Sunday, 6 January 2013

Supermarket Sweep

The Central Lancashire Half Marathon is a great run to start the year with. I have done it for the past 3 years.......though admittedly the first time I did it, it was delayed until March due to ice and snow!

Race Route

It's a good fast course if conditions are favourable as it fairly flat, though there are some inclines due to the road crossing the motorway on 4 occasions......and a cheeky sharp humpbacked bridge to finish off tired legs in the last half mile of the race.
I was hoping for a good solid run to see where my fitness was at, but I really had my doubts as I drove up from Manchester through thick fog - the visibility got down to about 30m on the motorway - but luckily it cleared before the 10am race start. Paul Carroll (from Clydesdale Harriers) and I went for a warm-up jog and debated our prospective race positions. He had beaten me in the 2011 race, but I'd pipped him last year, so today was anyone's race. We both hoped that feeling tired and sluggish in the warm-up would lead to a good race, but weren't too confident as we took our places on the start-line.
The race had sold out in early December and the field seemed much larger than usual, so I had to concentrate in order not to get dragged out too fast. The field stretched out straight away as the race winner disappeared off ahead, and I gradually moved up places over the first few miles. It was quite flattering when the "lead lady's cyclist" caught up with us saying he'd had to chase me down! I felt quite comfortable running along and, as the conditions were favourable, suddenly found myself in 2nd position overall after 4 miles. I wondered how long it would take before all the men shot past me, but didn't expect it to be natural obstacles that caused the biggest upset to my run!

After the finish!
The race is all on open roads, so we made sure we kept as tight as we could to the left-hand side of the road, but after about 9.5miles, there was a 90 degree right-hand turn at a t-junction onto a main road. My cyclist told me to keep to the right-hand side to avoid crossing over directly in front of an oncoming van, but the main problem soon became apparent. Behind the van were 4 goats running towards me in the road. The cyclist said he would deal with them, so I could just ignore it and get on with the race, but the goats had other ideas. As he tried to head them over to the left away from me, the goats wheeled around and headed straight across in front of me. I had to significantly shorten my stride and shout at them in order to get past without running into them, but then they started chasing me......and one even headbutted my back leg. I didn't realise how much such an interruption would affect me, but I found it hard to get back into my rhythm for the next mile and started to struggle. Paul shot past me at the 11mile mark, looking as strong as if he was running a 10K, but I tried to ignore that and focus on finishing my own run. I had wanted a strong run, but at this point I thought that as long as I could keep my legs turning over well, then I'd be close to my PB.

In the last halfmile there is a steep sharp humpbacked bridge over the canal, but as I knew the finish was close, I unconsciously relaxed. Unfortunately this meant that my stomach muscles started to spasm, and so I was unable to push at all in the last 200m as I thought I was going to end up depositing my breakfast in a hedge. It's never nice to be overtaken at the death of a race, but there was nothing I could do, and I later apologised to both the man that sprinted past me, and to my cyclist for my dry retching.

I got the shock of my life looking up at the clock over the entrance to the carpark (though it did turn out that we had to run down the length of the carpark to the hall to finish) as it turned out that I'd taken over 20seconds off my PB!!

Kitchen appliance anyone?
Paul and I ran back down the course to cheer his clubmates in and reflected that we were spot-on in saying that a rubbish warm-up DID indeed foretell of a good race, and what a great start to the year it was for both of us (with new PBs)....and I congratulated him on the well-deserved victory over me! 

OK, OK so it's not quite Supermarket Sweep, but the prizes for the race have always caused amusement back at my they seem to be trying to stock up my kitchen. In the past 3 years, I've won a mini-cooker, a sandwich toaster and an electric mini-chopper.......and this year I added a handblender to the collection.........smoothies anyone???

1 comment:

  1. Well done Jo, it must be nice to get Christmas presents from Dale Winton.