Sunday 11th May 2014
This years Leeds Half Marathon saw over 20 Roundhay Runners competing in the Run For All Leeds Half Marathon.
Below are a some of there thoughts on the race:
There’s one obvious advantage to running the Leeds Half Marathon, it’s at home game. No need to get up ridiculously early, stiffen up in a car for hours and eat cold porridge out of a sandwich box because that’s your race breakfast………
No, running in Leeds means sleeping in your own bed, eating hot porridge and arriving at the start feeling energised and ready to go.
But that’s not the best bit, the best bit is the support and you need it for Leeds because it is what I would describe as a “runners-race”. A tough course, virtually no-one dresses up, there was one band en route and the majority of people are wearing club vests and Garmins and talking about PBs.
The first time I did it, having run the Great North (fun) Run as my first half, I found this a bit intimidating. There’s no need if you’re a fox because there’s lots of other foxes there to talk to before the race and, most importantly, lots of them en route, placed strategically just at the point where you feel you need some extra oxygen or a fresh pair of legs. They hand out jelly babies and scream you name so loud it makes you put a spurt on.
Anyway, to the race. After a lot of rain the day before, I was worried about being damp and cold waiting for the start but it was fairly warm and dry.
For the first time this year, there were pacemakers but unless you were in the elite pens they were difficult to get to. However, by ducking and diving I managed to get to fairly near the 105 minute pacer I was aiming for. Well, I could just about pick him out in the distance.
Seven thousand runners meant there is a few seconds delay in starting to run once you cross the start line, but hey what’s that between friends.
I felt strong at the beginning and although I’m usually good at not setting off too fast, I think I did get carried away a bit and was running close to the 100 minute pacer quite early in the race….I paid for it later.
Everyone moans about Stonegate Road as the approach to the three mile mark, but for all of us who train predominately in North Leeds, it’s just Wetherby Road, Harrogate Road or Roundhay Road. Yes, it’s a bit of a slog but an opportunity to overtake some of those from outside the area who train more on the flat. And, of course, the RR’s support team half way up complete with flag, manic cheering and jelly babies (thanks Allison) certainly gave me extra metres.
And with my family cheering me on at the top of Stonegate Road, I was feeling strong. This continued along the ring road and into the West Park estate and the 7 mile marker complete with clock and water.
By this time my lack of distance training was starting to tell, I lost the 100 minute marker but that was fine because it was faster than the time I was aiming for and I still had the 105 pacemaker which would give me my target time.
The bit between West Park and Kirkstall Road includes quite a bit of downhill, including one particularly steep decline which had one of the race officials shouting at us to slow down – not something you normally hear in a race but I think some runners had come a cropper there earlier.
Having safely navigated that, I was on to Kirkstall Road, my nemesis. I find it long and boring because, well, it is. Give me Stonegate Road anytime. Yes, really.
Not only is it boring, but it hits you just as you start to feel tired. Especially if, like me, you haven’t done enough distance training and your legs are starting to complain.
But guess what, half way along there was the RR’s support team again, screaming my name so loud that I felt obliged to put a spring in my step and put on a performance of looking strong. Well, I couldn’t let them down could I? And that stayed with me as I ran along the Headrow and up the slight incline to the finish with my family encouraging me to a kind of sprint finish.
One guy had collapsed just short of the finish and fellow runners had stopped, PBs cast aside, to help him over. I bloody love running camaraderie!
I finished in 1.46.20 which was a PB, although 1.20 minutes slower than my target. But, hey, I’ll take that for the experience of running it as a fox for the first time.
People told me afterwards that I’ll be able to achieve 1.45minutes on an easier course, but that feels like cheating. I want it on home ground, so I’ll be back, just as long as the RR massive is there to support. Thanks guys.
This was my first ever half-marathon and I hope others I plan to do in future are just as enjoyable! In terms of organisation it was pretty much faultless, the only minor point is that a lot of people seemed to be queuing for the official toilets for ages at the start and were in danger of making themselves late for the start of the race, it was only very late that a marshall pointed out there were other toilets with no queue at all. For me the race was as tough as I expected. I’d hoped to get round in 1 hour 50 but lost more than a week of training due to illness – in the end was very happy to finish in just under one hour 52 mins. It was great to see how much support there was around the course, particularly on the hill on Stonegate Road and on the barren wasteland that is the stretch of Kirkstall Road between the Abbey and the ring road, where I needed the distraction. I found parts of the ring road section a little tricky as the running area was quite narrow and I got stuck a couple of times, but I don’t think anything could have been done about this. Overall, I loved the experience!
I had done the Leeds Half before, in my first incarnation as a runner, when I did all of my running on a treadmill and frankly didn’t get it at all. It didn’t go well. 10 years, and about 20 lbs of what I prefer to term “muscle-bulk” later, I decided to have another crack.
The day started auspiciously when, much to my astonishment, I was waved through into an “elite” starting pen. I felt a total fraud, so I was happy to see an equally surprised Danny there. These little interactions with fellow RRs at the start and on the course played a major part in making this a much more enjoyable experience than last time.
As did the support. I know that this gets commented on a lot, but I can’t overstate how much I appreciated fellow RRs giving up their Sunday mornings to holler at me as I plodded round.
In fact, I was struck by how much more support there was all the way round the course compared to the Abbey Dash. All of the running clubs were well represented, several families had set up unofficial drinks stations outside their houses and many children along the route were handing out jelly babies (which I didn’t take in case there was a practical joker amongst them). It felt like a small taste of what a big event must be like, which has made me anticipate the Yorkshire Marathon later this year all the more.
I had a time in mind for the race and I had planned my pacing meticulously. At the start of the first big hill I was bang on target. However, following the boost given to me by the Stonegate Road crew and then Allan’s faintly menacing, growled exhortations to “dig in” on King Lane, I hit the ring road 2 minutes ahead of schedule.
I spent the rest of the race waiting to pay the penalty for going off too quickly. Thankfully, this never transpired. I had a bit of a wobble at 11 miles, which coincided with Mark gliding effortlessly past me, looking like he had barely raised a sweat. However, a further boost from the RRs who had decamped to Kirkstall Road, and Pete’s white lie that I was “looking strong”, got me to the finish ahead of both the target I had told people and the actual, faster target I hadn’t told anyone.
The time obviously helped, but I think I would have enjoyed this run even if I had missed my target. If anyone who has not run the race is pondering taking part next year, I would heartily recommend it. It’s not the flattest or most picturesque of courses, but there’s something special about your local Half – and it comes with added RRs.
Unfortunately I didn’t make it for the RR photo before the run as I got a lift in and only just made it in time.
This was my fourth Leeds Half Marathon and I managed to knock 6 minutes off my PB. I’m sure that joining the RR in February was a big part of that. This was partly due to the additional training on Thursday nights and also the support we got all the way round including from fellow RRs running the course.
Thanks to everyone who came to support and gave us encouragement round the course.
In two words that summed up my experience of the Leeds Half, I went with high expectations of seeing many runner friends, seeing RR supporters along the way, doing a good time and that brilliant last few 100 metres running in front of the town hall through the funnel of spectators. And all those expectations were fulfilled, I met runners at the start and the Scottish flag produced by Alistair and seen halfway up Stonegate road just made me laugh out loud. The rousing support from the RRers behind the flag was just brilliant and then further up I was caught off guard by a massive shout from the right – yet more RRers with the trademark shout of Anne C. Then Ian Rayner popoed up here and there. RRers were passed and overtook me with a bit of banter along the way. I ran with Ian Holloway for a short while past Lawnswood who was also chasing 1.40. he left me gradually. The run continued on and along Kirkstall Road I clung onto sight of the 100min pacer and then up popped the RR supporters club and gave me an extra boost. Brilliant! keep going Danny and then up the hill by the inner ring road and then the cheering crowds and my head lifted off, Caught the 100 minute pacer. 1.39.36, 5 minute pb. Oh joy! A fantastic morning……. Then on the bus to the Etihad and City winning the premiership. Doesn’t get any better.
People at the club have always told me Leeds Half Marathon was a hard course… and I wished I had listened to them.
I went off to hard and fast at the beginning of the race my first KM split was 3.25 which is more like my 10k racing pace. This was probably due to fear of having my male pride dented as I was running alongside the first female runner and did not want to get beaten by her. Is that sexist of me?…… I’m not sure, I really hope not.
But anyway, running to the top of stonegate road was, as others have commented, really hard work. But it was made bearable by the great support from members of the Club cheering us on – that was really appreciated.
I was running with a group of 4-5 runners at this point and as we turned onto the downhill at the ring-road they started to pull away from me. I did not panic though as I know that my strength is not on the downhill dash, it’s stamina, consistency and the ability to run up hills. By the time we got to Lawnswood roundabout I had pulled the group back and by the time I was on Kirkstall road I had pulled away from that group.
Just as I was started to lag I heard the calming (yeah right!) tones of Allan, Ann, Hayley, Pete and Sophie screaming my name. At this point roughly 200-300m in front of me was the 10th man (although at this point in the race I thought I was 9th, as that what a spectator had told me) and Allan goaded me into chasing him down.
From the viaduct on Kirkstall road to finish line I was chasing down the competitor in front of me. With 50m to go I pulled up on his shoulders, he kicked, I tried to follow suite but I was unable to react to his injection of speed, earning me 11th Place and finishing 1hour 19min 12 seconds.
How did I feel after? Fustrated, would be the word. If I hadn’t gone off so fast could I have come top 10?….. We will have to wait as I think I’ll leave LHM to others for the time being.