After a disappointing performance at the Wokingham Half Marathon earlier this year, I was determined that I wanted to run a Half Marathon PB this summer. I very much feel that a sub 1:40 half marathon is within my grasp. However, I’ve been focusing on running 5k this summer and dealing with a few niggles so very much neglected my aerobic base and any of the long stuff. Therefore, I didn’t get to the start line of the Southend marathon feeling particularly confident.
I had to stay overnight in Southend the night before and I left it very late to book my accommodation so that literally the only room left in Southend was a single room so hubbie was not able to come and support me. The room was perfectly adequate and I had a fitting portion of fish and chips for dinner followed up by watching Titanic on the TV.
The morning of race day I deliberated for what felt like hours over what trainers to wear: my trusty Hokas or my racing flats. I consider my racing flats to be my speedy PB shoes but I only had ever worn them for 10 miles maximum and having experienced some ankle tendonitis in the lead up to the race was not keen to exacerbate it/ have to drop out of the race. In the end, I wore my Hokas.
Getting to the start of the race was a bit annoying- it was a not insubstantial taxi ride away from the hotel. There was a rail station that was much closer and had direct services to Liverpool Street but there was no accommodation in the vicinity!
In terms of the race itself, there were adequate amounts of toilets for the amount of runners. Initially we were told that the race was not going to start on time but then we were told it would after all- thankfully! I decided to run in the first/fast wave. This probably resulted in me running way to fast for the first mile: 7:00 m/m. The route itself consisted of an out and back loop that had to be run twice – this meant that we ran along the same stretch of the seafront 4 times! I found this pretty soul destroying. After about 6-7 miles it was clear that I couldn’t even maintain my 10 mile PB pace so a sub 1:40 finish was looking very unlikely. The whole thing felt like a bit of a slog. There were a lot of supporters… however most of them only enthusiastically cheered members of Essex running clubs!!!! I’ve never experienced that in a race before! The route was really flat except for an annoying undulating bit around mile 11-12 as you ran off the seafront- finally! There were drinks stations but they were only serving water.
In terms of the weather, it was overcast and started raining at about mile 12. This ended up being great for me as it was the motivation I needed to move a bit faster and less like a slow snail. I was delighted with a PB of 1:41:06 all things considered.
Overall, the route was really uninspiring, there was a lot of spectator support but it felt as though most spectators only cheered for people they knew/Essex running clubs. The start was a bit awkward to get to from Southend (if you didn’t have a car) and it was a nightmare getting back to the hotel after the race because of the road closures. That said, I quite liked the race village, it was good value for money for a road closed UKA registered race and definitely had PB potential. I’d give it 7/10. Would I do it again? Not if I had to stay overnight in Southend the night before, maybe if I were able to get a train there in the morning or got a lift with someone!