Great North West Half Marathon

Sunday saw me and my two pals battle the elements in Blackpool for the Great North West Half Marathon. I successfully managed to get my sub 2 hour half marathon in 1 hour 55 minutes, 12 minutes quicker than Chester half marathon which I did in May.

When I woke up at 7am on Sunday the weather in Manchester looked quite nice but promising clouds soon began to show after I’d eaten my porridge and set off in the car for the seaside.

Once we parked near the Hilton we went inside to collect our numbers where everything was well organised. As it began to rain my friend and I held up in a dated hotel along the sea front and had plenty of time to gear ourselves up before we headed back to the Hilton to the bag drop. Heading towards the starting line the wind began to pick up and it was still must have been around 3 degrees which was annoying as I’d hoped it would’ve warmed up by the time it came to the 11am start.

The route was made up of loops basically running along the promenade and then up alongside the road. The lower part of the race was quite sheltered from the wind but running on the top was the worst conditions I’d ever ran in. Definitely trumping the Tatton Park Yule Yomp last December as that only lasted 57 minutes but this race was going to be twice as long but I suppose this is also what happens when you run in winter.

My music carried me around the route with a playlist mainly made up of garage from the noughties and Taylor Swift. I was aiming to run 9 minute miles as this would get me a sub 2 hour time and it’s easy to do the maths on my £5 digital stopwatch. For the first 6 miles I made a conscious effort to push myself as I knew it would be harder to make up the time during the second part of the race and I think I came in at 6 miles around 51 minutes. I was also aiming to push myself a lot harder on the miles that were running on the promenade as it was so much easier without the wind.

The killer came after 10 miles when we turned back on the top road and headed towards the finish in the wind and rain. I ended up doing the thing I always do during a race where I’m convinced the organisers have missed a mile marker (this time it was the 12 mile marker) thinking maybe they miss out 12 so then when you come to 13 it’s a nice surprise that you’re nearly done, then it popped up and I realised I still had another 1.1 miles to go.

At this point I was really beginning to struggle and these are the times where I try anything to keep me going. At one point I tried to run behind a relatively large man to see if it would shelter me from the wind but I didn’t make much difference. I kept thinking that as soon as I’ve crossed the finish line I can walk and lie down as much as I like. It got to a point where I knew I was doing really well for time and if I walked now I would throw it all away and miss my sub 2 hour half. All the motivational good luck texts from friends and family help at this point too and as one said “if you’re struggling just remember it’s in your head and think positive thoughts” which I know all to well.

The main motivation I have at during this time is also myself because I know I would’ve been really disappointed if I hadn’t reached my target. Thankfully I pulled through and now I’ve been given a great confidence boost for the marathon. Two months to go woohoo!

Thoughts from this week:

  • Walking Dead is back in my life hooray!
  • Really enjoying the fact it’s beginning to get lighter in the evenings
  • So pleased the Foo Fighters are playing Glastonbury
  • The Subways new album is really good
  • Going to do a 15 mile run on Sunday which I’m going to document and write up for my next blog entry

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