Sunday, 27 February 2011

A Race Against the Wind

Blackpool: 'Kiss Me Quick' hats, Pleasure Beach, Drunken Brits and the scene of the Great North West Half Marathon 2011. The windiest day on record - my records that is - and throroughly enjoyable!

The wind speed may have broken records, but I certainly didn't. However, that wasn't what I set out to do. Injuring myself 3 weeks ago has meant that I've run a lot less than I had intended to over the last few weeks and my training plan has had to undergo a number of small tweeks. So today wasn't about time; it was about finishing the race (in one piece!). Which I did. The fact that I had a whale of a time whilst doing is the icing, so to speak, on the cake... actually, I'm not a massive fan of icing, so it's probably more the buttercream!

The race starts at the Norbreck Castle. I had never seen this hotel before and therefore did not expect it to actually look like a castle; I don't know why as despite never having visited this particular hotel, I have been to Blackpool several times and am well aquianted with the tacky, vulgar, cheap, nasty, tawdry ostentatious nature of the town. However, at the cost of only 14 English pounds a night it is, perhaps, well worth checking out if you ever find yourself needing to stay a night in the Great British seaside resort of the North West... what? It could happen!

The picture doesn't do it justice... it's nowhere near as swish as this!
Chip acquired, Sara and I sneaked headed upstairs to see if we could find a toilet that didn't have another 100 women stood outside of it. We found a very lovely housekeeper who let us into one of the rooms - thank you lovely housekeeper (though why I think you may be reading this, I have no idea!). It was at this point that we realised we only had 10 minutes until the race started - so much for a warm-up! - so found our way very quickly back to the others and out to the start line. It's a good job the race is chip timed as I failed to start my Garmin when I crossed the start line and didn't realise until 2 miles into the race that I was not recording my times. Still, as I wasn't 'racing' I quickly put it out of my mind and concentrated on keeping good form and a steady pace.

Taking Chad along for the ride, I used the Audiofuel tracks to keep a steady rhythm, but also motivate me throughout the race; I find the music highly stimulating whilst I'm running and Chad's little pick-me-ups along the way are great for PRB too... 'You're doing well, keep a steady pace and move your feet to the rhythm' he told me, 'one two three four, one two three four...' brilliant! And particularly useful when I turned the corner at the 3 mile mark and found myself hitting a brick wall... of wind! Seriously, there is no overexaggeration here; I'm not employing hyperbole to add drama or excitement. The wind was ferocious. Pushing, knocking, whipping me as I battled with all my might against it. I was just beginning to wonder how much longer we'd have to run in that direction, when I started running towards people coming back the other way. 'Wow,' I thought to myself, 'I'm only 5 1/2 miles in, they must be running fast to be there... and then I saw Dom: 'DOM! DOM! WELL DONE!!!' I yelled across the cones, waving madly; I found out later my cheerleading skills had done their job and cheered him right up! I, however, had another 4 miles in my fight against the gale, until respite came as we turned the corner onto the promenade. With the sea, once again, on our right the wind subsided.

Feeling good, I picked up my pace and enjoyed the sights of the seaside as I ran to the beat for miles 7 to 10.5. A feeling of déjà vu hit as I turned the same corner onto the top promenade as I had at mile 3 earlier on, but someone had added a hill... How rude! I swear it hadn't been there before. It was at this point I realised I was now running alongside a group of women and a man with a bright pink 2.11 sign. Assuming that this wasn't some secret running cult called the 2.11's, and was rather a group of runners aiming to finish in 2 hours 11 minutes, I fell in beside them. Well, actually if I'm brutally honest, I ran past them on the down and they ran past me on the up... up, down, up, down, whip, push, whip, push... and then I saw Pete. 'Yay!' I thought as he fell into step beside me 'I must be near the end!'. A little more battling with the wind and I turned onto the lower promenade again. With the sea now back on my right, the wind behind me, and the finish line in sight, I thought it best to pick up the pace: 'Just 3 minutes left to go' I heard the Pacer tell his ladies. 'Not on your nelly' I thought 'I can run faster than that.' So I did. Making my final pace to the finish line a very respectable 7 minute miler (obviously that was for a fraction of a mile, not the whole thing, but very respectable all the same!).

Receiving my medal with pride, we headed back up to 'The Castle', where I diligently carried out my physio 'bum' exercises and attempted to run just about managed a mile cool down.

All in all, the Great North West Half Marathon is a great race. Granted, it doesn't offer the most inspiring scenery, and there is a fair bit of to-ing and fro-ing along the sea front, but it's very well managed and has a great atmosphere about it. The times were even posted on a wall in the hotel before we left; an added bonus due to my Garmin neglection at the start line. My time was 2:10:14; like I said, I didn't break any records, but I did run the whole way, my knee didn't hurt and I feel Grrrrreat!



Distance: 14 miles (including cool down)
Feeling: Grrrrrrreat!
Weather: sunny and ferociously windy!

8 comments:

  1. Brilliant! Well done. I loved the description of Blackpool, too (had to read it out to my other half).

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  2. Well done on completing the 13.1 miles, (14 with cool down) glad the knee held out

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  3. Well done for the race time and well done for leaving Blackpool.. waht a s**thole :) Been twice and that was enough times!

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  4. Thanks all... I was pleased with how I actually managed to finish it, but also with how I managed to spend that much time in Blackpool... I've no idea what possesses people to actually go there on holiday! Twice is one too many!! :-)

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  5. Woohooo! Sounds llike you really enjoyed the run too which is the main thing! Well done on your time...that equates to a 4 and a half hour marathon which is awesome!!

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  6. Thank you! Carla... you're right, I hadn't thought of it like that!! I'd be more than happy with that sort of time... you never know, without the wind and the stealth hill, I might just manage that!!!
    I did enjoy it... I had great fun! :-)

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  7. Well done on a great race against the wind!

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Thanks for reading... feel free to leave me a message. Maggiee x

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