A nice trip

Due to the overwhelming public interest in the results of my run in Liverpool yesterday, I’ve decided to post a brief update here. Basically, I think I did OK – I’m not sure exactly what my time was, but I’d be surprised if it was less than 1:45. That’s over two minutes slower than when I ran the same distance in Liverpool late last year. The main reason behind this is that I haven’t trained nearly as well for this race as for previous races; weather and work have conspired such that I’ve only been running 10km once a week for the past few months (if that). Normally I’d want to run at least twice or three times this distance every week, especially for a half-marathon. There are other reasons, which I will get into shortly.

The organisers have made huge changes to the Liverpool half-marathon since October. The entire route has changed so that it starts in Sefton Park, winds around for a few miles and then goes down the hill towards the waterfront and then loops back again. In other words, no running along picturesque dual carriageways any more. They didn’t allow parking at Sefton Park and so everyone had to take a bus from Albert Dock. Despite several thousand runners, this worked incredibly well and the queues were essentially non-existent. In fact, all aspects of the organisation were very impressive and a vast improvement on last year.

The weather was reasonably good at the start of the race; occasionally sunny with little wind, maybe 5 or 6C. I had a slow start since I had to wind a torturous route through lots of slower runners (very fun, but time consuming) and then got into a nice rhythm of perhaps 7.8mph. Apart from a downhill stretch, I either maintained or increased this speed for perhaps the first nine miles. Actually, I really enjoyed the time between the three mile and nine mile mark; I felt very comfortable and managed to overtake a bunch of people.

Unfortunately, there was an uphill section for maybe half a mile at the nine mile mark. This killed off a lot of people but I was determined to get it over with and I made decent progress. The problem was that this sapped my energy a fair bit so that at the ten mile mark I was beginning to flag. At around eleven miles, the organisers played a cruel trick wherein we actually ran past and away from the finish line. Psychologically, this was a blow since you feel like you’re just treading water until you get to the end. I’d slowed down to a dismal 7mph speed by this point and was feeling incredibly hungry when I tripped over something and went flying. It wasn’t my laces and it wasn’t the kerb. I’m not entirely sure what it was, maybe a branch or something. In any case I banged my knee and arm fairly hard. After checking for about a second that I hadn’t seriously damaged anything, I picked myself up and started jogging along.

The nearby runners were very helpful and asked whether I was OK, which I was for the most part, except for having a sore leg and feeling pretty winded. I slowed down even further to maybe 6.5mph and didn’t feel particularly happy until the twelve mile mark when I decided that I should stop feeling sorry for myself and just get on with it. This, combined with the soft strains of ‘Danger Zone’ from the Top Gun soundtrack, managed to keep me from being overtaken any more, and soon enough I was at the end.

I definitely felt in worse shape after this race than the last one. Part of this was due to the fall, no doubt, but I just wasn’t as fit as before. As soon as I received my race bag, I guzzled down a free bottle of Lucozade, which tasted almost sickeningly sweet. I can’t imagine how anyone could drink it without actually exercising. Anyway, I was so hungry I didn’t care and I even ate the cheese flavoured oatcakes in the race bag, which under normal circumstances I’d probably have set on fire and thrown into the sea, rather than contemplate eating.

Despite the slow time, I’m not that disappointed. I didn’t expect to improve on my time from last year given my lack of real training and the new route or my fall didn’t help matters. As for the iPod, it’s hard to tell if it made a big difference but I suspect that it kept me from running any slower. I’ll post my final time here when I receive it.

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