Great Northern Half Marathon (6th May 2019)

Posted on: 07 May 2019

I have run this race twice before.  In 2017 on a very cold, rainy March.  All I can remember is Mum meeting me as I finished and apologising for throwing away the coffee she had purchased, because her hands were shaking so much from the cold she had spilt most of it.
Last year they had to cancel, because of that 'Beast from the East'.  I was gutted, because training had actually gone well for a change and I was ready for it.  It was rescheduled for May Day, one of the hottest days of the year.  I struggled with the heat and sat down on a bench at 4 miles and had a chat with a couple of people.  I carried on with the intention of stopping after one lap and calling it a day, but as I got nearer I suddenly decided that I didn't want a DNF, on carried on like the fool I was.  I rang Mum at 11 miles, to check in and let her know I was ok.  I finished.  It wasn't pretty, but I finished.
Onto this year.  Training has been going reasonably well.  I know I can do the distance.  Perfect race conditions, cold, but not wrap yourself up cold. This race doesn't have the best start.  There is a slope to get out of the carpark and then a hill, before it flattens out to give way to up and down hills.
I start at the back (I know my place) and work my way through the crowds.  I was last up the hill, but that doesn't bother me.  
I'm not racing at the moment, I am running the race and trying to run it well.  A lot of people don't get this.  I had a minor heart procedure back in December and have been careful to ease back into running.  I have not done a lot of hill work and was going to regret that later on.  My plan was to work the uphills, make the most of the downhills and steady on the flats.  This worked brilliantly for the first lap, but because the last 2.5 miles of this was a gradual slope, I had done a good half hour of work before I hit the hills again.   This slope is the disused 'Great Northern Rail Track' which gives the race it's name.  Half of the 10km field flew by me on here, but most were encouraging me as I plodded along.
From mile 7 to 10.5 I saw no-one, in front or behind.  I kept going, not quite making it to the top of each hill.  Two cyclists crept up behind me and I almost jumped out of my skin as they told me to keep going.
I reached the rail track and saw a hint of blue ahead of me.  I finally had someone to aim for.  I did feel a little mean, because they were obviously struggling with knee pain, but whoever they were, they were pulling me along.  I gradually gained on them, but they were too far for me to catch.  
400 metres to go and there was Mum waiting for me.  And the rain poured down.  I said that I hoped the ice cream van was still there, because I had earnt one, rain or no rain.  I did manage a sprint finish, albeit a slow one.
I finished in 2 hour 36 minutes and 49 seconds.  It was actually a PB for that course, by almost a minute and a half (it all counts) so I was pleased.  No finishing photo, because he had already packed up, but I don't blame him, it was freezing.  But, then again, he didn't hang about last year when it was hot.
So final thoughts:- I enjoyed the race (though I ran most of it on my own).
I really do need to do some hill sessions or try and work at some turning my runs.
Don't trust ice cream vans - he had left as well.
(P.S Mum had good run as well finishing in 1 hour 25 minutes for the 10km)


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