Mark Allen reports: As a newcomer to organised Running, (my first half marathon was Birmingham 2010) I joined BVH in November 2010 and spent the winter trying to improve.
To give me a focus, I entered the Shakespeare Raceway Half Marathon scheduled for March 5th and whilst my training hasn’t been completely regimented, I have broadly stuck at it. I was hopeful I could improve on my Birmingham time of 2h 12m.
With a dead-flat course and billed as ‘a great opportunity for a P.B’ I arrived at Long Marston Airfield, anticipating a good afternoons running. What I found was a well organised event, run over a dull ‘X’ shaped course. In fact, dealing with the monotony of the route would prove to be the biggest test of the day.
With a field of 350 participants, I settled into a 9 min/mile pace and soon found myself bunched with two other guys who seemed to have the same idea as me. We ran together for the majority of the race but coming into lap 4 of 4, there was a noticeable dip in our pace. Suddenly a sub-2 hour finish was no longer certain.
From somewhere, I managed to find an extra bit of energy and (though feeling slightly disloyal to my new found friends) started to draw away from the others.
The course culminated in a spot of mental torture, with what looked like the home straight actually needing to be covered three times over before crossing the finish line. After the debacle of the infamous Birmingham 2010 log jam, it was nice to finally get my ‘Chariots of fire’ moment, coming home to good support and the P.A announcer identifying the finishers by name.
My chip time of 1hr 58m was a positive improvement on my previous outing and whilst the event lacked the buzz and atmosphere of Birmingham, I think I learnt more about’ being a runner’ this time out. I discovered that I could hang in there when it got a bit tougher, but perhaps more importantly, I realised that (like many other sports) running can be just as much about what goes on between your ears as what goes on with your feet!
Next up for me is the Stratford Half Marathon in early May, when I hope to be able to run with a few other Bournville Harriers. That should help the time pass more quickly and hopefully drag me through to a sub 1h 55m finish.
Jenny Walton also ran the race in a time of 1hr 39 mins.