The creation of a brand new half marathon in my hometown would normally fill me excitement - I love our annual Lincoln 10k event and with a thriving running community a half marathon was a much needed addition for the city. However, when I saw the date this event fell on, I was a little less enthused. The Lincoln Half Marathon was scheduled for a just week after the Berlin Marathon - not ideal for me. After weeks of resisting signing up, trying to be sensible, and telling people I would not be running I found myself with a race number. I could not resist.
Race day was beautiful; a crisp cold morning, but with a bright blue sky which was promising some Autumnal warmth. I had decided to cycle to the start of the race, which was slightly out of town, in order to avoid the notoriously rubbish Lincoln traffic. It was not too far, and although I may have looked slightly odd riding a borrowed bike which was a bit too small for me (maybe it was more BMX style cycling!) the ride warmed me up nicely ready to run.
I was not sure how I should approach the race. My recovery following the Berlin Marathon had been good and my legs felt ready to run - just what pace could they cope with? I wanted to try and run sub 1hr 50, but I did not think I would be challenging my existing PB of 1:47:14. In the end I decided just to set off and let my legs make the decision for me, and I seemed to find myself naturally running around 8 min/mile pace or just under. My quads started to feel sore from about two miles in, but the discomfort did not develop and I was able manage it.
The first section of the race felt very pleasant, the familiarity of running around my hometown and spotting so many runners I knew was lovely. The peacefulness of the city as runners swept across Lincoln's cobbled streets and around my old University campus was quite eerie. My tranquility was frequently broken though as someone I knew spotted me from the sidelines and cheered my name. The second section of the route was always going to be the tougher part. Between miles 8-9 the route took on Yarborough Hill - a long road with set on a steep incline which had been the talk of the race for many weeks. I was not too fearful of it and found myself tackling it with a determined force; it hurt my sore quads even more, but I stuck to my rhythm. This hill caused my pace to drop slightly for the subsequent miles to just over 8 min/mile pace, but with good miles in the bank already I was not concerned. The last four miles were set on an up and down stretch, against a headwind, and heading out of the city again on exposed rural roads. It was hard work to keep pace, but little glances at my watch told me I could challenge my PB if I kept going, which was all the motivation I needed.
With one mile left I had the joyous realisation that unless I totally collapsed in this final mile I would get a PB. Even with this knowledge I did not rest on my laurels and still wanted to surge for the finish, quickening my stride along the final paths and attempting to sprint the final 400m. I crossed the line in 1hr 46min 10sec - PB achieved.
It was clear from the number of people I knew running the Lincoln Half Marathon that the event inspired many to challenge themselves and in some cases even take up running. I am pleased to have been part of this day and the first - and hopefully not the last - event. A PB was totally unexpected and a wonderful surprise, and the result has shown me what I am capable of doing if I look after my body correctly after a feat such as running a marathon.
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...