Given my first half marathon last summer didn't quite go to plan, I placed a lot of self-expectations on this event. After 12 weeks of training I knew I was prepared to tackle the distance and I was in high spirits about my current fitness after a 10 mile PB during The Wiltshire 10 last month.
It's safe to say, I am super pleased with how Weymouth Half Marathon went and I surpassed all of my own expectations by crossing the finish line in 2:08:29. My goal was sub 2:15, perhaps trying for as close to 2:10 as possible at a push. Never did I believe I'd achieve a sub 2:10 in this race with it being only the second time I've attempted the distance but it goes to show that all of the hard work really does pay off. I know I am going to be riding this runners high for quite a while longer...
Below I have collated all of my thoughts on the event as a whole, the coastal course and my overall experience of the day.
It's worth noting that my original target event was actually Bath Half Marathon, however this has now been postponed until late May meaning I am unable to participate. After having a considerable strop due to being 6 weeks into my training when this was announced, I set about searching for other options of events in March.
My criteria was simple - flat and in the South. And hey presto, Weymouth Half was entered.
Despite being an early morning start, I have very little to grumble about with the organisation of this event. My race number arrived promptly in the post meaning there were no requirements for registration on the day (hooray) and the whole race from start to finish was a seamless experience. There were ample markers out on the route to help with directions as well as plenty of helpful, motivational marshals who added a smile to our faces as we plodded past - which, trust me, isn't an easy task at mile 12. The event car parking could have been better signposted due to the road closures surrounding making it very difficult to get in to, however once we eventually navigated ourselves it was an ideal location.
There were three water stations out on the course, however only one of these actually provided water to runners. The other two were stations allowing you to fill up your own bottles. On the one hand, I do see the environmental and pandemic related benefits to this approach. Having said that, I personally didn't find it the most suitable to ensure runners kept hydrated, especially on a sunny day. I never carry my own water at events and therefore always rely on water stations, meaning my only choice was taking a bottle at the half way point and keeping this with me for the rest of the run. Admittedly this didn't cause me any problems and I felt suitably hydrated throughout due to prior preparation, but it wouldn't be my first choice in set up for a long distance event.
One final thing to mention about this event is the medal - it has to be the coolest medal I have added to my collection! Who doesn't want a running medal with a T-Rex on it? Having not seen a photograph of the medal beforehand, I was suitably excited when handed this in the finishing shoot.
First and foremost, I loved this course. It was my first time running a coastal event and I have to say, there is something so enjoyable about running by the sea. Hearing the waves crashing, smelling the sea air and being treated to some beautiful views - you can't beat it!
The route was mostly flat, with a couple of inclines to tackle around mile 9. It started at the Pavillon and began by taking us up and down the promenade a couple of times with a short off-road detour through some woodland in the middle. This section was really well supported with spectators lining both sides in some areas of the town, providing that added boost of motivation.
Around 10km in we started to head out of town in the direction of Portland via the Nothe Fort, which is where the elevation came. Considering how much I detest running up hills, I didn't find the elevation within this route too bad at all. It suited me being all within one section and not dragged out for miles as I found that easier to tackle mentally and physically, knowing once I'd passed this point it was over and I could get back into a good rhythm.
The next stretch was mostly along the Rodwell Trail, which provided beautiful views out to sea. We ran this path all the way out to the Ferry Bridge crossing to Portland where we turned around and headed back all the way along the trail back into Weymouth town. Running back into the town for the finish line was exhilarating, particularly having all the support of the crowds again after a while of a more subdued atmosphere whilst out on the coastal trail.
Overall, I really liked the route and I would definitely take it on again - whilst not entirely flat, it's definitely flat enough to offer the chance to hit personal bests whilst also being suitable for beginners.
My performance and experience
As you can tell from my introduction to this recap, I am delighted with how the run went. It was one of those runs where everything seemed to just come together and you revel in the hard work you've put in during training.
Don't get me wrong, it didn't come with zero challenges. Around 6 miles in I felt a real twinge in my left knee resulting in quite a bit of pain for the next 4 miles. Thankfully the pain seemed to subdue around 10 miles, although this could be because I had just blocked it out by this point. I also had a mental wobble at around 11 miles but after giving myself a stern talking to and realising I was easily on track for my target time, I managed to push all self-doubt aside.
Crossing that finish line in under 2:10 was something I had not thought possible for my second half marathon. Of course one day I am striving for that sub-2 hours, but I had very realistic aims for this race based on current performance. I've never felt more proud of a personal sporting achievement than I did crossing that finish line and I know I had the biggest smile on my face as I did it. In honesty, this is possibly the first event in which I have actually been really pleased with my performance. I do always enjoy events and the atmosphere they provide, but quite often I've found myself under performing on race days and leaving with an underwhelmed feeling.
This was quite the opposite. I left Weymouth feeling proud, elated and motivated to keep pushing myself further with my running - igniting that drive to see what the rest of 2022 can bring. I also want to give a big shout out to my fellow Avon Valley Runners, I definitely couldn't have done it without their support both in training and on the day!
With one personal best ticked off already, I'm now gunning to beat my 10km and 5km times in the second half of this year, with maybe another half marathon thrown in for good measure...