Apologies if this is becoming a running blog but hey, if you don't like it, unsubscribe!
On Saturday we drove over to Chester as we had decided at the last minute on Friday to stay over in a Travelodge. This was a good idea as it meant I got a bit of extra sleep in the morning and we didn't have to worry about parking or anything. It also gave us the chance to meet up with some friends who live in Chester and go out for some pasta to carb-load. It looked like half of the runners in Chester also had the same idea as we were unable to get in to Carluccios and instead went to Bella Italia. I loaded up on some spaghetti and meatballs and an immense chocolate sundae for dessert.
On Sunday morning, I woke up and felt really nervous for some reason. I was still full from the night before so managed to eat a 9 Bar and then set off to the race course, which is where the start line was. After a quick warm up, I entered the start area just below the 2.15 pace maker, as I was aiming for 2 hrs 10 minutes. I was paranoid I was underfuelled or not hydrated enough, but everything turned out okay in the end.
We set off on time and after the first mile was passed in 9.46, I felt quite good but also wanted to hold back a bit to save my energy for later. I knew that I had to average below ten minute miles to get the time I wanted so I had built up quite a bit of leeway from the first half. Below are my splits for the first 6 miles:
1) - 1m - 9:46(9:46/m)2) - 1m - 9:26(9:26/m)
3) - 1m - 9:36(9:36/m)
4) - 1m - 9:44(9:45/m)
5) - 1m - 9:43(9:43/m)
6) - 1m - 9:36(9:36/m)
Speedy! I felt pretty on track at this point and had enough time built up in case I needed to walk or slow it down a lot later. The route was mostly through the countryside outside Chester and it was very different to my usual running routes around the city. Lot of, ahem, interesting smells. At 10k there were lucozade sports drinks and I decided to risk it and have some. It seems that the extra boost of sugar worked and I somehow managed to pick up speed in the second half!
7) - 1m - 9:19(9:19/m)
8) - 1m - 9:16(9:16/m)
9) - 1m - 9:41(9:41/m)
10) - 1m - 9:29(9:29/m)
11) - 1m - 9:29(9:29/m)
12) - 1m - 9:30(9:31/m)
13) - 1m - 9:27(9:27/m)
14) - 0.15m - 1:13(8:06/m)
Where miles 7 and 8 came from I have no idea. My average pace overall was 9.33 and my final chip time was 2hrs 5 minutes and 5 seconds! I felt so happy and amazed at the end. I even had the energy in me for a slight sprint finish! The last few miles of the Chester half go through quite a residential area and the support from the residents was really good and it is always needed in those final few miles I think. At the Liverpool half, from miles 10 to 13 is pretty desolate with no support as you trudge down the docks and warehouses, so this was really encouraging. Despite the end being up a hill, I somehow managed to push my legs a bit further and finished in a time that I didn't go out expecting at all. I remembered a tip that I read in 'Running like a girl' by Alexandra Heminsley - 'hills are run with your arms'! And it worked, it really did. I don't care if I looked like an idiot swinging my arms, it definitely helped me conquer that final hill.
At the end, I received an awesome medal and a great yellow technical t-shirt (thanks Nike!). The goodie bag was also pretty substantial and included a mars bar, freddo and a full sized bag of haribo starmix! This kept me well fuelled on the way home. (And also kept Scott happy as I let him have the freddo and mars bar, you have to keep your supporters/drivers/bag carriers happy!).
So, my second half marathon is done and I shaved a whole ten minutes off my previous PB. Next on the horizon is the Manchester 10k in 2 weeks, so I am trying to recover quickly before focusing on a bit of speed-work before then. I would love to get a 58 minute 10k. The instructor at running club has planted the idea in my head of a 55 minutes 10k but I am not sure I will be ready for that in 2 weeks...we shall see!