Anyway, on Sunday, the 6th of October 2013, I ran the inaugural half marathon of the Bournemouth Marathon Festival. (There was a 5K and 10K on the Saturday, and a half and full marathon on the Sunday).
|Alex and I pre-race! Note to self, race in obnoxious shorts more often!|
I didn't have many expectations for this race. Sure, it would be great to PR. But inaugural races could also be quite messy. And I didn't run anything over 6 miles since Run to the Beat. So my expectations were quite low.
And damnit, if my expectations and goals were high I probably would not have PRed, but by golly I did!
Here are the Spark Notes :
1. My previous PR from Brighton was 2:24:45. My shiny new PR is 2:21:07.
2. I am the queen of positive splitting.... But we already knew this.
3. The course was gorgeous! I think this has been my favourite race so far. We ran along the beach side for probably 50% of the race, and also ran around 2 piers. The finish area was packed with amazing spectators.
4. The course was also mostly flat. One short-ish hill around mile 8 I think (you can see a dip in my splits where I walked up 2/3 of the hill. No shame.)
5. This was by far the best I have felt during a half. I remember hitting a wall in Brighton at around miles 7 and 8. And Run to the Beat was just one big freakin' wall in general. But this time, the miles flew by and I felt strong!
Here are the not so Spark Notes :
In Type-A fashion, I had everything set up and packed the night before. I had my obnoxious Lululmeon shorts set out. I had my yummy chocolate Gu in my race belt. I had my 2 water bottles washed, filled with water, and put in the fridge overnight. And in the fridge is where they remained for the entire race. Oops.
Yes, I forgot my water. Fun fact about me : I am the thirstiest person alive. If there is not water within grabbing distance I am panicking. That's just me in normal day to day life, yet alone when I am running.
I didn't panic. I didn't even say anything because I didn't want Alex, his parents, or the dog (yes, the dog came to cheer me on... Or play on the beach... Whatever.) to panic either. I just stayed positive and hoped that there was enough water on the course. And spoiler alert, there was plenty of water along the course. That's definitely a first!
|See, does he look worried to you?|
I listened to some pump up music at the start and decided to get comfy (as comfy as standing and stretching can be before you run 13.1 miles) since I was in the 2nd to last corral. However, I didn't even get a chance to see how many minutes it took me to cross the start line since I passed it so fast! I've never started a race so freakin' quickly before! Or on time! This was already proving to be a fantastic race!
The first few miles were actually quite spectator-less. I was very sad because I basically thrive off of spectators energy and enthusiasm. I kept thinking that if this was going to be what it was like for the entire race than I was screwed.
My goal (as always) was to start off slower than I thought, but also to not look at my Garmin. I turned the face of my watch to the inside of my wrist so I couldn't even sneak a glimpse. I did actually sneak a glimpse just at the 2 mile mark where I saw a sub-10 minute mile. 'Turn it the eff down, Taylor' is actually what I said in my head except with a more colourful word.
There was an 'out and back' I believe around mile 3 or 4, which a lot of people didn't like because I guess that makes it more daunting seeing people running the other way with no immediate turn in sight. I actually really like it because it makes the course seem more energetic and lively.
I saw the fam at around mile 4. I felt pretty okay since we just passed a water station. I annoyingly kept the water bottle in my hand from water station to water station in fear of needing water. I also wanted it in case I wanted to spontaneously take a Gu but didn't have water. (Although I ditched that idea at about mile 8 when I realised the water stations were actually quite frequent).
|Obnoxious shorts, coming through!|
Mile 6 was around the time we started running along the beach. It was amazing. The sun was shining, but at no point did I feel overly hot or sweaty. It was quite sunny and I desperately wanted my sunglasses, but I never got that uncomfortable 'I'm hot, I'm sweaty, I wish a cloud would permanently block the sun' feeling. It was amazing. And this is where I noticed the biggest difference in this race. These awkward middle 'you're only halfway there but not quite in the double digits yet' miles flew by.
I saw the fam again at about mile 7 and I still felt really good. Apparently I missed a real comedy moment not even 2 minutes prior where Finlay (our dog) pulled Alex's mum and sent her tumbling to the ground. It was really nice to see them so many times throughout the course!
We left the beach area and faced the only hill of the course. I took my second Gu at this point because I was half power walking half trying to get my breath back. It was absolutely disgusting (and for the record, I'm pretty good with Gu. I only really have the chocolate outrage ones now because those are the ones I can tolerate best). I couldn't water it down no matter much I tried. It literally felt like someone put a massive dollop of frosting on my tongue. It sucked.
The good part was that the top of the hill had lots of volunteers who were motivating everything to get going again. It was fantastic. And then we were back on the beach again! I could run on the beach forever I think!
|This is a terrible picture from the start of the race, but look at what I'm wearing compared to the guy behind me! Emphasis on WE'RE RUNNING ALONG A BEACH!!!|
I knew I slowed down a bit from the beginning (see, queen of positive splitting) but I knew it wasn't as drastic as when I slowed down during my first half marathon. Mile 10 is when I realised a PR was definitely manageable. And I told myself that if I had a chance to PR and didn't fight for it, I would be super pissed off at myself.
The last 5K was another out and back, and we actually got a glimpse of the finishing line at around mile 10 as well. It was another one of those moments that other runners got really annoyed about but I absolutely loved. Only 5K to go! I can do that in my sleep!
I focused on not going too fast, but staying on target for a PR. I had a 3rd Gu with me just in case I needed more umph, but as my last attempt at taking a Gu was dreadful I decided the time it would take me to choke it down would be too costly. Slow and steady wins the race, people.
The turn around point could not come soon enough. I remember feeling so happy. Yes, this was in fact the final stretch and it was the best I've ever felt.
With less than one mile to go we ran onto the second pier (I can't remember where the 1st pier was... oops!). I looked at my watch for one last time and unless I went tumbling from the pier to the ocean I was definitely going to PR.
The finishing area was packed with the best spectators ever. I didn't even look around to find the fam; I knew if I saw them I would start crying.
|Finish line... taken after I finished!|
The best thing I ever did was train myself to run on tired legs. I can't sprint at the best of times, but I turn into Usain Bolt (yeah, I wish) when I see a finish line. If any finishing pictures were taken that day I do not want to see them, because I sprinted my way past a number of people to get my glorious time of 2:21:07 and then burst into tears. Happy tears, of course!
Not even a month prior to this race, I ran the Nike Run to the Beat half in 2:31:47. Did I really take 10 minutes off that time??! Yes, yes I did!
And when we got home, you would think that Finlay just ran a half marathon instead of me....
If anyone is looking for a good race in the south of England, I would definitely recommend this one! I plan on running it again next year!