I’m writing this at about 9.35pm on Sunday night, the evening of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool Half Marathon. My legs still hurt a little, I’m a bit tired but I can look back at today with a tremendous sense of complete satisfaction. We’ve still got bank holiday Monday here in Liverpool but whatever we get up to tomorrow will surely pale in comparison to the past couple of days events.
Let’s start with Friday. The weekend started fairly inauspiciously with huge queues greeting us at Jersey airport, however we were extremely surprised when we still found ourselves through to the departure lounge in maybe 15 minutes. That being said we still only barely had time for a drink before our flight. We arrived in Liverpool in good time and ready for the bus that I was hoping to catch. And then Friday went downhill as the 82A bus failed to show despite another driver swearing blind it had – it hadn’t. By the time we had a bite to eat and reached our hotel it was well past 9pm and a bit late given the runs to come.
The weather throughout the build up to the weekend first said it was going to be hot then it was going to be very wet. The Saturday weather was hot in the end so not ideal but better than the practical issues we’d have had if it had have rained instead. This was all not before I popped outside before the race to check on the weather – it was barely raining but in the end that was about the only rain we’ve seen so far this weekend.
The first race of the weekend then was the 5k run. Over 3,000 runners lined up for the start next to the BT Convention Centre by the Mersey. We all lined up in our pens and waited. A hush began to work back down the runners as everyone eventually realised there was a moment’s silence in remembrance of the Manchester attack – a silence that was impeccably observed and was quite eerie in itself.
As the waves of runners started we actually got to the start line before we expected to but our rhythm wasn’t particularly affected by it. What we didn’t know was that up ahead of us there was a huge problem as the first three waves of runners (or possibly two or four waves depending who you ask) followed a lead bike which had turned right in front of the Echo Arena rather than around the back of it meaning they cut about half a kilometre off the route. I don’t really know how, or if, it got resolved.
As expected there were a couple of bands on the course adding to the atmosphere
but it was over much too soon really in 32:47. The finish in the Echo Arena itself was a bit of a novelty but because it was really dark it was also really hard to see anything – that was a pain really. That evening we observed what is now our normal pre-race steak dinner – Miller and Carter really does come very highly recommended.
Today’s pre-race build up went well. The weather was about as good as possible with the exception of a pretty blustery wind coming in off the riverside. There was a delay to the start apparently caused by huge queues at the baggage drop area but we got going before long.
Sort of. The opening mile or so was very crowded so I started losing time on my two-hour target right away. The first 3k had me about half a minute down on schedule still with the hills to come. But I improved quickly and even on the hills themselves I kept up a good pace. About this time I saw a guy in a monkey suit and we seemed to trade places with each other for most of the first half of the run before he pulled clear with his running club group.
The second half of the race was just hard work. From about the 7k mark I saw I was on track for a time in the region of 1:57 but knowing I had time in hand didn’t seem to be a positive. My heart rate was under control but still higher than I’d have liked it to be. Heading for the halfway point I saw the two-hour pacer heading in the opposite direction. I knew from the course route there was a turnaround point but I had no idea exactly where so I initially had no idea how far I was behind the pacer. I think it must have been 7-10 minutes which, considering my finishing time, is a pretty poor effort I think. I’m glad I couldn’t find the pacer at the start else my race might have been very different.
The final stretch running north alongside the Mersey was long and a little dull, although the dodgy pavements certainly kept everyone alert and interested! I saw one guy nearly fall over with just a mile to go but luckily he didn’t. As is now normal for me, my final km was my fastest at only a touch over five minutes and it brought me a finishing time of 1:56:35 – taking something like over six minutes off my personal best and of course running under two hours for the half marathon for the first time.
I’m really hugely proud of that time which will put me in the top half of all half marathon runners this year. I paid for it though. As I said I’m really tired and a little sore but ultimately I think it was worth it! What a brilliant event though. Certainly hope to return sometime.