Birmingham Half Marathon
Report – Ginny Davis
It rained the day before the Birmingham Half Marathon and the day after but on 7th May the weather was sunny and warm so thankfully there was no shivering in the starting pens or wearing warm clothes that I’d have to donate to charity on the start line.
The welcome from Birmingham was wonderful – runners get nervous and if there’s one thing I want above all before a run it’s a nice loo. So far as I could tell every hospitality venue close to the start welcomed us all in in. What a change from Manchester!
I spotted a couple of black and yellows in my pen and our chat was a great distraction from the pre-run nerves – then I wandered away, having explained that I can’t cope with the etiquette of running with friends. Is it rude to trot off ahead or OK, and what if I then slow down. It’s all too much for me.
The first few hundred yards were a welcome downhill followed by a diverse and interesting route to the Jewellery Quarter, round it and back to the City Centre, past Grand Central, down into the bowels of Peaky Blinder land and out onto the Pershore Road.
Temptation beckoned me towards the 10k U turn back home but I’d started the Half so I’d finish.
Somewhere near Pebble Mill Road I decided it was time for a gel. Catastrophe! It had slipped of my belt. All I had now was four jelly babies and a couple of gel blocks gaffer taped to my arm.
By now I was well down memory lane – the route passed many landmarks in my life since South Birmingham is where I and all my family grew up.
We passed the former Tally Ho! tennis club where I used to pay as a junior. Cannon Hill Park brought back memories of the annual Tulip Festival held in the 1960s where Dutch girls in national costume sold miniature clogs. Crossing the river to the cricket ground reminded me that that was the former border between Warwickshire and Worcestershire. It was exciting to run round the ground.
Then there was a slog back along the Pershore Road. I should have gone a bit faster at this point. I’d have loved to have made the sub 2 hour mark and this flat stretch was the opportunity to pick up my pace … but I was doing my flagging best.
Towards the finish line I told myself several things:
1. I’m never ever doing another marathon again. This is only half the distance and it’s really hard.
2. I’m never actually doing another race again.
3. I may never even run again.
4. I’m going to stop.
But I couldn’t stop because I was nearly there and this time the finish line came sooner than I expected. Oh the joy!
Chip time 2 hours (great) and 53 seconds (blast!). Garmin and Strava both had different stories to tell but I’ve decided it’s silly to argue with the chip time. And anyway now I have an achievable goal in sub 2 hours. So when’s the next one?
Emma and Pip’s Race
Report – Emma Lee
This was my 3rd 1/2 but my first at such a big organised event.
All week I was weather watching as I guess all runners do before a race; it went from cool with a bit of drizzle, pretty good, to bleeding hot, not good as I struggle running when it’s warm.
Pip & I started a bit quicker than planned but the lure of the pacers music was too much; I love a good sing song when running, voice of an angel my friends will tell you….
The first 8 miles were fab, I said to Pip that I’d never run with a smile on my face for so long before. I hadn’t realised how much seeing friends and family along the way and strangers shouting your name in encouragement meant. As well as the general public the streets were lined with local bands, choirs and music stations too, such a great atmosphere.
After the 8th mile the heat was just too much, we had slow it down a little.
I can’t remember much between 9 and 12 apart from a small hill which felt like Illmington.
Then we saw the FINISH line sign ahead and I could’ve cried as it was so close but it wasn’t meant to be, they sent us around some side streets to make up the mileage. I may have said a few bad words at this point!!
Despite the heat and having to take a 10 second breather we did it and achieved the goal of getting me a new PB.
Our time was 2 hours 7 minutes and 22 seconds, taking 7 minutes and 10 seconds off my previous 1/2.
Chuffed to bits and so grateful to Pip for all her support.
We caught up with Ginny at the end and she’d finished in an incredible 2 hours and 43 seconds. Fantastic!
Report – Richard Liggatt
After the cancellation of Stratford Half I wanted to find a relatively local and relatively flat spring half to see if I could squeeze a few seconds off my pb.
Birmingham seemed a good option as it finishes lower than it starts, so I was hoping for a nice steady downhill run from start to finish.
After a miserable bank holiday weekend forecast, I was surprised to find myself on the start line in glorious sunshine. It was worryingly hot, but at least it made for a decent atmosphere as the crowds came out.
I wasn’t feeling too confident since aside from the weather, I had an achy back from laying a bunch of paving slabs the day before. Definitely not the optimum preparation but then there is always something.
The race started at the central library alongside the 10k runners and meandered it’s way up and down slip roads through the (limited) sites of the city centre.
This was not the steady downhill course I had expected – I’m not sure all of the undulations of slip roads are picked up by Strava when I was checking out the route.
5km in, I had absolutely no idea of my pace due to the GPS failing around the tall buildings. I then spent most of the time trying to work out how I was doing as each milestone ticked by.
The 10k runners broke off at 8km leaving what seemed like very few of us continuing the along the avenue out of the city, it became a race against myself which I wasn’t really expecting in a big city race.
The 10km marker passed and by my arithmetic had me over a minute ahead of target, so I decided to back off slightly hoping to save some energy for the finish.
As we turned to head back towards the city, it was nice to see some SAC vests shouting their support but I was too busy trying to calculate my projected time to shout back!
At 16km, running through the park near Edgbaston my leg started to severely ache. The paving work from yesterday was catching up with me and I had to slow down. I almost stopped to prevent injury, but somehow the pain went away a couple of kms later and I was able to push on to the finish.
Whether it was my miscalculations or the injury scare, but I crossed the line 10 seconds down on my PB. 18th place and 1:17:02 was still a time to be pleased with. It was a fun day out and a course I’d recommend, but be prepared to monitor your progress the old fashioned way if you’re targeting a particular time!
Next home for Stratford was Jamie Howkins in 1:38:31 followed by Ginny Davis in2:00.53. Pip Bell and Emma Lee crossed the line together in 2:07:26, and Lara and Ryan Bakewell also ran together in 2:10:00 followed by Stuart Evans in 2:13:03.