On Sunday I travelled, or tried to travel up the M62 to take my place in the Leeds half marathon.
The race started at 9.30 so I thought setting out for the journey at 7.45 would give me ample time, how wrong was I!
I got part way up the motorway when I saw signs for motorway closed from junction 25-26 to which I thought ok no problem I have a bit of extra time and it is Sunday so traffic should be light. Wrong again!
As I approach junction 25 at about 8.30 I come to a standstill to which I say, well shout "Arrrrggghhhhh you've got to be %£^*ng kidding me!" Not that I talk to myself much you understand but this was unusual circumstances, honest!
Anyway thankfully the crawling traffic was to get through the first set of lights about 1/2 mile further down the road but this did mean I ended up parking up in Leeds at 9.15 and not knowing exactly where the start was!
Coming out of the car park I followed the noise and as luck would have it I was parked about 300 metres from the start so 5 minutes from the gun I took my position near the back of the field.
This was a complete contrast to the Liverpool half marathon were I started pretty much at the front but at this stage I was just glad to have arrived before all the 3600 runners left without me!
The first mile or 2 mainly involved dodging runners and using strategically placed elbows. Well in fact that was the strategy for most of the race as it got rather narrow in parts and some of the roads were not closed. At around 2 miles we hit the first proper hill and what a hill it was, a relentless 90m climb over the next 2 mile! You'd round a corner hoping for a glimpse of the summit only to see more hill for as far as the eye could see and hear the groans around you as they said aloud what I was thinking inside! However, unbeknown to her, a brunette with lovely legs and bum helped me up this part as it took my eye off the hill which is always a good strategy I find. Anyway having conquered the first proper hill relatively unscathed and still feeling pretty good, under the circumstances, we had a 60m drop for the next mile and a half before hitting a 50 m climb for the subsequent next mile and a half. From there on in it was an undulating drop into Leeds centre. At around 8 mile I vaguely recollect hearing my name being cheered on, which turned out to be for me, as my friend Angela and some of her relay team shouted encouragement. She said I looked like I needed the encouragement as my face looked as if I was in enourmous amounts of pain and that's perhaps because at this stage my legs were starting to feel the strain! At around 10.5 mile the legs did indeed tell me to stop as they needed a stretch and from there on in I limped home going between jogging and walking to cross the line in a mildly disappointing 1.53.30
For my trouble I got a goody bag which really only had a tshirt and a medal to speak of. However I did like the finish area were once you had finished there was plenty of room to breath and get out of the finish area whereas Liverpool had been congested with very little room to move, which is what I hate at the end of a race! This race did teach me some new and old things being check traffic news before setting off, never set off at the back of the field and perhaps more importantly that I need to do some long runs with some tough hills thrown in as I've never done this distance before with tough hills like that. However looking at the results Steve Coleman had a belter clocking 1.29.59, and he'd probably say that this is nowhere near the toughest half marathon he as done! For my part I hope to be back next year to conquer the hills and run in with a better time.