Having had a successful showing at the Vale of York Half Marathon I was fairly content that I would go into the English Half and just run it easy as a build up for Chester Marathon.
More on that later.
Having had two relatively up and down stays at the Villaggio in Warrington I decided to knock a third stay on the head and decided instead on The Park Royal in nearby Stretton.
What a BRILLIANT choice.
Great staff, great room, great sleep. Couldn’t have gone better.
Even down to the small touch in the restaurant on Saturday night where the waitress put me on a table away from two large hen parties.
I don’t know whether she did this so I wasn’t bothered by the noise or whether she was protecting the hens from my magnetic good looks. I’ll let you decide.
The next morning, after a brilliant sleep, I got up and had an amazing shower. I felt great…
Seriously, I’m pushing this hotel. It was the best I’ve stayed at. No problems…at all.
So, after my shower I knocked back a pot of Oats So Simple and then, an hour later, made my way downstairs to have the hotel breakfast.
The porridge pre-breakfast is something I’m trying out before Chester marathon. I’ll let you know whether it worked later on.
After breakfast I hung around in the front lobby waiting for the taxi I’d prebooked. Anyone who has been following this blog for a bit will know I’ve had a bit of a history with taxis not turning up in Warrington but this one turned up on time and as booked. He hated runners though and boy did he keep on telling me.
I arrived at Victoria Park with an hour to kill before the run. So I dropped my bag off and made my way to the toilets. The toilet in the changing room had no lights or windows and it was dark…very dark. However, I managed to do what I needed to do and then made my way to a wall to stretch out and apply some deep heat.
With fifteen minutes to go I needed the loo again so I ended up joining the queue for the portaloos near the start line. It was touch and go whether I would get in one in time but some people started leaving the queue and I made it with five minutes to go.
I made my way to the 2 hour pacer and they were just in the process of doing a warm up with a woman from a local fitness centre.
She was a bit shouty.
“Come on, I can’t hear you, you’re not jumping, you’re not running, COME ON.”
It was like nails down a chalkboard.
Suddenly, disaster. The race had been postponed by fifteen minutes due to an incident on the course. People started clearing the starting pen and when they reconvened I found myself pushed up to the 1:30 pacer. Oops.
The fitness lady arrived again and shouted at us some more before the race was good to go.
9:15 and we were off.
Because of where I’d started off I had a pretty clear run to get me going and I soon settled in to a 7:25 minute mile pace. I basically told myself I that I would keep this up for as long as my body allowed me.
It was the same course as years previous but this year, as oppose to the last, it was definitely finishing on the racecourse. The other difference being that the 10k runners had started at the same time as the half marathon runners, although about 3k in they peeled off to the left and took a different route and we kept on going.
3 mile in and I was still hitting the 7:25 minute mile pace. I was convinced my body couldn’t keep this up but while I felt comfortable I was going to keep it up.
I was enjoying the run without music. If my mind wandered I went to the Kaiser Chiefs My Life and ran the song through my head to give me some kind of focus.
I hit 7 miles within the hour which was the benchmark I’d set myself and then at mile 8 I took my energy gel.
It was looking good for a 1 hour 45 min finish at one point but I started to tire around mile 10 and 11 and dropped the pace a bit. Even so, I hit mile 11 at 1:31:26 so I had just under 14 minutes to do just over 2 miles to get in under 1 hour 45 min. It didn’t seem possible but I was gonna have a go.
When I hit the race track I was on 1:47:12. I was definitely going to finish in the next minute or so and I was totally happy that I had a sprint finish in me.
I started to hit my sprint with 200 metres to go and as I rounded the bend towards the end I overtook a guy and a girl who were jogging. Suddenly I felt a push in the back which put me off my stride a bit and then as I started to get going again for the finish the guy, who I’m assuming pushed me in the back, started sprinting next to me. I had no issue with this I’m all for a run to the finish. The issue I did have though was the push in the back and then the elbow out of the way with 100 metres to go. I was not happy as my face shows in this picture.
I finished in a time of 1:48:34. Considering my injuries in recent weeks I was totally happy with this time. Especially heading into Chester…everything looked good.
I gave the pusher/elbower a bollocking at the finish and then went to pick my medal up. Running is generally a non-contact sport. Pushing someone in the back while they are sprinting could cause twists or broken legs. Just don’t do it people.
If you were wondering, the porridge trial did seem to work. I seemed to have a load more energy than I usually do. I’ve noted this and will try it again at Chester.
An hour later I was toeing the start line again for the livewire mile.
I finished this in 7 minutes 38 seconds.
I’d doubled my medal tally and now all I had to do was lug my big case to the train station.
Yet again the English Half Marathon was a well organised event. The only thing I would suggest is that the 10k and Half Marathon starts are staggered in the future.
And so, on to Chester.