Looking back a few days after the Poppy Half Marathon it is easy to see both the positives and the negatives.
Yes I ran what is now my 19th half marathon. Yes I completed the half marathon distance in what were absolutely horrible conditions. Yes I’ve done something that frankly a relatively small percentage of the population do.
It just wasn’t as well as I could do it. I did my best on the day but it just wasn’t to be. The conditions were just too tough for the level of training and conditioning I had got myself into.
The trip down from Reading to firstly Eastbourne was slow but enjoyable. We spent a bit more time discovering Eastbourne than we had in the previous two years we’d been there and enjoyed it. The only downside was the wet weather we encountered on Saturday. Well, that and possibly the restaurant we chose on Saturday evening being full.
More importantly though, let’s talk about the race itself.
The routine for the morning was very similar to when we ran the same event in 2015. And like the 2015 event the weather did not look great. All week it had been windy and on the day it looked like it would be wet as well. However, the rain did seem to hold off for the vast majority of the event.
The wind however was another matter entirely. The course of the half marathon was one running east and west along the Bexhill-on-Sea seafront. The wind was blowing easterly, except of course when we were running with the wind when some of the course was sheltered so we really couldn’t benefit from it to the same extent.
This year I decided to try and run with the pacer groups. At start line I found the 2:05 pacer and tried to take up a position further forward on the start line from him, with the aim of finding the 2 hour pacer. After the normal 2 minutes silence, the race got underway however it started really really slowly with a lot of congestion around the start line.
But when we joined the promenade, space seemed to open up quite quickly and therefore it wasn’t long before I was able to run my own pace. For the first 4 kilometres or so I decided to run with a group. They seemed to be 5 or 6 people from one running club and they didn’t seem to mind me joining them.
The first 2 laps of the course were 8 kilometres each, and towards the end of the first lap I found I was unable to keep up with that group any longer. At this time, I had still not seen the 2 hour pacer and only later discovered he was 2 or 3 minutes up the road.
I’ve talked about it previously where pacers seem nowhere near the pace that they are meant to run. It just annoys me. If you were meant to be running a particular pace then run it. If it’s a really meaningful time like 2 hours then by all means run under that by a fraction but these pacers seemed significantly off.
A bit later in the event I joined the 2:05 pacer. For whatever, reason nobody else was with him at the time but from chatting to him I discovered he was actually planning to run 2:02 or 2:03. He was doing his best but I just don’t understand it if you’re meant to be running 2:05 then run 2:05.
I spent a few minutes with the 2:05 pacer and realised that his pace wasn’t for me either and I dropped back further. There wasn’t a 2 hour 10 pacer so after I let go of the 2:05 man I just went at my own pace and enjoyed myself.
It was a tough event and the wind was horrible. I didn’t enjoy that element of it at all. During the last kilometre or so I found some speed and overtook a few people but still I came in at a little over 2 hours 12 minutes. Not something I’m happy with but it was the best I had on the day.
So now our minds turn to the next challenge already. We will be running a 10k event in Chichester / Goodwood in February next year which is now only 12 weeks away. I’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then but I’m confident I can do it.