The ROCK n ROLL Liverpool Half Marathon Race Review…
This would be my third Rock n Roll adventure after running Dublin and Edinburgh. Yes, yes, I know I have completed the easy to reach ones, but it does mean next time I have to look further afield for 2016, maybe Lisbon and/or Madrid to complete the European series. And all in all it was a great racing weekend for several reasons.
It started with a long train journey from Euston which was, as per usual, delayed by quite a while. Thanks Virgin Trains, you truly do suck! With Liverpool being a cheap destination for stag and hen dos there was a great chance that a drunkard noisy group of girls dressed in pink with sashes stating whether they are the bride or a hanger-on or group of guys chanting and singing like a bunch of idiot football fans would join at the train at one of the 4 stops. I was hoping this would not be the first but alas, looking out at Stafford station there indeed was a sea of pink ladies. Headphones in, no chance of sleep.
I had booked myself into the Hilton which was right by the start and finish and the small and manageable Expo. Although saying that there are a lot of hotels along the front and I had booked myself into one before being angry at the idea of the hotel having a minimum stay policy for the race weekend of two days.
When I say “front” I mean the Albert Docks a wonderful modern looking space on the river Mersey that has the exhibition centre that housed the EXPO, museums, bars and restaurants, views, barges you can stay in (including one shaped like the Beatles Yellow Submarine, and another the Titanic), and is the perfect setting for the race HQ as, to be honest, the walk from Liverpool Lime Street station was pretty grotty and run down.
After picking up my bib I ensconced myself in a mock German Bierkeller by my hotel and choreographed a tweet up and soon (well a pint in) I was joined by fellow #ukrunchatters and #teamblue members @chugrunner, @1SteveMac and @SamABaxter, two of which had already run the 5K in the morning and sported some lovely RnR bling. Several pints later we moved to Cafe Rouge, as GBK’s grill was broken and beer continued. We agreed to meet later for a quick fist pumping motivational pint and went back to our hotels.
I think this is where is went wrong, or right, depending on your point of view. Two hours later I met Sam in my hotel bar and he was already a ways down a Stella (pint that is, not pink sashed Hen reveller) and so it started. Another round later and we finally fulfilled Charly’s dream of going to the Pump House, a truly average bar on the water playing cheesy music and clearly a venue for said stags and hens to frequent.
Now I do not advocate this as the next day we were supposed to run a half marathon, which would be Charly’s first time at the distance, and my first since the utter disaster at the Two Oceans, but we had 4, or maybe 5 rounds of beers whilst discussing running, racing, runcations, life the universe and everything. We had a laugh, in particular about a guy with buttless chaps being chatted up by a fat old bird dressed as Minnie Mouse, and Sam fell asleep at the table and Steve was going to leave at one point, before having a half and then staying for another. We drank like Vikings the night before a race, and it was brilliant!
Not so brilliant was waking up at 5am with a hangover, then at 6, rehydrating whilst feeling nauseous, and realising I had only eaten a burger that day, and drank @##! pints or so, and before the race all I had in the room was the complimentary Custard Creams on the tea tray, £3 Pringles from the mini bar, Jelly Babies and a tub of instant porridge, none of which I could stomach. I really was concerned given the number of people I have seen over the years unconscious on the side of the road in races due to dehydration and exhaustion. I was definitely a candidate and it stopped me from sleeping any more.
So to the Race…
Exhausted, hung over and dehydrated I made my way to the start and discovered pretty early on that the whole corral/wave system was being completely ignored. This was mostly down to the fact that waves 5 to 7 were on a small, narrow footbridge that was so jam packed with people that no one could move even if they wanted to. I was in wave 6, but I found myself standing around with people from 5, 10, even 12. This wouldn’t happen in the big races anywhere else but hey, it’s rock and roll.
The route started at the Albert Docks and we raced through the old town past the Cavern Club and down the Strand, past the Cathedral as far as Penny Lane, then down onto the water and back again along what was a quite hilly route.
How did I do…
This should really be HOW DID WE DO? And the answer, quite remarkably, was we smashed it! PBs all around for the other three, Charly completed her first ever half with consummate ease, and Sam collected four medals and a PB for both distances. In the end team Pump House managed to collect 9 medals in total for the weekend, despite the night before.
|Photo courtesy of Chugrunner|
Personally, after the 7 minute PB at Eton Dorney and then the calf splitting cramp at Two Oceans I just wanted to get back on track and so, with one eye on collapsing at the side of the road, I controlled my pace, ran the hills slowly, took on water at all bar one station and finished comfortably and strong with a 2:07 time. Not my fastest by a margin, but so comfortable I ran back to the hotel and could look forward to marathon training with the African racing disaster well and truly behind me.
I could take 15 minutes off that time and I will. But what I really took from this weekend, other than the great R n R bling, was that training and conditioning and general all around healthiness can get you through tough times physically. When at 5am and I was feeling like a French family had moved into my head and were playing loud violin, making awful gag worthy cooking smells and had carpeted my mouth, thought about DNSing. That would have been stupid as somehow after 3 years of running and now training and eating well and looking after myself, my body could not only take the punishment of 13 miles, but did so relatively comfortably.
I mean, look a the big pink eeejyit running comfortably to the finish line, does that look like someone who the previous night was a drunkard bum?
This was not my first rodeo, cowboy, in fact it was my 73rd race and my third Rock and Roll and the bling, I knew, would always be great, heavy, bespoke and worth the entry fee alone.
Did I enjoy it? It was a great weekend, the whole meetup and getting to know fellow runners, as well as the race and the atmosphere was superb. I had a great time and look forward to the next one.
Would I recommend it? Of course, if you are in that part of the world then it is a must for the race calendar.
Would I do it again? No, I do have this idea that I want to try as many races as I can while I can, so even though it was a superb event I would not go back.
What do I take from this weekend? That the running community is awesome (although we knew that), it isn’t just me that thinks Marathonfoto is a complete rip off, and that my body is in far better shape than I give it credit for (I think that not them). Oh, and that shoe dilemma, is so last year! On Cloudracers are my shoe, for sure, absolutely.
NEXT UP: The BRITISH 10K, LONDON
But after my BERLIN MARATHON training starts today