"} Get a life, Get active! By Fit Lesley: Challenge 6 - Liverpool Half Marathon - March 2012

Challenge 6 - Liverpool Half Marathon - March 2012

Today, Sunday 18th March 2012 I completed the Liverpool International Half Marathon which was only the second half marathon I had run, and it fell coincidently exactly 6 months after my first - The Great North Run on 18th September 2011 which I completed in 2 hours 21 minutes and 49 seconds!  I thought I had trained adequately for the GNR but in hindsight I wasn’t at all prepared for the task that lay ahead!  This year the Liverpool International Half Marathon celebrated its 9th Anniversary, and the starting celebrity was Kriss Acabusi.

When I entered the Liverpool Half Marathon I had no idea it was in fact on Mother’s Day!  The one day in the year I can legitimately stay in bed all morning and expect tea and toast along with the Sunday papers delivered to my side and what am I doing?  Getting up at quarter past 6 in the morning then running 13.1 miles!  Mmmmmmmmm.... got that wrong somewhere!  Perhaps I can put the “pampering” associated with Mother’s Day (supposedly) on ice (along with my feet!)  until next Sunday when I can enjoy its benefits!!  

Before I tell you how I got on I will set the scene with my pre-run training, sacrifices and trauma’s!  I loosely followed a 16 week training plan which was aimed specifically for those runners looking to break 2 hours in a half marathon and was designed by Jeff Gaudette. When I say “Loosely”, I mean I followed the long runs religiously but on some of the interval runs I perhaps didn’t follow it quite as rigorously as I should have and tended to do my own thing but I still covered the required miles. I took tapering seriously and did my last long run 8 days before and my last short run 4 days before.  I didn’t change my diet at all in the run up to the run, but I abstained from alcohol for a week before (unlike when I did the GNR and abstained for 6 weeks!!) and last night if you had been spying on me you would have witnessed me shovelling down a big bowl of pasta (spag Bol to be precise) in the hope that it would boost my performance today and give me the fuel to complete the distance in super quick time!  My plan for the evening went something like this: Dinner, relax, bath, into PJs, read book, cup of tea, BED!  Plan went perfectly right up to cup of tea time – At 10.15pm I made a cup of tea, then just as I sat down with it my mobile rang! It was my 16 year old daughter’s best friend saying “Please can someone come and pick Jess up she’s not well!” – Teenage speak for extremely drunk!  Luckily for her, I wasn’t drinking (any other Saturday night she would have had a problem, there’s no way I could usually drive!).  Anyway I got to the party and managed to hustle a very dishevelled girl into the car!  Luckily her friends had packed her off with a carrier bag as a sick bucket – 5 minutes down the road it was very useful! Once home and she was safely in bed I decided I’d best head there myself as I had a big day looming!  No sooner had my head hit the pillow I was up again seeing to her, this time heaving uncontrollably all over her bedroom carpet, completely missing the bowl provided!  Anyhow this pattern of events went on until just after midnight, I was divided between being extremely worried about her and even considered A & E at one point and being extremely worried about the possibility I wasn’t going to make my run after all the build up!  Eventually, things settled down and I managed to drift off into a very light fitful sleep waking up several times to check on her before my alarm eventually went off at 6.15am!  Yawn! Yawn! Yawn!  Not the best preparation!

So how did I get on?  Did I or did I not get a sub 2 and/or a PB?
Well ... (is the suspense killing you yet?!!)

I got up at 6.15am and enjoyed (endured) my usual running breakfast nutrition of Weetabix, but couldn’t face my usual morning coffee. As I set out the door my teenage children were eagerly waiting to wave me off with good luck wishes and mother’s day hugs – NOT!  In fact I bet they were still snuggled down in their pits when I had completed the run! They aren’t at all interested in or impressed by their Mother’s achievements and are just waiting for the day when I get over the perceived midlife crisis!

Anyway, we picked up my friend and fellow runner Sharon at 7am and we were soon on our way. I have been monitoring the weather via my i-phone all week and it has fluctuated between fair and wet, so I was keeping an open mind to what was waiting for us in Liverpool. 

We arrived in Liverpool at around about 8.30am after a good uneventful journey! So after not running since Wednesday, here I was on the start line of the Liverpool Half Marathon after very little sleep feeling a mixture of excitement and nerves.  I ran the Great North Run accompanied by my  i-pod, however today I was going it alone!  I had discovered whilst training I actually run faster without the music to distract me from focusing on the job in hand, it also allowed me to hear and revel in the well wishes from spectators which spurred me on along the way! Sharon had run the Bath Half marathon just last Sunday and managed a sub 2 so she wasn’t planning on pushing herself on this one, but was using it as a training run for the Edinburgh Marathon she is doing in May. Therefore, we were running separately and I was on my own, which didn’t bother me as I am used to running alone whilst training!

Anyway where was I?  

Back at the start line! 

It was a very cold start to the morning down at the start line on the docklands, with a stiff sea breeze to chill the bones.  I was shaking whilst waiting on the start line, both from fear and the cold! I was wearing an old hoody kindly donated by my daughter which I was planning to deposit once the race had started and I was warmed up. Surprisingly the race didn't have a staggered start depending on your predicted time; it was a free for all, so we settled ourselves fairly near the front, but not too close to get in the way of the elite!!!  Whilst waiting we got talking to fellow runners who worried me slightly by telling me how hilly the course was especially Sefton Park!  I had been under the impression that it was a fairly flat course!  Trying not to let it mess with my positive attitude I put the thought aside. 

The race started spot on time at 9.30am and along with the masses (just over 7000 to be precise, one or two less than the 53000 at GNR) I was off! Some people took off like rats out of traps, and I wanted to shout “It’s not a sprint!”.   I was soon heading up Parliament Hill (a hill, but not a hill in the Cumbrian league!) and we were soon onto nice rolling roads where I could really settle down into my pace, and by this point was averaging 8.5 minute miles, and because the sun had decided to join us, things were warming up! . I was surprised when I came across the first water station that the bottles had open screw tops and not sports top bottles making it very difficult to run and drink at the same time without giving yourself a bath! There was no energy drinks available either which also surprised me although I always avoid these anyway as along with energy gels they don’t agree with my system!!  I rely on good old plain water and Gluco Tabs every 3 miles!  This seems to agree with my delicate system!
I was feeling good and inspired by the atmosphere around me and had in my mind today was going be a good ‘un! (Keeping those positive thoughts firmly planted!)
Next we detoured through and around Princes Park, which is a 69 acres municipal park. Within the park is a lake and apparently also a gravestone, dated 1926, in memory of a donkey called Judy who gave "21 years of service", providing rides for children in the park.  I would have really appreciated a ride on Judy at this point but hey-ho onto Sefton Park we go! This is a historic park which is 200 acres in area and also has a lake (tempting to cool off in!), The Park is circular and if I was to listen to fellow runner’s HILLY!  , with footpaths, framing the green spaces
I hit 6.2 miles (10KM) whilst running through Sefton Park in 54 minutes. We then continued onto Otterspool Park. By this point I was wondering where these hills were, perhaps it’s the next park and I had misunderstood!  As we came out of Otterspool Park we ended up on the seafront and hit a headwind. As I passed the 10 mile marker a quick check of my watch showed I’d done it in 1 hour 29 minutes, slightly ahead of my 1 hour 30 minute target.  This promenade section seemed endless; it felt cruel and like the enemy was doing its best to stop me achieving my goal. I tried to hide behind “Big” people to get a slipstream. The wind was intent on keeping me back!  Looking at my watch at just over 11 miles I knew I had to keep up the pace to achieve my goal, although I felt like slowing right down! By this point there were many walkers and collapsed runners being treated by paramedics.  I tried to relax and concentrated on my style to take my mind off the pain!  Soon, (but not soon enough!) I could hear the finishing line commentator and I pushed as hard as my tired legs would allow me to ensure I beat the clock! 
As soon as I crossed the finish line I stopped my Garmin and the time stated 1:57:53.  I had to wait with baited breathe for the official time and was amazed to find it exactly the same!!  Wow, I never would have thought a Garmin could be THAT accurate!  I was delighted to have knocked a massive 23 minutes 56 seconds off my GNR time!!! View my Liverpool run here!
Just after the finish line, there was serious congestion caused by the number of runners queuing for water, medals and T shirts.  I got a medium T shirt initially but it drowned me, so I had to go back and queue again to exchange it for a small!  I was chuffed to have received a medal and a “proper running” T shirt, but slightly perplexed to receive an EMPTY goodie bag!!!  Obviously the entry fee wasn’t enough to cover recovery drinks and bars etc, although we did get a banana on the way out!!!
We had a meeting point arranged between myself, Sharon and my husband, and Sharon and I managed to locate the agreed meeting point and each other fairly easily, but the missing link in the equation failed this one!  Eventually after several text messages and phone calls we were successful!! Phew!  Couldn’t lose the driver!
I struggled slowly back to the car (trying to reply to many texts as I went!) and looked in the mirror: sweaty top – check, hair plastered to my head – check, puce face – check, dry cracked lips – check! When will I be a model runner crossing the finishing line looking a little more sophisticated?

On the way home I had an overwhelming sense of self doubt – how on earth will I run double the distance at the Chester Marathon and live to tell the tale!  I can see it now “Last woman to finish Chester Marathon in a time of 24 hours crawling towards the finish on hands and knees...” with a picture of me alongside it!  I keep reminding myself of how far I have travelled already on this running journey and must remember that before the training started for the GNR I was a member of the “I can't run a mile” club, and now look at me - A member of the sub 2 club! 

So did I enjoy it?
How did it compare to The Great North Run?

Yes, of course I enjoyed it, getting a sub 2 made it even more memorable!!  It was obviously a lot less congested then the Great North Run with less people stopping and getting in the way, and a lot less litter to trip over!  The Great North Run was far better organised, and everything ran must more smoothly there (except me of course lol).  Another difference was the lack of fancy dress runners, I only actually saw one compared with 100’s at GNR.
The GNR definitely gets the highest score for goodie bags but Liverpool had better T shirts!!!  !    Swings and roundabouts really!
Now where am I going in my challenges?
I am going to concentrate on some long walks to prepare me for the Keswick to Barrow 40 mile walk, integrating them with short runs to keep my fitness levels up!
Once the K2B is in the bag it’s time for the big one to commence – Marathon training! 


To add to a fab morning when I returned home my children (daughter has made a marvellous recovery!) had beautiful flowers, a very funny card and an Easter Egg (Don't ask!) waiting for me for Mothers Day, followed by Sunday Dinner and WINE!!!  All in all a great weekend!


  1. Well done on the sub 2hr... I really enjoyed reading your tale... Made me laugh. Your doing so well with your challenges this year.Keep it up

  2. Great marathon report! Well done on your time!

    Compared to many marathons, the Liverpool one is hilly... But only for a city one - Ones in the lakes must be much worse!

    Are you doing it again next month?! Would be great to see you re visit the course!

  3. I am nursing ligament damage in my ankle at the moment so can't commit to doing any races just yet!