With the lack of 20 mile races that are local or my complete laziness in regards to looking for them. This was as always featured, the last long run. It can go one or two ways; a perfect simulation and a practice for the final one that is coming up, or it could be a complete blow out leaving absolutely everything on the course. The aim of course is to run it smoothly and controlled enough, within myself. Allowing myself to become a ‘master’ of my pace, in complete control. In control enough so that when I finish I can turn round and say, go on then. Give me some more! It’s not about time, it’s not about position. It’s all about control, discipline, sticking to my game plan and not getting carried away. It’s all part of the bigger picture. Can I run with my head held high?
The course for the Hull Marathon has changed through the years, it’s had city centre starts, stadium starts; now it has the humber bridge start. The lonely bridge and the only hill on the course! We had stayed over in the a premier inn not too far from the start, it made the journey to the line a little easier, only being a 10 minute walk. Nice warm up! Food last night was convenient enough as well, being at the Brewers Fayre next door. Probably made the mistake of eyes are bigger than my belly, ate a little too much! Ellie had stayed the night then was shooting off after seeing me for the start and at 4 mile, she had football at 2 o’clock. Second official game of the season for her. Even though I may not say it often, I appreciate her coming and supporting through my training and racing endeavours. It’s nice for her to be encouraging and always proud no matter what the end result. Even though I may not be proud of myself, at times! We got to the start area for around 8.15, quick trip and a queue at the toilet; just in case! Out of there and then began getting changed into some normal running attire.
Quick goodbyes and then off on my adventure. We were being walked up as a pack onto the Humber bridge start line. Thankfully we had been granted permission to run on the road on the bridge, out and back. Not using the path as we have done in previous years, but the first event of its kind to actually start on the bridge.
Chatting and glancing around, looking for familiar faces. Plenty of relay runners in and around the pack at the front. Trick is to not get carried away, especially if you see them out in front of you! Chatting at length with Jonathan Dixon a familiar face that I see at races, out and about. He was aiming for a 2:58 out on the course today, his second attempt at it. It would be interesting to see where he would land. We was now up on the bridge, clock ticking down towards 9 o’clock. The more I’ve run, the more events I’ve done. The less nervous I get, calling it a long training run helps the mind. Settles the nerves. It’s just a long run, nothing else. Take away all the palaver of the event atmosphere, it’s just like anything else. It’s running. This year events around this part of the world have been interesting, going back to my tractor fest at the East Hull 20. The windy Gilberdyke 10 a few weeks ago. The red hot Grimsby 10k in July, and the post London Marathon effort at North Lincolnshire Half. It’s flat country, a place in the world that if the sea level rises, it will flood! It’s more or less Holland, isn’t it? The 10 second countdown had begun, with the official starter an 85 year young marathoner, Bob, saying ‘GO’ accidentally on the count of 10! We were off.
Over the mats and making our way across the bridge. The highest point on the course, thankfully being out of the way at the beginning! Found myself in 4th place, being behind 2 of the 4 person relay runners and a fellow marathoner. Hesitant to set off too fast, sitting into my pace and going through the motions. Not getting caught up with it. Rather unlike me! I love a fast start.. up the bridge, over the humpback rise, hitting the 1 mile marker in 5:38. Perfect pace, ish, for where I wanted to be. Aiming to run comfortably, and that felt comfortable as we began to drop down off the bridge now to the turnaround marker. Head up, good! Looking ahead, good. Hitting the turnaround in good time, the first half of the bridge was over much quicker than I expected. Now on the way back. Climbing up onto the bridge again, it feels so sharp and looks so flat! Deceptive. I’m not segment bashing today, it’s a marathon not a sprint. I can’t sprint anyway. Seeing everyone else out on there journey, holding my head high and looking for faces. A few shout outs from the other side. Plenty of out and backs on the route today. Support for each other coming from ourselves today on the long, lonely bridge! Ticking the miles off, clocking the 3 mile marker in around 17 minutes! Not bad. Now on our way down, through the car park. On my way to where Ellie, my Dad and Mum would be standing.
Still sat in 4th Place, 2nd officially. Making our way down towards Hessle, small decline. It’s all downhill (or flat) from here on out. Fantastic! Still feeling comfortable and gentle. Not working too hard at the minute, within myself. Ideal.
In my head I had the next landmark that I knew, Costello Stadium around 6.5 mile. It had a 300 metre run around the track, including a super fast and timed 100m sprint. Can’t do that!
It was clear at this point that the lead bikers were shouting and screaming at the marshal’s, to basically do their jobs and point runners in a direction. Many of them stood in the wrong positions. At the minute, not a worry but when it comes to the city centre twists and turns, then it’s a worry! Distance wasn’t dropping between me and Josh in front, but I wasn’t gaining anything either. I was making ground up on one of the relay runners. Passing him eventually just as we approached the Costello stadium before his changeover. Using him as an early marker in these early stages of the race. Looking ahead still and head up. Into the stadium and out of it, roughly 100 metres behind the 1st place marathoner, Josh. The roads look familiar but not overly. It probably shares much of the older routes but not the same order. Kept me on my toes anyway. Feeling like nice long straights for now, the twists and turns were coming up. The second half of the race having way too many of them, a typical Hull city centre race! We was on our way to the next landmark, the KCOM stadium and West Park. The start of the race last year, in my head I wasn’t looking forward to it. 23 turns on a count of the map in a 2.5 mile section. A momentum killer and a potential hiccup for the event where we could go wrong, corner cut or get sent the wrong way by marshal’s. Ellie had set off home by this point but Dad and Mum were going to try and make it to the KCOM stadium. I was still in 2nd place in the marathon, I’d passed all the relay runners by now. Chasing down the lead bikes, lead runner and keeping my flow. Feeling comfortable. Twisting, snaking our way around the park. Spotting my Dad and Mum on the entrance. Didn’t feel like there had been any hiccups so far, I was unaware of the mile markers and where they had fallen in relation to where my watch was telling me where I was. We’ll find out at the end. Watch is set to show me my 400m splits, as per usual! Head is still up though. Couple of underpasses and bridges. Lots of members of the public out and about in the park. Supporting nonetheless. We was in and out of the KCOM and West park quickly and back on the straighter roads. For now anyway, making our way towards the half way marker. Also the second relay changeover point. Pace felt steady, began to switch off from that and not really pay attention to it. Focussing mainly on comfort. I had begun to make ground on Josh who was out in front of me. Watching buses, cars and pedestrians step out in front of him. As well as me in the process. Josh ran the race last year, finishing 3rd place in 2:38 ish. So he has class and is capable of fast times. His marathon PB is 2:22, much faster than my 2:26.. slowly but surely, I’ll get there! One of the lead bikes had dropped back and operated as a guide, punching my way through walking pedestrians out on the footpath alongside the estuary. Next landmark on the route now being the city centre maze. A potential nightmare…
The lead bikes had begun to take over, I had now made my way in front of Josh around mile 15. Around the marina, towards the deep and into the city. The bikers screaming at marshals to stand in a more prominent position in the road, advising them to use their hi viz. Through the narrow streets we go. Tough going and plenty of cobbles! An easy way though to tick off some miles and distract runners from the actual running. Plenty of pedestrians unaware, tourists taking photos in front of the minster. An out and back thrown in for good measure. Then back towards the deep, glancing through the gaps in the buildings seeing other runners on the route as well! Plenty of the route shared with the 10k course that I ran a few years ago. We was now on our way to the Siemans Sculture trail. A larger out and back section, that when we got there; was actually quite narrow, I wouldn’t have liked to have been a runner in the pack, navigating this section. More importantly this is mile 20. That iconic moment in that all runners complain about. This was the last relay changeover point as well. Making good ground, in full flow. Seeing the water station, running to grab a drink and continuing to follow the bike. Marshal’s had completely forgot to tell us where to go. The water station placed at the wrong side of the roundabout… we had carried on towards the road. Momentarily, stopping in our tracks. Realising our error and making our way back towards the trail. The lead biker giving them an earful. Now on the trail, trying to find my gear again, it had been broken up, briefly. In truth I struggled to kick after that. Which is annoying. Head was still up and being held high. Gagging for the turnaround however. Having studied the map a little last night, I knew we were turning around a monument known as The Sheepshank. Looking for that, expecting it to be sharp, the two cyclists guiding the way. One rode ahead, stopped at the turn and there wasn’t anyone there to guide the runners. Safe to say, he was fuming. One of them stayed and me and the other cyclist carried on. We saw the marshal’s walking back up towards the turn, dragging their cones. Hopefully they made it. On the path, seeing the other runners, on their way to the turn. Mile 21 down. In the enchanted zone. I was dreading the run and the run around east park. After mile 22, I had said to myself that I would back off the pace. Just so I didn’t explode absolutely everything on the course, treating the last 4 mile as a bit of a cool down. I pushed it a little bit until mile 22, with that in mind. Then I backed off, settled down and coasted towards the line. Knowing we had a 2 mile venture around East Park towards the finish. That again I wasn’t looking forward to. The miles became slower, controllably slower. They became then a battle of the mind, trying to remain focussed and in charge of my body. Not wanting to go too fast. Seeing the sign for James Reckitt Avenue, the place me and Ellie had gone for the number yesterday. Think it is named after my brother James, all he does is Wreck it anyway!
Then knowing we was close to the park. Couple of mile to go, entering the busy park and started navigating our way around the place.
Good job I had the cyclist in front of me, largely there wasn’t any marshal’s for the first few bits. Crossing a bridge, running to a lamppost and turning. I’d be curious to see if anyone behind me, knew to cross that bridge and run to that particular lamppost… hoping that the course wouldn’t measure short or long. I had a feeling that it would for some reason. Glanced at the watch and listening the hustle and bustle of the finish line.
The watch beeped. 26 mile, the line looked close but not too close. It beeped for 26.25. That’s enough.
The line got closer and closer and then eventually I crossed it.
Got my medal, legs felt alright, got my t shirt. Then went for a lay down in the shade, plenty of food down me. Plenty of drinks, something that people neglect. A need to replace the calories lost. Filling my face with a pack lunch I had packed the day before.
Going to get changed and then hanging around for the presentation, thankfully the rain had held off. I rang Ellie, she hadn’t quite set off to the game just yet. Telling her about the race and chatting briefly before letting her set off. Introduced my folks to the idea of an iced latte. It’s better than that garlic bread that Peter Kay raves about!
Then we headed home, a walk around the corner apparently to the Wickes car park that my dad had abandoned the car in. The company he works for, he did remain loyal to the brand, honest!
Eventually we made it and then we was on our journey home.
Got home and rang Ellie again, a successful day for her in her chosen sport as well, managing to bag 4 goals in a 10-2 win for Barnsley against Burnley. It was fantastic to have her at the start of the race today. You just can’t get away from sport, and I love it! Back on the horse tomorrow for me, now less than 4 weeks out. My last long run is done, at The Hull Marathon. I’m sure I’ll be back in 2020, I just can’t keep away. A point to point race, can be a logistical nightmare, on the face of it, it’s looked organised with a few things needing to be airbrushes. But it wouldn’t be event organisation, if everything was perfect. Hats off to the marshal’s and volunteers out there, doing their best.
Just Keep Running!