Wednesday, 1 April 2015

2015 Vitality Liverpool Half Marathon race review with a cheeky PB

The final couple of hundred metres were filled with the sound of the Tribal drums, BOOM, BOOM BOOM.... BOOM, BOOM BOOM, which made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

This Sunday the 29th of March 2015 I took part in my first Vitality Liverpool Half Marathon, along with 5100 others who braved the rain to take on a PB friendly course.

I headed over the night before thanks to my wonderful little sister who lives in Liverpool not far from the start. She picked me up from home and we drove over arriving around 8pm, so we went straight out to get a take away, the perfect race supper yeah? Then on the way back we stopped off to get some Irn-Bru and creme eggs just to finish off the race prep. To be honest I felt rather sick by the end of it all but I was too excited about the race in the morning to care. Jessie and her boyfriend Matty were great hosts and after a couple of hours discussing running, triathlons and Iron man races we all went to bed. It was really strange being away from SJ and the boys and my body clock was still on alert in case of a crying Flynn so the early morning seagulls woke me a few times. Luckily I still got a good nights sleep and was up and ready by about 7.15am and eating breakfast by 7.30am.

We all headed down to the docks as I wasn't sure where I was going but it wasn't long before we started seeing other runners and It was fairly obvious which way to go and soon we could hear all the commotion. Arriving at the starting area we had a little walk round to see what was going on and where I would pick up my t-shirt, medal and goodie bag etc. Then I said goodbye to Jessie and Matty and got in my position on the start line, I was hoping to finish around 1hr30m so I weaved my way past all the 1hr40 runners and stood looking slightly cold and nervous just behind the 1hr30 mark. There was a slight delay in starting as the police hadn't closed off the roads in time but luckily we were only stood for a few minutes, then finally we were off. 

The big rush and stop happend as it always does at big races as people think they are going and suddenly have to stop again as the people in front off them haven't moved as much as they had thought they were going to. It always makes me giggle a bit, we're off yeah, oh no were not and now I can see the hairs on the back of that mans neck I'm so close. We did eventually get going, scrambling across roads and curbs looking for the best position it wasn't until the end of the first mile that we all settled down to our rhythms. Now at this point you turn onto parliament street which according to the route guide goes from a slight incline over the first mile to a sharp incline for the next 400yds. So not being from Liverpool I was quite worried about this sharp incline but when we got to the infamous section I just giggled and powered up the hill and carried on. I giggled because being from Yorkshire the sharp incline was more like a slip way at the beach, it was nothing to worry about and It barely affected my pace time too. From this point on it was pretty much flat or slightly undulating apart from a dip and climb at the bottom of Princes park at the mile 3 marker. At this point you start to take on the more scenic part of the route taking in parts of Sefton Park and Otterspool Park before hitting the promenade at mile 9 and heading back towards Albert Docks. During this section there were some really good groups of spectators who braved the rain to come cheer everyone on, which was awesome and gave you a real boost. Plus the man who slipped on his bike in the mud near the promenade did give us a giggle (he was ok by the way just muddy). 

Once on the promenade we all started getting excited about the finish and there was a lot of jostling for position and people adjusting their pace to achieve their target times, which I was one of. As we hit mile 10 I knew if I wanted to creep just under 1hr30 I would have to complete a sub 20 5k so I picked up the pace or more specifically I kept it going rather than slowing in the final 3 miles like I did at the Brass Monkey back in January. With the weather being dull and rainy it made the final 3 miles down the Mersey quite dull, but if the weather had been sunny it would have been spectacular. As we got closer to the Albert Docks the rain got heavier and it became harder to mentally keep it going and the mile 12 marker felt like it was in the wrong place as the last mile seemed like a mile and a half. Finally we got within range of the tribal drums again and the beat still had that adrenaline pumping effect and it felt like they were playing the beat inline with my pace and they pushed me over the line. Big kudos to the drummers and the crowds at the finish they were brilliant and were a huge part in my finishing time of 1hr30m38s. I didn't manage to squeeze under the 1hr30 bar but I was absolutely buzzing at the time and more at my pacing, I managed to stay at a 4m18s/km or a 6.55m/mile give or take a second or two all the way round. I kept moving down the finish funnel until I received my finishers medal, goodie bag and t-shirt and then I went to try and find SJ, Jessie, Matty and the boys who had all come to see me finish.

I eventually found them or more likely they found me and we made our way back to Jessie's place to warm up, dry off and grab a snack to eat before we had to make our way back over to Huddersfield so Dexter could go to a birthday party. We had a great time at Jessie's even if it was brief and It was a lovely flat too, and I'm sure we will be back again soon, hopefully in some better weather.

I really enjoyed the course and it is definitely a PB friendly and enjoyable course, unlike some out and back courses that can be very mentally fatiguing and dull. I hope I can come back next year and improve on my PB hopefully under 1hr30m. A big thank you to Jessie for having me over the weekend and Matty for listening to my ramblings about my running. Plus a big thank you to SJ and the boys for coming over in the rain to see me cross the line and to walk back to Jessie's in the rain. 

Love you guys loads.

Keep running everyone.

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