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Colchester Half Marathon 2019

On Sunday the 24th of March I took part in the Colchester Half Marathon. It was my fourth time running the race; it is easy logistically because Lorna’s parents live a mile from the start/finish. As the event was 5 weeks after the Seville Marathon I was a little apprehensive as I didn’t know if my legs had fully recovered and I hadn’t ran at or quicker than half marathon pace for a long time. However, with the London Marathon coming up I was keen to see what shape I was in. In the week leading up to the race I was in two minds whether to race it or run it at marathon pace. As the weather forecast looked good, I decided to ease off training and make a call on the day.

The Colchester Half Marathon is always a competitive affair for the Elliott family, this year was no different with Lorna, Alex, Rob, Rachel and Phil all taking part. We opted for an easy 5k shake out run on Saturday morning to loosen the legs up. I was looking forward to seeing how everyone else would get on, knowing they had been training well. Most of the group, including Robbie, Smithy, Helen and Andy were gunning for PBs. Our good friend Simon made the trip to Essex to take part in the race, with Abi and Beau as cheer crew. Despite losing to Lorna’s Dad we had fun playing crazy golf in the afternoon and then fueled up on Nandos (plainish, if you were wondering) in the evening before getting an early night.

With the race starting at 9am we woke up at 7am to have breakfast and get our race kit ready. I slept well and my legs felt good. Over the last few years I finished the Colchester Half within 75 minutes, qualifying for London Marathon Championship entry. As the conditions were perfect, I decided to aim for sub 75 again. I figured it isn’t very often you get the chance to race in good weather so wanted to make the most of it. I also thought if I can hold 3:30 min/km pace for a half then marathon pace would feel more comfortable in the following weeks once recovered. We all headed to Colchester Community Stadium to drop our bags and get on the start line.

Having finished 2nd and 3rd in 2017 and 2018 respectively I positioned myself near the front. Last year I opted to attack the first 5k and bank some time, on this occasion I settled into 3:30min/km pace and held back on the downhill sections. I remembered suffering through the last 5k or so in the race previously, so I tried to conserve energy.

As the first couple of kilometers are flat/gradually downhill I kept an eye on my watch to check I was on the correct pace. With half marathons it’s incredibly easy to go out quick and suffer trying to hold on. Luckily, I felt really relaxed in the opening stages, my legs felt fresh and I knew if I could get through the first 10-11k on goal pace I would do well as the second half is relatively flat.

I managed to keep a consistent pace despite the short sharp North Hill. I always push up the hill and then get back into my stride down through the High Street. As always, the support was great. Heading along Ipswich Road, which is a gradual uphill, I was still holding goal pace and feeling comfortable. In contrast to the last few years I had a couple of other runners for company which was nice. I was soon winding my way through the industrial estate and got a few cheers from friends around the course.

Running along Langham Lane and Dedham Road it is quieter. Luckily, I had closed the gap to a runner, so I worked with them from 16k onwards. My legs were starting to tighten but they didn’t feel half as bad as they did in 2017 and 2018 along this part of the route. I turned onto Straight Road which lasts for a good 4 to 5 kilometers. I knew this was where I needed to focus and work hard. The long straight road is demoralising but Lorna’s parents live a mile from the stadium so I always look forward to support from her family and know I can grit my teeth to the finish line.

Nearing the football stadium I checked my watch to see I was still holding 3:30min/km on average so I knew I was going to clock inside 75 minutes. I managed a sprint finish to cross the line in 73:58 in 9th position.

Iffley Road Lancaster Vest, adidas Split Shorts, Stance Socks & adidas Adios.

I congratulated runners nearby before grabbing my bag to watch everyone finish with Abi and Beau. There were some cracking performances including personal bests from Robbie (1:22:53), Alex (1:25:20), Helen (1:29:39), Smithy (1:32:04), Andy (1:33:52) and Rob (1:39:49). Lorna clocked another great time (1:33:52) while pacing Smithy and Andy for parts of the race.

The squad: Me, Andy, Helen, Phil, Alex, Smithy, Rob, Lorna, Rachel and Simon.

Another couple of Colchester Half Marathon medals to add to our collection.

Overall it was a great event, no doubt I will be back in 2020 to try and go quicker.

Steve

Colchester Half Marathon 2018

On Sunday the 25th of March I took part in the Colchester Half Marathon. It was the third time I have ran the race; mainly because it is Lorna’s home half marathon. Having only raced in a RunThrough 5k in January and the Cancer Research Winter 10k I wanted to push myself and see what shape I was in ahead of the London Marathon. I lowered my mileage in the week leading up to the race, pacing The Running Works Run Club and run commuting at a steady pace.

Last year Lorna’s brother Rob and I opted for an easy 5k on the Saturday to shake our legs out. As it worked well we decided to do the same again. I was really looking forward to race day but for some reason I doubted whether I could run a good time or be able to work hard when it got tough in the final few kilometres (which it always does).

With the race starting at 9am we woke up around 7 o’clock to have breakfast and get our race kit ready. I slept well and my legs felt good. Before the Colchester Half last year I’d ran Essex 20 the previous weekend and raced a lot so my legs were tired. Therefore I was aiming to beat my time of 1:14:58. We all headed to Colchester Community Stadium to drop our bags and get on the start line.

Photo courtesy of gazette news, Essex County Standard.

Having finished 2nd in 2017 I positioned myself near the front. Remembering the first 4k or so is slightly downhill I decided to push the pace early on and get into a good rhythm.

Two runners flew off the start and were into the distance but I had a couple of club runners for company in the opening kilometres. Running up the hill and onto the high street the crowds were out in force.

Approaching Ipswich Road, which is a gradual uphill, I settled into a good pace. I calculated I needed to hold around 3:30min/km to finish in under 75 minutes. Despite running on my own the kilometres went quickly and I was soon winding my way through the industrial estate. It was a shame not having anyone to race but I was focused on holding my pace and bagging a time to qualify for a championship start in the London Marathon for the next few years.

Running along Langham Lane and Dedham Road it was really quiet. It felt strange running in a race and for there to be no one around. I turned onto Straight Road which lasts for a good 4 to 5 kilometres. I knew this was where I needed to “dig deep” / “go to the well”. The long straight road is quite demoralising but luckily for me Lornas parents live a mile or so from the finish so I always look forward to cheers from her family and know I haven’t got long left from there.

Photo courtesy of Liam Winters Photography.

Nearing the football stadium I was keeping a close eye on my watch, as I was still holding 3:30min/km on average I knew I was going to make it in under 75 minutes. I mustered a sprint finish to cross the line in 74:05 in 3rd place.

I congratulated the winner and runner up before grabbing my bag to watch Lorna, Alex, Rob and Smithy finish. They all ran really well; Lorna clocked her second fastest half marathon time in 1:31 and Rob got a personal best.

Overall it was another great race. No doubt I will be back in 2019 to try and go quicker again.

Steve

Colchester Half Marathon 2017

On Sunday the 12th of March I took part in the Colchester Half Marathon. I signed up because Lorna, her brothers and some friends were racing and I enjoyed the event in 2016 finishing 7th in 1:16:30. Lorna and I travelled back to Colchester on the Friday evening; it was deja vu as we had made the same trip the previous Friday for the Essex 20. Having raced Brighton Half Marathon and Essex 20 over the two weekends in the lead up to Colchester Half I took it easy during the week, no hard track sessions or tempo runs. My legs were feeling good going into the weekend and I thought a short shakeout run would be good on the Saturday morning so Rob and I did a nice 5k.

Rob was really excited to be racing, he was aiming to smash his PB and beat Phil. On our 5k run we talked about training and thought about how he should pace it. Having trained more specifically this year he knew roughly what paces he should be hitting when going down or uphill so was confident he would get a good result. As I have been doing more long runs recently the 5k went really quickly; it seemed to do the job of loosening my legs up and it was a good way to start the day. To fuel up for the race Rob and I met up with Alex and Smithy for Nandos whilst Lorna went for lunch with Holly. We then had a look around the shops before going back to Lorna’s mum and dads to chill, eat and get an early night.

We woke up at 7am on Sunday morning to give us time to have breakfast and get our kit ready. It had been while since I’d raced so frequently but I was looking forward to the challenge. Toast and coffee consumed we went to Alex’s place before walking to Colchester Football stadium where the race started and finished. We met Robbie Smith near the start line, it was great to have a catch up with him. He said he wasn’t in great shape due to injuries etc but I knew he’d still run really well! Having dropped a bag full of warm clothes for after the race we got ourselves on the start line. Normally I prefer to position myself a few rows back but having finished 7th in 2016 I decided to get to the front with a couple of friends: Ciaran Saunders and Sam Cornforth. We talked about training, recent races and what times we were aiming for and then we were sent on our way.

Quick off the start line with Ciaran (left) & Sam (right).

As my legs were feeling relatively fresh I decided to aim for 75 minute pace (3:35ish min/km). Knowing the first couple of kilometres of the race were flat then downhill I went out quickly with a view to bank a few seconds for the hills later on. There was a group of 5 or 6 of us to begin with; it was nice to be in a group for the first few kilometres. As we tackled the first hill in the 4th kilometre Ciaran and I pushed on, we passed the two runners who had taken the initial lead and settled into a good pace.

Once at the top of the hill I found myself at the front with one other runner for company (see runner on the right in the pic above). We both got back onto a good pace straight off the top of the hill to open up a bit of a gap to the rest of the field. Down the high street the crowds were in good voice. I was really surprised to be at the front of the race with the car and bike; I kept pushing the pace on the downhills. I knew that I was approaching the long pull up Ipswich Road that lasts for a good couple of kilometres. Finally we turned onto Severalls Lane to get back on the flat road and go through an industrial estate. The hardest parts of the course were done and I could focus on holding around 3:35min/km again. I didn’t look around to see where the other runners were but I still had the one runner alongside.

The kilometres went by quickly; I really enjoy the Colchester Half Marathon route because of the variety. The hills and corners break it up nicely. With 5k to go my competition started to up the pace, my legs were tiring but I tried to hold onto him for as long as possible. It was good to be pushing it on tired legs. I stuck with him for another 3 kilometres but then a gap opened up quickly. I was still on my goal pace but he was finishing strongly. It was disappointing to see my hopes of winning the race run off into the distance but I kept digging deep to get to the finish line inside 75 minutes. I passed Lorna’s parents’ house with just over one mile to go, Bob (Lorna’s dad) and Lidia (Phil’s fiancée) were outside trying to take photos and cheering.

There was a short incline just before the finishing straight, my legs were not happy. I just about held it together to finish in 2nd place in 1:14:58.

I congratulated the winner on a great run and then grabbed my bag before cheering Robbie, Frosty, Alex, Lorna, Rob and Phil through the finish. A big shout has to go to Rob for smashing his PB by 5 minutes and beating Phil by 2 in finishing in 1:41.

 Robbie, Alex, Lorna, Rob and me

We all freshened up before heading to Three Wise Monkeys for food. Overall a great weekend and another race completed.

Next up: Escape to Trail run (Saturday 18th) & Hampton Court Palace Half (Sunday 19th)

See a lot of you soon

Steve