Race: Hero Half Marathon
Location: Longdendale Trail, Hadfield
Finish Time: 02:18:55
The third race of the Tour of Tameside was definitely the toughest. Up until this race I would’ve said that half marathon was my favourite race distance. This race changed my opinions on that. It was hot, it was long (read as slow) and it was boring.
Getting out of bed on the Saturday morning was the first challenge. My lower back seized up after the Friday night race, probably because I do not have enough core strength for running fast down steep hills. I went to bed covered in deep freeze gel and with an ice pack for comfort. I just about managed to stretch out, force down some breakfast and get myself ready for day 3, whilst wishing I was still asleep.
The race start is in a big field (that doubles as a car park) on the edge of Hadfield somewhere. Thankfully a running friend gave me a lift meaning I didn’t have to attempt to get there on a train and two buses! The queue for the toilets was massive and they probably could have done with more toilets for the number of people.
My legs didn’t want to work for the first mile or so. Very painful and stiff. However once warmed up, I settled into a comfortable pace and tried to just focus on ticking off the miles. The course was reasonably flat and although it was trail it was a good solid path so no need for trail shoes. My feet were thankful for the cushioning. The main problem was the heat. I am not a fan of running in the heat so dropped the pace and just tried to get through it.
The course is an out and back down the trail, towards the end of the Woodhead Reservoir before turning around somewhere and running back. It is such a boring, straight route that the race website doesn’t even have a full route map! I think I reached 5.5 miles before the lead runners came back the other way. Then it was a long stream of people running back the other way for the next 2 miles. It seemed to go on forever and was very disheartening. Turning around the run back was the best feeling and provided a short term boost.
One the return leg, I ended up running alongside a guy from Liverpool for a few miles. We definitely kept each other going. My pace probably would have dropped off at that point due to fatigue and the heat, however having someone to run with kept me going. I couldn’t keep up in the end, but we met up again afterwards, and both expressed our gratitude to each other.
Eventually the finish line arrived. I’ve never been so happy and I’ve never felt so broken after a race either. The heat took everything out of me. I kept standing up and realising I should probably just sit back down again and sip a cold drink. Tough going and very slow compared to my best half marathon attempts.