Halstead marathon



  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭

    Yes, I thought the marshalls yesterday were fantastic - a couple of them remembered me stopping at 12 miles and debating with my husband whether to continue (in hindsight I'm glad he convinced me to carry on, although at the time I thought he was being really mean!) Those marshalls were there when I came through the Levit's Corner junction the next time at about 15 miles and gave me so much encouragement for carrying on - they really lifted my spirits.

    There were one or two inconsiderate drivers who didn't have the patience to wait for a few minutes for runners to go through.  There was also a cycle race taking place at the same time and the routes overlapped for a short section - the cyclists clearly hadn't been told to stick to the right (the runners were told to stick to the left) and I ended up crossing the road three or four times to allow cyclists to go past.  A few of them were quite rude too.

    My husband also said it was quite easy to move around the course.  When I was struggling in the latter stages he and my son went to 16, 19 and 23 miles as well as seeing me at 4, 12, and the finish.  It was great knowing I only ever had to run 4 miles or so before getting another cheer and a high-five from my son.

    I found the strong wind yesterday very energy-sapping at times - the parts of the course on higher ground were quite exposed and the wind was cold; my hands were freezing in these places.  Elsewhere, where it was more sheltered, it was quite pleasant although I can imagine it being a nightmare on a hot day.  The water stations were well-staffed and very friendly and efficient, although I do hate trying to drink water from plastic cups and run at the same time - I ended up inhaling it a couple of times and almost choking.  Probably best to walk the water stations and at least get a proper drink!

    Overall I think Halstead is a lovely race - far friendlier and less formal than a big-city race and I liked the low-key aspect of it.  You didn't feel like just another number - a nice touch was having everyone's names printed on the race number so you got personal encouragement as you went round.

  • Angela Isherwood 2 wrote (see)

    kandinsky, I think you did well to hang on- do u know what caused the 2nd half problems- was it just the hills?  When I look back, my bad miles I think were a hydration/nutrition issue, but thankfully I was able to get past in.  Was great to meet u and ur wife and puppy afterwards- we shall have to meet up at our suspectIve parkruns.

    To be honest I've a tendancy to over analyse these things so have tried not to get too caught up in it all....however image

    I don't think the hills were really an issue as I've tackled longer/steeper climbs in most of my longs runs leading up to Halstead and I'm struggling to identify any obvious shortcomings but suspect it's an aggregation of many small factors.

    Obviously my pacing over the first half was a factor but when I look at my paces in training and particularly at the Brentwood Half this should have been achievable but in hindsight everything has felt a bit off in my preperations over the last week or so and I probably should have been more flexible in my approach and revised my target.

    I'd purposefully avoided looking at my watch as I didn't want to beat myself up anymore than I already was and I was genuinely (and pleasantly surprised) to see 4:14 on the clock at the finish line.

    I'm inclined to put it down as "one of those days", I'll be back next year and I think the fact that it is an amazing testament to the organisers and supporters just how much I managed to enjoy myself depite the pain and dissapointment.

  • This is probably my local marathon only living about 10 miles away from the start, but it was my first time at the event.  I went in with the ambition of breaking my PB (3.33.16 from VLM 2011) but wary of what undulations/hills might do.  Set myself a target pace of 8mins 5secs for the first half thinking that if that went OK I could take it up in the second half.  As it turned out managed around 7mins 55 average for the first half, felt good enough to take it up to 7mins 40secs around miles 13 - 16 and then hung on from mile 21 to the end.  Result: PB and sub 3hrs 30mins.  I'm 50 in July so my 3.28.29 makes me wonder if a GFA at next year's London is achieveable.  Does anyone have a flat autumn marathon to recommend?
    Have to thank all the support around the course and at the water stations which were very well manned.  The way is marathon is organised and the great touches can really tell other supposedly big and better events how to do things (Cardiff Half Marathon for one - take note!).  Most cool moment was when I turned up at the Mile 18 point past Pebmarsh just at the time my wife appeared with my boys in the car at our pre-arranged cheering point.  The boys didn't even have to get out of the car!  Must get them running though!

  • Oh Minks I wonder if it was you I saw at 12 ish miles - there was a runner leaning on her husband and saying "I don't want to do it." Very hard to know what to say when you can see someone feeling totally dejected. In fact all the time I was shouting people on yesterday I must admit I was also thinking hmm, hope I'm not actually getting on their nerves image

    Sean Mo - Mablethorpe in Lincolnshire? York is meant to be flat but is full I think. And a bit of a way away there's Chester (though I didn't think it was as flat as they made out!)

  • It was a long drive down for us from Leicestershire, but worth it for an enjoyable and well organised race. 

    The uneven surfaces late in the race made it a challenge to keep the leg cramps at bay.

    We both improved on four weeks previous at Worcester. Mhairi managed a top 10 finish and I just paced it right to get the M40 London GFA by a minute.

    Many thanks to the organisers and marshals.






  • Well done to everyone ! 

    My Comrades via Halstead plan was only partially successful. I walked all the water stops except 2 miles from the end when I was beginning to get worried about the clock, and thats a first for me. I went hard on the downs and fairly positively on the ups and then used the flat bits to keep down (?) to a 9m/m pace for 3.58. But the other part of the plan was to finish feeling like I could have gone 30mins ish faster, and that didn't work - it was pretty tough and I'm not sure I would have even got below 3.50.

    Well done Angela - I'm not sure I agree with a flat course being worth 5 mins at your speed. Its probably more like 15, although my pacing was deliberately weird and I might have made it tougher for myself.

    Sean - flat and later in the year - try Pisa. I agree Chester isn't that flat.

    My first time at Halstead and I thought it was a great event - they did a really good job.

  • Thanks Kevin- if u pm me ur email I'll send you the hashing list- tonight's is in earls Colne but I don't think I'll go to it!! 

  • It's funny, with the hills/undulations/whatever you want to call them, I think it helped my race as I wasn't doing too repetitive a motion- you know like how running on the road is easier than the treadmill, I think the hills meant that none of my muscles particularly fatigued.  I did do some hill training in preparation though.  I'm doing Bournemouth in October.  I don't think it's completely flat but the course is tending to down hill.  When I started at 4:10 pace I thought I would be able to hold on enough for the second half to do it under 4:15, but n the latter parts of the course i did tend to stop and walk on the uphills, which I hadn't anticipated needing to do...

  • Hi Sean, congrats on the new shiny PB! 

    I think the fast autumn ones are mostly fully booked unless you go abroad. The other thing is that I believe the closing date for GFA is in the summer (June/July). I'm not sure but it might be worth checking with them. Number is on VLM website.

    I understand that full details will be on the website end of month!

  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭

    That's right about the GFA entries, DS2 - make sure you check the website or give them a call, because the deadline changed when Virgin took over as sponsors from sometime in August to mid-June I think - when I put in my GFA for 2012 I nearly missed the deadline because I hadn't expected it to be so soon.

    Susan, yes I think that was me you saw!  It was around 12 miles and I was definitely saying I didn't want to do it!  My husband and son persuaded (=forced!) me to carry on and with hindsight I'm glad they did.  Having DNFed at London it wouldn't have been good for my confidence going forward if I'd pulled out yesterday as well, especially as it was around the same point in the race.  Clearly I have a low point around 12 miles, so next time I'll make sure I don't have anyone supporting there so I'm forced to continue and work through it!

  • Yes definitely you Minks, I rather ineffectually offered you some sweets but you looked crushed at that point image  I had some gels in my pocket and was wondering if you needed a quick pick-me-up but thank goodness your husband was there to urge you on - what a star he is. As they say, it's the bad ones you learn most from but am so pleased you made it round.

  • Minks - you certainly didn't seem to be going too fast. In fact you were more comfortable than me so I'm sure it was the muscle injury.

    When I had my massage last week she was telling me that the hip flexors go into that area and it can cause pain in the area you were talking about. I think it may be that straightforward. I'm seeing her later in the week and will ask her.

    I wouldn't say you have a weakness at that point. You looked in pain so did amazingly well to finish. 

    Incidentally I overtook 3rd lady inside mile 25. Next year!!!

    And well done on 4th in your category. I was 9th in mine, but if I'd been 5 years younger I would have been 6th

  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭

    I do feel a bit better knowing that my performance yesterday was probably hampered by a muscle strain or tear.  It still really hurts now, despite popping ibuprofen a couple of times today.  It really did feel like a bad stitch, but the fact I couldn't get rid of it should have told me it wasn't.  The mistake I probably made was stopping at 12 miles.  Once I'd stopped but decided after a few minutes' pep talk from hubby to carry on, I found it incredibly hard to get going again and never managed to regain my earlier pace.  My legs had already started to tighten up and they struggled to turn over properly after that.

    Sue, thank you for offering me sweets image  I have no recollection of that whatsoever but was pretty distressed at that point!  I am really pleased I carried on too.  I think I'd have been really cross with myself afterwards if  had quit.

    Next time I would train specifically for Halstead, so my long runs would be over a hilly route.  I think, on reflection, that I would also cut out one of my midweek runs completely.  Factoring in hubby's and Kit's activities means I can only run (at the moment) on Monday and Tuesday morning, Wednesday evening and Friday evening as well as the Sunday long run.  Running on 4 consecutive days wasn't always good and left me very tired some weeks.  It also meant there was no place to get in a tempo or speedier run as my legs were constantly tired from the previous day's training.  Friday was really the only day for a faster run and while I managed it on some Fridays, I was quite often too tired from the week with juggling work, family and other commitments.  I think if I ditched the Monday run it would leave me fresher for the other sessions.  When I ran my PB it was on 4 runs a week, and the maximum mileage I did was 40 miles in the peak weeks of the schedule.

    I do think I'll do this race again though. image

  • Reading all your comments is brilliant. 

    Makes me want into run it next year already! So glad everyone's o.k image

    just can't believe how strong you was looking DS2 image very well done to you, amazing results all round.

  • Yay, glad to hear you'd do Halstead again- it would be good to all meet up at it again.

    did u follow a specific schedule Minks?  I did Hal higdon intermediate 1- and did the runs on the days he said.  I had race pace work on Saturdays and long runs on Sunday, then midweek was all easy, so fits in nicely with my work life.

    i did less than the plan whose peak week was 44. The most I did was 38 but was in that area a number of times.

    for Bournemouth in October I've written my own schedule as I have to fit in cycling training as well.

    what autumn marathons are we all signed up to?

  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭

    I did follow a schedule, Angela - my own one, based on Hal Higdon Intermediate II and my own experience.  I followed Intermediate I for my second marathon (to the letter) and ran 3:40.  So I trust his schedules and know they work.  My main problem is not being able to do the runs on the prescribed days.  I can't run Saturdays as there just isn't time - I spend the mornings being a taxi service taking hubby to rowing, then home, then taking Kit to his swimming lesson, then straight back to the rowing club to collect hubby.  That's the problem with only having one car, but for the two days a week that it's inconvenient we can't really justify a second. The afternoons are usually spent doing family stuff.

    Ideally I'd run Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during the week but I work late on Thursdays to accommodate going in late after school drop off, so get home too late to run, and although I run Friday it's never really a quality session as I have to be at my desk for 8am to leave at 2pm to do school pick-up so I'm always tired by the evening.  We rush straight home from school, have about 15 minutes in the house, then rush straight out again for Kit's karate class.  Just writing this makes me realise it's no surprise that I'm constantly tired - I was doing this plus 50 miles a week running!

    I'm not doing an autumn marathon.  It just doesn't work because it's difficult for me to train through the school holidays.  At the moment two of my weekly runs are done when Kit's at school, and I can't do the evenings on those days instead as hubby is at rowing.  Life gets much more complicated once you have to factor in children! 



  • Agreed Minks. Hence, me going years without running seriously and only getting back to it this winter.

    For what it's worth I pretty much ran only 4-5 days a week max this year. I actually benefitted from the 4 day weeks. It was about getting the mix right! Whenever I ran 4 days on the trot I was shattered.

  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭

    I ran 4 days on the trot EVERY week for 16 weeks, and it was always 3 miles Monday (supposedly easy recovery but rarely slow enough to qualify for that category), 10 on Tuesday usually on a tough uphill route at around 7:50-8:00 pace, 7 Wednesday in the dark and mostly bitter cold, rest Thursday although it never felt like a rest day as I don't get in from work until 7:30pm and have a mile and a half uphill walk from the station, then 5 Friday after getting up at 5:40am and having a busy day both at work and afterwards.  Saturday I usually rush around all day and on Sunday it's the long run - and I would always come home, even after 20-milers, and cook a Sunday roast for us all.

    Even yesterday after doing a marathon I cooked a roast when we got home.  I did cheat slightly and got a ready-cooked chicken, but I still did roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, gravy etc.  Hubby hadn't drunk much all day and was more flaked out than me when we got back.  So I ended up cooking, making cups of tea and clearing up after dinner. They say a woman's work is never done!

  • Blimey, you are a goddess!!! I thought Mrs DS2 was good image

    I had a lot to do yesterday with Mandy away but her mum cooked dinner for us all. I rarely cook but I never mind clearing up after. In fact I find it quite therapeutic.

    it's only when she goes away I realise what an amazing job she does, especially getting two teenage girls with autism ready and out the door on time for school.

  • Ahh yes Minks, I forget about children and how they Need to be looked after!  Especially if u work and your husband rows as well.  I think (hope) when the time comes David will look after child(ren) when I'm out running.

    how long had you been running regularly before you set your pb?  

  • And there was me thinking the pooch was hard work image.

    angela- I didn't click the other day when you said about the felstead 10k, it's being hosted by my club image. I'm most probably running it but if I don't then I'm on Marshall duty.

  • Jason - I think I was feeling really strong at the point I passed you. In fact I hadn't bothered picking my drinks and gels up at the last two stations because I didn't need them. I've never felt like that before. I said to minks afterwards that I have done all my training without a drink to train my body to get used to it. (A piece of advice I picked up on another thread) and it certainly worked.

    Having said that, if you'd seen how that grassy knoll just afterwards hit my legs you would have thought differently. I went from feeling like I could run another 5 miles to wanting to stop in about 5 strides.

    Hope everyone is feeling good today. I have a little tightness in my quads but other than that I feel fine. I'll have a little recovery run tomorrow and a sports massage and I should be fine.

    That was the other thing I did this year that I would do again. I had a massage on Wednesday. My legs felt better on Sunday than they have all year.

  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭

    Agreed, DS2 - that grassy section at 25 miles nearly finished me off (and I was pretty done in by that point anyway!)  Looking back, I think if I hadn't had a few instances of CBA (walking when I probably could have run if I'd just made the effort) I could have easily got a GFA for London.  Once I knew a PB was off the cards I mentally gave up for a spell and just couldn't be bothered to make the effort.

    Why the advice to train without taking on drinks (aside from the convenience of not having to carry anything)?  I do wonder if I took on too much fluid during the race, as in training I've only taken drinks on my 20-milers.  I seemed to feel much thirstier than I would usually do and took a couple of cups of water at every drinks station from about 16 miles onwards.

    I think I need to look carefully at my training going forward and focus on training smarter rather than harder.  I bought too easily into the concept of "higher mileage= faster times" as many runners advocate, but training isn't a "one size fits all" activity and there are many factors that can affect our performance on a day to day basis.

    Angela, I started running seriously in 2002.  My PB was set at my first race after having Kit - I was determined to prove you can still get better even after having a baby.  I would like to think that  still have PB potential and could run under 3:19 with the right preparation.  I probably ran about 150 miles fewer in my build-up when I got my PB and most of the runs during the week were shorter, but (crucially, I think) one of them each week was quite a bit faster than MP.  This time around I crammed in a lot more miles but struggled to do anything speedy because of the way my week has to be structured, which in hindsight probably leaves me too tired to manage any real quality sessions.

  • Hiya Jason- I guess I'll see you there again on Marshal duty then!  Not sure if I'll enter it just yet- I have the bupa 10k in a couple of weeks- If I pb in that, I might not bother, as I have so much cycle training, and preping for the next marathon to do....

    DS2, good you have a massage booked- I had one yesterday, but not sure how much affect it really had.  The DOMS isn't too bad, but I don't know if thats down to being better trained, or the massage image

    Minks - great you set your pb after having kit- just like Ms. Radcliffe!!  Did you train whilst pregnant as well?  I did quite a bit at HMP in the first couple of months of training, as I had a half marathon in March in which I set a 3 minute half mara pb.  I think for me, thhe biggest positve from this training campaign, is generally getting out running whatever the weather - whilst in the last month or so before taper I didn't do 5 runs a week as planned, I did for the most part do the sessions as prescribed, and rested when my body needed rest.  In the past I've tried following other schedules with more speedwork, and always ended up very very tired, and then injured or ill!  I definitely felt less tired after Sunday than I have on previous marathons, so thats a big incentive to run quicker!!!  

    I'm trying to understand what I need to do in the next few marathons to get a London GFA and eventually a BQ.  It gives me great confidence that you set your pb after having Kit!  And that you still have pb potential!  I don't know if you know Minni, on some of the other threads?  But she just did london in 3:15, a pb for her, and I think she is 41/42ish.  She managed to do something like 9 20 mile runs in her prep for london, and says thats her biggest factor in improving.

  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭

    Hi Angela, you still have plenty of room for knocking off big chunks of time.  How much did you improve your PB by on Sunday?  And I'd say Halstead wasn't the easiest of courses (I'm not sure I'd classify it as a PB course to be honest).  My marathon performances improved massively over the first few:

    2004 (FLM): 4:01 (followed Hal Higdon's Novice schedule; aim: to get round)
    2005 (FLM): 3:40 (followed Hal Higdon's Intermediate 1 schedule; aim: sub-3:45)
    2006 (FLM): 3:23 (used Intermediate 1 again I think; aim: sub-3:30)
    2010 (VLM): 3:19 (wrote my own schedule based on 4 runs a week; aim: sub-3:20).

    I'm not totally sure what the biggest contributors to my improvements were.  I think knowledge about how to train and how to structure that training must be a factor; learning how much I could push myself and gaining the confidence to take more of a risk and trust the training; focusing on my own training rather than worrying about what other people were doing - all these I think helped me to make big improvements.  Now that I'm where I am I accept that improvements will be smaller and harder won but I think I've decided not to write myself off just yet - I still think there's another PB in there somewhere.  But maybe sub-3:15 was too ambitious a target.

    I always liked the fact that Hal Higdon's schedules weren't too prescriptive.  I have never done any structured speedwork during marathon training (or ever really!) and I don't think it had any detrimental effect.  Maybe when you're looking at really fast times it does make a big difference but certainly at around the 3:30-4:00 hour mark I think you're better off just getting in the long runs and being consistent in getting the miles in each week.  What's your next goal marathon target?

    I did run when pregnant although I wouldn't call it 'training'.  I ran until 32 weeks which was pretty good going.  I only stopped in the end because I couldn't run more than about 25 yards without needing a wee by that point!


  • Hi Minks,

    Thanks for background image

    I've done 2 marathons before:

    VLM (April 2011) 4:38

    Berlin (September 2011) 4:33:57

    so Sunday's 4:18:41 was a 15 minute improvement

    With both, i had the aim to get round, but I had 4 hours in my head, which I thought given I was generally quite fit/strong, would be achievable- but I have spent a long time learning to run aerobically- rather than training in anaerobic zone I was quite happy in, having been a rower, where the majority of racing i did lasted less than 10 minutes.  For both, whilst I was fairly (not always) dedicated to doing the long run most weeks, I probably always started too fast, and faded off quite dramtically, and the mid-week runs were most often done on the treadmill, if at all.  I don't have a full record, but from what I can tell from an app on my phone about training for Berlin, I did only about 150 miles outside training.  I think I did a fair bit on the rowinng machine, but I also remember that summer, having had a break up, and only just turning 25, I did have an awful lot of awesome Friday or Saturday nights out dancing and drinking until the early hours which resulted on a hungover, or non-long run!

    During both, the marathon day itsself was v hot, and I ended up with very painful cramps, and never getting it back, so yesterday is the first one, where although I did have some CBA moments, as you put it, I generally ran the pace I intended to almost all the way.  I did intend there to be some slowing in the mid miles 16-24ish.

    My goal was always to get in a Sub 4 hour this year, and I'm doing Bournemouth in October.  The disadvantage with this one is its the inaugural race, so noone around to give me advice on the course.

    I've hijacked and adapted the training plan that Shady Ady had in the 26.2 threads, as it seemed to allow for having a fairly busy mid-week.  I think in the whole schedule he only did a run longer than  6 miles once.  I'm adjusting some of the speeds for a 4 hour attemt - he was going for 3:30.  I've put in 3 20 mile runs in my schedule, and I'm training for a 100 mile bike ride which is at the start of August, so I am really hoping that some of the endurace I pick up from that will carry over.  I'll be out on the bike for much longer than I'm out running, so I think it will help.  As such, my mileage isn't increasing much for the next marathon, but I'm also going to continue building on the fitness I've built up this time, rather than lose it all and start from scratch again, which is what happened this time.

    That being said, again the 4 hour is still a rather arbritrary number, and if I've learnt anything from this campaign, its about how much a benefit listening to your body can be!  I was trying to do my MP runs  at 9 minute miles back in January, and whilst I managed it for 4-5 miles, I wasn't able to maintain that pace consistently because sticking with it was a real push.  I did manage my half marathon at 8:51 pace though.  Its 2 months after the half now, and I have 5 months until Bournemouth, so I think thats enough time to work toward an average 9:05 pace for the marathon, but we'll see.  I think I'd still be really happy with a pb, as long as its another chunky oneimage

  • *Shady adys plan only had a MID week run longer than 6 miles once

  • Angela - that's a good point about Ady's plan. I know him from the Asics 26.2 competition and ran with him at the Surrey Spitfire 20. Sam Murphy's schedules often have low mileage and yet people perform well on it!

  • Well, as all us sportsters know, you get quicker and stronger when you're not exercising.  Recovery is so important, as is sleep!  I think part of the reason I feel so good today, even though only a couple days after the marathon is that I drank half a litre of chocolate milk immediately after crossing the finishing line.  Whilst I'm not going to even attepmt a run until the weekend, I felt quite happy cycling lightly yesterday, and will go for a spin tonight too image

  • Minks, I wonder whether you could become part of your local parkrun if you have one.  They shouuld have a facebook wall you could get on- perhaps you could find other running mummies, and work out a system where one of you could watch the children (in the park) whilst the other mum's run. I don't know what time your husband rows, but its probably an early enough start that you could also get to a Saturday morning parkrun to run a 5k? I know its not much, but it might allow you to do a fast 3 miles on a Saturday 3 weeks out of 4 rather than trying to get a tempo run in on a Friday when you're tired.  You could then still do your long run on a Sunday, as in Higdon's plan, rest on Monday, and do the runs on Tuesday and Wednesday as you have been- the rejigging of the week may help your recovery some more, and then you could turn your friday run into a sloooow recovery run in prep for the weekend's hard training?  Or just chill out and miss it.

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