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Leicester Half Marathon

My 3rd and I think last road half marathon of 2014, this.  My home city (centre of the sporting world!) running from Vicky Park (Victoria Park, but you don't call it that here) out to roughly Syston and back on a different track.  It's broadly, and sometimes alongside, the River Soar.

There's a marathon race too, bolting another half marathon loop from the 6 mile point of the half and a relay half marathon for good measure.  Despite all the home cityness, I've never run either race.

I found a very cheap and actually passable hotel right by the park despite having several friends in the vicinity I could have tapped up for a spare room.  I just thought I'd get it done and head back South with the minimum of fuss though.  It was to serve as a hard tempo run and to see where the lungs and legs are at with Florence in just 5 weeks' time.

As usual despite being the distance I could lob a cricket ball from the start line, I'm right up against the wire and the jog/run across the grass serves as my warm up.  And considering it's late October, warm it certainly is.  Perfect temps for running but there's a stiff wind blowing which was going to make the return leg a lot harder than the outward.  I've a fresh-out-of-the-box pair of Fastwitch on which clearly isn't the most sensible idea but I get away with it.

It's pretty well attended - there are 580-odd marathon finishers and around 2,400 in the Half - it's all well laid out and we kick off on time.

The first mile is downhill along the A6 towards the city centre but it veers off down another A-road and the first 6 miles aren't going to win any beauty prizes.  Traffic-free, (almost) spectator-free and scenery-free too. 

I was going along pretty well and I know that because I felt like stopping at 3 miles with the discomfort of it.  There aren't many runners at the sharp end and by 6 miles I think I was 4th or 5th overall.

The return leg is considerably easier on the eye, passing through the Watermead Country Park but now we're running full into the wind.  This always seems especially cruel as even though it must logically have been giving you a shove going the other way, you never seem to notice unless it's blowing a serious gale.  My mile splits dropped from 10.7mph down to below 10.  It was like a punch in the face and like Richard III I felt like I'd been buried beneath a car park.

I stopped at mile 8 for a stretch and to head off a looming stitch but clearly I SHOULDN'T HAVE!!  This is the evil voice in the head's last chuck of the dice when you're still some way from home and it has a chance.  I lost a total of 1'30" in pauses there and with a subsequent one.  I will do better to resist next time.  It's an improvement on Maidenhead at least.

The penultimate mile twists through the city centre where quite a lot of spectators have gathered - it's a nice flat paved surface to run on and you can't stop in front of that lot.  Then there's a final sting in the tail as the last mile pays back the descent of the first and it's a fair old drag back up to the park. 

I finished in 1:20:00 and since have been trying to decide how to take that.  It's very slow in bald number terms.  If I factor in the pauses, the wind, going (minorly) off piste 3 times (one or two of the marshalls - who are of course all brilliant for turning up!! - weren't very proactive in pointing the way), and the twisty nature of the second half then it's not too bad.  I'd have liked to have seen 1:17.

I finished 9th overall and 3rd in age group - the overall winner was something like 8 minutes clear of 2nd!

I'd come back and run this again - I quite enjoyed it as it goes and the organisation was good.  Good value overall I thought - there's one of those printout gadgets that gives you your stats there and then, a T, decent medal, water, banana and other snacks in the finish funnel.

It's certainly hard coming back to race halves on the road after so much ultra-running on the trails.  They both hurt but completely differently.  It's a shock to the system to have to bash out miles at a strong tempo and I'd forgotten what that feels like. 

Next up is the Seagrave Wolds Challenge - a 16 mile trail race - followed by the Brighton 10k, an even more lung-busting vom fest 2 weeks before I fly out to Florence.

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