RACE REPORT(s): Blackpool Half (and parkruns)

Two parts to this post. First up, Blackpool Half Marathon from 23rd February.

The Blackpool Half was a good race despite exceptionally windy weather. I’ve been running into pretty good form – keeping up good mileage and not missing a session, and getting good pace club runs in. In my training schedule for the Milton Keynes Marathon (still haven’t entered yet…) I needed to test myself with a half. I also wanted to try and go under 1h25m – a vague indicator of a sub 3hr marathon – or at least to beat my best of 1h26m38s from the Reading Half.

The weather was pretty dire. It managed not to rain despite trying as hard as it could, but was pretty cold, and very windy. Loads of people went for leggings, gloves, hats and jackets, but knowing that would mean overheating quickly I went for short sleeve shirt and gloves. The start of the race was a bit odd. I waited for the start trying not to freeze, and the very long speech from the race organiser could have done with less of the tribute to Sir Tom Finney and more of, well just a bit of a description of the route.

The route – which I found out as I went – was north along the top of the seafront for 1.5 miles, dropped down to the beachside path going south for about 3 miles, and then back up north for about 1.5 miles as one lap before repeating again. Targeting the PB I thought that I was flying. Turning to go south I realised why that was happening – the wind was so strong it was like running into custard. The first turn to head north was a blessed relief. The second southwards leg into the wind it seemed warmer – the gloves came off and got tucked into my shorts – but the wind got even stronger. Strangely I thought I was bang on track for 1h25m going past the finish on the first lap, but through the wind on the second leg I realised I would have to go under 7 minutes a mile to get close to 1h25 or even the PB, and that wasn’t going to happen. Instead I kept pushing to make sure I came home in under 1h30m, and managed to finish in 1h28m06s.

I was pretty pleased. The first half marathon I haven’t PBd in, but I felt that the time in the conditions was pretty good and reinforced my feeling that my form is in a good spot. The event was the first ‘small’ half run by a local club, and didn’t really have much sense of event and the medal was pretty rubbish, to be honest. What wasn’t fun was the rail replacement bus service from Blackpool North to Preston.

I wasn’t too miffed as I’d been getting back into running 5Ks. The mileage has been pretty high these past weeks, but it has also included speedwork, and 5Ks are a nice way to test speed. I went to the Leeds Parkrun on the 8th February, kicking off at Saturday at 9am. The course was fairly simple – one run across the diagonal of the park, and then a half lap of the park followed by two full laps. In one corner of the park is a bit of a muddy section, which I learned has to be taken as madly as possible to not lose time.

Something pretty mad has happened with my 5K times. After trying pretty hard to break my 5K PB down to 18m54s back in July 2013, everything seems to have got a bit easier. The first time I got a PB of 18:40. I skipped the next week as the course was flooded (although it went ahead) but came back on the 22nd (the day before Blackpool) and ran a 18m24s PB, then yesterday I ran a 18m09s PB. A PB of 14 seconds, two weeks and then a PB of 16 seconds, a week and then a PB of 15 seconds. Under 18 minutes seems a real possibility – although you always feel after a session or a run that you could push harder at certain points.

So that’s been my races recently. Plenty of PBs, good form. The heavy mileage is really hitting home with 71 miles this week after the Sunday long run, and I’m feeling a bit weary and my legs feel a bit knotty. Anyhow, on we go.

Happy running,

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