Voted one of the top 5 most scenic half marathons in the UK by Runners World and with a start and finish in the shadows of the majestic Conwy Castle it was certainly one I was looking forward to.
I had decided to enter the race at the last-minute after a club training run a couple of weeks ago. After 2 half marathons in a week followed by a 10k and several 5k races, another half marathon race was the last thing I had planned on doing but as usual my competitive streak got the better of me and reason and common sense went out of the window!
Coming into the race I wasn’t exactly in peak condition. Minor niggles were proving an irritant and I hadn’t trained for the distance because of the late entry. Add that to the fact that my overeating was starting to catch up with me and it wasn’t exactly a recipe for a PB but regardless that was the target and sub 1.36 was where I wanted to be. Psychologically I felt strong, if not physically and I hoped that would be enough to pull me through.
I decided to make a weekend of it in Llandudno and was joined by my eldest boy Thomas, Mum and Dad while my poor, exhausted wife had to stay home and look after my youngest son Aaron (Llandudno isn’t ready for him yet!!)
So to the race….
A dry mouth caused by insufficient water intake due to problems with parking and a rush to the start (luckily Dawn and Steve came to my aid with a much-needed slug of water) left me a little worried about dehydration on the start line.
A congested start area on the Quayside meant that a little jostling needed to be done over the first half mile to find some space. Chip timing was on offer so there was no issue there but (minor running etiquette gripe alert!!) I do wish that runners who know they are going to run a slower pace would line up further back to avoid the dancing round runners that invariably has to be done at the start. Don’t mean to offend anyone but common sense should prevail and I certainly wouldn’t start with the sub 5 and 6 min mile guys at the front and impede them as they set on their way. Pacing flags at the start similar to the ones used in the London marathon might help.
The field started to string out as we headed alongside Conwy River towards Deganwy Beach and the West Shore of Llandudno. You could taste the salty air and after an ill-advised cooked breakfast with salty bacon that wasn’t particularly welcome.
The plan (if you could call it that) was to push hard over the first 5 miles to try to put some distance between me, Steve and Kev, who I knew would both be the main competition for the first finishing Biddulph runner. I’m quite strong on the climbs so knew if I had a decent lead at this point then I would hopefully be able to push on up the Orme and hang on in the second half of the race to come in first from the BRC runners.
The first 5 miles from a pacing perspective were too fast and the plan didn’t work because Steve was right on my shoulder and Kev was only a hundred metres back when we got to the Orme. A high 5 from my boy Thomas gave me a much-needed energy boost before the steady climb of 2 miles to the summit which was actually my favourite part of the race. I knew I would be strong and managed to put a little more distance between the guys and myself. At the summit I wasn’t looking forward to the long run down, the stress on your quads shouldn’t be underestimated and I could never shake off the fact that I knew Steve and Kev weren’t too far behind me and I was tiring badly, totally unlike the Congleton Half where I felt stronger as the race went on.
Steve passed me on the run down at about the 8 mile point and he steadily edged away over the last 5 miles. My quads were shot on the way down towards West Shore and I knew the run back in to Conwy was going to be hard. I fully expected Kev to pass me at any point from 10 miles onwards and he duly obliged at 11 miles and I just couldn’t respond and he looked strong on the way in. The last mile is usually where I like to push hard but I had nothing left in the tank and towards the end I was looking over my shoulder for Nigel. It felt like I was running in treacle for that last few miles and I was just glad to get it over and done with in 1.38.24, still my second best half marathon time but I know I should have been nearer 1.35 if I had run a smarter race.
No more races for me now in 2012 apart from the Hanley Park run but I will be working on my pacing. At the moment I lack the confidence to go out steady and maintain an even pace throughout and I fear no further improvements will be made until I get this sorted. Sheer pig-headed will can only get you so far and if I want to run sub 1.35 over the distance, work needs to be done.
A big well done too to the other Biddulph Club Runners, a brilliant turnout and the level of competition is great at all levels. That can only help us all become better runners which at the end of the day is why we all do it. That’s mirrored with PB’s for Dawn and Nigel and excellent first runs over the distance for Karen and Janet plus a brilliant 2nd placed age group finish for Pat.
PS – Steve and Kev I will get you next time 😉
Splits below which highlight my pacing problems.
|Split||Time||Distance||Elevation Gain||Elevation Loss||Avg Pace||Calories|