At the beginning of the year I set some targets as regards running:

1) Complete 12 half marathons in 12 months
2) Go Sub 23:30 for the 5K
3) Go sub 50 for the 10K

The first target seemed doable in January, enter half marathons, treat them as easy runs and just try to enjoy them whilst picking up the bling at the end. Unfortunately the first two in March proved to be incredibly tough (not sure why as I'd trained quite a bit) and then I picked up a groin injury in April that set me back a month or so. I wasn't looking forward to the Seaford half as it was quite hilly, however the up hills were all in the first half of the race and the second half was most gloriously downhill, making it more enjoyable than the first two. Wyre Forest proved to be another tough one with the last mile or so an up hill trawl, but ultimately enjoyable. Indian Queens in Cornwall last week was the most I've enjoyed a half for quite some time. I came within 2 seconds of getting inside 2hrs which considering we were doing it as a long slow run and had jogged around chatting for the first 8 miles I was rather pleased with. Now have Henfield this coming Sunday and Barns Green booked for September along with looking to do a further one in September as well. So the 12 in 12 seems to be firmly on track.

The sub 23:30 was achieved back in February as part of the club's Parkrun Grand Prix series. Again I missed out on going sub 23 by 2 seconds, but I was rather chuffed with taking a big chunk out of my PB and feel given the right course and conditions I might get that down more. So that one was ticked.

The 10K target has been a bit more elusive for the simple reason I've been concentrating more on half marathons and so the opportunity to enter any events has been limited. However I entered the Race the Sun 10K which was held yesterday at Hyde Park, along with a couple of friends. I wasn't really expecting much in the way of a time as I'd not really rested after the half 10 days previously. In fact on the Sunday before I had gone for a 1hr 40 rather hilly training run with 3 times 12 mins at race pace, so my legs were still feeling that. However the conditions seemed quite good for a decent run, it had been raining so was coolish and the course was nice and flat. 

The race was 4 laps of Hyde Park and I figured if I was near 25 minutes at the halfway point then the sub 50 might be on. I decided to take the first lap relatively easily to see how my legs felt, not being too worried about not being up with an 8min/mile pace and by the end of the second lap I still felt relatively fresh, but was over the 25 minute mark. The third lap I decided to push on a bit, passing another runner who had annoyingly spent a lap speeding up just as I'd pull alongside them only to slow down again (not sure why that annoys me, but it does). Entering the final lap I still felt surprisingly OK. I tried to relax my stride as I pushed myself on. Getting into the last mile I was lapping slower runners and walkers and I had to speed up to clear a potential jam just before going into a corner. Having sped up I found the pace OK and decided to maintain it. Big mistake. In the last 400m the legs started to go. From having done the previous mile at 7:20 pace I was now down to 8:15 and struggling. I generally love a sprint finish, but as the line came into sight my legs just wouldn't do what I wanted them to do. I somehow managed to keep going and as I crossed the line stopped my Garmin and looked down. 50:00:4!! Sometimes life is cruel. OK, it's a PB, but for the sake of 0.5 of a second!!!


  • Oooh - close. Hyde Pk is deceptively undulating too.

    Yes targets are great - but i'll never get my head around doing x amount of races in a year. Seems expensive and pointless. Basically spending possibly £400 - £500 away on Sunday runs all for the sake of a Medal.

    Just focus on training and getting the targets down. Spend the money you save on the halfs on a holiday ;)

  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    There was a cheeky slope at the beginning of the lap, although that was matched by a nice down slope stretch towards the last third. But compared to what I have been doing as regards hills this was flat :smile:

    The 12 in 12 is also a mix of running tourism. It provides an excuse to go away for a weekend (Philadelphia and Wyre Forest) or tagged on to a holiday (Indian Queens was at the beginning of a week in Cornwall). There were plans for Dubrovnik and Valencia (too late as entries were full) and Budapest (expensive at 80 euros and then the flights and hotel would have made it exorbitant). All the others have been surprisingly good value. I think most of the entrance fees have been around the 25 quid mark - Philly the exception as it was $80. But then compared to New York, where a package would have cost £1600, that was a bargain given using points for flights and hotels :smiley:

    But as you say a holiday would be good. Wonder if there's any Caribbean races going on :wink:  
  • Oh well if you put it like that.....I want your job ;)
  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    You're more than welcome Simon, although I get up at 4am to get a 5am train :wink:

    Number 6 was completed yesterday at Henfield, which is near Brighton. This looked the easier one of the last 3 that we've done as the course was relatively flat. However a good 30% of the run was cross country, with the last mile or so round the edge of fields. A deluge of rain at the start meant that the already wet ground was pretty sodden and that last mile was tricky as you were faced with the option of running on the muddy path and not being able to get a grip (cross trainers may have been the way to go, but then that would have impacted when running on the tarmac parts) or to run in the longer grass. Went for the latter option, but that sapped the legs somewhat and meant that a sprint at the finish was beyond me.

    Even so pleased to get round. Have one booked for the end of September and looking to do another one on the 8th of September. There's a circuit run at Brooklands on that day. That may prove to be a fast option.
  • I hope could insist running with my two kids from 6:30-7:30 pm, at present it's 35 days
  • The remaining 6 halfs are now all booked in:-
    • Arundel - this Saturday
    • Barns Green - the 29th of Sept
    • Chiswick - 20th of Oct (did look at Chichester as it's relatively close, but it's on the 6th which is my birthday and I somehow didn't want to do a half then)
    • Bexhill - 9th of November
    • Bedgebury - 17th of November
    • Portsmouth - 22nd of Dec
    Of those I think Chiswick, Bexhill and Portsmouth offer the best option of a decent time. Bexhill is a loop and it comes after a holiday, so at least I'd have got in a taper for that. 
  • Arundel now done and ticked off. A gorgeous Saturday in the south, clear blue sky and temperatures touching into the 20s by the time the race started. The course was a 10.5K lap, starting at the cricket club, and there were four events going on:
    • A marathon comprising 4 laps of the course
    • A team event over the marathon distance with 4 runners doing a lap
    • The half marathon
    • A 10K
    The marathon and team event went off at the same time, the half an hour later and the 10K an hour after that. As such you had people starting the half at the same time as you had marathon runners coming through to complete their first lap. All rather confusing, especially out on the course where you were never really sure who was running which event.

    The briefing had mentioned that the course was very much up and down, very little on the flat. How true this was as only the first and last half a km was flat and could be classed as an even running surface. The rest was trail running along single path tracks and through forests with some very steep ups and downs. Enjoyment of any views was negated by the need to keep ones eye on the ground for trip hazards. There were two major hills to go up, one having steps cut in and so a queue appeared as people decided to walk up. 

    At the end I had posted my slowest ever time for a half (I should add that I was running with my partner who struggled having tweaked her ankle on the first lap and really didn't like the hills), but even with the toughness of the run I thoroughly enjoyed it. The second lap seemed to be quicker than the first (it wasn't) and we even managed a sprint finish. The added bonus of a burger included in the price of the entry was an incentive to get across the line.

    And the thought that struck me during that second lap - "Wonder what it would be like to do the full marathon." Which is, of course, complete madness.
  • Number 8 now completed, although not without issues.

    Barn's Green is a really lovely little village close to Christ Hospital School in Sussex. They effectively shut the place down for the day, having welcomed over a 1000 runners into their midst, and turn out en masse to support the event. The course is primarily over roads with a few undulations and a couple of cheeky...ish hills. The weather forecast was for gales, which didn't really appear, and rain. Which did, but was actually quite welcome.

    The previous day I'd done a Parkrun as an easy run. Just a gentle jog around. Although after a km of an easy pace I suddenly felt the side of my left leg going into a kind of spasm. All rather weird, but I carried on going and it didn't seem to affect my running too much. It didn't feel like a calf tear or strain, but I certainly noticed it and as the day went on the pain got worse to the point where I found it painful to use the clutch when driving. 

    On the day of the half itself I wore compression sleeves for the first time on my legs in the hope that would help and for the first 6 miles there wasn't really a problem. In fact having decided to stay with the 2hr pacer we'd run ahead after the first mile and were doing 8:30 - 8:40 pace without any real issues. Then beyond 6 miles the muscle started to contract in a strange way. At 9 miles I had a major spasm in it and lost touch with my partner. The 2hr pacer came past just about then and I decided to stick with them as a group to drag me around. That worked for a mile and I could see the gap close up to my partner who was about 50m ahead, thinking I could close up more on the hills and then stride out for the finish. Then I was struck by cramp. That meant I had to walk for a mile trying to ease out the tension and jogged/limped the last two miles.

    Very annoying as sub 2hrs was definitely in reach (partner ran 1:57) and possibly getting on for 1:55. At the end I was just pleased to finish, just the thought of keeping on with the 12 in 12 kept me going.

    Oh well, three weeks to Chiswick.
  • Number 9 done and dusted in Chiswick and what an enjoyable day and course.

    This was the first time they've held the event, which started and finished at Chiswick House and went along the Thames. Apart from someone losing the keys to the lead off car and dropping a water barrel at one of the feed stations, which lead to a 10 min delay in starting, it all went off without a hitch. We had pretty much perfect conditions with a crisp, sunny day, cool air, little wind and a flat course. There were a few twists and turns, some narrow points and a mad woman standing at one end of an alleyway shouting at runners to go another way, but that added to the event. The only criticism I would have was the lack of mile markers. 

    I was running with a friend from work in his first half marathon. He wanted to get under 2 hours. My internal response to that was "Wouldn't we all, but I've not done that for 4 years!!" My external response was "Sure, I'll pace you for that, but don't underestimate how hard that might be so don't be disappointed."

    Having run with him for the last year he has come on in leaps and bounds and is an inspiration to anyone else who wonders about running or whether they can improve. When he started training with us his best time for 5K was 45 mins. He has since got that down to the mid 20s and 55 mins for 10K, but until a few weeks ago he'd never run beyond 7 miles.

    I set the virtual pacer on my Garmin for 9:10 min/miles, knowing that would get us close enough to 2 hrs that we could make a decision how he was at 11 and then push on. My partner decided to run ahead as she was keen to get under 1:55 and figured I would be slower. Or blow up. After the initial jockeying for position in the first mile we settled into a decent rhythm and by the third mile we were about a minute up on our target pace, having settled into running at 8:45 min/miles. We just kept this going.

    By the 8th mile we caught up with my partner ran, past her and ploughed on. I did miscalculate towards the end, thinking the 12th mile was the 13th and put in a kick (the dangers of just running to a virtual pacer), but we kept going for the last mile and managed a sprint finish. At the end we were incredibly pleased to see we'd gone 1:52:36. I am exceptionally pleased for my friend that his first half went so well and that he didn't just achieve his target, he absolutely smashed it. Personally I think the responsibility of getting him back helped me enormously as it kept me focused on trying to run as evenly as possible.

    I now have a bit of a break for a holiday and then back for the 10th half in a little under 3 weeks in Bexhill. That, again, will hopefully be a flat course with the view to pacing my partner round to a sub 1:55.
  • NessieNessie ✭✭✭
    That's a great result Guarddog, especially after a "miscalculation". 
  • Thanks Nessie. I'm very pleased with it, it's my fastest time for 4 years. I'd said that it was more about doing the 12 in a year than the time and had decided (after the tough runs at Eastbourne and Philadelphia) that I would just enjoy the occasions. But having 'flirted' with a sub 2hr three times I was kidding myself that the time wasn't important. Especially with my partner having gone under it. Not that we're competitive at all....ahemmmm.
  • Number 10 completed at a rather chilly Bexhill. The Poppy Half was held as part of the Remembrance Day events and as such featured the national anthem and a 2 minute silence at the start, both being well observed. There then followed a speech that no one could hear and went on far too long whilst runners shivered just wanting to get going.

    The drive over to Bexhill had been done in sunshine, but by the time the race started the clouds were rolling in and the wind had picked up off the sea. The course itself was essentially 3 laps of the seafront, 2 of 5 miles and then a shorter last lap of 5K to bring us up to the half distance. There'd been 5K and 10K races earlier and some were doing all three races. We also had people doing the distance carrying Bergans of upwards of 25kg. An amazing feat of strength and endurance.

    The plan was to run with the 1:55 pacer to try and get my partner in under that time. I have to say the pacer was top notch, set a very even pace and was incredibly encouraging throughout. It was also nice to run in a group who tried to keep each other going and fortunately we didn't get the rain that had been forecast. Again there were a lack of mile markers, but the 'laps' meant you pretty well knew how far you'd run.

    At about 8 miles my partner begun to drop off the pace a bit and by the 9th mile she was some 50m back. I dropped off the pace group to try and give her something to aim for and then hope to help her work her way back to the group itself, however she was really struggling at that point and started to walk. I was left with the choice of showing my caring nature and going back to encourage her, or decide that I was going to run on and try and get a decent time. I did the latter  >:) It meant I had to make up a 100m to get back to the group, but eventually managed it.

    As we entered the last lap I was trying to gauge how much I'd got left and decided to leave it until the last mile before stepping up the pace, eventually finishing in 1:54:38 with the pacer coming in bang on 1:55 (thanks Ash for running that perfectly). 

    Again, well organised (although could have done without the speeches at the start), thanks to the marshals, who stoically put up with the cold, and the cheers of encouragement from people on the seafront. The bling is good too. I think even paced running suits me better as I felt I was running within myself for most of the race.

    Two more to go now with Bedgebury coming up this Sunday. I think we're just going to jog round that one.
  • Number 11 ticked off. The half at Bedgebury was run through a forest trail in the Kent Weald, similar in style to Wyre Forest. A lot of the course was over gravel paths (with some rather annoying and tricky cobblestone sections), but part of it was pure trail with the resultant ankle deep mud. Aligned with it's undulatory nature this made for a tough race and trail shoes were the footwear of choice.

    The start was on grass, the conditions not helped by the sodden nature of the ground being churned up by tractors the day before, so those wearing normal runners had a tough introduction. And due to to everyone trying to find a decent 'racing line' progress was slow as people slid around. 

    Weather conditions on the day were fine, a bit chilly but little wind and running through the forest meant that we were shielded by that. The race involved two loops of the course with a slightly longer second loop, which meant you knew you were going to have to face the mud hills twice. So those people gingerly avoiding puddles earlier in the race were in for a shock later on. The mud was ankle deep and absolutely sapped the strength out of ones legs. Going down hill was just as bad as going up, probably more treacherous as you didn't have complete control.

    Having said that we were on for something like a 2:07 finish when at mile 11 my partner pulled up sharply with pain in her knee on one side and her hip on the other. We figured that she may have tweaked her knee earlier on the cobblestones and had then adjusted her running style to compensate, hence her having a problem with her hip. So the last two miles were a walk/jog affair, with the last mile a rather cruel uphill affair and knowing we would have to run through the same conditions that we faced at the start. Eventually got over the line in 2:21. Not our slowest run of the year, but one of the most frustrating.

    The run was well marshaled, again hats off to those volunteers who stood out in the cold, and well signposted around what was quite a tricky route. The bling is also good. The downsides were the conditions and the lack of any real beverage and food provision at the end. A cup of coffee after schlepping through mud for over two hours would have been welcome.

    A month's break now until the final half in Portsmouth just before Xmas. In the meantime I have a 5K race next week and then winter training starts at the beginning of December. I am considering going up a pace group to see if I can go inside 1:50.
  • Nice race reports Guarddog.

    Good luck with the 5k and your 12th half!
  • Thanks Hazelnut - the 5K should be fine and is part of the clubs ranking system for races over specified distances - 5K, 10K, 10 miles, half and full. It's ticking the 5K box. Next year I plan to do all of the distances, so have to think of a full to do.
  • Number 12 done and, despite the rather wet conditions, dusted.

    Portsmouth should have been a flat out and back and, in theory, a chance to post a fast time. There were 3 events occurring on the day - an ultra, a full marathon and a half, each starting at different times. The half was the last to set off and due to the tide times was 30 mins later than originally scheduled.

    After a rather muted start (I wasn't aware we'd started as everyone was generally milling around and it was only when people around me moved that I realised it was go) the first two miles or so headed east along the promenade at Southsea. Again, like Chiswick, we lacked mile markers. I also lacked my partner who, disappointingly, had to pull out due to an IT band issue picked up at Bedgebury. 

    After the promenade the run moved along a very wet and muddy path that hugged the coast like a warm coat on a winter's day. At times it was, frustratingly, single file and so you were forced to run at the pace of the person in front. We then dropped on to the "feature" element of this race which was to move onto a section of the beach (hence the reason for the tide times). This was muddy, sandy, seaweedy and wet. No point in trying to keep runners or feet dry, just plough on. Fortunately this only lasted for about half a mile and it was nice to be able to get up on to solid, if muddy, ground again.

    Midway through the run I'd settled in to a nice rhythm, I'd figured on keeping to about a 9 min/mile pace to bring me in around the two hour mark. At one point as we ran alongside a busy road I was greeted by the sound of encouraging horns being blared by drivers as they went past. Even more encouragement greeted me as the run turned from the road to what was a kind of nature reserve. "How friendly," I thought, until it struck me that I was running between a man dressed as Wonder Woman and a Santa carrying a man on his back who were the subject of both blaring horns and warm applause. Still I'd take the reflected glory and set off to pass Wonder Woman before the turnaround point.

    The run back was tempered by the thought of the beach again, however I felt good as we approached it. The wind, by this time, had picked up a bit more and annoyingly it was in my face. At the beach I tried to keep up the pace, but it proved difficult and running on the shingle took a bit more than I'd hoped out of my legs. So going in to the last 3 miles I was starting to feel it and it was with a vast amount of relief that the finishing line appeared, even if I couldn't muster too much of a sprint and was overtaken by some of the quicker marathon runners (dammit!!). In the end I did 1:56:55. Very pleased to get inside 2 hours on what was, on reflection, quite a tough course. Although if it had been drier I can see that it would be quite quick.

    The bling was good and there was a welcome pint at the finish. Again a well organised run, enthusiastic marshals, although only the one water station. Perhaps they're trying to reduce their single plastic use.

    So this target has been reached. I'm disappointed about the 10K goal, but I'm going to try and plan that one better next year. To be honest I didn't really think 12 halfs in 12 months was doable, especially after the first two. But I have to say I've really enjoyed it and it's been an excellent excuse to get out and keep running.

    Merry Christmas everyone and here's to a great New Year.
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