Reading Half Marathon 2015 – Race Recap

I just got back from the BEST half marathon of my life!

I’ve done the Reading race for three years in a row now.  Reading’s my hometown, and it’s so nice to run down the streets that I walked to school on every day 🙂

I was a little nervous for this year’s race because it was the first time I hadn’t trained.  In 2013 and 2014 I stuck pretty religiously to my plan, but this year, my term was taken up by rowing – runs just had to fit around that.

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I was really looking forward to it though! Reading was the first big race I did back in 2013, and was also the one that got me hooked! The atmosphere created by 18,000 excited runners in one place is just insane – I love it!

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We got to the race village pretty early, because my little sis (my mini me) was doing the Green Park Challenge, a 2.5km fun run.  More time to soak up the pre-race excitement!!

The weather was absolutely perfect.  We genuinely could not have asked for more : cloudless skies and sunny, but not too hot. SUCH an improvement on 2013, which saw nothing but merciless rain & hail all. day. long.

I made my way to the start zone feeling excited, and surprisingly not too nervous! I just wanted to get moving really…

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AAAAND we’re off!

I started pretty far back this time (I couldn’t even see the 1:50 pacer), but this worked to my advantage! Passing loads of people in the first couple of miles really gave me a psychological boost. My pacing strategy was ‘one at a time’ – I locked on to one running vest ahead of me and focused solely on overtaking them, then repeated for the entire race 🙂

I was pleasantly surprised by how I felt this time! Normally I get stiff and tired at around mile 7/8, but thankfully I didn’t this time! it was genuinely so enjoyable to be out in the sunshine, feeling strong and powerful and just soaking up the atmosphere.

I also saw a few school friends on the way – it was so nice to see familiar faces in the crowd! Last year I ran with my mum and few of friends, but this year I was alone. When I saw people cheering for me, it sure didn’t feel that way.

I didn’t wear my running watch and I couldn’t see any pacers, so I’m not sure what my average mile time was.  It felt pretty consistent the whole way through though, and I managed to sprint the end, so I’m happy!

Coming up to mile 11, I was feeling great! I couldn’t believe I only had 3.2km to go!

I really loved the motivational signs, they were great!

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My favourite part of Reading is the spectacular stadium finish.  It means you have the finish line in sight from mile 12 (encourgaing!) and relly, there’s no better feeling than pulling into a packed stadium, with the crowds roaring for you as you give it your all for the final stretch.

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The minute I saw the 1000m to go sign, I really picked up the pace. By 600m to go I was sprinting and was passing loads of people- it felt so good to have such a strong finish!  I even managed to pose for the finish-line camera!

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YEAH! Reading Half round three, come at me!

Soon after, I got a text with my time on it (love this detail!) :

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I was so happy! Set a new PB by 3 minutes, even without having trained.  Maybe I should do that more often….

I wasn’t a massive fan of the post-race cereal bar offering, but luckily I brought a post race Quest bar, which disappeared in about 0.74 seconds.

Overall, it was such a fantastic day and really reminded me why I love running.  It’s so much more than just a sport, it’s a community and a lifestyle that makes me stronger in so many ways.

IMG_6459  IMG_6472I have my sights set on Oxford Half in October as my next challenge – my BFFs at uni are runners too and we’re planning on doing it together! I’m already looking forward to it!

Congratulations to everyone that took part – I hope your experience was excellent too!

Lots of love,

Charley

Ireland and the Impromptu 10K

Rule number one of the Fit Girls’ Guide to Holiday Packing:  Never go anywhere without your trainers.  
Even if you’re only off for two days and have a jam-packed schedule prepared and it’s going to be 30º and you’re intending on doing a lot more eating than moving…pack ’em! You never know when some cool fitness opportunity will present itself, and when it does, it’s great to be ready to meet it.
In the wise words of Zig Ziglar,  ‘Success occurs where opportunity meets preparation’      Be prepared!
This happened to me a couple of weeks ago whilst I was in Ireland.  We were staying in my grandpa’s hometown,  Birr – a sleepy little village in the middle of nowhere- and I did not have high hopes for exciting exercise potential.  Tiny hotel room = no space for pilates and no disturbing neighbours with HIIT workouts.  Nevertheless, I thought I could pack in a couple of runs in the Irish countryside so the Nikes and two workout outfits were stuffed in my bag.I enjoyed two great solo runs around the town and got to see areas of it that I’d never have seen otherwise. For example, the back of Birr castle looks beautiful at sunrise when void of tourists! But as luck would have it, as we were wandering around one afternoon, we spotted this:
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That was tomorrow! Never one to turn down a challenge, I pulled on the trainers and turned up eagerly at the square the next day.  It quickly became apparent that this was not going to be the most organized of affairs – there were no race bibs, no timing chips, no start siren (there wasn’t even a 3pm start- more like 3.20pm by the time everyone was herded towards the start line), and – shock horror – no medals! Nevertheless, the route was absolutely gorgeous and took us through vast expanses of the surrounding area that I’d have completely missed otherwise. race2

Me (fluoro), my mum (blue) and our new friend from Boston (right) questioning the apparent lack of organisation!

Another (slightly devious!) benefit of the race was that because there were so few entrants, probably 40 at most, it increased my chances of winning! And I did – my first 10KM win ! I don’t think it really counts because there was no official race timing, but I did it in approx 45mins, which isn’t bad seeing as I hadn’t trained at all.

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All in all, I’m so glad I showed up.  Although I didn’t get a medal for the collection (sob!), I had a fantastic time, met some really cool people and packed in a really good run! And none if it woulda happened if I hadn’t packed those trainers…..