Sunday, May 15, 2016

North Lincolnshire Half Marathon 2016

After starting work as a Postman in the October of last year, walking 10 miles a day on my round, I've shed a few pounds as well as adding extra endurance into my training schedule. I also competed in the East Yorkshire Cross Country league running for the Driffield Striders during the winter months, so I had a head start coming into spring training this year.  

Hornsea 1/3 Marathon
So I was feeling quietly confident of a good run at the North Lincs Half Marathon. I had run two other races in the weeks leading up to this one, both the Hornsea 1/3 Marathon and Beverley 10k has gone well. Unfortunately Zoe had sustained a knee injury just before Beverley and was unable to run in that race or here at North Lincs.  

The weather was cool but sunny with no wind. The course is flat and fast. The stars seemed to be aligning to give me a great shot at going for a new half marathon PB.  Pre-race nerves were kicking in now as I had decided to go for it. I knew the pace would be fast and I would be suffering in the latter stages of the race.  Very different to a race where you have no expectations, just ease into it and enjoy. Not today though, it was serious business and time to go to work. Although Zoe wasn't on the start with me, a good running buddy called Sian was there and we wished each other luck as we prepared to start.

Once underway, I settled into a pace around 6min 50secs/mile. I wanted to run the race at an even split.  The first few miles passed and I was maintaining the same pace, just under 6.50's and my legs felt pretty good.  I know after the few few miles if my legs have it in them to go for a fast time.  Some days that feel heavy and slow but not today, they felt strong and fast.  

Beverley 10k
I could see the 1hr 30min pacers ahead of me and a large group of people running with them. I decided to ignore them and run my own race.  The miles were passing by and my pace was constant.  I knew that as every mile passed, my chances of breaking 1hr 30min were increasing.  I also knew that mile 10 was the key milestone for me, the wheels had fallen off at this point for me in the past in half marathons when going for a PB time.

As I reached the mile 8 marker, I was right behind the 1hr 30min pacers. The group running with them had reduced in size but still enough to make passing them a little difficult.  So I decided to draft behind them for a while.  As we reached mile 10, the group had reduced in size further still, it was now around a dozen or so people running with 2 pacers.  However, my legs were no longer feeling strong and I was starting to find it tough. Time to dig in!

With just 3 miles to go, the pacers could see that the expressions around them were changing and breathing was getting heavier. Pain was kicking it. The cool temperature of the early morning was gone and it was getting hot. It was becoming a test of perseverance and determination.  The pacers were becoming more vocal now and shouts of encouragement were helping.  By mile 11, my legs were finished and now it was mind over matter. I wanted this and with only 2 miles to go, it was mine for the taking.  

I found myself now running shoulder to shoulder with one of the pacers, the group seemed to have shrunk to a final few as one or two others were falling away. I was not going to fail now. Into the last mile and normally I can kick on but not today.  I  was hanging on for dear life now and longing for the finish.  Finally the football stadium where the race finished came into view and it was almost over.  I hadn't looked at my watch for the last mile or so but knew that I was going to run a sub 1hr 30min time but was it a PB? Once into the stadium, I ran the lap of the pitch as fast as my exhausted legs would let me and crossed the finish line in 1hr 29mins 34secs.... a PB by 16 seconds. 

I was properly tired but so thrilled to achieve my goal.  I ran a even split race of 6min 50sec/mile ave pace. My running buddy Sian and fellow Driffield Strider ran 1hr 32mins and was first woman in her age category.  

The North Lincolnshire Half Marathon is an extremely well organised event. It has a great atmosphere, with friendly faces. Its run on a flat and scenic course.  I cannot recommend it enough and I for one will be coming back again next year. 

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