And Finally…

Not the same as having it hung around your neck on the day—honestly, does anyone ever wear a race medal on any day other than race day?—but my Bristol 10K medal and t‑shirt finally arrived in the post. At least the medal is up to its usual high standard; the Run Bristol medals seem to get better every year…

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Anyway. I’ve taken a short break since the 10K, but I’ve also just signed up for the Bristol Half in September, so I’ll be back on the road this week to start my preparations 🙂

Taking My Time

I’ve taken some time off from running. About a year, in fact. I’m not sure why, really. I just didn’t really feel like it for a while. And it is, after all, voluntary.

But recently I started to feel the urge again, and last month I went out for a few training runs. In fact, I went out for a 2K, a 3K, a 4K, a 5K, a 6K and a 7K. There were various adversities along the way—I won’t bore you with details of the pulled back muscle, the gas leak, the washing machine dying halfway through a cycle with my jogging clothes still inside—but I overcame them, and got ready.

Ready for today’s Bristol 10K, that is. At which I logged my slowest time ever for a 10K: 1:20:13. But hey. At least I did a race. And I jogged all the way around.

I usually post a medal photo to celebrate, but sadly the Bristol 10K ran out of medals today. In fact, they ran out of medals, T‑shirts, goodie bags, and water at the finish line. So all us poor sloggers at the back got was a Mylar blanket for our troubles. Apparently they’re going to organise posting stuff out to the people who missed out.

I wasn’t too bothered, but then it was my fifth 10K, and my eleventh organised race. And I can see why, as a race organiser, you wouldn’t want to have a big surplus of chunks of enamelled metal left over when an inevitable percentage of runners don’t turn up on the day. (Plus, I’m not thin. Race souvenir T‑shirts are normally designed with the more typical runner’s shape in mind, so even when I can squeeze into them they certainly aren’t flattering. Mine normally get saved for decorating in, rather than proudly wearing outdoors.)

On the other hand, it’s mostly the first-timers and the charity runners who come in last. I crossed the line with a very weary bloke who’d just run his first ever 10K, only to find something of a wasteland where he was expecting a cheery volunteer to drape a medal over his head and to pick up a bottle of water. And there were hundreds of people behind us.

While they’ll send out medals in the post, apparently nearly 400 people missed out on the chance of that just-finished photo in the Runners’ Village, medal around their neck and a backdrop of other happy runners. Seems like a real shame.

Anyway. In lieu of my normal finishing photo with the medal, here’s a snap from the start. See you soon! Think I might sign up for the Bristol Half to make sure I keep my training going…

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Bristol 10K 2013

Back on the 5th of May, I ran the Bristol 10K. And then had a really busy week where I was out of the house a lot, so I’m afraid this race report is a little late. Sorry!

This year’s 10K was a mixed bag for me. It was my slowest ever 10K race (though only by about half a minute — see my results page to look at all my race results.) It was also one of my most enjoyable.

I’d expected to be slow this year. I’ve mostly been concentrating on distances, and my noble plan to lose some weight and gets lots of practice before the race was somewhat undermined by a couple of weeks of illness that put me off running for a while. So I figured I’d just take it fairly easy.

Not only that, but my fastest 10K, last year’s, was mostly produced by running with my erstwhile boss Mike, who’s a bit faster than me. It was only because I had him as a pace-setter that I managed to drag myself around in record time. And Mike didn’t run the 10K this year, damn it.

But this year, I may still have benefited from Mike’s help. The bulk of the Bristol 10K runners start off in two batches, one earlier, one fifteen minutes later. I’ve always been in the later start, with the slower runners. When I opened my race pack this year, though, I saw a strange and alien colour on my race number. It was yellow. They’d put me in the earlier start!

I’m guessing that last year’s time may have crossed some borderline between the slower stream and the faster, so I had the chance of setting off fifteen minutes earlier, in the first batch of runners.

I was in two minds about whether to take advantage of this — if you’ve been assigned to one of the faster starting streams, you’re allowed to drop back into a slower one — but in the end I decided that I probably wouldn’t get in anyone’s way as long as I lined up towards the back. I made my way through the bustling start area to line up with the other yellows.

Start of the Bristol 10K

That turned out to be a great choice, because it meant I had lots of company all the way around the 10K.

For starters, I got to see all the front runners, from the elite athletes on, on their way back down the Portway as I was on my way up. Normally, the people with actual names rather than numbers pinned to their shirts are long gone by the time I get there.

Also, in previous years, by the time I got to Cumberland Road on the way back into town, it felt pretty lonely. Most of the runners have pulled away from my slow pace, so it really thins out.

This year, at the first hint of that thinning, on the way back down the Portway, I saw the second stream — the Red and Green starters — coming down the other side of the road, and knew that the faster ones would soon catch up with me.

And so it was. Instead of the loneliness of the slow runner on the Cumberland Road, I ended up in the middle of the second stream of thousands of runners, and managed to stay with the bulk of them all the way around to the finish line.

While it did feel a bit of a cheat, especially when I found out my sloooow time, it was a really pleasant change to be in amongst a whole bunch of runners from start to finish, rather than just at the start. And I don’t think I got in anyone’s way. As it turned out, checking the 10K site afterwards, “…very high numbers of runners in the Yellow and Red zones have the same predicted race time — which is why they are split between the 2 waves…” So perhaps it was both a faster time last year and a bit of luck on top that got me in the faster stream.

Apart from being in the earlier set-off, there wasn’t really anything too thrilling or terrible about the 10K this year for me. The weather was decent — clouds but no rain, so it wasn’t too hot — and the race well-organised and the other runners friendly, as usual.

Sadly, I’d guess I’ll be back in the generally-slower pack next year. But if I pick back up my weight-loss plans and my training, maybe I can find a way of keeping up with the pack without starting fifteen minutes ahead of half the runners… Seeing how the other half lives — with company all the way around — is quite a good incentive.

[separate charity update to follow, but in the meantime, big thanks to my parents and to Dave & Arline :D]


View Bristol 10K 2013 in a larger map

Rattling That Tin Again

It’s the Bristol 10K on Sunday. It’s looking like it might be a bit of a scorcher, too, which will probably slow me down a bit — I tend to overheat easily on the 10K. Still, it’s not going to stop me, so please can you help give me some encouragement? Knowing that I’m raising a bit of money for Children’s Hospice South West will definitely keep me putting one foot in front of the other. All donations, big or little, very welcome on my Just Giving page. Thanks!

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Simple 5K

Today I stopped my post-Bath Half lazing around and started my seven-week countdown to the Bristol 10K by nipping out for an easy 5K up Bridge Valley Road and around a bit of the Downs.

It felt ploddy, and I really wasn’t feeling the joy, even though the weather was unusually sunny (i.e. it wasn’t pissing down, as it mostly has been for the last six months, it seems.) It’s possible I’m still recovering from the Bristol Beer Festival, which is where I spent Friday evening.

Oh well. At least it was better than not running.

Losing Weight for the 10K

I don’t seem to be good at losing weight. Or rather, I’m not that bad at losing weight, but I’m also pretty good at gaining it, too. For the Bath Half, I was at the lightest weight I’ve been for any half-marathon I’ve ever done, I think; I am gradually reducing. But it’s very much a three-steps-forward-two-steps-back pattern.

This is bad, because if there’s one thing that would make me faster at running, and reduce my likelihood of injury, and have lots of health benefits, and so on, it’s getting a bit lighter.

So. Having had my post-half-marathon break, it’s time to get back to running. It’s also time, I think, to be a bit more formal about my weight loss than I’ve been over the last few years, and get some practice at consistently losing weight, rather than reducing for a few weeks, piling most of it back on, reducing again, and so on.

I’ve just added this little widget to my desktop:

Countdown Widget on Desktop

It’s a countdown to the Bristol 10K. Tomorrow there will be 49 days — exactly seven weeks — to go. If I were to carry on at my current rate, I’d probably only be a couple of pounds lighter by then. Instead I’m setting what should be a perfectly achievable target of losing seven pounds. If I manage that, I’ll be the lowest weight I’ve seen since I bought a Withings Body Scale a couple of years ago. And a few pounds below the weight I was for the last 10K.

The little desktop widget is part of my strategy. Being a programmer, I’m in front of the computer a lot, so that little widget should be a near-constant reminder of what my target is, and how long I’ve got to go. I’m hoping it helps, and I’m hoping I’ll think of a few more ideas to keep my mind on the weight loss.

I doubt it’s going to be easy. I’ll report back here each week, whether things are going well or badly, and maybe I’ll learn something, either way…

Bristol 10K 2012

Today I ran the Bristol 10K, mostly with my friend (and erstwhile boss) Mike. Mike had originally planned to partner up with a friend who’s a fair bit faster than me, but she got a hip injury at the last minute, unfortunately. So, I rebelliously brought my green-numbered self into the red lane with Mike and ran with him instead.

Bristol 10K Start

This turned out to be a good move, as running the beginning of the race with Mike helped keep my speed up. We comfortably matched each other from the start line, all the way down the Portway, right around the turning point, and back into town.

On Cumberland Road, though, between 7 and 8km, our different paces started to show up. I’d clearly been going a bit too fast, and was overheating some, despite the perfect, overcast running weather, whereas Mike was ready to surge on ahead. We agreed to split up. I lowered my pace for a while as Mike headed off into the distance.

Luckily, my overheating was temporary. A lighter pace, some water, and a Torq Rhubarb and Custard energy gel (those things really do taste like rhubarb and custard. It’s good stuff!) later, I was ready to pick back up some speed.

I was going quite nicely again by the time I crossed Prince Street Bridge and waved at my friends Martin from Bristol Culture on my left, and Emma and José on the Clic Sargent open-top bus on my right. I kept on around the Centre, and I was pretty sure I could get a personal best time if I just kept going.

I decided to make sure of it by sprinting to the finish line — trying to look determined for the cameras, too — and crossed the line at a fair clip, feeling pretty damn cheery.

In the end, it turned out to be a great time for me, of 01:05:44, which is almost four minutes faster than my previous best 10K race time (1:09:28, for the 2010 10K.)

Then I found Mike again — it turned out he’d only come in a couple of minutes ahead of me, at 01:03:38, so with a bit more practice I should be able to keep up with him! Mike’s wife Jess took this photo of us on College Green with our medals 😀

Mike (left) and Me (right)

I had RunKeeper going during the race, but started it a bit before the start line, so the time is slightly off, but my RunKeeper log gives an idea of the route and pace and so on, if you’re into details 🙂

And that, in a nutshell, was my Bristol 10K. I’m taking a week or so off to recover now, so I’ll catch you on the other side.

Medal

Charridy

My only recent run was a slow 5K up the hill to the shops on Saturday. That’s because I’m (a) busy as hell this week, and something has to give, and (b) running the Bristol 10K on Sunday!

If you’d like to help me out with some charity-based encouragement, I’ll be running the 10K in aid of CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people. My Just Giving donations page is here, and any amount, big or small, will be very much appreciated. And might help keep me going, too 🙂

Thanks!

The Right Direction

April was a good month. I ran twice as far in April — 62.5km — than I did in any month in the previous year. So that’s a definite “win” when it comes to building up my momentum.

There’s been a slight faltering, though, in the first week of May, as I only went out running the once. Social commitments, work, rain, and, I confess, too much beer at Thursday night’s Flickr meet, saw me put off running until yesterday.

But! When I finally ran, what a good run it was. Not only did I do a full 10K, but it was also the fastest 10K I’ve ever run!

I came in just under a minute faster than in the Bristol 2010 10K. Hopefully that bodes well for the 2012 10K, which is in a couple of weeks, on May 20th. But whatever happens on the official race day, it’s nice to have set a personal best in training.

This week I’ll try to get out more than once; maybe Thursday and Saturday. We’ll see…

Rain rain, go away…

And so ends another week where I only managed two runs. My lack of time this week was somewhat exacerbated by the current UK weather situation.

The UK media have been having a (waterlogged) field day recently, because if there’s one thing that the British love talking about more than weather, it’s ironic weather, and we’re currently in the middle of severe rain and flooding. During a declared drought. With hosepipe bans in place. The news reporters are loving it, when they’ve got time to spare from asking awkward questions about Jeremy Hunt, anyway.

This morning, I checked the weather (using the rather swish WeatherSpark) and found that today would be fairly representative of April so far:

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So. I decided to wait until later to get out of the door. In the end I headed out during the promised gap at about 8pm, which — surprise! — materialised exactly as promised.

As I’d been feeling guilty about not getting out for a second mid-week run, I decided to put in some decent distance today, and actually managed a whole 10K, which I was pretty pleased with. 1:14:27 is only five minutes away from my best 10K race time (almost to the second), so I think that was pretty good for running alone on a wet Sunday night…

This week is looking like more of the same, so I may try the same pattern again, fitting in a couple of longer runs rather than three shorter ones. Not too long until the Bristol 10K, so it’s good to be getting some decent distances in!