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Yesterday was a pretty tiring and eventful day. It started off by me waking around 7:30am in order to get the taxi to the train station at 8:15 in preparation for the Bolton half marathon that was meant to start at 10am. I was quite eager for the race.
I got to Bolton around 9:20 and I made the short trip from the train station to the starting point which was only a few minutes away. The first thing that struck me was that it was fairly quiet for a half marathon but I guess that was either because it was Bolton's first in around 30 years or that there were loads of other races going on over that weekend such as the Wigan 10k.
I also met my fellow Red Rose Road Runner Sarah who was also at the race and it was nice to see a familiar face there and we wished each other well. The standard runner does a pre-race trip to the loo and the queues are normally ages and it was no different here. Met a guy called Steve and he told me about how amazing the Soleus GPS watches are. Might need to invest in one of these bad boys.
The race started bang on 10am and we crossed the starting line. The long race had began and it was time to get going. I had not had a look at the route beforehand but there was a slight hill even on the first mile. Most of my fellow runners including myself tend to hate running up hills and I thought put the hills at the end.
My body was already beginning to hurt but I don't think it was because of the hill because it hurted before that but I carried on through the pain and I eventually found a good rhythm and my pace was good too. As we turned the corner and ran towards river there was 2 huge downward hills and I thought yes love downward hills. I tried to run a bit faster on these parts to pick up the speed and that was one of the best parts of the race. I didn't know at that point that we would have to run back up them on the 11th mile.
Running by the river was amazing. Some of you may know that I also love nature and the outdoors so the view to me was scenic and beautiful which made that part of the race quite enjoyable for me. We had passed the 3rd mile and just a few hundred yards down I saw a sign saying 10 miles so I knew they had planned the route to come back along the same way.
The race carried on and we had a few more small hills. For a runner a small hill can however seem like a mountain but I guess it can make you realise how mentally tough you can be. We got to the 6th mile and I was looking forward to getting at least half way through and we were only half a mile away. At the point I was still running at a good rhythm and good pace but was unsure whether or not I would be able to carry this on over the second half of the race.
From somewhere I managed to keep the same pace and as we approached the 9th mile I checked the time and it was 11:37 and I could really beat my personal best here (pb). My previous pb was 2 hours 30 mins so I had 53 mins to run 4.1 miles. I was confident but I also know how races can take unexpected turns and sometimes your body can totally run out of energy. I was determined to get the pb. I was determined to get one at the start of the race but now I believed I could do it.
Along we went by the river again past the 10 miles sign that I previously saw and the woman behind me commented it's just a parkrun now. For anyone who doesn't know parkrun is a 3 mile run that takes place on a Saturday morning up and down the country. Mentally this helped me and gave me some encouragement that the end was near.
Now my legs were feeling very painful and by now I had resorted to going at a gentle slow jog pace but I was determined not to stop as I had not stopped once during the whole race even on the hills. I even asked the marshalls where mile 11 was because by now I wanted the race to end. The long run along the river had now ended and now it was time to tackle the 2 big hills that we had previously seen at the start with a smaller hill before. To be honest I didn't know whether or not I would have been able to carry on with the gentle jog up these hills without stopping but I wanted to give it my best and wanted to try. With some grit and determination I got to the top without stopping but my legs were very tired but the hard part was over and now it was flat or downhill. I just knew that I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other. It was hard but I kept going.
Got passed the 12 mile and there was only 1.1 miles left. Nearly there! I realised we were probably heading back in the same direction which meant another downward hill. I was looking forward to the finish now. A few mins from the finish line, saw a Cafe Nero and thought post race refreshment is now sorted. Love the frapes there but had a milkshake this time.
As I passed Cafe Nero there was only a few hundred yards left and turned the corner into the finishing straight and I was trying to get the crowd to raise the noise as I normally like to do but as I crossed the finishing line I saw the time and I was completely shocked 2 hours 19 mins but my official finishing time was 2 hours 18 mins as I had started the race near the middle/end of the crowd which meant I was slightly delayed. Had my hands on my head completely stunned and shocked but so happy. I thought I would have been happy beating my pb by a few mins but 12 mins was quite overwhelming. I had a huge smile on my face and it actually made quite emotional in a happy way. No I didn't cry by the way.
I also saw Sarah again after the race and she also got a pb and I was so pleased for her and she had done amazing too and I was happy to share the moment with another team member!
One thing runners tend to like is a bit of bling aka the medal at the end and here is a pic.
To top the day off I also had an event in Manchester which I ended up getting lost on the way to the venue made me late but looking back now it was pretty funny.
All in all a tiring day but I was glad to be out and about.
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