I entered the Liverpool Half Marathon shortly after the Brass Monkey, finishing 99 seconds away from the “dream time” (sub 90) I had cajoled myself into thinking that I could do it. I sold it to my husband as a fun trip back to Liverpool (we met there nearly 20 years ago), oh and there just happens to be a race that weekend too!
I set myself a plan and a few runs at target pace had me believing I could actually do it. As the race starts at 9am Sunday we travelled down on Saturday and had a good wander round all our old haunts, by 7pm I was ready for bed and wondering if the day on my feet would scupper my plans.
Race day, we arrive for 8am, park within a few minutes walk of the start. The race starts and finishes on Canada Boulevard in front of the Port of Liverpool Building. Race HQ were just near this area, there was a stall serving drinks and masses of portable toilets.
The hazy sun was gradually burning through the clouds promising a glorious day ahead, there was not even a hint of a breeze, perfect conditions for a PB. As my nerves started getting the better of me, my husband told me straight “today you will do this, now make it happen” (easy for him to say). There are 7000 runners, split between the HM and 10m race, all starting at the same time, the 10m route misses off the loops of Sefton Park. Having read reviews, I knew I needed to get into the start pen early, I “gracefully” jumped over the barrier and plonked myself right next to the 1.30 pacers…4 very fit men. Sophie, my loudest cheerleader, leant over the barrier and commented “mummy I don’t think you’ll keep up with these men”… nice to have good support!!
Finally the 10 seconds were counted down and we were off. The course is generally flat. Passing Albert Dock there is a gradual incline and then a sharp incline of 400m at Upper Parliament Street. Other than that, it undulates around and through Sefton Park. By this stage I had caught up some of the 10 milers which threw me…initially I thought a woman in her 70s had perhaps just gone off too fast?!
There are some slight and much welcome downhills along Devonshire Road and Aigburth Drive. There is a tight bend as you run down through the underpass and then come out the other side. By this point, around mile 8, I was still firmly stuck in the 1:30 pacer pack, they were slightly ahead of target pace. We then move immediately into more covered parkland through Otterspool Park, there is a final climb up to the promenade and the pacer tells us to “keep it steady up the hill then we’ll pick up pace”….really?! The final four miles are flat following the Otterspool promenade along the waterfront to the finish line. I think this will be a welcome sight but it feels relentless, the 1.30 pacers having picked up pace, are gradually pulling away from me. I keep putting in efforts and keep their orange tops in sight but I feel like the dream is slipping out of reach. By mile 11 a quick calculation gives me a boost…I could still do this. I start to pass a lot of flagging runners. The docksides are lined now, I realise how close I am. I pass the Liverpool museum, the drum band and masses of spectators spur me on, the finish is in sight, the clock is in sight, 100m to go, the clock is ticking 1:29:42, 1:29:43…realisation dawns that I could do this now or within seconds mess it up entirely. With all my might I will my legs to move faster, the man calls out my name and I cross the line… I stop my watch and the glorious numbers pause on the screen 1:29:46….John and my three kids rush to meet me unsure that I pulled it off (the pacers being ahead of me was not a good sign) but from the manic grin on my face and my inability to not jump up and down, they know I’ve done it.
A gym 5 minutes walk away offered free access with prior login for runners, we head straight over and I dive into the lovely warm showers. We then drive over to Southport for tea, fish and chips, and to continue our reminiscing and celebrations!
A well organised, pretty run with good PB potential…highly recommended