Summer Breeze 10k Race Report

(Almost a week after the event, whoops!)

I was intrigued by the idea of running a race that starts at 4pm and it was a good job too, it took me ages to get to Wimbledon Common from SE London! The Summer Breeze Running Festival consists of a 10k, half-marathon and a crazy 12-hour, through-the-night relay (or solo, really!). As we arrived I glanced at the hardcore few who were sitting relaxing around their tents.

Sleep-run-relayers

Sleep-run-relayers

I had imagined, with it being such a long series of events, there might be more to it and had dragged Edward and Hector along for the ride. There were a couple of stalls, a yoga tent and some live music, but it was quite low-key – this was ok because Hector soon found a piece of cordon tape to jump over for about an hour, before he and Edward moved around the course to offer some support.

Hi-five!

Hi-five!

It was great getting a (low) hi-five early on, it really made me smile and pushed me to go a little faster…

Wimbledon Wombling

Wimbledon Wombling

The course is lovely, all trail and through the woods. It had been an overcast day, but the sun had come out good and proper just as the race started, but the trees offered shade, although it was humid and this made it hard work. The course was very well sign-posted, with arrows, km markers and little hi-viz markers on the ground every-so-often. The marshals were all very friendly and encouraging, with smiles and kind comments all round. I loved the variety on the course, with lots of tree roots to negotiate and some really tough hills. One hill was long, up and up and up and another seemed to loom out of nowhere as I turned a corner. It looked like a sand dune (and felt like it in the heat) so I gritted my teeth, part grin, part grimace and went for it. Puffing and panting for air, I scrambled down the other side and enjoyed the pull of gravity back into the shade of the trees. I soon started to see the front-runners from the half-marathon passing by in the opposite direction, looking strong, so gave a few nods and well dones. At this point, the humidity was getting to me so I grabbed a cup of water and took a little slurp – not something I normally do in a 10k. As the race neared the last few kilometres, it took some interesting twists and turns – at one point I wondered where everyone had gone, only to find they had taken a sharp left and then right! We were now in the field with the finish in sight 🙂 I saw the boys, Hector with his hand out for one last hi-five: “You’ll have to run with me! I’m not stopping!”. I could see a couple of women ahead of me and, out of nowhere, found it in me to give a sprint finish (no way!).

Bling shot

Bling shot

I was given a lovely medal, a t-shirt (hmmm, not sure about the colour though – men had blue, women had pink, but the *wrong* shade of pink, maybe something less pastel would be more suitable…please 😉 ), water, coconut water, a banana and a copy of Women’s Running magazine. Lovely! Once the results were out I had a look through and found that a small field leads to some pleasing stats: tenth woman (!) and third in age group. All the more reason to run smaller, challenging races!

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Getting Up and Running

As a runner who has been having a go for some years now, I sometimes get asked advice about starting out, and recently my sister-in-law got in touch to say she and her fiancé were thinking of trying running themselves, and I’m always keen to encourage women’s running, especially if it means a family member getting fitter! She wanted to know specifically about shoes: should they get special running shoes, or is it ok to go out in any old trainers, that sort of thing. I gave the usual advice that, if they are going to commit to it, then they should really get themselves down to a reputable running shop and get their gait checked out but, if they are only going to dabble for a bit, then forking out for potentially expensive shoes might not be such a great idea. As always with a female runner, I said she must get a good support bra if she gets nothing else and, being the soon-to-be committed runner that she is, she went and got her gait analysed (and met her first treadmill – hey shop assistants, not everyone knows what to do when it stops!) and also invested in a top notch Shock Absorber bra. So, running can be one of the cheapest and most ‘easily dressed’ of sports for a beginner to take up: just put on your shoes and something comfortable and go out and run, but when you get a bit more into it, you can become quite caught up in tracking down the best fabric for long distances, the optimum length of top to avoid ‘riding up’ distractions and the lightest shoes available for racing a PB.

In my time as a runner, I have considered all of these points and, as a female runner, I have a moment of realisation about this time each year, as I put on a nice summer skirt or dress with sandals, look in the mirror, sigh and say: ‘Ah, I am a real runner. I have runner’s tan’. I am met by my reflection that shows a perfectly tanned area between the tops of my ankles and just below my knees – the capri tan. Now there are other, more confident runners who would just go out and buy a pair of shorts at this point, but I don’t fall into that category, I like to do a bit of research first before I commit to exposing more flesh than is comfortable. My first port of call was the Up and Running website – I have visited the Manchester store on a previous family visit and bought a pair of shoes and a long-sleeved top, so I know how good the quality of service and products is, and wanted to have a look at their online presence. After getting slightly distracted by a great offer to help runners who are training for a charity event, I found myself looking at the women’s shorts section. Now, I do already own two pairs of tight, cycling type shorts, but feel too self-conscious in those, so had a look at more loose-fitting shorts. Most of the baggier shorts look a bit too, well short for my liking, but these NBs caught my eye. They do look like they have a nice structured feel to them, but I was slightly concerned that I might try them on and find they are revealing a bit too much thigh wobble, so quickly consulted the returns and exchanges policy.

After my extensive stare at shorts, I had a wander around the rest of the website and was pleased to see they have the High 5 Zero hydration tablets I like so much at a better price than where I bought them last time 🙂 I was also impressed with the variety of products available and the ease of navigation. The area I particularly liked though, being a blogger and all round running community enthusiast, was the advice and community sections. Here, you can follow Up and Running on Twitter, join a Facebook group and read the blog where staff talk about events they have attended and offer advice on a whole range of running and fitness subjects. I think an experienced runner would be well advised to direct a newbie in the direction of the Up and Running stores and website, where they will be given the support and encouragement they need to head out and pound the streets from a knowledgeable and friendly staff team.