Being a stereotypical Brit I’m always checking the weather leading up to race day and the week before the Deal Half Marathon was no exception. I’m not really sure why I do it, after all it’s completely out of my control, changes almost by the hour, and I’ll be running rain or shine anyway, so a quick look on the morning of a race to decide if gloves or a long sleeved top are required is all that’s really needed.
Anyway, enough talking about the weather. Let’s just say I wasn’t too pleased when I checked the forecast race day morning and saw a cold and snowy day ahead!
I made my way to Betteshanger Country Park, formally Fowlmead Country Park, just off the A258 near Deal, prepared for my first half marathon since the disaster that was the Folkestone Half five months ago in September last year.
I was running late and after paying the £2 for parking I quickly made my way into the race HQ to collect my running number and timing chip. I use EventClips to attach my race numbers to my top, but unfortunately there were no pre-cut holes which are required for this type of clip. Arghh. A quick ask around and a lovely lady let me borrow her Biro (other ball point pens are available), and after 4 quick prods into the sole of my running shoe I was all set. Then, after a quick visit to the toilets (when you’re almost the last runner in the HQ the queues are very short) I headed outside to find the start.
Finding the Start
What I hadn’t realised was that even though the race HQ was inside the country park, the actual race start/finish was half a mile away on the main Betteshanger road. I needed a warm up anyway, so after a quick jog up the road I was relieved to have made it to the start with a few minutes to spare.
After a quick chat with a few other runners, and a re-adjustment of my timing chip on my shoe (another good reason for a warm up), we were moved forward towards the start line and we were off.
Slowly Does It
It’s easy to get carried away and head off too fast at the start of a race, but I’m fairly good at pacing those early couple of miles with the help of my Garmin 230 and I knew that was going to be particularly important for me today. I’d checked out the race elevation before hand and knew that for almost the whole 13.1 miles we’d either be going up one side of a hill or down the other.
Those early up hill sections are never too taxing, and as it was a lollypop style route you have the added bonus of knowing you’ll be going back down them towards the end. But then you also know that those early downhills are going to come back to haunt you too!
The race started off well and I was keeping to my target pace comfortably and felt like I still had extra to give.
The weather was good to start but quickly turned to light rain, and then to heavy hail between around mile four and five, before clearing up again – based on the forecast this could have been a lot worse so no complaining from me! There was a particularly open section of the course at around half way where the wind really blew across but it wasn’t long until a bit of shelter returned.
Not Another Injury…
If you’ve read any of my other posts you’ll probably know about the different injury problems I’ve had over the last year. Well, get ready for another one… At the halfway point I started to feel a slight niggle across the top of my right foot. Nothing really so I just ignored it for a while. But it was slowly getting worse. Mile 8. Mile 9. Mile 10. With each one it was getting more and more painful and I was getting more and more tired. At mile 11 I started slowing down my pace and even thought about stopping and walking. Mile 12. Just keep going I thought. I then started to recognise buildings from the start of the race so thought the finish must be just around the next corner. I was wrong, and the finish was no-where in sight. Mile 13. Now I know I must nearly be there. Across the round-a-bout and I could see the finish in the distance. I pushed on, and although the straight seemed to go on forever, I could see the timing clock… I was on for a PB so I wasn’t stopping. Finally across the line!
No goody bag here, but there was a drinks table along with Mars bars and Jaffa Cakes. You don’t need to ask me twice when chocolate is involved so I got stuck in.
After the adrenaline had passed and we’d cheered in a few friends it was time to walk back the half mile or so to race HQ. Or should I say limp back. The natural pain relievers had gone and I was feeling every step! On a nicer day it would have good to spend some time in the country park, but as it was I was happy to get in the car and stick the heaters on.
A good race hosted by Deal Tri, but don’t be fooled, it’s definitely undulating and couldn’t be called boring! And being held in February the weather is always going to play a part on the day. If I could change anything, I’d move the start/finish much closer to the country park, but I imagine this isn’t possible due to the course layout.
Did I mention there were Mars bars?!…