After the disappointment at the Mid Cheshire 5k I was keen to put the race behind me and focus on the next target, the Bosworth half marathon, which incorporated the Leicestershire County half marathon championships. The week before that though was the Lichfield half marathon on the first bank holiday weekend in May. A great race which is also supported by Running Form. This wasn't a target race for me, but maybe an outside chance of saving Phil some money if I was to finish first!!!
Racing further afield, I didn't recognise any familiar faces but I'd already decided on a couple of race plans. Plan A; go with the lead group and see what the pace was like, or Plan B; a steady 10 miles followed by a pace pick up for the final 5k.
My mind was quickly made up within the first half mile after feeling the pace was, pretty swift. A quick glance at my watch confirmed what I was thinking as the group of 5 or 6 of us had gone through the first half a mile or so at around sub 70 minute pace. Even with a downhill start it was too quick, plus with it being a hot day I decided to drop back and let the lead group go.
It didn't take long though for the group to spread out and neither did it take long for me to pass them as by the 3rd mile I was clear on my own in 2nd place but wasn't making any ground up on the leader.
Nonetheless I was sticking to Plan B, at least it would make for interesting final 5k! By mile 9 I'd worked out that I was roughly 55 seconds behind the leader and after going through mile 10 in just under 57 minutes I tried to pick the pace up. The effort was there but unfortunately the speed wasn't. Trying to run as quick as I wanted to was proving harder than I was expecting. As the miles were ticking by I could tell I was making ground on the lead but a final 5k in around 16:30 wasn't enough to clinch the win and I eventually finished 11 seconds behind Oliver Harradence of Royal Sutton Coldfield RC in 1:13:26.
Feeling good after Lichfield, the following week of training wasn't anything too strenuous, more a case of keeping the legs ticking over ready for the following Sunday at Bosworth half marathon. Going into the race, I knew a bit more about the entry field, and with Mike Coltherd, the previous year's winner plus a few other very good runners on the list, I was expecting a battle for second place. But this was all about finishing in the medals...
It didn't take long for a lead group to form, consisting of Mike Coltherd, Gareth Lowe, Scott Hazell and myself so I was in some very good company. The first few miles were ticked off comfortably with Scott Hazell pushing the pace. By 4 miles though the group had split and I was doing my best to keep Mike Coltherd company.
As the race went on I was starting to feel stronger and Mike hadn't got too far in front. Just after mile 9 I'd managed to close the gap so we were running side by side. Between miles 10-11 at Bosworth there's a decent incline before leading to a pretty quick downhill finish. Growing in confidence as we hit the top of the incline I had to make a quick decision. Knowing Mike's running background I knew I hadn't got a chance against him in a sprint finish so my best chance of a gold medal was to kick on and see if Mike came with me. He didn't and I managed to pull away and establish a gap with 2 miles to go. Not knowing what was going on behind me I continued to push to the finish, half expecting Mike to appear at any second. Fortunately for me he didn't and I was an unexpected first over the finish line in 1:11:41. Not fast by any means, but today it was all about the medal, and getting my first individual county gold!