"} Get a life, Get active! By Fit Lesley: Challenge 13 - Fleetwood Half Marathon - August 2012

Challenge 13 - Fleetwood Half Marathon - August 2012

Today, Sunday 26th August 2012 I ran The Fleetwood Half Marathon, my third half marathon in less than a year, in fact my third half marathon - EVER! 

I pretended to my family that the main reason for undertaking this Half Marathon was as a “training run” for the Chester full marathon I am running in October.  However ... although it does appear on my marathon training plan as a “training run” deep inside I was really hoping for a PB!

I hadn’t gone on a no-alcohol diet this time and on Friday I went on a “mini bender” with a friend in Manchester.  Perhaps not the best preparation 2 days before the event!  However, on Saturday I was very good and abstained totally!

On Saturday night I was settled in bed by 11pm and seemed to drift off to sleep fairly easily ... but ... woke on the hour every hour until the alarm clock went off at 7am!

After such a fretful night’s sleep I was actually delighted to hear the familiar ring of the alarm clock, a sound I usually curse.  I got up immediately  and got dressed (in the neatly laid out kit – very organised of me!) and headed downstairs to enjoy endure my breakfast!  I managed to force down 2 Weetabix and had a slurp of coffee. I was feeling exceptionally nervous and kept telling myself that this was JUST a training run! I knew I could do the distance and did the time really matter? Well when you’re a competitive person like me the answer is ...YES!  However many times I told myself just to enjoy it my inner demon kept replying “but make sure you get that PB whilst enjoying it!”

We (My husband and I) left the house at around 7.45am and stepped into a cool drizzly dank dark morning – NOT what the little man inside my iphone forecast!  I could feel my spirits sinking further – did I really want to run 13.1 miles along the sea front at Fleetwood in the rain? “Too late now” the inner demon laughed and off we set to travel the 50 miles to Fleetwood.

The journey was uneventful, and as we travelled away from the damp and drizzley Lake District, we headed towards the sunny seaside! Things were looking up! We arrived at Fleetwood YMCA Leisure Centre (the race HQ) at around 9am for the 10am start. Luckily we managed to sneak into the last parking place (ahead of the geezer who thought he could steal it from us by going in the out way- hee hee! - result).  I pinned my bib number onto my vest and set off to familiarise myself with the start point and find the toilets.  The toilets were easy to locate – just look for the queue of people snaking away from 5 doors! The literature stated “adequate toilets” and “Plentiful parking”  mmmmmmm I beg to differ! Anyhow, after queuing for the toilets (I always need a nervous wee) I managed to swallow a high5 energy gel (as per fuelling strategy) and washed it down with some water.  Uuh oh bladder overload! No! No time for another nervous wee and off to the start I trundled, trying to ignore the grumblings going on elsewhere!
The starting table!
I walked onto the promenade and glanced up and down for a large inflatable start arch!  Nothing!  Then I saw it ... as a few people walked away the table with a start banner attached came into view! Not quite what I was expecting but hey ho it does the job I suppose! 
About to start!
As this wasn’t a chip timed event I wanted to be fairly near the front of the field so that the official gun-time would be as accurate as possible BUT I didn’t want to be flattened by all the ultra fast elite runners either!  There were approximately 540 runners so I shuffled as close to the start “table” as I dared and waited for the man with the tannoy to announce we were off!

Along the Prom!
We started off in the sunshine, running along the promenade for a short distance before joining a road that was still open to traffic! There were plenty of marshals and police at this point so we were safe! The start appeared to be very fast (or was that because I was mixed up with the elite?!) and I had to talk myself into not sprinting off into the distance with these guys and hold back at a sensible sustainable pace!  I was listening to my i-pod and soon settled into my own pace and tried to ignore the stream of runners running past me! Before I knew it I was at the 3 mile mark and the first water station.  The water was in bottles but it took a while for me to wrestle my way through to a spot at the table to get my hands on one!  After drenching myself with water and managing to get a few drops down my throat I was off again.  At around this point a “banana” overtook me – not good for the ego!

I thought this little girl had forgotten her trousers - made me smile!
I trundled along trying to keep a close eye on my pace – I knew it was essential to keep the pace under 9 min/miles to achieve my goal and I was managing this quite successfully.  At around mile 6 there was another water bottle drinks station which I managed to enter quickly and successfully this time and took the opportunity to have another energy gel  (as per fuelling strategy) whilst I had the water to wash it down with!  The gel seemed to give me a boost until around about mile 7 and everything started to slip!  We rejoined the promenade, the sun was still shining and we had glorious views over the sand toward the sea BUT there was a wind blowing right against us!  I gritted my teeth and pushed on but couldn’t sustain my previous pace.  I mumbled under my breath and wondered how far along the prom we would go.  My music started to annoy me so I switched my ipod off!  The sun then went behind some big black clouds and a sprinkling of rain started ... luckily it didn’t stay around long and the sun was soon back! After several miles it was very disheartening to see runners coming back along the prom towards me!  “OH no”, I thought  I have to run all the way back again!  Luckily we only had to run another mile back before diverting back onto the roads! Phew! It was good to get away from the wind but I was beginning to flag!
Suffering - rejoining the road after enduring the windy seafront for 4 miles!
I pushed on trying to get my pace back under the 9 min mile point again but I had run out of steam!  I battled on and was pleased to see the leisure centre come into view – only to run straight past it before hooking round towards the finish line!  I could see the large clock above the finish ticking over the minutes and seconds and I tried with all my might  to will my legs to go that bit faster in order  to get to the finish line in time to achieve a PB ... 

Me "sprinting" to the finish line!
I managed it ... with a 5 second improvement - or so I thought - according to my Garmin! However, according to the official results I DIDN'T! :-( My official time is 01:57:56, 2 seconds slower than my PB at Liverpool! BUT Fleetwood was a gun start not a chipped run so I'm sure I took longer than 2 seconds to cross the line! I'm sticking with my Garmin time! 

Back to the event ... 

I was relieved to make it over the line and delighted be handed my medal (I do love a bit of bling!). As well as the medal I got a banana, a wagon wheel and a bottle of water but NO T- Shirt!
Relaxing on the prom wall - with my goodies!
I sat on the promenade wall eating my goodies whilst watching the remaining runners finish. After devouring these things we made our way slowly back to the car, and headed back home.  On the way back we decided to go to a drive-through McDonalds (couldn't possibly venture inside looking like I did!) and I got a McChicken sandwich and fries.  Not the best idea after running a half marathon.  I managed a few fries and a bite out of my sandwich before threatening to throw up!  My husband managed to devour his and then moved onto mine - after all he'd worked up an appetite and had had a busy day - spectating! 
My Bling!

This was a relatively small (approximately 540 runners), locally run half marathon put on a by volunteers all of whom did a great job on the day. Pre-event parking was OK for us, but would have been difficult if we had arrived any later! There were marshals in all the necessary places, the run route is virtually flat and, so far as my Garmin can tell, the race route was spot on distance wise.  The water stations were adequate and evenly spaced with the added bonus of having bottles rather than cups! However, there was a significant lack of supporters along the route, which surprised me as it was such a lovely day, albeit windy on the seafront! Those who did come out tried hard to clap and cheer us on, and it made me smile to see some small boys’ high fiving runners as they went past!  I particularly missed the crowds during the last couple of miles when I needed the encouragement to keep on running! I was particularly impressed with the patience and control of the local residents who were trying to go about their daily business on a Sunday morning!  As a lot of the run was on open roads many car drivers were stuck at junctions and in queues of traffic and didn't seem to be too annoyed by it, some even waved as we passed!

All in all a good run, but I would like to see it upgraded to a chipped run in the future - then I might have got my PB!  I’m not sure whether I would brave this race again as by all accounts we were exceptionally lucky with the weather today and in previous years the wind has been so strong runners have been sandblasted and had to run with their eyes closed! Not a good thought! 

I'm very disappointed not to have achieved a PB! I think I'm more disappointed because this race was billed as "Fast and extremely flat and has excellent potential for a PB".  I had high hopes - if I can't do it here, where can I achieve it?!

The full race results can be viewed here!  versus my Garmin results which can be viewed here!

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