Family Zakrzewscy hit Hartlepool (post race sunshine)
I'd originally planned on running the Marina 5 as a pre-marathon sharpener, but have obviously had to pull the plug on the marathon as I didn't think I'd do myself justice as I'd had to take 4-5 weeks out of training. However, I haven't tried a short, fast race since the tendonitis so I thought that I might as well give it a go. I thought there would be a decent field as it was also doubling up as the North East Masters' Championships, and it gave me a good excuse to spend a weekend catching up with family.
Mama demonstrating how warm it was on the prom
It was lovely of my parents to come and support me on the day, and it really felt like a family outing as we headed down to Hartlepool on the Sunday morning. In my last race, we picked up our numbers in a castle (an old prison), and this one kept up the unusual venue tradition as we had to register on a boat. Still, there was a nice cafe on the boat - my mum and I both spotted the delicious-looking carrot cake to try after the race (and it tasted as good as it looked!!!). It was easy to spot my bib as there was no entry on the day and the 600 numbers had been pre-allocated in alphabetical order. For once I wasn't last, but I still thought it wouldn't be that tough a challenge to finish in a higher position than my number (599)!!
The appealing North Sea?
It was lovely to catch up with a couple of friends, but as it was rather chilly, I decided to go and check out the start of the course as a warm up. I have to admit that the North Sea isn't at its most appealing on a cold overcast morning, and I was very reluctant to strip down to my race kit (how I wished I'd kept my gloves on, as my hands didn't warm up until I was on my way back to the finish!!).
Starting through the houses
We all gathered in the street (with bollards and tape hemming us in to ensure everyone crossed the starting mats for accurate times) and were started by a cannon (not exactly the most common start gun!!). The first half mile was along streets between houses so we did have to be careful of cars (both parked and still driving, though the marshals were very helpful) but then we were up a rise and onto the prom.
Picture credit Karen Newton
The race then consisted of 2 miles along the seafront before turning round a marshal at the very far end and coming back on yourself. This meant that you could see the field stretching out ahead of you, but also spot others on the turnaround and encourage each other as you passed. I had originally thought that it was quite a still day, but there is never no wind by the North Sea. As the wind was in my face on the way out, I hoped it would then be a tailwind as I tired on the run back - I'm sure it was to some extent, but it never feels that way!!
I worked my way up the field slowly but steadily on the outward leg, but wondered if I'd overcooked it without realising, as I spotted the second lady coming towards me once I'd passed the halfway point. In my head, she looked fresh as a daisy while I was exhausted, so I expected to see her fly past all the way back. It did give me confidence to overtake a couple of men on the return run, as this must mean that although I felt tired, I was still moving OK (either that, or they were just more tired!!!).
Into the finish
Getting support from runners coming the other way (clubmates, friends and even total strangers) is definitely a boost....as was the fact that I'd not heard a single shout for other ladies. Coming off the prom, through the carpark and back between the houses I knew I had less than half a mile to run. We were marshalled onto the pavement rather than the road, which meant negotiating kerbs and grassy segments, but the finish line came into view without any major stumbles. There wasn't a clock on the finish line so I had no idea what my time was going to be, but managed to talk myself into pushing right to the line.
A chilly prizegiving ;-)
It turns out that it was worth it, as I really surprised myself by clocking a much faster time than I'd expected (my fastest for about 3 years and a cheeky new CR by 14s), but it also meant that my legs were rather tired on the run back to Durham (possibly not the best idea I've ever had!!).