It’s the fifth year that I’ve done the Wilmslow Half. It was my first event I ever did, so I try to get to it each year. This year was a little different in that rather than using it as a race, I was using it as part of my training for IMUK. I still had a target I wanted to get to, but the main point was another 13 miles running that I could add to my training log.
Leading up to it, I’d done my usual training, but I just couldn’t seem to get any pace. My last few half marathons have been under 2 hours, and I wanted to keep that record. Ideally, I wanted to get to a time that started 1.40 something but looking at my training times, that might be a little hopeful.
I have the same routine each year. My two youngest go to school opposite the start so I tend to park outside the school as it’s easier to get away. Traffic is usually quite bad getting in so I’m usually parked up for 9 in the car reading the papers and eating bananas. I’ll wander down to the start about 9.45, queue for the toilet, have a mooch then walk up to the start line. There’s times along the start so you’re meant to start from where you think you’ll finish to help the flow. It ain’t difficult but there is still people who insist starting at the front then become mobile obstacles for the first half mile or so because they are so slow.
Once we’d started and turned off Kings Road, it appeared the traffic control must have failed somehow as there were a line of cars down the main road. Not dangerous in that they were all parked up but it just meant the width of the road was reduced and created more bunching for longer.
As I’ve said, this is the fifth year I’ve done this so I know the course very well and knew what was coming up. I got into my rhythm and just plodded on. After a couple of miles there is quite a large dip in the road so it’s reasonably easy to go running down it then back up as it’s early on in the race. The problem is you come back this way and have to do it again at about 12 miles, then it’s not so pleasant!!
The weather seemed to be holding up ok. It wasn’t cold like the previous year, when it was more Arctic than cold and it wasn’t hot like the year before that, when people were dropping with dehydration. I decided not to wear any long sleeve base layers or running tights as I didn’t want to overheat and that seemed to be the right decision, until we got just past the dip onto a long, open, straight road. There was no cover, and the wind just cuts across it and it decided that it was going to hale. Those hale stones hurt, but it was quite funny listening to some of the yelps as it came down.
Once that stopped, I just got into my rhythm of doing 8 to 8 1/2 minute miles. Everything felt comfy and this was my plan to keep under 2 hours but more importantly, to try and dip under 1.50. I had a bit of a wobble at about 5 miles but got through it ok. Can’t explain why as I felt fine but just managed to run through it. I had a gel at about 7 miles and that gave me a boost, just in time for the railway bridge, which is a small, sharp climb. All done then on through Mobberley. Lots of support which is always good, especially when your name is on the race number so spectators can call out your name as you plod past, gives you a nice boost.
Looking at my times, the sub 1.50 was on so I tried to keep it going. Got onto the back road past Mobberley Golf Club where it had haled before and the wheels came off abit. My pace dropped and it became a real struggle, especially doing that dip that I’ve mentioned, the uphill was a proper shuffle.
Soon got round the last bend and could see the finish. Not sure how or why everyone can speed up at this point, obviously bad pacing as they have too much left in reserve!! I just kept my pace going and got over the line in 1.52.08. Happy to do a Wilmslow PB by over 5 minutes but a little but gutted that I missed the sub 1.50. Those last 2 miles cost me as they were both 9 minutes plus as opposed to the 8-8 1/2 minute miles I had been doing.
After collecting my t shirt and goofy bag, carried on to the car and continued my own Wilmslow tradition. There’s always an ice cream van parked up so I had the biggest 99 I could get while I walked back to the car.
Looking back, more than happy with my time and it gives me something to go at next year. And now it’s out of the way, I can concentrate on my cycling for IMUK.