Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Half marathon No2 for Dexter's School and what a Beast the Huddersfield Half is!

Just a week after the Yorkshire Half marathon and it was time for Half Marathon No2 and this was the big one, the Huddersfield Half/Full Marathon arguably the toughest road half/full marathon in the UK. This was the 2nd half that I was doing for Dexter's School and it was the chosen half for 5 other parents too, Emma, Lisa, Andy, Philip, and Mike. They were very brave to take up this challenge but after I did it last year I would say it is one race that you have to tick off your bucket list as a runner. It's challenging, but the route is in some stunning scenery and all organised very well since its return from a 20 year absence.

The day started with Huddersfield junior parkrun with the SJ and the boys which is always a great start to any Sunday.

As soon as the last junior crossed the line I rushed away upto the Huddersfield YMCA and registration for the Huddersfield half marathon. It was a completely different feel for me this year compared with last year, I was a lot more confident and knew a lot more people, so rather than the usual nerves and butterflies I was really calm but excited. I met up with the other parents minus Mike who unfortunatly couldn't make it, and we all discussed our various targets and hopes (mainly sarcastic hopes of finishing it) before we gathered for a Pre run photo.

Left to right, Me, Andy, Philip, Emma and Lisa.

There was a group warm up before they sent us to the starting pen and we wished each other good luck. As my running has gone from strength to strength I have become more confident, I hope it does not come across as cocky but I am enjoying my progression. This confidence was on show when I made my way to the front of the pen and almost stood on the front row as I wanted to get the best start I could. 

Matthew Kelly gave a run brief making sure we all went left out of the drive unlike last year when we turned right by mistake, then the lady from the Pulse gave us a 10 second countdown before we were let loose on this monstrous course. Having run the course before I felt like I could let loose a bit to start with as I knew there was an easyish start, before the first climb at least. As I reached Lindley moor I was feeling comfortable and headed downhill feeling ready for the first climb, and as I rembered it was basically up hill for the next 3km/2miles. Halfway up the climb I was snapped by a couple of photographers and from the photos you can see how much I was still enjoying myself.

When I reached the peak of the first climb I had completed the first 5km in 21 mins and ahead of target which was great, especially as it was now downhill for a while. This downhill wasn't easy as it is so steep in places you really burn your quads slowing yourself down so you don't just tumble down the hill. At this point I took a moment to look around taking in the views and was shocked at just what was about to happen. The next hill was the biggest on the route but I had forgotten just how big, as I was running down to Steele Lane the hill just seemed to grow and grow. It seemed to loom over you like a laughing giant just before he stood on you and crushed you with ease, and reaching the bottom of Steele Lane just made it harder as you can't see the top. Last year I think I made it up the hill about 300 metres, this year I just wanted to go beyond that but to my surprise I just kept going and going. Matthew Kelly drove past me near the top on his course checking duties and I even managed a little chat with him still running of course. Grabbing a drink at the top I caught my breath and carried on at a great pace, heading towards the halfway point at Scammonden Dam and the M62. A couple of runner friends Jo and Neil were manning the water and feed station here, as well as taking some photos, (great multitasking guys well done). It's always nice to see friendly faces on runs or in races it does help you push that little bit extra or just keeps you smiling.

This was just what I needed as my ankle/Achilles/calf not sure which, was really starting to hurt, I think it was a leftover injury from the Yorkshire half and a run with stadium runners the following day. Whichever it was, it was starting to slow me down and as I crossed the dam along side the M62 I was happy that I was halfway now and could start to count down again. The next few miles were mainly keeping my focus and trying to keep my pace at a decent level over the next hill and across the tops until the long downhill section from Scapegoat Hill down to Longwood. This section was great to help me maintain my pace whilst catching my breath, until I reached the bottom where the start of the final climb is. It's just a shame that it is a long steady up hill that drains all your remaining energy. It also has a sting in its tail at the end with a steep section and a tight right turn in it to test your resolve and grit before the final 400 metres. My pace had dropped at this point but as I exited the underpass and ran up onto New Hay Rd with the finish turning in sight I dug deep and bolted for the finish. Turning into the YMCA for the last 100m I was greeted by Mark and Eli cheering me on.
Then turning the final corner my boys, SJ, my Dad and Liam and Izzie were cheering my final few steps. I felt amazing and forgetting my ankle crossed the line to finish in 1hr42m and 19 mins quicker than last year and in 14th place too.

After collecting my t-shirt and medal I got my high 5's from the boys and SJ then waited around for the others to complete their runs. Next through for the parents was Emma in 1hr54m and 5th lady overall, which was a fabulous result and well and truly deserved.
It wasn't long before Andy came round the final bend and finished in 1hr57m.  Well done Andy you did amazingly.

Philip had stuck with Andy until about halfway then dropped off the pace a little but still finished in an awesome time of 2hr07m, however he did describe the race as the worst thing he had ever done. I'm sure he is feeling a bit different about it now, or I hope so as he did brilliantly.

Lisa was the final parent from our group to complete the half marathon in a time of 2hr23m, she did amazingly as she was aiming at 2hr30m at the start, and came in under that so well done Lisa.

We all gathered for one final photo and that was it we had all done it, we had all accomplished great times and our friends and family were ever so proud of us.

Well that's 2 out of the 3 half marathons done now and with my sore ankle I'm glad that the Leeds Half marathon is 3 weeks away. It should be enough time to rest it as long as I can keep myself from going out for a run in the mean time, which is difficult as I am really enjoying running even with the aches and pains.

Oh well let's see how it goes.

Next up it's the Shepley Juniors turn anyway as they run at Huddersfield Juniors parkrun for the school, it will be awesome I'm sure as it always is.

Keep running everyone

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