Sub 1:30, baby!!
I cannot believe I’m finally lucky enough to be able to type that sentence! I am SO bloody happy right now!
This morning – Sunday 29th October 2023 – I took part in the Macclesfield Running Festival Half Marathon, organised by the wonderful RunThrough crew.
Today was the first time I’d ever attempted this event, and I went into it with pretty low expectations for myself.
A few weeks ago, I bumped into a fellow runner during my Saturday morning long run, and we got chatting. I mentioned that I had the Macclesfield Half Marathon coming up, and he warned me that it was a very hilly course. This instantly dispelled my hankering for a PB, and I temporarily put my dreams of a sub 1:30 half on hold.
I actually only achieved my half marathon PB of 1:30 in February this year, so I didn’t want to be too greedy by assuming that I could get below that any time soon.
After an excellent warm-up from the pure legend that is RunThrough’s Josh, we headed to the starting line.
I met a lovely lady called Helen who I recognised from other running events. She asked what time I was aiming for, and I said I’d be happy to finish around the 1:35 mark. That was my time from the Buxton Half, which is also a notoriously challenging course, so I figured a similar time may be achievable at Macc.
As we all know, though – anything can happen out there!
My running buddy had been right… The Macclesfield Half Marathon most certainly was a battle!
The Buxton Half Marathon was hilly.
The Lyme Park Half Marathon was practically a mountain range.
I don’t know what this was, but it was utterly relentless! The thing is, the hills were no where near as dramatic as the ones at Buxton or Lyme, but they were CONSTANT, which is arguably worse!
I couldn’t even enjoy the downhill sections because I was sadly all too aware of what was to come on the other side.
As soon as I got my breath back, it was gone again, and I hobbled and panted my way up and down the country lanes.
After about 87 hills, I stopped feeling surprised to find myself at the bottom of yet another one. Why fight it? 🤣
I think the only thing that kept me relatively sane was the fact that the terrain was solely road, which suits me best. Throw some grass in the mix, and there’s absolutely no way I would have finished in the time I did.
The weather was also pretty perfect for running: dry, with a gorgeous sprinkling of sun.
It was a beautiful autumnal day, and I relished passing under the draping oak trees with their cascading leaves and entrancing shades.
Andddd let’s not even talk about the fact that the course photographer was sat at the top of one of the hills.
I’ve seen the race pictures. Everyone else has managed to look lovely, or at least human. I, on the other hand, look like Golem on my official race pics from this morning 🤣 I look absolutely FUMIN.’ 🤣
If I’m not embarrassing myself by leaping in the air and beaming manically, I’m literally glowering at the photographer like Wednesday Addams. 🤣
Love the inspiration boards at RunThrough events ❤️ (I'd usually insert a race photo here but no way are those monstrosities seeing the light of day. 🤣)
Breakfast this morning came in the form of a Refresher bar, craftily snaffled from the forbidden ‘for trick or treaters ONLY’ box at home.
I think this sugar rush contributed to a strong start for me, and I overtook the 1:30 pacer (Michael Slack) quite early on.
Naturally, this then left me wondering if a PB may just be possible… I quickly shunned these thoughts, as another hill loomed.
It became my aim to stay ahead of Michael for as long as possible, although I couldn’t see how I was going to hang onto the pace I had adopted from the start.
Sometimes you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do to get round. For me, it was listening to a weird sped-up 53 second remix of the Macarena on repeat for approximately 7k.
Even now, I’m unsure whether or not I hallucinated the huge, blue t-shirt-wearing bear on the course handing out high fives…?
With about 4k to go until the end, I was really starting to fade. To my dismay, I clocked Michael gaining on me.
All I wanted to do was slow down and give my legs a bit of a break. My breathing was becoming strained, and I honestly felt like I had nothing left to give.
But, I’m stubborn, and I hadn’t kept pace the whole way round to NOT get my PB!
And so I pushed, and I pushed some more.
Michael overtook me, and I tried desperately to keep him in sight.
I thought it was all over. I dug deep, but I’m not exaggerating when I say that I was running on empty. Those hills had well and truly done me in.
There was one last incline to navigate as we pounded onto the athletic track at the back of the leisure centre for the final lap. It was only a gentle slope – barely a hill at all – but my God, it felt like bloody Everest!
I have no idea how it happened, but I suddenly found the gap between myself and the Michael closing.
A man stood at the side of the track roared his encouragement as I ran past: “COME ON, YOU CAN DO IT! 1:30, YOU CAN CATCH HIM UP! COME ON!”
Michael kept turning round and cheering me on.
Somehow, I did it.
Adrenaline kicked in and I flew over the final 100 yards, to finish with a chip time of 1:29:14 – over a minute off my previous PB. I placed 3rd lady, 2nd in my age category, and 22nd out of 505 overall. 🎉
I wouldn’t have been able to get there without Michael (the awesome 1:30 pacer), or the general support from the marshals and spectators, especially the gent who yelled to me on the final stretch.
My absolute hero this morning!!
I cannot thank this gent enough for his support and belief in me! ☺️
Today was my seventh ‘podium finish’ of the year, and I don’t take a single second for granted.
Given the hills and the fact that my time was closer to 1:29 then it was 1:30, it’s made me wonder if I could chip anymore off on a flatter course…
I just need to get rid of those infuriating 24 seconds on my 10k PB to run sub-40, and I can rest easy!
RunThrough will always be my number ones to race with. They’re more of a community than a company. I love how inclusive they are, and how they have the ability to make every single runner feel so special. I always leave RunThrough events with such a confidence boost.
Their attention to detail is like no other! Everything from the photo walls to the little signs containing inspiring quote strategically placed half way up hills just make the world of difference.
And how can I NOT mention Josh again?! Literally THE biggest legend of the running world! He really is a credit to RunThrough and just effortlessly embodies exactly what the running community is all about.
Without the hardcore elites storming the front of the field, RunThrough give non-elite runners like myself a chance to claim a victory.
Of course, it’s great to run with elites and I always enjoy watching them do their thing at larger scale events, but it is also unrivalled to experience the glory of a podium finish firsthand every once in a while.
... Yes I did do the pumpkin nails myself, in-case you were wondering! 🤣
My favourite ever running memory actually took place at a RunThrough event back in September 2021. I’d only been racing for three months, and it was the first time I ever placed first female. I never thought something like that would ever happen to me.
I remember walking back through the woods by the lake in Tatton Park, crying uncontrollably, listening to Elbow’s ‘One Day Like This.’
That race, the opportunity and the win meant more to me than anyone will ever know.
That day alone birthed this phenomenal self-believe within me, and I’ve been happily chasing that high ever since, gathering my own personal bests and achievements along the way. These precious moments are my weapons of mass destruction when anorexia comes to call.
Running instantly makes me feel strong, even in the moments I feel the weakest.
It’s a love like no other.
A picture speaks a thousand words...
The smile on my face knowing I'd just smashed my PB! 😍🏃🏻♀️❤️🎉
Cara Jasmine Bradley ©
Check out RunThrough here: Running Events in UK | Run Through UK