My main goal for Sunday was to run happy, without putting too much pressure on myself. I had a small but mighty team supporting me en route and I wanted to really enjoy the race, not hate every second trying to get a good time. That said, in true contrast one of my New Year's Runolutions was to run a half marathon under my PB of 1.45.54 and I had Wilmslow in my sights to do that there. Hmmmm a running conundrum. So can you ever run happy AND fast?
Well yes, after completing the run in 1:39:45 with a big (but knackered) smile on my face, it turns out you bloody well can!
|Miles of smiles|
So on to the race itself, it was brilliant! The sun was shining which definitely helped but the whole organisation was great. Before hand, the rugby club acted as race HQ with lots of club runners milling about, meeting up and generally chit chatting and getting excited. Tea, coffee, bacon sandwiches and pre/post race massages were all on offer as well as a bag drop and LOADS of loos. Bonus points for that, Organisers. It was a great and friendly atmosphere which continued throughout the whole race. The route was also the only race I've run which is lined with little collections of cheerful balloons and the 10.30 start also means you're not awake at horrendous o'clock to get your pre-race porridge in.
The route itself is really pretty with an out and back loop, which runs through the country roads through fields and back towards Wilmslow. At times all you could hear were the birds and the metronome tap tap tapping of runners feet. Due to the rural course, the route isn't packed with supporters, but there were little pockets full of people cheering, my favourite being the 15 or so kids at 6.5 miles cheering every single runner by name and offering plenty of high 5's! Thankfully I missed the escaped horses which apparently had to be wrangled back into their farm by marshalls, nothing like the fear of trampling to make you speed up a bit.
Like almost every race now, the Wilmslow Half claims to be a very flat course - and I would agree, although that's not to say there aren't any inclines - there definitely are. And what might be a small descent at 1-2 miles felt like quite a hard climb at 12! It was here that Jamie and Chantal had chosen to cheer, but I had no idea. Seeing them at the top of this little hill was a blessing and a curse! They'd definitely chosen one of the toughest spots but it was great to see them near the end and it gave me a huge boost when I really needed it.
I found the first half really enjoyable - it was the first race I really kept an eye on my pace at each mile. At about mile 5 I noticed I was in synch with a fellow runner and we pretty much paced each other to about 11 miles and I enjoyed it (we had a little chat at the finish line and thanked each other for the help in pacing. I bloody love running sometimes!) I was tired by this point and I knew that I could afford to slow down slightly here and still get a good time. I also hadn't learnt from my London Marathon spring clothing dilemma, and once again overdressed for a warm day. Running at that pace was a challenge for me especially in the last three miles. I knew I was on for under 1.45 but when I saw the finish line and saw that I might, just might, make it under 1.40 too I sprinted as fast as I could, and made it over the line at 1.39.45!
All in all, this is a pretty flat, well organised race with a great community feel and a lovely route. I'm looking forward to it again next year.
|PBs and Pints|