Tag Archives: race

Loving to Love the Trail!!



Back on the 9th of June I blogged about a run called otmoor challenge which saw me making the bold statement that “I was NEVER running off road again”. Not long after that I was asked by the running club to be part of the ladies relay at the Tring ridgeway! I went and practiced my leg with an amazing runner from club and I almost cried 2 miles into the 6. I Hated off road running! But what shocked me was that I HATED that I hated it! Everyone is almost talking about how beautiful trails are, how much quicker the run passes by and just generally about how much more awesome it was and I longed to LOVE it!


Not long after that practice I did the ridge way – with NO tears!!! I even ran the mile long hill at the end without stopping!


Since then I have completed Standish Woodland chase – in the most awful down pour of rain and 1000ft of elevation in the first mile, The thunder run 24 hour relay and Tring Ridgway 9(ish) miler with so many ups and downs I was almost sick but even managed a smile at the top of the hill!!

smile 1
Photo courtesy of Barry Cornelius

As much as I was starting to get the post run buzz and could see the beauty of these runs I still was not enjoying the actual run … but my opinion was slowly changing to LOVING to HATE them!!


Bring on Rugged Radnage 10K!! I got up this morning thinking “I might just get back into bed”… bed just seemed the better option against mud, hills, sweat and quite possibly tears and tantrums!! But I had paid for it and I knew I would regret it later!!

3Km in and my mind was made up … I had been converted !! The mud, the hills, the downs, the trees, the views, the people … everything about it I loved and halfway round for some strange reason I wanted to know what defined trail running!!


Search for a definition of trail running and you get Wikipedia describing running over trails but I prefer Rapid ascent’s description of “leaving the noise, pollution and bitumen characteristics of road running far behind in favour of nature such as forests, parkland, valleys and mountains” (found at http://www.rapidascent.com.au). HOWEVER today I came up with my own definition. “Trail running is the only type of running that it is acceptable to have a 12 minute mile followed by an 8:30 minute mile”. I never understood the mentality of trail running isn’t about pace! I was always a “go and smash it” kinda girl!! But today I felt comfortable not being a crazed Garmin checker to make sure I’m on for that PB …. Today I didn’t check my watch at all!! I didn’t care that I walked up the hill … it was the size of everest after all and I was more out of breath walking up it than I was running the rest of the run!!


I think I have gave so much effort to my recent trail experiences that I have made myself Love to Love the trail. It took time to realise that its harder and I can’t keep an 8:30 min mile when I need to think about tree roots, mud, hills, gravel, ground, weather etc etc etc! But one thing is for sure …. I’m more knackered tonight that I am after running a road 10k! Will I be running more trails …. most definitely …… my next one is already booked!!!


Happy Running





Well what can I say …. this race was in our running club champs so I signed up! I obviously didn’t take note of the name …. Otmoor CHALLENGE!! A off road half marathon …. what could be so bad!! Its always hot they said …. it was forecast torrential rain!! Its a hilly course they said ….. its a local race and I know of no hills!!


Yes it was forecast rain … in the morning. By the time 2pm came I had to borrow sun cream and I was sweating before I even started. No hills near me … yeah right … I had a heart attack just looking at the gradient spike in my garmin when I uploaded it!!


So it was hot … That hill killed me … the torrential down pour in the morning made the route ankle deep in mud and I found myself muttering along the whole 13.1 miles that I was never running off road again!!  So lets review …

Organisation …..

The race is brilliantly planned.  It is in a local village and has a real community feel to it!  There is a fete, BBQ, beer tent … and people can do the walk or the run.  It was well signposted, great parking (Army cadets marshalling the car park) and it was easy to pick up race numbers.  You could also register on the day which a few friends did.

The route …

Although i state this was my first “off road” race … I have to say that around 50% is actually on the road.  I wore trail shoes which I was thank for in the muddy parts but the mud then made them really heavy for the road parts.  I would probably opt for trail shoes again though!

The route was beautiful …. mixture of fields, villages, trails, lanes … it was stunning.

Support ….

Although not many marshals on route … it was extremely well sign posted and all the villages had great support out.  Plenty of water stations … my favourite of which was Halfway up that stupid hill where a man asked if I was OK to continue as I grabbed 2 cups of squash out his hand and downed them before desperately scrambling to the hose pipe to be sprayed down.

My time ….

I finished in 2;18;10 …. a time I was extremely pleased with.  I went in with aspirations of sub 2.30 as I knew the new terrain would be tough.  Considering I walked through drinks station (and maybe walked a little bit of the hill) I was pleased with my overall pace …. AND …. I got some bling at the end.

Did I enjoy it???

The answer … NO I HATED EVERY STEP!!!  But this week I learnt my own lesson.  My sister JaIme has started couch to 5k … and I am extremely proud of her for doing so!  She asked me this week …. when does it get easier and my answer was …. “it never gets easier …. you get better … but always push harder”.  So what i am trying to say is that I hated every step of the way but the sense of achievement when I finished was amazing.  Later as I posted on Facebook that I was never running off road again ….. I was reminded “until next week” when I have a 7.9 mile leg of an off road relay to run!!!

I think my off road adventures have just begun.

HIGHLIGHT of the race …….



Love Sandie xx

Kindlington Mota-vation …… Number 2



So what is it??? This is a series of 5 races organised by one of the local running clubs ran on the first thurs of the month during summer months!! So basically we get to compete (I say that like I’m an athlete ….. To me it means I get to pin on a number and pretend I’m Paula Radcliffe for an hour)!!

How far …. The races are 4.1 (ish) miles and are at different locations each month! I’m only 9 months into my running club life so this is the first time I’ve run in them!

So this was race number 2 …. Bletchingdon!!!


So I have learned that hubby had no concept of night shift! I love him dearly …. But man he’s noisey!! Then it didn’t help that I needed to take him to the airport on Wednesday then work another shift ….. Then on Thursday EVERYONE called me …. Literally everyone!

So I got up and considered not running ….. But as it’s in club champs I went along just a to get a few points at least!!


As always was in a field ….. FULL OF COW PAT! And when I say full …. I literally felt like if raced before I started dodging them all!


As always …. A million women trying to nervous wee!! And with only one cubicle working …. I only just made it to the start!!!

These are the only 2 negatives ….. The race was FANTASTIC!!

ROUTE ….. I had been warned was hilly!! I would say it was up and down but nothing too drastic!

RESULT …. I started off with my friend Joely ….. She’s AWESOME!! so was pretty impressed that I was keeping a half decent pace with her! We overtook lots which makes me a little bit more determined!! We did giggle going up a hill that one women said “wow …. Good effort” …. Think the sound of my puffing/panting and general wheeze like sound made her think I was trying to give myself a heart attack more than finish the run!!

But I kept going …. And SMASHED my 5k PB and did the race with average pace of 8:40!!

I was bouncing off the walls with excitement!! And the best bit ….. I had the best nights sleep in 4 days …. I got 9 whole hours!!

I wouldn’t recommend a sleep deprived run fuelled with coffee and crisps ….. Bit I’m glad I got up and went!!

LESSON ….. get up and do it ….. You might surprise yourself!!!!!

Ps. Thanks to Kindlington running club for the race …. Well organised, fab marshalls and support with awesome turnout! Can’t wait for next month!!


Sandie xx


2 Run Race Day

Finished my 2nd 10k of the year
Finished my 2nd 10k of the year


So at my running club awards night in November just after the London Marathon Ballot had been drawn three of us girls laughed and said “lets do a spring marathon” and “lets see if us slower runners can win a club champs award next year” SO …….. the very next morning I woke with a touch of a hangover and the drive to race.  I entered Milton Keynes Marathon and a few of the club champs races (my bank account did not look too healthy after this little hungover race spending spree).  One of the races I entered was Winslow 10k on 23rd Feb.  It was only when my good running friend was writing my programme i realised ….. “oops … i need to be getting my mileage up by then” so the plan on Sunday called for the 10k race (raced at best effort) followed by and 8 mile run  OUCH!

My finishers t-shirt
My finishers t-shirt


The start of the day was a bit depressing.  The weather was windy and cold.  My running club friend Clare drove us to Winslow and we followed the instructions to park at a local community centre and walk to the location. We started to become a little bit stressed as there seemed to be no sign of any marshals (or runners) and we only just managed to find the race venue.  The organisation of collecting numbers was pretty straight forward and well organised but I was a little disappointed to find it was not going to be chip timed.  This wouldn’t stop me entering in the future but wish I had been aware of this before.

I was also impressed by the availability of refreshments in the centre – amazing cakes, pastries and fruit as well as a variety of drinks were available (I must remember to take money to these events for a post race treat).  

Although I didn’t use the baggage area other members of my club did and it seemed very straight forward and quick at the end of the race!

The Race … we walked to the start line and I made the decision that I would use my garmin to get my actual finish time as I was not planning on being one of the first to cross the start line. However I must learn in future that i am (slightly) better than I think and I should maybe start a little bit closer to the front.  The road was pretty narrow so the first half mile was slower than I wanted as there just seemed to be no space to get around people.  Matt has said to be before that I need to start closer to the front than I do …. but I suppose I still need to find my inner runner confidence as I still don’t believe that I ACTUALLY RUN!!!

The course…. i tweeted in the morning that i was off to Winslow.  A reply came in “keep something in the tank – a few hills on that one”.   This I was not prepared for.  Running around Bicester I have come to forget what A hill actually looks like.

It was not a mountainous course and I don’t think I would call it undulating as such but at 2k it did gradually incline for around 2 more kilometres.  It then evened out with a nice little downhill followed by a horrible incline in the last km.

The course was lovely and out in the countryside through a few villages.  It was a lovely run.  They also had 2 water stations with plenty of enthusiastic kids to cheer us on and the marshals were all friendly and encouraging.

The Result …… 

From Lions Club of Winslow Website
From Lions Club of Winslow Website

I was 228th out of 318.  So not speedy speedy …. i don’t think ill ever be a speedy runner.  The time recorded was 57:42 …. BUT my garmin time was 57:23 ….. only 1 minute off my PB.  Considering the course was quite uphill in places I was pretty pleased with myself.  I was more pleased for my friend Clare who achieved her first sub 1 hour 10K ….. GO CLARE!!!


So we got in the car … i stuffed an apple rice pudding down my neck for energy and we drove home to Bicester ready for me to meet up with my other friend to get 8 miles done.  WOW … by the time I met Abby I was still in my runners high and raring to go BUT the legs said NO!!!  It was a slog … we misjudged the distance and only did 7.5 but it was a mental slog.  Legs were heavy heavy but still managed an average of 10:30 per mile.  Thats only 15 seconds slower than my predicted marathon pace so I was pleased with that too.  I was once told “its all about the time on your feet”.  I am glad i listened and went out for that second run!!



So how did I treat my running hangover?  A few days away in London with Hubby in a fancy hotel.  We arrived Sunday night and I spent an hour in a nice hot bubble bath, with mood lighting, a bath pillow .. and fell asleep.  Great end to a great day of running!!!

Next week …… Silverstone half followed by a 3 miler!  I must be insane!!