Monday, 25 November 2013

See Harris Inspired: Write This Run Conference, 23rd November 2013

Arriving at the Running Show at Sandown Racecourse, all I could really think about was one thing: when are they going to figure out I'm a fake?

The nagging doubts in the back of my mind got stronger as I made my way past rows and rows of lycra, electronic gadgets, protein-packed foodstuffs and foam thingies.

"I'm not a real runner," I thought. "I only ran my first 10k two weeks ago."

"These people run half marathons, marathons, even ultra marathons."


What followed was a huge blur and it wasn't until I was sat on the train after the post-conference party that I realised maybe I'm not such a fake after all. Maybe I'm even...*whispers*...a runner?

The biggest shock of the day, however, came when I rifled through my goodie bag and found...a place in a half-iron man! Now I like a challenge, but as someone who is still very much a learner runner and has extremely limited skills when it comes to both swimming and cycling, this was a bridge too far and so I decided to keep an eye out for someone to swap with.

Lucky for me, Cathy was on the lookout for a half-iron place! One prize-swap later and I found myself with a place in the Liverpool Rock and Roll Marathon/Half Marathon. I had not expected to be in the running (crap pun) for a half marathon for at least a year but Cathy, along with several others all insisted it was absolutely do-able.

The blogger and brand relationships panel

Ultra marathon and 24-hour runner Robbie Britton's talk 'Suffering is just part of the fun' had us all giggling
I'm not 100% about doing it yet but the more I think about it, the more I find myself wondering if maaaybe, just maybe, this is something I really could do? Plus have you SEEN the medals? Talk about bling.

Anyway, the whole day was great fun and I learnt so much - definitely felt a little sad when it was all over. I'd been planning on coming back the next day for the 10k but unfortunately I had to miss out due to family circumstances.

The better blogging panel gave me a lot to think about

Some highlights...

  • A chance for inspiration and a bit of perspective - listening to talks by Sophie Walker, Simon Webb and Jennifer Bradley really helped tto make me realise that perhaps I don't have so much to contend with after all.
  • Tip on how to improve my blogging - Muireanne Carey-Campbell, Jody Raynsford and Johnny Muir all gave some great tips that I hope I can put into practice for See Harris Run
  • An awesome goody bag (even if it did originally saddle with with a half-iron)
  • Meeting all the awesome people behind the blogs and Twitter handles - hopefully all people I'll meet again as I continue to work on both my running and my blogging.
  • A pretty darn blissful yoga-for-runners session with Emma Spencer Goodier
Massive thank you to Write This Run for the whole day. Liz and Laura have created something that they should be really proud of here. I had tons of fun and left feeling so inspired!

Harris x

Monday, 18 November 2013

Mornington Chasers Regent's Park 10k: 3rd November 2013

On the morning of my very first 10k race I woke up fresh as a daisy and fully rested after a blissful night's sleep.

Oh wait, no I didn't.

I can safely say I have now learnt that it is simply not possible to go to a party the night before a race, even if you are super well-behaved and drink nothing but Appletiser. Although I did manage to leave the party before midnight, there was of course then the fun of a night bus to endure. Or two as it turned out as I managed to get on the wrong one the first time round. Nice one.

By the time I'd got back to my flat and faffed around a bit, I didn't actually end up getting to bed until around 1am. Considering I was meant to be up at 6.30, this wasn't a great start.

I was SO prepared the day before...shame it didn't pay off on the day
But wake up at 6.30 I did and although I was still pretty knackered, at least I was hangover-free. It looked like it was shaping up to be a pretty nice day, so at least I wouldn't have to be dealing with my lack of waterproof coat issue (yes, I know, I still need to get this sorted).

I did all my usual things to get ready: PB on a bagel and a cup of tea for breakfast, same kit as usual, etc and yet somehow I still managed to end up running late.

By the time I'd made it to Baker Street station, it was five minutes until the start of the race and Google maps was telling me it was at least a fifteen minute walk to the start line. So rather than calmly strolling to the centre of the park, I had to prematurely get my run on. By the time I did make it to the start line, I'd already managed to build up a bit of a sweat.

Luckily for me, the race had actually been delayed by fifteen minutes. So after calming myself down, dropping my bag off, picking up and fiddling around with my chip and doing a few final stretches, I was ready to go.

The race course was three laps of Regent's Park - thankfully a nice flat course. It would've been nice to have a little more variation but Regent's Park is a great place to run, My favourite section was past the zoo and although I was a little disappointed not to see any of the promised tigers, I did get a good look at some camels. Better than nothing  I suppose!

Lovely weather for my first 10k!
The Regent's Park 10k is obviously a favourite for running clubs and those looking for PBs (probably due to the flatness of the course), so most people taking part were either in their running club vests or very swanky-looking lycra. I did feel like a bit of an amateur plodding away at the very back of the pack but at no point did it feel disheartening. The course was well signposted with plenty of marshals, many of whom were cheering us on and at points when I did find myself starting to feel a little tired this was a real encouragement, particularly as I didn't have anyone there for support.

I had been a little worried that since I'd never actually done more than 8k, I'd find the end of the race really tough, but aside from an increasing ache in my glutes and feeling understandably weary, I actually still felt like I was running fairly strongly.

Definitely didn't document this well - my one pic of the actual race!
Even though I was definitely in the last group of finishers, there were still plenty of people waiting at the end to cheer everyone on. I had visions of being the last one to stumble over the finish line while a tumbleweed blew across the park and I had to get a drink of water from the lake. But luckily all was well and there was plenty of water, bananas and chocolate biscuits waiting at the finish line.

Everyone was able to queue up to get their chip time straight away and I was really chuffed to have finished in 1:09:09. It may not sound like much to any of you seasoned runners, but considering Goal A had just been to finish and Goal B was to finish in 1:10, this was a really nice surprise. I had been timing on Map My Run but apparently despite having a certificate of course accuracy, a lot of apps and Garmins show that the course is actually longer (apparently due to the twisty-turny nature of the route. As a result I didn't really know what my time would be at the end of the race.

Overall I'm really pleased with my result. I wasn't even sure I would make it round the course and so to have finished in the time I did was really encouraging. But of course that raises the question: 'What next?' I already have another 10k lined up at the Write This Run conference at the Running Show, so we'll see what happens then, but I guess it's time for another goal after that - maybe cutting down my 10k or 5k time?

I also wanted to say thank you to everyone who sent me messages of support or tweets on the day - it was so great to know you guys were rooting for me!

Harris x