Last year I ran the Rock n Roll Liverpool 5k and marathon, you can read my ROCK n ROLL LIVERPOOL MARATHON 2017 RACE RECAP HERE to see how that went. I really really enjoyed running in Liverpool. So much so I set my 5k PB there which still stands today and went on to set my marathon PB 24 hours later which I only beat last month at the ASICS GREATER MANCHESTER MARATHON. Having enjoyed my Rock n Roll Liverpool experience so much I ran the ROCK n ROLL LAS VEGAS MARATHON last November as well.
So it only seemed right that I came back to Liverpool again in 2018. The problem I had initially was, I had already registered to run the Great Manchester 10k on the Sunday, however, once I found out that Manchester was on in the afternoon I signed up for the 5k and half marathon, I would then drive to Manchester to run the 10k. Having ran PB’s here last year I set my sights on having a go for my half marathon PB, which was 1:30.09 set 2 months prior at THE BIG HALF in London. To be honest, those 9 seconds had been bugging me so I wanted to get under 1:30.
Rock n Roll Liverpool 5k
Last year I ran the 5k in 18.10 which is still my PB now. Although, I am not 100% sure that they measured that course correctly last year, my Garmin clocked 2.9 miles. Anyway, I had not done any speed work this year and had only ran three Parkruns barely scraping under 21 minutes so I was not planning on a fast run and had no hopes of running anywhere near to my “PB”.
I drove up to Liverpool with my wife and daughter, we arrived just after 8am and went to the Runfit Expo to collect my 5k & half marathon race numbers. We had a look around the expo and managed to resist the temptation to buy more running gear that I didn’t really need but always have to have just in case.
With the time I ran last year I was in corral 1 this time. I was a little concerned that I would be in with the fast runners who would just absolutely smoke me and leave me running way behind by myself.
Once the race got going I soon realised that the vast majority of these guys are not fast runners. The first quarter mile I was having to weave around and push my way through, someone was even walking!! yes in the very first wave and they set off walking!! I literally ran straight into the back of her. Some people are just clueless and selfish. I am not going on another rant about people going in the wrong corrals for their own person pace.
Once I got out on to the road and had the space to get past the slow runners I cleared about 60 runners in that first mile. The course was different to last year, pretty much running it in reverse but finishing up in the expo centre, but still very flat and fast.
The first mile despite the slower than planned start ended up being a 6:02. I had to do a double take of my watch when I first glanced down. 6:02?? that can’t be right surely? up until March my fastest mile was 6:04, I only beat that running the Mow Cop Killer mile in reverse, a 1 mile, 550ft downhill which I did in 5:58. At this point I thought, maybe I could sneak in close to a PB here so I went for it. Probably running mile 2 far too quick for my own good, I was really breathing heavy and sweating big time but the watch ticked over to 2 miles and flashed up 5:49! WTF? where has this come from? surely I am going to blow up anytime now, but just one mile to go.
Now, in the past, in pretty much all of my races, when things have got tough I have backed off a bit. I made a decision today that I was going to keep pushing as hard as I could. I didn’t expect to run another 5:49 mile but if I can go under 6 mins again and push hard in the last 0.1 I might just bag a PB. Mile 3 was tough, I had been sticking with a guy for the last mile and using him as a pacer but he was pulling away / me dropping back, I knew I wasn’t going to catch him but still kept pushing, 5:58 flashed up, equalling what used to be my fastest mile. Quickly trying to do the math in my head, 17:49 for the first 3 miles, that leaves me 21 seconds to run 0.1 miles. That’s doable right?
Turns out I had over ran the course and 0.1 miles was actually 0.18 miles and by this stage I just couldn’t hold the pace anymore and dropped back to 6:03 for that last bit. I say dropped back like I absolutely collapsed and broke down, yet in reality I very very very rarely run a mile under 6:20.
In the end I came home with a 18.51 and finished in 18th place. 41 seconds slower than last years PB. I was so so happy with that run, to have run that fast with no speed work all year long was amazing. Furthermore, that run made me doubt last years time even more. All 3 miles were at a faster pace than I have ran before yet I still couldn’t beat my PB? fair enough the 0.38 mile difference will have played a big part in that but well who knows.
Rock n Roll Liverpool Half Marathon
Today was the big day, the day I had kind of been training for. Although all of my training has been endurance work geared towards the Manchester & London marathons last month and the upcoming Ironman 70.3 Staffs and Ironman UK. I still had my sights set of that sub 90 PB. I nearly did it on a cold day in London 2 months ago so why couldn’t I do it here today?
So the day didn’t get off to the best of starts. I was late arriving into Liverpool, just me this time with having to drive to Manchester afterwards. I arrived at the start corrals at 8:45am and still had to drop my bag off and use the toilets. Thankfully most people were in the corrals now so the bag drop was simple and there were no toilet queues. I then had to fight my way through from corral 9 to corral 1. Just making it with 3 minutes to spare.
Once at the corral I bumped into a friend from Instagram @Phil1980Scott, Phil had ran in every single one of the Rock n Roll Marathon Series events in 2017, in the process becoming the only European the Hall of Fame medal. I had a chat with Phil for a little while as the start was delayed by 10 minutes. Typical after I had rushed to get here, this is why there are no start line photos etc, so apologies for the lack of photos on this section of the blog.
Mile 1 – 6: 7:02, 7:03, 7:11, 7:09, 6:50, 6:57
So the plan today was to run sub 90, beat my PB of 1:30.09. I had come up with a good race strategy (I thought it was good anyway). The first 7 miles of this course have a few bumps / hills in them, so I was going to try and hold on to a pace that would take me just over my PB, I had 7:00 pace in mind and then the second half is downhill to the river front and 4 miles of flat. I remembered this from the marathon last year, where I ran my quickest 5 miles of the whole marathon at the very end. So I was planning on running this stretch under PB pace. A negative split. I used this approach in London at the Big Half when I came close to a sub 90.
As ever, that first mile was a matter of holding myself back, not going too fast. Plenty of people were running past me and I felt like I was going slow but I was sticking to plan today. I ran the first 3 miles with Phil, it was great to run with someone and have a chat as we went along and so nice to get to chat with Phil some more. When we got to mile 3 and my watch flashed up 7:11, I knew I was already 16 seconds behind that slower than PB pace and had an uphill battle now, literally. Mile 4 was a 130ft climb. I even said to Phil, I can’t see a PB coming today now. The hill was where I sadly dropped Phil, now it was hard graft all the way to the finish. I knew this mile was going to be tough and yep it was but 7:09, still slower than I wanted but quicker than the previous mile, 25 seconds behind now and over a minute behind PB pace. Miles 5 and 6 were downhill, well 30ft gradual drop but still, a lot kinder on the legs. Now I was running better and getting into my stride. 6:50 and 6:57. All of a sudden I was making time up and earlier than planned.
Mile 7 – 13.1: 6:59, 6:54, 6:54, 6:44, 6:40, 6:42, 6:25
This next mile was the last uphill section on the course, I knew now that if I could hold a decent pace on this mile I could then kick on and push hard for the next 6 miles. Mile 7 on the half marathon course was mile 18 on the marathon course, I remembered this part well from last year. This was were I sudden felt really ill with GI issues and had to made a toilet stop losing around 4 minutes. That was playing on my mind running up the hill, could it happen again? then I snapped out of it, why would it happen again? its a different day, I am a better runner now, its a shorter race, stop the negative thinking and crack on, then 6:59 boom, I came in 1 second under target. Now its just 6 miles of downhill and flat running, just a 10k to go and a easy 10k course at that. From here on in the target was to run under 6:55 and smash that negative split.
Miles 8 and 9 were the downhill part and both perfectly paced at 6:54. Now I had just 4 miles along the river front, perfectly flat, the only worry was whether the wind would be in my face or not. I turned the corner and there wasn’t even a breeze, perfect. Well kind of, no breeze but the sun was beating down on my back and starting to get quite warm. Mile 10 was my next scheduled SiS Go Energy gel, I was taking one at mile 5 and one at 10 miles. That was my next target, make it to there and recharge and go again. I was running just behind another guy and we were both going at 6:40 pace, I knew if I can stick with him and use him as a pacer I can really make up so time here. Mile 10 – 6:44, 11 – 6:40 and then mile 12 was where the pain really started to build, the legs were feeling tired, I had been working on my breathing to keep my heart rate down and at this stage I felt like I could push on harder if it wasn’t for the legs getting heavy, usually its the other way around. Despite thinking I was struggling and slowing I still ran a 6:42 but mile 13 came and I thought I just can’t do this, I can’t go on any more, I need to stop this madness. Why am I pushing myself so hard just for a chance of a PB that really, nobody cares about only me. I decided to stop looking at my watch and just run at a decent but comfortable pace to the finish. I ran past the guy I was using as a pacer and remember thinking, god he has hit the wall if I am coming past him, then I went past 5 or 6 others and sprinted over that finish line.
1:29.27 Boom, a sub 90, a PB and a race plan well executed.
As with all Rock n Roll Marathon Series event, the medals are awesome. I earned the 5k medal, the half marathon medal, the remix medal (guitar) for running on Saturday and Sunday and also the Encore medal which was for running either the half or marathon in 2017 and 2018. All look amazing and gave me neck ache walking to the car carrying them, one guy even commented that I sounded like a wind chime.
Well where do I start with this one! Totally exceeded all expectations on the 5k and then went and ran a half marathon PB a day later, a complete carbon copy of what I did last year. I love running this event, it is one of my favourite events and Rock n Roll really know how to spoil us with the bling.
A few stats / PB’s from the two runs:
▪️Fastest half mile
▪️Fastest 1 mile
▪️Fastest 2 mile
▪️Second fastest 5k
▪️Third fastest 10k (second half of the HM)
▪️Fastest 10 miles
▪️Fastest half marathon
Would I recommend the Rock n Roll Liverpool weekend? Without doubt, you have to come and run one or more of these races, I love it here. The crowds are amazing, the half and marathon courses aren’t flat, but you can still run really quick times here and above all, Rock n Roll put on fantastic events. This is my third RnR event and all three have been fantastic and just look at those medals, why wouldn’t you want to run for those!