This weekend I ran my 30th race of the year, the Poppy Half Marathon in Bexhill on sea, a race that forced me to answer a lot of questions.
First, do I run it? I was exhausted from a terrible night’s sleep and had my mum visiting that evening, and didn’t want to ruin her visit, given how rarely she makes it to London. I have never DNF’d before and had a run of DNS’s last year so was not willing to give up, so of course, I decided to run.
Then, do I go to Charing Cross rather than Victoria? It would mean I could sleep in for an extra hour as Charing Cross would go to Hastings and I could change at St Leonards Warrior Square for a short hop to Bexhill. Victoria meant a train to Brighton and then an hour train to Bexhill. I checked the tickets and unfortunately needed to run from Victoria.
I get to Victoria but the tickets are for an hour later and, as I pre-booked them via The Train line, I was snookered. So, should I get another ticket and leave there and then? Yes. This was simple, rather than wait for an hour to start my journey, I decided to get the train and head down early.
I was knackered, should I swap to the 10K from the Half? Now, this was really out of my control, but I did ask the question, only to get an Out of Office reply. When I arrived to collect my race pack the distances were on different tables and the Half Marathon lady couldn’t make that kind of decision so I had to run the half.
So, in the end all the either/or decisions went with the original plan, run it, go from Victoria, and run the half.
Now this was a noon race, and the race organiser had already hinted that a storm over the sea would cause a few problems wind-wise. What he neglected to foresee that this meant that parts of the seafront route were under a dysentery beige sea foam, whilst others were under inches of wet shingle and pebbles. You were literally running over yards and yards of inches deep wet pebbles.
This sadly meant the chance of turning your ankle over was pretty high and, indeed, half way through the first lap a girl was on the sea wall in pain, and I saw her slowly limp back to the start during the next two laps.
This was a pretty big race, and I thought it was very well organised, although I was pretty disappointed to hear from Sussex Photography that they were not asked to be there, and that there was no official race photos, especially given a 1500 strong half marathon field, and a 5k and 10k on top of that.
Starting and finishing on the sea front on a very blustery day, the package pickup was in a hotel/restaurant that was an ants nest of activity, with runners coming in and picking up race packs, and dropping off bags, and keeping out of the wind that was so strong it held the door closed at times. The route took you along the Sea Front, across the pebbles then back on yourself and up a hill into the residential areas of Bexhill, before heading downhill to the start, and then back again.
There was water at the start/finish line so you hit it each lap, and superbly placed at the top of the hill up from the beach. Jelly beans and water/coke there really got me through the race.
I did see some of the twitter peeps to: @Krissicarter and @karenadams76 to name but two.
I cannot get my eating right for noon starts. I have raced at 11:30 at night (at the Disney Wine and Dine half in Florida), and at 7:30pm at the Luxembourg Night Marathon (half) and both were comfortable and I ran strongly. 99% of all races are in the morning and I have no problem getting up, having a banana, a Mars bar, Lucozade and a cup of tea and running tens, and halves until the cows come home. So sadly, at about mile 10 I started feeling really light-headed and dizzy.
I slowed to a walk, and then walked the rest of the way. I am disappointed with myself, but after reading that my body will consume 1600 calories in a half and I had barely eaten 500 it comes as no surprise. I cramped up at the end too so no sprint finish. Still, my time was ok until I walked the last 3 miles. I came in 4 minutes under my slowest half ever, the North Carolina half around the NASCAR arena in Charlotte, in 5 inches of slush, in a hail storm, jet-lagged. And if I had run the last 3 instead am sure I would have been around my normal time.
Now this was choice. A lovely bespoke medal, commemorating 100 years since the first world war. 3D. Only disappointment was I think it was the same medal regardless of the race.
THE OBLIGATORY RACE PHOTO
This pissed me off. It wasn’t until after the race that I was informed that there was no official photographer. How can you organise a race with so many people, supposedly the festival of running, and have no photographs? Not happy. But really, did I want to spend £20 on the sort of pictures I have dozens of? Probably not.
So in summary would I run it again? Probably not. I am limiting myself to morning races from now on. And I am not racing so far from London without staying in a hotel. 11 hours away from home for a 2 hour race makes no sense.
Would I recommend it? Sure. It was a good race.