I’d been looking forward to this one for ages with dreams of smashing my PB in my head. I’ll admit as the event approached I realised that I felt less prepared than for previous halfs.
The training plan I’d been following is geared for getting me around the Berlin marathon in September so I didn’t think I had enough long runs in my legs but I adjusted it a little, went out for some longer runs and convinced myself I could do it. Then a week before I was ill. Filled with anti-biotics I lined up at Blaydon to see what I was capable of and ran out of my skin. In hindsight maybe I was a little bit over-enthusiastic but that’s enough excuses for now.
The race itself starts on the Albert Docks just by the Echo Arena which serves as the race base & baggage drop. You start off in some fairly narrow streets by the water. I guess being squeezed into smaller “corrals” served to make it feel more populated than it was as there was apparently only around 5000 running the half.
We set off at 9 with the Marathon following at 10. For what is meant to be an event all about the atmosphere and the music I was disappointed. There was hardly anyone on the course to support, maybe this was the 9am Sunday morning start as I’ve heard the Marathon was better attended. Not a patch on the GNR in terms of crowds. The bands were spaced quite far apart and you don’t hear them for very long as you run past. Speakers along the route would have been a good idea. In between bands it was quite quiet.
My favourite of the en route entertainment was definitely the woman they had dragged out of the Chinese Karaeoke restaurant to entertain us as we went through the chinese arches. A truely terrible singer!
The route travels from the docks, past the famous Liver building, a quick tour around the city centre to take in Matthew Street & the Cavern club before heading back the way you came along past the docks to then climb out of the city centre. This was the only real hill of the course and having lived in Liverpool for 3 years at Uni I had a fair idea what the route was like. My plan was to try and run steadily for the first half which had a couple of “bumps” and then try to keep up the pace on the 2nd half when it was totally flat.
Once out of the city centre the next few miles is a chain of parks joined together by a brief run up Penny Lane (the band there must have gotten sick of playing that on loop all day!). Then at mile 8ish you head down onto the riverside for a straight run all the way back to the arena. This is where I really started to struggle. I hadn’t felt comfortable at any point but I was on course for my target of 1:50 until then but on the banks of the Mersey though the wind just killed me. This was the longest 4 miles I’ve ever ran in my life. I had absolutely nothing left in the tank and even stopped to walk twice in the last mile! Once I could see the finish line I managed to sprint past a few people to grab a PB by just 30 seconds.
I was pretty disappointed by my performance. I know it’s a PB but I don’t think I ran well at all. It was comforting to have Michelle Nolan of Gateshead Harriers, who won it, tell me that she found the wind tough too and her pace slowed down at the same point.
Despite how tough I found it, all in all it’s a great event. You get a beer token on the bottom of your number which you exchange for a free pint at the end and the atmosphere in the finishing area is buzzing with bands performing into the middle of the afternoon. The bling is really good too.
I’ll have another crack at it next year and it would be good to see some more Hoops down there. I got excited everytime I saw Knowsley Harriers but it wasn’t quite the same.