Great Birmingham Half Marathon

Since the Tamworth 10k I feel a little more motivated again although as my foot is constantly in discomfort I'm only doing gym work and some focused treadmill runs.  I had entered the Great Birmingham Half some time ago on the assumption that I would be well on the mend, but with all the recent setbacks I had no idea what to expect or whether my foot would be good enough to get round.

I decided to just go out and enjoy it although there is always a little added pressure when you have an elite name on the front and number '2' on the back and being listed as one of the pre-race contenders!  On the day the weather was truly awful, about 10 degrees but pretty torrential rain throughout and significant ponding on the roads.  The worst is hanging around before the start and getting cold and soaked through so was glad to get going on time.

Chatting with a work colleague at the start.

I consciously made sure I didn't go too hard at the start as it is gradually uphill for most of the first km and was around 12th in 3.32.  Even still this was far slower than I had anticipated so tried to put a little more energy into the next few km whilst keeping in control and soon I slotted into 8th with the field pretty strung out at this early stage.


I slowly caught a runner ahead and moved into 7th at about 4k and temporarily overtook another runner soon after to move into 6th before Orlando Corea from Birchfield Harriers passed me.  We worked together over the next couple of km picking off another runner in the process, although from the 7th km I gradually started to lose touch and just before 8k at the cricket ground loop I fell away.

I started to feel pretty sluggish with tight calf's and it was more of a case of looking behind than ahead and knew it would be a fight to hold off two runners that were only 50 metres or so behind me.  None the less I went through the half way point in a pretty respectable 33.30, so although I wasn't feeling fantastic my pace until this point on a course that is far from flat was pretty respectable.

At about 12.5k the gap ahead was about 25 seconds, with the runner in 4th about a further 30 seconds beyond.  I was still about 50 metres ahead of the two runners chasing me.  We then hit a couple of testing climbs in Stirchley and being the climber I am, I started to close the gap, but more importantly I seemed to get myself out of my rut and started to increase my pace.  The chase was very much on.

Over the next few km and a couple more hills resulted in closing down Orlando and at around 16km we were level.  I decided to make an immediate pass as we were now only about 35 seconds or so behind 4th and I felt it was not beyond the realms of possibility to catch him - albeit I knew it would be a big ask.  Although I was now 5th I couldn't shake off Orlando despite my best efforts and I was pretty sure that if it came to a sprint that I'd be struggling having put so much effort in.

Bit by bit we were catching 4th but not at a fast enough pace and with 2 km to go we were still about 25 seconds behind.  However I was now catching him even more rapidly and with 1 km to go all that was left was a steep kicker before the finish.  The runner ahead was now slowing considerably, but more importantly I sensed Orlando was struggling to stick with me on the climb.  I put in extra effort to buy as much time in the sprint to defend my 5th position.  However, with about 400 metres to go, I was now only 8 seconds or so from 4th.  I kicked and kicked again and managed to close the gap further, but it was to no avail and crossed the line in 5th, only 3 seconds behind in a time of 1.10.39.

The chase is on with about 200 metres to go - still quite a gap.

Horrible conditions.


Km Splits - all over the place reflecting the gradual up and down nature of the course.

Considering how I was feeling at half way it is a pretty good result, just 1 minute behind my PB on a tougher course in pretty difficult running conditions.  I also ran the second half about 10 seconds quicker than the first half which I've not done before over this distance.  Being the hyper critical person I am over my own performance I wish I had kicked that little bit earlier, but I was conscious that I had to save something to defend my position from Orlando.  None the less, today's result was about as good as I could have hoped for and is actually my second fastest half marathon time. More importantly my foot, although grumbly, bordering on sore early on settled down for the most part.  Its also the first time that I've not slowed considerably in the last few km - so much so that I was actually 20 seconds faster than Bristol HM 2017 in the last 5km.

5km split times with net climb.  The 15km split had 2-3 steep climbs/descents so actually was a better split than the time suggests.

For coming 5th I believe I have won a 6 month subscription to Athletics Weekly which is pretty decent.  My wife told me after finishing that the commentator talked about my 4th at Auckland Marathon and winning Chester Marathon last year but not many recent races - always nice to get a mention!  I don't have much planned in the coming weeks, so the priority is to continue with the gym work and with what limited treadmill running I am doing to keep focused and make sure it is good quality.


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