Yesterday (16th October) I took part in the inaugural Manchester Half Marathon. As soon as I I found this race being advertised earlier this year I signed up immediately. Partly because the race was on my doorstep being only a 20 minute drive away, but when I saw the elevation profile and the word “flat” I was sold 🙂
The race HQ was Old Trafford Cricket Ground which was familiar territory for me having been to see a number of England games there, and was a great setting. I got there early with some fellow Warrington Running Club members. We got there nice and early, partly to avoid the traffic, but also to get to the bag drop in plenty of time before the race. This race was organised by the same people who do the Manchester Marathon, and after some issues with bag pick up in previous years at that event I wasn’t sure how reliable the service was going to be. I’m happy to say that the whole process was seamless. Easy drop off, helpful volunteers and no wait to collect at the end. Excellent stuff!!!
We headed back to the Football Ground (Manchester United) to meet the other runners from our club for the obligatory pre-race photo. I really MUST remember to either bring one of the many foil blankets from previous races or a throw away t-shirt to my next winter race as it was absolutely freezing waiting for the start and we were all looking on enviously of those much smarter runners who had stayed wrapped up until the last possible minute.
In true Manchester fashion the rain began to fall almost at the very second the gun went off. It had been a while since I had run in the rain but the positives were that there was absolutely no danger of overheating! The first 3 miles took us in a loop away from the start and race HQ and then back again and we then ran mainly on dual carriageway out of the city and towards Sale. Although you couldn’t describe this route as particularly scenic it did live up to its billing of being flat (aside from the odd incline up bridges). It was a strange route I felt as it captured neither any views or particular landmarks, and didn’t really feel like a city run either. I guess this is different in the race’s big brother, the Manchester Marathon.
After the English Half Marathon last month where my pace was too fast in the first half, I took a very disciplines approach to the first half of the race. I was aiming to run steady and consistent miles at 8min 15secs and see where that got me at half way round. In actual fact I managed to maintain this sort of pace until around mile 9. Mile 8 was a struggle but it was great to see my family just before mile 9 and get a high 5 from my daughter. They had come into Manchester and used the tram system to get to different places on the course (which made it really easy for supporters to get around – another perk).
After that my pace began to slow and despite trying to keep going, my mile times increased quite a bit. I was determined not to walk or to have any miles over 9 minutes, like I had in my last half, and thought if I could do that then I might have a chance of squeaking in under 1hr 50min and a very outside chance of a PB. In the end though, those last few miles got the better of me and I finished in 1:49:37, so just about 40 seconds slower than my PB.
Although I was disappointed with fading in the final 3 miles (again) I can’t be unhappy with only my second time under 1hr 50 for a half marathon, so I will celebrate that success. The long finishing straight was a welcome relief compared to the Chester Metric Marathon a fortnight ago which had a number of sneaky hills and inclines in the final few miles, and after crossing the line we were funnelled back into the cricket ground to collect medals, goody bags etc. Credit where it is due, the organisation was faultless and picking up t-shirts, medals, goody bags and retrieving my stuff from the bag drop was a breeze. Although the alcohol free pint at the end felt like a good idea at the time, it didn’t sit that well on my stomach afterwards 🙂
Overall although not the world’s most scenic route it was a well organised event and I was pleased with my time. I think I will be back next year, and I am contemplating running the full version of this next year too…..eeeek
Does anyone else fade over the last few miles of a race? What sort of training could I do to try and stop myself slowing down so much?