Heart rate training bl***y works!


OK, spoiler, because I’m too happy and I can’t stop myself blurting it out.  PB alert!!!  :)

Last night was the Blisworth 5 mile race, part of the East Midlands Grand Prix series made up of several shorter distance races over the Summer months, each starting at 7:45pm.  My running has been going well lately so I was looking forward to a Summer of stronger racing.  Although, as always, wound up way more nervous due to the shorter distance of the race.  There’s no time for error in a 5 mile race!

After a stressful day encountering several house moving issues (post to follow) I ambled over to Blisworth where I met with Steph and Laura for a destress chat.  Steph was running, Laura was supporting and after Steph and I had collected numbers and queued for the loo we still managed to fit in a good 40minutes of chat.  The start line at Blisworth is about a 10 minute walk from the registration desk so we ambled over.  It was nice and relaxed – no time to stress over the distance coming up.

Blisworth 5 start and finish

I had spoken to another runner from club in the week and had told them that I had not run Blisworth before but looking back on race morning through my blog I realised that I had indeed run Blisworth last year, and it was pretty damn hilly out there!  Clearly I’d just blocked it from my mind.

Blisworth 5 elevation

With a few minutes to go before the start, Steph and I both wished each other luck and headed to our separate starting locations.  I started from the left hand side of the road which is very unusual for me.  The right side was so crowded I couldn’t squeeze in!

I had worked out before the race that I needed to stick somewhere around the 165bpm range when racing over 5 miles.  As the course was so hilly, it would mean my splits probably wouldn’t end up being very even but I would be consistently putting in the same amount of effort throughout the race and this meant that I (hopefully!) wouldn’t end up crashing and burning on the way round.

It took me 11 seconds to cross the start line and then the course starts off on an amazing downhill.  I really let my legs go down here.  I leaned forward and let my legs take long strides.

Blisworth 5 mile race start(You can tell this is at the start of the race because my hair is still nice and tidy in this photo!)

My heart rate remained fairly low, under 150bpm so I made use of the downhill because the course is very cruel in that you get to the bottom of the very large hill, have a short uphill which you head back down again almost immediately and then you loop back and run back up the very large uphill, with all your supporters still stood at the top and no chance of getting a sneaky walk in! :P

My first mile (just before heading back up the large hill) ticked by in 8m 19s.  Super speedy for me, but it had contained a large downhill that I wouldn’t reap the benefits of anywhere else!  As we headed back up the large hill towards the farm where the start/finish line was held the sun was sitting just wrong in the sky and everything was so bright.  I could hear people shouting out my name as I ran past but couldn’t see a thing!

Blisworth 5 mile top of the hillThis was right at the top of the hill.  I just put my head down and pushed on to the very top, trying to keep my effort consistent on this section.  I knew it was the worst part of the course!

We got probably another half mile up the road and a car drove up behind us.  The runners were all still quite clustered and across the road at this point and rather than wait the couple of minutes it would take us to get to the turning, the woman beeped her horn at us for us to move out of the way before speeding a little further up the road.  Fag hanging out of the window in her hand.  I heard a few more beeps as she went up the road and did make a comment to the runners around me at the time.

We turned off and headed round to begin our loop back.  Here, a woman was running in front of me but her stride was shorter than mine, resulting in me having to keep clipping my stride, making me off balance.  I moved out to the right to overtake her, but she moved to the right at the same time as me.  I chopped my stride some more and moved over to the left to undertake her instead.  She moved back over infront of me!  I hadn’t thought it was deliberate the first time, but now I did!  This happened about ten times before another Wellingborough runner pulled up alongside the left of this lady, I saw my chance and gunned it to the right of her.  I didn’t see her again after that.  I was rather annoyed that she had tried to block me from coming past though.  We were only running at about 9mm pace so position in the race meant nothing to us!  There should have been no reason for her to not let me pass.

Miles two and three went by in 9m 45s (heading back up that hill!) and 9m 18s.  It was here that I realised I was in with a good chance of getting a PB.  I desperately wished at this point I had remembered to check what my PB was before setting off that evening.  I knew it was 47 minutes-something, but couldn’t for the life of me remember the something!  I had a feeling it was around 9:30minute miling, and knew it had been set way back in 2012.  (It was 47m 57s – 9:36minute miling.)  I instantly felt nervous as soon as I realised that I was heading towards a PB and ended up having to block the thought from my mind so that it didn’t alter my running.

Mile four went by without issue in 9m 26s and it was here that I knew I would definitely achieve a PB.  All of my miles (other than the hilly one) had come in well under the 9:30 pace I had ingrained in my mind to beat.  I vaguely worked out that I could run the last mile in 10 minutes and still beat my previous record, and I was definitely on target for smashing my previous time set at Blisworth the year before (49m 47s).  Just the one hill to go then!

A little way infront of me I could see a runner flat out on the grass verge.  She had two marshals holding her legs up high, looking to try to bring her back round.  On talking to Steph later, the lady had gone down not far infront of her with very laboured breathing.  The ambulance rushed out as I came through the finish line not long after but I do not know any more.  I hope she was OK.

We came out back onto the stretch of road where the farmyard was.  I only knew this from having run the course last year.  The marshals at this point shouted out “Only 500m to go!” though.  I didn’t kick as I am sure that it was further to go than this.  It actually ended up being half a mile from the finish, so I’m glad all I did was lengthen my stride slightly.  I overtook several people along this stretch of road here.  I kept checking my watch along this point, -my heart rate had crept up to 170bpm since being told that it was only 500m to go and as I passed the 400m to go sign and could see the gantry in the distance I was still feeling good so made the decision to pick up the pace and finish strong, continuing to pass other runners.  I doubted myself slightly on making the PB here.  Why is it impossible to work out simple maths problems in your head whilst running?!

As I reached the turn onto the farm I could hear other runners from my club screaming out to both me and the lady just in front of me who was also a Wellingborough runner.  This was all I needed to pick my pace up even further and I really powered around the corner, skidding on the gravel that was on the surface.

Blisworth 5 mile finishI thought I was going to go down for a second, but somehow managed to use the skid to my advantage and take power from it to pick up the pace even further.

Blisworth 5 mile finishThe finish is about 50m from this point and I managed to power past that Wellingborough lady in front and just pip her to the post.  I immediately turned round and apologised for overtaking right at the end, that I knew I had been so close to a PB and wanted every last second to count.  She seemed OK about it though.

I couldn’t stop grinning when I walked through the tunnel.  Because I had run a smart race effort-wise I had no need to throw myself down onto the ground afterwards either (as so often happens!) so once I had grabbed my water and bourbon biscuit, I headed over to join my club mates and cheer the rest of our club in.  Still grinning ridiculously at achieving a new PB!

Mile 5 went by in 8m 53s and the 0.5 nubbin was run at 6:29 pace!

Super, super happy with the result!

Garmin time: 46:03
Official time:
Finishing position:
Female position:
Category position (senior female):

I found it quite interesting to compare splits to last year as well.

Mile #: 2014 2015
1  9:20  8:19
2  10:04  9:45
3  10:19  9:18
4  10:24  9:26
5  9:19  8:53
Nubbin  (0.04m) 7:29  (0.05m) 6:29

Clearly I’m much fitter this year!  No 10s in sight!  :DBlisworth 5 heart rate

Do you race to heart rate?  Lots of guides seem to advise against it due to the extra stress of race day, which raises your heart rate.


Lots of trail


Lots and lots of trail runs have been taking place just lately.

Last Tuesday evening I ran the mile and a half to a new pub that had opened up in Stanwick.  From here I tested out a 6.7m trail route I had previously mapped out so that I could lead the Friday night pub trail run that week for the first time.  The route had a nice mix of paths, field, stubble, grass, trees which had fallen over ditches we would have to cross and track.  It did have a section of about 0.25m in the middle where we ran alongside a fairly busy road which I worried about, but in the grand scheme of things it didn’t make up a large portion of the run at all so things worked out fine.  Once I returned to the pub (not open on a Tuesday night unfortunately!) I then headed the mile and a half back home again.9.5 miles on a school night

Wednesday night, after quickly packing three more boxes (our current nightly minimum) ready for the move I suddenly realised that I had never driven myself to the start point for the club trail run that evening.  Everytime I had run that route in the past I’d always been driven by others.  Not the most observant of passengers I realised that I had no idea how long it would take me to get there and quickly set off whilst hurredly trying to program the village name into my satnav.

I arrived as a herd of runners (is that the correct collective term?!) headed along the road towards me.  Luckily they spotted my car so waited as I launched myself out, grabbing my heartrate monitor, Garmin and phone as I ran.  There were 25 of us all together.  We’ve only ever beaten that number when free food has been involved!

I took my rest day on Thursday and then Friday was my turn to lead the club run out from the pub in Stanwick.  I was worried when another 25 runners (and a dog!) turned up.  My worry levels increased when quite a few of the faster runners turned up and everyone asked me to explain the route…I’m rubbish when it comes to giving directions!

I started off running at the front around 9mm pace and comfortably ran at this speed all of the way round, with various pauses for photos and turnbacks to regroup with the other runners.  Luckily I wasn’t panting out of breath at the back shouting out instructions to the front runners the whole way round!

My trail run in RaundsAlan, our membership secretary likes to take lots of photos so we have several from the night!

My trail run in RaundsAnd we couldn’t miss the photo opportunity from the bridge!

My trail run in RaundsObviously we then stopped in to enjoy a pint or two at the pub we had started out from (The Duke of Wellington) and I returned home much later than planned!

The next morning I headed over to Northampton for the parkrun with Dan.

Unfortunately after my run on Saturday morning I was unable to run again until last night due to packing for the house move, producing a programme for the upcoming Northamptonshire Track and Field event this weekend and Ofsted being in at school.  Busy times over here in the Pearson household!  Last night I made it out to club though and really enjoyed another great new route down by the river along Great Doddington for 7.4miles.  The weather has been perfect for lots of trail just lately.  The ground isn’t too hard but the evenings are nice and light and it’s warm enough still to head out in a t-shirt after work.

How have you been making the most of the light evenings?




Saying no to races and heart rate training


In my calendar for today I have had the Dukeries 40m trail race marked for ages. The race is part of our club trail league and a bunch of friends from the club had planned to run it.

Entries for the race closed last Sunday. I hadn’t entered by Sunday lunchtime and was still undecided as to what I wanted to do race-wise and goal wise for the rest of 2015. My ‘goal’ for the year had initially been to have a strong marathon at Milton Keynes and to PB at the marathon distance. I achieved the PB but didn’t have quite the race I was hoping for on the day and was left feeling rather deflated and knowing I could do much better.

I am still entered for the Shires and Spires 35m race at the start of next month. Large numbers of our club are running this. I wouldn’t be surprised if we had 50 members running on the day! It seems almost everyone I’ve spoken to lately has entered so it should be a great race atmosphere out there. I would like to beat my time from two years ago, when I first ran it. Several of the first time ultra runners plan on running at the back of the field in a large group but I know from experience that I run better on my own or with just one other person. I’m confident on the course, having entered for two years running now and having completed sections of it on numerous training runs.

My legs felt fine after Milton Keynes which had been the initial reason I held off entering Dukeries (in case I was no longer able to walk!) but with Shires two weeks after Dukeries, combined with a house move the week before Shires, a 4:00am required get up on race morning to get over to Nottingham and my Nephew’s third birthday party moving from the Saturday to the Sunday I eventually made the decision not to run. I immediately felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders and almost immediately afterwards I also made the decision that I should postpone another marathon PB attempt until the Autumn.

Jenson's third birthdayThere’s my nephew, blowing out the candles on his birthday cake earlier on today.
And for all the cake lovers out there, here is the cake my Mother-In-Law made.

Jenson's third birthday cakeApparently it’s some character from a kiddie program.  I don’t know, – I’m not clued up on programs for three-year-olds, but it looked amazing and tasted pretty good too whilst we waited until 3:30pm for our lunch in the restaurant!

Over the coming months I want to make a real focus of the shorter distances and concentrate on running strong to heart rate.  During the week I made the decision to get to as many parkruns as possible this Summer and aim to run measuring at 170bpm on my heart rate monitor so that I can track my progress as I go along.  This website tells me that for a 5k distance I should be running at 95-97% effort.  170bpm is just short of that for me, but means that there is a bit of wiggle room and helps to make me feel confident that I can hit that target.

I kicked off this plan at yesterday’s parkrun in Northampton, and, after several months of no-shows, Dan decided to join me.  (Buying some snazzy new running kit in the week helped him to make his decision.)  The last three times that I have run Northampton parkrun it has been as an easy run or one without pressure so I wasn’t sure how I would get on running for a time again.
After one minute of clapping for a local runner who had recently been killed by a car whilst out on a road, we set off a little after 9am.  I made sure to start off on the far side of the start line, on the grass where I feel happiest and also giving me opportunity to overtake several of the runners that had started too far forward when the run began.

I just let my legs do the work to begin with, trying to slot back onto the track and find my place in the run – not glancing at my watch until we reached the far end of the park and had turned along the bottom end.  146bpm.  That couldn’t be right, surely?!  I was pushing harder than I would have done on feel alone at such an early point in the race and yet my heart rate was displaying so low.  For a few seconds I thought that perhaps my watch was picking up someone else’s heart rate details.  I quickly made the decision to roll with it though and to gradually pick the pace up until my Garmin displayed 170.

The field seemed much more crowded at this faster pace and twice a runner darted infront of me giving me no time to react, catching the back of their heels as they scuttled through.  I glanced up in time to see a non-parkrunner who was heading along the path in the opposite direction to us plough into one of the parkrunners from my club head on and knock him sideways.

Finally, one mile into the run I hit that magic 170bpm on my watch I had been looking for and I stabilised my pace.  The first mile absolutely flew by.  Turns out 8:24 minute miles go much quicker than the 9:30mm I have been running parkrun in just lately.  Who would have thought?!

I still felt good but kept my pace steady as I came into the second mile.  Here, one of the guys who used to run at our club came alongside me.  ”Hiya Mary, how you doing?” “Good.” (between gasps!) “There are quite a lot of people here today aren’t there?  I think our club is beating yours this week.” “Yep.”  ”How has your running been going?  Are you aiming for a PB?” “I’m on target at the moment.”  (Took me a long while to get those six words out!)  He wished me luck and shot off past me at this point but I headed over to apologise as soon as I saw him at the finish.  I had just been concentrating on my run!
Mile two went by in 8:51 – still on target for a PB.  My current PB stands at 26:55 – 8:40 minute miling.

The third mile was tough, but manageable.  The thing about the 5k distance is it is tough the entire time, unlike the marathon, where your body starts to ache towards the end but you’ve kept pretty steady up until that point.  During a 5k you are going almost full blast from the very beginning.  I hadn’t slowed down though and my watch beeped to display 8:57mm.  I didn’t have the mental capacity at that point to work out if I was still on target for a PB, although thought it would probably be close so really gunned it along the last 0.13m to the finish line with my final nubbin at 8:04 pace, finishing in 27:13.

Not a PB, but the closest I have come since setting my PB back in February 2013.

Position: 189/341
Female position: 32/132
Age cat position: 5/16

Do you have a game plan when you run at parkrun?


Four things Friday


1. London marathon
Who entered the ballot this year then?  I put my name in the hat first thing last Monday morning despite the change in rules for this year.  Normally the ballot shuts after a certain amount of entries, but this year they decided to run things differently and keep the ballot open until the Friday – four days later.  I am glad I got a chance to run at London last year as I would imagine the number of people being persuaded to enter across four days is much higher than those who got up at 6am to secure their spot before the cut-off in previous years.
One good thing came out of it though.  >>  The ballot went live the day of Milton Keynes marathon.  As Dan stood chatting with my club friends and watching us all prepare for the marathon he came across all confident and entered himself.  I bet anything he ends up with a place next year now!

london ballot

2. 14 days until the move
Our official move date is now the 29th May – Friday of the half term holiday….two weeks today…and we still have so much to organise!  My list is actually getting longer I swear!  We are now almost up to 40 boxes packed and placed in the kitchen and I’m starting to get concerned we’re not going to fit everything into a van!  We’re definitely running out of kitchen room!

Packing boxes ready for the house move

Despite my continuous growing list, I do feel that I’m on top of things right now.  My main concern is the juggling act on the morning of move day.  Because we will be moving into the house owned by the people moving into our house.  This means we both need to be out of our current houses first thing in the morning so that the monies can be transferred by lunchtime.  We have to load everything in a van in one go before waiting and then when we get the go-ahead setting off for our new home…two roads away!  It almost seems silly getting a van.  We could just about organise a to-me-to-you parcel up the road!

3. I’m loving running right now
Like really loving it, – can’t get enough of it right now.  I want to join in on all the trail runs and enter all the races.  I need to be careful I don’t overdo it too soon and wind up getting injured.  I’m really looking forward to a Summer of running though.  Pub runs and river dips.  BBQ runs and new trails.

4. An early morning wake up call
Last Sunday morning I was up bright and early to knock back some porridge before heading out on the Waendel Walk.  As I sat downstairs digesting my porridge and catching up on some blog reading I heard a loud thud on our lounge window.  I peered outside to see a little Great Tit face-down on the lawn outside with his bum sticking up in the air.  Bella was outside on the prowl so I quickly scooped the little bird up and brought him inside.  He seemed pretty alert when sat on my hand and continually turned his head but did not attempt to move his body or feet when I picked him up.  I was running out of time to set off for my run so I did what anyone would have done.  I woke Dan up with a bird in my hand and told him he needed to keep the bird away from Bella until it was capable of flying again.  A reasonable request, or so I thought.Great Tit in handTurns out Dan wasn’t very impressed with being woken at 7:30am with a bird in his face and ten minutes later, whilst we were debating what I should do with the bird, the bird decided he was feeling much better and decided to take flight around the bedroom!  Luckily I’d had the sense to shut the door on entry so at least he was contained but it was the funniest thing watching a half-awake Dan duck under the duvet cover everytime the bird swooped down alongside the head of the bed.  Eventually after about ten minutes of me sweeping him in the direction of the wide-open window he saw sense and disappeared off into the world and I disappeared on my run before Dan threw something at me!

Top moving tips?
Do you have any animal rescue stories to share?