Two years ago I completed Leeds Half Marathon for the first time. It was hot and it was hard but I did it in less than 3 hours. Since then I have felt that my fitness levels have dropped, mainly due to a medical problem that I am now taking medication for. I was definitely not expecting any sort of speed this time.
I started the day badly by sleeping through my alarm. So I had to rush around and get ready. Luckily I had enough time to eat and I had got my kit ready the day before.
Meeting Lakers as usual. We always meet for a photo on the museum steps when there is a race starting in the town centre. Then we usually loiter around, making multiple toilet visits and mutual sharing of collywobbles. Nothing was different this time.
Lakers ready to go
Sarah and I run at a similar pace and we decided that we would start together but no pressure to stay together. I like to run with someone but don’t like to feel as if I have to stick to their pace. I had planned to run for 10 minutes and walk for 2 minutes but remembering the previous time I didn’t expect to stick to that.
Me and Sarah
Soon after leaving the city centre Sarah left me behind, I could see her for a good while up there in front.
As usual, the first couple of miles were hell. It was hot, way too hot for mid May but it was hot 2 years ago too so I was sort of prepared for it. All I could think of was why on earth do I put myself through this crap. Every. Single. Time. Then I remembered that I had signed up for the Yorkshire Marathon and started thinking of ways to wriggle out of that torture. At this point I decided that I was never going to run, ever again. I hate running.
For the first couple of miles I was also trying to decide whether the feeling in my bladder was real or just my imagination. As I approached a row of portaloos at the bottom of Meanwood Road I decided that it was real and queued for 4 minutes (more about that later).
I had volunteered at a Go Tri event the day before and was looking out for Rich who organised it. That kept me distracted for a while but I was convinced that I had missed him, then, when I had stopped looking I heard him shout my name! Not long after that a sneaky Ewan caught me up.
Ewan was not actually doing the race but in his madness decided to run the route. We chatted for a while before he whizzed off. I blame him for my PB. He distracted me from the fact that I was actually running up a hill. Stonegate Road and Ring Road are long and boring, thankfully there were lots of supporters with music and of course, Ewan.
Talking does really help with running. I saw Sarah in the distance and managed to catch up with her on the uphill section of the Ring Road and we stayed together for a little bit but she felt tired and encouraged me to go on ahead.
The next section weaves through a housing estate and this is my favourite part. The spectators line the streets with goodies like orange segments and sweeties, someone even had a hosepipe to cool us down. Another reason I like this bit so much is because it’s the top of the hill and I know that its (nearly) all downhill from there.
Just before turning onto Kirkstall Road I spotted a familiar face that I wasn’t expecting, I thought he had seen me and was taking a photo. I was so excited to see him, I ran up and hugged him. At this point I need to apologise to him and his wife, he was actually there for her and she was just behind me.
After that embarrassing episode, I whizzed around the corner onto the start of Kirkstall Road. All along the course people were shouting encouragement, I had Binnsy on my number so that when I heard people calling Amanda I knew to look for them because they did actually know me. The cheers helped break up a long and boring run down Kirkstall Road which is very mentally draining. It doesn’t help that 3 races over the year are on some part of it. I’m giving Leeds 10k a miss this year, partly because of this and partly because the alternative is much more scenic.
Typical of England, the weather hadn’t actually listened to the forecast. It was supposed to be cool and cloudy with some rain so I didn’t bother with suncream. I ended up with a touch of sunburn on my face. Oh well, at least it will be good for my vitamin D levels.
Up the last hill, round the corner and I can smell the finish line from here. After last time, I remembered that the finish line was round the corner from where the Leeds 10k finish line is so I didn’t start my sprint finish until I was very close.
The Lakers cheerleading team were waiting, as were the South Leeds Sisters, accompanied by cousin Steve. Close to the finish line I heard a random voice in the crowd but by this point I couldn’t see very much so didn’t find out until later that it was Mr Pickles. Of course, I had the obligatory finish line tears as I collected my medal. My finish time was 2:54:37, 16 seconds faster than last time. It would have been 4 minutes if I hadn’t had to queue at the portaloos.
I sat down with a fellow Laker and took off my shoes and socks to discover my first ever black toenail. This later became a blister under the nail which burst and I no longer have a nail on that toe. We waited for Sarah and then headed down to the pub for beer, food and more beer. The cheers from the Lakers echoed down the alley, that’s why I love running with a club.
In a fit of craziness (or maybe while drunk) I have already signed up to do it all again next year.