Leicester Half Marathon // Race Report

Oh my where do I start with this one…firstly I still cannot believe that I actually finished a half marathon in any shape or form and I’m so proud that I managed to finish and finish within my time frame of 3 hours.

So I will start at the beginning, the very beginning. On May 27th I wrote a blog post on here (OMG! What have I done) which was basically me signing up for my first half marathon and 5K after we came back from our weekend away in Liverpool/Birmingham and being inundated with loads of people in Liverpool with amazing medals. Somehow on the 4 hour boat trip back home I had managed to wear down both my sisters and we signed up to do the 5K and the half marathon that week! Prior to this I we all hadn’t done any proper running ever. The thought of even doing a 5K was something.

On the 29th April I started the Couch to 5k, the weather was horrendously hot, just OMG hot but I had already decided it was a now or never kinda thing. I really really wanted to be able to do that half marathon next May. For once I had decided to give myself more than enough time to train!

After doing the first week of the Couch to 5K I just couldn’t believe how hard it was, so we did week 1 again. The thought of actually running a half marathon was now setting in and I knew it was going to be hard, very hard. After doing week 1 again, I steadily went through the C25K system until we got to Week 4 and I did the Bubble Rush. This was my first actual “race.” It wasn’t far only just over a mile but it was my first time running for that long both in time and distance at once. I was immensely happy I managed to do it and the Bubble Rush defiantly gave me a little boast to keep on going.

Then you get to week 6 of the C25K and I’m on holiday in Wales. I had up to this point made sure that I was running the 3 days which it suggests, even if they were back to back. Now I was going to keep to the C25K system while on holiday but as I was already running for around 20/30 minutes with the system I just thought what the hell and decided to run for half an hour at a time. On one day I was feeling really good and ran for an hour (14th July), this was the first time I had ever ran for that long and it was an amazing feel. I just kept going and going and going!

After my hour run that was it, I didn’t do anymore of the C25K and just went out and ran my own thing, whether it was to a certain milage or time I just got out and ran. I also went to my first ever Park run the week after we came back from our holiday in Wales.

I was looking around the internet on possibly doing another half marathons next year and found out that the Leicester Half Marathon was on the day we we’re going to come back home, I had some birthday money from the Other Half’s parents as a birthday present so I signed up. Nothing gained nothing lost right?!

Training

My training for my first half wasn’t probably what most people would do, once I had done the couch to 5K and learned that I could run I just went out and ran. I didn’t have a schedule at all, if I was having a good day I went for it. Closer to the time though I did make sure that I was running around 3 times a week, twice at 2 miles or 5 miles and then once longer. I know that once I hit English soil I tried to get out every day for as long as I could whether that was cycling or running just to keep me going, because of my ankle doing a taper was out of the question, as soon as I stop doing any type of exercise on it, it seizes up and I just didn’t want that on race day. My longest run was for 10 miles and I did that the first week we we’re over. I mainly did the run to see a) if I manage to run that far, I knew I’d already done a run for that long but I knew afterwards I couldn’t go any further and b) to see what my timings were like and c) to see how I managed with eating on the go.

The Day Before

The day before race day I made sure we just dallied around, I didn’t want to do anything above and beyond and truth be told I was super nervous. What I did do which I normally wouldn’t was drink around 3 litres before bed, this right here was a BAD mistake. I was up most of the night peeing. Here was me worried that I wouldn’t be hydrated and I really don’t think it helped. Next time I might just try and drink a little more throughout the day and not all in one go. I did manage to sleep for a long while which I am grateful for.

Throughout the week we had been checking the weather and at first it looked like it was going to be amazing and then the rain came in, so I knew the night before it wasn’t going to be a dry race and made sure I countered this in my clothing. I picked a t-shirt which was thin and I went with an old pair of leggings which I also knew were thin this way when they got wet I wouldn’t feel like I was wearing something super heavy. You can also see in my flat lay above what I had decided to wear for my race and also my nutrition for my race. One of the one things I had ummmed and arrrrred about was whether to take my Salomon hydration pack. It seems that a lot of people even if they train with them do not bring them to the races. I had trained with mine since I started to do bigger runs and for me, he’s a little safety blanket. I already knew my own hydration drink wasn’t going to be served at the feed stations so for me it was an easy call. It also meant I could just breeze past the feed stations as I was entirely self sufficient.

My other half had decided that he was going to cycle around the race and take photo’s of me for me, which just filled me with joy, so he spent the afternoon getting his folding bike all sorted and the camera so he was ready to go.

Race Day

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Race day morning was something else. We had gotten the other half’s dad to drop us off at the starting point but we could see how bad the traffic was so got stopped off at another point and walked around the mile to the start line, by this point I was REALLY nervous, this was my first race and I really didn’t know what to do or where to go, thankfully we could see a load of runners so just followed them to the start. The rain by this point was very close to monsoon weather it was just so heavy, I really couldn’t believe how much it was raining.

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After we followed everyone we managed to get to the start line, which I thought would be something more, but really happy we found it. A quick few snaps (the first few were taken with my mac in a sack over my number lol) then off to the toilets to have a quick pee before the race.

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Then it was 15 minutes to the start so I handed over my waterproof jacket to the other half, got myself in position (as far back as I could go) and did a few stretches to help out my hips and such. I had a lovely natter with a few people next to me, one of which was doing the Marathon (it was his first) and I think he was either putting it on youtube or he was doing some Instagram/facebook live thing. I’ll never know lol. You can see him kinda in the first two of these photos, in the white t-shirt and grey shorts.

The Start

When the clock ticked down and it was ready to go, I was expecting the little quick start slow start thing, it happens every time at the park run, you kind of fast walk up to the start line then run over it. It was at this point I started my Garmin and off we went.

I had already decided that once I clicked on my Garmin I wasn’t going to be paying any attention to it, apart from on the odd occasion to check how fast I was running. I didn’t want to see my time till the end just because I was worried I would panic if I was close and zoom off at the beginning. My other half knew my target was three hours though.

And we’re off

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The first part was through the main roads of Leicester and it was all closed off for us, it was really weird running through all the red lights!! I stayed with the lovely lady from the start (in the white t-shirt) and we had a good natter for around a mile or two. I found out that she had taken up running because she had lost her other half late last year.

Already I was really worried about my timings not because of timings but more to make sure I was going slow enough. The first mile I was running 11.02 min miles, this was fine as the first mile was all downhill.

I was quite amazed at how many people were already walking after a mile. I’d read the information leaflet which stated there was no walking in the first 3 miles. I guess the amount of people walking was quite unexpected for me.

It was at around mile 2ish that my lovely friend had a loose shoelace and I continued without her (I did ask if she wanted me to wait for her though!).

By mile two I was running 12.04 min miles, so getting more into the times that I wanted.

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Mile 4 and I was still feeling really good, the girl in the purple and me did quite a few cat and mouse things. I would always catch her up and she would continue on just a wee bit faster than me, you’ll probably see her in quite a few photos lol.

Whereas before I was amazed at how many people were walking I was now amazed at how many people were zooming past me. I had kinda hoped they were really fit and started late more than they were going fast and I was going to meet them later on because they had slowed down.

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Still on Mile 4 and going good.

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Going onto the 5th Mile and I still was feeling really good. This part was really bad in the way that it was on a duel carriageway and cars were going past super fast. With all the rain we were having I was really trying to stay away from puddles to keep me feet as dry as possible. With the cars splashing us with full frontal water this just wasn’t possible.

I do really like the last two photos here, mainly because they were taken from a different vantage point.

My timings were also doing well, by the end of mile 4 I was doing 12.20 min miles.

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Mile 7 was into Watermead Country Park. This was the first time I had actually gone into this park and it was lovely. That little bridge there was quiet hard to run over. By this time I was actually starting to wan. When I had done my training there was always something to give me little breaks, whether that was traffic lights or crossing a road ect, so by this time in the race I had been running for my longest time without a break for a while and it was starting to become tiring.

I was still doing good with my times and doing a 12.22 min mile.

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I’m in mile 9 here and starting to really feel the effects of not stopping and continuous running. You can also see just how wet the race was in this photo, when I say it was wet it was wet.

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Going into mile 10 here and I had already told myself that I could start walking in mile 10 if I needed. Only because my limit prior to the race was 10 miles so everything over that was the unknown.

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Running in mile 10 here.

By this time my times were going down and I was running a 13.35 min mile, which shows how much trouble I was having with the continuous running.

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Running into Abbey Park on my 11th mile. In the first photo I’m just having a quick natter with the two people in pink and joked whether they had already finished, to my surprise they had!!! I was just amazed and shocked. I was finding the whole run really hard and to know people had already finished was just something I was in awe off.

I’m not going to lie it did make me feel quite down as I was trying my best!

Going into Abbey Park was great though, we try and get to abbey park every time we go away as I love it, so I was starting to run on known ground.

By this time I did allow myself to walk for a bit and do some walk run walk run stuff. This can defiantly be seen in my times because I went all the way down to a 14.29 min mile.

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Not only was I walking here I was just so tired. I was starting to really find this hard.

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This was just after the feed station, love the guy trying to get a cool photo while I’m just finding it hard to keep running at this point.

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Onto mile 12 and I can feel that I am almost finished. I was trying to run more than walk but it was getting super hard to just motivate myself to actual run. I knew I wanted to but actually doing it wasn’t working.

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Running into the last mile now and going past the Clock Tower in the main town centre. I think I was trying to do a shuffle run here. My other half had told me I was doing good time and I was just trying my best. I hated walking past everyone when they were giving encouragement but by this time I was walking more than running.

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This photo was taken just before the hill into the closing part, I found this hill the worst part. I knew about it before the race but actually being faced with it when you just don’t have the energy is something else.

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This is it now, the last .1 of a mile and I kid you not when I say this has to of been the hardest .1 of a mile ever. I remember walking up to the barricade and being able to see the finish line just up ahead and not having the strength to run. I had a quick exchange with someone who was giving encouragement just generally saying how hard it was and for some reason decided to attempt to run to the end.

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And this is me finishing.

I had managed to finish my half marathon in a time of 2h 50m and 13 seconds. Just under 10 minutes than my 3 hour target. I came in at 885 out of 959, I just couldn’t of wanted for anything better. I had given it my all and I had managed to hit my target smack on.

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One super tired Nessy here. I think I am actually trying hard not to cry here. I was just overwhelmed with finishing. When I first broke my ankle I never thought I would be running, it was a dream of mine for so long and then it was just unattainable, so when I started to run I never would of thought I would have been running a half marathon and one so soon.

Just your typical yep it’s actually a real medal photo.

It’s taken me a while to get this race report up mainly because I was going through some mental breaks which made me not feel as amazed by finishing my half marathon than I should of been and I am only just getting back into a better mental place with it.

I’m internally grateful that my other half had faith in me and that I had the internal faith myself to finish this and I’ve already got a load more races that I want to do. I’ve got my Run Rock’n’Roll in Liverpool to do in May and I’m hoping to do the Leicester Half marathon next year and do a time of around 2h 30m as a target, it would be nice. I’m also pondering doing my first full marathon next year!

Overall I think if I was going to do anything differently id have liked to of done more longer runs, I found that most things I read said to only run a two thirds of what you expect to do because you’ll be able to finish it on the day and I did do that but for me actually being able to run a full 13 miles would of helped. I know I managed to run all the way to 10 miles because I had already ran it and mentally knew I could physically get to that point. After that it was purely a mental and physical thing on whether I could finish.

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