Any memory of this race has got to include the word, cold. It’s always freezing, wet and windy. It’s February after all. Conditions are never favourable, all they do is compliment the challenging climbs and steeper descents. This year though, this year is different; it is unusually warm. Waking up and it being 10 degrees outside and increasing, maybe, just maybe; I might actually enjoy the Liversedge Half Marathon. I’ve attended this race in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Choosing to skip the 2018 event and opt for Wombwell 5 instead, despite having a number. Although feeling rough on the day due to my 2018 chest infection! My times at Liversedge have fallen through the years from 1:28:30 in 2014; 1:24:33 in 2015; 1:23:27 in 2016; 1:19:13 in 2017. My time in 2014 was an actual PB at the time, despite Liversedge not actually being a PB course and it chucking it down on the day!
See if you can guess what year is which?
Although I claim not to enjoy the Liversedge Half Marathon, as a runner you just can’t help yourself to go back, again and again. Looking to see you’ve improved on the year before. The challenge is great, it’s right in the middle of marathon training and if you can clock what you think is a target for the marathon on these hills, then it should fill you in good confidence that you’re doing something right!
The week in build up anyway, hasn’t been easy; mileage as usual is on the increase and pace is ever so slowly becoming accustomed to it. I’m feeling fit and starting to feel ever so slightly more fresh as the days go by. With Parkrun cancelled last weekend and no scheduled race, it meant that recovery really was optimised and nothing at ‘race pace’ was completed. I woke up early on Saturday for parkrun, feeling pretty good and was adamant that I was going to go for it! Aiming to pace or try to pace a 5:20 minute lap, what we feel is needed for sub 16 pace; with it being 3 laps. I knew I wouldn’t get sub 16, but if I could get as close to 5:20 for my first lap, I’d have a better chance of a PB as well. I set off quick and felt confident and fresh, although I did do a 4 mile progressive warm up! Holding on and determined not to ‘die’ on the hill from the car park up to the bandstand, trying not to lose pace on the steepest gradient on the course. As it then rolls up, up and up to the Locke Park Tower. I held my first lap out and clocked a 5:28 for my lap as I ran past the finish line and got my call from the watch. My PB at Barnsley is 16:41 set in January, only scraping a second off of the previous PB. Again starting my 2nd lap, focusing on not loosing any time on that beast of a climb! Holding on and clocking 10:55 as a ran past the finish line. Giving me some time in hand for my 3rd and final challenging lap. I gave a short sharp sprint as I dashed up towards the Apostle’s or also known as ‘Where Geoff Stands.’ Again, determined not to loose time on the climb, as I struggled my way up there. Feeling a little bit slower then I was before. I managed to hold on and get around the course in 16:28.
Feeling happy with that! Although I may not look it, knowing deep down inside that I will pay for it tomorrow on the climbs at Liversedge!
Worked the game on Saturday, went for a run on Saturday evening to shake out the sitting down in the stands at Oakwell. Checked a previous blog of mine to give me a better idea of an arrival time for a car park spot at Liversedge, they do come in handy! Set off around 9 o’clock that year and it worked, so I did the same again. Got there around 9.35; 10 minutes earlier. Must’ve been less traffic or something like that. Set off to the ‘Race HQ’ for my number; spotting David Needham and Keith Gordon. The travelling Penistone contingent! A small chat as I carried on my journey. Entering the clubhouse and seeing Spen Shirts galour; collecting my number and visited the posh toilets; I’d go to the ‘Basic’ urinal later. It was literally a pipe, plumbed into the drain against the outside wall. Class! Went for a 5k warm up, sandwiching the Half Marathon into a 20 mile run was the plan. No real aim for the half, just going to run it and get round. Hip Flexors= tight. Hamstrings= tight. Calves= tight! All the usual. Number on the vest, vest on. Made my way up to ‘The Commonside,’ finding the start line and finish line on there. Spotting Joe Sagar congratulating him on his performance at the Dewsbury 10k before toeing the line. Also spotting Jason Cherriman in attendance, a class runner, who has represented England for the marathon distance! Clock watching, waiting for the strike of 11:00:00 before we are off.
Fast downhill start here and before I knew it, I was at the bottom. Clocking 4:50 for my first mile; with Joe Sagar pulling away and me sitting in 2nd place. Then we begin our 5k climb, up, up, up. Knowing from my previous races here that it finishes just after we cross the M62. Waiting and counting down the steps until then. I slowed a little as anticipated and knew I had to take the 1st half of the race easy, as the second half is much tougher, in my opinion! With a cheeky uphill finish. Feeling a little comfortable on the climb, just sitting in and getting myself safely and confidently to the top.
Glancing around me, looking across to Cleckheaton. Recognising areas from my previous attempts. Passing the time and getting through it. It worked well and got me across the M62 then we flew down the other side to Bailiff Bridge. Still feeling like I was taking it easy and glancing around me, as we go down everything we’ve just run up. What a waste! On the bottom of the drop, there is a nice flat section before we go up and over again. Jason Cherriman caught me at the bottom of the descent. I gave a kick and started working on the flat easy section. 36:23 for the first 6.5 mile. Not bad. Reaching the end of the flat and the only flat in the whole race, turning left and seeing the familiar looking Ford Crossing.
Made the sharp turn and very nearly ran across the Ford. As I stumbled and jumped up onto the adjacent bridge crossing. The second half of the race had now begun, we was at our lowest point with only climbing left to go. Climbing away from Brighouse is slow and steady, with parts that is an on your toes job. We wind our way up the climb hitting the small built up areas with houses and cars. Not much really to look out for with all the tree coverage in this part, head down and just get through it. Glancing now and then through the gaps in the trees. Momentarily thinking I’d taken a wrong turn, only to be met with a caution runners sign, reinforcing I’m on the right route. Eventually reaching what feels like the top and crossing the main road, the main road that we will eventually follow up towards the M62 bridge that we previously ran across. We take a small detour into the side roads, winding around the estate; in what I can only call a make sure we hit the desired mileage loop. Finding a drink station ‘en route.’ A quick splash of my face and then we was out the estate and back onto the main road; looking ahead and seeing what I always remember about this race. The route drifts down, only to climb back up in what feels like a climb that goes on for miles. A climb that you run but just never get closer to finishing, until of course, you actually do finish it.
It’s not nice and it not pleasant, as the cars come whizzing past you. Looking ahead and seeing the distance Joe had put between me and him, made the race his at this point. I never glanced behind to see if Jason was on my shoulder, I just knew he wasn’t too far off from the pauses in the spectators clapping as we went on by. Working up the climb, knowing that when we get to the top, the M62 bridge is there and it should in theory be all downhill from there. Digging in and letting the traffic fly by. The 1.2 mile section felt like my longest ever; in hindsight having checked it on Strava, it only actually took me 7 minute and 5 seconds. Getting to the top and my work was done, now time to enjoy my journey back home and we run on bits of the routes we’ve just endured, before veering off. On our way back down to Roberttown, seeing the familiar looking church knowing my journey is near enough done.
A bit of relief for a small second as we go down a bit of road; sweeping around before eventually climbing back up about half a mile from the finish. For the long finish line drag, at least you can’t actually see the line in the distance here, making it less painful!
A small glance at my watch let me know, that it was in my hands whether I’d break the 75 barrier here. Not a real target before, but it’d be nice wouldn’t it? Didn’t need to dig deep, just needed to hold my pace. No sprint finishes today! Making the left turn onto the Commonside again. Seeing the line now and crossing it for a:
2nd place; a time I am pleased with, given it is my 4th fastest half marathon to date, on a course that is nowhere near a PB course! A course PB by something like 5 minutes, although it has been 2 years since I last ran here. However it definitely is food for thought and something to take away from it!
It definitely helps give me that sense of belief that when you set your mind to do something, you can get yourself out there and do it. Whether it be my 5k parkrun on the Saturday or completing a Half Marathon on the Sunday. Just got the work to do now before the Marathons kick in, in April.
Thank you to the photographers out and about on the route, amazing that they’re all accessible on the Yorkshire Runners Photos group on facebook. Thanks to Phillip Bland and Dave Woodhead in particular for the snaps.
Miles Make Champions, don’t they?
Just Keep Running!