So the 6th of March was an Epic sufferfest. At least that’s what Strava tells me after uploading my half marathon at Bideford. In reality, I felt I had suffered more at the Humdinger half a couple of weeks earlier, although this only rated 243 on the Strava suffer scale. There is a reason for that though. Strava ranks the intensity of your run based on heart rate readout and my HR monitor hadn’t worked properly that day (or many other days for that matter). Following that, I’ve now got rid of the chest straps and now found an LED light monitor that works . From the little summary below, you can see the GPS on this run under-measured by .1 of a mile. This was due to the very long, dark tunnel you enter on the way back. This must have been well over 100m long and I remember my GPS beeping off shortly after I entered it.
Strava’s summary of the ‘epic sufferfest’..
So a leisurely start at Bideford – 10.30am, which seems a sensible time for a Sunday. I didn’t have too much time to spare when I arrived, just enough to get parked, strip, get car-ticket, toilet, 300 metres of warm-up and onto the start line. My legs felt more rested than the last race. I’d forgone any Zwift bike racing the day before and thought I might try to get a half decent run out. The weather was nice. Training has been reasonably consistent, not pure running, but consistent run, bike and swims. I thought I must be near 78 minute shape for a flat course. Bideford has a few rolling hills for the first half and is generally flat thereafter – advertised as a PB course. There’s been some quick times run on it. This would be repeated this year, albeit not by me unfortunately. The winner Berihu Hadera came in 67.35 for the fastest time in nine years. Here’s a shot of him racing Bideford’s Ronnie Richmond, photograph courtesy of ‘Hooligans Dad Photography’
Winner Hadera (left) seen racing Bideford AC runner, Richmond.
The first mile was flat. I went through in 5.43 which was a little quick for me. The next few miles had a few hills and there was a decent bit of incline around mile 3. This must have added a little more time over a flat course but the downhills were quite gradual, allowing you to coast without needing to go really fast. That was good as I’ve struggled with steep fast road descending for a while.
From the starting gun I think I’d settled in around 15th place, which as it happens was pretty spot on. I could see a group of about 7 in front of me which was just that bit quick for me to run with. Unfortunately then, I was stranded as a lone runner for most of the race, which is always a bit harder. At about mile 5 I passed someone but as I did, another guy passed me. At least I had someone else I was steadily gaining on for the next mile or so, which was a nice motivator. I finally passed them on the downhill bit of the turnaround point at 6.8 miles as you join the tarka trail.
I tried to pick the pace up on the flat return but at mile 8 my stomach seemed a bit unhappy and I had to reel the pace back in a little as I was worried I’d make it worse, and didn’t fancy being stranded 5 miles from the finish. Mile 8-10 seems to be flat but the effort level feels high and I think there a slightly deceptive elevation rise which your body notices and your mind gets confused about. At 10 miles you hit the long dark tunnel. It feels a bit weird – you can’t see too much and it’s pretty cold, but it breaks up the endless path.
The best bit is coming out the other end because that deceptive uphill which has led up to the tunnel flips around the other way, and suddenly your legs get going again. As I got to the bridge across the river torridge, I was hit full on by the headwind. There’s no shelter at this point. You get some nice views, as long as you can see them through your streaming eyes.
Had I been really going for it at this stage, this would be the time I’d really be digging in, trying to get everything out for the last few miles. When I reach 10 miles I always tell myself it’s only 5k which feels pretty short. Just a parkrun home. It was good to visit in the town centre and there were some good crowds. I’m sure the guy who sprinted past me at the end was pleased with himself. I never saw him until he was right next to me and at that point he it was like Mo Farah going by. Must keep me eyes open a bit more in future. Thanks Bideford. It felt like an early season race for me and another chance to build some speed into my legs. Hopefully this race will put me into a better place for Taunton half marathon a few weeks away but first I’ve got to get through 20 miles of ‘Grizzly’ off road miles in Seaton on 12th March.