Bournemouth Half Marathon – A personal best!

Saturday evening my brother drove us down to Bournemouth so that I could run Bournemouth Half Marathon on Sunday morning. We got down there and discovered we had a family room rather than a twin, no complaints from me! And decided to head out to have a walk along the sea front as I wanted to check out the finish line before we went out for dinner! We found our way down and the Supersonic 5k had just started so we stood around for a bit cheering the runners on, there were some awesome lit up costumes including a guy dressed as a xmas tree! I was happy once I had found the finish and knew the layout ready for Sunday so we headed into town for dinner.

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After a fretful nights sleep in which I woke numerous times for no apparent reason the alarm went off all too soon at 6:15! I’m not good at eating early in the day but I managed to stomach my energy bar and a bottle of lucozade. Got myself all dressed and ready to go and was down in reception for 7 to meet a lovely Run Mummy Run lady who had offered to pick me up so we could go to the start together! We got to the start at around 7:15 and were delighted to find toilets that weren’t portaloos! There were some portaloos available for those who needed them but we were able to queue in the athletics stadium. I’d made a point to stop drinking just before 7 in the hope that I’d only need the one toilet trip! It was a bitterly cold crisp morning and all too soon it was time to head to the bag drop and take off my hoodie! It wasn’t a nice feeling it has to be said! Note to self winter races from now on require a black bag for the start! By now it was 7:45 and we needed to get to our green pen so we headed over and found a spot the side and took a couple of pics and chatted to keep us calm in the lead up to the start. The great thing about RMR is you can meet fellow runners who you already have something in common with and you feel like you’ve known them decades, it really helps to put you at ease at the start of races!

The race started pretty much on time which was a relief, the sun was so low and I wish I had taken sun glasses with me, for the first couple of miles I had a couple in front of me running to the pace I wanted to do so I stuck with them for a bit focusing on the gentlemans trainers and ignoring all those who were overtaking me. I knew If I stuck to a steady pace I’d feel better for it later! Around mile 4 they slowed a bit so I overtook them and found a Mum and daughter who I followed for a bit. Then I clocked a lady i had chatted with at the start line and told myself I had to keep her in my sights. Just before mile 6 we joined the beach which was lovely. I didn’t have headphones in and the crowd had spread out so I just enjoyed listening to the sounds of the waves crashing and focusing on keeping a steady pace. I had set my garmin up to a virtual pace of 11:30 but found myself running slightly ahead of it most of the time.

Just after mile 8 you approach boscombe pier and I thought at that point we were going to be running up it, turns out not, we had to turn inland and approached a dark forested area which contained a hideously steep hill, away from crowds the majority of people walked, I may have annoyed a few runners asking them to move over, politely!, so that I could run it! By the top I thought my lungs would explode but they didnt and all was good! I knew I was approaching where my brother was waiting for me and that gave me a new burst of energy knowing I was going to see him. He was waiting next to mile 9 for me and then ran on a bit further to see me again just before we went downhill. Theres a mega steep downhill between 9 and 10, I love downhill running and whilst those around me were putting their brakes on I let my legs take me and I overtook about 15 runners and flew down to the pier area where there were huge crowds cheering us on. Then was the tough part, you were right next to the finish at that stage but had to run all the way back to boscombe pier along the sea front! Just after I passed mile 10 I allowed myself to check the time on my watch, until then I had only looked at my pace. When I saw the time I realised if I ran a steady 5k for the final 3 miles I would be on track to knock almost 10 minutes off my personal best. It was bloody tough to keep running at that pace but I did it and found myself overtaking quite a few runners. Eventually we reached Boscombe pier and I came off it to discover my brother stood by the side of the road with an ice cream! I grabbed a mouthful as my mouth was so hideously dry and I really needed something and then carried on whilst he overtook me and tried to get to the finish ahead of me! I could see him up ahead and kept almost catching him up, it certainly helped me keep my pace up! Bournemouth pier was getting nearer and nearer and before I knew it I was rounding onto it, I overtook a blind gentleman and his guide and then turned back and heard the marshall say 200m to go, that was enough for me to find the 2nd wind and I broke into a sprint overtaking another 3 runners and heard my brother shouting ‘Go Hayley’ from a bend and the marshall next to him joined in with the encouragement. I crossed the line and stopped my garmin and that glorious message of ‘New Record’ popped up! I was overjoyed and pooped all at the same time. One of the marshalls came over and offered me some water and said there was more around the corner.
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Once you crossed the line it was a little walk around to go and fetch your medal and t-shirt, I was thrilled I can now fit a small t-shirt (ignoring the fact the t-shirts are generously sized ;-)). I’d agreed with my brother we would meet at the reunion area and I sat down and stretched whilst I waited for him. I was dying to get in the sea so once he arrived we grabbed my bag from the baggage trucks and I headed straight for the sea front and headed in waist deep to soothe my legs! It hurt but no different to how it hurts when you have an ice bath. I got changed in true british style in the middle of the beach before we headed up to cheer on the marathon runners. My brother suggested eating in the Harry Ramsdens restaurant as we could get a table overlooking the route. I spent my lunch paying no attention to my food as my head was hanging over the side determined not to miss my RMR friends who were running the full marathon, the wait paid off and I spotted 3 out of 4 of them. I’m sure the fellow patrons in the restaurant appreciated my enthusiastic screams when I spotted them!

Overall I really enjoyed it, the route was mostly by the sea which was really nice, we had the perfect weather for running and it was well organised at the finish and start areas. Would I do it again? Yes? Am I contemplating doing Bournemouth full as my 2nd full marathon next year … quite possibly! 😉

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