The timing of last Sunday's Leeds Half Marathon was far from perfect. Just two weeks after the 3 Peaks, the day after what would turn out to be Leeds United's promotion party and with the remnants of a stinking cold still in the system, the early omens weren't good.
Thankfully, it was a bright sunny day and when I met up with Jamie and Evo at the start line, the hangover had just about gone and I felt in reasonably good shape. We managed to work our way forward, starting about 30 seconds behind the top runners, setting off at a pretty decent pace.
Me and Jamie ran together for the first 5km before I pulled away slightly on the first big hill up Stonegate Road. My tactic was to up the pace on the hills and I overtook quite a few runners before reaching the 7km mark in 29 minutes. After a quick bit of mental arithmetic I worked out that if I could maintain the same pace, I was on for a time of 1 hr 27 mins - 3 minutes under my initial target.
I was feeling quite good at this point but the plan was to try and maintain the same pace for the next 7km before increasing the pace for the final third of the race. I accelerated again on the hill up to the Lawnswood roundabout, gaining a few places before going down the other side and through on to Kirkstall Road.
Having ran the course before, I knew it was all downhill to the finish and felt like I had plenty in reserve so I upped the pace and focused on getting a quick a time as possible. Kirkstall Road soon disappeared and when I heard the crowds on the Headrow, I kicked again and went for the line. The last 100 metres were horrible but as I crossed the line in 1 hour 22 minutes and 58 seconds, I was overjoyed.
I later got an automated text from the organisers saying my official time was 1 hour 22 minutes and 30 seconds and I finished 43rd overall - far better than I had anticipated. Jamie also ran a great time of 1 hour 29 minutes and with Evo's 1 hour 32 minutes, it was a successful day for the boys from Cross Gates!
Having surprised myself with such a good time without the best of preparations, I have started thinking about taking things more seriously and maybe joining a running club with the aim of a top 10 finish next year (around the 1:15 mark) but there's the Yorkshireman pairs to win before then...