The grim North turned in a near perfect day for a brisk 13 mile run. The sun was out as we were all standing in the mud of Sefton Park, somewhere in Liverpool, and it was only masked by cloud as we got off to a good, organised start. Drinks were provided along the way by eager youngsters who seemed to be having more fun than I was.
Doing this race was a much better bet than Silverstone as I suspected it would be. There were people dotted along the way providing encouragement, there was stuff to look at (although Liverpool seems to have more than its fair share of near-ruined churches) and a good half of the race was in or around parkland.
I was figuring on a time of 1h 55m based on how my training had been going, but there’s nothing like the thrill of chasing people to make you run faster. My slowest km was 5m 13s and only 8 of the 21km were over 5 mins (and most by 1-2 seconds); the fastest was 4m 04s as I came into the home straight, which took me a little by surprise. My Garmin 305 recorded the distance as 21.43km, which looks to be inside the error range you’d expect (and also allowing for me not running in a straight line along the perfect course length).
I’d forgotten that these races only post markers at mile points so I was busy calculating the km equivalents in my head and making sure I was on track. At the halfway point, I thought I had a good shot at 1h 45m but I couldn’t get enough pace on to make that time – partly, I suspect, driven by a particularly unpleasant hill (ok, so what hill isn’t unpleasant when you’re running) from about mile 7 to 8. The watch had me hitting 10km at 49m 51s which is about the fastest I’ve done since the Nike 10k back in November – and that means I was only a small amount slower in the second half than I was in the first, blowing up completely my thinking around my slowdown rates. I’ll need to redraw my pace curves.
The important thing for me, apart from finishing, is that I kept my pace measured – the spread for most km splits was +/- 5 seconds from the 5 min mark with a couple hitting 4m 45s and a couple around 5m 13s. I know that I couldn’t have kept that pace up for another 21km, but it gives me hope that I’m getting closer to a roughly 4h time.
In a couple of weeks I’ll be running the Reading Half – April 9th – so I’ll have had a chance to put in another long run, maybe 35-36km and some more speed training. Who knows, maybe I’ll surprise myself and pull a sub 4h Marathon out of the bag. That would be a good boost.