Stockport Trail Half Marathon Report

29 Feb 16  / Pete

My second race of the year and also my 2nd ever half marathon. On the trail in Stockport and ready to smash a PB? Read my race review and see how I did. I learned a few lessons along the run and hopefully, it will help a few of you too.

This is the longest distance I have ran since last October when I took part in the Bournemouth Marathon. I was really looking forward to this half and I was feeling pretty good. I may not have covered the distance of a half recently but I have been getting in a good amount of miles for the last few weeks so I was well up for it!

Let the race begin!

The 13.1 mile route begins in Marple at the rugby club. From there you head off down the long flat Middlewood Way and eventually end up coming back along a very nice stretch of canal which again, as you would have guessed is pretty damn flat.

Flat and straight? This is something I have found I actually struggle with. When I continue along a constant route where there is a lack of variety in my leg movement, I find myself becoming tired more easily, and not only that, it can get a little boring. I think this also causes my mind to overthink how I am performing. Continuously counting the miles, working out my averages to the point of OCD and probably thinking about how my body is feeling so much that negative thoughts can sometimes creep in.

On my last half marathon, The Hatters Half, also in Stockport, I felt pretty good all the way through the race. I had grabbed myself a time of 1 hour 33 minutes and 57 seconds. For my first ever half I was chuffed to pieces with this but it had set me with a goal of beating 1 hour 30. This goal had been on my mind since I booked the Stockport Trail Half.

So, 1 hour 30 minutes. Could I do it? That is 06:52 per mile / 04:16 per km…personally I always work on kms because I am used to doing so for 10k events.

The answer in simple terms was NO. haha. I began by trying to do a negative split. I was completing my first few kms at roughly 4 minutes and 20 seconds and I was feeling ok. But by kms 8-9, I didn’t feel like I was getting my usual mid-race comfort that I get on shorter races. In fact, I was trying to combat a slight fatigue with bits of a homemade energy bar that I had made the night before and I am not sure it had much effect! I actually got some cramps a minute or two after my mid-race nibbles and I have learned a lesson from that! Won’t be doing this again in a hurry!

I need to slow down!

Around the 12-13 km mark, I felt like I needed to slow my pace slightly. The pace I was trying to maintain would have me beating my previous best, but in all honesty, I knew that I would be pretty buggered well before the end of the race if I kept it up. It was time to face that mental battle I have faced before…letting go of a PB and reassessing the race. Sometimes I have to do this. Accept that not every single race can be a new PB. After all, every course is different and I might have prepared better previously or maybe a previous race suited my style of running better…the varying factors go on, but now and again, as much as it pains me to do so, accepting that a PB is no longer possible can actually be a very good feeling.

Battling the mind

It was time to face that mental battle that I have faced before…letting go of a PB target and reassessing my race. Sometimes this just has to be done. Now and then I need to accept that not every single race can be a new PB. After all, every course is different and I might have prepared better previously or maybe a previous race suited my style of running better…the varying factors go on, but now and again, as much as it pains me to do so, accepting that a PB is no longer possible can actually be a very good feeling. Yes, at first, I am a little gutted, but for me to accept that I need to slow my pace means that I have to be feeling pretty shagged! I am one determined sod, but listening to my body is a lesson I have learned well over the last year, so when it is time to ease up, I do.

Finished!

My finish time was 1 hour 37 minutes and 31 seconds. I am still happy with that and I know that with some more comprehensive long-distance training, I can improve.

1 hour and 30 minutes…I will get you! You cheeky little bastard of a time…I’ll bloody get you!

Never stop aiming higher!

My overall impression of this race? I didn’t enjoy the course layout as much as the Hatters Half last year. It was a bit straight and flat for my liking but for those who want a flat half, this is a perfect run. Personally, I do better with some ups and downs!

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