On the 2nd March 2019 I took part in Benidorm Half Marathon. This was my 4th event of 2019, and a lovely way to spend the weekend. I had a surprise win on Instagram where Visit Benidorm tourism offered me a hotel for 2 and free race entry. Being so close to Limassol we decided it would not be a good time for a family trip, so I asked Phil to join me. We looked at flights, and these were relatively cheap, so an easy decision to make.
I didn’t have the best of starts to the weekend. The night before the race I picked up a new bike. On the way home I had to swerve to get out of the way of a car. I had not noticed the cycle path change from road to pavement and I hit the kerb and landed on my head. Fortunately it was only superficial wounds, but left me feeling tired and aching all over. I got home and about half an hour later Phil arrived ready to start the weekend.
Neither of us could do the Friday flight which would have been cheaper, so we got the flight first thing Saturday morning with easyjet. We flew to Alicante and collecting a hire car was quick and easy. We drove to Benidorm which only took 40 minutes, the only surprise was a toll that’s based on distance, but this was cheap anyway, just glad we had mesns to pay on us as we had dumped out bags in the boot. Straight away it was lovely to feel the warmth of 20 degrees in Benidorm.
Our hotel was lovely, and the staff were very friendly. The only downside was that they told us Visit Benidorm had left us a bag each… exciting… the only thing is, it turns out the maid threw it out, so we never got to know what was in the goody bag.
We arrived about 13:00 and the race started at 18:30, so we made our way to the expo which was about a 10 minute walk from where we were staying. On the way we stopped for a lovely pizza, and this was when we realised how cheap it was in Benidorm. Two large pizza and a large bottle of water came to 18 euro.
The expo was by the beach, and was open plan next to the race start. It had a good atmosphere, but it was a place to pick up your bib and tee, and nothing else really there. We picked up our stuff with ease and then took a walk down the Benidorm beach which lived up to its reputation.
We decided to go back to the hotel for a couple of hours as we had been awake since 04:00, and it was proving to be a tiring day. This gave the perfect opportunity for a flatlay.
Later we made our way to the start and things had got busy. The toilet queue was long, but we managed to get in before the start. I usually have a toilet and nutrition routine before a race, and it was put out of sync with the evening start. It wasn’t clear where we were supposed to be at the start, and I had the wrong colour start, but this was all sorted in the end.
After organising Pacers for Limassol I am well aware that for IAAF standards you need to have 3 Pacers. I am pleased that at Limassol they took my advice with how many Pacers were needed, and I said for the half you need at least 5 to cover 1:30 to 2:30. Unfortunately Benidorm have gone for the minimum and so only cover 1:30 to 2:00. I was a little disappointed with the Pacers, as they clearly had not followed the organisers direction. They each had a different colour flag to represent their start. However all 3 of them started in the fastest wave in front of me. This means anyone who wanted a slower pacer would have had to catch them up first, defeating the object. It is great to see Pacers here, but a few tweaks are needed to maximise their impact.
I managed to get towards the front of the second colour. So I was just behind the 1:30 pacer (who was the only one in the right place). My aim was to stick with him. Although I had a nasty fall 24 hours before I was optimistic that it was just flesh wounds.
I got going well, it was a little bit crowded in some places, but not too bad. I was struggling to catch the pacer in the first mile, and decided to stay behind as I felt like he was going too fast. Ideal time would be 6:52 min mile. I was a good 15 seconds behind the pacer and I did the first mile in 6:43, which was a little fast. By this time we were on the seafront which was lovely. With all the bars along the front there was some good support along here. It got crowded quick and it was clear the pacer was doing a slow second mile to even out (10 seconds difference is fine, he would have got away with just falling into the right pace rather than slowing). Very quickly I was right behind the pacer and now running 7:20 min miles. I was only 2k in and this was going to mess with my head so I went ahead to get out of the group.
A good note was the course had both mile and kilometre markings and they appeared accurate. The route was a 10k loop, and there was a 10k race that started at the same time. On the second loop we went out a further 500 metres to make up the extra kilometre. This worked really well, except there were a few collisions at the 10k turn off point as some didn’t see the split. Apparently its normally 1 loop but there was building work where they usually take the course.
After about 3 miles my shoe lace managed to tuck inside my trainer. This was going to cause a problem later on so I quickly stopped to untuck it. When I got up after bending over the blood rushed to my head. I don’t know if this is attributed to my accident, but it made me wobble.
I carried on going and it was lovely to run into the sunset. If I was pacing this would have made some lovely photographs. I was running closer to 7 min miles so off pace. I felt ok, just sore, and decided that this was good enough. One thing that surprised me was I stayed ahead of the 1:30 pacer. This was until about 5 miles when he came charging past with a group with him.
I wasn’t pushing 100% but nor was I ever going to. I was hoping 1:30 would be comfortable, but to keep up with 1:30 now would have taken a little bit more from me, and I wasn’t prepared to give it. My long term goal is a sub 3 marathon, short term to continue pacing well, so I was not prepared to push harder than necessary.
On the second lap I had a bit of a confidence boost. I didn’t speed up, but I also found that maintaining the pace was fine. I didn’t feel like I was pushing. I considered picking up the pace but as I did my calf started to feel a niggle, and my body was aching all over. So I just kept it steady. I enjoyed the second lap running along the front, and checked out the various buildings as we ran through the town.
I was pleased when I neared the finish, and still had a strong finish in me. I have confidence that if I was at my best 1:30 would have been comfortable. I also have confidence that I could maintain this pace for longer.
After I finished I waited around for Phil who also enjoyed the race. I’m really pleased to have come and think it is a really nice place for a cheap and warm early sunny holiday.
My watch time was 1:32:48 which I’m happy with. The gun result states 1:33:00, and I can’t find the chip time result on the page. The medal and tee was a good quality, and there were lots of goodies to collect at the end. We decided to go to a nearby rib house and had a lovely burger, again I’m surprised how cheap it was.
We didn’t stay out late and decided to go out and enjoy the day the following morning. I went to bed aching all over, and this was the first race that my nipples were hurting and bleeding before it even started. But I did it, and I’m still in one piece.
I woke up really sore, but I think this was the combination of the accident and the run. After a lovely champagne breakfast I went out for a gentle 4 mile run along the race route with Phil. We stopped for photos along the way.
The weather was beautiful at 23 degrees I’m glad the race was later. It’s just difficult to adapt when used to running races in the morning. Definitely recommend this for a good half to run.
I certainly enjoyed the sun, food and beer the following day.
Next up is the Big Half next weekend. Check out last years blog HERE, who will be joking me for the 1:45 #funbus