It had been in the back of my mind for a while, largely thanks to all of the advertising for the event around the town, but I was finally convinced after speaking to one of the event organisers in a pub that it would be a good idea to give it a go.
With only a couple of weeks to go the event, I was a little anxious about the lack of training. I try to keep my fitness levels at a decent standard now, but as anyone who has ran a half marathon before knows, it's not really a distance you can just run without any preparation.
In the lead up to the race I completed a hilly 8 miler, a slightly faster than race pace 7 miler, and two easy ~5k's, but unfortunately with the lack of training time available, didn't do any over the 10 mile mark (hint: this was a mistake). I did a little warm up run the day before the race and could feel a few tight muscles in my legs and was a little bit worried, but I tried to stretch them as I ran and did a good cooldown, however there wasn't much I could do at this point but hope to be ok the next day.
As race day arrived I woke up early to a beautiful sunny day, it's a rare occasion here so I was feeling good. I got ready and set off to the leisure centre to register for the race, as with my indecisiveness I had miss the cut off to register online. We got directed to park in a local school car park a few minutes walk from the leisure centre, so I headed from there to the leisure centre only to find out they only accepted cash, so I googled for the nearest cash machine and quickly set off. It wasn't somewhere I was familiar with and when I got there I saw a group of guys outside wearing all in one tracksuits seemingly intrigued by a small moped who looked like they hadn't been to bed yet, so I got in and out while trying to act cool in my running gear.
After I survived that, I finished my registration and met up with Chess who was also running the race. We got ready to start and the pre-race nerves kicked in, I tried to get nearer the starting wave this time and I was over the line only a few seconds after the gun. We ran around the track a couple of times and then were released to run around Macclesfield and surrounding areas. This race was lucky enough to have pacers provided by Macclesfield harriers, so in my head I said would aim to keep with the 1:40 pacers to beat my previous PB of 1:44.
Obviously this plan failed miserably and I soon saw myself overtaking the 1:30 pacers like a caged chicken who had just been released. I thought to myself well it will be interesting to see how long I can stay ahead of them at least. The course went right past Shane's house so as we ran past he was there waiting for a high five which was a nice bit of motivation. From there I then knew I had around 11 long miles ahead of me so settled into the pace a bit.
I could see on my watch I was running pretty fast, but I was happy that I was feeling good and thought I'd keep it up until I felt any pains. There was a few guys that were running at the same pace and we had our own little battle (at least in my head), the course was very hilly and so provided many opportunities for my hill training to come into effect, however I vastly underestimated the down hill part of training and some of these guys were like unstoppable boulders rolling down a hill and put me to shame.
I started to feel a bit thirsty and was thankful to see the first water station, but unfortunately I tried to grab the first cup too enthusiastically and dropped it, luckily another volunteer was on hand to offer a replacement although trying to drink at full speed is a skill I haven't aquired yet and mostly involved drenching myself and some spluttering.
As I passed the 8 mile mark I began to wonder how long this pace would hold out for, I was venturing into the unknown (in terms of training) and had expended quite a bit of energy just to get to this point. I looked around and could see the flags of the 1:30 pacemakers approaching, from that point I knew it was only a matter of time. They passed me just before the 10 mile mark but I just didn't have the energy to keep up the pace, I was happy though as I knew this meant I had a 10 minute buffer to hit my target of 1:40 with only 3.1 miles to go.
It felt at this point I was pretty close to the 'wall', miles 11 and 12 ended up being all uphill and I had nothing left in the tank, it seemed like I was moving so slowly that walking would be quicker, but I guess this was my mind playing tricks on me as looking at the Strava activity I was still running at an ok pace.
Just before the home stretch back to the leisure centre, I saw my mum and dad with Shane waiting on the corner, at this point I was really struggling but put on a brave face, however I don't think it worked as Shane cycled along with me for the last bit and said I looked awful! As I entered the track to run along the home straight another familiar face Victoria waved and gave me a final bit of inspiration, I saw the clock and gave it all I had and ended up finishing with a time of 1:32:29!
A familiar feeling of faintness soon arrived however and I had to be careful not to collapse! I did a bit of research and apparently this is common with long distance running where the blood is collects in the legs and the motion pushes it back, but this stops when you do and so not enough blood reaches the brain. Afterwards I met up with awesome friends and family who came to support and we cheered for the other runners.
Overall it was a great event and well organised, definitely recommended to anyone thinking about a half marathon, though don't forget to prepare for the hills! Check out the Strava activity to see how it went in detail.