Category Archives: Race reports

The long quick run – New Forest half marathon race report

Sorry for the lack of updates. This has been for a number of reasons:

1) We’ve just moved house and I now have a commute
2) We’re less than three weeks away from having a baby
3) Work has been manic

This does mean that I had a two week “taper” period and that the last run I did before today’s half marathon was the 11.5 miler a couple of weeks ago.

So, it was with some nerves, Sensei Paul, and a pain-free drive down to the New Forest that we braced for the half marathon. It was a beautiful autumn morning – cool, crisp, bright sunshine and blue skies. The crowds were out in force. We had had a light breakfast and I’d had a bonus rice krispie bar before the race, but was otherwise running as I had trained – mostly on empty. I took my place with the ‘120+’ minute finish time staggered staring place as Paul dodged up to find the 80 minuter starting point (!), fired up RunKeeper and Mumford & Sons… and sooner than I thought possible, we were off.

The race was ‘chip-timed’ but only at the start and finish, so RunKeeper and my trusty £8 digital watch were providing the split information and helping me manage my pace. I’d said to Sensei that I wanted to maintain a pace between 6m and 6m15 per km for the race duration – which would see me hit my 2h20minute target. Of course, in the headiness of the actual race conditions, I fired on much quicker – managing a 5.36 pace through to 5k, 5.46 through to 10k, 5.56 through to 15k and 5.58 through to 16k – the 10 mile mark. All of these translated to personal bests for me! Which was fantastic, but also slightly misjudged… and of course the final 5k felt reasonably gruelling.

The race split into three broad phases for me:

The first 10k – exhilirating,fast, passing lots of people and maintaining reasonable pace.

The next 6k – starting to get passed by the runners that had paced themselves better and struggling a bit with endurance

The last 5k – gruelling endurance, fuelled by determination and a handful of jelly babies at mile 10, and filled with the satisfaction of overtaking the people who had mis-paced themselves and were now walking

Of particulate note was the last 500m – marked as the last 0.1 of a mile – should have been 160m! But managed a sprint finish at the end, which was particularly satisfying.

Time was 2h09.39 – you can find me on this site, race number 1555 at the New Forest Half Marathon. Full RunKeeper stats available here, but include splits below too.

GunPos No GunTime Surname Forename Gender Cat Team/Club Chip Pos Chip Time
1250 1555 2:10:33 David Armand M 1261 2:09:29

Sub 2h10!! A full 10 minutes better than hoped for at my most optimistic! About 2/3rds down the pecking order (about 1,800 ran), so a lot of room for improvement, but pretty pleased with myself.


mi Pace (min/mi) Elevation (ft)
1 9:20 36
2 8:40 30
3 8:50 -12
4 9:09 28
5 9:19 -18
6 9:41 -1
7 9:30 -44
8 9:59 -46
9 10:51 89
10 10:48 1
11 10:58 3
12 10:50 -43
13 10:00 -24

Paul, of course, came third with a new personal best of 1h17.06 – and so was waiting for me at the finish – and got a very nice trophy.

I was pleased to finish without stopping, amazed with my time, and to be honest spent the whole day thinking I missed 2h10 by 33 seconds because I misread the charts. Sub 2h10 – woohoo! Next stop, sub 2h – which will be a target for next year, depending on how the baby and my running routine play together.

Thanks to all who have supported me, from my lovely wife, my reliable physio, my friends, extremely generous family, my colleagues at Brands2Life and all the people who sponsored, supported, encouraged, cajoled and otherwise helped me through this. Especial thanks to Mr and Mrs Sensei Paul for the challenge, encouragement, mentoring and a fantastic race weekend. It feels a fantastic achievement for me and I definitely have the race bug now (although we’ll see how I feel about that when the aches set in proper tomorrow).

Next time – more stretching, more training, setting up a playlist for the run in advance (much as I love Mumford, the album repeating three times was a bit much), and perhaps a bit more gentle pace at the start…

If you were waiting to see if I’d manage it to sponsor me, I have now – so chuck the cash in over here! Thanks again all.

p.s. I’m knackered now so reserve the right to edit this when I’m a bit more copus mentis…

Guest post: Claire’s British 10k experience

Fellow B2L Blogger Claire made a running-oriented new year’s resolution and kept to it! Here’s her race report. If you want to read more from Claire, and are into film, check her and colleague/co-writer Katie out over on idontwatchcoolmovies.

My New Years resolution was to get fit and start doing some exercise and the only way I could imagine motivating myself to do this was by signing up for a race. The British 10K presented the perfect opportunity – it was in July so there was plenty of time to train and it was 10k, which I thought was an achievable target but one that would take a bit more work than a 5k.

So July 11th soon rolled round and it was race day! With my dad by my side, amongst 24,998 other runners, we set of on our 10k journey. 1k came around much sooner than I expected and an attitude of ‘I can do this’ washed over me. Regrettably I lost my dad somewhere between 3-4k and I hit a real barrier around 6k, having to slow down to a fast paced walk. However, I soon picked it up again after a few minutes and got myself back on track. After another burst of walking around the 8k mark it was nearly over and I managed to push through to finish – and it was great. In my training I had only probably run up to about 8k, figuring if I could make it 80% of the way I may as well carry on until the end, and it completely worked. I wasn’t aiming for a ‘time’ as such, just to get through it, but I ended up feeling really pleased with myself as I did it in just over an hour (and ended up just one minute behind my dad after all). It was also a very hot morning and I will be eternally grateful for all the water points along the way, although you do have to be careful of the bottles littering the floor around them – a few accidents almost happened.

I have to say I wasn’t expecting the crowds and constant cheering to really have much of an impact, but it does and I have to admit I almost enjoyed it ;-) I have been for one (short) run since and plan to keep it up, so perhaps the next guest blog post from me will be for a much longer race……

Race report: beat the banana

So: my first ever “competitive” run. I say competitive in the sense that, whilst no aspect of the race was professionally timed there was a binary win/loss condition and one man (banana) we were competing with – you either beat the banana, or you didn’t. The banana in question: a 50-something Kiwi runner called Rhys, decked out in full banana regalia. He was quick. But more on that shortly.

James (my friend who works for WCRF, part-time running sensei and full time awesome dude) tells me it was their best year for registration – with over 500 people registering for the ‘fun run.’ I arrived at the Serpentine bandstand about 45 minutes before race time and helped him at the bag drop tent… well, I say “helped”, what I really did was ask people why they thought their bag was safer with James than in the bin, and whether they could guess why his middle name was “bag thief”, so perhaps “helped” is a bit strong.

The start eventually came, more or less on time, following a brief but nonetheless too-long-and-too-ridiculous warm-up from the sponsoring Fitness First banana-dressed coach. Having never been in a competitive run before, and indeed rarely been in any kind of race where I didn’t come last, it was a strange experience; fun-runs attract all types, from the casual runner to the completely indolent, so the keener ones who made it to the front of the starting inflatable post bounded off with (and in some cases, beyond) the banana, whilst I, stuck firmly in the middle of the pack, dodged a bunch of slow moving but well-meaning folk.

Eventually, after about 1.5km, I managed to clear my way of the (rear of the) pack. Thankfully the muscle stiffness that had hit me a couple of days previously was nowhere to be seen and I felt I was getting a reasonable pace on. The feeling that came from overtaking people was pretty heady; I was probably going a little quicker than was sensible but kept pushing on through. Soon after this, however, the more accomplished runners who had just been dandying around the back chatting to friends started to apply themselves, and between 2-3km marks people kept overtaking me… But I didn’t lose spirit and kept plodding along. Runkeeper was giving me some data but I was resolutely ignoring it; I just needed to forge ahead and do my best.

Whilst there were moments (as you’ll see if you check my Runkeeper race log) when I flagged, I managed to find my stride and had a good run to the end, finding brief moments of competition with random other runners. The final 300m became a sprint finish as a fellow-runner decided she wanted to beat me… she ran faster, I ran faster, until it was a hell-for-leather dash for the finish line… …and then she beat me too, jeering me triumphantly (but good naturedly – it was a fun-run after all!) at the end, when I collected my medal and goody bag (containing a banana, no less).

It was a lot of fun and I think I may have something of a racing bug – will look for a 10k now before the half-marathon (I think that distance might suit me better) and see how I do. The scary thing is that this is the pace I’ll need to maintain for FOUR TIMES AS LONG if I’m to break 2 hours on the half-marathon – that’s a way away. Lots of training needs to happen first. And I need to raise more dosh – my sister is my sole sponsor to date!

For the curious, the winner (who had won a similar run with WCRF in Hong Kong) came in at around 15m for the circuit (which GPS tracked as 4.7k), and the banana came in 3-4 minutes before me (around 22m). I came in at about 25m30, which is a new personal best. Big thanks to all the lovely WCRF people for a fun afternoon in Hyde Park.

Here are my (banana? sorry…) splits:

mi pace climb (ft)
1 8:48 6
2 9:01 17
3 7:51 -7