Being a Hastings girl born and bred, this year I thought I should maybe sign up to the Hastings Half Marathon, something I have been carefully avoiding for the last 30 years! So I signed on up and then somehow allowed my friend Kevin to convince me that a good warm up for the Hastings half would be to run the Eastbourne half earlier in the Month. Our friend Dominic decided to join us as well, and this is how I found myself on a cold but sunny Sunday morning, in Eastbourne, about to run my first ever half marathon.
Eastbourne’s 13.1 miles starts at Princes Park and takes you out along the seafront, up a steep hill, then down again and back the way you came, past where you started, continuing out to Sovereign Harbour before turning back and coming back along the seafront to finish where you started at Princes Park.
There were a few other people we knew who had made the trip over from Hastings to run this half and there was a nice friendly atmosphere at the start, as we gathered in starting lanes and got ready to go.
Having felt a little chilly before we started, we soon warmed up as the sun beat down, although there was a beastly wind blowing. We trotted along at a reasonable but sustainable pace, along the seafront, settling into what was an enjoyable part of the run. Once we had been turned off the seafront however we hit the one hill on the course, and it was a beast. In the end I had to walk some of it, just when you thought it was over, when you had crested the first part and run along a nice flat road, you turned a corner and headed up again. Round a corner in the road and it was finally back downhill again, here we were able to pick up a bit more pace, making up some of the time lost on the uphill section, before coming back onto the promenade and running back the way we had come, whilst looking over the sea.
Dom and I carried on, running comfortably, past where we had started and on towards Sovereign Harbour. Passing the 7 mile marker and knowing we were over halfway was a great feeling, but from this point on the race started feeling much tougher for me. Knowing that I am prone to some injury niggles I had already taped up my right knee and ankle, but these had started aching, and by mile 10 my right hip, knee, calf and ankle were all starting to hurt, along with the arch of my left foot. From this point on the race became a battle. I was in pain every step, and fighting tears at some points. Dom was a hero, encouraging me to keep going, and not allowing me to stop and give up, our pace dropped a bit, but I kept running. The last mile felt like torture, but eventually there was the big 13 and we were on the home straight.
I reached out and grabbed Dom’s hand, and together we headed for the finish, Dom suddenly looks over and says “sprint” and somehow I put everything I had left into that last little stretch, holding hands we ran as fast as I was able, dodging a few people, and finally crossing the line together in 1 hour 58 mins.
We picked up our medals and well deserved Mars bars and waited for Kev to finish, who was a few minutes behind us. We grabbed a finishers photo then hobbled back to the car. My first half marathon completed, but I have to say, I think I prefer running in the mud!