My first Half Marathon – Liverpool Rock N Roll

Liverpool Rock and Roll Half marathon was one of the key fitness goals for 2017, targeting a bullish sub 1h 50m.

TLDR – I did it! 1h 44m 29s

Half Marathon tracking via Strava
Half Marathon tracking via Strava

Earlier in the year, when I booked the race, I was really confident in hitting this target – just over 5min/km pace i told myself and with the help of Strava, I set upon my four month training plan – three runs each week mostly consisting of 1 long run and two shorter runs.

However, the last 8 weeks or so, races (damn them) have got in the way – no long run weekends. So in the run up to this, the further I have run (straight, no obstacles) was around 12km – much shorter than the 21km I needed to run at pace. I had move my expectation out to a sub 2-hour run, but still hoping for somewhere around 1.50

Rock n Roll Weekend

My first mistake was to expect to pick up my pack on the Sunday before the start of the Half Marathon – I was wrong, I could only pick up on the Friday or Saturday before. I decided to do the 5km on the Saturday as well as pick up my pack. I had read somewhere that an easy run before a half marathon helps to stretch the legs. The run was great – I tried to take it easy and came in at just over 26 minutes. A little quicker than I wanted to be, but I felt good, the legs were fine and it was great to take a few pictures as the route around the docks seemed to be over very quickly.

The Half Marathon

As for kit prep, I had 3 SIS gels, a pre-workout shot and a protein shake for after the run. I was wearing my reeboks with Enertor insoles (of course), sub sports compression boxers, reebok shorts, enertor tech vest, asics compression calf sleeves and lots of gurney goo for lubrication. I was warned by many runners that i should not try anything new for race day – and all this kit has been well used across many races. I was comfortable with my choices.

The weather going into the weekend was a beautiful 20+ degrees! Great for sunbathing, BAD for running. Even in the morning of the 5km on the Saturday, it got to 21C at 11am. Sunday fortunately was much cooler – around 13/14C from 9am. At least that was one less thing to worry about.

Running with Vinni, I had planned a 5min/km pace and he had agreed to keep up as much as he could – however the issue was that he had a tight calf going into the run. I actually left him inside the first kilometre, part of this was down to dodging the huge amount of runners in front of us and the early quick(ish) pace I started with. I was also warned by runners not to allow the adrenaline to take over and make sure that the first few km was at a steady pace and no blow up too quickly. I slowed myself down and settled into a steady 5m/km pace.

I chose Liverpool Rock and Roll as my first half marathon down to the live bands playing along the route – pretty much every mile. This did not disappoint – it was great to see the crowds and the bands along the route which helped keep my spirits up. We were very quickly out of the city centre and I took my first gel (around 6km) and where I also (literally) ran into instagrammer @running_for_autism a quick selfie was taken at the water station and I was off again. I took the advice of everyone and made sure I hydrated at every water stop – using the water to cool me down, wet my sweatband and also as a quick drink. I probably drank a bit too much as at around the 9km mark I had to have an unscheduled stop.

I was up and through Sefton Park and starting to head back to the docks – I still felt strong at this point and took my second gel around 13km. I was looking at my watch and saw I was on course for a sub 1.50 but also on course for a sub 1.45 as long as I kept up my pace.

The final part of the run seemed to be endless and the most gruesome. It was a straight run along the promenade and around 5km long to the finish line. Boring! Boring! Boring! at certain places there was pinch points, with very little space for runners running shoulder to shoulder, so I had to be nimble on the feet again, trying to keep  my pace, whilst still not “shoving” people out of the way. I was relly tired at this point – the furthest I had ran before and just wanting to get to the finish line – which came up, hundreds of people lining the finish at the Echo Area. A great sight, a great medal! And what was more exciting for me – an amazing time of 1h 44m 29s!

Last thoughts

I think I was fortunate enough to be of a good level of fitness to be able to keep going. And even though I had never run any where near that far “straight” running Tough Mudders, Spartans and other OCRs at least gave me “time on my feet”

I had said that as long as I got sub 2 I would have been happy and not tempted to run again. Had I got near 1.45 without ducking under it, I think I would have had to go again. It’s the day after and I am still not tempted to run a half marathon again. But the Rock and Roll Half Marathon was a lot of fun and as they say “Never say never”…..

NB – I know I’ve copied the “proof” copies of my half marathon photos. I was happy to buy one but at £20 for a SINGLE download?! That is just crazy. That’s 2/3 the cost of the race.

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