The Great South Run

Hello! Well clearly I can’t start this post without saying it’s been a bit mad with the wind here of late! In the UK there’s been a good old gale blowing and weather warnings have been flying about all over the place this weekend.

Clearly not exactly ideal for the 10 mile Great South Run race Ben and me were doing on Sunday. Hey ho! The show must go on.

Sunday morning Ben and me got up, got ready, had breakfast and then Ben’s mum arrived and we drove to my parent’s house to pick them up. We were all lovely and cosy crammed in the car and then headed to Portsmouth for the race. It wasn’t far for us at all and we know Portsmouth well so we parked in nearish car park and walked 15 minutes-ish to the start area.

Gunwharf Quays

Gunwharf Quays: There’s the Spinnaker Tower in the distance

Portsmouth has a lot of history based around the naval docks. There are lots of museums, old ships, naval buildings…things like that. I’ve lived around the Portsmouth area most of my life so it’s all very familiar to my family and me which is nice for a change!

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As we got along the sea front in Southsea (where the race begins) it quickly became apparent just how windy it was.Windy

Nothing like being slapped in the face with your own pony tail!!

We got to the race start with plenty of time. We met up with some of the guys from our running club and then moseyed about for a bit. It was cold. Not the wintery bitterly cold, but the very windy cold. The sun was out intermittently but that wind was relentless.

I attempted a warm up run but I was so cold and my body was all cramped up from hunching over.

GSR Start Area

The long stretch of the start before everyone has begun lining up

This race was huge. There were just under 30,000 people doing it. So there were, I think, about four different waves. I was in the orange wave which meant I was the first wave to go after the elites. Ben was in the wave behind that one. So we said goodbye to the parents, then each other and I headed to the start.

My original plan for this race had been to run with a guy who’s around the same speed as me. We were aiming for the now laughable time (for me) of 1 hour 10mins. So 7 minute miles all the way. In retrospect this was stupid. I’ve lost a bit of speed in the recent weeks due to my stupid, stupid niggles. I haven’t done any speed work. There was no way I was going to hit those times.

In the end I never saw the guy. We had attempted to meet up but it just didn’t happen. I was actually very relieved. Even before starting I knew deep down it wasn’t going to happen for me. I went into this race feeling very unconfident and terrified of that wind.

Mile 1: Bit of bottlenecking to begin with and dodging around people. I tried to huddle into groups of people to avoid the wind (7.19mins/mile).

Miles 2-3: Still busy but now able to pick up speed. Nice route through the old naval docks area with the old ships, like the Victory and the Mary Rose museum. Then at the end of mile 3 we ran past Portsmouth Cathedral (7.06mins/mile for both).

Portsmouth Cathedral

I took this photo as we walked past it beforehand, not during!

Miles 4-6: I started finding the run quite tough. My pace dropped down and I got myself into a bit of a bad mood (stupid I know). Everything started annoying me. My hair slapping me and the loose tendrils were getting stuck on my face. I was stupidly hot; the sun had come out and I was in a long-sleeved top and running club vest. I also saw the water station and when I ran over no one gave me a water and I had to wait for them to get one out of the plastic. Nightmare. (7.20-25miles/min).

Mile 6: My darkest hour. I just wasn’t happy. I know this sounds quite stupid (and believe me I know it is) but I wasn’t enjoying it. I didn’t feel like I was in control. I felt like everything was against me. I realised quite a few miles back that my target was never in a million years going to happen. And nor was my second target, and the rate I was running nor was my third. This hugely got me down.

But, just as mile 7 approached, I saw a girl from my running club ahead. She’s a little bit slower than me normally but was running a good pace. I was fed up of being all down on myself so I caught up with her. I told her I was having a bad race and could I run with her and she was lovely and happily said yes. She said her target was to get under 1:20. Well, there’s a target I was happy with finally! (7.25mins/mile)

Miles 7-8: It’s amazing how a race can suddenly improve when you drop the pressure off yourself. Suddenly this wasn’t my race at all anymore. It was her race and I was merely joining her. I no longer beat myself up about the pace we were running. I stopped worrying about trying to ‘gain back’ the seconds I’d lost. I just ran alongside her trying to keep an even pace, telling her I was happy to slow down at any point if she was struggling (7.19-7.27mins/mile).

Miles 8-10: Hello hell. This was along the front and it was TOUGH.

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It felt like running in slow motion. My running buddy and I were struggling through but we kept each other going which was brilliant (7.54-8.01mins/mile).

And we made it. I hit none of my targets apart from my absolute lowest one: beat the New Forest 10 (that was 1:18 something). Well, I did! Official time 1:15:13 (1148th overall, 552nd in age category, 82nd female, 43rd in age/gender category).

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But the best part for me was my running buddy rushing over to me in tears and grabbing me in a huge hug and saying “I’ve taken 3 minutes off my PB. I couldn’t have done it without you”.

That made everything worth while.

And Ben finished in a brilliant time of 1:26:20 – a huge PB for him! He was grinning from ear to ear when I met up with him. He was buzzing.

Great South Run complete

Sensibly this time I’d packed some chocolate milk in my bag as I never normally eat anything after a race until I get home a few hours later and have lunch (I’m genuinely not hungry and never fancy eating in the hours after). It went down nicely! I noticed later on I felt much better in myself.

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This was my bag (though the Protein Plus bar came from Ben’s – we both got one PowerBar product)

The goodie bag at the end was quite good. We got a free t-shirt as well (cotton, boo!). There was a Chobani stall handing out free yogurts and a Powerade stand handing out free drinks so that was cool as well.

And after getting home and devouring a huge lunch I was ready to chill.

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Hot shower? Check. Medal? Check. Free t-shirt? Check. Compression socks? Check.

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Then we relaxed on the sofa with our furry friend watching the live coverage of the Great South Run on TV that we’d recorded. Reliving the magic – ha! As terrible as this sounds, it was nice to see some of the elites struggle against the wind as well. They’re only human!

I did enjoy this race but it was tough and it almost brought me down. But you can’t always have a brilliant race and hit your goals. That’s just life! I helped a friend get her goal and her happiness at the end made all my moodiness a thing of the past and seem so silly.

When was your last bad race? How did you come back from it?

How do you relax after a race or hard workout? You better believe I enjoyed a slice of cake last night!

What’s the best thing you’ve got in a race goodie bag? It’s always the medal for me!

18 thoughts on “The Great South Run

  1. That sounds like such a tough race, particularly in these conditions!! Great job though, far speedier than I could ever be 😛 I had a relatively bad race in June, it was a 10k but it was scorching hot and I just felt like I was melting, I almost had to stop and walk at one point, I struggled so badly in that race, but I had to put it in perspective, it was still a PB and I soon forgot all about it! I’ve never had anything good in a race goodie bag, the medal is always the highlight, t-shirts are always a disappointment, either cotton or too large 🙁 Any other races planned?

    • This summer has been tough for running. I find running in heat so tough and it really adds to your time. Well done for getting that PB regardless though!
      Yes! Even when I got a technical t-shirt it was miles to big despite being a small. Ben got two t-shirts out of it in the end!
      Next race is the Gosport Half marathon in November (one very local to us that lots of local clubs do) and then the December marathon 😀

  2. That goodie bag looks fab. So much fun stuff to try! I never normally fancy food after running either and often have to force something down.
    Well done Ben for his PB! Well done your friend for smashing her goal time. And a big well done to you for coming back from a race that you were struggling with. I know how tough that can be. I often put too much pressure on myself to do well. Once you remove that pressure the race often gets better though.
    Well done everyone for running in that wind too. I can’t believe how strong the wind has been this weekend!

    • I love it when the goodie bags are genuinly good. I’m quite looking forward to trying the PowerBar stuff because it’s something I’ve always seen but never wanted to fork out the money for something I’ve never tried before.

  3. You did so well considering the weather, that wind sounds horrendous! Well done to Ben on his race too. You’ll be back running your bestest again in no time, I can remember when I was running, if I had a single bad run it would knock me for six, but I needed to realise that every single run was never going to be perfect, it’s all part of the sport!

  4. Well done! I wasn’t envying you doing that, especially as the last bit is right by the water so really windy anyway. And how brilliant that you helped someone else get a pb- that is really fantastic 🙂
    My favourite things are technical t-shirts- the cotton ones annoy me so much as all I use them for is gardening/ decorating. But after that it is the medal for sure!
    I think runs like that show just how much of a mental sport running can be- if you get yourself convinced that something is hard then you will notice all the annoying/ tough bits, whereas if you are feeling good then you won’t be bothered by those things.
    I found the Blenheim palace half tough as I was so stressed about missing the start, set off too fast and then it was more hilly than I expected, and way hotter, but while I was going around I was thinking about the sponsorship and realised all I needed to do was finish- I didn’t think it was a pb course so tried to enjoy it!

    • You are so right about it being a mental sport. You can quickly convince yourself is pants and then suddenly everything goes wrong. You have to keep positive and focused on the bigger picture and not get drawn into the thoughts of self-doubt or how hard it is.
      Yeah my t-shirt is now used for PJs. So annoying.

  5. Great work in a tough race! I think tough races are great learning experiences and help us become better runners… build upon the tough experience and know that if those conditions come about again, you’ll be able to dominate based on how you rocked it in the past!

  6. What a tough race! Well done for pushing through and also supporting your running buddy, helping her get a PB is a double bonus! Congratulations to Ben on the ace PB too! I know what you mean about feeling relieved you didn’t meet up with the speedster, I had the same before one half marathon and got so stressed before it that I wouldn’t be able to keep up – instead of focusing on the race I planned to run for me.

    • For me, I tend to race better when I’m alone if I have a certain goal in mind. I knew my original goal was never going to happen and the thought of running with someone to get that goal just stressed me out hugely. I’d rather listen to my body and work out what I want to do.

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