Leeds Half Marathon – How not to train and/or run

Let’s start at the beginning, a while ago I wasn’t sure how to prepare for this event, did I really have to train properly or could I just blag it.
The decision was made to get a training plan and follow it-ish. Club nights would tick most of the boxes but get some structure around the ‘long’ weekend runs.

Then week by week the long runs were invariably missed caused by either being a busy parent or spending to long recovering after a night in Lisa Perrys Shed.

Still I’d done my first ever 13 mile training run in less than 2 hours with a ‘decent’ amount of effort one fine Sunday morning at 6:30am. That should do me I thought, at least I should be well rested and to be honest it was the first time in almost 6 weeks that my legs actually felt like my own.


Onto the race day, early start as the race was off at 9:30am. Alarm was set for 5:20am and straight out of bed for the usual cup of tea and PB and banana on toast. Headed off to the sisters house as she was driving down and we made good time getting down there, even through the stupid 50 mph contra-flow.

We got there with a reasonable amount of time to spare and headed towards the start/portaloo’s and bumped into the two other Hoops participating, Hairy Phil and Nicola Whitman, quick hello’s and good luck’s exchanged and then nature called. Queue for the lav’s was crazy and would have took at least an hour so off to Wetherspoons we headed.


All ready for the run so off to the assembly area we go, it was very organised and nothing like the cattle market that is the GNR. People were split into zones and filtered round the start area towards the line, me and the sister (Nicola Shaverin for those that weren’t aware) got into our red zone. As the pacemakers came in we realised that we were maybe a bit too far forwards for our liking.
So back through the pack we moved to the 110 minute marker, although to be honest the way I was feeling I was eyeing up the 100 minute marker with optimism (race excitement had clearly took over any sense of realism). As the start drew nearer the clouds disappeared and the sun started to blaze down upon us all, not great.
On through the start and off we go, first mile took 8:27 which was a bit quicker than we’d wanted to go. The original plan was to keep it steady at 8:45 and then see what’s left in the tank from 8 mile, bearing in mind that the first 6.5 miles was almost all up-hill. Mile two was 8:36, again quicker than the original plan and Nicola was correct as usual with “This is a bit too fast”, “Just go with it was my response”

Onto miles three and four and another batch of hills which took a lot of helium and arm pumps to get up in a reasonable time, that’s when my breakfast started to rift up and a bit of sick crept up on me, this wasn’t in the schedule. I started to drop Nicola as I thought she was feeling the heat and hurting a bit from the hills, when in reality she probably knew how to pace herself better.

I managed to stick with the 115 minute pacer for 8 tough miles but by mile 7 my legs were feeling heavy and full of acid, not a good sign when you’ve still got a 10k still to do. Just struggle on I told myself and your legs should loosen up with this nice downhill stuff and relaxed running stride. Did they loosen? did they balls. If anything, they started to get worse and nothing I done helped relieve the pain. With this pain and the heat belting down I was hurting and really felt like giving up, at least you’re over half-way I thought, over half-way? That means you still have at least another 50-odd minutes of running, oh dear!!

Struggled on for another 4 miles trying to use the distraction technique to take my mind off the pain, count to 500 and that should get you round the majority of a mile, think I managed to get to 75 before the pain distracted me from my counting. The 115 minute marker got further and further into the distance, my strides got shorter and shorter. Then goes the 120 minute marker who passed me like I was standing still, as he disappeared so did all my confidence.

That’s when I really wanted to give up, I got to about 11.5 mile and I could feel that Nicola should be creeping up on me and a few turns and there she is, trotting along with ease. Walk until she catches up and then she can pace me in, yet another bloody mistake, could I run, I think you know the answer to that. Bless her she stuck with me and dragged me round the remainder of the course, legs hurting, pride hurting and pet-lip was reet out.
Onto the finishing half mile and ooosh she’s off, after seeing 3 or 4 people passed out at the side of the road, finishing in one piece was the priority. Turn the last corner then all of a sudden “HOOOOPPPSSSS!!!” was ringing in my ears, super Naz had made the trip down to cheer us in, what a guy and really helped me get my sorry ass over the line.

Sulked towards the goodie bag collection point and then came the only thing that I got right that day, Large or Medium?? Large was the call as I was feeling fat, frumpy and a few other F’s that I can’t repeat on hear (flashback to mile 12 and I thought the tourettes technique might help, made me smile but I didn’t get any faster lol).
Medal was placed on after a finishing time of 2:06 and I felt like hoying that and my trainers in the bin, the toys were well and truly out of the pram. Then we saw Nicola W and she was buzzing after finishing in a superb time of 1:41 and then came Naz with his congratulations and my mood started to lift. Once again the best thing about this club is the people that are in it.

Continued to sulk on the way home and decided that basically it was all my fault but at least I’d learned some lessons which I’ll never forget:
1) Train properly
2) Eat properly
3) DO NOT go off too fast
4) Do not do anything different to what you do in training. (1st ever time running with a buff and I really don’t like carrying stuff)

So I’ve hopefully gained some valuable race experience from this, so not all bad.
Also from never running again, I’ve changed my mindset to go back to Leeds next year and kick it’s ass, I then might stop being a grumpy so and so.

Congratulations to the other hoops who ran today :
Nicola Shaverin 2:05
Philip Young 1:47
Nicola Whitman 1:41
Shaunak Deshpande 1:37.

Phil Robertson