here’s a pic from one of my rides into York this week. Not the one where I got drenched on the way home!

Commute

 

Turkey Burgers

I made these for dinner this week for the first time. I can’t believe I’ve never made them before, they’re so easy, tasty and healthy! Basically you just mix up 500g of turkey mince with an egg yolk and whatever herbs/spices you like, chill for half an hour and fry. Simples! And great with the sweet potato wedges. We’ll definitely be having them again.

 

Burgers

 

SiS Go Gel (with caffeine!)

I read an article recently about how caffeine helps sports performance and decided to experiment with it. However, I don’t really want to drink a coffee just before a race (for obvious reasons!) so at the York 10K I experimented with one of these, taking it about ten minutes before the start. Having knocked over 40 seconds off my PB I now feel I need one before every event!

 

Gel

 

Chocolate (again!)

More chocolate this week! This time from Morrison’s, where Lindt was on special offer. I love the chilli, but the sea salted caramel is amazing! When I’m trying to be good and avoid puddings I love to have a square of this in the evening.

 

Chocolate

 

That’s it! Because living well is sometimes just about enjoying the simple things around us. Feel free to tell me your favourite things this week, I’d love to hear about them. Have a great weekend!

Here’s my latest Friday Feelgood Five – some of the little things that have made me happy this week.

The Olympics (again)

Where to start? Mo and Jo, Bolt and Gatlin (boo!), Jess and Kat, the Brownlees, Max Whitlock… and don’t get me started on the drama of the track cycling, when Trotty and Kenny became the new Posh and Becks! I’ve loved it all and will be so sorry when it’s all over this weekend. Roll on Tokyo!

Olympics

 

Lidl Running Kit

It was Running Week at Lidl last week, so I ‘treated’ myself to a couple of things. I particularly like the leopard strap detail on the yellow bra! If I’m honest I probably wouldn’t wear these for long runs, but for short outings or exercise classes they’re fine, and great value for money.

Kit

Blackcurrants

Some people who live near us have a massive garden and grow loads of organic fruit and veg that they sell at the roadside. It’s all fabulous and much cheaper than in the shops. This week I picked up some blackcurrants. They were amazingly sweet and perfect with some Greek yoghurt.

Blackcurrants

Chocolate

At the risk of turning this into the Lidl show, they do very good dark chocolate there, flavoured with all sorts of nice things. And, as well all know, dark chocolate is full of iron and magnesium, so very good for runners. I’ve particularly enjoyed the raspberry one this week.

Chocolate

This Sandwich

I had lunch at Pret a Manger this week, and this brie, avocado and tomato toastie was really good! Loads of avocado in it, kept me full for ages! Definitely not avo on toast though, obviously I’d never put such a cliché on social media 😉

Sarnie

That’s it! Because living well is sometimes just about enjoying the simple things around us. Feel free to tell me your favourite things this week, I’d love to hear about them. Have a great weekend!

Here’s the second in my Friday Feelgood Five feature – the little things that have made me happy this week.
  
The York 10K
I absolutely love the Run For all York 10K; it’s in my home town and I’ve done it every year since it started in 2009, when it was the first race I ever entered. It’s not a great course for a PB and I haven’t ‘raced’ a 10K for over 18 months, so was stunned to knock a good chunk off my previous PB, reducing it from 51:17 to 50:31. Sometimes you can surprise yourself!
York 10K
 
Olympic Prosecco
I was given this tiny bottle of Prosecco as a wedding favour recently and decided to crack it to toast the Olympic opening ceremony last Friday. I’ve really been enjoying the cycling and gymnastics this week and can’t wait for the athletics to start now.
Prosecco
 
Trail Running Magazine
I want to do much more trail running next year – hopefully another ultra – so took out a subscription to Trail Running magazine this month and have really enjoyed reading it. Lots of inspiration, and if you take out a subscription before the end of August you also get a free Camelbak Dart – winner!
Trail Running
 
Neal’s Yard Organic X Deliciously Ella
I love Neal’s Yard products. They’re not exactly cheap, but not only do they smell divine, they work really well and last for ages. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the two new products from their collaboration with Ella that was launched this week. Check them out here if you’re interested.
NY Ella
 
Wasabi Peanuts
One of the favourites from my Lidl basket last week. I find them totally addictive and am having trouble monitoring my intake – however (like last week’s olives) they make me want a glass of wine too! I almost wish Lidl would stop selling them… but not quite.
 
Wasabi

 

That’s it! Because living well is sometimes just about enjoying the simple things around us. Feel free to tell me your favourite things this week, I’d love to hear about them. Have a great weekend!

 

Just recently the world has seemed a bit depressing at times. Terrorist atrocities, mass shootings, lovely people dying, the Brexit fiasco… need I go on? So to cheer myself up I’ve been trying to take pleasure in the little things in life. Each week (probably, time permitting) I’ll share with you five things that have made me feel happy – the Friday Feelgood Five. Probably all quite trivial in the grand scheme of things, but that’s kind of the point. So here are this week’s offerings!

The mug I got at the Yorkshire Wolds Half

This was a tough event (my review is here ICYMI) but worth it to get this lovely handmade pottery mug at the finish. Of course it’s too nice to drink out of!

Mugs

 

My new running tights

I popped into Tesco for a couple of things this week and came out with these. For only £14 they’re great – good length, back knee ventilation, wide/low waistband, key pocket and snazzy design! I love them, and they go really well with an Asics vest I already have.

Leggings

Olives

Specifically these olives I’ve just discovered at Morrison’s with lemon, thyme and garlic – delicious. The only trouble is they make me want a glass of wine!

Olives

Lidl Healthy Bargains

I only go to Lidl about once a month, but I always discover loads of healthy bargains when I do. On this trip I picked up (amongst other things) tahini, milled linseed (to add to my breakfast), halloumi, dark chocolate, coconut milk and High 5 hydration tabs. They also do really well-priced bags of mixed nuts. Oh, and the wine department is great!

Lidl

Strawberries

We’re coming to the end of the British strawberry season now, but I’ve really enjoyed the ones we’ve had from our local Pick Your Own farm this summer – sadly now closed for the year. Local, fresh produce always tastes so much better than shop bought.

Strawberries

That’s it! Because living well is sometimes just about enjoying the simple things around us.

Feel free to share your favourite things this week, I’d love to hear about them!

 

 

Last year at the Yorkshire Wolds Half I was a DNS for the most random of reasons. I’d had a wisdom tooth removed with a general anaesthetic the weekend before and thought I’d be over it in time; but when I went for an experimental jog a couple of days before it I felt dizzy after about 30 seconds, so thought I’d better give it a miss. I was gutted, as I really wanted the handmade pottery mug given out at the end!

Fast forward a year and I’d signed up for the Wolds again, thinking it would be a great marathon training exercise. The event is part of Bishop Wilton Show, starting and finishing at the showground. This is on a farm some way outside the village of Bishop Wilton, with a very civilised starting time of 10 am. Traffic was well managed, and I got parked up really easily. Online entry to the race was £15, including free admission to the show, but it was also possible to enter on the day by paying to get into the show and then getting the cost of that knocked off your race entrance fee.

I had a little wander round the showground whilst waiting for the off. It was a beautiful, sunny day. A bit warmer than I’d like for running, but a great day for a country show! I was well impressed with the very posh Portaloos and had two wees before kick-off just to make the most of them. As we lined up at the start I noticed that a) there weren’t that many of us and b) most of the other runners were very skinny and wearing club vests. So this is obviously an event that attracts mostly serious rather than fun runners! I began to wonder if I’d actually be last, then spotted a few other less elite-looking people and felt a bit less apprehensive.

Wolds 1

The course is an undulating route through the local countryside, with some stunning views along the way. It’s mostly on road, apart from a couple of miles near the start, which is on decent trail, so road shoes are best. The first half seemed to have quite a bit of downhill, with some gentle undulations, and the hard work really began in the second half. The route is well-marshalled, so you can’t get lost, and there were five water points. As the temperature rose and the sun beat down on us we were really grateful for the sponges on offer too! All the helpers were really lovely and encouraging. There wasn’t much else in the way of support – it’s  more about enjoying the countryside than being cheered on by crowds – but that wasn’t a problem for me.

Wolds 2

I found the second half of the course quite hard, but then I’m not that used to running up big hills. The hot weather didn’t make things any easier though, and I certainly wasn’t the only one taking short walk breaks towards the end. There’s a lot of uphill in the last few miles, although it does level out a bit near the finish. I had a few nice little chats with other runners along the way and really enjoyed it, despite the toughness. My PB in a flat road half is just under 1:50, but my time here was 2:08, so that gives an idea of the extra effort involved! There was no chip timing, but the official time I was given agreed with my Garmin, so that was fine. In the end I came 102nd out of 152 (so few!) and I was happy with that considering the quality of the field. Typically, the sun went in as soon as we’d finished! The souvenir mug makes a nice change from the usual t-shirts and medals and complements the ones I have from the Snake Lane 10.

Mug

All in all I thought this was a brilliant event; well-organised, great value at £15, and a challenging course with beautiful views to distract you from the pain. I can’t imagine why it isn’t more popular. Plus afterwards at the show you can get burgers, sausages, pies, cake, ice cream and beer, then go and pet some very impressive fancy sheep. What more could you possibly want? I’ll definitely be back next year!

I hear Jo Pavey always has a big sausage at the end of a race* *may not be true

I hear Jo Pavey always has a big sausage at the end of a race*
*may not be true

 

When I was selected for the Runner’s World/Asics Project 26.2 Paris Marathon competition boot camp about 18 months ago I attended a Q&A session with ultra runner Holly Rush. There were quite a few questions about nutrition, and Holly said she always had a glass of milk after a long run, as it contained the optimum ratio of protein to carbohydrate for recovery. Being a fan of natural products whenever possible, I took this advice on board and have followed it ever since. If I’ve sweated a lot I also usually have a pint of water with an SiS Go Hydro tab in it to rehydrate. However, I was recently sent a new recovery drink to test that offered both recovery and rehydration at the same time.

nov14largeposter

 

Billed as the world’s first high protein pure coconut water, CocoPro aims to provide both optimal hydration and recovery all in one drink. We all know that coconut water, which contains lots of electrolytes, is great for rehydration; CocoPro goes a stage further by combining this with whey protein, creating the ‘ultimate hydrating recovery drink’. It also contains 100% of the RDA of vitamin C. The variety I tested contained pineapple juice and the ingredients were listed as follows: Pure Coconut Water, Water, Pineapple Juice from Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate, Dietary Fibre, Natural Flavourings, Stabiliser: Pectin, Antioxidant: Vitamin C, Sweetener: Stevia. Pineapple is a great anti-inflammatory that would also aid recovery, and I was surprised no mention was made of this.

Cocopro

 

I drank the CocoPro chilled from the fridge after a long run, and it certainly tasted good; more of pineapple than coconut – a bit like a non-alcoholic Malibu! I thought it would be interesting to see how it compared in terms of carbohydrate and protein with milk (including a non-dairy variety), and also with the High 5 recovery drink that my husband sometimes takes.

 

Per 100ml

Energy (kcal) Fat (g) Carb (g) Protein (g)

CocoPro

42

0.1 3.5

6.1

Whole Milk

68

4 4.7 3.4

Semi Skimmed

48

1.8 4.6

3.5

Soya Milk

36

2.2 0.4

3.5

High 5 Protein Recovery 238 0.3 41

18

 

You can see from the figures above that the three milks are about the same in terms of protein, whereas CocoPro offers quite a bit more. The dairy milks have a bit more carb than CocoPro, but the soya milk having very little at all. The High 5 recovery drink has much more of both, being specifically designed to do so; but of course it isn’t as natural as the milks and CocoPro. Obviously CocoPro also has more electrolytes than the milks, so is better and rehydrating.

All in all it’s a good product, which I did enjoy drinking; the only catch for me is the price. A 330ml carton of CocoPro costs about £2.75, so it’s expensive, even compared to plain coconut water. On the plus side, it does contain 20g of protein per serving. I think it would be very handy to carry if you were out and about – for example to take at the end of a race – but personally I couldn’t afford to drink it after every run.

I’d be interested to hear what other people use as recovery drinks and whether you have any preference as to natural or ‘manufactured’ products?

If you’d like to find out more about CocoPro you can visit their website here.

 

I only entered the Mont Blanc 10K by virtue of a happy coincidence. We were going on holiday to the French Alps, where Steve was taking part in a cyclosportive called La Grand Bo, so I just Googled to see if there happened to be any running events going on at around the same time… and lo and behold, it turned out to be at the same time as the Mont Blanc running festival at Chamonix! This goes on for a whole weekend, with an 80K ultra and a vertical kilometre time trial(!) on the Friday, the 10K and a 23K on the Saturday and a marathon on the Sunday. Having not done any hill work since my injury last summer, I didn’t feel up to a long route with lots of climbing, so thought I’d give the 10K a go. It was billed as a kind of trail running taster – just the job for a holiday fun run! I had about six weeks to prepare, so it was also a good opportunity to reintroduce some hill work into my running and see how it went. Luckily the troublesome hamstring tendon seemed to take it pretty well.

We were staying just over an hour’s drive from Chamonix, and the race had a very civilised starting time of 1pm. However, clouds started to gather in the sky on the way over, and as we approached Chamonix the heavens opened – with a bit of thunder and lightning thrown in for good measure. Gotta love the mountains! I really felt for all the 23K participants who were out on the course. It took me quite a while in the battering rain to find out where sign-on was (right at the back of the trade exhibition, of course!), and was then faced with an enormous, snaking queue. Lots of people were there to sign on for the next day’s marathon. It would have made sense to me to have a separate line for 10K participants, but there wasn’t one. With only about an hour to go until the start I was panicking slightly! However, the queue moved faster than I’d thought and it only took me about ten minutes to get to the front. I handed over my confirmation email. “What’s your bib number?” asked the girl on the desk. I’d thought it was on the email. “Oh no”, she said, “you were supposed to get it from the board outside before you joined the queue.” Aaargh! I hadn’t seen anything anywhere telling me to do this. I explained to her in rusty French that if I went back outside and then had to join the queue again I probably wouldn’t make the start, so she allowed me to hop the barrier, get the number and come straight back to the desk. Oh, and I’d forgotten to bring my specs with me, so couldn’t actually read the print on the board and had to get someone else to read it for me! All quite stressful. Anyhow, at least I had a number now!

At the start. It's all about the scenery!

At the start. It’s all about the scenery!

 

I went to get ready in the van. It was still raining quite heavily. I could see 23K finishers coming in, many looking very wet and miserable. For a brief moment I considered not running – especially as I now had the t-shirt anyway – but then I remembered I’m from Yorkshire and decided to man up! Waterproof on, I headed for the start, about ten minutes’ walk away… and as we walked, the rain stopped and the sun came out! The start was on a big field next to Chamonix sports club and featured some very attractive chalet-style eco-friendly portaloos – and plenty of them, so the queues for the all-important pre-race wee were pleasingly short. When I’d entered online there were three starting waves to choose from, based on predicted time, so I’d put myself in the middle one. On the day there were actually four, and I was in wave three, but I wasn’t bothered – I was here to run for fun, not time. Looking around as we waited to set off, the vast majority of runners seemed to be French, but I did also spot a few Brits, Italians and Swiss. The announcing was (conveniently) all in English though.

Mont Blanc Official

So what about the race itself? The first couple of miles were really not that hard – good trails with a slight incline in places, but nothing too taxing. Nicely undulating. After that we started to climb a bit more steeply, and just as I thought I might have to walk a bit… we did anyway, as it became impossible to run! Just due to sheer congestion I think. My pace for this middle mile was about 22 minutes, which tells the tale. This was the high point of the race, and after we’d got over it the remaining couple of miles was mostly downhill – quite technical in places, but OK so long as you weren’t aiming to run at breakneck speed. There was rock, but the surface was gritty rather than slippery, so it wasn’t too difficult to deal with – and I say that as someone with no fell running experience whatsoever. I was wearing my Brooks Cascadia, and they seemed fine for the job. If you really wanted to go for it (and the leaders did) you might want a more grippy shoe. I really enjoyed the last couple of miles; the sun shone, I could see big, snowy mountains, there were people cheering en route and it was simply just a huge pleasure to be there. It really made me want to do more trail running in the future.

IMG_4793

At the finish we got a fantastic piece of souvenir bling, and there were some typically French refreshments of fruit, cheese, cake and coffee. The atmosphere was really chilled and friendly.

MB Medal

There was a cool Salomon technical t-shirt too. Being used to UK race t-shirts, where small means a man’s small, that’s what I’d ordered. Here it turned out to be an actual woman’s small – and a French woman’s small at that – so it’s quite a snug fit, but I’m determined to wear it anyway!

MB T-Shirt

If I scraped off the 10K letters, could I convince people I’d done the marathon?!

 

And obviously the temptation to get a photo on the Chamonix Winter Olympics podium was too great to resist!

Yes, my legs are sunburnt from cycling all day without enough sunscreen on, but I'm rocking the look! :-)

Yes, my legs are sunburnt from cycling all day without enough sunscreen on, but I’m rocking the look! :-)

 

I’d really recommend this event if you’re ever in the area, so long as you aren’t going to be frustrated by the course congestion – just allow lots of time for signing on! In the end my time was 1:15 (almost exactly halfway down the field) and I was 16th in my age category (V2 Female), so I’m happy with that.  I reckon it would have been about ten minutes less if I hadn’t had to walk so much, but time wasn’t important to me anyway.

I also did some other great runs on holiday – along the Voie Verte in the Vosges area on the way down to the Alps, a great trail along the river in Le Grand Bornand (which usually took place before breakfast and ended at the bakery!) and also along the river in Epernay on the way back up north. I love holiday running – but now it’s time to stop eating croissants and get back into marathon training for York in October!

 

Oh no, it’s that time of year again – when about half the women I know are getting ready for their summer holiday, working hard in pursuit of the Beach Body. This seems mostly to involve drinking a protein shake for breakfast and eating a ‘light’ yoghurt for lunch, before caving in mid-afternoon and having a Kit Kat, then going to the gym to work it off. I can only wonder how things pan out in the evening. I’m exaggerating slightly, but you get the picture. We all know them. You might even be one of them if you’re a woman. If you’re a man your holiday prep probably consists of little more than buying some board shorts and Euros, which is great. You don’t feel the same media pressure to look like Gwyneth Paltrow in a bikini.

I’ve made my feelings on the Beach Body known in the past – that we should eat well and exercise all year round and not just when we’re about to get on a plane to somewhere hot. Despite this, I am currently preparing my own body for my summer holiday. But don’t worry, I am attempting to create not a Beach Body, but a Mountain Body! Or, more specifically, Mountain Legs. Next weekend we are going away to the Haute Savoie area of the French Alps and taking our bikes. Plus, in a rash moment a few weeks ago (possibly under the influence of Pinot Noir) I entered the Mont Blanc 10K, which is coincidentally taking place while we’re there. It would probably have been a good idea to look at the course profile beforehand, because it appears that the first half is pretty much all uphill (who would have guessed?!), but the deed is done. If I come last, so be it – at least I’ll have plenty of time to admire the scenery.

Hoping it will be something like this!

Hoping it will be something like this!

 

So I’ve been preparing my Mountain Legs by cycling and running up and down as many hills as possible, which hasn’t exactly been easy. For those of you not familiar with the topography of Yorkshire’s capital city, it’s as flat as the proverbial pancake round these parts. We pretty much have one hill within striking distance of where I live – which, admittedly, is a great one, with a working windmill on top of it – but that’s about it. So for running purposes it’s been reps up and down there lots of times, plus some work on the treadmill with the incline set to Quite Steep. I’ve also been trying to get out of town on the bike as much as possible in search of more and longer hills. Actually, my problem on the bike isn’t so much climbing as descending – I’m scared of it and therefore absolutely hopeless at it! Probably because I don’t do enough proper cycling. Steve, who is a really great cyclist, is very patient with his wimpy wife, although we usually part company at the top of a big hill; he swoops gracefully down like a bird of prey, tucking in and taking the curves like a pro, and I… let’s just say I sometimes stop to rest my hands! Then we meet up again at the bottom. But I am determined to tackle an Alpine col or two on holiday. If only someone could pop up to the summit in a car to take me back down again!

OK, where's the bus back down?!

OK, where’s the bus back down?!

 

Incidentally, I’m sure some of my friends think I’m completely mad for being in training to go away. The idea that a holiday should consist of more than lying on a beach with a book and a cocktail seems crazy to them – and they could be right! Perhaps if I was the sort of person who’s willing/able to lie on a beach all day and not an easily bored/easily burned ginger I’d feel more need to have a Beach Body – but I’m not. Each to his or her own I say.

So, do any of you cyclists out there have any tips for helping me become a better and less fearful descender? I’d love to hear them!

 

I’d really been looking forward to the North Lincs Half. Not just because the organisers promised cake at the finish line (although that was obviously a factor!) but also because it’s over a year since I’ve done a half marathon properly. I sadly had to miss out on both the Yorkshire Wolds Half and the Vale of York Half last year when I was injured. I did the Brass Monkey Half in January, but was only just getting back to proper running at the time and took it very steadily. Now, off the back of training for the Paris Marathon followed by the Vale of York 10, with a few Parkruns thrown in to sharpen up the legs, I was finally feeling a lot fitter.

The weather forecast for race day was perfect – sunny but cool – and I set off (solo on this occasion) from York to Scunthorpe at about 6.30 am. I wasn’t 100% per cent sure how long it would take me to get there, and we’d been warned that the car park wasn’t big enough for everyone, so I wanted to allow plenty of time. In the end I got there in about an hour and parked up with no problem at all. The race HQ and finish is at Scunthorpe United‘s ground, Glandford Park, which is perfectly situated just off the motorway so really easy to get to. The facilities were great (lots of loos!) and it was nice to be able to wait around inside, out of the early morning chill.

The actual start of the race is about three quarters of a mile from Race HQ, and we were encouraged to make our way down there from about 8.30 for the 9 am kick-off. It’s a pleasant walk down a footpath through some fields, but you wouldn’t want to leave it until the last minute, as the path is narrow and progress was quite slow! On the wide, tree-lined road where the start is located there’s plenty of room to have a bit of a warm-up, and there are also a couple of portaloos for any last-minute calls of nature. Everything seemed very low-key and relaxed, which was really nice.

start-2016

And we’re off!

 

I’d got my half marathon PB of 1:52:37 at the Brass Monkey in 2015 on a very cold day where we had to walk over a few icy stretches of road. I reckoned with a bit of work I could have a fair crack at sub 1:50 and was planning to give it a go at the Vale of York Half in September this year. I reckoned that would be about 8:20 pace. My plan for North Lincs was to run at about 8:30 and see how things went. Then I noticed two 1:50 pacers, with a pace of 8:24 noted on their flags. Thinking that didn’t seem much faster than 8:30, I decided on the spot to set off with them and see how long I could hold on!

The fabulous pacers

The fabulous pacers

 

The first couple of miles seemed slightly downhill to me – or maybe I was just feeling good! The pace felt very comfortable. The course is generally very flat along some really long, straight roads – at times it seemed as if you could see runners for miles into the distance! It’s mostly rural, and it was certainly a gorgeous day to run through the countryside. There were a couple of stretches of quite narrow lane where it might have been tricky to pass people, but I was just focussed on sticking close to the pacers. There are five water points along the course – generous for a half marathon – plus stations with jelly babies and sponges around halfway. At this point I still felt OK and was cautiously optimistic about getting a PB. In the third quarter of the race things started to feel slightly harder and my belly felt a bit uncomfortable. I usually take Clif Shot Bloks during long runs, but they seemed to be laying a bit heavy today, so I didn’t take any more after about eight miles. The pacers, who I believe were called Barry and Mat, were brilliant, shouting out motivation and warning us when water stations were coming up. From about mile ten I was finding it harder and harder to keep up, but sheer bloody-mindedness made me attempt to cling on as best I could! I’m sure I would have slackened off sooner without the pacers to help.

Trying hard to keep it going near the end!

Trying hard to keep it going near the end!

Towards the end I looked at my watch and thought “Yes, only half a mile to go” and then… a hill! Only a short one, but as I started up it I felt my left calf beginning to twitch and knew I’d have to walk it. How disappointing – losing the pacer at 12.5 miles! One of the girls in our group kindly touched me on the shoulder and said “Come on!” encouragingly, but I didn’t want to risk full-blown cramp. As I got to the top of the hill I could see spectators cheering near the finish and a sign that said 800m to go, so decided to try for a final push. From somewhere I managed to find a bit of speed, and the roadside encouragement really helped. The final stretch round the football pitch to the finish line was great. I could see the pacers finishing some way ahead of me, but didn’t dare look at my watch until I crossed the line… when I was astonished to find that I’d somehow still managed to sneak in just under 1:50 at 1:49:48! I was chuffed to bits, as I hadn’t planned or expected to do that at all. I was completely cream crackered though, but not too tired to go and thank Barry and Mat, as I certainly wouldn’t have run as fast as I did without their help. The race swag was pretty good; a t-shirt and a trainer-shaped medal, plus a goody bag with crisps, Haribo and a Penguin – oh, and the cake of course! After collecting all this I went and sat on the grass for a while, ate my crisps and did a bit of stretching with a big smile on my face! I was amazed to find out later that I’d come 8th in the V50 women’s category. Perhaps there were only eight V50 women there!

The very cool medal

The very cool medal

I really would recommend the North Lincs Half to anyone. There were runners of all abilities there, and the organisation and communication were great. The course is really PB-friendly, and obviously the pacers are a Godsend! There’s also a family fun run as part of the occasion. Perhaps best of all, it only costs about half as much to enter as the Leeds Half the week before. Getting away at the end was smooth too, with no traffic hold-ups. A top event all round!

So now I’ve ticked off one of my major goals for the year four months early what’s next? I feel I need to officially re-establish my sub 4 marathon status after the Manchester fiasco, so the Yorkshire Marathon in October is probably my main goal. I’d also love to do a sub 50 minute 10K, but I’m not sure that’s possible. Still, never say never!

Lincs T-Shirt

When I heard about the new Vale of York 10 (miles rather than kilometres) I just knew I had to enter. Not only was it being held a mere three miles from where I live, I knew it would also be a great training exercise for the North Lincs Half four weeks later. The event was being organised by Racebest. I’d done their Vale of York Half when it was held for the first time in 2014 (you can read my review of that here) and really enjoyed it, so things looked promising.

The VoY 10 started and finished at an airfield at Rufforth, a village west of York. The VoY Half has a similar venue at Sherburn airfield. When you think about it, an airfield is a great place to hold a running event – loads of flat, open space! There was plenty of parking, and by sheer chance I ended up parked virtually next to the start line, which was very handy. Race numbers weren’t posted out in advance, but sign-on was very quick and efficient. Safety pins were included in the race packs too, which was good as it’s probably easy to forget them if you haven’t received a number in advance. There were plenty of toilets in the sign-on area – a bit of queuing, but nothing too long. Everything was very close together, with a nice relaxed atmosphere.

VoY Start

 

The weather couldn’t have been better; cold but sunny with hardly any wind. As we stood on the start line I regretted wearing gloves and wondered whether I had time to go back to the car and leave them. I decided I hadn’t. In the end the start was delayed by a few minutes, so I probably could have done. I’m not sure why we were late starting – a tannoy announcement was made, but nobody could tell what was being said! Anyway, suddenly a hooter sounded and we were off. The first mile or so consists of an out and back stretch along the airfield, which is quite good as you can see all the super-fast folk speeding off in the opposite direction. Speaking of super-fast (for me), I clocked my first mile at just a couple of seconds over eight minutes, then told myself “Don’t be ridiculous, this isn’t sustainable!” and slowed down to aim for a pace of about 8:30.

We emerged from the airfield onto the public road at about 1.5 miles. It was at around this point that I decided my hands were boiling and the gloves had to come off, so I stuffed one up each sleeve! The route has closed roads all the way round, which is great, and is very rural, passing through a couple of villages along the way. I’m more used to cycling round these roads, and it did feel a bit odd to be running on them instead! But it’s a lovely, scenic route with some undulations to keep things interesting, and on such a clear day there were great long distance views at the high points. There wasn’t much in the way of crowd support apart from at the start and finish, but the lovely countryside more than made up for that.

VoY Runners

At one point, between the villages of Catterton and Bilbrough, a horsebox appeared on the course from somewhere, driving through the runners. It was too far ahead to be a problem for me, but I can see that it might have bothered some of the runners further in front. I guess there’s always someone who thinks the closed road doesn’t apply to them! Fortunately it turned off our route after a while. There were water points at 3.5 and 7.5 miles, and the marshals all along the route were brilliant. I believe many of them came from St Theresa’s Athletics Club in Leeds, so big thanks to them for their support. As I was approaching this as a half marathon training exercise I was satisfied with my finishing time of 1:25:50. This was about a minute faster than when I did the Snake Lane 10 in February, but about a minute slower than my ten mile PB achieved at last year’s Snake. After all the marathon training I’ve done I definitely need to do more half marathon-type speed work! But I’m still grateful just to be injury-free so far this year.

VoY Finish

There was a great goody bag at the end, containing a medal, t-shirt, High 5 energy gel, water and a Toffee Crisp. The medal and t-shirt are certainly a bit different from the norm – I’ve never had a race memento with a glider on it before! I didn’t hang around too long at the finish as I was a bit sweaty and cold. It took me a few minutes of queuing to get off the site and onto the road. Others who left later told me it took them about 15 minutes, but that’s no great hardship for such a good event, especially when you have a Toffee Crisp with you!

VoY T-Shirt

All in all this was a great event that I’d highly recommend. There were certainly a lot of very fast club runners there, but also many less speedy folk such as myself, with some people finishing at over two hours. I believe the Vale of York Half is on 11th September this year – I’ll certainly be entering!

VoY Medal