Monday Motivation 

Monday Motivation 

Hello! Anyone else wilting in this unseasonable weather? I’m not complaining- definitely not- we’ve had a great long, warm spell recently. This weekend I did more gardening, went for a run, a hot tub and chilled out. It was amazing, and just what I needed after a tough week.

Today’s started off the same way last week finished, and so my eye is firmly on enjoying this weather while it lasts and keeping my training on track this week. And here’s what I’m using as my focus….

 Exactly! 🙂

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Race Report: The Great North Run 2015

Race Report: The Great North Run 2015

Date: 13th September 2015

Profile: Flat

Terrain: Road

Weather: Warm and sunny

Website: greatrun.org

Positives: excellent organisation, first class support, seems like the whole of Newcastle, Gateshead and South Shields get behind the event

Negatives: I hate to complain about sunshine, but it was unanticipated, and I could have done without it!

As with many runners, the Great North Run has been on my bucket list for years. I had secured a lace last year, but had to defer after I picked up an injury. So, I felt more than ready and a bit overwhelmed as the date for this race came around. To add to all of that, the news that Mo Farah was running just made it even more special.

The lead up to the event was great, with frequent emails from the Great Run team and numerous social media posts about the event really meant I was looking forward to it, and very excited. @TheWelshWookie and I had booked the ‘coach, sleep and run’ package from Glasgow, via Nirvana Europe, and we didn’t quite know what to expect. We knew that our accommodation would be in Newcastle University halls of residence, which were very near the start line, and we were open to just seeing how the weekend turned out. It was excellent, and I can’t recommend the Nirvana Europe package highly enough.

We arrived at Buchanan Bus Station on Saturday morning, and spotted our bus right away:  

 We were first at the bus stance, but before long, a few other runners arrived. There were 10 of us on the bus, and it was a great crowd of friendly, supportive runners – as I’m sure you’d expect. Due to the low numbers, the coach had been subbed for a minibus (albeit a nice, comfy one), and our driver, Frank introduced himself. He’d been drafted in at short notice, and – to be honest – didn’t have much of a clue about where he was going. But, being a friendly bunch, mobiles were used as sat navs, to get us to where we were going.

Anyway, we made it to Newcastle, and to our digs, which were at Castle Leazes. We were warmly welcomed, and headed to the check in area where we were given our room keys and a goody bag:  

  That was a lovely wee surprise! There were plenty of staff on hand to continue with the welcome, and to make sure we found our rooms ok. The rooms were basic, as you’d expect, but ideal, with a bed, sink, desk, shelves, etc. There was plenty of tea and coffee available in the communal kitchen area, which was welcome.  

 In the evening, @TheWelshWookie and I headed out into the city, to find our bearings. We easily found the start line, and snapped a picture of what would be the start muster in only a few hours:  

 We then wandered through the city centre, and down to see the iconic landmarks at the quayside, such as the millennium bridge, and the Sage building:  

 We noticed that there was someone on the roof of the Sage building. Imagine our surprise when we got home and watched back the coverage to discover that it was none other than fellow runner and thoroughly good bloke, Professor Brian Cox, recording the opening scenes for the TV coverage! 😀   

  After a quick bite to eat, we took a lovely stroll up past St James’ Park, and back to the halls of residence for an early night. 

 As ever, I had my race gear ready to go the night before: 

 We were up at a decent time, and had arranged to get our bags back to the mini bus at 8am, so that Frank could get the bus out before the roads were closed, and we arranged to all meet back at the South Shields pick up point by 3pm or 3.30pm for departure. We then went to the refectory for breakfast. There was a brilliant spread: while we stuck to our usual breakfast of fruit and yoghurt, there was plenty of porridge and bananas being consumed, as well as some folks enjoying a full cooked breakfast 😮

Wee were grateful for the Newcastle Uni goody bags, as we could use these for some snacks and a change of clothes at the finish line. The forecast was for grey, cloudy skies and cool temperatures, so I thought we’d need something warm to change into. It had been very chilly when we put our bags onto the mini bus. Little did we know that this was going to change!

But, as we had decided to take bags, we had to get these onto the baggage buses by 10.10am. So, at around 9.50am, we strolled up to the start area, which had been totally transformed from the evening before. We easily found the right buses, and stashed our bags. I remembered to take a photo in case I couldn’t remember where the bags were:  

  And then we made our way into the starting pen. As we did so, the sun broke through the clouds, and the heat began to build. There were plenty of large screens by each pen, which was fantastic: it really kept you entertained as you waited. I also did my first ever Periscope broadcast, and having watched it back, I definitely need to give more thought to what I’m doing in future. It was fun 🙂

    
  Anyway, we watched the start of the ladies’ race and the ‘wheels of steel’ wheelchair race, and eventually it as time for the start of the men’s and mass participation race. I was great to watch Mo Farah et al actually start, knowing we’d be passing through the start soon! Then, the Red Arrows were overhead, and looked fantastic: 

 Well, when I say soon, it took our wave over half an hour to get to the start line! As we walked towards the start, there was a real mixture of excitement and a touch of angst as I realised that the sun was staying out, and I had no sun cream on. Ooops!

The support right from the beginning was amazing. As we ran through the tunnels and underpasses of the first mile or two, there was a lot of supportive ‘Oggie, oggie, oggies’ which was amazing! I had such a huge smile on my face!

The support as we ran over the Tyne Bridge was unbelievable – the streets were full, and nowhere on the course was unsupported. As we got to mile three, we had an impromptu pit stop so the ‘TheWelshWookie’ could use the facilities. And then, at mile four, it was my turn to stop. But, I stopped at the St. John’s Ambulance tent, in search of some sun cream. Fortunately, they carry sachets of Factor 30, God bless them!

Once I was suitably smothered in cream, we could get back to the run, and into our rhythm. After two early stops, and a crowded field, as well as a hot, hot day, we decided to just take the run easy, and make the most of it – savour the atmosphere. And that’s what we did.

We waved as we passed charity buses, we sang along as we passed the many music points, including joining in with ‘Sex on Fire’ and ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ amongst other tunes. We high fived many, many kids who lined the route. It was awesome!

We were blown away by the support. And the food! Wow! I have never seen so many people with so much food for runners. Yes, there were tons of jelly babies and jelly beans. But there were also people handing out ice lollies and ice poles, polo mints, fresh lemonade, a young guy even offered us a can of Strongbow! 😉

Our favourite was the lady offering fresh sausage rolls, telling us that they were lovely – she sounded just like Sarah Millican! 😉 It was just awesome!

I won’t say that this race flew by – it didn’t. Miles 6 – 9 did, but there were a couple of tough points, too, particularly the hill at mile 11. It wasn’t as bad as I had expected, but it was tough. Just then, the Red Arrows were back overhead, and their aerial display really kept us entertained.

Then, there was the downhill stretch towards the sea, which was tough on the joint at that stage, and we found ourselves running the final mile along the water front. The support was outstanding.
We could hear music behind us, getting closer, and as it did so, it changed to ‘Uptown Funk’. Just what we needed for the final stretch! So, there we were, belting it out as we ran along the front, when we realised that the music was from a runner pushing another participant in a wheelchair. Wowee! And, yes, they did overtake us!

Then we were at the finish, and we crossed the line, in true Mobot style. Wow. I have goosebumps thinking about it now 🙂

There was a short walk from the finish to the medal collection, where @TheWelshWookie and I had to split up, as we were funnelled through the finish by t-shirt size. I collected my medal, give to me by a young guy with a hearty ‘well done’, which he must have said hundreds or thousands of times already.

We met back up again, and then walked to the baggage buses to retrieve our gear. There was a huge changing area, which was great, as I could get into some comfy clothes for the bus journey home. We then made our way to the bus, to find that only two guys had gotten there before us! So, we had time to chill out, have some snacks, and enjoy the sun, before boarding the bus back to Glasgow.

Here’s a map of the race: 

  Our stats: 2:39:01 my slowest HM to date, but that didn’t matter in the slightest

The Medal: 

 Goody Bag: Lucozade, water, crisps, cereal bar, samples and leaflets: 

 T-shirt: A pretty cool finisher’s medal. Excuse the wild hair – I’d taken off my visor, and the wind picked up just as I was having my pic taken! 😮  

  
I had left my Nike SportWatch in my room (which the staff kindly returned to me), so I used my Nike App to record the run. I’m not sure what happened, as it recorded the run as almost 15 miles!

I can understand why people rate the GNR so highly. I really is the King of Half Marathons. If you ever get the chance to run it, take that opportunity! And if you have run it, what were your thoughts about it? I’d love to hear them.

Race Report: GB Relay 2014

Race Report: GB Relay 2014

Date: 8th June 2014

Profile: Flat

Terrain: Road

Weather: Warm and sunny

Website: http://gbrelay.com/

Positives: a very different experience, feel-good factor of participating in a world record attempt

Negatives: the time slippage

OK, so the GB Relay 2014 isn’t a race, but I thought I’d report on it using my normal format 😉

The GB Relay is a world record breaking attempt for the longest continual running relay. Each participant signs up for a stage which vary in length, but average out at around 10K. There is a baton containing a GPS unit transferred from runner to runner, and everyone is responsible for their own safety, checking out their route, etc. As it isn’t a race, and each stage has a start and finish time, everyone is encouraged to run 10 minute miles.

The first major difference for @TheWelshWookie and I in participating in this was the time of our stage: we were due to run at 6.19pm, which meant no early rise, and no need to pack the night before. We had super quality relay T shirts, which were personalised:

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So, on Sunday, we headed first to Oban, did some shopping, then onto Strath of Appin, which was our end point. We parked the car, and got ready: I gave myself a thorough coating of both suncream and midge repellent: I needed both! As we had no support available due to a family event, we had to walk to the start point of our stage: the village of Duror, in the Highlands, 8 miles away.

In the week leading up to the event, I’d been in touch with the runners on either side of our stage to agree handover locations and swap contact numbers, to keep everyone updated on progress. As @TheWookie and I were a couple of miles into our walk, we heard that the relay was running about an hour behind schedule 😦

It was too late for us to turn back and wait in the car, so we continued on, enjoying the scenery, and checking out the route itself. Fortunately, most of it could be run along the cycle path, with only the two miles immediately from Duror having to be run on the main road. The route was lovely:

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A team from Dunoon Hill Runners were running the two stages before us, including the hilly section over Glencoe. When they handed over to Ian, who was handing over to us, they got changed and drove to meet us in Duror, to collect Ian when he arrived. It was lovely to meet Kirsty again, and also to meet Jean and Angela. They had managed to pull back some of the time deficit, and so we weren’t delayed for quite an hour!

Before we knew it, Ian was approaching, and it was time for us to run!

Ian passed the GPS tracker to @TheWelshWookie, and we were off!

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The tracker was a small box with a handle, but was quite light. It was a little awkward to carry, but not as bad as I expected. The icky part was the handle and velcro wrist strap that was soaked in a week’s worth of runner’s sweat! Eeew! We were warned not to drop the tracker, or let it touch the ground because that would nullify the record attempt.

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Given that we were trying to run a little fast to make up time, and to get off the road section as soon as possible, the first two miles flew by. When we reached the start of mile 3, I thought we’d only gone one mile! Yay!

I really enjoyed running the middle part of the stage: it was great that we’d just walked it in reverse, as I was able to check of landmarks as we saw them.

At around mile 5, the walk around Oban, the walk to Duror and the slightly faster-than-usual pace took its toll on TheWelshWookie. His recurring knee problem made an unwelcome appearance, and for the next mile our pace slowed. At the six mile marker, we made the decision that I should run on, so that @TheWookie could run at a slower pace and not aggravate his knee further. We also wanted to finish on time, so I ran on ahead.

For the final mile, I struggled a little myself. I was relishing the opportunity to run on tired legs, and I reminded myself that this would stand me in good stead with my marathon training 😉

The final quarter mile is a long, flat stretch, and I could see Fee and the girls from Inveraray Jog Scotland, who I was handing the baton on to. They had their bright yellow t-shirts, which helped motivate me  in the final section. As they saw that I was on my own, they asked where my husband was: my first reaction was who? 😉 Oh, yeah, that’s right, I’m married! 🙂 So I said I’d ditched him due to injury 😉

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I passed on the baton, along with the message not to let it touch the ground, and off they ran!

@TheWelshWookie was only a few minutes behind, and ran most of the last mile, which is a good sign for his knee. We rehydrated, then jumped in the car and drove to Oban where we celebrated with fish and chips 😀 Yum! The sunset was spectacular, but I didn’t get a good shot of it. The sky ahead was red, with a neon-looking rainbow, I’ve never seen one like that before. This pic does not do the vibrant colours justice:

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Here’s a map of our route:

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There is no medal, and no goodie bag, but there is a feeling of accomplishment, participation and that you’re part of something, which gives this event a really special feeling.

The relay is still underway, and if all goes well is due to finish on 2nd July. I can’t wait to hear if we are record breakers!

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@TheWelshWookie’s review of his first HM :)

@TheWelshWookie’s review of his first HM :)

First of all let me introduce myself.

My name is Tony Jones, otherwise known as @thewelshwookie, I am a 42 year old former Rugby Player and former Martial Arts who had let himself go for a good many years. A couple of years ago, my fiancée, now my wife, @tartanjogger was training for the Glasgow Women’s 10k when she injured her ankle and had to pull out, being the supportive individual I am I offered to train with her and run the Great Glasgow Run 10k with her a few months later.
So once the injury had healed training started and this 30lb overweight middle aged man set out for his first kilometre and nearly died!!!!!!!
Fast forward to April 24th 2014 and I finally stepped up to the Half Marathon.
Having studied the Race Route the previous night, I was expecting a steep start to the race and was very pleasantly surprised! Training for the run in and around Tarbert, we have been hitting some serious hills including one that I like to refer to as ‘The B!tch’ so the gradual raise for the first 6k felt almost flat. After around 4k, we ran past the first block of serious support, a group of 20somethings with huge banners and vocals declaring ánimos, which was very uplifting, especially after just passing an empty water station, luckily we carry our own!!
The course continued through the city streets, on terrain that we like to consider flat, although some reports I have read describe as undulating, passing El Corte Ingles, Estadio Santiago Bernabéu and Peurto De Europa to name but a few!
Passing the 10 mile marker, new territory for me as this was the longest distance run in training, I was feeling great knowing that all that was left was a lap around Parque el Retiro before entering the park and hitting the finish line. I took my final energy gel and kept my head up, then it happened, we turned a corner and saw ‘La Bruja’!! The sight of this kilometre long hill in the very last stages of the run knocked me sideways and it took every ounce of mental strength I have not to start walking and crying, but somehow I managed to keep putting one foot in front of the other, nowhere near the pace I had been going but technically still running, JUST!
Entering the park, the support was amazing and gave me a burst of energy from somewhere ethereal! I now know what happens when Hulk Hogan receives power from all the Hulkamaniacs to beat the bad guy.
So, first half marathon down and looking forward to the next, as the great Mo Farah says, 2014 is the year for turning metres to miles.

tonys watch

 

Race Report: Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, Madrid

Race Report: Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, Madrid

Date: 25th April 2014

Profile: Flat

Terrain: Road

Weather: Warm and sunny

Website: http://es.competitor.com /

Positives: good expo, great course, excellent organisation, friendly runners, vocal support

Negatives: the hill at the end, lack of water

As @TheWelshWookie and I were in Madrid for the race and our honeymoon, we headed straight from the airport to our city centre hotel. As soon as we had a bite of lunch, and hopped on the Metro to the expo.

We found the location, and the queue to get into the expo was huge! So, we waited patiently in line, and it was worth the wait. The organisation for bib collection was really good, as was the goodie bag and T shirt points. I was surprised to be given the choice between a T shirt or vest, so I opted for a vest 🙂

We purchased some really cute double layered socks with Spanish flags on them, and @TheWelshWookie treated himself to a spie belt:

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I didn’t hug any expo displays this time 😦

We then headed back to the city centre, had some dinner, and went for a walk to find the start line, which was easy to find and only about one kilometre from  our hotel. Result!

When we returned to the hotel, we laid out our running gear and headed for bed. What do you think of my race vest and shorts? Cute?

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On the morning of the race, we were up early, had our breakfast of greek yoghurt and a Nakd bar, changed and walked to the start line. As the 10K was starting at 8.30am, and the half and full marathon started together at 9am, it was pretty busy. The 10K start line was on a different street, but many of the runners obviously didn’t know that and were at the marathon start area, even as it reached 9am.

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Our corral was at the back, which was great. I could see that the other corrals were busy, and we were running for fun, not time. This was @TheWelshWookie’s first half marathon experience, and the atmosphere was great: music, excited runners and even some sky divers helped us get the party started!

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Here’s the map of the race:

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The race started at 9am, and the final corral (including us) headed off after about 10 minutes. The sun was shining, ans we were good to go! As our corral was quite quiet, it was really good to run on a lovely, wide road and we didn’t have to dodge around many other runners.

The first few kilometres were a steady incline, but I’m very grateful for our hilly training, as it felt flat to both of us. The early support around the course was great: the spectators were supportive and vocal. We ran past lots of Madrid’s sights, including Bernbau stadium, Puerto de Europa and many of the important museums and galleries.

As we reached the first water stop at 5K, we were both feeling great, and were very grateful that we’d brought our own water as they had run out. As it was warm, that will have caused some people difficulty.

The course levelled out, and the support dwindled a little, but that was fine as I was really enjoying looking at the buildings and architecture. It was gorgeous!

We then headed back towards Parque del Retiro, which was mostly downhill, and good fun. The marathoners peeled off along their course at around the 14K mark. Fortunately, there was adequate water and powerade at the rest of the water stations.

At the 15, 16K point, we were at the park, and knew that we had a lap around its perimeter before finishing in the park itself. It was warm, and the support here was good. I noticed that we were heading downhill a little at one point, and then, with about one mile to go, we turned a corner to head into the final straight, and there it was. A hill. A steep, unexpected hill. We dug in, and after haviing a fantastic 11 mile run, @TheWelshWookie began to struggle a little for the first (and only) time. I tried to keep pushing a little, but it was tough! And it lasted for the whole of that final mile!

As we turned into the park, the support was really good, and @TheWookie got a second wind. We picked up our pace, and finished the race strong. 🙂

As we crossed the line, we had our medals placed around our necks, and posed for photos. We collected water, powerade and food bags, then spent a couple of minutes celebrating.

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We then met the lovely Ro, from Run Dabblers, which was great! Ro had spotted us with 5K to go, and kindly said we’d helped pace her to the finish. She too, had found that last hill horrible!

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Our stats: 2:23:59 which is my slowest half to date, but we were not running for time. We were running for fun. Also, given the heat, the final hill and the altitude, I’ll take it! I didn’t know until afterwards that Madrid is the highest Capital city in Europe!

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The Medal: Really good, fab, sparkly and heavy!

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Goody Bag: money off vouchers, leaflets and a good quality gym bag with a mesh back.

T-shirt: It’s a fab, neon green vest!

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After a quick shower and change, @TheWelshWookie and I headed to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner and cocktails. We had a great day!

 

 

Race Report: Great Scottish Run

Race Report: Great Scottish Run

Date: 6th October 2013

Profile: Flat

Terrain: Road

Weather: Cloudy, cool, dry

Website: http://www.greatscottishrun.com/

Positives: well organised, goody bags, well supported

Negatives: narrow route in places; poor water station placing

After the excitement of the Family Mile, we had spent the evening before the race at my sister’s house, celebrating two of my nephew’s birthdays, Ryan and Aidan, who’s birthdays were on Monday and Wednesday. We had a great family party; but @TheWelshWookie and I were very good and only had a couple of beers to celebrate 😉 We carb loaded with fish n’ chips and birthday cake!

I had my gear all prepared and ready:

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We drove to Glasgow Green, and parked the car near to the finish line, for a quick get away later and walked along with lots of other runners to the start line in George Square.

Well, when I say George Square, we didn’t get near the square itself today, as the green muster area was just along Cochrane Street, back towards Merchant City. We had a long wait of about 20 minutes for the portaloos, but fortunately we had left plenty of time for this. We then headed into the corral, and it wasn’t too long until we heard the elite runners start, and we could see the big hill facing us to start the race, heading up St. Vincent Street. Here’s my view from the start:

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Very quickly, we were moved to the start line, and we were off!

We headed up the dreaded hill, and this year there seemed to be far fewer walkers here than there were last year; or maybe we were just more prepared for it? Who knows, but it was much better. The hill finishes just at the 1K mark, and by then @TheWelshWookie and I had settled into a comfortable pace.

We ran along, past the slip road we used to use, to head over the Kingston Bridge. This year, we ran along the Clydeside Expressway instead, past a few highlights of the Glasgow Skyline: the SECC, the Armadillo, the Hydro (which is a brand new venue, opened earlier this week).

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As we came off the expressway, we ran around the amazing Transport Museum, which is a fantastic building.

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But, here’s my biggest criticism: the running width narrowed substantially here, at around the 3K mark, and it stayed quite narrow for the out-and-back to the ‘Squinty Bridge’ at 6K. This definitely affected my time, and that of many other runners, who had to dodge and weave, and run on the soft verge to get past.

Fortunately, a lot of runners followed race etiquette, and walked to the right, but not all did this.

As @TheWelshWookie and I carry water, we didn’t need to pause at the water stop which was at the 5.5K mark; it was a crazy place for a water station, as it was far too narrow, the rod as still open to traffic along our left hand side, and runners were tossing bottles right into the way of traffic! That’ll need to be thought out again!

We then ran over the Squinty Bridge, and I was feeling great!

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We headed past Pacific Quay, and could see the Glasgow Science Centre, before we turned around, headed back over the bridge and ran along the Broomielaw alongside the River Clyde, towards Glasgow Green.

At around the 8K mark, @TheWelshWookie was slowing, but only ever so slightly. We had a half kilometre of a slightly slower pace, and with one mile to go, he told me to run on. I set off, still feeling really good, buoyed by the fantastic support along this stretch.

The final kilometre took me though Glasgow Green, to the finish point: again, the road narrowed, which I remembered from last year; but it was difficult to weave in and out; so my finish wasn’t as strong as I would have liked. But, all in all, I was pretty happy with my whole run!

Here’s the map of the race:

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As I crossed the finish line (and remembered to stop my SportWatch this time), there were a lot of runners  taking sick bags, and using them. A LOT. Yuk. I kept walking, and had to de-tag my trainer myself, with no scissors. I’ve bruised my leg, accidentally punching it as I pulled it off. Oh, well.

Shortly after, I saw that @TheWelshWookie had finished, so we queued to collect our goodie bags, which contained our medals and finisher T shirts. Here’s the contents:

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And we posed for a couple of photos:

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There was then another bottle neck, trying to get out of the finisher’s area, which was crazy. Then, we weren’t able to get out because so many spectators were standing about waiting to met finishers: hello, people- that’s what the meeting area is for?? Hmmm.

Other than that, it was a great, well organised event, which we thoroughly enjoyed!

My Stats:

Time: 57:45 19 seconds short of my PB, but given the issues, that’s OK. I finished 3331st out of over 8000; 484th in my age group, and the 960th female to finish. @TheWelshWookie PB’d with 58:32

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The Medal: pretty simple; the same medal was given out for a events this weekend.

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Goody Bag: draw string bag, discount leaflet, chocolate bar, power gel, gel shots, Eat Natural bar

T-shirt: A grey marl T shirt, with ‘Finisher 2013’ on it. I already had the technical shirt.

Now, do I register for my third GSR 10K in a row, or for the half next year?

Race Report: Tarbert TT10K

Race Report: Tarbert TT10K

Date: 17th August 2013

Profile: Hilly

Terrain: Road and Trail

Weather: Cloudy, but warm

Website: TT10K

Positives: great course, well organised, good & supportive marshalls, fab t-shirt

Negatives: unpredictable weather!

This race was the first ever Tarbert 5k & 10k event, and given that it is my local village run, I was really looking forward to it, as well as being a little anxious as I knew the course would be a challenge!

@TheWelshWookie headed out early, to open the school grounds as a car park for visitors, and to check that the tape was still intact, marking out the running route around the area he was marshaling- part of the first trail run, behind Stonefield Farm & Coffee Shop. I had my gear all laid out and ready:

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That meant that I had plenty of time to get ready, and pose…

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I planned to head into the village to support the 5k runners, but I do not know what happened- I lost track of time. And so I ended up running out of the door, quite literally!

As I walked past the Village Hall, I saw that it was bedecked in bunting, ready for the barbeque and party later in the day:

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As I made my way along to Garvel Road, ready for the start of the race, the 5k runners were still milling about at the finish line. At this point, I was pretty envious: their race was over, and the party had begun!

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I took a couple of snaps, just to capture the views, and because the weather had taken me by surprise- it was almost sunny! The rain seemed to have vanished: it had surprised a lot of runners, who were wearing long running pants and jackets!

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My nervous walk along Garvel Road:

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The facilities not far from the start were great: runners could use the Harbour facilities before and after the race: toilets, showers, etc. The start itself was at the end of Garvel Road. One of the first things I noticed when I arrived was that this was Serious. With a Capital S. There were loads of club runners, and runners who looked like they meant business! But I could see that there were quite a few ‘normal’ runners like me!

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With about 5 minutes to go, Councillor Anne Horn gave the safety briefing- reminding us to take care on the trail parts of the course, as they would be slippery and soft underfoot. And then, almost suddenly, we were off!

As there were only 200 runners, everyone started at once. I tried to hang to the left hand side of the road, and let the faster runners past me…. there were plenty! I tried to remind myself to just go at my own pace.

Here’s the map of the race:

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At the end of Garvel Road, we headed up the main road, and uphill again, over the High Road. Remember I posted a pic from up here, when I was out checking the route?

The view from the High Road
The view from the High Road

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We then ran down the other side of the High Road, and headed off along Campbeltown Road towards Stonefield Farm & Coffee Shop. I knew that @TheWelshWookie was at the highest part of this section, so I was looking forward to reaching there! The route took us past the shop on the left hand side, and past the wigwams, which are available as holiday accommodation. Then, we were greeted with a sign saying: Welcome to Jurassic Park with a cartoon runner being chased by a dinosaur- that made me laugh!

The trail climbed steadily, and at this point, the faster runners were heading back down. Us slowbies were walking, or run/walking because I was knackered to let the faster runners by. We reached a cottage ruin, known locally as Maggie’s Cottage, which I thought was the turning point. How wrong I was! We still had a good distance, all uphill, to go!

Eventually, I caught sight of a fluorescent jacket, and I saw that it was @TheWelshWookie! Yay! We’d reached the top! He managed to take a snap, with me actually smiling- maybe it’s a grimace!

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We then turned around, and ran back down, around the opposite side of the coffee shop. I must admit, I took it easy running downhill, as it was pretty slippy underfoot, and I have terrible balance at the best of times! At the bottom of the hill was a water stop, but I was all good, and kept going.

As we left Stonefield, we headed back down Campbeltown Road back into the village. For me, this was the part I was looking forward to – my regular run along the harbour out to the end of Pier Road, where I’m used to views like this:

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At this stage, the sun really broke through, and it was pretty warm. I managed to pick off a few runners along the road. The 5K mark was just at the fish quay, which was great. I’m pretty sure that there were lots of people thinking ‘Is that all we’ve done?’

I really enjoyed my run all the way to the turning point at the end of the road, where there was a second water point. I filled up my bottle, and headed back. Why I didn’t take one of the jelly babies on offer, I will never know!

All along the route, the support was fantastic. People were out, cheering and clapping us on. The marshals, in particular, were very, very encouraging, giving me that extra boost to push on. They also had a tough job because none of the roads were closed to traffic, so they managed to cheer us by, while keeping an eye on safety.

I then reached Big Brae, which leads onto the Castle loop. After the experience at Stonefield, I knew that the fast runners would be trying to run down while us slower runners were heading up. So, I decided to play safe, and walk to the left, to let them pass more easily. But as soon as I arrived at the Castle loop, I was determined to run this part of the trail. I managed most of it- only walking a short distance up the hill on the loop. My GPS ticked off the 5th mile, and that really boosted me- I was on the final mile!

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I finished off the Castle loop, headed back down Big Brae, and made my way back along the harbour to the Harbour Office. This was it- the home straight!

The support along this final part was tremendous- loads of cheering and clapping. @TheWelshWookie was waiting at the finish line, ready to take my pic:

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I was so excited to finish that I forgot to switch off my SportWatch GPS! Doh! @TheWelshWookie handed me a bag of jelly beans, which I scoffed right away. I then collected my goodie bag.

Here’rs the contents of it:

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I collected my medal, and headed back to cheer on the rest of the finishers across the finish line.

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But, yet again, I was distracted. By some deliciously amazing home baking for the finishers- including home made tablet- pure bliss!

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There was even some entertainment for the kids:

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And just to prove that the sun came out:

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We waited for the prize giving: well done to the winnersl! Each trophy winner received a voucher for The Gallery- lucky folks! 😀

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We then headed home for a very quick change, and headed back out to the Village Hall to join in the rest of the Tarbert Harbour Authority Centenary celebrations. When we arrived, we received our ‘wages’, a copy of a salary cheque issued by the Harbour Authority 100 years ago:

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That entitled us to a free drink at the bar, and free food from the barbeque! Result! Why does free beer taste so good?

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i wore my new t-shirt, of course 😉

The Village Hall was really busy, with some people dressed as they would have 100 years ago:

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It was a real party atmosphere, with stalls and entertainment.

It was a great day!

My Stats:

Time: 1:06:55 I finished 85th out of about 140 or so runners.

The Medal: A hand made, pottery medal, made locally:

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Goody Bag: draw string bag, leaflets, lip balm, wet wipes, doggy-do bags, button badge

T-shirt: A black & red technical shirt, with the logo embroidered on the front

I’m hoping that I’ll be better prepared for next year!

Race Report: The Perth Kilt Run 5k

Race Report: The Perth Kilt Run 5k

Date: 10th August 2013

Profile: Flat

Terrain: Road

Weather: Cloudy, not too hot

Website: Perth Kilt Run

Positives: family friendly, relaxed atmosphere, tasty treats in the goody bags

Negatives: they ran out of engraved medals and goody bags

This race was the second Perth Kilt Run, and the reason why all runners work kilts was tartan is just brilliant to try to take the World Record for the highest number of kilted runners participating in a run. You can find out more about this on the website. I was pretty exciting!

@TheWelshWookie and I travelled to the parentals the night before this run, to cut out part of the drive, as we live about 2 hours, 20 mins away from Perth. On the morning of the run, we packed up and drove the hour and a half to Perth, in plenty of time to pick up our race packs, and have a short wander around the city before the run. We arranged to meet my bro, sis-in-law and nephew at the pack pick up, which was held in the newly refurbished Bells Sports Centre.

As we left super early, we were able to bag a parking space in the car park right at the sports centre. Result!

As we arrived at the sports centre, the staff were really friendly, and helpful in ensuring that everyone knew what they had to do, and where they had to go. We collected our bibs and tags, and had time to bag a locker for using later. We then headed into Perth in search of a coffee. I was really impressed with the shops- I think another visit will be on the cards! We did get some funny looks, since we were wandering around in trainers and kilts!

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The race was starting at 1pm, so at around 11.30am @TheWelshWookie and I headed back to the sports centre, and it was certainly much busier than it was earlier!  It felt great to be surrounded by so many TartanJoggers!

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The facilities at the start were great: loads of portaloos, and runners could use the sport centre facilities, which was brilliant. We then met up with the rest of the family, and were were good to go!

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We made our way over to the starting area, and soaked up the atmosphere. There was the standard pre-race warm up, but we couldn’t see the stage from where we were standing. Instead, we watched the Chinese Dragons snake their way  towards the start line, along with the pipe band.

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With about 15 minutes to go, we were advised by the MC to arrange ourselves in the corrals, according to time, with the sub-20s in the first corral, sub-30s in the second one, and so on. Well, that was wishful thinking. The first corral had a lot of families with young kids in it, so I realised pretty quickly that this wasn’t going to go as planned, but that was OK. Today was about taking part, and having fun. I knew that this wouldn’t be a PB run, if I was going to have to dodge small kids, walkers, etc early on 😉  We all entered the second corral, and waited for the start.

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Here’s the map of the race:

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It was pretty much a circular course around North Inch park.

The race got off on time, and as the corrals were quite small, we were across the start line quickly. The support was great- with supporters right around the park, which was lovely. The race was along the path that runs around and through the park, with only one small hill mid way. The path was quite narrow in places, which meant that I ran for periods on the grass, to avoid walkers and kids, but there were some parts where this wasn’t possible, so I had to just hang back and wait.

@TheWelshWookie and I ran the first two miles together, until his dodgy knee started to play up. My nephew, RJ, was so good that he kept running back and forwards, just keeping in touch- he must have run much more than 5k!

There was one water stop at round the second mile, which was perfect. I was glad we were given bottles, not cups of water 🙂

The run was lovely- I was pleasantly surprised by all of the sporting facilities around the area, from kiddies play parks to a rugby pitch, tennis courts, petanque area, golf course, bowling green- I think most sports has some facilities available!

For the final 1k, the support was great. The added bonus of so many kids running was the extra motivation- lots of parents were encouraging their kid on with shouts of ‘just give it everything you’ve got’ , ‘you’re doing so well’ and ‘we’re almost there’. I’ll happily admit that I benefited from this, too!

The support across the finish line was brilliant- a young boy completely tore past me in an amazing sprint finish!

I almost forgot to de-tag my trainer, and had to go back to do this. I then headed to the marquee, where they were handing out the goody bags, water and bananas.

Here’rs the contents of the goody bag:

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The highlight (and one reason for running) was the Irn Bru flavoured tablet- two of the sweetest things in the world, combined! Tablet is like super-sweet fudge, but instead of being chewy, it’s crumbly. Irn Bru is the best selling fizzy drink in Scotland- about the only place in the world where Coca Cola is relegated to second!

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I collected my medal, and headed back to cheer on the rest of my family across the finish line.

My brother Joe was next across the line, followed closely by @TheWelshWookie, Stacey crossed next, after a shoelace failure earlier in her run, and RJ followed close behind, but I reckon he ran about 7k, with his back-and-forwarding!

The goodybags had run out, so the staff were doing their best, giving the rest of the runners whatever they had left. The medals, which had been engraved with ‘Perth Kilt Run 2013’ also ran out, but were replaced with un-engraved ones, so at least everyone received a medal.

We headed back to the sports centre, to grab our gear, then wandered back to the activities, for a bite to eat, and to enjoy the entertainment, which was good.

While @TheWelshWookie, Joe,Stacey & RJ enjoyed hot dogs, venison & black pudding pies, and haggis, neeps & tatties, I headed to the marquee of a local farm, which was selling the most amazing burgers!

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Now, doesn’t that make you feel hungry?

It was then time for us to head home 😦 Unfortunately, we had to leave before the Red Hot Chilli Pipers came on stage, which was a shame, as they are fab!

As we were heading out, I heard the MC announce that we hadn’t beaten the world record. Boo. BUT, when we arrived home, we saw that this wasn’t the case, and we can now claim to be World Record Holders! Hurrah!

My Stats:

Time: 28:06, which I’m pleased with, given the type of run this was. I finished 430th out of over 1,300 runners, and 46th in my category.

The Medal: Basic, but having it engraved is a lovely touch!

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Goody Bag: water, tablet, Tunnock’s wafer, ABF wrist band, money off run4it, leaflets

T-shirt: No T-shirt, which is fine 😉

We’re looking forward to retaining our title next year! 😀

Race Report: Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, Dublin

Race Report: Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, Dublin

Date: 5th August 2013

Profile: Flat

Terrain: Road

Weather: Cloudy, not too hot

Website: http://ie.competitor.com /

Positives: good expo, great course, excellent organisation, friendly runners

Negatives: lack of support around the route, pacers (what pacers?), goody bags

As @TheWelshWookie and I were making a weekend of it, we flew into Dublin on the Saturday afternoon, giving us plenty of time before the race on Monday. We headed to our hotel which was on the outskirts of the city, as we had a hire car.

After we checked in and organised ourselves we headed into the city itself, to find the expo. We took the Luas, or tram:

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We headed to the expo, which was well organised, busy, and had lots of stands. I had to pose, of course:

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I collected my bib, my race pack and Tshirt. The goody bag was a bit rubbish- but that’s not hugely important to me anyway. I then collected my World Rocker medal, albeit a bit premature as I hadn’t actually run the second half yet!

We then browsed the stalls, and I treated myself to some Yurbud earphones, which lock in place and don’t fall out. They also allow you to hear what is going on around you, for safety when out running. And the sound quality is great I LOVE them! I also bought some CEP calf compression sleeves, in neon green!

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We spent Sunday sight seeing, shopping and scoping out the start of the run at St. Stephen’s Green so that we knew exactly where we were going, and where would be best for parking.

On the morning of the race, we were up at 5am, had breakfast at the hotel, and drove into Dublin. We were greeted by some motorway signage 😉

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We parked right at St Stephen’s Green, so we didn’t have to walk too far. @TheWelshWookie headed off at 7am to find where he’d be doing the gear check, while I waited in the car for another half hour getting more excited just chilling out. At 7.30am, I headed onto St Stephen’s Green and took a walk around, just to soak up the atmosphere, and to keep warm- it was a little chilly, given that I was wearing shorts and a vest!

The facilities at the start were great: loads of portaloos, and the gear check was easy to use, spread out well, and manned by the wonderful @TheWelshWookie amongst others!

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The start itself was really good. From 8am, we were advised to go to our corrals, which was ideal. The build up was pretty slick with a very brief warm up, and the excitement built to the sounds of U2.  I was in the last corral, so anyone slower than 2:20 were all lumped together- all slowbies together!

Here’s the map of the race:

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The race started at 8.30 sharp, and the final corral (including me) headed off after about 10 minutes. We were notified that the pacers would be wearing coloured balloons, and I was hoping to track the 2:15 balloon, at least for part of the race. I only saw one pacer for each time- there were more in Edinburgh- and for some reason, the 2:30 pacer started in the corral BEFORE us? Huh? That made no sense to me, as I was running 2:20!

A sea of neon green!
A sea of neon green!

Anyway, we headed out of the start, and the support for the first kilometre or so was really good. Within about 10 minutes, I had caught up with the end of the previous corral, which was great, and I caught sight of the pacer. But, before I knew it, they had raced away on ahead! So much for running at 2:30 – I’m pretty sure they must have come in much quicker than that, as I didn’t see them again! So, after such a great pacing experience at Edinburgh, I was disappointed that this pacer didn’t seem to do what was needed for us slowbies, anyway. 😦

As we headed towards Phoenix Park, the support dwindled, and that made the course pretty quiet. A large part of the race was in the park itself, which was gorgeous. It also meant that you could run on the grass, if you preferred. We ran past the zoo, and there were some families out, showing support. I got a high-5 off of a boy of about 3, at mile 4, which was great!

At the 10k mark, we began to head slightly uphill, which was a shock as it was the first hill of the race, but wasn’t too bad. There were sensors at 10k, but I haven’t been able to find my 10k split anywhere on the website. Hopefully, I’ll come across it!

As we headed out of the park, I noticed that we ran along whole streets, with no one out supporting. I thought that was odd, but maybe support isn’t as good as elsewhere? What it did mean was that I really, really appreciated the support that we did get- it was greatly appreciated!

The route wound its way back towards the city centre, and at mile 9, we came to The Hill. Now in most races, it would probably have just been a hill, but for this lovely, flat course, it was THE hill. Pretty steep! But, at the top of the hill was a water station- whether that was by luck, or by design, I was happy to see it, and to fill up my water bottle.

From about mile 10, the support began to pick up a little, with some fantastic crowds over the last mile. One of the great things about this route was how quickly we seemed to come cross the finish line- it just appeared, out of nowhere!

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What made up for the lack of support were the brilliant bands at every mile marker. They were all really great, and this time, there were only two finishing  songs as I came past, so I got to hear lots of them! And, unlike Edinbugh, the mile markers were all present and correct!

As I crossed the line, I was handed my fab medal, and I managed to bag a bottle of water and a powerbar: the isotonic drinks were all finished 😦

I had to wait for @TheWelshWookie to finish giving back gear bags, so I headed back to the car, got changed, then came back to the square, where I found a wee spot to sit and listen to the bands. It was brilliant!

My stats: 2:16:04 only 5 seconds short of 2:15!! I  have no idea how many participants there were, but I finished 3990th. Here’s the only stats I could find:

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The Medal: Really good, fab, sparkly and heavy!

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I also had my brilliant World Rocker medal:

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Goody Bag: money off vouchers, leaflets, blister plasters & a packet of crisps

T-shirt: It’s a fab. neon green number!

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After a quick shower and change, @TheWelshWookie and I headed first to the Guiness Storehouse, where we enjoyed a Guiness, for it’s restorative powers only, or course 🙂

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And we finished our evening partying in the Temple Bar area, listening to some fantastic music.

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All in all, we had a brilliant weekend, and can’t wait to visit again!

Race Report: The Color Run UK, London

Race Report: The Color Run UK, London

Date: 14th July 2013

Profile: Flat

Terrain: Road

Weather: Hot, hot, hot!

Website: http://www.thecolorrun.co.uk/

Positives: great course, brilliant atmosphere, well organised

Negatives: it was hot! ‘jump’ photo queue was a bit of a disaster

As the run was late afternoon, my sis and I caught the red eye from Glasgow to London, Gatwick on Sunday morning. We had breakfast at the airport, but as we were flying British Airways, we also had breakfast on the flight: result!

Fortunately, we’re pretty comfortable with travelling around London, and as the race was at Wembley we knew exactly where we were going, as we’ve been there several times for the NFL games. We headed straight to our hotel at Wembley, had a 15 minute chill-out while they prepped our room, then we took our time getting changed and getting excited for the run! Here’s the view from the hotel room:

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Pretty handy, huh?

We were able to see others heading towards the start at around 2pm, so we grabbed our water, and headed around the stadium. As we walked around, we could see the crowds beginning to gather in the muster area:

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The facilities at the start were great: loads of portaloos, clearly marked information stands, merchandise stalls, check in desks, etc. We headed for the sunglasses pick up, as we were getting them as freebies as part of a LivingSocial deal: there was no queue, and the staff were lovely and friendly. As the event is sponsored by Dulux, there was an opportunity to have your picture taken with the Dulux dog!

In the muster area itself, there was a ‘start’ line, but the actual start itself was under the Wembley arch. Here’s some pics of the pre-run build up in the muster:

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The MC was pretty good, keeping the crowd entertained and trying to keep them distracted in the heat! Here we are, before the run:

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That’s my sad attempt at a MoBot….

After baking in the sun for about 45 minutes, the crowd moved towards the actual start. The MC told us that we’d be running in waves, with about 7 minutes in between each group. As we were pretty near the front, we were in the second group, which we were very grateful for, as there were apparently 15,000 runners! I would not have wanted to stand about for one of the later groups! 😮

The start itself was really good. The staff were throwing freebies into the crowd, Nicki Minaj (yeah, I know) was being played and runners were jumping around with excitement!

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It was a great way to start the race: spectators were able to line the walkways, and stand on the bridge above the runners: they were waving, taking pics and enjoying it as much as the runners!

We started off by running pretty slowly: as you can see, the crowd was pretty tightly packed, so the first k was more of a walk/shuffle. I wondered why so many people had their phones and cameras inside plastic pouches, or wrapped in cling film: as I saw the first k marker in the distance I realised why:

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I could see a cloud of pink shimmering in the sky, and I had an instant realisation- if I keep my phone out, it’ll be clogged up with dry paint! Doh! So, I’m afraid that this is the only picture I took en route!

Running into the arch was so much fun: the volunteers at each side of the road were having a great time, using squirty bottles to cover the runners in colour! As it was warm, dry and humid, the paint was almost hanging in the air, so as you ran through the cloud of colour, it was a little difficult to breathe, but no real problem at all. My legs were covered in pink!

My sis realised that, despite being 15 years younger than me, she was definitely not able to match my slow running (that’s saying something, huh?!) so we did a walk/jog for the rest of the course. That as actually ideal, as we got to really enjoy the event, without pushing for a time. We could soak up the fun, we weren’t pushing past families or kids, we could talk and just make the most of it.

At the purple marker, a lady very kindly hit me full in the face with purple paint, so in all of my ‘after’ pics I look like I have a purple beard! 😮

The race ended just outside Wembley stadium, and we could hear the music, and the DJ, but being in the second wave, it was still pretty quiet. We were handed bottled water, and a VitaCoco drink, which were both very welcome!

The crowds, partying!
The crowds, partying!

We made our way to the crowd, and started to queue to get our photos done doing the Color Run ‘jump’ but the queue rope was too short for the number of people waiting, and no one was supervising the queue, so it dissolved into chaos. Instead of getting upset or bothered with people jumping into the queue, we just left it, and just as we started to head to the merchandise stalls, we heard them call all tutu wearers to the stage! I grabbed my sis’ hand, and dragged her behind the barrier, where all of our fellow tutu wearers were dancing and jumping about to Katy Perry’s Call Me Maybe:

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I decided to take a quick pic of my sis and I here, and we were photobombed. Possibly the best photobomb I’ve seen:

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Well done that girl! Love it!

Here’s our after pics:

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After we had finished jumping about, we went back into the crowd for a bit, and did the finish line colour cloud: we had yellow paint for the end.

We then headed to the merchandise stall, and I treated myself to some socks, which are pretty cool:

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Elsewhere in the finish area, there was a guy, soaking everyone with a hose, and there were plenty of food stalls, first aid staff, and volunteers for anyone needing help at the end.

We headed back to the hotel, where we got some really weird looks, sitting at the bar, enjoying a beer:

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As we were heading out into London, we headed for showers, and clean clothes! On our way out that evening, we could see the aftermath!

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My stats: No official time, but we finished in around 39 minutes

The Medal: None, but that’s OK!

Goody Bag: None, but water and VitaCoco was available

T-shirt: I love the shirt, but as it’s cotton I won’t be wearing it for running. I didn’t run the race in it. I’ll be wearing the sweatband, though!

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I’ll be planning on doing more than one of these next year: I’ve heard that there’ll be one in Glasgow in 2014- cannot wait! 😀