Paul McCartney invented techno, go on, have a listen:
Sunday’s race was the Village Bakery Wrexham Half Marathon. After my previous week’s mess up this was a chance to “get back on the horse”. I must admit my confidence was knocked slightly by my failure last week, but after my quickest parkrun time since May the day prior and a good race nutrition plan after picking up a High5 marathon race nutrition box I felt a bit better and well prepared on the morning of the race.
So up relatively early on Sunday to have a breakfast of porridge a couple of pieces of toast, the rest of the morning I would following High5’s half marathon fuelling plan to the letter. I rolled the old legs out, taped and talc’d my feet up (where I normally get blisters) and got my kit together and headed out to Wrexham. I don’t really like driving out this way on a weekend as I drive out this way every day for work, but it’s a bit easier on a Sunday morning than it is on a Monday morning.
The race started in an out of town semi-rural industrial estate on the outskirts of Wrexham, to be honest it wasn’t the most picturesque venue driving in to the industrial estate but I got to the race HQ at Wrexham Club House and parking nice and early to get ready for the race and to use the facilities. The queues were pretty long for the portaloo’s outside so I headed inside the Club House for my PRP (pre-race poo). The facilities were not great, with one of the toilets being out of action and I heard more than one person describe it as looking like the toilet out of trainspotting.
Business done I headed back the car to get prepped for the race and bumped in to my training buddy Helen who arrived at the race with her mum. I was giving Helen a lift back after the race so she left her stuff in the car which including a hip circle band so I took the opportunity to stick it on and use it for my warm up. A hip circle band is a thick elasticated band, and you can put it just over your knees and basically go for a walk, and it will give the legs (in particular glutes and hips) a good warm up. You do look a bit daft doing this though, and I got a few odd looks and a couple of comments from other runners.
Sticking to the High5 nutrition guide I had my two energy gels and an electrolyte drink on my walk down to the start line, and positioned myself in what I guessed was the group behind the really fast runners. Its sometimes tricky to get this right as you don’t want to get too close to the front as you’ll get in the way of the fast people, but nor do you want to go too far towards the back and try and pick your way through runners that are slower than you.
Anyways, once the race was underway it became apparent that I had positioned myself just right with people of a similar ability to mine and we were off. The conditions were pretty much perfect, still, dry and very warm for this time of year (about 12°C). My main aim for the race was to beat my previous time of 1.48.03 that I got in the Central Lancs Half in January but I felt I could go quite a bit quicker than that so I had my pace target set on my Garmin of between 8 to 8.15 minute miles.
The first 5 miles of the race was a lap around the industrial estate. Again, not the most pleasant 5 miles but I was the fast end of my target pace of 8 minute miles. If I could keep this up I’d be on for a 1.45 time, and after about 4.5 miles the 1.45 pacer passed me. I thought about trying to stick with him for a while, but I decided to run my own race and not worry or thing about keeping with the pacer.
To keep with the feeding strategy I took on another energy gel at 5 miles, at which point the course then headed out past some farms and in to a bit more open country which made the route a bit more interesting and got some better views of the surrounding countryside.
It was about half way in I could feel the burn on my right instep where I’ve been getting my blisters. I’ve now tried a number of pairs of trainers and I made the decision to wear my Brooks Transcend 2 which were picked up for £30 at TK Maxx. So far I’ve not suffered from blisters in these trainers and I had done 17 miles in them the previous week with no major blister damage, but today was pretty painful. At around 8 miles it was really bothering me but then Macca’s Temporary Secretary came on my playlist and I immediately decided on the name to the blog, as I was thinking “pain is temporary” and I started to put the pain to the back of my mind and I took on another energy gel to think about something else.
My pace was still round 8 minute miles at this point and as I passed through the water station at 9 miles I thought I heard someone shout “go on Alan” and it gave me a little boost. I had idea who it was, or even if it was meant for me until I got to work and a colleague had said she’d seem me and was helping out at the drinks station – thanks Donna!
From 9 miles until the finish the course was a steady incline and I started to get pretty tired from here on in. In fact it felt like I was running on sand and I just couldn’t keep up the pace with me dropping down to 8.20 minute miles for the next couple of miles.
I took on yet another energy gel at 11 miles and I think this one was a bit too much. I tend to react badly with my asthma if I have too much sugar and a sign of this is a hot blotchy face and I felt like this was happening after the last energy gel. It didn’t seem to give me much of an energy boost as getting to mile 12 was my slowest mile. At this point it was just a matter of sticking with it. I knew that unless I stopped and walked I was on course for a PB, so it really was a matter of just putting one foot in front of the other, and repeating the whole “pain is temporary” mantra until the end of the race.
The last 3 miles felt harder than the previous 10, but passing the 13 mile marker does give you a bit of a boost and I tried to finish as strong as I possibly could. Though looking at the video I think I could have shaved another couple of seconds off as I seemed to slow down at right the line.
I was well and truly knackered at the finish and crossed the line with an official chip time of 1.46.53. This is a new PB so I’m pretty happy with it and I still think I can improve on this. The last few miles on this really done me in though. I think the incline together with the unseasonably warm weather done it for me. Not to mention the rather large blister!
All in all though this was a good event for me. It was the first event I’d raced in my North West Cancer Research vest. I think the event was really well marshalled with some excellent encouragement around the finish areas and at the water stations. You also got a nice medal and some nice sourdough crumpets from the race sponsor. The things I didn’t really like were the setting/first few miles around the industrial estate, the facilities at the start were not brilliant, and of course the massive blister that I got. I’m not sure what to do about this not after working my way through three pairs of trainers. Next stop is a podiatrist I think.
Anyways, that’s me done till next week and another busy race weekend.
Peace and Love.
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