Monday, August 26, 2013

Summer Half Marathons Part 1

One thing that I have learnt over this very warm summer is that half marathons and hot weather don't mix!
Back in March, I was due to run Larne Half Marathon but because of major snow storms here in Northern Ireland the race was cancelled and rearranged for June 8th. The weather in the week leading up to the race had been warm and sunny which didn't bode well as this was not ideal for a long-distance race. The one hope was that as the majority of the course was on the coast, there would hopefully be a nice cool breeze coming in off the sea.
Come race day, the weather remained dry and warm and there was very little breeze. Even as I warmed up at 10.30am, the sweat was pouring off me and any thought of a PB went straight to the back of my mind. This was going to be a race which as long as I enjoyed it and ran well, I would be happy with. I wanted to line up with the 1:45 pacer but the start area was very congested and I couldn't cope with the heat, so I started off at the back where I could stay relaxed and focussed.
11am and we were off and even after a couple of miles the heat was beginning to sap my energy levels. Trying to run under 8:00 min mile pace wasn't going to happen today so I steadied myself and hit a steady rhythm around mile 4, knowing the steep climb wasn't far away. I was happy to reach half-way in around 54 minutes but knew that the hill was going to be a killer particularly as the majority of us were having to face it at midday when the sun was at it's hottest. Usually, the hill poses no problem for me but it was tough going and my one saving grace was it was the same for everyone. Coming back down the hill, the views with the sea in the distance were amazing and they took my mind off how tired I was.
Back on the coast road, the good weather had brought the crowds out and they were a real help as the miles ticked by, some had even set up set up sprinkler systems outside their houses to bring a bit of welcome relief to the runners. I was even resorting to taking cups of water and just throwing the contents over my head. With a few miles to go, I was passing one or two runners and maintaining my pace but I knew there wasn't going to be any last minute surge as there was at Newry.

A couple of miles to go and the pain is beginning to show!! I'm on the left...
As you hit the promenade, you can see the finishing arch in the distance, but there's still half a mile to go. I tried to increase my pace but my legs were screaming "NO" but it was now a case of mind over matter and I pushed on and crossed the line in 1:48 which I was amazed with as I thought I would be lucky to get under 1:50. My official chip time though came in at 1:46:32 which was only 9 seconds slower than 2012. In light of the conditions, I was really pleased with this and probably on another day in cooler conditions, I would have got a sub 1:45 time? Let's hope in 2014, it's run in March and maybe the rain will pour and the temperature will be 10 degrees cooler!!

Here I am crossing the line...I think my face says it all!!
Thanks to NI Running for the photos (