North London half marathon race report

“Running hills breaks up your rhythm and forces your muscles to adapt to different stresses. The result? You
become a stronger runner.

-Eamonn Coughlin

42 days till the 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon

When I won my place in the vitality north London half marathon & Q&A on the marathontalk Facebook I thought “great, a nice flat warm up race.” and even when I read it was undulating I still reckoned it would be, being London, still fairly flat and somewhere I could possibly PB even go sub 80min.

So fast forward a month, still getting over a bad cold and undertrained, I find myself in The Allianz park stadium of Saracens RUFC after a 2hr journey from South east to North London, dropping my bag in bag store before making my way to join 6500 other hardy cold souls at the start line just a few feet away from compare Martin Yelling and the Mobot himself. On the buzzer we all set off on our way to Wembley stadium for the halfway point. Setting off at a fair whack I purposely slowed for an initial 5.49, Under the railway bridge where there appeared to be the first water station, after a mile and a half. Bizarre. Mile 2 brought a slightly rolling 6.05. Mile 2.5 brought the first climb, a dozy that went on for a full 1/2mile. 6.22

Over the top and descending quickly we turned right to be confronted with a set of two steepish climbs. So much for flat London. My garmin beeped near the bottom for mile 4 6.02. I could see the arch of Wembley stadium on my left. I was handling the hills great but I noticed we also had a tailwind. The return would be interesting.  Descending down past Asda and along the top of a park came mile 5 6.23. Down the side of the park and the town of Wembley high St 6.02.

We eventually made it to Wembley stadium, turned off the road and along the long path that leads to the iconic stadium. I was getting goosebumps just running towards it.

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Under the stand and here it was the hallowed turf.

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You don’t realise how big it actually is. I took a very audible Gasp, thought about how running out in front of a capacity crowd must be heartstoppingly amazing and loud. Saw my name appear on the big screen before I was back out thru the players tunnel, grabbing a bottle of lucozade and back down Wembley way. My garmin beeped for mile 7 6.30. Whoops, I’d been sight seeing too much me thinks.

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Running down Wembley way I noticed the headwind was going in the direction of the hills. Back up the high street to the park 6.44 and definitely having to work. Past the Asda pushing hard into the wind and finally over the top to descend to the bottom of the 2nd big hill. I knew the climb up here would be minor compared to the 2 descents but we turned right instead and up another hill for a loop before eventually dropping back down a little to climb to the top of the 1st big hill. 6.30.

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Used this to catch and pass a few Trent RC runners who were working together to keep pushing and kept the pace going to pull away before turning back towards Barnet. 6:20.  10mile so it meant kicking on for the last few miles. The wind was either side on or in your face but I worked before going back under the railway bridge/tunnel 6.15.

Making the way thru the housing estate which I hadn’t noticed on the way out was downhill and now uphill in 6:35 I had a Chinese kid who passed me at mile 3 a quarter of a mile in front. It became a little windy here with a lot of turns. We passed the 13mile sign where we had started the race 6.19. I knew it was more than 0.1mile to the finish so knew the course had been measured long. We turned across a bumpy grass field and onto the leg sapping astroturf for the last 200m which included one last 90% turn finishing in 1:23.38.  65th/6500ish

Slower than the Brass Monkey in January but a far better performance. Those hills cost me dear.
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The winner, a Kenyon man called Hillary (chuckle) when presented his 1st place said he just fancied a little jog. Could of slapped him. Lol.

Very happy. disappointed I didn’t PB or didn’t get near 80min but on that course. Post cold virus and in the wind it wasn’t going to happen. Couldn’t have ran harder or smarter so no grumbles.

Meeting Mo Farah was great. He came across as a funny, sincere guy with no airs and graces. It’s nice for him to say the marathon is HARD and he uses the crowd to motivate himself.

London isn’t as flat as I thought it was.

Anyway, bye for now

“Ability is what you are capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude is how well you do it.”
                                                -Lou Holtz, U of S.

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