Essar Chester Half Marathon

essar logo

I promised Nina I would not be running at all this week. I have booked the period off work, and we are looking forward to pure family time. But something is wrong with me. I’m just not tired enough after London Marathon, my legs don’t ache enough. As the week goes on, I am finding it increasingly hard to abstain from running.

Saturday morning, I can’t take it any more. I squeeze in a quick 5 miles before taking the kids swimming. It feels so easy.

That afternoon, I notice on my Twitter feed that the Chester Half Marathon is being staged the next morning. It will be hard to get an entry this late in the day. It will be harder to get permission from Nina. I fire off a cheeky email and the organisers very generously accept me into the race. Fantastic. Now, luckily, it happens to be my birthday, so when I ask Nina she very magnanimously refrains from kicking me in the nuts.

I have to get up on Sunday morning at 5.30am, normally a despicable prospect, but I have electric in my veins. I head up the hill out of town in my little shoebox car. It hasn’t been driven in 2 weeks, it struggles up hills on the best of days, it can’t handle this cold start. The fan belt is squealing. I reckon if I can just get to the top of the hill I can take my foot off the gas and it will warm up. Fan belt snaps. I turn the car around, not easy when the power steering is suddenly disabled. I swap it for Nina’s Skoda, and am on my way again.

At Chester Race Course we are looked after so well. There is a swanky designated elite area, chaperones, tea, coffee, lucozade, the works. I go for my warm up and am feeling fantastic. I have been struggling for the past 3 months with tight achilles in the mornings. I knew I only needed a bit of rest to let them settle down, but haven’t been able to afford that through marathon training.  Now, after 5 days off, they feel a million bucks, and I am straight into 6min miling.

On the starting line I scan the opposition and I know there are a handful of quick sub 70min half marathoners here. I decide, whatever happens, not to lead the race in the early stages. I tell myself to just relax into the race, let the other guys do the work, you have just run a marathon. Take it easy on yourself, man.

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We start the race and I shoot off into the lead. I can’t help it. The 1st mile is 5.05, way too quick, so I run the next one in 4.46. Yes, it is stupid, but my body just wants to do it. I am enjoying running fast through the crowds, I don’t fight it.

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BRAND NEW white Cloud Flash, muddied in the first 20 meters. There is no heartbreak like it

The initial pace starts to tell pretty quickly. Mile 3 and I have been caught by Welsh International, Phil Matthews, mile 5 and he has pulled away from me. Alex Pilcher comes past and I am starting to feel stupid about my early burn up. I force myself to hang on to him, and manage to recover abit. Mile 6, I am back under control and try to help with the pace into a headwind. I am enjoying it again, I have found my rhythm. There are some amazing live bands on the route, one band are playing Undertones – Teenage Kicks.

“I need excitement oh I need it bad”

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We have Phil in our sights and, working together, we are starting to close him down. We enter into some small windy country roads where we lose sight of him. Out of sight, out of mind, and it becomes a race for 2nd place. I make a break at around mile 9, we re-enter the main road where there are runners going the other way. They are cheering really loud, it is great. I hear one man saying “those guys must be professional runners”. I have to smile, if only he knew about my morning drive, and my little car minus a fan belt. I lose concentration, Alex catches me up at mile 10 and we are locked in a head to head now. Last mile is uphill, then a sharp turn and long stretch for finish. I kick hard as soon as I see the finish line and get 2nd place.

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We are given a wonderful reception in the Town Hall after the race, and the prize giving ceremony is held right by the finish line, with the race still underway. Such a good way of doing it, rather than making us wait till everyone has finished and the spectators have all gone home.

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Every aspect of the race has been expertly thought through and the runners really get looked after. Thanks loads to the organisers, really looking forward to doing it again!

Would love to hang around and enjoy the atmosphere, but I have to rush back to the family, especially as I have stolen their car. When I reach home, my having just come 2nd in a race with 6000 runners doesn’t count for anything. “No I’m not tired at all darling, yes I would love to take Jim out on his bike and run around behind him.”

Later on I come down with some weird bug, and spend the evening vomiting up my dinner. My little girl gets the same thing. I have to be up early for work the next morning and I feel absolutely awful.

Non-running related highlight of the week

Go completely off-grid for mini-break with family.


Best thing on the internet this week:

Bruce Tulloh, Barefoot Bruce, fantastic athlete, European 5000m champ, died on Saturday. Brilliant interview on Marathon Talk podcast here

Thing I’m digging this week:

The 2 Mental Shifts Highly Successful People Make

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” — Max Planck, German quantum theorist and Nobel Prize winner

There are two primary mental shifts that occur in the lives of all highly successful people. Many make the first, but very few make the second…link here

23/4/2018 AM PM
Coffee shop with family AM. Date in pub with Nina PM
Tuesday Drive to Wales REST
Wednesday REST REST
Jim’s 4th Birthday
Thursday REST REST
Saturday 5 @ 5.45 miling REST
feel light and fresh
Sunday Chester Half. 2nd – 69.44. 17 miles total  REST
TOTAL: 22 miles tm = treadmill

6 thoughts on “Essar Chester Half Marathon

  1. No mention of that really sound guy called Chris this week. Shame, he seemed very charismatic and a decent runner.

    Good work in Chester though and glad your recovery is easier this time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great race, Russell!

    It was great to see you running in person (albeit speeding away into the distance) as I have enjoyed your blog for a while.

    They did look after us so well, didn’t they? The speediness of the prize presentation was also very welcome!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What can I say ? Well done I had to dig about a bit to find the times yesterday , I felt gutted for a) all the runners that were rerouted for being slow so didn’t do the full distance, and b) sorrier still for all the folks that did the course and were further down the rankings as they were ‘‘beaten’ by folks who only did part of the course. Happy belated birthday🎂, oh and Nina yes you are a saint!😇

    Liked by 1 person

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