Because the race itself only had 500 entrants (1,000 in total: 500 for the full marathon and 500 for the half marathon) it really was a very small event. I have left this race review a bit, thinking that I would have received a link by now with some of my race photos so that I could include them in the post... but as I didn't actually see any photographers throughout the race apart from one guy when I crossed the finish line I've not decided to hold out hope any longer. So sadly you don't get to see my ugly mug finishing the race. I can however provide you with photos of other people:
This bit along the seafront happened twice in the race: around 12 miles and around 24 miles. It was lovely - and as you can see - very sunny! (although at 25 miles to be honest I wasn't in a taking-in-the-scenery kind of mood!)
This was the start of the race - at the local college! Quite different to the Champs Elysees in Paris but you know what, I found it really calming not having so many people around me. I didn't get that panicky feeling of thinking I should be doing whatever race preparations the guy next to me is doing that I sometimes get at a big race. Less of a fight for toilets, no queues for baggage... really nice start to the day.
And this is what a lot of the race looked like. Look how much room there is between runners! So much space. Parts of the race were like this, through neighborhoods, and a lot of the course was on country lanes. The bits on the country lanes were actually really, really windy - I found this tiring and hadn't expected the wind. But the country lanes also allowed me to be calm and just focus. It was lovely and quiet.
We stayed the night before in Louth, a nice cathedral town about 20 mins away from Mablethorpe. For breakfast I had yoghurt with chia seeds, a slice of toast, cup of tea and some blackberries. I think I also had a banana once I got to the college and some beetroot juice. The changing area was in a very old sports hall!
For all of my training I said I just wanted to complete the race in under 4 hours. As it got closer to race day I kind of started convincing myself I could do it faster than just under 4 hours. So I started at a quicker pace and although I thought I could keep it up I did inevitably get slower during the second half of the race.
This was a two lap course. Not only that but the half marathon started at the same time as the full marathon, meaning half of the runners dropped out of the race after the first lap. I was a little worried about this and how it would affect me - but I found it to be a good thing. You knew where you were going for the second lap, and knew there weren't going to be any surprises.
This is the first race I've run without headphones. I made the decision a few weeks before the event - as I had started more and more to train without music. And it was wonderful! I felt calm and could get into a nice rhythm - almost a meditation. For some reason, I just kept saying to myself: Just be here, now. That's all you need to think about.
I also looked forward to hearing something from the people who were watching. Not that the crowds were massive - but a friendly smile or a 'you're doing great' was surprisingly much more motivational than Katy Perry blaring into my ears. And a few times along the route I chatted with fellow runners. One guy at mile 10 or so seemed to be having a tough time and I asked him if he was ok and he said 'just having a bad day' - and then at the very end of the race he was stood by the sidelines and shouted to me 'really well done, great race.'
When I finished I was immediately thanked by the Mayor and received a handshake from the man who had finished right in front of me. Shortly after I had taken a little rest and went off to find my medal and race pack, I was congratulated by a couple of ladies who I hadn't even seen during the day, who told me I ran a 'really lovely race' - I bumped into a few others who I had seen along the route and passed on the congratulations to them - this is just something I have not experienced at bigger races. This event really did live up to its name! They call it 'The Friendly One' for a reason!
Anyways - the long and the short of it is I got my sub - four finishing time. No injuries, no problems, and close enough to home to be on the couch by 7pm. I could happily turn 30 with a 3.57 marathon personal best. Not only that but I found out I finished 9th female out of 45 female runners and came in 95th place overall out of 220 runners. That'll do for me.