Folkestone Half Marathon

Start - Swagger

​Today was the Folkestone half marathon. Another lovely coastal course hugging the coastal path up to Hythe and back into Folkestone. An out and back, nice and straight forward. Except of course for what the race director described at the start of the race as the 'sting in the tail'. What goes down must come up and as the race starts on top of the cliffs and descends to the coast path, just before the finish there's a bitch of a hill. Still, having run this race twice before I had already pushed this information firmly to the back of my mind.

I was hoping to nibble a bit more off my PB from the kent coastal half earlier this month but was annoyed that there was quite a stiff wind. This was going to hit me on the return half. With tired legs from the week I was kind of a bit negative about the whole thing. Still, I was here and the kids were expecting daddy to 'win'.

I warmed up but when I switched my garmin on it went off. I tried again and was amazed to see I had a flat battery! And I'd charged it the night before. I must have left it on... This was nothing short of a disaster! How could I possibly run without knowing my pace? I was quite pissed off now and took it off in a huff as well as my hr strap. All that lovely data gone... I decided I'd stick run keeper on my phone. I doubted I'd be able to hear any readouts and its very difficult to get a Samsung note 2 out of my neoprene bum bag so didn't expect it to be much use in the race but at least I could have a bit of a post mortem afterwards.
The race started. I decided just to run as hard as I could. The course does a little loop on the cliffs to start with which allowed me to high 5 the kids twice, which was nice. And then down the hill to coast path to try and find a rhythm proper. I settled into a pace which was hard but, I hoped, manageable. I had no watch. I don't know what my hr was of course, but I think 'high'. The day was quite bright and must have been reasonably warm judging by the amount I was sweating. I was glad I'd decided to take my own small 500ml water bottle (disposable) with me as I like to sip when I feel like it not wait for an aid station.

I was slightly disheartened at mile 5 to be overtaken by a runner pushing a stroller... "Prambo" according to boy on the run. He disappeared depressingly quickly into the distance. Sometime before half way the lead runner passed on his way back. This year I had the impression that I got to see less of the front runners which hopefully meant I was nearer the front. Shortly after I passed half way and I decided to risk prising out my phone and checking the time. I really had no idea as there was no clock around. 50 minutes! Wow, I started to dream I was some sort of running hero (in my own mind) and was about to belt out a 1h40. The answer to that came about 5 minutes after a short loop through the side roads of hythe. I hit the coast path again on the return leg and bang there was the wind. Right in my face. Or so it seemed, though I think it was more oblique. So the wind which had been conspicuously absent had been giving me a little push. Now it had returned for pay back. The yin and the yang. The give & take.

I of course didn't know the exact effect on my pace. I was secretly hoping for a 1:44 so I had 4 minutes to play with as it was clear the outward pace was not going to be matched on the return. I could feel I was slower, it was all getting harder. I decided to conserve energy and tuck in behind someone. I was surprised just how much energy this saved. It felt like I'd suddenly slowed down.

I passed a stream of other runners coming the other way still to loop back which was a bit of a boost.

The slog continued and I pressed as hard as I dared. I knew the hill was coming. And it came. Final mile. I didn't know my time so I just had to press on and try not too lose too much on the hill. I shortened my stride and headed up. Someone started walking and I checked my pace was still better than walking pace. It was so I continued 'running'. Neare the top, someone wheezed passed me. Then promptly threw up right in front of me. Oops. I heard a gut full off liquid hit the tarmac and tried not to think about it lest I gag too... I slogged on reaching the brow of the hill. Now all I had to do was recover some composure and sprint the half mile or so to the finish. Ha! Well I staggered on and tried to improve my pace as my breath came back.

I still didn't know my time when I high fived the kids again with the finish in sight. Except my wife shouted "Keep going, still under a quarter to". And when I could make out the clock it said 1:43. I ran harder but couldn't quite keep it on 43. I came in at 1:44:05.

A new PB by 5 minutes from what seemed an improbable start!

Finish - Stagger

Splits from Run Keeper are below. On a graph it looks like a smoothish line with my pace getting slower and slower every mile from mile 3. I guess this was because I was running by feel and the HR creep was reducing performance. You can also clearly see the effect of the wind on the second half.

1 7:43
2 7:29
3: 7:25
4 7:33
5 7:38
6 7:47
7 7:56
8 8:10
9 8:13
10 8:17
11 8:26
12 8:22
13 8:51

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