I seem to have gone a little crazy with race choices this year, most normal people would probably stick to some nice easy, flat, road races when they’re getting started but I seem to be drawn to the tougher challenges involving trails, hills & a lot of effort. This makes training especially tough as of course there aren’t many big traily hills in the middle of Basel where I do the majority of my training.
Our first half marathon was the Sussex Coastal Trail Series down in Eastbourne in MarchÂ and involved running over some of the Seven Sisters and up Beachy Head. The day dawned bright & sunny but soon turned to icy rain as we went to registration to collect our race numbers….marvellous! We were supposed to be doing this race with my brother but unfortunately he was injured and would just be watching from the sidelines supporting us and a large group of his friends. He definitely made the right decision as this was not an easy race.
We started off by heading up a narrow track to the cliff top, this was taken at an easy pace due to overcrowding but we soon started to spread out as we hit the cliffs and started the ups & downs of the Seven Sisters. This was our first time on the South Downs Way and it really is a lovely location, the hills are hard work though and given the rain the downhills were a bit slippery, so given the steepness I wasn’t flying as quickly down them as I had hoped, the ups were tough on the legs but I ran where I could and walked when I had to. By agreement The Boyf had headed off to run his race without being hampered by me and he reached the first checkpoint at about 3.5km in 21:16, I got there in 33:02 and was pretty happy with that. By now I had already managed to roll my ankle in a rabbit hole but it was holding up OK (I’d hurt it earlier in the week on a training run).
At the checkpoint I decided to walk for a moment to remove my jacket as I was starting to overheat, and I haven’t quite perfected the art of running & stripping layers whilst also wearing a backpack. This was the point at which I managed to knock my Garmin and stop my tracking! Yes I am that clever. Luckily I noticed fairly quickly and managed to get another track going. Then it was time to pick up the pace and get cracking again.
Up hill, down hill it was never ending but I ran as much as I could, it was especially tough going on the climb up to Beachy Head but the scenery helped to ease the pain a bit. The Boyf managed to get to the next checkpoint at the 8mile mark in 1:11:02, I was struggling quite a bit though and it took me 1:43:47. I was still going though. Grabbing a banana at the checkpoint I started hiking up the next hill (did I mention this race had hills in it?) and then we came to a nice flat section across a cow field, I did my best to run across here but after a while I started to feel dizzy and see stars so I slowed down and ran/walked to make sure I didn’t do something silly and faint. I could soon see the finish but reminded myself that there was still a way to go yet as it wasn’t a direct route but a loop to bring you in. I was running down another hill desperate to get to the end when I saw my brother taking photos, right my the “1 Mile To Go” marker……I could do this! I dug in and pushed onwards, finally getting to the finish in 2:51:06 and 335th place. The Boyf was waiting for me at the finish and helped calm me down as the tears of reels and exhaustion hit me. He’d finished in 1:58:14 (57th place) so had had plenty of time to head back to the car for warm clothes and some food and drink.
We both agreed that this was our hardest race yet but I think once it was over we both really enjoyed it. We’ve both got lots to learn about fuelling and pacing on longer runs but I think we’re going to enjoy doing it.