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Northampton Half Marathon

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My second successive Sunday morning spent pounding out 13.1 miles around a half marathon course, and in stark contrast to last weeks Great North Run, the weather was unseasonably warm. The day started with an early morning 2 mile walk to the start line in the centre of Northampton for event registration, and then a bit of a wait for the run to begin at 10:00 am. When it got underway I was quite near the start and over the line in less than 30 seconds and thanks to the fact there were less than 500 runners taking part (as opposed to the 55,000 or so at the GNR), quickly into my own space and running pace. Not too much weaving around other runners, or squeezing past to contend with (although there were some roadworks that caused a slight bottleneck at an early stage). The course itself quickly wound away from the town centre onto bike paths and footpaths through industrial areas and housing estates, with some quite steep gradients along the way.  Having studied the route the night before, it seemed the steepest bits uphill were between miles 4-5 and them from 6-8/9 there would be an incline to the top of the course, with much downhill in the last 4 miles. And so it proved, but with the sun belting down, the warm temps and the early steepness it became quite a tough course. Throw in the off road sections near the end and I was more pleased with my 1hr 50 time than I was with my quicker run the previous week.  I ended up in 163rd position overall and 52nd in my new age category - male veteran 40-44! One thing I have learned from the last two weeks half marathons is the need to refuel on the go as well as hydrate. Both weeks I have not had anything other than water for the majority of the course, missing one electrolyte station at the GNR, plus the mile 10 Jelly Babies, and in this race missed any electrolyte drinks totally. In my best half marathon so far I took my own energy gels to consume while on the run, and will definitely be putting a nutrition strategy together for the full marathon which is only about 4 weeks away!