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Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Ocean City Half Marathon & Eden Project Parlrun

I've just returned from my spring holiday, and what a fabulous time I had camping in Cornwall and Dorset with beautiful sunny, warm weather.

My first stop was in Cornwall so that I could visit my son and his family. Whilst I was there I was persuaded to take part in the parkrun at the Eden Project, which I wasn't intending to do as I was running a half marathon the following day. But I thought, what the heck, I can just take it easy and maybe a leg stretch would do me good. However it didn't quite turn out that way.

I ran this particular parkrun last December when I was visiting my son to deliver his Christmas presents, and I completed it in 25:57 which, considering the three zigzag hills on the course, I was pleased with. But this time I absolutely smashed that time, but also my own all time PB with a time of 25:10. Wow, where did that come from? To say that I was pleased was an understatement.

Wearing club colours at parkrun

The Plymouth Ocean City Half Marathon was taking place the next day, and with an 08:30 start, and an hours drive to get there, I was up at 5:45 and on the road by 6:30.

The sun was shining warmly and there was an on shore breeze as I walked from the car park along the road from the Barbican to the Hoe, where the race village and start was, and I had just enough time to use the loo and apply sun cream on my exposed skin before entering the starters pen, just behind the 2 hour 15 minute pace runners. I wasn't planning on taking that long though.

On the dot of 08:30 we were off and we headed downhill on a loop that would take us past the start again, along an uphill section there as we then headed towards the Barbican and east away from the city.

By mile 4 there was a long uphill climb for a little over a mile before we turned off the main road and along a country lane towards a wooded park. Up until now the sun had got pretty warm and so the shade of the trees was very welcome. But all too soon the park had been left behind and we were out into the hot sunshine again, and I was sweating profusely and grabbing a bottle of water from every water station.

The route took us back over a bridge and then there was an out and back section, roughly between miles 9 and 11 when we then headed back into the city the way we had come.

By this time the heat had got to me, but also probably the previous days parkrun had left me feeling more tired than I had thought also, and so the last two miles were pretty tough, and as you leave the Barbican, the road bends sharply right and you have the final ¼ mile with a tough uphill climb ahead and spectators clapping and cheering lining the road.

I didn't stop to walk, although I did feel like it, and I was pretty slow by this time. Another sharp right hand bend and the hill steepened a little more, followed by a sharp left hand bend and an even steeper ramp to negotiate before seeing the finish line about 400 metres away, and with only about 200 metres to go, I felt a sharp pain in my right calf and I wasn't sure if it was cramp or my old injury flaring up again, but I couldn't stop now and I managed a running hobble towards the line.

I had finished in 02:07, which considering the heat, I was reasonably happy with. Along the way I had seen St. Johns Ambulance staff seeing to runners who had collapsed, probably due to heat exhaustion and dehydration. I was told afterwards that the lead runner, having reached that final steep ramp in about 01:30 collapsed and had to be helped up so that he could finish.

All in all I enjoyed this race. It appeared to be well organised, the route wasn't bad at all, although I would like them to flatten out some of those hills, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a different race to take part in.

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