On July 5th 2014, a number of Shabbas took on the Birmingham Black Country Half Marathon - which is famously long - as it's based along the canal between Wolverhampton and Birmingham Brindley Place. Chris Tucker, Lee Riding, Chris Collis, Greg Meacham, Ross Taylor & Simon Potter took on the challenge.
Today's report is from Ross Taylor & Simon Potter....
I started running in March and wanted to set myself some goals. This was the first half I could find - so I naively entered. It was only after paying I did research and found out about the dreaded 96 steps and the course was long by half a mile! After a little panic, I called on the services of the Professor (Chris Collis), who gave me a training plan :)
On race day my mind was eased, as the sun wasn't out and plenty of Shabbas were in attendance. After a quick team talk with the guys, Si was roughly running the same pace, and Chris decided he would help and pace us :). So after briefly having my masculinity questioned due to my bag choice from Gillian, my nerves were at ease and we were off!
I realised I like listening. The first 4 miles breezed by listening to Chris & Simon chat- my time of 8:45 was going perfectly,but then we hit the tunnel and steps! It all went blurry from there! I'm sure I entered the tunnel in front of Simon, but behind Chris, only to come out the tunnel with Simon boinging up the steps - ten at a time, and Chris still in the tunnel - he must have gone for a dip! Puddle swerving was taking up most of my time, until I passed my breaking point and went puddle seeking- wearing the mud as a badge of honour!
I was growing weary but perked up with the Nicholls gang with the massive Shabba flag and Tammy & Si further on - thanks for the support!! By mile 9/10 I was hitting a mental wall, but that was eased when I heard Greg behind - he managed to catch us up - the next 2 miles were taken up by slipstreaming Chris & Greg and their chats!
The final mile and a half was horrible - Simon ran a bit of it with me, but I was struggling, so Chris paced me in Si carried on ahead with Greg.
I could see the crowds about 400 yards out so decided to sprint it in, where relief set in instantly!
My time was 2:04:20, but at 13.1 I was 15 seconds under 2 hours, which I was happy with :)
This gave me a massive appetite to do more - thanks to all the Shabba help along the way :)
I entered this race on a bit of a whim (it turns out you can enter these things on a whim and get away with it) as I wasn’t planning to do my first half marathon until the Birmingham Half in October. However following a lot of Shabba banter on Facebook, and a feeling that my training was going OK so why not test myself I thought seize the day and signed up before I could change my mind!
I knew there were going to be a few other Shabba runners on the day and aside from Greg who was going to get there as early as he could and blast his way around we all had start times around 10am.
I caught the train to Wolverhampton from New Street and caught up on all the pre-race stuff and the ever dependable for info and encouragement Sarah Tucker on FB and Twitter. As I looked out the window from the train I could see the first lot of runners making their way to Birmingham, excitement dread and nerves gripped me in one go!
I got off at Wolverhampton and followed the directions to the start point and met up with team Shabba, I had just missed Chris Tucker who was in the slightly earlier start group and caught up with Lee, Chris, Ross and Sarah who was on support duty having recently conquered her first half marathon.
Early indications on pace for the day were that Lee was going to go at a ‘fairly fast’ pace and Chris was going to support Ross around for a sub 2 hour run. I had been training steadily at 8:30 to 8:45 mins per mile pace and felt that a 9:00 pace would be right for me over a much longer distance.
Following the briefing we were away and I settled in with Ross and Chris, after 3 miles of chatting to Chris (note to self – chatting and running together is still some way off!) I said I was going to drop off the 8:45’s and settle into my pre race plan of 9 min miles.
Overall the race went great for me, the tunnel at mile 4 was brilliant, really dark despite the attempts at lighting the thing and where it was lit you could see that it was actually raining inside the tunnel! I didn’t mind the 90 odd steps up to the road (Ross said I am definitely an ascender as I overtook him for a brief moment on the steps!)
The point to point course all along the canal is truly unique, whilst there wasn’t much support it was a really nice place to run and then what support there was came from the ever amazing Shabba team! Baz and Ann Marie showing off the new 7 foot Shabba flag on the bridge was a sight for sore eyes and legs and then seeing Tammy and Simon later in the race and getting the big ‘Shabba’ shout was awesome!
At about 8 miles and enjoying another chat with Chris (slightly one way with Chris saying more than me!) we heard a big “Shabba” and were joined by Greg who had started at least 30 mins after us, he joined us whipped off his shirt swung it around his head as he ran on to catch up to Ross – I’d heard he was nuts and half expected him to dive into the canal!
In total credit to Chris and Greg they stayed with me and Ross for the remainder of the race picking one of us each to get through our first half. I really enjoyed Greg’s company and was in awe of his challenge this year and what he has achieved for Birmingham Childrens Hospital – well done mate you are an inspiration!
I continued with my circa 9 min mile for the whole race and didn’t stop once, coming into Birmingham’s Brindley place (somewhere I have only previously associated with getting drunk in) was absolutely amazing and I finished the Half Marathon and a bit (it was 13.6 miles on my watch) in 2:03:29. As we came up to the line we saw Sarah and Lee on the bridge shouting us in (Lee’s ‘fairly fast’ pace had led to a massive PB!)
It was a great day and I really enjoyed my first Half Marathon with the Shabba team, it was especially great to see Baz and Ann Marie as they joined us for a pint before Baz headed off for the immense Tour of Merseyside!
I know everyone had a great day and we definitely “ran that canal” that day!!