It’s Good But It’s Not Quite Right

By Andy Inchley

So I haven’t done a half marathon all year, I can’t run the winter half due to an inconsiderate wedding and Bedford is the day after the December Chiltern League so when a friend from MKAC mentioned he was going to Leicester to try and get a London marathon qualifying time I thought I’d tag along, play chauffeur and at least get a time to my name this year.

The weather forecast was just about perfect and we arrived at a chilly but dry Victoria Park with an hour or so before the start. It all looked pretty efficient and bigger than I expected so had no problems collecting my number and doing all the usual pre-race gubbins before joining a few thousand others on the start line.

I left Tom to line up at the front as I took a more conservative approach a few yards back, hoping that I’d be able to work through the field as I thought my PB would get me in the top 15 or so, but not really knowing whether 1:17 or 1:25 was more likely!

Anyway the first mile and a half is a nice steady downhill so the challenge is holding yourself back, but you do of course realise while you’re doing it that the last mile is going to be something similar in reverse! I went through in around 5:50 and continued to feel pretty good, but not great as I held a sub-6 pace through the first 6 miles and was gradually picking people off. My insides however were not feeling so hot and so a quick “pitstop” just after halfway added about 40 seconds (yes I did look at my watch when stopped and restarted!) to my time and put me behind the two leading ladies.

The good thing about this was that I did have a new target and so quickly got back up to a similar pace and started working through the field again. There was a short sharp climb at around 8 miles and the 10th and 11th miles were particularly twisty and difficult to retain pace as a result, before you got to the final two which were basically one long drag all the way.

Those last two miles were through the middle of the pedestrianised city centre and so were actually good running and nice to have healthy support, just hard work and despite flogging myself I slowed quite a lot. No-one overtook me so I guess everyone else was feeling the same but it was a little depressing to see the time ebbing away.

There was finally some respite for the last 0.1 as we came into the finish and my 1:20:28, whilst being a bit disappointing wasn’t all that bad after a hard week of training and not really any long runs. It was a fairly quiet but philosophical journey home as Tom had actually only finished a minute ahead of me so was somewhat disappointed too.

All-in-all, if you are thinking of doing the Leicester half (or marathon for that matter) then I wouldn’t put you off as it’s well organised and quite a varied route, but I wouldn’t say it’s somewhere to go for a fast time.

Anyway, onwards and upwards. Maybe a week off?