So after a couple of years of thrashing out the 10ks left, right and centre, at the end of last year I decided to up the game and get back into the longer distances that were part of my staple diet back in the day when music was better.
The obvious choice was the Southport half. It’s a flat course with a reputation for PBs. The route takes the runners through Victoria park, down the coast road, around the marina lake a bit, then back into Victoria Park. I know the area well, so there were going to be no surprises hidden around the corners.
I started the training early in the year in order to ease myself into a higher weekly average. I was very comfortably up to distance by the beginning of April. Using a combination of the bike and running, not over doing anything. This kept all injuries at bay. Confident that I wasn’t going to make a fool of myself, things were looking good.
The race was at the beginning of July. Right smack in the middle of the heat wave (or, summer, as we called it as kids). I’d completed a few 15 mile runs in the heat and didn’t like it…….. Well I had no choice but to just attack the road and let the training to the work. Race day was a clear blue sky with no wind. At 10 am it was already up to the mid 20s and very very humid. The pollen count was also stratospheric. All the key ingredients for a morning of stressful running.……. yes, I’m getting my excuses in early.
The route, as I said was totally flat. Which you’d think would be a good thing. After 7 or 8 miles though, I felt myself wanting to take on some hills. Most of my long training sessions had been on, around, up or down the hills near where I live. I can’t go more than half a mile without encountering a sheer cliff face. The course was well laid out, with plenty of water stations. As the race was sponsored by High5, there were also copious amounts of gels being given out.
As the miles dropped off I felt pretty good, I was on course for my target time of 1:45, but by mile 9 it started to get a bit unconformable. By now the heat was in the high 20s and the humidity was in the “Turkish sauna” region. Everyone seemed to drop off the pace a bit. I passed a few people who had shot passed me early in the race. It got increasingly harder in the latter stages, by mile 11 I was pretty much all done. My vest had taken issue with my nipple by this point and had decided to remove it from my chest.
I managed to produce the worse race picture ever taken of a runner (notice the red spot on my vest…).
The end could not come soon enough. The last 50 m or so had a red carpet out and the support through the park was great. A sprint finish to end with, and that was it.
My support team were on hand to nurse me to a place where I could sit down before I fell down. The younger member of the crew took up his standard role of harvesting the goody bag of anything that looked appealing while I slowly recovered. Nice medal, good T shirt, loads of freebies.
I was really impressed with the whole event. Well organised, only £20 to enter and if the temperature was a little cooler, the course defiantly will offer out some very quick PBs. Time on the line was 1:48. Bitterly disappointed to have missed the target time but it give me a reason to re-enter next year.