Birmingham Half Marathon 2009 is go

Entries are now open for this year’s Birmingham Half Marathon taking place on Sunday October 11th. The route is changed to a flatter south Birmingham one (from last year’s undulating north/west Birmingham one) that happens to go very close to my house in Bournville. There are some undulations as you come into Bournville and it looks like the last half mile is a bit uphill but other than that it’s relatively flat. I’ve mapped an approximation of the route in g-maps:

Birmingham Half Marathon 2009 route

This year’s event incorporates the World half-marathon championships so there’ll be an elite field competing for quarter of a million dollars in prize money. I still have a vague hope that Paula Radcliffe will squeeze it into her schedule as it would form the perfect build up to the New York marathon in November.

Even if she doesn’t show then rest assured I will – my entry is already in. Online entry attracts a hefty booking fee of £3.10 so it may be worth just printing out the form and putting it in the post. The race may well fill up early this year so do get your entries in ASAP.

Edinburgh Marathon 2009 – race review


Well at least I was smiling by the end of the 2009 Edinburgh Marathon. But then I did have a beer in my hand and unlike many of the runners I passed in the last couple of miles I was still walking unaided and without the need for additional oxygen.

This was a race of two halves for me, a quick first one and a much slower, way more painful second one. By the time I’d done a 1hr 27min first half it was getting hot. That’s always going to be a potential issue with a marathon this late in the year but hey, this was Scotland, I didn’t realise they had temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius. Even on the start line at 9am it felt warm. The first few miles are shaded so it wasn’t until we hit the coast that it was obvious the sea breeze would be slight at best.

So great, a quick first half and then immediate tiredness. Miles 13-19 were really tough going and I struggled to maintain a sub 7 minute/mile pace. Any hope of the target I’d set myself, a sub 3 hour marathon, was ebbing away and I realised that to cope with the heat and not end up a wreck I needed to slow down. In fact at three separate points I walked for a short distance to compose myself. It worked as I felt fine for the last couple of miles and even managed a sprint finish on the home straight as I noticed the clock nearing 3hrs 10 minutes.

In reflection I ran a bad marathon. If I eased up in the first half I might well have been nearer the 3 hour mark. But I was heartened at the end by the knowledge that I now run ‘bad’ marathons in under 3hrs 10mins – not bad I think. Plus the crowds at the end were great (I was virtually alone down the finish straight and got huge cheers) and then I spotted some ladies serving beer – how could I refuse.

Many thanks to all who sent messages of support on Twitter and donated to the charity I was supporting. Unfortunately those finishing later in the race had a rough time with some of the water stations running out. That aside (and I realise that’s a big thing to put aside) I thought this a well-organised race in a great city. Great to see so many Bournville Harriers there as well – thanks for the company at dinner the night before.

Results:
David Harte (Male 40) (301) 228th 03:09:47

Split times:
10k: 00:39:21
Half: 01:26:47
30k: 02:06:35
Marathon: 03:09:47

This year’s marathon fundraising

Last year when I ran the London Marathon (before this blog existed) I wasn’t going to bother with raising funds for charity but then that nice fella Nick Booth said that if I did, he’d spread the word using social media and see how well we could do. At the same time a work colleague was eager to demonstrate that the old-fashioned way of raising money, hassling work colleagues in meetings and via email, would raise more. I can’t recall which way was more successful but we made about £500 for St Mary’s Hospice in Selly Oak.

So with a short time to go before I run the Edinburgh Marathon I’ve decided to see if I can’t raise a few quid for St Mary’s again. Love to have you donate as little or as much as you like.

Many thanks.

http://www.justgiving.com/daveharte

Best Lunchtime Run Ever


View Lunchtime run in a larger map

As I continue to plod my way through Edinburgh Marathon training I’ve taken to doing a bit of running at lunchtimes (now that I at last work somewhere with shower facilities). I thought it worth sharing the route with you as it’s a fantastic, popular, traffic-free run with a few interesting sights along the way.

The start could be from anywhere in the city centre or Jewellery Quarter but, as the map indicates, I start from the B1 building opposite Spring Hill library. I enter the canal near Summer Row and then proceed towards the National Indoor Arena. You could cross here and continue down the Birmingham and Worcester canal but better by far to head up the Birmingham Mainline canal, the M6 motorway of the West Midlands canal system.

I say that because it’s dead straight, very wide and with a towpath on both sides. And it’s full of lunchtime runners. Most just go up and down but I do a loop round the Soho loop. This runs at the back of the prison and then comes out again on the Mainline canal where you can head straight back to base. The straightness of the canal really lends itself to some short sprinting if you’re so inclined. There are several bridges so it’s worth trying to push hard between them and then recover to the next, repeating until you run out of bridges.

In total the run is just over 5 miles. It would make a pleasant enough walk as well. If anyone fancies coming along with me one lunchtime just ask.

Birmingham half-marathon 2009


Presumably the city council will update their own site soon but it’s worth noting that this year’s Birmingham half-marathon on October 11th is also the world half-marathon championships. That means us casual Brummie runners will be racing with the world’s elite.

The IAAF page on the event is quite illuminating. From it you can glean that the elite women will start separately from the men at 9am with the men (and probably the rest of the field) starting at 9.30am. No word on whether the route will change but you do learn that top prize is $30,000 (puts my £30 to shame) and that “the payment of prize money is dependent upon the athletes clearing the usual anti-doping procedures.” I best leave my steroid-based asthma inhalers at home then.

The IAAF do a nice little descriptor of Brum: “This city has been the industrial heartland of the country; it is still important industrially but this has also made way for an increasingly high position in the service sector.” Yep – about sums it up. Of course I’m still hoping my prediction for Paula Radcliffe to run it as a warm-up for the New York marathon comes true but most of all I hope it’s as good a race this year as it was last time around.

(nice pic from Flickr by hartlandmartin. Note Bournville Harriers’ star female athlete Linda keeping those guys on their toes)

Dave Harte – winner!

 winnings

I won a prize for running. My first ever prize for running. In fact my first ever prize for anything athletic ever. Or for anything at all now I think about it. It turns out I won the top prize for my age category (40-45) at the Ironbridge Half Marathon the other week. I went straight home after the race, not even thinking to stop to see if I’d won anything. So the above cheque and explanatory scrap of paper that arrived in the post today were most welcome.

I was actually third in my age category but the other two were in the top five in the race overall so got separate prizes for that leaving me to scoop £30 as the next fastest vet 40 male. The prize list is here (PDF).

This is so exciting I came close to breaking my twitter fast. I plan to spend my winning on more lucky running pants.

Back from an awesome run….

….as I used to say on Twitter.

Actually I’m back from a storming run at the Ironbridge Half Marathon in Telford. Personal Best of 1:23:21, third in my age category, 17th overall, and a male veteran 40 record for Bournville Harriers. I don’t think I’ve felt as good in a race for a very long time.

I’ve ran this a couple of times before so I know by now that the first half is very quick, being largely downhill, and the second half can be tough, being largely uphill. The times tell their own story with my early 6′ 15″ miles becoming 6′ 40″ miles by the end of the race. I reached 10k in about 38 minutes and my legs only really felt heavy in the last couple of miles.

The scenery as always was lovely and this time around the lack of rain recently meant a virtually mud-free course. This remains one of my favourite half-marathons, not just because I seem to go quick here but because it is always well organised, friendly and a decent challenge.

For the record I was wearing my recently purchased special running pants. From now on to be universally referred to as my lucky pants.

(Pic from Telford Harriers)

This year’s marathon

This year I’m running the Edinburgh Marathon on May 31st as I didn’t get into London. I’ve been training for a good few weeks now but it’s been a little on and off as I hadn’t done that essential thing in my training regime – start a spreadsheet. It’s only the spreadsheet that usually guilts me into keeping the mileage up. So with 12 weeks to go and at the end of my first fairly full-on week I’ve started one.

This morning I had a lovely run all the way from Bournville up to spaghetti junction and back again on the Rea Valley route and then the canals. At 16 miles it’s my longest run to date – more to come though.

I just need to also write down that if I don’t do under 3 hours (best so far 3 hrs 1 min in London 2008) at Edinburgh I will have to do a second marathon later in the year (probably Dublin) in order to have a second bash at the time. Sub 3 hours is one of my 2009 goals, as is being less of an idiot. At least one of these is achievable.

Pic by Gary Henderson