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It was an early start on Cyprus Half Marathon Day - awake at 6.15 (4.15 UK time), out of bed by 6.30 in order to get fuelled up with breakfast, and on the way to Paphos Harbour by 7.30. It was just as well I had already been here a week to acclimatise to the time difference and to get some training runs in the warmer weather too. It's a tough life but someone has to do these challenges!! Mind you it is tough keeping off the alcohol a couple of days before the race when you are on holiday!
The weather started cool and cloudy, not cool like at home in Newcastle with all the snow, but I did have a long sleeved top on to keep warm until the start at 8.30!
Then we were on our way, and I was hoping that the training, rest days and nutrition plan were going to keep me going and power me to a new personal best time for the 13.1 mile distance. Of course being out here in Europe, the distance markers were all in km instead, so I quickly had to re-adjust my thinking to work on that basis instead. It meant that instead of running 8 minute miles, I was basing my timing on 5 minute kilometres. At least it kept my mind busy while running through the middle of Paphos and out into the Cypriot countryside. The course was an out and back style so by the time I had reached halfway at 10.5km I knew the route back was good, very slightly downhill for the majority and I was on for that PB. I also had a thought that if I could keep it up I might even get back in less than 1hr 40 mins, which I would view as a real achievement. It got a little bit more confusing on the return leg as the markers were for the full marathon distance runners too, so I had to keep thinking of the distance shown, subtracted from 42km (marathon distance) to work out how far was left. At about 5-4km to go I could feel that the pace was slowing, it was getting hotter as the sun had come out, and I wasn't so sure about a sub 1:40, but the time should still be good enough for that new best. With only about a kilometre and a half left, the crowds and people on the roadside were getting more vocal and supportive and knowing I didn't have far to go I pushed the tempo slightly. As the time ticked away and the finish loomed ever closer that finish under 1 hour and 40 minutes was back on but it was going to be tight. I knew there was a slope up and around the back of some buildings, followed by a flat section, then downhill to the finish line. Luckily it was downhill and I managed to muster what felt like a sprint finish and crossed the line in an official time of 1:39:53. I just managed it, but shaved 1min 23 seconds off my best time, so was over the moon. The free beer at the end also tasted superb, and it was sharply followed by a couple more to celebrate!
Events will be added
as they take place
March 10th 8.30 AM (Cyprus Time)
A Half Marathon (13.1 miles) and my first ever overseas - I'll hopefully get some winter sun, run and have fun! www.CyprusMarathon.com