On 23rd September 2018 I took part in the Bristol Half Marathon as the sub 1:40 pacer. This is the first time I have paced this event, but an event that holds a lot of special memories for me. In 2006 I took part in the Bristol Half for the very first time, and this was my first ever event. I finished this half marathon in 1:54:12. It wasnt until 2009 that I started to run more often, and I ran Bristol in 2010 in a time of 1:40:04, at the time this was my PB. So to have the option to take my 1:40 #funbus to Bristol is very special to me. This is the 58th time I have been an official pacer.
As always I laid out all my kit the night before to make sure I had everything I needed. A simple #flatlay with lots of colour coordination.
The weather turned the few days before the event, so I wasnt looking forward to the predicted gale force winds and torrential rain. The night before it rained heavily, so I was preparing for a tough run.
It was great to meet up with Phil at the start and catch up with him. We sheltered away from the rain and had a poncho to keep us dry. It was very cold, but the rain had eased, so much better than it had been. At this stage it actually looked like perfect running weather. The problem is perfect running weather is terrible spectator weather and ruins the event village. I remember the atmosphere from previous years being really good, but this year the event village was empty. There is nothing the organisers can do when the weather is bad, it’s just a shame to see a great setup go to waste.
After a pacer photo I made my way to the start line. It was still cold but the rain wasnt heavy. When I got to the start line I was pretty much alone, as everyone was leaving it to last minute to come out in the rain. On the plus side it meant there were no queues for toilets. I questioned how busy the event would be, but 15 minutes before race start everyone flooded the starting pen and it felt more like a big busy event again. I gave a talk to all those around me talking about my race strategy, and advising I would stick to between 7:30 and 7:40 min miles and adjust to markers.
I had a good group around me from the very start, and it was lovely to see lots of people from social media. The start was a little bit of an anticlimax as I was talking to people and saying we will be starting shortly, only to look up and realise people had already started. It only took us a couple of minutes to get over the start line and it was a clear road when we got started which was great.
We immediately settled into a steady 7:35 pace, and we warmed up quickly. We headed out to the portway and the wind caught my flag, it was really windy and I thought it would be terrible, and we would be exposed at the long stretch of the portway. However, I was pleasantly surprised and the wind seemed to drop and it was a lovely run for the 7 miles which takes us down and back the portway.
I found that the mile markers were a bit long from the start so we were always about 20 seconds ahead on my watch. I knew it would probably even out, but as I tell everyone, I always match the markers, just in case, so I kept us on target with the markers, and we were about 30 seconds up according to my watch.
After the long out and back we came into the city. This section is full of twists and turns, and a bit on cobbles, which is more difficult to run on. My hip flexor started to hurt after about 7 miles so I concentrated on my running style to not over stretch. The wind picked up in some sections of the second half and between mile 9-10 I lost GPS as it started telling me I was running 9 min miles (which i definitely wasnt). The course had good support throughout even in the poor weather, which always adds value to an event.
Although people became less talkative towards the end they all stuck with me and did a fantastic job. Throughout I had a couple of dozen with me who stayed with me. Moving into about 1 mile to go I encouraged lots of the people who had stayed with me to start pulling ahead. I then picked up lots of runners who had started to fade.
It is nice knowing the course and being able to count people down from 800 metres, and there was a 400 metre sign, followed by 200 metres.
During the last few hundred metres everyone ran ahead, then crashed through the finish line in less than 1:40. And when I finished, I had so many happy faces waiting for me. It was really nice as I had so many hugs from people who had achieved 1:40 for the first time, lots of PB’s and smiles.
This is what it’s all about, all the hard work during the run, it’s all worthwhile to see so many runners at the finish who are truly grateful for the support. Knowing you make a difference to their race, this is why I love to pace.
I came in with a wet offial time of 1:39:43. It is nice to get a goody bag full of tee, medal and some other bits and pieces. I know some people won’t like that the medals were not handed out, but it suits me.
That’s another successful run for me, and next stop Ealing Half next week, who is with me? It’s also that time of year again, that I’ve been nominated for the Running Awards. I came second last year. If you like my blog please take a moment to vote for me. If you like someone else’s more, then vote for them just follow the link HERE, go to Blog, Personal, pickupthepace Paul, and hit vote.
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