Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Pleasure and pain

With the Berlin marathon looming on the horizon, I belatedly downloaded a sub-3 hour training plan and found that I needed to increase the mileage quick, starting with a 10 mile run in under an hour over the Bank Holiday weekend and a half marathon race on the following Sunday so I looked around and the only half marathon on that day was over at Blackpool so I booked my place and toyed with the idea of staying over and having a weekend by the sea.

Things didn’t exactly go to plan as family and garden commitments meant the 10 mile run got put back until the Wednesday (though I did run 10 miles in under an hour on the treadmill before work – an average of over 16kph) and due to more gardening on the Saturday, I set off at 7am for the two hour drive to Blackpool feeling a bit tired and stiff.
The race was well organised with the HQ situated in the Hilton Hotel so I actually had a bit too much time to wait for the race to start at 10am on the promenade. I again managed to get to the front after a last minute loo dash and when the air horn went, I actually led out the race for the first 200 metres, eventually being passed by a group of four runners who gradually increased the pace and pulled away from me and the chasing pack.

I stuck to the plan of trying to run 6 minute miles, like I had done for the 10mph run in the week (which would mean a PB of under 1.20 or 80 mins), and for the first 5 miles I was on track, but when the race dropped down on to the promenade for the first time, my legs tightened up and I could feel myself starting to slow down. At the end of mile 6 I was passed by another group of three runners which I tried to keep up with but only managed to hang on the final runner in the group, putting me in 8th position overall as I fought to stick as closely as I could to the 6 minute mile pace.
At mile 7 I started to feel slightly better so pushed ahead of the other runner and maintained through miles 8 and 9 before being passed by a lone runner clocking some serious pace – nothing I could do about that I told myself – as I fell into 9th place.

At mile 10, I was really tightening up in my hamstrings, calf and back and was caught up by a Keswick Harriers runner who I battled to keep up with for the final three gruelling miles to the finish. It felt like an eternity as I was tying up badly and I got passed by another runner on the final mile before losing out in the final sprint to finish 13th overall in a time of 1 hour 20 minutes and 50 seconds.
Although I was really pleased with this new PB (the training plan only required a 1.23 so I finished well within that), I missed out on a sub 1.20 and with it a top ten finish though it was still pretty satisfying in the circumstances. The hardest part was to come, with a two hour drive back home with the fear of impending cramp on the M62, before collapsing on the sofa for some well earned rest.

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