I still can’t feel my face.
An interesting race today, if you could call it that anyway. With February being the back end of winter, many race attendances are low. Fields thin and a large majority of people opting for London Marathon or spring marathons for that matter, training plan schedules instead of the actual racing. But I don’t work or neither do I improve like that. I always opt for a race, if there is one, if there isn’t, I’ll probably look further a field to find one. Sunday is race pace legs.
Today a calendar favourite; my fourth outing, The Liversedge Half Marathon. Hilly, crap weather always but a great training race. All about the strength here. It’s not the toughest half marathon out there, Buxton, Ashbourne, Eyam and Leek can all trump it in my eyes. But it has the relentless amount of climbs that you need to build strength and that mental toughness, in preparation for the spring marathon season. Although after the flat course at Dewsbury last week, anything is hilly! The weather took a break last week at Dewsbury, but has now returned back to Meltham cold for theLiversedge weekend. Thankfully no black ice, but windchill, sleet and snow.
In previous years I have run here, I’ve always remembered it to to be a cold one! Donning gloves and two t shirts in 2014.
I later bet it a month later by roughly 4 minutes at the South Yorkshire Half Marathon- in Dearne? Setting a time of 1:24:39. That was including nearly getting knocked down at the entrance to the High School at the beginning of my second lap.
I was back again at Liversedge in 2015. Having previously run 1:23:31 at Inskip, I ran a 1:24:33 at Liversedge. Then a 1:22:58 at Sleaford a week later. I was there or there abouts for shape that year. Setting a 1:22:09 PB for the year at North Lincolnshire.
Again I was back again in 2016; I ran Central Lancashire Half Marathon in January, setting my benchmark for the year at 1:23:18 on a flat course, I then ran 1:23:27 at Liversedge, on the hills! I then finally broke 1:20 at Retford a month later, setting 1:19:51. Then eventually taking my yearly PB to 1:18:21; again at North Lincolnshire.
2017; we’re here again. Having run 1:14:10 at Inskip. Eclipsing anything I have run previously, weather was ace, with a slight wind coming back to the finish. Going into the race, I felt confident of breaking 1:20 on the hills of Inskip. That’s the plan, but the challenge is to see how far I can break 1:20. In an ideal world, with good conditions I feel I was at least in 1:17:30 shape. So I set my mind on that, as my striving goal. I managed to run a 17:29 at Parkrun on Saturday despite not feeling my absolute strongest and feeling pretty slow on the climbs. So today could bring anything!
I’ve had all I can say is a shocker of a week at work. Working till 9 in the freezing cold and not getting home until 10 every night this week. I’ve been tired and grumpy, hungry and slept very little. Runs haven’t been the best, they’ve been crammed and I’ve had to run faster at times just to fit in enough miles. I reached a new high on last nights run, eyes shutting in the last mile of Saturday’s recovery miles. Crawling into bed when I finished and sleeping for an hour. Legs haven’t particularly ached, I’ve just been asleep I think when I’ve run this week. Surprisingly I’ve done my best to avoid the cold so far this winter, despite me and the girlfriend working with snotty kids.
I’ve been looking at as well this week some sort of running adventure; whether it be a coast to coast challenge or a tour of somewhere; of course, whilst running. So we’ll see where that goes, ideally I’m wanting to sort some sort of mobile home/ bed before I do anything like that. To keep costs to an absolute minimum.
Anyway onto the task in hand;
The Liversedge Half Marathon.
This is the 22nd running of the event, so the organisers are experienced, they know what to do. It’s a no fuss half marathon. It’s called the Liversedge Half- but in actual fact you start in Roberttown and finish in Roberttown, spending the first 2/3 mile running into Liversedge and back out again. It’s organised by Roberttown Road Runners as well. It’s never a busy event in the field, but it has this year sold out.
I arrived just after 9:45, the race starting at 11. Giving me plenty of time for a warm up, get my number and a quick toilet stop. Surprisingly they handed out 2 shoe tags today, maybe it’s for accuracy of time or many runners lose them on course? So I had 2 timing chips fastened to my shoes. That is a first! Number 151. A 4 mile trot around preceded the race as my ‘warm up’ but it was bloody freezing! Off to the startline I go.
A large Spen contingent today, quick hand shake with Martin Hall before the race, I saw Stephen Maddison but didn’t have time for a chat. And we was underway, no race briefing unless I missed it; just a countdown for us today.
I opted today to wear a long sleeve compression top underneath and a buff! It must’ve been cold, I very rarely wear anything other than my blue t shirt. The last time I remember doing this was potentially Liversedge 2014! I set off slow after the countdown, not dashing out of the blocks. Choosing to tuck into the pack, I was willing to let them go. The start is downhill massively before the climb.
It’s fast, if you want it to be. In hindsight probably could’ve set off faster but at the time, despite my ‘warm up’ I was still so cold! All downhill for a 5:20 mile, settling in 9th place by the end of it.
Still downhill for a bit before we’re onto the climb that ends around mile 4, as mile 2 ended onto mile 3, a tractor pulled out on me. Towing horse manure, which didn’t leave the greatest smell. I was yo-yo’ing with it for a good mile using it as a pace maker, if I could stay in front of it, I couldn’t smell it, behind it was no good! The race is all on open roads, so a majority of car users show little if at all any courtesy. 6:11/6:01/6:02 respectively for split 2/3/4. Still settled in 9th a quick check of the shoulder I couldn’t see or hear anyone. I could see a runner in front. That was about it. A lonely race. The race has a cut off time of 2 and half hours. If you think that you may take longer than that. You can speak to the organisers and they allow you to set off early, it was at this point on the downhill that we began to catch these runners who had set off early. Giving targets in a lonely run. First drinks station came at mile 4 before descending down for 5 and 6. Everything you’ve just come up and more. On the main road towards Brighouse runner in front getting closer and closer but not quite close enough. Still passing some of the early runners. Before hitting the climb again. Turn a corner and your off the main road onto the country lane again. Hit by the sight of a rushing ford, and a sharp turn onto the adjacent footbridge.
Obviously you have options but the footbridge is probably the best idea today. With the Ford looking to be primarily cobbled. All climbing now until mile 10, with a long drag on the A643 coming past Willow Valley Golf Club. Still settled in 9th place, but running at 1:20 pace despite the climbs that we were facing. I was still getting closer and closer to 8th place. Hitting the top of the A643, turning back now onto a familiar road seen earlier in the race, pretty much all downhill now, to the finish. With a small climb coming at the end. I managed to take 8th in between mile 10 and 11. Onto the roads I warmed up on, so I know these, past the garden centre and it’s a deceptive little climb to Roberttown, a van pulled in front of me turning into a side street, forcing me to a stop just before the garden centre. Angered, I soldiered on, only loosing time and nearly my life; complete disregard, to say he was driving towards me, didn’t indicate and just turned. Short sharp turn anyway, Marshall on the corner and onwards and upwards to the finish. Some picturesque fencing along the route.
Still plodding on, with no sight of 7th place and now no sound of the guy behind. Past where my car is parked, it’s always tempting when it’s that cold! I turned into the finishing straight, line in sight!
With over a 1000ft of elevation it isn’t the hardest half ever, as I previously mentioned but the conditions almost definitely made it tough today. Saying previously I felt like I was in 1:17:30 shape. But what happens on the day, happens on the day.
I bet last years time by roughly 4 minutes, setting a new course PB. Also making it my 3rd fastest Half Marathon to date. Nearly eclipsing my 2016 PB.
Splits can be found below.
I went for a 5 mile cool down where I could’ve easily lost a hand to frostbite, struggling to move my fingers. I’ll be back out later for a Sunday rules recovery run.
Wombwell 5 next weekend, a local run. All being well, I’ll be running from home to the race and back; if anyone wants to join me.
Just Keep Running!