The time had finally come, all the Sunday mornings getting up early and going for a long run had come to this. It was just after midday and the weather looked perfect as we arrived at Freckleton Cricket Ground for my first ever half Marathon. Wendy had come along to support me which I was grateful for as I was feeling a bit out of my comfort zone.
Everything was very well organised and I had soon collected my race number and chip timer (which was firmly attached to my shoe with twist ties). I met up with Martin, a running buddy from Sweatshop Chorley SRC and Luke, another friend from Preston parkrun and hung around in nervous anticipation wanting to get going. Yes, we’d arrived to early, as normal.
With about a half hour to go the numbers increased with representatives from all the local running clubs as well as a few from further afield. The biggest and best surprise was my Mum and Dad turning up out of the blue to see me off at the start, which put a bit of an extra spring in my step.
And then it was runners to the start, a quick chat woth some other nervous looking first timers, the sound of the air horn and “we’re off”.
Luke was going for a negative split where the later part of the race is run faster than the start where as my technique was going to try and keep to a steady 5 minutes 30 second per kilometre pace. Needless to say this went completely out of the window and Martin and I felt great through the first half and managed to keep to 5 mins per kilometre for the first half. We both felt good and felt we could manage a quick time if we slowed down a little to conserve energy.
And then it hit, not fatigue, not pain but good old blazing June. You could sense the entire field of runners letting out a collective groan as the breeze died and the clouds cleared. In a matter of minutes the temperature must have risen 3 or 4 degrees and I had to slow down or over heat, sending Martin off ahead, he is younger than me after all.
Going through Wrea Green everything was still on track but the heat was now getting to be an issue and I was slowing down to take on water and run under the showers whenever I could. I passed a couple of people on the side of the road getting medical attention, something that hinted at just how hot it was as these guys looked like ‘proper’ runners and the heat had managed to ‘get’ them.
Two miles to go and I passed Martin, his knee had given in and he was obviously in pain, he shouted encouragement to me as I ran past then I was in Freckleton, one mile to go and I was going to finish running if it killed me and in what felt like tropical heat and humidity it almost did.
The finish, I’d made it. And there was Wendy at the side of the line, a big smile waiting for me, one of the best moments if my life.
My time was 1 hour 55 minutes 14 seconds. Amazingly after all the messing about, going to fast, slowing for water, slowing due to heat, I was still only 16 seconds away from my targeted time. After 13.1 miles I think that’s fairly good.
Lying prone on the playing field, scoffing pies and cake from Luke’s wife Kate we chatted about our next challenges. Luke is planning the Edinburgh Marathon next year, I think I’ll be doing Rivington Half Trail Marathon at the start of October this year with Martin and a few of the guys and girls from Chorley SRC then see how it goes. In a Surprise move Kate and Wendy mentioned they would be running ‘Frecky’ next year, in front of witnesses so there’s no getting out of it.
I’m having a lie in…