Since the organisers launched the Bournemouth Marathon Festival back in 2013 I’ve ran the full marathon each year, and it sits firmly as one of my favourite UK marathons. With plans in place to keep me focused on my 2019 targets, I decided that this year I would run the half distance and leave the full for another year.
Having ran the full marathon distance at Bournemouth 5 times previously meant I was fully prepared for what the course had to offer, as the half marathon route is covered by anyone who completes the full 26.2. I knew there would be no surprises in store, which is always a good way to start a race. With the sun shining and a nice crisp feel in the air, the prospect of a good race was looking even better.
For the first time in a while I’ve actually been putting the effort in to do some training, and my recent 5K and 10K performance times suggested a target time of 1 hour 53 minutes was achievable at Bournemouth. After saying a quick hello and good luck to Jim Laidlaw and Graham Robinson, I took my first steps at 8am on Sunday with a view of running a steady pace to achieve the goal.
I always find Bournemouth to be a fast start, so I had to fight hard not to get swept up with everyone who appeared to be charging ahead as they overtook me during mile 1. A familiar route ahead meant I could focus on my pace and how I was feeling, while thinking ahead and planning on how I was going to tackle the uphill spike at mile 9. The first few miles passed by quickly, and I was pleased to see Ray Hale and Mike Guess on the course. It was also a real treat to see (and hear!) the Bournemouth regular support crew, aka Jenny, Dave, Nikki, and Mark.
A quick look at the watch and I realised I was running faster than the pace I had ‘agreed’ but feeling good I decided to carry on. Mile 7 and I was overtaken by another SJer, a speedy Kieran Cooper who was looking very strong, and soon I reached the ascent at mile 9, which I’m pleased to report I handled beautifully, although I did slow the pace down a little. I decided to push on and make up for the few seconds I’d lost on the hill, ending up running mile 10 at my fastest split of the morning.
This is when it started to get a bit confusing, after years of being dogged by injury or poor training, here I was running an 8-minute mile at mile 10 of a half marathon, and feeling in complete control of the race, rather than the race being in control of me! It felt great! It was at about this point I heard the dulcet tones of Nikki calling out “You look too relaxed, get a move on!” – or something along those lines. I had to laugh to myself, Nikki was correct, I felt totally relaxed and in control despite the pace, a pace which for some isn’t anything to write home about, but for me it is.
Twenty-five minutes on and I’m running along Bournemouth Pier in the knowledge that there are just a few metres between me and the finish line, which I was thrilled to cross in a time of 1 hour 51 minutes.
Once again Bournemouth was another great event; a stunning course, gorgeous weather, and great SJ support both on and off the course. To finish quicker than planned whilst feeling there was still plenty in the tank is a feeling I’ll cherish, such a great way to end a race. I think Lou Gubb summed it up beautifully when she commented on my post “Train Hard Race Easy!”….she has a point!