Well today was the day … the long hours of training, the weeks on long runs and the extra sessions of cardio. I was awake about 4.30am, but still just lay in bed dozing until my alarm went off at 6.45am. It wasn’t that I couldn’t sleep but more like I was so excited at this day was here. (A bit like Christmas Day for the kids.) I had worked so hard over the past 8 months to be in a position to even attempt this event. It was 0km running in January to the 21km+ in September.
Kit was prepared the night before and I was sat dressed and eager to go whilst eating my bowl of cornflakes, when my running buddy ‘Edgie’ turned up about 7.30am. We had planned on getting to the event by 8.00am and find a parking space near to the Start/Finish Line.
We put our bags in the luggage area and decided to wind up the volunteers there. We asked for a pre-race photo and said just take a few, as we will pick out the best later…. as you can we we had a bit of a giggle too…..
Meeting up with lots of others from the Widnes Running Club was a good thing too – plenty of opportunity to chat about race plans and their experiences was good for me, this being my 1st Half Marathon too.
Then it was off to the start line and finding a place in the mass start – looking for the 2hrs 30mins pacers. We though we managed to get a great slot, until about 1km into the run and discovered we had joined in with the 2hrs 45mins pacers – ooopppsss!!! So off we went to find the next set of pacers – looking for their ‘Balloons’ – indicating their location in the crowd.
The masses split off after about 4km, with the 10km going right and our HM gang going left …. up and into the Hills around Warrington. I was glad the hills came so soon into the run and we managed to steady our pace to cater for them. Although they were not too steep, they became constant and long drawn out.
The best thing though was that what goes up must eventually come down and that is exactly what happened for the return journey back into Warrington. I’m not exactly sure when, but at some point in the Hills, my running buddy Edgie tweaked his calf – the one he was struggling with a few days ago. He was concerned about this and was telling me to go ahead and carry on without him. Not a chance – we came out together so we go back in together has always been our rule.
We had caught up with the 2hrs 15mins pacers by this time, so we knew we had a little bit of time to play with and still be ahead of our target time. Both Edgie & I decided to do a little bit of a slower few kms to see if he could work off the tweak – it did easy and we just nursed ourselves around the flatter part of the course. This was a great thing to do and we even managed to over-take the 2hrs 15mins pacer by 10km.
For the remainder of the flat part of the course (about 6km) we even managed to speed up again – completing 1 mile paces in sub 10mins easily. Around 10miles it was a return to the highest point again and the last hill. A slower ‘look at the floor and shorten your stride’ was in order to get up the hill and then it was flat again for the remaining 5km to the finish line.
Once we got back into the town center it was a little twisting and turning more than I liked but the feeling of nearly finishing was clearly visible with everyone around us. The pace increased and so did the noise levels. We got to the last 300m or so and the crowd was really loud – crossing the finish line was the best feeling and one that even surprised both of us. Also we had caught up with another member of our running group – Stuart Blackburn, and it was a race for the end – I won!!!
To our amazement, our time was even faster than we had planned for – looking for between 2hrs 15mins to 2hrs 30mins was the target time. But because we had eased up earlier on, we had managed to increase the pace for the last few miles – a fantastic time of 2hrs 9mins for the three of us. This was obviously a New PB for me, this being my first HM, but also Edgie had knocked off 4mins from his previous best. Stuart had also knocked off at least 2mins too.
This is the EHM Finishers Medal 2016 – it was worth it too. A heavy one, but one that I am really proud of at this point of my recovery/rehabilitation. Chatting to Edgie afterwards, we both felt that we had more in us and on a day without his tweak, the possibility of going sub2hrs was definitely on…..
This was a treat that was most deserved at the end. Hilary, Edgie & I went and bought an ICE CONE – oh what a lovely end to the run and especially in the heat of the day too.
This is just a small number of the Widnes Running Club Members that entered the event today, many of whom had a great experience and lots of good times recorded. The ‘Goodie’ bag we all received at the end was also quite a good one – then the added bonus of a free T-Shirt too.
It was an amazing day, with lots of great people to make the experience really good. I am now so enthused about doing another HM event as soon as I can. But not before my next event in 4 weeks – HELL UP NORTH (which is an extreme course event – but also at Half Marathon distance.)