Race report – Bravehearts Semaphore Coastal Marathon

Solo long 30k run or half marathon? #willrunforbling

So, 7 weeks to Boston! 

Only 7 weeks? Are you sure? Oh well, I guess it’s time to start training!

In previous years I have used SARRC half marathons as part of my training programme. In 2014, 2015 and 2016 I did Clare and Greenbelt, and also did Barossa half in 2016.

In 2017 the timing of my marathon means that none of the SARRC halves will fit with my programme. Clare would be possible, but is a bit close in time to the marathon  (2 weeks) not to mention a bit far in distance. I would want to stay overnight the night before, which would make it a pretty expensive exercise. Which is a pity as it’s a great event. I will definitely have the FOMO happening that day. Oh, bugger it, I might just go up on the day and run the 5k!

The Coastal Fun Runs series is the brainchild of one Chris Glacken (better known as Chris Glacks – actually for ages I thought that was his real name!). The events are low cost and all money goes to the Bravehearts charity. This year alone he is putting on 32 MARATHONS! (Most of his events have shorter options as well – except the ‘5 marathons in 5 days’ and ‘7 in 7’ – but only crazy people do those!)

My bib from the half. To see what other events are on offer throughout the year, check out http://coastalfunruns.com

This was my first time doing one of Chris’ events. They are mostly run in the same area, coincidentally the same area where I do a lot of my long runs. And last week’s Dolphin Run! So this weekend, if I hadn’t done the half I probably would have run into some of the runners in the event while running 30+ km, and undoubtedly would have wished I’d done the half!

With so many events scheduled, it was almost inevitable that there would be one that fit into my programme. There was also a 3k, 5k, 10k and a marathon. The course was a ‘loop’, although probably would be more accurately described as an ‘out and back’ course. For the half marathon, we would run south then back to the start, then continue north and back to the start. We would do that twice, the marathoners did it 4 times and the 10k just the once.

Couldn’t really get a more straightforward course than this!

With the 21.1k starting at 7am it was a 5am start for me on Sunday to get an early breakfast (a shake consisting of Weetbix, oats, cacao, chia and almond milk) before getting myself organised. I opted for my Mekong top with aqua lululemon skirt, Skins shorts underneath, calf sleeves, Steigen socks and 2XU hat. I also threw on my rainbow arm warmers as it can be quite cool in the early mornings down the coast!
I got there early enough do a quick warmup before we had our race briefing and group photo. The marathon had already started, an hour earlier. The bib collection process was very smooth – the volunteers were very friendly and seemed to be well on top of things!

21.1k starters photo courtesy of Ian Fagan. I’m on the left of the pic – aqua calf sleeves!

The half kicked off around 7 (Race Director John making sure that we weren’t going to run into any marathoners before getting us started)
I hadn’t worked out a pacing strategy nor did I really have a goal time. I guess sub 1:50 was a minimum, with all but one of my previous halves being in the 1:40s (there was one inexplicable sub 1:40 in there, and I’m not counting the 3 times I’ve run as a pacer!). 1:45 was roughly 5 minutes per km, so I supposed I should be able to manage that. Anything under that would be a bonus!

I ran the first kilometre at 4:48 pace, running just behind 2 other girls, Coralie who I knew, and another girl I hadn’t met before called Carrie. I thought that was way too fast for me to be starting, and I was expecting that they would stay ahead of me but before too long we were all running together which was really nice! It was a smaller field than most of the events I’ve done, and with less random strangers spectating, so it could have been a very quiet few hours for me if I’d ended up running on my own!

An awesome thing about the layout of the course was that we got to see all the other marathoners, half marathoners and 10k runners during the race (the full and half marathoners on multiple occasions!). There were a LOT of familiar faces out there. I’ll probably forget some! In the marathon we had the organiser Chris running with Tim for quite a bit of the race – Tim hoping to do 70 marathons before the age of 70! There was Dave, who was going at a cracking pace! We also had Dione, who kept insisting to me that she WAS running as well as walking (she just happened to be walking most of the times I saw her!), Rebecca who looked very strong in the first half but apparently faded in the last 10k, Louise who had planned to continue on to run stairs at Largs AFTER COMPLETING THE MARATHON (she later decided that was a bad idea!) and Jac, one of a large contingent of Mount Barker parkrunners participating across the different events (my running buddies Coralie and Carrie both being Mt Barker parkrunners as well!). There was also Leon who is aiming for 42 marathons this year (plus ultras and halves!) – he is one of those 5 in 5 and 7 in 7 crazies! He did give me a good recovery tip – ice bath! (I had tried that after a previous long run but the water clearly wasn’t cold enough as I had managed to sit in there for an hour!)

In the half we had Mark and Mel who were both pleased with how they went, and we spent a while afterwards reminiscing about last week’s Guns N’Roses concert! There was also regular trail runner Neil who was doing his first road event (in trail shoes!) regular parkrunner Reece, and Chris, who was coming back from injury and showed excellent taste in running kit by running in a Norwood footy guernsey in arch-rival Port Adelaide’s heartland! 

So, the 3 of us girls ran together and it seemed like we all had pretty similar time goals. I knew Coralie would be faster than me in the end (unless she was holding back!). Carrie was, by her own admission, a ‘fader’ (in other words, NOT a negative splitter!) so when she took off from Coralie and me, we thought we probably would be a chance to catch her.

My Strava pace graph. See the spike at the beginning? That’s called ‘getting carried away (no pun intended) and going out too fast’. You’d think I would have learned by now…

The weather conditions were PERFECT, similar to last weekend’s event. Mild conditions to start with (I had my arm warmers pulled up at the start but by the 2k mark I’d rolled them right down) and once again NO WIND! 

According to the source of all useful information, Strava, at the end of the first lap, 11.2km, I was on 4:54 pace. The first lap was slightly longer and the second lap was exactly the same as the 10k course. That was great – we knew that once we reached ‘halfway’ we were actually well past halfway and ‘only’ had 10k to go!

On the second lap, it was a bit mental, running south and then back north to the finish line again, but having to run PAST the finish line to complete the last lap! Past the finish line, with about 5k to go, was where Coralie took off. I could see quickly that she wasn’t going to be catchable so I set my sights on Carrie, who Coralie very quickly passed! I could see I was making ground but it wasn’t until after the final turnaround (just over 2k to go) that I eventually caught up to and passed her.

I could still see Coralie in the distance but I set my sights on catching Chris, who had faded somewhat since earlier in the race, when he had been well ahead of me.

As I approached the Semaphore Palais, around 500m from the end, I had a sneaky look behind and thought I saw Carrie, but she looked to be too far behind. Nevertheless I decided to pick up the pace just to be sure! I thought I might catch Chris but he must have found an extra yard in pace too. According to Strava I finished in 1:42:58, exactly 1 minute behind Coralie and only 11 seconds behind Chris! The next finisher WAS Carrie, 26 seconds behind me, she was very pleased to have taken a whopping 10 minutes off her previous half marathon time!

My kilometre splits. Very happy with my consistency and ability to kick it home!

Recovery started with a quick walk in the sea with Chris. Happily, despite having dispensed with my pre-race ritual of taping my feet, there were NO blisters – thanks to my awesome Steigen socks! T
hen it was time to go back for the presentations. The female winner of the half, a girl I didn’t know, was about 10 minutes ahead of me! The male winner, Kent, did it in 1:27. That wasn’t really surprising – this is the guy who did 2 parkruns on New Year’s Day, one at 7 and one at 9, and RAN the 23km between the 2 parkruns!

Always nice to finish a hard run with a trip to the beach! Especially when said beach is RIGHT THERE!

So on my return home I did run an ice bath (with a 5kg bag of ice) and had 2 x 10 minute stints in there, with a quick hot shower in between. Maybe 2 bags next time! And then with some difficulty I managed to get my compression tights on!

Ice Ice Baby!
My slightly unconventional post-long-run ‘fashion’ (and don’t even ask me how I managed to get my leg up that high for the picture!)

I really enjoyed this event. I have to say, I can’t see myself ever doing the marathon here – nothing against this event but I really don’t enjoy marathons in general, so I try to stick to ‘big event’ marathons when I do run them! It would be a perfect event for someone who wants to run without pressure. The atmosphere is very friendly, everyone is very supportive of everyone else. The team of dedicated volunteers is fantastic and the RD John did a stellar job.

Congratulations to Chris and team for putting on a brilliant event! I’m sure I will be back for another half before too long!