Monday, 21 January 2013


Walking from the bathroom back to the bed at 2.a.m. this Sunday morning I stopped to look out of the window. Snow still covered the cars  and the steep road we live overlooking Wharfedale. Great for sledging.
 Back in bed I lay awake and a whole stream of negative thoughts flooded my mind about today's race, the INSKIP HALF MARATHON. It would mean getting up at 6.45 a.m., getting to the race might be problematic with ice on the roads on the 90 minute journey, the fact that I'd hadn't race a half for nearly 3 years,  I would be 30 minutes off my best. 
  So what's the point?, The zero temperature due to the stiff north easterly would no doubt play havoc with the breathing.
  Simplier to not bother and I suspect that's what 20% of those entered   decided to do!  the entry limit was 400 and only 316 finished.
I'd gone back to sleep before any positive thoughts kicked in and before I knew it, it was time to get up, pack a bag and go!   But not before checking emails for any last minute notice of cancellation from race organiser, Alan Taylor of Wesham Road Runners.  No message. So off we went.
   The further west we went on the journey so less snow we saw on the fields and even the country lanes approaching the venue at HMS INSKIP , just north of Preston  were well clear of snow and ice. So we would be good to go.   But from the car we couldn't detect the outside!
  Knowing I would be out in it for the best part of 1.40 I opted for hat , gloves, longsleeve,  club vest,  capris(?) and compression socks.  But many seemed to be sticking for full length tights and jackets as they would for a training run.  Except for the "fast" boys of course who many of whom were toughing it out in vests and shorts as if it was July!

 Rightly or not I tend nowadays to look at prediction times for races. I'm hardly likely to suddenly pull a vast improvement out of the bag as an emerging runner might do. So based on the GUYS 10 time of  71.52  the chart I should be looking at 97.50 or thereabouts.  7.28 mileing.  Could take some doing I thought!
 Stupidly I failed to "locate satellite" on the old Garmin before the gun went and so I lost my "crutch" to guide me threw the first 3 miles but I could clearly see that my young friend, JAYNE PERRY, from Lancaster who had finished just behind me at GUYS was already way down the road. 
   Once again I'd set off too slowly. I'll blame the lack of a decent warm up!    
 I set the Garmin at the 3 mile point  and said to the group I was with, 
  "OK, let's go get them!  An intention I just hoped I would be able to fulfill.
 I caught Jayne at the 4 mile point and as I suspected after her initial surge she was having to tough it out having run another half in the same area just two weeks before.   But still she responded well  and shoulder to shoulder 
we continued to overtake  through the country lanes. 
 At the 8 mile point I asked her how she was feeling. She replied that she was finding it tough and having to work hard. I reminded her that was why she had a number on her vest. She was in a race and giving it her all. 
  The lanes were completely free of snow except for one 1/4 mile stretch between 8 and 9 but would have only add a few seconds to that mile.  A tractor blocks the lane in front of us ; it's load at a precarious angle lodged in the drainage ditch. The driver is on his phone, calling for help.  We slide through and "plough" on. Deliberate pun!
  Splits from 3 to 11 had been 
                7.33     7.29    7.22    7.32    7.23    7.34    7.29    7.36.

As we turned a corner at 11 we could see the field tall communication masts in the distance and  the sight of them sparked a late surge with  the last time mile in 7.20 and 7.14.  Jayne  had stuck to her task was still in  the slip stream, finishing just a few seconds behind.  Slower than the one a fortnight ago but a good solid run, another building block for a spring marathon. Well done Jayne.
 Final time was 98.37. It WAS 30 minutes plus slower than my PB. and a tad slower tha predicted.
But heck, it was my 103rd and at 64 I 'll take that.  BUT clearly those first 3 miles must have been too slow and instead of thinking that that will be it for half marathon running for this 64 year old, I'm left with the strong feeling that all things considered I could improve on the INSKIP time.

 ALAN TAYLOR and his team are to be congratulated on the organisation of the event ; excellent in all aspects.  Parking, mobile toilets,  marshalling (hope they've all thawed out), goody bag (medal, water, chocolate and a Thinsulate beanie) and after race food included for probably a third of the Great north run price at just £14.
 Blackpool based STUART ROBINSON (Salford Harriers) won the race in 68.25 with MARIA KELLY (Penny Lane) first lady in 89.10. 
 It would have been so easy to give in to those overnight negative thoughts and not bother running the event. Particularly as I was likely to record my slowest ever half marathon time.
.  But I'm  glad I went and whilst the conditions were less than perfect I did learn that   I can  race 13.1 miles at not just a consistent pace but accelerating towards the end. Not just getting around.  I have something to build on.  
 I don't think for one minute that I was 100% ready and it was tough but I survived.   So many very able runners shy away from racing until they feel they are 100% ready because it is races do hurt and are tough.  But if we never bite the bullet and test ourselves we never learn just how ready or not we are, do we?  If YOU haven't raced for a while you know what they say..JUST DO IT!
 All in all a good solid start to my 2013 race campaign.  Now what's next?


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