Well, here we are in the middle of June and I am lining up on a warm summer's evening at the start of the Lisburn Half Marathon. This maybe my first Lisburn Half but I'm familar with the event as in the previous 3 years I had run the 10k. It's a popular event combining the Half, 10k and a Fun Run however organisation stills leaves a little to be desired. Despite major backing from Coca Cola and the local Council, the start area is a shambles. You are crammed into a narrow lane such that you have to push past the elite runners to get a decent spot plus there are usually a few stray 10k entrants and Fun Runners in the mix and don't get me started on supporters with buggies who crowd round the start mat!!
What of the Half itself? The start may have been at 6.50pm but it was warm sunny evening with only a slight breeze. This could be a tough Half and plenty of fellow runners had said that the course gets quite hilly past half way. I had trained well, I had my water bottle,jelly beans and emergency gels and already had 2 sub 1-50 Half's in the bag, so was reasonably confident.
The gun sounded and a minute later, I heard the beep of my chip as I crossed the start mat. I knew what to expect over the first 5 miles as this was the same route for the 10k. I set off at a steady pace gradually making my through the pack, taking regular sips of water as the heat started taking effect. 40 mins in and we were heading away from Lisburn on a steady climb up a dual carriageway. This is where I spotted an Eddie Stobart, however I couldn't note down it's number or name, silly me I wasn't carrying a note pad and pencil!!
Onwards to half way and I clocked around 55 mins so I was on schedule for around 1-50. From the dual carriageway, it was country roads for the next 5 miles or so,which meant running alongside hedges and trees, so there was a little shade which by this point was very welcome. The route became a little hillier and support on the side of the road had dwindled to a couple of OAP's and a dog. My water bottle was emptying at a fair rate and jelly beans were being consumed every mile or so. My i-pod was keeping me going, "Chariots of Fire" theme, "Don't Stop Believin'" and a bit of Cult and Iron Maiden. With a couple of miles to go, the beauty of the countryside was replaced with a miserable looking industrial estate. Get through here I thought and you've only a mile to go. At mile 12, I knew I could get another sub 1-50 time, there's a slight incline towards the finish but I pushed on and as turned back to the leisure centre, the crowds were cheering, the crash barriers leading to the finish line were in sight and head down I crossed the line... I didn't see the clock so was unsure of my time but my Nike+ which is pretty accurate registered 1-49. I was very pleased, particularly as I felt this was the toughest Half that I had run.
As ever, the finish area for such a large event was a little disorganised. Willing volunteers handed me my medal and bottle of water but no sign of anything of nutritional value. A banana or fruit bar wouldn't go a miss...oh there was a stand handing out crisps. Bearing in mind Coca Cola was the main sponsor, there wasn't even free coke!
The plan now was to meet up with fellow runners from Dromore AC and swap stories. There were a few runners happy with their times but equally there were a couple of people (who will remain nameless)who were very disappointed with their races.
What did I learn? Well, certainly with the heat I should have taken on additional water and now that I know the route, I would set off a little slower and maybe pick the pace up around mile 8 or 9.
And what of my official time? Well, there was some confusion,initially the results posted gave me a time of 1-51. This was a huge disappontment but wasn't convinced it was correct as my Nike+ registered sub 1-50 and I'd heard that chip times hadn't registered for the 10k runners and the Half Marathon times were being reviewed. A week later and WOO HOO my official time was 1-49-17. Brilliant, 3 Half Marathon's in 2011 and all under 1-50.
Now to train for Cookstown Half.