Leeds Half Marathon – 14/05/2017

After not enough sleep as per usual and wolfing my breakfast down due to me sleeping in, I pick Dean up and our short journey into Leeds city centre begins.

We parked at my work and make the 10 minute walk up to the Headrow. At this point I expected to be soaking wet but the morning rain had arrived in the early hours and the sun was threatening to make the race conditions even more fun for us.

We dropped our bags off and headed to a side street to do the obligatory warm up. After we had jogged up and down the street a few times it was time to head to the start.

A strange feeling came over me as we made our way to the pen, normally I get nervous before the start of race but not that day. It was an odd feeling but one I enjoyed. No pressure and no expectations. I had got it into my head the week before that my PB of 1:25:12 was safe with no training, a dodgy chest and not being that fussed about actually doing the race. I also was resided to the fact that I would not be the first Harrier back that morning as Stephen Bailey was stood right on the start line looking very focused!

Me and Dean weaved between the runners to try get nearer the front and bumped into Andy, David and Nick. After a quick chat and a 10 minute delay to the race start, we were underway.

As we left the Headrow my plan was to stick with Dean and see how we both progressed over the first 6 miles. We both got into a good rhythm and felt remarkably good up Stonegate road. I had to tell Dean off a few times as he was worrying about pace as usual but we were surprisingly on PB pace, surely it wouldn’t last!

With Stonegate Road out of the way, we attacked the downhill section of the ring road and began the long uphill knowing that Weetwood Hall was not too far away. The sun appeared and the temperature began to rise, water was taken on board and tipped over my head. I think we were both relieved to reach the roundabout at the top as we knew that technically that was the hard bit done. Downhills awaited and the bore that is Kirkstall road.

Still maintaining a good pace as we hit 9 miles, energy gels were consumed and the left turn onto Abbey Road was in our sights at the bottom of the hill. It was when we hit Abbey Road with the sun beating down on us and our legs starting to fatigue that we had to switch on the mental toughness. We were still looking good pace wise but Dean had decided he was struggling. However, after a few words of encouragement and informing him that a new PB could be achieved if he kept it going we were refocussed. As we hit the Abbey we knew only a parkrun remained. I and Dean were now in this together and we just had to keep it going.

As we neared the end of Kirkstall Road just before the slip road up to the Headrow we spotted Judy. She took up it upon herself to remind us we were in a race and that one of us had to finish ahead of the other one. This was a valid point and one that I had been thinking about for the last half a mile. As we ran up the hill and re-joined the Headrow my finish mode kicked in. For those of you who don’t know me I pride myself on my ability to somehow have a sprint finish left in me no matter how tired I am. With this in mind and Dean pretty much spent I kicked on. With a little glance over my shoulder and the finish line in front of me, I passed three other runners and put some distance between me and Mr. Brown just in case he had anything left in the tank.

I crossed the line and stopped my watch looking at the time on the screen… 1:25:12! Well that was a shock! I never expected to equal my PB in a million years. I already knew Dean had beaten his by some 20 seconds so I was made up for him.

As Dean crossed the line we both smiled at each other as we knew we had just achieved something special considering our attitudes before the race. A feeling of pride overcame me as we had done that together! Here’s to teamwork I thought.

As we collected our medals and recovered in Millennium Square we bumped into Andy who had also smashed his PB! Time for a celebratory pint me thinks. We went and reclaimed our bags and I refuelled with chocolate milk and a banana.

It wasn’t until the three of us had sat down with pint in hand that I checked my phone for the official race time. 1:25:11, a new PB by a second! I will quite happily take that thank you very much! All in all a great effort and a lesson in teamwork. Mine and Dean’s bromance goes from strength to strength it seems. Haha.

Written by Chris Bartle