Windmill Half Marathon Review – Sunday 17th July 2016.

In the biggest case of glossing over an event there is I’ll quickly talk about my recent outing at the Ullswater Triathlon before moving on to the Windmill Half Marathon. This was my move up to Olympic distance and there is every possibility that this may have been the wrong event to choose in which to do that. The swim will haunt me for a while, it was choppy, windy and raining by the time I got into the water and I found it hard to gain any traction to move forward. Every time I seemed to be getting anywhere a wave was smashing into me and knocking me off course. Breathing was an issue which isn’t a pleasant experience for an asthmatic.

I seriously considered not getting on the bike and sat for a while in transition. A while later though, I found myself, probably by impulse, putting on my trainers and grabbing my bike to head out. Within minutes of getting on my bike the swim was put into the deep dark recesses of the mind. I really enjoyed the bike route which took in some climbs as well as a fair few downhill descents. The run, which consisted of 4 laps, was by far my most enjoyable part of the day.

Despite a terrible experience with the swim I zipped up my tri-suit and headed out to complete the course when I could have easily have just jacked. I’ll admit that the swim has knocked my confidence a bit and, despite plans to knock a couple more triathlons out this year, I’ve decided to give triathlons a miss for the rest of the year. I’ve really enjoyed my running as of late and I think a lot of that has been down to some of the triathlon training I’ve been doing so I’ll still incorporate the swimming and biking into my training in the meantime.

Ullswater Triathlon is a thoroughly well organised event by Sport in Action. Sadly, they can’t control the weather or my breathing issues or lack of swimming ability which ultimately were the factors that led to my downfall in the swim. I absolutely couldn’t fault the organisation or the volunteers on the day as, despite the rain teeming down at points, they were all full of cheers and support for competitors. And a big shout out to the kayakers who were brilliant at ensuring everyone was ok in testing conditions.

Anyway, I completed the event in a time of 3:45.26.

Ullswater Medal

A week later I found myself on a bus with my DH brethren heading down to Lytham to take part in the Windmill Half Marathon. I’ve posted a few decent 10k times lately so my plan for the day was to run a fairly decent 10k time and then see where I was from there. There was every potential, however, that I would fade at some point as I’d just come off a night shift at work. I managed to get a bit of a sleep on the bus on the way down so I was as refreshed as one could be having just finished work and then about to run a half marathon.

47 DH Runners arrived at Lytham, while some were supporting there were also quite a few first time half marathoners in our contingent who were toeing the start line. Everyone seemed genuinely excited as the weather looked promising and the route was generally going to be as flat as can be.

Having arrived an hour before the start there was a little bit of kicking around and a few toilet visits before making our way to the start line.

I was a little late making my way to the start line so I found myself near the front when I arrived and, no sooner had I joined the other runners, then we were off.

I’d been running fairly decent 10k’s as of late in and around 45 minutes so my plan was to hit 8 miles in around an hour and see how I got on from there.

The first four miles were fairly warm and I was consistently running around 7:25 minute mile pace.

Within four miles we turned to head back the way we came and suddenly the wind arrived. The next few miles were a bit slower but I was still going well. The main thing was that I was enjoying it; I was high fiving team-mates and giving them a shout as I passed. I felt totally comfortable and in control.

LythamRun

On the approach to 7 miles which was essentially the second lap of the same course, I was aware that I was increasing pace but also overtaking people and still feeling very comfortable.

I hit 8 miles 30 seconds over the hour mark which I was pleased with. 5.1 miles to go and a target of 1:43.11 (my half marathon PB) in sight and I was still going great guns. I’ve never felt like this in the back end of a race before so it’s obvious that all the core and strength work that I’ve been doing is definitely paying off.

9 miles arrived and I decided to increase the pace before turning into the wind again. On heading back the other way I saw and heard team-mates on the other side of the route shouting but there were no more high fives or waves in me so all I could manage was a barely audible grunt.

10 miles came and went and I realised that when I got to 11 miles I was going well. With 2 miles left to go I knew that I was looking at a good time with all being well.

I was still running at a fairly decent pace and I decided to up it a little in the last mile and give it a good push for the finish. By mile 12 I’d stopped looking at my watch so I had no idea what pace I was doing or what time I was on for.

On passing 13 miles I could see the finish line and there were still a few catchable runners up ahead so I went for it. I passed a guy just before the line to finish 96th. Despite stopping my watch I didn’t register the time at first.

Lytham

It was only as I wandered over to the supporting DH Runners that I was told that I’d crossed the line with a sub 1:40 finish. I didn’t believe them at first until I checked my watch to find I’d finished with a time of 1:39.37.

Lytham Medal

I never for one minute thought I was capable of running a sub 1:40 half marathon. Let alone the fact I’d just knocked nearly 4 minutes off my PB. I was also surprised how strong and comfortable I felt in the second half of the race. I didn’t think I’d be hitting my prime in my mid-thirties but I’m certainly going to take advantage of my new found speed and hope that I can keep it going right up to Chester Marathon.

Once we’d seen all the other DH Runners complete the race we headed off to Harry Ramsden’s in Blackpool for a lovely bit of fish and chips (or, in my case, chicken burger and chips) before getting on the bus back home.

In stark contrast to my current triathlon attempts my running is going from strength to strength. Hopefully I can keep it up and continue to get fitter, faster and stronger. I’ve lost a stone in weight since I started Personal Training at the beginning of this year and I’m starting to feel muscles that should be working while I’m running starting to do their job so something is definitely going right somewhere. When I first started training I said to myself that I’m only going to get out of this what I put into it so I’ve been giving it my all and I’m starting to reap the rewards and long may it continue.

Next up for me is the Lancaster Riverside Half Marathon on the 21st of August. Which reminds me, I haven’t signed up for it yet…I must get on to that.

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