Stood in the middle of a rather grey Lincolnshire Showground, rain threatening to fall and a wind trying to gather some force, for a moment I thought – what on earth am I doing?! One week post the Berlin Marathon, I was about to line up for the Lincoln Half Marathon. My legs were not perfect and my last three mile run had itself almost felt like a marathon - but here I was. My doubts about deciding to run the race were pushed aside though as making my way through the race village I continually bumped into friends and familiar faces who were also running – it reminded me I simply could not miss taking part in a race in my hometown.
I completed the Lincoln Half Marathon last year, its first year back after a long absence, but this year the course had changed considerably, meaning the vast majority of it would be totally new. I say totally new, it was still formed of streets and routes that I had ran on before, but just never in this order. I was curious to test this new course, I had my doubts about how well it would be supported with some very rural roads being included, and it also featured a section along the local riverbank, which I was worried may be quite narrow and congested.
From the off I just went for it really; there was no point holding back and being cautious about what my legs may or may not be capable of, I was here now so might as well put myself to the test. The first section led from the Showground down to the village of Burton. I was running quick at this point, 7.39 and 7.36 min/mile for the first two splits, which felt strangely comfortable, and I was just not allowing myself to think about the miles to come. The course turned into Burton Village, which is a long steep downhill and runners were absolutely flying down. I tried to keep fairly reserved, actually considering my poor limbs now and not wanting to shred my quads in mile three. Running through the remainder of Burton was slightly surreal as it is a route I have completed many times before, just not with so many other runners around me! The course then turned and flattened out as it followed a road leading to the riverbank and eventually the towpath. On the flat my legs already started to feel a little less at ease. It’s hard to explain the sensation, but they just did not feel right, as if movement was not as natural as normal. This was quite early on, around 4 miles – so still a long way to go!
From here on I think the race proved to be almost as mentally testing as a marathon; I just had to tell myself not to worry, I was still moving, and despite the discomfort, my pace was not suffering – just keep going. Hitting the towpath was not nearly as bad as I feared, not crowded, and again it just felt surreal to see one of my regular running routes streaming with runners. As we then headed into the main centre of Lincoln the next test was about to arrive. Perhaps it was because my legs were still not fully recovered from last week’s Berlin Marathon, but I found the following couple of miles really hard. The course weaved through the centre of Lincoln and simultaneously up a number of differing inclines – even the ramp which led us through the Lincoln Castle grounds felt like a mountain! My hamstrings were tightening and on one particular hill, Carline Road, I seriously had to fight the thoughts in my head telling me just to walk. I didn’t though, and just tried to keep moving, I didn’t even care what my pace was at this point as long as I kept moving forward.
Leaving the centre of Lincoln the route then led us on a long straight road back to the Lincolnshire Showground. I was struggling at this point. The hills felt like they had wiped out my body and I had a battle going on in my head about just stopping. To be honest I don’t really know how I got through miles nine to eleven; I think I just tried to push out the doubts and focus on the fact I was actually still able to run. Never did I think this was going to be a PB run, however as I passed the mile eleven marker, that changed. At this point I actually examined my Garmin, did some running maths and realised what may be possible. I forced my legs to pick up the pace again, my determination grew and I started picking off runners ahead of me. Turning into the Showground I longed to see the finishing arch, my legs were feeling incredibly strange beneath me now and I just wanted to get across the line and - for once - stop running! I made it through the red archway and slammed my Garmin to a stop almost as quickly as my legs ground to a halt. My time was 1:42:07, a new PB, and it later turned out a time which secured 15th female spot.
I did find the run tough at times, as probably excepted so close after a marathon. I feel I really had to fight hard to get that PB though, and I am proud of what I achieved mentally and physically. What I also loved, and what kept me going on numerous occasions, was the support on the course. I feared it may be sparse, but I was wrong, with pockets of spectators all over. Being in my hometown meant I was spotted by so many people I knew. A number of people who recognised me from our Lincoln parkrun event also enthusiastically cheered ‘Go parkrun!’ as I passed, which felt lovely to be recognised as part of our running community. I grimaced at a few spectators and said my legs were hurting me, but I was very thankful of all forms of support from friends and familiar faces, and the marshals along course were equally as enthusiastic and supportive. The course also exceeded my expectations; I think it is slightly tougher than the old route, but I really enjoyed it.
So, a half marathon and a marathon PB in the space of a week. My legs have amazed me and I am thankful of what my body has been able to achieve - time for a rest now?!
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...