North Lincs HM, now in it’s 7th year has been a race I’ve wanted to do for a while. I almost did it back in 2016 when I was aiming for sub 80 but opted for Chester. It ended up being the race that would begin my challenge. Had this been before 2018 started I would have been aiming to go after a PB but this year has meant I’ve lacked the training to trouble my current PB of 77:26. Instead I wanted to go out hard and see how I did and set a benchmark to work from over the rest of 2018.
Now had this been a typical May Sunday morning, looking back I would’ve probably run sub 80 or been there abouts. However we had a freak bank holiday weekend in terms of weather. It was the hottest recorded temperatures for an early bank holiday. Fantastic if you wanted to have a lazy weekend, not if like 1000’s of runners wanted to run a half marathon. I had made sure I was drinking on the way to the race and even as we walked from the car park to the stadium I could feel it getting warm. Now I will be the first to say I don’t respond well to heat. I much prefer sub zero temperatures (just so happens I ran my PB in freezing conditions). After bumping into a few runners I knew including Mike Wells and Steve Taylor in the stadium, I walked round to the start with my support crew (who happened to be sporting their new jackets).
On the start line, it was a case of bumping into loads of runners I knew. Plenty asked what my aim was. I said if I could get sub 80 I would be ecstatic. However I knew I hadn’t raced a HM since January 2017 and only done one run since December over race distance. So I was under no illusion of grandeur about setting a PB. My goal was to simply run it as hard as I could. But me being me had set a plan to aim to run sub 37 10k, if everything was going ok at that point keep under 6:00/mi pace till 10 miles then hold on for the final 3.1 miles.
After a delayed start I set off and soon settled into what felt like a comfortable pace. As we raced in a straight line for the first two miles. The start was shaded so it lured the field into a false sense of security. The first mile was done in 5:47. I felt fine, heart rate was steady, so carried on. I decide to run with HR monitor as that would tell me if I need to lift off the gas with the heat. The 2nd mile felt just as comfortable. Then came the sun and boy did it feel hot!!
It was also in mile 3 that the first lump came as we ran up and over the M180, they also put the water station there. I made the choice to slow and grab a bottle. I took a mouthful, poured some on my back and took more in. This cost me about 10s if you include slowing up the hill. It meant I clocked 6:03 for the 3rd mile. I wasn’t too concerned about my pace, as I felt I would pull it back but by now the roads were very open countryside. It meant no shade and I could feel me having to work harder to maintain 6:00 minute pace. I put it down to a number of factors, heat and the lack of training and I clocked another 6:03 mile. Still on sub 80 minute pace. Again at next water station I took more water on but I also checked HM and it had shot up to over 180 BPM!!!! this wasn’t good.
I tried to keep pushing through miles 5 and 6 but the heart rate was coming down despite me slowing to 6:20 pace, I knew it was the heat, so I had a choice keep pushing and blow up or take the foot off the gas and finish in one piece. So I made smart move and eased off, I brought the heart rate down to something more sustainable. I now split the run into water stops. I opted to walk through each one, taking water on and pouring on neck and shoulders. I lost places during middle section. However by mile 10 I was picking people off who had pushed too much. My mile splits were around the 6:30-6:40 pace with the miles with water stops, slower. Looking at my splits doing this probably cost me around a minute on the water stops. Had it been a cooler day I’m certain my time would have been between 79-81 minutes.
I’m not joking when I say the middle section of this race was tough, out in the countryside and you could just see runners out in front of you. A couple of times I was passed by Steve Head but I clawed my way back and ended up a minute in front by the end. By mile 10 I was seeing so many people stopping and walking. The bridge back over the motorway was a killer, it again was the last water stop. It was my slowest mile but then I had a strong final finish back into the stadium, I even managed a kick with 5:18 pace to finish.
I was spent when I finished and I will go on record as saying it was the hottest race I’ve ever done. However the race is excellent and defo would do it again. The medal and t-shirts are top notch. I even managed a shower afterwards. I wasn’t disappointed with my time of 84:21. On the day I raced smart for once. It has meant I have managed to get back into training straight away. Come September I aim to get back under 80 and then I am aiming to have a crack at my PB at the Manchester HM in October. Now I am focusing on building my training base back to 70 mile weeks with 3 speed sessions a week and getting my 10k and 5k times back to my PB best. Hopefully can throw in a few track races as well.
This was my first of 18 races I’m doing as part of my latest challenge. This race was in aid of the Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity, for what they did for both myself and mainly for the amazing effort they did for Molly back in March. If you would like to sponsor me you can do so by clicking this link.