I was looking for half marathons in the UK that fit into my training plan, and the Festive Half stood out, because it seemed like the ideal weekend getaway. After putting off the registration a bit, I eventually pulled the trigger. As luck would have it, the half marathon sold out only a few days later! The half marathon coincided with the time that Lior’s parents wanted to visit, and they thought Portsmouth sounded like a fun place to visit, so they joined. Lior booked the tickets, and we got a hotel a 10 minute walk from the start line–perfect!
This race is at the end of week 8 of an 18-week marathon training plan. It’s my third long run of the training cycle, with the previous two long runs being 8 and 10 miles, respectively. I’ve been getting my runs in and also doing a lot of cross training, and I really hope that this shows, both in my race time and in my energy levels. I hope to run the half marathon as close to my goal marathon pace (9:40min/mi) as possible, and not feel like I am dying at the end.
Price: 32.5 GBP/$41.86 The race website gave the option to add a sweatshirt or hat (I declined), and since I didn’t indicate a shirt size, I don’t think this is included. Still, for road closures, etc., this is the cheapest half marathon I’ve run. Price: A
Website: A bit bare bones, but it had what I needed.
Publicity: I RSVPed for the Facebook event, so I received the occasional notification there, as well as via email, which is how I learned that the half marathon sold out. I also followed the race organizer’s instagram page, hoping to get a preview of the medal.
Transportation to the race: I jogged to the start line–easy!
Weather: High 40s, mostly clear skies, and SUNNY! It was perfect running weather.
Start: 9:35am 10:05am. The race was postponed by 30 minutes due to the tides. I received an email the evening before the race, letting me know. I still woke up at 7, made my way down for breakfast at 7:40, ate leisurely, and then jogged .5mi to the start line, to pick up my bib. I then chilled for a bit, and had plenty of time to jog my warm up before the race.
Start/finish area: The race started and finished outside the Pyramids Centre. There was a coffee and food stand, there were port o potties…what more do I need?! I finished my warm-up at 10:00am and had time to use the port o potty before the race!
Packet pick-up: I wanted to pick up my packet the day before, to minimize race day anxiety. However, packet pick-up was not in a convenient location, so I picked up my bib the morning of the race, no problem. I also took advantage of the heated indoor space. While the weather was perfect for running, it was a bit cold for just standing around…also it was windy before the start.
Race shirt: I didn’t purchase the shirt, but I did pull the trigger and order a pair of shorts from the race instead. They look like they’re made out of comfy material, and I don’t own a lot of bumming around the house shorts…so I figured I’d get some that will be memorable. I was correct–the shorts are very comfy, and since they’re a unisex size, gigantic.
New house shorts FTW!
What I wore: Leggings, long sleeve shirt, and a fleece jacket that I removed shortly after mile 1. I also had my hydration vest, which was perfect as I didn’t have to stop at any water stations.
Semi-related: We spent the night at a local hotel, and when packing…I forgot to bring a change of underwear for after the race. Good thing Lior plans ahead and brought an extra pair of underwear! They worked in a pinch.
Bag drop: Available, but I didn’t use it.
Course: The course was a giant out and back that started and ended on the beach boardwalk. When I was about half a mile in, I passed by our apartment, and saw Lior’s dad, filming! After the boardwalk, we ran through an area called the muddy beach…for a reason! I expected this would be a muddy race, and my expectations were met! Aside from slipping a bit, it was fun to get a little dirty. I got a surge of energy toward the middle of the race, and that faded around mile 9-10…more Shot Bloks to the rescue! I did feel a bit nauseous towards the very end of the race, but I knew the end was in sight…and I saw Lior and his parents at the end!
My only complaint…and it’s not small…the course was .3mi short. When I run a half marathon, I want to run an actual half marathon–especially when I’m doing well! I ran 12.83mi in just over 2:04…at my pace, I would have finished in 2:07-2:08…which is my fastest half marathon in awhile! As it is, I walked the last .3mi, and finished in 2:12:35…still my fastest half marathon of 2019!
Water stations: I only recall seeing two water stations on the out and back course. They also had snacks. But since I had my hydration vest, I didn’t stop.
Bathrooms: There were a few bathrooms on the course, but I took Imodium before the race and made enough pre-race bathroom stops that it wasn’t necessary!
Pictures: I saw photographers, I’m waiting for the pictures.
Medal: I didn’t take the race medal into consideration when I registered for the race, so I just hoped for the best (and that it wouldn’t be too Christmasy). In the end, the medal wasn’t Christmasy at all–though for some reason we also got a random Christmas-themed 10K medal? Not sure why. It was weird…as if they had extra medals from some other race and just decided to give them to us.
Anyway…this is the largest medal I have ever received:
I’m disappointed about the short course, but very pleased to see that my training is paying off! If you happen to be in the UK and want a fun race, I highly recommend this! If you’re looking to stay clean and run a fast course that doesn’t require people to run single file…then this isn’t for you.