Summer Evenings & Mid-Week Races

I love summer.  Doesn’t everyone?  Long sunny days, warm evenings (OK…warm-er) and everyone just seems just a little bit happier.  Amazing what a bit of vitamin D will do.

For me, there’s nothing better than throwing on my trainers for a post-work run in the sunshine, the sun is out but it’s not too hot, you can wear shorts and you don’t feel like the kind of crazy person you feel like when you’re training through the bitter winter.  It reminds me why I love this hobby of mine.

The summer months also bring a flurry of mid-week races.  They tend to be fairly low key, informal affairs but it’s a great opportunity to get people together for an early evening run and a late evening vodka.  The Chasers love a mid-week race almost as much as they love a mid-week pub session.


About a month ago we took a record number of Chasers to the annual Thames Hare & Hounds Parkland Relays in Richmond Park.  Parklands was my first ever race for the Chasers in 2013 so I think of it as my anniversary run.  It takes place on a Wednesday evening in May and attracts a lot of local clubs for a lung burning 2.8 mile off-road loop near the south end of the park.

It’s a tough run and it’s hilly but, hey, it’s Richy P and it’s pretty damn good looking so you just have to suck it up.  We’ve been lucky with the weather for the last 3 years so it’s always been a fabulous evening with friendly people, and we even won both the girls and the boys races this year!

Last night 50 Chasers, in a field of 600, represented at the London Business Houses Bridges Relay.  Organised by Stock Exchange AC, teams of 4 for men or mixed, and 3 women, raced a 2.3 mile loop along the Embankment opposite the Houses of Parliament, over Vauxhall Bridge and back along the river to Lambeth Bridge before coming back on the home stretch.  Short, sharp and over quick right?  Pleasant easy peasy run right?  Errrr, no.

Me, I was in a team with this fabulous bunch.  Diana who is making a sterling return from a lengthy injury, Hannah who slaves away around the track with me and Phil, Phil loves being a Chaser and we absolutely love him for his infectious excitable energy!  Team of little runner dreams.


Everyone congregated outside St Thomas’s Hospital for the start.  It was very busy and I wasn’t convinced it wouldn’t be complete chaos.  Looking around it looked like the standard would be high, and that was before I clocked the international team.  I decided my race strategy would have to be run-as-fast-as-you-bloody-can-and-hold-on-as-long-as-you-can.  A necessary approach.

The leg A runners set off and it wasn’t as much chaos as I thought, however, I was on the 2nd leg so had to hang around in a big crowd and hope I would spot Phil as he came in.  Luckily the Chasers t-shirt is fairly easy to spot so as soon as I saw him I shoved my way to the front and pegged it.

I was running too fast and it hurt, probably not helped by my track session the night before, but something happened I’m not sure has ever happened before.  I started overtaking lots of other runners!  Spurred on, I just kept running as fast as I could, hugely appreciated the support from 3 Chaser marshals en route, and hoped I wouldn’t start to slow just as I ran past the crowds on the way back.

This is me, errr, pegging it.  Many thanks to Liz Milsom for the photo!

imageI waved at Hannah to make sure she saw me and she headed out on the 3rd leg whilst I tried not to die, I finished in 17:34 so was quite pleased.  Once I was sure I’d survive, I found Phil and the other Chasers and waited for the team to finish.  Hannah put in a strong effort, also off the back of track the night before, and Diana brought us home with a sprint finish so fast the picture was blurry!  I think she’s back from injury 🙂


I have to say this wasn’t the most friendly bunch, Clare was snubbed for simply asking a question and Phil got told off for cheering too loud, maybe that’s the difference between corporate running clubs and ‘ordinary running clubs’ as we were referred to.  As if there’s anything ordinary about the Chasers!

Everyone home, we headed to the pub where Phil treated his team to a post race drink.  Thanks Phil!


A long run shared is a long run…halved?

The big 2-0 on the training plan is a daunting prospect to even the most seasoned marathon runner.  Not only is it a very long way, but it’s as much a mental challenge as a physical one.  It’s also the run that can give you the confidence that a marathon is actually achievable – if I can just get to 20 miles in training the last 10k will be fine…right?

Of course, it doesn’t actually work that way in real life because during last 10k of a marathon things can either miraculously come together, or spectacularly fall apart!  I’ve definitely experienced the latter more than the former but it doesn’t stop the 20 miler giving me some confidence before race day.

On Sunday the Clapham Chasers hosted their annual Thames Riverside 20 mile ‘race or pace’ event (TR20) which is geared up with Spring marathoners in mind.  We offer pacers from sub 7mm to 10mm so it’s the perfect training run to check you’re on track.  For me, I just love the fact that I can focus on running with my friends around me rather than worrying about the distance.

A sunny race HQ in Bishops Park at 7.30am


It’s an out and back route from Putney Bridge to Richmond along the towpath which means you get to see some friendly faces as people start turning around and a friendly face can offer the same pick-me-up as a caffeinated salted caramel gel!

I find participating in an event like this really beneficial for several reasons:

  • There’s emotional strength to be found in not running alone.  Even if you don’t know the runners around you, even if  you don’t speak, they’re right there and going through the same thing you are (unless you’re Nathan who won the race in a new course record with a full 7 minute lead…but he’s pretty amazing).
  • Plenty of water stations mean you don’t have to carry your own
  • There are marshals all along the course to offer encouragement and a smile (and maybe a high-5 if you’re lucky)
  • When you’re wearing a race number other pedestrians seem more willing to let you past
  • If anything happens help is never far away
  • If it’s the TR20 there’s guaranteed to be a whole lot of cake at the finish!

Chaser Pacers, a happy Garmin & an almost empty cake table!


I went off in the 9mm wave not really sure if I’d be able to hold it but, with Laura and Gemma by my side having a good ol chat, it felt surprisingly easy.  We were a bit ahead of target which worried me, but I managed to hold the pace even though we split up on the way back – I made friends with some South London Harriers instead!

As I rounded the corner to the finish line I was greeted by the Chaser Cheering Squad shouting my name and cheering, I couldn’t help but finish with a little sprint and a big smile!

The best thing about the TR20 is that all I had to concentrate on was getting out of bed (at 5.45am!) and getting to the start rather than planning a route, carrying fluids and being mentally strong on my own.

Maybe sharing a 20 mile run won’t make it any shorter, but it’ll sure make it happier.  I’ve got 18 miles to knock out this weekend and I’m more than grateful to have some Chaser ladies lined up to share it with!

Laura & I looking surprisingly perky post run.


Parklands Relays – My 1st competitive run for the Chasers

The Richmond Park Hare & Hounds Relays was my first opportunity to sign up for a competitive event with the new club.  The teams would be made of 4 people for the boys and 3 for the girls and each runner would cover about 5k. Easy run with some beautiful scenery right?


After the 1st track session (you remember, where I was trying not to vomit at back of the pack?!) I was a little worried about my time.  However, I was promised a fun evening that was open to everyone and all you had to do was indicate your current 5k time when you signed up so they could match the teams accordingly.

I can’t remember the last time I ran a 5k so I took a punt with 23 mins assuming, if anything, I would be faster.  Turns out that was a pretty good punt, I went through 5k on Saturday Nights’ race almost bang on 23 minutes and that was with 5k left to go so I was confident I hadn’t oversold myself.

I was excited, but nervous, not made any better by having to get a bus to the South side of Richmond Park, buses in London can be tricky if you don’t know where you’re going. Luckily I spied some fellow Chasers on the bus so I quickly made friends so we could all get lost together!

Richmond Park is stunning, even more so on a sunny evening in May. We arrived and set up camp near the start as more Chasers started to arrive.  There were several local clubs involved, including the Sheen Shufflers where I finally got to meet fellow blogger and tweeter Cat Simpson (who is so speedy she came 3rd in the Richmond Marathon just 2 weeks after smashing the London Marathon!)


Naomi & Rob, who had done an awesome job of sorting out all the teams, gave me my race number and I met Jos & Ruth who made up my team.  They both looked pretty fit and fast…I was pretty sure I was going to have to run until I felt like my heart was going to explode just so I didn’t embarrass them.

I was on the 3rd leg, not really what I wanted but, in hindsight, it was better than the 1st where everyone was on top of each other. Then they were off!  Now, these are club runners, club runners are fast and the boys (and some of the girls) practically flew, I don’t think I could ride a bike that fast!  The 2nd boy on the first lap was a Chaser, awesome work!

Jos put in a good run and was the 2nd girl Chaser to come through, a tap of the hand and Ruth was on her way. It was pretty chilly in the wind so I did a bit of jumping around trying to get my nerves under control, it’s only 3 miles, it would be fine.

Ruth was quick and she was the 1st girl Chaser through on the 2nd lap, ohhhhh the pressure! I know we’re not competing against each other but I still wanted to do a good job. She tapped my hand, wished me luck and I started moving my legs as fast as they would carry me. After about half a mile I reached the ‘feeling like I was about to have a heart attack’ phase so I knew I was on pace…

The course was well signposted which was helpful as I couldn’t see many people around at all. There were a few runners heading back the other way, I’m not quite sure what they were doing but they all gave me some encouragement which is always nice to hear!

It was obviously a trail run, and fairly hilly, so it was tough to keep a strong pace in places but it was a beautiful place to run, especially through the pond area. Somewhere towards the end I was overtaken by one of the girls from our club, she’s a pretty speedy mover so I wasn’t surprised, she shouted some encouragement and flew by. Unfortunately she pulled over to be sick for a few moments which meant I ended up finishing a few seconds before her. I felt bad, she ran the route about 2 minutes quicker than me so deserved to come in first.

Despite not wearing a club top, the Chasers recognised me and started cheering as I came through the finish, first Chasers team home for the girls!! I measured 2.75 miles on the Garmin and finished in 21.16, it wasn’t fast but it wasn’t bad and I didn’t feel like I’d let the team down. My first competition for the club and I had really enjoyed it!

Come on Chasers!


Final Result? We placed 14 of 37 (Ladies) and our fastest boys came in 3rd overall!

Joining a running club

My parents have been on at me for years to join a running club.  In all honesty I’m not sure why it has taken me so long but tonight I bit the bullet & turned up for my first run with the Clapham Chasers!

As promised on their website, they were a friendly bunch and very welcoming.  There was a brief welcome chat to the Monday night ‘social’ run and we were offered a choice of 3 pace groups, Fast, Intermediate and Novice.  I decided to join the intermediate group.  The leader was adamant that he would be sticking to a strict 8 minute mile pace and no one was to run faster than him, perfect.  Anyone that wanted to run faster should go with the fast group, I didn’t think that would be wise on my first session, especially a week after running a marathon, 8 minute miles would do just nicely…

We set off on our run into Battersea Park; it’s a favourite and familiar running area of mine so I immediately felt at ease.  The pace, however, felt rather punchy for 8mm.  At first I wasn’t sure if it was my heavy post marathon legs that made it feel tougher than expected but then I clocked our second mile at 7.32!   I was quite relieved we were running at a quicker pace rather than issues with my form.

We were running faster than I would on a solo training run but this was a pace I could keep up with and one that was going to make me a stronger runner.  By mile 2 of my first ever club run I knew this was the place for me, and I was going to enjoy it!

So, I am now a fully-fledged member of the Clapham Chasers and I can’t wait for next week’s track session!

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