There are many aspects of marathon training that I have struggled to get my head around. One of them is the “only a half marathon” concept.
“How far are you running this weekend?”
“Only a half marathon. I’m tapering.”
The Hastings Half is hilly.
The five mile marker comes at the end of an unrelieved two mile climb, and if, like me, you have only glanced at the route profile, you may be thinking that your hillwork is done. It isn’t. Not by a long chalk.
Hills aside, it’s a nice enough day out. It doesn’t feel like a half marathon that happens to take place in Hastings, but a half marathon embraced by the whole town. It is well supported for most of the course, and the cheering in the last two hundred metres is impressive. From the house on the hill that had taken its speakers out into the garden to bathe the runners in music, to the oranges that appeared from the halfway point and just kept on coming, to the huge numbers of kids high-fiving runners as they passed, this was a local event.
Of course the weather may have helped. Glorious sunshine made the day more spectator than runner friendly, and I felt for the many, many costumed runners. The clowns with their big nylon wigs, the rotary club pushing around a huge barrel of donations, the extreme ironers running around with ironing boards and laundry baskets strapped to their backs, all of them deserve hardcore points galore.
Orpington Runners, including Stephen and Zoe, were out in force, and made for high visibility pacers in their fluorescent yellow tops. It was nice to see familiar faces, even nicer to be able to fall back and follow at my own pace with no questions asked.
Would I run it again? Probably not. The more big events I do, the more I realise that I like my races small. Would I recommend it to others? Yes, whole-heartedly. Will I ache tomorrow? Almost certainly. But not to worry – it’s taper time!