Blue Runnings

Race Reviews, GPX files and more from North-East England

Run 2 Remember Sunderland 2016

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Run 2 Remember has rolled around again raising money for 4 major military personnel supporting charities. This was high on J’s list of favourite runs last year so it had to make the calendar this year – and they had a raffle and tombola! Who doesn’t love a race where you can win things without even running?

This is the second year we’ve run this one, and it’s setting a trend for sunshine, even if there was a bit of a shower on the way there. πŸ™‚ We also had another friendly face we recognised (we didn’t know anyone except Hippie the photographer and his family last year) in the appearance of R at the start line! J was obviously getting into the zone right from the gathering at the starting banner, and as we started off she shot off looking for ‘space’ and I don’t think actually heard me when I attempted to start a conversation with her as we set off. Ironically after a few hundred yards when I’d just decided to set my own steady pace and leave her to it, I actually had all the space around me, while J 50 yards in front was still in a pack of people. There was the most enormous buzzard overhead on the starting half-mile and J (usually a birdwatcher) was completely oblivious to it.

R caught me up as we reached the bottom of the hill and prepared to set out along the field to the lake, and given how close behind me he finished (we’ll come to that later!) presumably stayed not far behind me for the rest of the race though I was blissfully unaware of this and pootling along in my own little world. I saw The Buzzard, many gulls, swans, ducks and heard something making an odd noise at the bottom end of the lake, though I didn’t see the owner of the little voice…

J was getting an increasing lead by this point – I was waving at her from the other side of the lake as she started her second lap ahead of me – and the irony of doing the same thing the year before when I was finishing my second lap and she was starting hers was not lost upon me! I caught a glimpse of a pink-sided ninja vest as I joined the straight along the field and she was reaching the end of it, and that was it until the finishing straight at the end of the hill! Last year, it was me that was ahead and I must confess to sneaking a walk in on the long hill back up to the finish line, while J (very indignant when she found this out) had kept a steady pace up and managed to make it up the whole thing. I don’t think I’m capable of ever being quite as stubborn as J when it comes to much, but I did decide to myself that I was going to get into the J-zone and repeat her steady all-the-way-round approach of last year and make it up the hill, still pootling along.

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The Sun Shines on Sunderland – Run 2 Remember

The morning of the Run 2 Remember race in Sunderland, this article came up on my facebook news feed. Reading it really helped bring into focus for me what the charities behind the Run 2 Remember series are working for and towards, and made me feel so incredibly lucky to still have the use of all my facilities. I haven’t really been following the Walk With the Wounded Tour of Britain, just had a general awareness that it was going on. The woman featured in the story has had most of her body rebuilt over the last few years, and then walked 1000 miles before being scheduled to have her leg amputated. That’s just the physical barriers she’s overcome. If that doesn’t make you grateful you’re able to swing yourself out of bed in the morning and sweep away all excuses for not doing something I really don’t know what will.

When I booked this race, it was to be my last 5k of the year and I was hoping for a shot at a pb – November race, should be nice and cold, flat course, good paths… A good plan except someone forgot to tell the weather what time of year it was, so it was 15-16’C and when running it felt like July, there were several long hills near the end, and I’d forgotten to take into account the fact it’s autumn so all those lovely tarmac paths were covered in wet leaves. Fun times ahead!

The course followed what I believe is the Sunderland parkrun route and it was very pretty and less hilly than the Blackhill one! J and I completely melted on the way round but we made it – down the hill, twice round the lake (fortunately a small lake as I don’t do well with laps!), along the field and then up…and more up…and up some more to the finish line! We raided the burger van for sausage rolls with onions because we’d totally earned them. We got a pretty funky medal and a goody bag filled with yummies, and for some reason low sodium salt in vast quantities…

I enjoyed this one πŸ™‚ A good reason to get up on a Sunday morning – though personally I would have liked it about 10 degrees colder!

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You can download the GPX data for this course from my Dropbox account by following the link below:

GPX data on Dropbox

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon – Liverpool

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Today, I have officially knocked off a major milestone in my running journey! I’ve completed my first half marathon event, and run further than I ever have before πŸ™‚ I entered the Rock ‘n’ Roll series half marathon in Liverpool at the start of the year looking for a big event to help carry me round, and one that was as flat as possible as battling the distance is hard enough! You’ll see on the elevation graph that Liverpool isn’t as flat as I was hoping…there’s a few 50m climbs in there I didn’t see coming, but they were all relatively shallow and fortunately all in the first half so it was almost entirely downhill for the second half! I must admit, a run like this is the best way to see a new city – there was no traffic because the roads were closed for the event, the route was designed to take you past or through the monuments and parks, and I saw far more of it than I would have done had I been walking it! The roads which had caused such baffled vexation yesterday were a breeze on the well-signed and fenced off course today! I’d have been hard pressed to go the wrong way with the number of marshalls too!

My race breakfast consisted of croissants with jam, watermelon and orange juice – nothing too heavy and hopefully a moderate mix of early access sugars and some carbs…and I pinched some cupcake mini muffin things for later. Gotta love somewhere that serves up double chocolate and blueberry mini muffins as part of its breakfast menu! Then I dragged P out of bed and he came with me to find the corrals at the start πŸ™‚ They’d put some weird one way systems in, it turned out where we were going was literally right outside the front door of our hotel, but because we’d gone out the back door we had to walk round three other buildings and a giant ferris wheel to get to them. I have no idea how many people there are, I heard 8000 over the tannoy at the end but I don’t know if that was total runners or just one of the events as they had the full marathon running at the same time, or the whole weekend as they also had a 5k yesterday, and a kids’ one miler today!

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Great Manchester Run

great-run-largeI booked the Great Manchester Run at the start of the year when I was trying to fill my calendar with at least one event a month to try and give myself something to aim for through the year and keep me getting my trainers on. P & I were originally going to book a weekend in Manchester and do it together, but it was booked before he went onto shift – and typically his first day shift was the same as the run, so rather than knocking myself out trying to drive down (and parking in Manchester centre when half the roads are shut?! No thank you!), I booked the train down and back and headed off after dropping P off at work.

Getting to Manchester was no problem at all, unsurprisingly the trains are rather empty at 9am on a Sunday morning, and knowing where I was going to get to the race start and the baggage drop off – and how to get round the busy race start zone to get to the bag drop at the other end really helped too! The first wave was heading off just as I got to the race area, and I had to actually cross the race route after they’d passed to get to where I was going. I’ve not used the baggage drop services at a race before really – I left my waterproof behind at the baggage place at the Thirsk 10, but that was it. I was a bit iffy about leaving my bag in the room – there wasn’t any real control or labelling, only people with race numbers were allowed in but that was it. Being a paranoid android, I had my phone, wallet and keys in a waist pouch with me and just left a change of clothes and book behind in my backpack.

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North Tyneside Road Race – 10km – A Taste of Summer

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What a gloriously sunny day for a run! A positively tropical 12ΒΊC and clear blue skies for Easter Sunday. It makes a massive contrast to the horrible snow and hail we were running in only last Tuesday – I can’t believe it was less than a week ago! I made it to the leisure centre at North Shields early enough to nab an on-site parking space and then loitered around there – without a jacket on, or tied around my waist in my usual ridiculous ways! I’d not even taken one with me, my hoody was in the car but that wasn’t even an option for running in. I had my buff on my head, but I’d been fine with that on muggy Saturday’s morning run. And the great thing? Even while standing around outside the sports centre for 40 minutes I wasn’t cold! Unheard of for the cold North on an April morning! I was running really lightly laden for me – only a tiny waist pouch with phone, dextrose tablets, keys and a small amount of cash – normally for a 10k I take the bigger bum-bag with the bottle pouch, but this time with there being a water station in the middle I didn’t bother with it – and of course made myself psychologically thirsty at the start line without it and had to visit the water fountain a few times!

The North Tyneside 10k is a road race from North Shields to St Mary’s Lighthouse and follows right along the coast, the views were fab, and with the exception of a bit of a pig of a hill by Tynemouth Priory, which I’ve only ever seen from further up the coast and never been to, the route was pretty much flat or downhill for the whole stretch. I still don’t think I can say I’ve been there – I know nothing about its history or anything, but as with Penshaw Monument, I have been ignorant from a much nearer distance! I’ve been to Whitley Bay before, but only to the Sea Life Centre or for a walk along the beach from about halfway between the aquarium and the lighthouse – and never in the direction of the lighthouse, so I’ve probably only covered maybe 2.5 miles of this stretch of coastline.

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Thirsk Ten

Today was my first attempt at a 10 mile race – first time running the distance at all, and first time in an official event. It’s also the first time I’ve been to an event that was organised by a running club rather than a racing organisation, and I was very impressed – Thirsk and Sowerby Harriers did a fantastic job planning and running a long road race that felt welcoming to all levels.

As expected, after the initial mad passing of many people at the start (passing me, not me passing them!) where I learned very quickly how to jog along with my elbows in so I didn’t cause too many injuries, the runners spaced out. Also as expected, I was near the back almost from the get-go! I set my pace more on my breathing than my speed or having any particular time in mind and pottered along at a comfortable jog. The route was gorgeous: the sun was shining, the roads were clear – the long road for the first few miles had been closed off to cars so I bimbled right down the middle, mainly just because I could! I realised when doing the 10km at Kielder last year and after the first 2km wondering if I’d actually make it round, that I just enjoy having my own space to enjoy the settings of a race – not running in a pack where my pace gets upset by mismatching people around me, getting pulled along at a rate I’m not comfortable with or feeling demoralised when starting to lag behind. I also quite enjoy just watching other runners; spotting the neutrals and pronators, different length strides, different breathing techniques, different gear. There were two wheelchair racers that I saw, one runner with a wheelchair passenger, a blind runner with a guide, large runners, small runners, short runners, tall runners, the speed demons and the steady plodders, all in a multitude of colours – pinks, blues, yellows and greens. The great thing about being at the back is seeing the colourful trail highlighting the route in front of you, it’s like a train of peacocks out on display! I think pretty much every type of runner must have been represented today!

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