Race Report: Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon 2015

What seems like ages ago, though was actually only the 22nd February, Jodie and I took part in the Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon. Its taken that long for me to find time to write about it!

Back in December we noticed both our training plans had a cutback week this weekend, and thought a cheeky half might fit in quite nicely – the prospect of added bling helped the decision making process! I always prefer running a race (Even at training pace) as there are aid stations and other people around – less to worry about yourself and people to keep you motivated – far less lonely! We spotted this race as it was relatively local, was reasonably priced, had a medal and was pretty flat. So we pencilled it in, booked a budget hotel for the night and though we’d give it a try.

We arrived with plenty of time on the morning of the race and parked up by the seafront near the Race HQ, and we could see it was a much smaller race than the Great South Run! There were actually around 1000 entrants. It was “packet pickup” on the day in the Pyramids centre, which was seemingly an entertainment venue. The venue was bustling with runners. HQ was excellently organised, number pickup was slick and there was well attended bag storage.

When we arrived, we noticed how, although it was cold and a bit windy, the weather was actually quite pleasant. This would soon change… Inside the Pyramid Center was warm and toasty though and we hung out there, attaching our numbers and hydrating. it got busier and busier, and before long we were called to the start.

We got an obligatory pre-race selfie though!
We got an obligatory pre-race selfie though!

There were no instructions to gather according to perceived pace or anything here, just one giant corral, which undoubtedly caused some congestion at the start – but as we were only training and not PB hunting we weren’t too concerned. The race started on schedule and we made our way along the promenade. There was a bottle neck early on which caused many to walk whilst a promenade ramp was negotiated.

The weather seemed all too good even at this point, even the wind had dropped! (Or so i thought…) I decided upon my pace early on and Jodie went ahead of me for the first 3 miles. She was on fire!

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The course itself kicks off with 3 miles along the front all the way down the headland of “Lock lake” before doubling back and doing a quick loop of the “Muddy beach”, which is basically the shore of Lock lake. The beach itself wasn’t too bad, if you picked the right line to run. Some people didn’t pick a good line and had to come back for their shoes! It was around this section where I caught Jodie and ran with her for a bit. There were some good photos along the beach.

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I had to stop for a bathroom break though and then spent the next mile or so gradually catching up with her. This was still all along seafront on coastal path until we reached some civilization and cycle path. Jodie and I ran together again for a while until about half way. And that’s where things got a bit silly…

Remember I said it didn’t seem windy? Well that will be because the wind was behind us!

Remember I said the sun was shining? This is when it started raining!

Remember I said I was running at a training pace? This is when, for some stupid reason, I thought it would be a good idea to run a Marathon Pace for the rest of the race! Idiotic I know. 6 miles at MP with a strong headwind meant my perceived effort was much higher and made it a tough second half.

We came through some playing fields, around some football pitches (Including one that had a funny marsh name) before we ended up back on the seafront for the brutal last 4 miles. The weather got worse and worse, and then we passed the Start/Finish for the final 2ish mile loop. Psychologically that was quite hard, and it seemed much longer than 2 miles! You would have thought though after that final loop things would have gotten a bit easier as the wind would be behind again? Nope, you would be wrong. Somehow it was in your face no matter what way you ran.

I saw Jodie as we “crossed over” in the last section, I’m sure I looked a sight! Coming toward the finish I was relieved to see the end, but still managed to pick up some pace for a sprint finish.

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I'm even off the ground!
I’m even off the ground!

One of the issues with the race seemed to be distance measurement. When we passed what my watch determined to be the first mile, I heard a rapture of watches beep all around me, but the first mile marker was about 0.18 miles after that. Each mile marker seemed to be consistent after that though. So the race ended up, by my watch, to be 0.18 miles long! Normally I wouldn’t mention it as GPS can be anomalous, but both mine and Jodies, and every other watch beeping around me at the same time every mile was a little too much evidence!

I managed to catch some Snaps of Jodie as she finished, along with the official ones I’ve liberated.

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The marshalling was excellent, the aid stations were great too and had Jaffa Cakes and Chocolate! I’m not a fan of water in cups, though that’s my own preference and I can’t complain about that.

The medal was nice and the goody bag actually contained goodies, much better than the usual flyers and nothing else! Peanut butter, cereal bar, energy gel, energy drink mix and a bottle of water.

It was an brilliant race, and we both said we’d do it again. In the days after the race, my body really knew about it though and I struggled for the week after. I clearly over did it in the context of my training plan, the perceived effort being much higher than it should have done. Add to the mix I set my 5k PB at Newbury parkrun the day before I really was a bit stupid.

Cold and wet we may have been, but happy and pleased we were too!

Oh, and did I mention that despite running it at a “training pace” Jodie set a Half Marathon PB? On a long course in bad conditions? WELL DONE! Bring on Reading!

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