On Sunday 19th May 2019 I took on the 100 mile Vélo sportive ride from Birmingham City Centre. The route took over 17,000 cyclists from Birmingham through Warwickshire to Coventry before heading back to the city centre.
To say I was a little apprehensive about completing this ride would be an understatement. Having only been out on my bike twice since October last year and completing all my bike training in my cellar on the turbo, I wasn’t sure how I would fare or even whether I’d make the full distance.
To my surprise, I found the majority of the ride relatively easy going and it was a great opportunity to practise my drafting skills and to meet fellow cyclists. The only point at which I experienced real discomfort and pain was at the 86-mile mark. This was at a stage of the race when the main section of the climbing took place and my back and feet started to really hurt.
A brief stop at one of the feed stations to take some ibuprofen and take my shoes off for a few minutes eased the pain and I pushed through the final miles before hitting the home straight and proudly crossing the finish line. Throughout the ride there was a fantastic atmosphere and the support en route was tremendous with families cheering us on and locals handing out drinks, sweets and biscuits which I politely declined as I had packed enough endurance snacks to sink a ship. I was aware that the feed stations would be busy so I made sure I had my energy bars and jam bagel to keep me going. Not including stops I completed the ride in just over 6 hours which I was very pleased with all things considered.
During the days following the ride I experienced very little aching or muscle fatigue, however I found myself needing to be in bed by 8pm and sleeping for anything up to 11 hours in a night! The ride had clearly taken its toll on my body so I listened to it and only did light training before I felt my energy levels were back to normal.
About the author: Kate Miller is a Team GB Age Group triathlete and Sundried ambassador.
About 10 years ago I remember sitting in the lounge at the gym with a friend watching the London Marathon on TV. He joked and said, "why don’t you do a marathon?" I laughed and called him crazy. Back then, I was strictly gym and said "I can’t understand why anyone would want to run for that long". That thought stayed with me until early last year.
A friend and I decided to enter Beachy Head Marathon... just because. This was a marathon with a difference – described as “one of the biggest off-road marathons in the UK” and “a challenging event”. We knew it would be more of a hike than a run so we didn’t feel under pressure. I had also ruptured a bursa in my knee 2 weeks before so it was more of a fun day out than a serious race.
Once I had completed Beachy Head Marathon, I wondered whether I would actually be able to complete a road marathon. I now knew I had the distance in my legs, it was just whether I could run it, after all I am still very new to running (only been running just over 2 years). I looked up marathons for 2019 and “the UK's flattest major marathon with huge support on route” sounded like the best one to start with – Manchester Marathon.
One of my friends is a triathlon coach so I contacted him to ask if he could coach me for running. All of a sudden, my Training Peaks was filled with four runs a week, Wattbike training, swimming, strength and conditioning, and stretching. Of course, as soon as I saw it I thought ‘no way am I fit enough to train two or three times a day’ but of course I got on with it.
I had already entered 5 half marathons for the start of 2019 so they were incorporated into my training. These were meant to be training runs but with all my training I was able to set new personal bests for my 5k, 10k and half marathon times.
It was during one of these half marathons I noticed a ‘niggle’ on the inside of my left thigh. As most people do, I got on with it and thought it would go away – it didn’t. Possible tendonitis! During London Landmarks Half Marathon I could hardly run and I decided I wouldn’t be able to run Manchester Marathon – how could I if I couldn’t run 2 miles without stopping to walk?
I had a chat with my sports therapist and asked him honestly if I could still run and he believed I could still do it. My coach agreed.
So at 9am on Sunday 7th April I was on the start line. To say I was nervous was an understatement. Although I knew I had completed the distance before on an injury, this was different. I wanted to run as much as possible and to enjoy it not just complete it (if I could complete it that is).
The weather was perfect – around 14 degrees Celsius and clear skies. I had my gels in my race belt and felt ready to go. I had met up with some friends from the running club that meets at my work. We decided to run together – to take it slowly and just enjoy it.
We were off!! 20,000 people running the streets of Manchester all with the same goal in mind – to complete 26.2 miles. We admired some of the costumes around us, a giant strawberry, Bert & Ernie, dinosaurs, rhinos, and Spiderman. Massive kudos to anyone who can run any distance in a costume – I overheat in just shorts and vest!
The support of the crowds is amazing, I didn’t have headphones on so was able to take in the atmosphere and hear the cheering and encouragement. They really do get you round the course! The course is marked out with mile markers. You always hear the same comments from runners when you get to a marker. At mile 1 “only 25 to go” – yeah thanks for that mate!
I was running comfortably with Louise and Clive, we were chatting away and Louise was keeping an eye on pace to make sure we weren’t speeding off to quickly. At mile 12 I had lost them, I think I just got caught up with my own pace. At this point I’m usually nearly finished so the thought then come into my mind ‘I’m not even half way there’
Luckily, I then saw Alison on the side of the road. “Come on, I'll run with you,” she said. Alison is a lot quicker than me, so all of a sudden we're sprinting past the 13 mile halfway point. We stayed together for around 4 miles, then she dropped back into a walk. I’m normally always ready to walk with someone, but I knew if I stopped my leg would start hurting so I carried on running.
I let the crowds carry me round and continued to just enjoy my run. 19 miles in I was getting close to that 20 mile mark! But all of a sudden I felt nauseous. It would pass, I’m sure it would pass, but it wasn’t going away. I didn’t know what to do – this hasn’t happened to me during training and I was now at the point where this is the longest run I had done without walking. I slowed into a walk, my head went fuzzy and my legs turned to jelly. I started to walk it off. “Well done Vinny you’re looking good” said a supporter as she handed me a jelly baby. I’m a pescatarian so I don’t eat jelly sweets but I needed something. So now I just had to make sure the gelatin didn’t affect the last 7 miles!
I continued walking half a mile and Alison caught up with me. She told me how she really wasn’t feeling the race and said that if she had seen a tram stop she would have just got on and dropped out. I told her my leg was hurting so I would probably run/walk the last 7 miles and she said she would join me.
At mile 22, someone put their arms round the back of us ‘am I glad to see you both’ – it was Clive. His calves had seized up so he had ran/walked up behind us.
We were nearly there – none of us cared about a time we just wanted to complete it.
Mile 23 ‘just a Parkrun to go’ – again thanks for that.
Mile 25 – we're nearly there – it’s nearly over. “I can see the finish line” it was one straight road down to the end – this road was never ending. I even commented that it looked like it was getting further away. But all of a sudden there we were – hands in the air, smiles on our faces, relief!
I DID IT! I completed Manchester Marathon in a time of 5:07. I was over the moon!
We walked over to grab our medals, finishers t-shirts, Soreen loaf (one of the best things ever) and headed to bag drop. It was all over, how did I feel? So so happy. I had managed to run for 19 miles straight without stopping, I had managed to complete the course with an injury, I had made some great memories and I had a new medal for my medal rack.
The trainers come off – the blisters were impressive – where did this extra toe come from? The flip flops went on and I was shuffling towards the tram station back to my hotel for a soak in the bath.
The smile still hasn’t left my face and I still can’t believe ‘I’ve run a marathon’.
So to answer my question earlier – why would someone want to run for that long? – well why not! The training gave me something to focus on, to keep me active and got me fitter, the race itself was fun, it was something not everyone can or will do, I made great memories with great people and I now have a massive sense of achievement! The main thing for me was to not get caught up on times – I’ll get over the finish line when I get there I just want to enjoy it – and I did!
About the author: Emma Vincent is a personal trainer and Sundried ambassador.
I’m beyond excited that my duathlon season has FINALLY started after a long winter of training! My season kicked off last weekend at Oulton Park Duathlon which was great to blow away the racing cobwebs and identify areas that need work ahead of my target races.
It was a stressful start to the race to say the least… I arrived at the venue with less than 15 minutes to register, rack, and get to the mandatory briefing. A great test of my ability to stay calm and not lose my head!
The first run leg was interesting to say the least as my legs didn’t want to move very quickly which was unsurprising given the lack of warm up. Around 2km into the first run, my legs started to play ball and the final part of the run was a far better reflection of my current form. I ran into T1 in first place and got on the bike ready for a very lonely ride around the race circuit.
Despite it being a draft legal race, I spent the entire bike alone which is never fun! I always love the drafting races because of the interaction you get with other riders and the chance to get tactical in a race. Coming into T2, I had extended my lead and just needed to keep my cool and push on the final run.
The last leg of a duathlon is always the most challenging… Your legs are heavy from the first run and bike, your pace has slowed, and every stride forward is pure pain. It’s often at this point, I really have to dig deep and focus on getting to the finish.
Very pleased to have taken the win at Oulton Park Spring Duathlon and I have definitely identified some key areas that need work… my transitions weren’t as fluid as I would have liked, and my run-bike and bike-run legs still need some attention. But all in all, a pretty successful first race!
Next up for me is the British Duathlon Championships where I hope to equal or better my bronze medal from last year! Wish me luck!
About the author: Laura Smith is a Team GB Triathlete and Sundried ambassador.
Out of all the races I had booked for 2019, the London Landmarks Half Marathon was one of the races I was most looking forward to. I received a ballot entry – the first and only time I had entered a ballot entry race.
I live on the outskirts of London but very rarely do I go into London and see the sights. So on 24th March I decided to run round them!
I’ve been marathon training this year and this was my 4th half marathon in 5 weeks. I'd picked up an injury a month before, being diagnosed with tendinitis in my adductor (hip/thigh). Running had become uncomfortable but I’m very stubborn. If I have entered a race, I will make it to the start line. I worry about the finish line when I’m there.
I'd rested my leg for 4 days prior to LLHM so I was feeling confident I would enjoy it as much as I had hoped. I decided to do a 2-mile warm up before the run, and from the first step, my leg was playing up. How was I going to be able to run 13.1 miles?
I was running with my friend Amy who had received a charity place with Mind Mental Health Charity. Amy knew all about my leg issue and had agreed to run with me. We were just going to run, chat, laugh and get to the finish line. What neither of us expected was I would be complaining the whole way round!
The run starts at Pall Mall, goes up to Holborn, past the Royal Courts of Justice, past Guy Fawkes House, over Waterloo Bridge (and back), along the Embankment, up to St Paul's Cathedral, round Chancery Lane, round London’s Roman Amphitheatre, past Bank of England Museum, through Bank, Mansion House, up to Tower Hill then back up the Embankment to finish at Downing Street.
The weather was warm and sunny, something we hadn’t really prepared for. It’s amazing how much you can actually take in of London when you are running round it. You notice buildings you hadn’t noticed or appreciated before. It was great to see so many landmarks!
My leg was having none of it. The course was slightly undulating so when I was running up an incline my leg would pull so I would stop to walk for a while (whilst apologising to Amy for slowing her down). Any runner knows once you ‘break the seal’ to walking, it then becomes habit.
I was not enjoying this race as much as I wanted to. For some reason I had nothing in me. I'd taken my gels, I'd re-hydrated at the water stations but I realised today was just not my day. I will admit I found the race hard.
The supporters were very encouraging. Our bib numbers had our names on so there were lots of cheers of ‘Go on Vinny’ and ‘you’re doing well Vinny’ – this really kept me going! As much as I wanted to say to people that I’m only walking because I was in pain, not because I couldn’t run. But who would care? I was still out there and I know the only person who was judging me was me. I thought back to my saying about the tortoise and the hare. I would make the finish line, no matter whether I ran, jogged, limped or crawled over the finish line.
As we were heading back towards the finish line, the crowd were incredible! If that doesn’t encourage you to finish strong I don’t know what will!
I finished the race in 2:22:51. Not one of my best times! But it was done, I had finished 13 miles with an injury.
It was a shame I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have hoped – but it goes to show that even those who run every weekend (including me) have bad races and bad days. So now it’s time to taper for Manchester Marathon!
About the author: Emma Vincent is a personal trainer and Sundried ambassador.
I decided 2019 was all about running. Who else has got a little bit over-excited when looking at events then all of a sudden the race calendar is full?
I entered the Vitality Big Half because I’d seen the medal from 2018 and decided I needed one of these!
10th March 2019 – not the nicest of mornings! It was cold and it was raining but the wind? That was something else! Storm Gareth was making his mark on London. So it wasn’t the best day to do a half marathon. But the miles stay the same regardless of the weather so I just needed to get it done.
When they send out the race numbers and timing chips you also get given a clear drawstring bag for the bag drop. So it’s easy to identify your fellow runners on the train ride up. Lots of excited and nervous smiles when they clock the same bag! I got speaking to one lady on the train who had said this was her first half marathon and she was really nervous as the most she has run before is 10k. I gave the same advice to her that I give to anyone “It’s just a run, nothing to be worried about and it doesn’t matter if you’re the tortoise or the hare, you’ll still cross the finish line”
The start line was at Tower Bridge. After handing my bag into the bad drop lorry I was ushered over Tower Bridge to the starting pen. My wave time was 9.25am but they wanted everyone ready for the 9am start when all the wheelchair athletes and professional athletes head off. This mean 25 minutes standing next to the Tower of London in the cold wind. I’d never been so eager to start a race than I did then.
All of a sudden, we were on the move and over the start line. The support of the crowd around the route was amazing – they really do make the race what it is. There are also choirs, street performers and charity support stations all screaming their support to everyone.
The route takes you from Tower of London, round Canary Wharf, round the river to Wapping, back over Tower Bridge towards Southwark, round Rotherhithe and finishes at the Cutty Sark. There were supporters the whole way there and you also have a great appreciation for the volunteers who are standing in the cold for anything up to 4 hours!
I didn’t have a time in mind for this race, I’m currently in training for Manchester Marathon but also had a half marathon booked for almost every weekend up until then so I just wanted to enjoy the sights of London and get round the race comfortably.
I wasn't looking at my watch tracking my pace or seeing how I was doing, I was just counting down each mile marker. My watch was running slightly quicker than the mile markers so the course come in a little over the half marathon distance at 13.35 miles. I finished in 2:00:30 with a new half marathon PB of 1:58:03. It was great to finish the race feeling comfortable.
I then got my hands on my funky medal! We also received a goody bag with a finisher’s t-shirt, some water and some snack bars.
Unfortunately, due to the wind the event village was minimal so I decided to head back to the station. The atmosphere was amazing, so many happy and relieved runners which makes it all worthwhile. I didn’t see the lady I saw on my way up – but I’m confident she would have enjoyed her run!
About the author: Emma Vincent is a personal trainer and Sundried ambassador.