Hull 20 - 19/03/17
Report by Tristan Learoyd
After a build up and advice from Steve Shaw I tackled the East Hull 20. The objective was to run under 1:50:00. I'd had a couple of goes at running inside 1:53:30 in training, running 40 laps of the half mile block outside my house. In good conditions I knew going into the race, I had already ran 1:52, and 1:50 was on if I ran even paced. It would mean a PB through 13.1. My half marathon PB was ran on a windy day in Redcar and I was confident it would go irrespective of the conditions in Hull.
Unfortunately, every single target race I've ran since May bank holiday 2016 has been in horrific conditions. So I knew Hull conditions would be accordingly bad. The prognostic was for 40mph head winds. So I made a paper Voodoo doll during the week in an attempt to reverse my fortunes. I sat it in the window in a trophy from the previous weekend's race, facing Hull.
After two years of wearing no watch, today I ran in a Garmin. The pace early in was too slow as it slipped over 5:40, so I had to run from the front and encourage others to run slightly under 5:30. Somebody in the pack remarked "what good conditions". Almost immediately the wind got up and blew the pack of 10 down to 3 and the chatter stopped. I knew to keep the pace going I'd have to encourage the two remaining runners to share out the running. One of the runners was Spanish so I spoke to him in his native language to encourage him to share the lead. "Deberiamos compartir el trabajo."
Despite the wind, all was going well and at 5 miles we had brought the pace back to bang on 5:30. Then Daniel Kestrel of Barnsley put in a surge. From my training I know I can run 5:30s all day but anything sub 5:23 is a problem. So I had to let the two runners go. They ran close to 5:00 for mile 6. I hadn't backed off enough and ran 5:15. So now I had lactate in my system and I knew if the wind got up in the second half things were going to get brutal. I went through 10 in 54:30. This was my target for 10 miles. In perfect conditions I was confident I'd close out in sub 1:50.
Then I turned, about 200m back from the front pair, for the final 10 miles. The hedges along the roadside disappeared. The wind became savage. The 11th mile was 6:00. The 12th mile as ugly. At 12 Dad appeared with a Lucozade. I provided evidence of my amateur status by chocking on the drink and shouting "it's like running in a f*cking wind tunnel".
The final 10 miles were brutal. Alone, exposed, and being blown like a rag doll. I then thought about the Voodoo doll. Bet he's laughing now. Apparently you're supposed to drown successful weather charm in alcohol and give them a dignified burial. "Stuff you you're going down the loo" I shouted aloud as I battled the wall of wind alone along the railway.
I could see one of the front pair had dropped off the pace and mile 15 turned out of the wind and I popped off a 5:30. But then mile 16 hit the wind again. The final four miles were savage. I struggled to maintain 6:00 pace in the wind I cursed at the sky "every f*cking race". By mile 19 I could hardly breathe spent from an epic fight with the elements. I finished 3rd in a provisional 1:52:55, a club record but yet another poor reflection of my form to go in the catalog of times destroyed by the elements.
The Voodoo doll met a miserable end.