reading-half

Reading Half

Three days ago now I took part in the Reading Half Marathon, and I’m still feeling a smug after-glow from the event, I have to admit. My first half marathon was the Oxford Half last October, and that was a pretty unpleasant experience as I started off too fast meaning the last few miles were utterly awful. I resolved at the time never to do another half marathon, yet within days I’d signed up for the Edmonton Half Marathon this August (the in-laws live there).

A little later, I figured I’d sign up for Reading too since I work at the university, which is on the route, and over the last six months I’ve started running to work regularly, hence plodding along many of the streets that form the route for the Reading Half.

The contrast between Oxford and Reading halves couldn’t be more stark; there’s a mere 60 seconds between the times in which I completed each 5km segment of the race, which stunned me in terms of consistency of pace. Of course, I was generally very close to the 1:45 pacer throughout which helped, but all throughout the run this felt like it was about the right pace I was hoping to set, and indeed in the final few kms I left the pacer behind.

The other thing that surprised me about this run was how much I enjoyed the road-side support, in particular the bands playing live music throughout. I hadn’t thought I’d be particularly bothered by it, but I found the music really helped give me a boost each time I passed any source of music, even if it was someone blazing music out of their house on a stereo.

old-harry

50km and 1000m in Dorset

Following closely on from my 6┬ádays in Washington DC was a week in Dorset, near Corfe Castle, on holiday with family. The weather didn’t play ball too much earlier in the week, but nonetheless my brother-in-law is getting himself back into running and hence provided a good running companion for much of the week.

I managed exactly 50km in Washington, without a huge amount of elevation, but in Dorset, and in particular near the Purbeck Way, a ridge-way of a “Way”, I managed to climb over 1000m in elevation. I usually struggle to make Strava’s climbing challenge, and indeed on arriving on holiday I was 400m short with just a few days left, but I managed to pass 1500m for the month of March within the first three days of the holiday.

On the first night we ran with a huge torch as being in the countryside, it’s a bit dark in the night. We were staying in a place called Harman’s Cross, which as the name suggests, it set out in a cross-shape reflecting a cross roads. The main road goes from Corfe Castle to Swanage, and the road crossing it goes into the hills on either side of the valley we were in.

https://www.strava.com/activities/526611523/embed/30b93a419777fb7eacdde77ee3e5ee24e73c0555

As you can see if you follow the above link, we ran a cross shape almost perfectly, and we did this on Good Friday, the day that Christians celebrate the death of Jesus on a Cross.

Following on from this, the next morning we went out to run along the coast from Langton Matravers to a lighthouse near Swanage.

https://www.strava.com/activities/526934404/embed/18c2ea322823cd725eb488f63a2bff61db0a81a3

This was an epic run in so many ways, as the weather was foul, with high winds (Storm “Katie” was on its way in), and a very challenging terrain on the best of days, running through fields and up and down narrow pathways along the cliffs. It also involved a huge amount of elevation, over 200m for a 9km run. It was great fun though, really enjoyable and refreshing.

The next morning we headed out up the hill towards the Purbeck Way, the ridgeway above where we were staying, and once we got to the top we turned left to run towards Corfe Castle. The views on the top were fantastic, 360 degree panoramas for many miles around, and as we got nearer to Corfe Castle, a great view of the castle from above.

https://www.strava.com/activities/527947563/embed/17cd8173959d847e4d26ab33b8040a1c4838c705

We ran down the hill at Corfe Castle and came back along a back road that skirts the Purbeck Way. This road turned out to be probably more hilly than going up the ridge, as it undulates so much. Good challenge though, and running narrow country lanes is great provided cars don’t come along unexpectedly…

The next two runs were on my own, two 6km routes I’d devised to keep myself out of trouble with the wife. I thought the first was quite hilly, going up to the back road mentioned in the last run, but it turned out this was nothing compared to the hill on the second run, up towards Worth Matravers.

https://www.strava.com/activities/529250863/embed/c15f1eae5285da34368377ee2f609a7463b63a0b

https://www.strava.com/activities/530053076/embed/a39fa02ba867416c38ed005c00728d9441f84612

Our last run, on the last evening, was truly the epic run of the week, and one of my most enjoyable runs ever – enjoyable for different reasons than the House of Cards Half Marathon. We ran up to the Purbeck Way again, but turned right rather than left, towards Swanage, and in particular towards our final destination of Studland, via Old Harry, a coastal stack. The run was timed to perfection as the sun was setting as we ran along, and it set just as we finished in Studland, having got some great photos at Old Harry. It was another hilly run, but somehow when you know the view is going to be awesome once you make it, that makes the hill a bit less hard work. In places it was seriously steep, reaching an incline of near 20%.

https://www.strava.com/activities/531932385/embed/826172d135409332c36e91c0aa3691cadbf5cfaf

So, 51.9km to be precise, and 1018m in elevation gain (that includes an extra short run with the wife one evening). A great week, and I’m increasingly enjoying my running as it gives the opportunity to get out and about when otherwise we might sit around in the house doing nothing. I feel refreshed this week, back at work, even despite not getting as much sleep as I might whilst away due to deciding to go running.