This was my third Half Marathon and was the main Half after the Sheffield HM, that I had intended to do well in. One kind Strider suggested that I should go through 2 Marathon plans to prepare for my spring Marathon. This, therefore, was in a middle of my first such plan. However, I had done extremely well and had gone various barriers of long distances to approx 22 miles. So after the Vale of York and Sheffield 10K, it was more of a consolidation and making sure that I was 100% ready for this particular race.
As this was in Manchester, and as a family, we decided to take a weekend of it. We went to the Sea Life and the Lego Land Adventure Park with a combined ticket. It was a great family outing with everyone enjoying the day.
One downside of staying over is the worry of leaving something behind, and this time I did. I had no cap, and I also left my watch charger at home. So I realised that on race day I will not have my watch to tell me how well or badly I am performing throughout the race. I like having my cap, for the eventuality of any rain, otherwise, my glasses steam up, and sometimes can be difficult to see. This was the case in Striders 10K, when I tripped over a pothole, so don’t like making this mistake.
On the day of the race, however, it was raining, the family decided to stay indoors so had the trip to the start line via tram with no support. The tram was very local to where we were staying, and pretty quick to get to the race event village. A few quick things before lining up, like using the loo, bag drop, and a 15-minute warmup.
Lining up for the race, I realised, the battery of the watch almost zero, so for the first time in any of my runs, I had to use the Strava App on my phone. The only issue was that I would only have the capability of starting and stopping, so no indication of how the race would be coming along. So starting the Strava as I cross the start line, it went straight into my running belt.
I started the race around the 01:50 pacer (which at the time was the wrong thing to do, as I was thinking 50 mins for 10K instead of 01:45 for HM time). But slowly got into a rhythm that felt quite comfortable, and slowly but surely overtook the 01:50 pacer. Before the race started my target was to achieve at least 01:45, considering I didn’t have anything to pace me.
As I was going through the first few miles, I met another runner, who started talking to me, and the next few miles went pretty quick, Getting towards mile 4, we were able to spot the 01:45 pacer. We both were interested in getting past this pacer, and achieve slightly better. At about 4.5 miles I managed to see someone looking at their watch, and asked how far we had gotten. I and the other runner managed to pace each other evenly and managed to pass the 01:45 pacer at about the 5-mile mark. For most of the race, we were able to keep close proximity with each other. We were also really intrigued to see where the 01:40 pacer was, and tried to push ourselves to see if we could get to him/her.
The race seemed to go pretty well, only with rain getting in my way. The rain started to fall heavier after mile 10, and my glasses started to steam up. This made it difficult to see, but with people being around, it was just about keeping with everyone else (It’ll make sure that next time I’ll pack my cap). There was a moment again, where a fellow runner looked at his watch, and asking again, he told me we were on for a sub 01:45. This really pleased me, as that was my target time for this race, so I just cracked on with my current pace.
Seeing the 10 mile board, it really got into my zone with my shouting of “only a parkrun to go”, this helped me to pick my pace up, and really got into the zone to get to the finish line. I was just picturing 3 x laps of Hillsborough park at this moment, but this really helped me to focus on the race again. Reaching the 20km board really gave me the extra energy to think, “only a lap of Hillsborough to go, except this is flat”, plus “Go Arif” from fellow Strider really pushed me on. Crossing the finish line, and glancing at the clock, it showed around 01:45, which pleased me. As it was wet, I didn’t check the phone for my time, seeing that I was happy with the board time of 01:45.
Going towards collecting my bag towards the bag drop, I double checked my Strava time, which showed 01:39:49, and couldn’t really believe what I was witnessing. Starting from 01:50 pacer to then achieve that time, is quite dramatic. I didn’t trust my Strava, as previous experience with GPS through phone has normally been problematic for me. Moments later, while walking to the tram station, got a text message from the official timers StuWeb, with my official time of 01:39:49. I just wanted to jump up in the air and shout with joy.
Final results coming through as of 16th October suggested my result has improved to 01:39:45, which is still as amazing as the original result.
In conclusion, I can only say, that it gave me great satisfaction of being with a community of runners who have helped me to get to this point
- Striders FaceBook, Mick Wall, bringing me down to earth on my expectations early last year
- Couch 2 5K, James Norton and Zoe Dickinson, helping with my form, posture, gait and great advice
- Striders Social Daft-o-Clock Club, particularly Matt Surgeon, Richard Clamp and Neil Schofield, they have helped me tremendously to improve my distance, over the past year
- Kim Baxter Physio, helping me to stay injury free since March 2018
- Finally, the fantastic advice, support and encouragement from the various run leaders at Hillsborough, particularly Laura Fletcher, Stuart Jones, Liam Russell, and Andrew Woffinden