Portsmouth Coastal Marathon 2022

The Portsmouth Coastal Marathon is one of my favourite races of the year. It’s local, it’s festive and it’s a great time of year when there isn’t much going on in terms of big races. This is the fourth time I’ve run it and it didn’t disappoint.

This was going to be a special kind of marathon for me because on Thursday 15th December we lost Alfie, our 13.5 year old dog. Words can’t describe how much I’ll miss him and how much of a hit this has been to us. So, as silly as it might sound to some, I decided to run this marathon in his memory and use the time to just reflect and mourn.

The race started at 8.30am. This was fine as having a toddler means lie-ins don’t exist and we’d been awake since 5.30am anyway. This meant a relatively leisurely morning of breakfast, tea and us all getting ready. The weather was looking to be a bit pants… rain scheduled and nippy.

After Kyle’s mum had arrived, we got down to Southsea for about 8.15am where we met up with my parents. I hurried off to go to the loo (the great thing about Southsea is how many toilets they have around the place so I didn’t have to use a portaloo). Then I said goodbye and hurried to the start.

It was cold. It was windy. Rain was scheduled to come. I felt really sorry for my family because it’s one thing running in these conditions but an entirely different thing standing around in them. But they weren’t going to be standing outside the entire time. They would be driving to two different locations and then spending some time in The Ship Inn, which is literally on the course.

As the race begun I was just keen to get warm. I probably started faster than I’d intended but my mission was to make haste in the first few miles so I wouldn’t get bottlenecked when we hit the small path to get on to the pebbles. Having run this race three times before I was well aware of these things.

To be honest, I had zero plans for this race (do I ever?). I was just going to see what the legs did and sit at a comfortable pace and see how long that lasted. The wind was a south easterly one so while it was annoying in the first couple of miles to have it against us, I knew I would be grateful at mile 24 to have that behind me for the end.

I made a very rapid pitstop at mile two for a wee. I needed to get it done fast as to not hit the bottleneck which came just after. Thankfully I was super speedy and hadn’t lost much ground. We got to the little path to get onto the pebbles and it was plain sailing. The pebbles at this point aren’t that annoying, but the wetness of the sand and mud here made for slippery and soggy work, but it doesn’t last long.

Then back onto more firm ground and off we went. I was in familiar territory now as we were cruising along routes I regularly use during the week. I had my phone and headphones with me but was quite happy just letting my mind wander and listening to the outside world.

I was still clipping along at a relative speedy pace (for me) but decided to just embrace it because the wind was in our favour as we headed north to Farlington Marshes. I knew it would be harder on the way back so I might as well use the wind while we had it. As such, the first 6 miles flew by. Annoyingly though the rain had started a lot earlier than I thought.

I saw my family at Farlington Marshes (a great spectator spot) and they cheered me along. I saw big smiles from Isaac which were lovely. And then I was off again past the marshes to get to the more boring and less supported part of the course.

I really like this course because you can break it down into different sections. I love an out and back as well because once you get to the turnaround point you know you “just” have to make your way back the way you came and you know exactly what is to come.

There were some precariously muddy and slippery parts which I knew would only get worse on the way back and I questioned by choice of road shoes. That said, I’ve never worn trail shoes on this marathon and it’s only brief moments that they’re needed I think.

Then we hit the another pebbly bit. This is a real ball ache in the marathon. It’s a significantly long distance to be running across uneven terrain and really does sap the energy. Knowing you have to come back that way is mentally hard as well.

Eventually though we were back onto easy terrain and heading towards the road again. This part of the race is very dull because it’s through an industrial bit. However as most of the race is relatively scenic going along the coastal paths, it’s actually quite a nice change.

At this point a man, who I now know is called Justin, was running next to me and we started polite conversation. To be honest, at the start of the marathon I really didn’t want to talk to anyone. I was in a bit of a low mood and just wanted to be in my own head with my thoughts. But this was now at mile nine (I think!) and it was nice to chat to someone.

My amazing support crew

We actually ran together for a good few miles (I think it was 6 or so?) and it really did make the miles fly by. We chatted about all things marathons, training, races and even children. We ran past my dad and Kyle (the mums and Isaac were nice and snug in the warmth of the pub) and they cheered us on. Then we headed down to the turnaround point.

I can’t actually remember much about these miles because I was so lost in conversation. I was aware though that we were clipping along at quite a speedy pace. We decided to pull back just a little so not to burn ourselves out though. But I remember feeling that this just felt really nice and comfortable. Of course we still had half the race to go though!

We headed back past my dad and Kyle once again and then off we went back to where we’d come. As we hit the industrial estate bit again Justin said I should go on as he wanted to pull back a bit and I was speeding up. We said our goodbyes and I gradually pulled away.

I felt really good. I was so chuffed that we’d hit 16 miles and I was feeling strong.

OK I still had over 10 miles to go but I knew what I had left in the course and knew at some point the wind would help. I’d also decided at mile 20 I would pop some music on which I knew would keep me going. The rain was definitely picking up and it was getting colder though.

I saw my family again at Farlington Marshes, only 6 or so miles to go now. I then went to mission Get Music On. This involved taking a glove off, taking my Airpods out of my FlipBelt, popping them in, then grabbing my phone and getting to the Spotify playlist on. It was really raining and really cold now and this wasn’t pleasant. Then trying to get my glove back on afterwards was a near impossible feat. The glove fingers had gone inside themselves and peeling them out was taking so much time, while trying to run and not let my hand freeze to death.

Anyway, I got it done and then went into “go go go” mode. I had some good music. I had thought we’d be going the winding route round the houses as I’ve always done in the previous races because the tide comes back in and makes the pebble route impossible. However we were sent back to the pebbles as the tide wasn’t in. This wasn’t a welcome thing I have to say. My legs were tired and the pebbles were handwork. This was my hardest mile.

I knew I just needed to get to the seafront as then it would be two miles left and plain sailing with the wind behind us. I could convince myself that it was the last half of the Southsea parkrun as well (a particularly hard parkrun!).

It was such a relief to hit that seafront and I just knuckled down and pushed as much as I could. I knew my time was looking pretty good and I just had to hold on. I was almost nearing my PB but realistically I knew that wouldn’t be possible now in the final miles. But faster than my Goodwood time earlier this year? That was looking possible.

I got past the Pyramid centre and suddenly my mum was on the pavement waving. I almost collided with her! It was lovely to see her but I could barely manage a smile as I was pushing so hard and was now so cold in the biting rain.

And round the corner, Kyle and my dad cheering me on, and I was finished! Whew! 3.17.37 – my second fastest marathon! And what a marathon to dedicate to Alfie.

Gun time on the clock

I was so cold at the end, I was grateful for the foil blanket I was given (and firmly told to put on quickly). I felt so grateful to those volunteers, they were true legends.

Then we got in the car quickly, I headed home for a very quick and hot shower before we headed out for lunch.

Chicken and chips

I’m so pleased with how this race went. It means a lot to me, because of Alfie, I while I was definitely giving my all by the last four miles, the previous 22 felt really relaxed and comfortable. A completely different story comparing it to Goodwood at the start of the year where most of the race I was pushing hard with concerted effort. So it’s nice to finish the year with a race like this!

Now time for Christmas!

Alton Towers Half Marathon

Ages ago Kyle and I had signed up to the Alton Towers Half Marathon. Sadly when the time came around for it, Kyle was only just coming back from injury from his London Marathon. So he dropped down to the 5k instead, which was also on the Sunday. But to be honest, he was far happier with that distance anyway!

The great thing about these races are that after you’ve finished the race you can then go round the park and do all the rides. We both love theme parks and rollercoasters so this was perfect. And handily my grandad lives about 30 mins from Alton Towers so we could kill two birds with one stone and visit him as well. I don’t get to see him enough so this was really lovely.

After lots of thought, we decided to leave Isaac at home with the Nanas. The drive from Portsmouth is a long one (3.5 hours) which would be hard going for him and then be stuck in the running buggy for most of Sunday. Anyway the Nanas couldn’t wait to look after him so it worked nicely. Of course I missed him and it was hard leaving him… the longest time I’ve been away yet. He had a great time tho in the end.

We arrived at my grandad’s on the Saturday and had a lovely dinner catching up with him properly and then headed to bed early. We were shattered from an early wake up (Isaac doesn’t understand lie ins yet!) and a long drive.

The next morning, after breakfast, we drove up to Alton Towers. The race felt so well organised. We parked and walked to the race village. It was very misty and a bit chilly, but a lot warmer than you’d expect for mid-November.

As my race started first I said goodbye to Kyle and headed off to the start. We did a minute silence for Remembrance Sunday, which was a nice touch, and then the race began.

Having been to Alton Towers many many times in my youth (due to my grandparents living so close) I was well aware that it would be hilly. I mean, straight away, as we began the first 200m, it’s literally uphill. But it was such a cool race in that you were literally running through the park and past all the rollercoasters that I didn’t mind.

We ran past Oblivion and the Smiley, then headed off to other parts of the park. I was behind the 1:40 pacer, tho I didn’t think I’d go that fast. I was keeping to just under 8 min miles and felt comfortable there.

We whizzed through CBeebies Land where there were Telly Tubbies to high five. Then headed round past the gardens (thankfully not down into the gardens because that would be a very steep uphill!), past the Wicker Man and the rapids. There were lots of themed people wearing costumes cheering us on which was cool.

Eventually after going through the park, past all the rides and through the different themed areas and the castle, you head out to the less exciting part which goes round the car parks. To be honest it was fine. There was loads of support from spectators and volunteers so it didn’t feel boring. And you can’t expect the whole race to be exciting all the time. It’s a two lapper, which I quite like. It means you know what’s coming for the rest of the race.

The car park was quite hilly but there were also good downhills to get some speed back. Towards the second lap I put on some music to keep me entertained and I felt myself get far more into the race. I always find the further into a race the better I feel as I warm up. I naturally sped up and felt like I had more energy so this was encouraging.

As I hit the second lap I was really enjoying myself. During the week proceeding I’d felt very tired and demotivated running but now I felt back to normal and was loving it.

I saw Kyle a few times as he’d finished his race and had headed back to the car to get changed and pick up our stuff. He waved and cheered me along.

The crowds as you got back into the park after the car park section were really strong and the cheering was fantastic. It helps that none of the rides are open yet so all the spectators are just watching the race. I high fived loads of kids which is always good fun. Honestly, I had such a good time during this race!

I was so pleased to finish strong with 1:37:30. Far faster than I’d expected.

I met up with Kyle shortly after. He’d had a good race and finished with a time of 21:30. Coming back from injury without much training, he was really chuffed.

And then I popped to the loo, got changed and we headed to the rides that were now slowly opening up. We had such a good rest of the day enjoying all the rides and being like kids again. Kyle got a doughnut chicken burger. And I got a sausage baguette. It was a great day.

Then eventually after doing as many rides as we could be bothered – the queues were so short because there weren’t as many people in the park – we decided to head back home. That evening we had a lovely carvery with my grandad to coelenterate.

All in all it was such a good weekend. Seeing my grandad, doing a great race and enjoying Alton Towers. We’re definitely signing up for next year!

Do you enjoy roller coasters?

Would you do a race around a theme park?

Running in the heat and our adidas haul

So this heatwave is fun, eh?

Makes running tough going, as I’m sure you’re aware. Ideally you want to get out early before the sun is in full beam. For us that’s quite hard because Isaac dictates our mornings. We wake up when he wakes up and this can be anywhere from 5am to 7am. Either Kyle or I can head out separately whenever or we can head out as a three with Isaac in the running buggy.

It really depends how the night has gone and what the weather is like. If it isn’t too hot I’ll run him to nursery (meaning I leave at 8am). If it’s too hot and Isaac has woken up very early we’ll head out at 6.30am or 7am. It’s a fun juggling act!

I’d love to be sure that Isaac is going to wake up at a certain time (7am would be amazing obviously) and get out and run before he wakes up. But that’s tough with the uncertainty and the fact that he’s usually still waking up 1-2 times a night, making it a tough ask to get up before he’s awake and lose that valuable sleep!

But anyway, the hot weather makes running hard work, with or without a small human! It’s important to hydrate (water and electrolytes), keep to the shade, not go out when the sun is at its strongest and to adjust your expectations for a run (i.e. don’t go out thinking you’re going to smash a speed session perfectly).

Wearing the right kit helps too. Something airy and not too heavy. As you probably know, I’m a big fan of adidas and have reviewed a variety of their clothing before. I was recently sent some more items and it’s perfect timing for the weather.

I was sent two sports bras and asides from being gorgeous, they’re perfect to just wear with shorts and avoid double layers.

The first sports bra is very simple, just plain black but I love how smooth the lines are. Fittingly, it’s called the Ultimate Bra. It’s very comfortable. It has a lovely cross-back as well which works perfectly with so many of my running tops.

As someone who has recently gone up a few cup sizes (thank you Isaac) I’ve been needing sports bra with more support now. Previously I could get away with sports bras that were basically crop tops, but now this is now the case! This sports bra is perfect for running. And because it’s so simple and chic looking, it means it looks quite nice to wear out with a pair of shorts.

The other sports bra, the International Women’s Day Allover Print Bra, couldn’t be more different in terms of aesthetics. It is loud and proud!

I like the longer fit. It looks great with a pair of shorts for a hot run. I love the mesh bits as well as the vibrant design. It has good support as well. It’s just so unique, I love it!

Also, trying to take photos in the clothing was fun work with Isaac wanting to be involved, haha! This was just after he’d pulled everything out of one of our drawers as well… chaos!

I also got a pair of trainers, the 3MC Shoes.

Perfect for walking Alfie or going out to meet friends. They’re casual but chic (can you say that about trainers?). They go with everything which is exactly what I want with trainers!

They’re a beautiful white so I really will need to look after them to make sure they stay that way! They’re lovely and comfortable as well.

Kyle was also sent a pair of trainers. They’re the Kaptir 2.0 Shoes.

We took a photo after a walk so they’re very slightly dusty!

His old shoes were pretty much falling apart so this was ideal. We both walk a lot – whether that’s walking Alfie, walking with the pram (invariably to get Isaac to nap!) or just a nice walk down to the beach, so the trainers are perfect for both of us. Kyle’s quite fussy with his trainers but he loved these. He’s got quite big feet but said they fit great and were really comfortable.

So we’re summer ready with items! As I always say, adidas is one of my favourite sportswear brand. It’s quality stuff and I can never fault them Their running items have always lasted me ages.

This weekend we’re off to Cardiff for a nice weekend away. We have the 10k Pizza Run which will be fun on the Sunday and plan to run beforehand to get in some more miles to make it a long run. We’re not taking Isaac which is bittersweet. I ummed and arred about leaving or taking him but in the end because it’s such a flying visit it seemed easier for everyone involved for him to stay at his Nana’s.

Hopefully the weather won’t be a scorcher like it was last weekend but we shall see. Either way I’ve got the kit ready to go!

Do you enjoy running in summer?

What’s your tip for keeping cool in the heat?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the items for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my (and Kyle’s) own honest ones**

Romsey Beer Race 2022

The Romsey Beer Race – my favourite race of the year. And due to COVID, a race that hasn’t been held since June 2019. So it’s been a while.

I’ve done this race five times before. I just love it! The course is undulating but is in such a beautiful, picturesque location and the weather is usually pretty good, albeit sometimes a bit too hot. This year however it was very cool and cloudy. The perfect race conditions.

Though I usually hate to actually race as running fast isn’t really my thing. I prefer a long slow run (or a marathon!). But there’s something about this race that gets me going. Every time I’ve done it I’ve given it a good go.

Kyle had floated the idea of running together and pushing each other on earlier in the week but I said I wasn’t sure because I didn’t know if I wanted to race or not. But as Kyle and I drove into the area I started to get the buzz and asked him if he still wanted to. He (semi jokingly) said that maybe we should run our own race as he didn’t want me to “hold him back”. Trash talk, I see. He was joking but in reality we both knew we’d rather run separately than run together. I was happy with that!

The night before my parents had looked after Isaac so we were both feeling pretty good with our solid night’s sleep (something of a rarity these days!). We met my parents and Isaac there, as well as Kyle’s mum and her partner, Tony. Kyle’s brother and his girlfriend also turned up to support too. A lovely support group!

We positioned ourselves fairly near the front. With less than 400 runners this wasn’t too scary but still scary enough. The front runners are VERY fast and I definitely don’t measure up to them but we wanted to give ourselves a good chance to get going quickly.

This worked well as the front runners sped off (as did Kyle) and I didn’t have to wind past anyone and people didn’t have to wind past me. Straight away I felt like I was good to give it my best, whatever that would look like. I had the buzz and my legs were feeling good.

We ran round the cricket pitch, then we ran up the road to where the bulk of the supporters were, including our family. I’ve done this race so many times, as have my parents in supporting it, so they knew exactly where to stand for a great spot.

They cheered us on and up we went to our first grinding hill. It’s a fairly long incline, pretty much the entire first mile. Kyle was ahead – I used him as motivation to keep on grinding and try to get faster.

I knew I’d have the advantage on the downhills as Kyle tends to slow down whereas I have a bit more of an “run with abandon” approach to downhills. Though Kyle is stronger on the uphills.

I caught up with him using that downhill and slowly, slowly overtook him. I jokingly said “well done” as I ran past. The banter between us was very friendly, I want this to be clear. I wasn’t rubbing it in, and he wasn’t annoyed. We both agreed it was good that we were racing each other as it pushed us both on.

I spent the rest of the race knowing Kyle was right on my tail. It was definitely a motivator. I didn’t want him to overtake me! And it pushed him on because he obviously did want to catch up.

Anyway, the race continued with a few more undulations. I was at a huge advantage having run this race five times before to know roughly how long these would last – not as long as the first one, but some steeper. Because I knew the course so well I could judge my speed to know if I could maintain my pace. I felt quite comfortable, as comfortable as you can be trying your hardest. What I mean is, that while I was definitely on the pain train and my legs were burning, I knew I could maintain it.

It also felt incredible short because I’ve only really been running marathons over the last few years! Five miles of pain was a lot different to 26.2 miles of tough sustained exertion (and only painful in the last few minutes). I felt confident.

And then my shoelace came undone. I had a new pair of Brook Adrenalines on and the laces are a bit short and shiny, so don’t tie together that well. Urghh what an utter pain! I stopped on the side and tried to tie it up as quickly as I could. Kyle was just far enough behind that he didn’t get a chance to overtake as I was off again quickly.

It probably took 5-10 seconds and then I was motivated to make up for lost time so realistically it didn’t affect things at all, I don’t think. It merely stopped the memento, which I was able to regain again quickly.

I got to the final stretch, before you head into the field to do the lap around it before finishing.

I still felt like Kyle was just behind me so used that to keep pushing but I was fading. I barely had a sprint finish in me.

If Kyle was on my shoulder he definitely could have out-sprinted me as he has such a good sprint finish.

My finishing time was 33:49 (my PB is still 33:43). Kyle finished 34:48. We were both really happy with our times. We had some banter at the end, as you do, but it was all in good fun. We’ve actually decided to go head-to-head in our next parkrun (tomorrow) to see what will happen.

Kyle is much better at shorter distances. I’m much better at longer, slower distances. Over a 5k will be very interesting. My prediction is that Kyle will speed ahead straight away and be ahead of me for most of the race. Then it’s up to me to try and overtake, which will be such a big ask considering how fast I think Kyle will go. If I’m honest, I don’t think I’ll be able to beat Kyle. He’s been running some solid 5ks and he has that power in his legs which I don’t.

We will see 😉 The trash talk in the house this week has been amusing. But as long as we both put some welly into it, we’re both going to come away with solid times I think (I HOPE!) so in my eyes it’s a win win.

But anyway, back to this race. I fed Isaac after I finished which took quite a while, bless him. I sat there just desperate to get some cake but he was not letting me go anytime soon haha!

I actually came second female which was lovely because I’ve managed to place a few times at this race. I’ve now been second twice, first once and third once. Not too shabby! (I will stress again that this is a small race and previous times another local 10k has happened on the same day which a lot of the speedy club runners were more drawn to).

Finally I was able to grab a cake (a blondie) and a beer (for my dad) and we waited around to get my prize.

The weather was warm enough to not be uncomfortable but not need a coat. The after bit is one of my favourite parts of this race as it’s just so friendly and you can chat to different people while enjoying a lovely cake and drink.

I then collected my “medal” – a beer glass, love it! (Oh by the way, the first place female was INCREDIBLE. I didn’t have a chance in hell of even being remotely her competition, she smashed it!)

And then we headed off to one of our favourite pubs, the Osborne View, for a roast. It was such a lovely day. I’ll definitely be signing up again next year. It’s such a well run, friendly and fun event.

Now on to the smackdown with Kyle… 😉

My current training and new adidas clothes

What am I currently training for? Well, actually nothing right now!

I only have one race close on the horizon and that’s the Romsey 5 Mile Beer race which I love. Due to COVID, of course, it hasn’t been on for the past two years so I’m excited to do it again. It’s always a fun day.

But other than that I only have the New Forest Marathon planned for September and then the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon in December. There aren’t really any marathons nearby that I want to do and to be honest it’s probably a good thing to let me body rest for a bit. Obviously I’ll still be running but the long runs won’t be as long.

Running at the moment is just a way for me to refresh myself. Sleep has been tough going with an ill Isaac (all the nursery bugs…) and it’s been a little bit stressful. Running is my constant though and it helps energise me, chill me out and just blow out any bad moods. So it’s not so much training for any race but rather getting through harder times!

And I love that about running. It isn’t just exercise or trying to get PB’s. It’s just a significant part of my life that helps me be a better human, helps me feel better and keeps me sane.

My current week looks something like this: running Tuesdays and Thursdays (nursery commutes), parkrun on a Saturday and then a long run on Sunday, but probably nothing more than 15 miles. I also try to squeeze in two strength sessions a week and keep Mondays as a day of rest because it’s my day with Isaac.

Recently I got sent some adidas running clothes which are both perfect for summer training and also summer resting! I’m a BIG fan of leisurewear and to be honest would wear leggings every day if I could. And a hoodie, you cannot beat a hoodie for relaxing round the house in or popping to the shop in the evening when it’s cooler.

Tho it’s a dangerous colour when you have both a dog and a baby, I love the cream of this adidas hoodie. I normally go for darker colours but as it’s summer I thought I’d branch out to be a bit brighter. Yes it’s summer but you can’t guarantee constant warm weather in the UK!

The hoodie is so soft and slightly oversized, which I love. Perfect for slouching around the house in or throwing on at the end of parkrun when it’s a bit nippy but you don’t want to bring a coat.

I also LOVE these leggings (Loungewear essentials high-waisted logo leggings in Black / Gold Metallic). They’re more loungewear leggings than running leggings but definitely good for the gym. They’re very flattering, don’t slip down and are nicely high-waisted. They’re thick enough to not be see-through as well when you bend over or squat. An essential requirement for leggings!

One thing I’ve been in big need of was another good fitting sports bra. Since having Isaac and breastfeeding my boobs are a lot bigger than they used to be. I never used to have to worry too much about high support while running or HIIT during workouts but now it’s definitely something I have to be wary of.

This sports bra has good support for running and jumping. I feel nice and secure and get no back pain or discomfort. It holds everything down 😉 I like the white colour as well as I only have black heavy support sports bra at the moment but I have a lot of lighter tops. So it blends in perfectly.

I like the cross back as well. It’s a really nice design.

I also have a new summer running top which is super light-weight and airy. Perfect for those hotter runs!

I really like the colour as well (Rose Tone / White). Again normally I veer towards blacks and greys a lot of the time, so it’s a nice change to have a bit more colour in my running wardrobe.

Like I’ve said before, I really do love adidas and their sports clothing. Always good quality and lasts a long time. I’d rather pay a bit more money for items that last years then buy cheaper for things to stretch or rip soon after.

What’s your go-to sports brand?

Have you got any big races lined up?