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Sunday, 24 June 2012

Round the Island half marathon race report

With a week to go until the SDW100 it was decision time, stretch my legs and go for broke or take a relaxing run around the best island for miles. Yes its that time again for the Round the Island Half. Me and the beautiful Mrs UB missed last year as I was away working but this was my 5th running of this race and it is such a firm favourite in my running calendar that it would be the end of my taper for the ultra of my life.

Down to the start and it was warm but very very windy. Normally there is a prevailing wind that really helps down the back of the island but the gale was coming in at about 90 degrees different to normal.

Off we went at the start with a lacklustre countdown from the Mayor. I found myself in the front group of runners for the first mile or so and they were only doing about 7.15s, all looking at each other as we looked for the best line across the sand. The wind was hard at this point but I knew that a short section along the road would yield some shelter. I didn't want to go ballistic in case anything went wrong so I slowed down to a comfortable 7.20s past the Company Shed and Dabchicks sailing club.......and then onto the beach wall.

Rewind to the day before and about 5 miles away from home up to my mum and dad's, I turned to Mrs UB in the car......."Shall we go back and get the trail shoes?" ", it will be fine" well it would for a gentle 8.30s skipping around the puddles, not for a 7s into the wind. I really struggled, particularly as a front-foot striker without any grip. I had to slow. I thought if I could 7.30s-7.40s through the tougher stuff, dropping to the occasional 8 when it got really muddy, i could pull back some time with some 6.30s on the tarmac sections that punctuate the last 4 miles.

Down Pyefleet channel I hoofed it for a bit and overtook about 20 people. The wind was coming from sideways now.....not usual for this part of the island.....I've run it about 25 times and never has it been like this. The bizarre drinks station at mile 6 had a 10 metre incline off the pathway through some nettles to the water stop. Not one person stopped to drink!

Then it was around the corner at the Mersea Stone at East Mersea and then the wind hit. Now usually the wind down the back is enough to give you a lift. I have never run into wind on the sea-side of the island that was so strong.

Round the corner at the aid station and it was head-on 35 mile per hour wind with the occasional big gust. I got to halfway in 46.30, thinking that I could go mental over the last couple of miles and chuck in a 6 over the last mile off the beach which should see me close to my 1.30PB. No, no no!

The wind was bonkers, the sand was blowing in my eyes and stinging my skin. When the sand became clay and sand I looked at the watch and there was an 11 in there! Nobody was having fun, all the fellas were swearing and spitting out sand. The last 5 miles (course change and about another 0.4 miles added along the beach) took 12 mins longer than last time around! Looking at my Garmin, most of the miles were close to 9s!

I was really chuffed to be over the line and then wait for Susie. Then, the heavens opened! Mrs UB came over the line in a very credible 2.11, a couple of mins slower than her best, but better than her previous time.

Wind. Rain. These are the enemies of the runner. But we still loved it. Now my mind turns to a bigger run next week. I've got worries and niggles now. I need to iron out and relax.

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