Monday, 11 June 2012

Southend Half Marathon

Photo from Valerie Bloomfield
(@romfordrunner) with her dog Max
Yesterday was not only day 10 of Juneathon, it was also the Southend Half Marathon. I've run it once before, in 2010, and although I couldn't remember much about it from the first outing, a general impression remains that I'd really enjoyed myself, and so I was looking forward to a decent race.

Despite being really tired after getting in late from a friend's house party on Saturday night, I still managed to crawl out of bed at 6am on Sunday, and was rewarded by the sun shining brightly and a bright blue sky.  It was even quite warm - a complete contrast from recent days and it made me a bit nervous about how the race would go as I'm not good in the heat, but so nice to have a summery morning for once ;) 

It was a pleasure driving down to Shoeburyness to the race start, as I love driving in the sunshine with my music blaring, and as I left really early to avoid the traffic build-up to get into the race car park, the roads were quiet and I was relaxed. By the time I got there and had parked up, I had more than enough time to wander up and down the coast path as the start is just by the beach, and it was lovely.

However, the race itself wasn't as pretty....

For some reason, by the time we were due to start, my relaxed mood had disappeared, and I was finding everything annoying.  The girl leading the group warm-up had a voice and an overly-enthusiastic attitude that really grated on me, then they delayed the start (only by a few minutes) because people were late which also wound me up (as I'd got there so early) and while waiting for the off, I realised I was being eaten alive by mostiquoes (and this morning's lumps and bumps on my legs prove how much those 
mosquitoes hated me!)  So, I certainly wasn't feeling in the best frame of mind, but just eager to be off. 

Runners get under way
Unfortunately, half a mile into the race, I was wishing I was back in the mosquito field...I realised this race was going to be hard work. My legs felt tired and my pace wasn't where I'd hoped it would be.  In the run up to the race, I kept telling myself that I wouldn't be trying for a PB...that I'd plod round...but as soon as a race starts, I always find myself going for it...except yesterday it seems that my legs had been listening ;)

Had I set out planning for a 8:30 paced race, I may well have been ok, but I set out trying for 8.15, which after half a mile I revised to 8.20 but that was still just too fast when I had already run 57 miles in the previous 8 days!  My average pace kept creeping up, I got a stitch at about 4 miles, I was too hot, and taking a drink was becoming more of a hindrance than a help because it really interrupted my heavy breathing.  
I spent the whole course battling to keep going and I missed out on admiring the sea views and appreciating the crowds, who were really enthusiastic, and I'm sure on a different day it would have been a fabulous race I would have enjoyed. 

Anyway, somehow I managed to convince my legs to carry me onwards and I finished in 1:51:20, with an average pace of 8:29. If you'd told me 6 months ago I would run a half marathon in 1:51 I'd have been absolutely over the moon, but having run a half marathon in April in an average pace of 8:06, I'm disappointed to have gone backwards (although the sensible part of mind is telling me that in April I tapered for that race so no wonder I ran faster, and that recently I've been focused on endurance, haven't done any speedwork training, and so it's no wonder I've got a bit slower!).

On a more positive note, Valerie (@romfordrunner), a friend from Twitter, was also running the race, and once I'd got my all-important medal, I walked a few meters back up the course, to watch for her to finish.  We're very similar in our goals and our running, and Valerie has really inspired me to increase my commitment to running over the last year, and I've been hoping we'd meet at an event for ages.  

It's not often I stay to clap in the other runners...I'm usually too busy collapsing on the floor...but seeing everyone come through was an absolute highlight for me. Surprisingly, I found I felt really emotional about it, and I kept tearing up: there was the the man, welcomed into the final straight by his family, who caught the hand of his little boy as he passed them, and then they ran through the finish arch together...and the people who were obviously very close to getting a PB and so absolutely sprinted to the end with such determination on their faces...and the man who collapsed with literally yards to go with cramp, but who was helped to stretch it out by a stranger from the crowd who went to his aid so he could finish. It was all really moving, and reminded me just how proud I am to be a part of the running community. 

Soon after, I was pleased to see Valerie come through, and she finished really strongly - I cheered and clapped - and then, typically, lost her in the crowd as she got her medal and her chip timer removed.  So, we didn't end up meeting, but hopefully it will happen soon :) 

I ran an extra 4 miles after I got home - they were hard work and I really didn't want to go, but it's good practise running on tired legs, and I'm pleased I made it because with those extra, I've run my most miles in a week ever....54 of them!  I stayed awake for a few hours afterwards, but soon fell asleep on the sofa - running so much appears to have given me narcolepsy ;)

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I hate mosquitoes! That would've been enough to throw me over the edge. Sounds like it was a tough one for you, but that's still a great time...especially considering your amazing weekly mileage!

    I've been lucky to meet a few of my running heroes recently, and was so happy to find they are just as nice in person as on Twitter. Maybe one day I'll get to run into you at a race! :)