A Tale of Two Halves

September 30, 2018

 Two half marathons, a week apart but so different.


Personally I wouldn’t normally book halves back to back but I got carried away entering before I noticed the dates. 9th September and the 16th September.Vale of York Half.


My wife Justine had made great progress in her running over the past 17 months.Starting from C25k she had built up her speed and distance. She achieved her goal of a sub 60 minutes 10k back in May and has kept constantly running at this pace over the distance.The next level was a half marathon distance. Could she run the distance and at a good pace?


 The furthest Justine had run was 11 miles but she had done a few 10 milers too.I was confident she could do the distance and herself justice. Our running club, Orchard Eagles RC, had been great support and given lots of motivation and encouragement.Now was to time to go out and do it.We picked the Vale of York Half as we heard it was flat and quiet, which would be ideal for a first timer.So the plan was to run together with a steady and constant pace, aiming for 2 hours 15. 


The race started on the runway of a small airfield which was pretty unique, with a field of about 1600 runners.Running out of the airfield onto closed country lanes we had started well with our pacing.The first 4 miles were alongside open fields but the wind had picked up. Lucky at this point it was on our backs.


The first and only hill, if you can call it that, was a steady rise up and over the railway line. Through a small wooded section but still on the road and on to where the route split. Basically the course was an out and back with a loop between 5.5 and 9.5 miles. 


Pockets of marshals and spectators cheering you at road junctions and feeding stations was the only on course encouragement. It was a strange experience to do a half marathon with very limited spectators but at least it was less people to see you struggling.About 10 miles and our pace was still good and we were on our time target. The main aim was still though to just run a half marathon distance regardless of the time.

 Back into the wind for the last three and a half miles but this time it was a headwind. Not what you want at the end of your 1st half or any half to be honest.Justine dug in and I tried to keep the pace steady. We were almost there.


Back onto the airfield entrance road and encouragement from marshals and fellow runners pushed us on.Past the 13 mile marker and heading for the hangers where the finish line was.


13.1 miles done.


It was great to see all of Justine’s hard work, effort and determination reap the rewards she was after. I was so proud of her.


After hugs and kisses we picked up our well deserved t-shirts and medals.Our time…… 2:15:43. We hit our target …… firstly completing a half marathon, secondly keeping a steady pace and thirdly doing a great time of 2:15.Whilst having a picnic after the race, it was great to see the excitement and delight on Justine’s face as we talked about the run.


The Vale of York Half was a great race. Not just for what it meant to Justine and her achievements that day. But the race it’s self was one I would highly recommend and did to friends who were complaining about the Great North Run this year which happened on the same day.It is flat, fast, a lot less crowded, scenic and well organised event. Definitely look at doing it again in the future.


So what next? For Justine I don’t know but for me it was another half marathon the following weekend.Trail Outlaws RAF Spadeadam Half Marathon. I’ve always wanted to do a Trail Outlaws race, mainly to see if they live up to the hype.


A running friend Rachael told me about a new race which the Trail Outlaws were involved with. It was going to be set on an active RAF base where her husband worked. The race had been run before but numbers were low and they felt it was such a good course it deserved better.After taking the Trail Outlaws organisers round the course they instantly wanted to put it in their race calendar.


Fast forward to race day and after arriving at the RAF base and gaining access to the site, myself and Neale headed to registration.Bib numbers and timing bracelets collected, we went to get our finisher’s t-shirts (still don’t understand why some races give you the t-shirt before the race!) off Iain. It was a mini meeting of some of Team Tedious. With your goodie bag you could pick between a Trail Outlaws mug or snood. Had to be the mug, got loads of snoods already. I bought myself a Trail Outlaws logo t-shirt also.


The start of the race was delayed due to problems with other runners gaining access to the site. However this did help the people in the queue for the limited toilets.We headed out to the start area and got our first look at some of the course and the weather conditions.


About 300 of us lined up for the start not really knowing what the next 13.1 miles would bring.Off we went and straight onto an uphill section on tarmac. The next 3 miles were still on tarmac, it was a great way to settle into the run and take in the scenery.


After the 1st feed station the route went off the tarmac and onto to solid gravel tracks. I was in road shoes but the ground was firm enough for them.


Well the next 9 miles were fun! Undulating hills, gale force winds, stunning views and military hardware on the roadside.Miles 4 to 6 were enjoyable. Tailwind then a headwind, great views across the countryside and sections passing woodland. It was then time to dig in and fight the wind… a headwind … a gale force headwind, oh and it was mainly uphill for about 2.5 miles.


It was fun! Honest.Turning out of the wind and down through a small wooded section it was like heaven. I thought to myself, do I have anything in my legs after that. I was quite surprised I felt good, it was basically the wind that I was struggling with.More undulating hills, stunning views and military hardware for the next 3.5 miles. This race was definitely turning out to be what I expected from a Trail Outlaws race.


Back onto the tarmac for the final bit of the race. Ok a nice smooth mile basically downhill to the finish I thought.This seems like a long mile! I must be just tired, come on, nearly there now. The finish line in sight and it was great to stretch the legs out on the final few hundred feet downhill.Great to high five my friend Rachael just before the finish line, and then see Neale and Iain waiting for me at the end.


Went round to get my hard earned medal and there was Rachael waiting for me with it. The week before I’d said I would love to get my medal from the designer of it at the finish. Rachael is currently suffering with illness and wasn’t sure if she would make it to the race. It was great to see her there and get a great hug plus the all important bling.


The post race analysis was all about the headwind on that never ending hill. But what about that last mile?! Oh yeah the race was 14 miles and not the standard 13.1! Should’ve remembered Trail Outlaws have a tape measure that stretches.The race was run in celebration of the RAF centenary and funds were raised for the RAF100 appeal through race entries, raffle tickets and merchandise purchases. An amazing £1450 was raised.So …… how was the event?! I loved it, I hated it, I want to do it again, I never want to do it again! These thoughts all went through my head during the race but yeah I’d definitely do it again. Along as that wind doesn’t turn up again as well.


Next up, another half! This time the Kielder Half Marathon on the 7th October.Share this:




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