WOW! I just took part in the Plusnet Yorkshire Half Marathon – Sheffield.
As races go – I think this might have been my favourite of all time. Not for achievement. Not for spectacular, once in a lifetime experience. But for sheer fun and atmosphere in a local event that makes you proud to have been there. The crowds were out in force and lined almost the entire length of the course. It was the kind of thing I’ve seen in countless run films, cycling races and so on, but never until now had the pleasure of taking part in. It was ace!
To recap in full then, here’s how it went. I’ll try not to waffle.
I took the unusual step of jogging into town and jogging home again with the race in-between. More on that in a minute.
I reached the city centre in my carefully chosen long sleeved top and shorts, but no baggage. I thought it’d be cool to travel light and avoid any messing about in the bag storage area. More on that in a minute.
I hurried into town, late to meet my good friend Tom, who was doing the half as a last long-ish run before the London Marathon. I reached him in time for a chat, some looking around and soaking up the city centre vibe and a few hellos to familiar faces, such as fellow Team Accelerate runner Dot Kesterton.
Tom’s bag dropped off, we waited for a last minute toilet stop and then wished each other luck, before heading into different zones according to our race numbers and expected finish times. Then stood about for a while longer. Sleeves over my hands and jigging about something crazy. I was wondering what might happen if it started to rain. I noted that the clouds were shifting rather rapidly and began to imagine what it might have been like up in Ringinglow.
Then the race got underway. Hurrah! I was among strangers, but happy. I ran off at a steady pace, but was forced to slow right down on a regular basis by the crowd of runners squeezing through the start area. We crossed the actual start line soon after, race chips beeping like Asda on Black Friday!
We were on our way. Fairly flat, gaining height very gradually. The first mile to Ecclesall Rd wasn’t very different from my usual run to work, for a steady height gain at a modest pace. Thing is, I normally pack in after 3.75 miles (when I reach the shop) and this was going to get very steep at around the 2 mile mark. On this occasion I had chosen to wear my Heart Rate Monitor. More about that in a minute.
The hill arrived – Ecclesall Rd South, then Knowle Lane – yikes. Narrow, even steeper and tightly packed with runners squeezed between massive crowds – all waving and cheering. It was a single lane of the road at this point, with spectators on the pavement to the right and along the white lines in the middle of the road to our left. It felt very strange to have people so close, without any barriers. I liked it.
I was trying to stick to my level 2, with pretty much success since the start. 165 bpm was the idea, but I was into 170+ on a regular basis and I kept trying to tone it down, reminding myself of the plan. That plan was to take it easy, keep away from my lactic threshold at 173bpm and when I eventually summited the climb at approx 6 miles, exploit the downhill with the energy I’d saved. I was chatting with people all the way up, shouting to anyone I recognised and interacting with runners as we continued to gain on the halfway point.
Then I passed the 6 mile marker on Sheephill Road – right afte having seen Debs cheering me along, but missing the fact that Stu was practically right beside her. I probably went off a bit too quickly, but as soon as it levelled out I had my ‘fast feet’ a blur. It proved to be surprisingly hard work. I was picking off runners left and right, with the running now much quicker, but with my heart rate through the roof. I was in and out of level 4 all the way back. Some of that was down to the fact the course wasn’t really downhill all the way.
Anyway, I dragged myself round the final bend in a determined slog (feeling better than the chap being sick next to the barrier) – then soon after, met with Tom again and compared results. We both enjoyed it a great deal and I’d managed to jump up onto a stone bench just in time to see Dot come in at 1hr 45min for Second Female Vet 60 – well done Dot!
I took 303rd overall, 56th M40 – in 1hour 32minutes 18seconds. Happy with that.
I then ran home again with aching knees and blisters. Probably not the best idea I’ve ever had, but I always kind of admired the guys who ran to a race and ran home again, with this being an opportunity to do a 2.5mile run each way, rather than anything epic. The blisters, well – they happen. I don’t always run that fast (for that long in any case), so my feet were forced to endure more wear and tear, end of. They’re already back to normal, so no big deal.
I was glad to have pulled off the fast getaway, since the one thing people have grumbled about since was the baggage collection taking upto an hour. It seems there was room for improvement in storing bags in numerical order, so folk could have their stuff back at a moment’s notice, rather than the entire heap of bags being searched every time someone turned up. Not that big of a deal. An hour after my race, I’d been home, showered and eaten lunch before heading to visit family. That’s where the jog home in minimal kit worked brilliantly.
So my year now boasts an ultra and a return to half marathon races, with the awesome Trail Rush next on my calendar. Then it’ll be the Scott Snowdonia Trail Marathon (which will mean a little more training to heart rate, so that’s what’s happening from now on).
I will be doing this race again in 2016 for sure. Massive thanks to Stu n Debs for treating me to this entry as a Christmas pressie back in December. What a gift!
Full race results can be viewed here.
Official pics can be viewed here.
Shoes used: Saucony Triumph ISO
Shorts worn: Salomon S-LAB Exo Twinskin Shorts
Cap: inov-8 Hot Peak
Socks: Hilly Skyline
Shirt was inov-8 baselayer, with race number held in place using Bibbits.