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I'm halfway there

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I have some good news and bad news following my outing over at the Berkhamsted half-marathon last weekend.

The bad news is that I didn’t win it. The good news is that I completed the course a bit quicker than I expected.

Considering it was my first run on the roads - all my training so far has been on a treadmill - I ended up crossing the line in one hour 57 minutes and 47 seconds which was about 20 minutes quicker than my target.

I was a bit apprehensive going into the race as it was my first competitive run, my first proper trot outside a gym for about 15 years, and the effect it may have on my dodgy knees.

The five operations I had on my knees during my cricket and rugby days have been worrying me, but apart for a bit of post-race swelling they have managed to stand up pretty well.

I always used to get nervous before any competitive situation, be it cricket, rugby, golf or anything else for that matter, and Sunday morning was no different.

I was not quite sure what to expect as this was a new experience for me and the following are tips I will be taking into the London Marathon:

1 - Go to the toilet before departing for the venue - the queues are long.
2 - Chaffing is an issue - a pot of Vaseline is a must.
3 - Drinking from cups is difficult whilst running - use a water-bottle.
4 - Do not run behind a man wearing a Borat-inspired Mankini - it is not a great view.

Hugh Morris

I found the pace quite comfortable which has given me a massive boost as I look ahead to the London Marathon which is on 21 April

Fortunately he was a lot quicker than me and disappeared into the distance after two miles.

More seriously, the race was extremely well organised and a really enjoyable experience and the support of people dotted along the route was really appreciated and is something I am really looking forward to in London.

At least I knew the Berkhamsted course pretty well as I live in the town and drove the course before the race. Also, my ECB colleague Alan Fordham is a veteran of two ‘Berko’ half-marathons and plotted my run meticulously, including the ascent of two rather daunting climbs.

On the day we were very fortunate that the weather was perfect for running and this was probably reflected in some of the finishing times. It also got my competitive juices flowing again as I ventured into the pack seeking to finish the race between one hour 45 minutes and two hours.

It took about three miles for me to settle into a rhythm and once I did I actually found the pace quite comfortable. From there I tried to control my speed all the way round and when I came round the final corner and saw the clock reading one hour and 57 mins I was thrilled.

My feelings of pride did not last long though as it soon dawned on me that I would have to run double the distance in seven weeks’ time. Nevertheless, finishing the half-marathon at a reasonable pace has given me some comfort that I am on track for London on April 21.

Indeed I am planning four long runs of between 15 and 20 miles over the next month which will be as much of a psychological challenge as a physical one. I am venturing into mileage I have never dreamed of before and I do not underestimate how difficult it is going to be.

In fact, in a recent conversation with Graham Gooch, a man of considerable marathon experience, he suggested 20 miles felt like half-way.

Whilst the training has been tough and I have a lot more to do, the generosity of so many people in supporting my marathon challenge has been overwhelming.

I cannot say how grateful I am to all those people who have supported my fundraising for ‘Heads Up.’ As I write this blog nearly 100 people have donated nearly £5,000 towards head and neck cancer research and support and on behalf of myself and the charity we are truly grateful.

For anyone else who wishes to contribute to the fund please click here.

I will provide another update of my progress in my next blog in a couple of weeks.

Hugh Morris

I felt a sense of pride when I finished the half-marathon but it didn't take long for the enormity of the challenge to hit home

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