Happy New Year!!! This is my first blog of 2017 detailing my first race of 2017. The race being the Central Lancs Half Marathon.
Have a listen to some Happy Mondays whilst you read my blog.
There’s a few reasons for the choice of this song. One of which is that I partied a bit much over the festive period and didn’t do the training I had planned so I had felt a little under-prepared for the race.
The race started and finished in Lea Town just outside of Preston. I tend to drive to a race on the morning of the race but for this one and with the race being a half marathon we decided to book a hotel in Preston the night before so I just had a 10 minute drive to the race HQ (and so Kate could hit the shops in Preston).
We stayed in the Legacy Hotel International in Preston. For some reason the room rate for Cream Tea, Bed and Breakfast was less than that for Bed and Breakfast so we took advantage of this so I could “carb load” on cakes and scones (for the correct pronunciation scone rhymes with gone, just saying like).
Anyways staying in the hotel allowed me to relax and chill out, get my kit ready, roll the old legs out and have a good kip and not need to get up too early to travel for the race. I reckon I’ll do this again in the future. I’ve got only good things to say about the Legacy Hotel in Preston. If you ever have any reason to stay in Preston I’d recommend it.
So to the morning of the race, after heading down for some breakfast I took the short journey out to Lea Town, parked up in the very tight and muddy car park (just in time, I got one of the last spaces) and headed to collect my race number and get myself ready for the race.
Race number collected, and kitted up all ready I headed to the misty and gloomy start line. After the race organisers shifting us down a lane so they could shut the road for the start, we were off in to the mist and heading out in to the Lancashire countryside. I’m sure at this point the scenery would have been nice to look at, but the mist and the gloom put paid to that.
This race was the first real chance that I got to try out the Christmas presents that Kate had got me. Those being a Garmin 230 Forerunner watch, and some Aftershokz Trekz Titanium headphones. The watch would shout at me if I was running to fast or too slow as you can set high or low pace alerts (it also tells you your average pace and mile times through your headphones). I’m made up with it and it really helped with my pacing.
The headphones are pretty special. Connected to my phone by bluetooth, they sit outside of the ear and use “bone conduction technology” to deliver music through your cheekbones. They feel a bit funny at first (you can feel the vibration of the speakers on your face) and for the first mile or so I had them turned up too loud. The sound quality is pretty impressive (when set at the right volume) and they allow you to hear passing traffic (there was plenty of this in this race), race marshal instructions, other runners, supporters and they allow you to hear yourself breath which helps setting a rhythm (apparently they are fully approved for use in all road races under the UK Athletics rules of competition). A big success on the Christmas present front, thanks Kate!!
For the first five miles of the race I was setting a quick pace (for me) of around 8.03-8.11 mins/mile. I was feeling comfortable here passing through a few villages on a slightly undulating course and up and over the M55.
I grabbed a quick swig of water at 5 miles and got through the village of Catforth. Around this point I could start to feel the blisters on the arches of my feet flaring up again. These got progressively worse through the remainder of the race, and I really felt them from mile 7 to 10, where the course felt like a 3 mile steady incline.
Through this section 24 Hour Party People came on through my playlist and I also seen lots of anti-fracking signs in the villages around here which reminded me of the “Anti-Fracking People’s Champion” Bez (well in Bez – the government should Frack Off!). I think this song is really about running what with Shaun Ryder going on about “running round the racetrack”.
I was getting tired around 9 miles so I had an energy gel to give me a bit more oomph for the rest of the course, and I began to feel a bit better when the course started to decline from 10 miles but now my feet where hurting from the blisters on each step so I couldn’t really pick up more time (after getting to 10 miles I was telling myself “it’s only a park run now, won’t take long”).
After getting through the last few miles and passing the 13 mile marker and turning in to the finish I could see clock heading towards 1 hour 48 minutes so I sprinted as hard as I could to get under this marker. Unfortunately I missed out by a few seconds, coming home in 1 hour 48 minutes 3 seconds.
That said I’m very happy with my race, it’s a big PB for me (my last half marathon being the 2010 Great North Run with a 2:15:07!), and it’s a good base line to improve on through the year as I get fitter and shed some of my extra festive season weight.
I’m also happy with my massive medal. This is the biggest medal I’ve got from any of the races I’ve done.
I’m less happy with the state of my feet. I think I’m going to have to retire my (expensive) Hoka trainers. The blisters on the instep of both feet are getting pretty unbearable to continue with as my mileage increases. After thinking about it I’ve owed Asics, Mizuno, Brooks and now Hoka and the only brand I’ve never had blisters from are Brooks so I’m going to look at switching back to them.
Anyways, all in all a good day. I really enjoyed the first half of the race and I felt comfortable. I’m happy with the time I got, and I’m confident of going faster for my next half (Wrexham in February).
Peace, Love and Happy New Year!
PS – You can sponsor me at: