On Sunday I attended my second English Half Marathon in Warrington. I was primarily using this as part of my build up to Chester Marathon but I was also looking to better last years time as I thought I hadn’t done as well as I could have.
I’d decided yet again to stay at The Villaggio Hotel. It seemed to go pretty well last year although it wasn’t without its faults. Unfortunately this time there was a wedding reception going on until well after Midnight pretty much going on under the room I had been put in. It wouldn’t have been too bad but they had decided to add karaoke into the mix and this one guy seemed to be rocking up time and again. If he had auditioned for the X Factor Sharon would have been in giggle fits before he got his expected four rejections from the judges.
When the party had finally finished I thought I’d be able to finally get my head down. I hadn’t accommodated for the people in the room next door though. I’m presuming they were part of the wedding party as they seemed to make an appearance around 1am. Upon entering their room they immediately got it on (although not in the way Marvin Gaye was intending I’m sure). The noises emanating from the room were animal like. It sounded like Chewbacca was having an asthma attack or an animal was being slaughtered. This went on until the better part of 3am…sleep was now doomed. Was I up for running 13 miles in six hours? Was I bugger. The bed wasn’t the best either. What was meant to have been a double bed ended up being two single mattresses shoved into a double bed frame so there was a big seam down the middle. I wouldn’t have been surprised if I had gotten up in the morning and seen that I had been sleeping on top of Pinhead from Hellraiser. The springs were digging into my back for most of the night and I had massive knots in the morning.
I’m assuming I drifted off at some point as the next thing I knew it was 5:30. It’s safe to say I was well and truly knackered. My alarm call that was meant to have been set for 6am arrived half an hour later. It was all giving me a sense of deja vu as exactly the same had happened the year before. I had a bit of an issue with the trainers I was intending to wear for the run and ended up substituting them for another pair I’d brought…things were not going well.
Following breakfast and checking out I then waited for my taxi which had been booked the night before. 15 minutes later and still no taxi. I started wondering whether I had entered some portal and travelled back to the year before. After having a very similar conversation with the same person I had in 2012 about chasing my taxi up it finally arrived three minutes later and it turned out it was the same taxi driver that had turned up (yeah you guessed it) the year before. I’m definitely booking a different hotel next year.
Having arrived at Victoria Park I felt a bit calmer about the whole thing or so I thought. Several visits to the toilet later and I was finally warming my muscles up. Due to the lateness of the taxi I didn’t have a lot of time to get myself sorted so my usual prep just felt a little rushed and I was not relaxed at all. On reflection this was maybe a good thing as I didn’t have a lot of time to think about things.
I’d been looking for the 1:45 pacer, as my plan was to stick with him for as long as I could, but he was nowhere to be seen so I started to make my way up towards the start line and ended up queuing behind the 1:30 pacer. Realising that I was well out of my depth I started making my way back but it was all a little too late. When I finally found a spot to place myself I asked the guy next to me what time he was going for and he said 1:35…bugger, I was still too far forward. Too late though, the countdown had begun and ten seconds later we were off.
I encountered The Flash in the first 400 yards which was a lot quicker this year than I did last year, it appears he does this race every year and he always does it dressed as The Flash (well you’ve got to have a hobby I suppose).
I felt ok for the first three miles. Although it felt like I was pushing hard to get seven minute miles I knew that once I get past three miles my body naturally settles into a run. Other than swapping places with a fellow Evertonian (who I eventually lost at seven miles) the next five miles were pretty uneventful. On hitting mile eight I decided it was time to take an energy gel. I’d tried an energy gel before while on the Cross Bay Challenge last year and it wasn’t a great experience so I hadn’t done it since. This time though it went down like a treat and a couple of minutes later my legs were shifting again.
At mile nine I inadvertently screamed at someone. I had a scream in me that I needed to get out and, just as I was about to do it, someone pulled up alongside me and started chatting…too late though the scream had worked its way into my throat and, as I turned my head to face him, probably broke his eardrums. Sorry about that.
I checked my watch at mile 10 and realised that I had 25 minutes to get to the finish line to come in at around 1:45. Now that I was only a parkrun distance away I knew that it was time to turn the legs and power to the end. I was surprised by how much of the route I remembered from the year before so I knew exactly where I could and couldn’t push it.
On the final stretch I was taken a little by surprise. The race the year before had finished on the running track but this year the finish line came out of nowhere so my usual finish line sprint turned into a little half jog/half sprint attempt.
I crossed the finish line and the guy next to me told me that his watch said 1:46:25. I knew that I must have done a decent time at this point and an hour later my results were texted to me.
|Num||Name(s)||M/F||Rank||Gun Time||Chip Rank||Chip Time||Cat. Rank||Category||Club|
|540||STEVEN CLARINGBOLD||M||503||01:49:11||506||01:47:53||242||MSNR||DH RUNNERS|
I was more than happy with this time. I’d come a long way since my first half marathon. 1537 runners had taken part and I had placed ahead of 1034 on the gun time and 1031 on my chip time.
For the stats geeks:
This year I crossed the line in 01:47:53
In two years I had cut just over 40 minutes off my half marathon time. In comparison to last years run I had cut 15 minutes off my time. I had even beaten my personal best of 01:56:01 which I achieved at Blackpool in February 2013.
With the exception of the blood covering my top (again!!!) things were looking up. The week before I had a small crisis of confidence following some poor training runs in the build up to The Chester Marathon. But following The English Half Marathon and a chat with some people in the Run Geek tent afterwards my confidence was right up and I feel more than prepared for the Marathon. A few days before the half marathon I had taken part in the Marathon Talk Magic Mile event and had posted a time of 6 minutes 29 seconds. This is by far the quickest I have ever done a mile in and I certainly feel like I’m getting quicker and stronger. I’m just hoping the Marathon doesn’t destroy me. Wish me luck.