Sunday 25th of October brought around the Great South Run. The course consists of many historic views around Portsmouth including the Cathedral and the honoured permission to run past the Royal Navy Ships. I have seen the Great South Run from a spectator’s view many times and hoped one day to be a part of it. I never thought I would be able, at the time, to run 10 miles last year when I watched it from the side of the road. How wrong was I as I have run a half marathon this year with the Harriers and the North to South run which was 20 miles.
I confidently entered the Great South Run knowing I had a good amount of mileage this year under my belt- however I did want to get a Personal Best as my last 10 miles was the St George’s Race which was my first 10 miles this year and consisted of many hills. I also set off too fast on the St George’s race and got a stitch at mile 6 and had to jog slowly through the last few miles achieving a time of 1 hour 34 minutes which at the time was an achievement.With the thought of the Great South approaching I wanted to get under the 1 hour 30 minute mark which I knew would be a tough challenge for me but I wanted to give it my best shot.
I was unaware that other Ryde Harriers at the time had also entered the Great South Run so I was delighted when I found I had the company of fellow club members. It was a good turnout; myself, Graham, Abi, Rosie, Adam, Simon, Cheryl and Andy. Most of us arranged to get the Hovercraft together to encourage team spirit on the morning of the race. The Hovercraft got very booked up leading up to the race so many of us had to get the 08.45 am hover which left a lot of spare time at Southsea before the race. It made me nervous waiting around but the time went by with a team photo.
The race time quickly came about. Myself, Graham and Abi were in the orange category to leave first so we took our positions and joined in on a warm up which was delivered by a motivational speaker which got us on a high ready for the race. I also noticed time marshals running with flags on their backs so I squeezed myself through the crowd to get next to the 1 hour 30 minute flag as this is where I wanted to stay. The race began and off we all went. It was so busy, this was the biggest race I have ever participated in. The first mile or two I was struggling keeping up with the 1 hour 30 minute flag marshal as he was going much faster than he should have been at 8 minute mile pace. I pushed myself to keep up all the same but I was aware I did not want to get a stitch like at the St George’s 10 mile race. There was a lot of support by the crowd cheering you on which made you feel limitless. I did start to feel slightly tired at the 5 mile mark as I was running near Graham for most of the run and he was starting to disappear in the distance and so was the 1 hour 30 minute flag marshal. I started thinking I’m not going to do this but I quickly snapped out of it thinking I was half way round and pushed myself forward catching up with Graham again.
The 7-8 mile mark around the back of Southsea seemed to be endless and I was feeling exhausted but also proud as I had overtaken the 1 hour 30 minute flag marshal. I kept on forward, I had lost Graham in the distance again but I knew the end was near as I came up to the 9 mile mark where Wave FM played music out loud and handed jelly babies out which I grabbed eagerly. I looked down at my Garmin watch for the first time and I could tell I would make the 1 hour 30 mark so I decided now to push myself more, catching up with Graham again. The 400m mark came and this was it – I sprinted like mad to get to the finish doing a 6 minute mile pace, the fastest I have ever done. It was over, finally I crossed the finish line and did a time of 1 hour 27 minutes. I felt amazing and slightly sick. I saw Graham, we congratulated each other and walked through to get our goody bags which of course included our medals. We met up with the other Harriers and celebrated everyone’s achievement with a good, well deserved drink.
We were all so lucky as it was a beautiful day, hardly any wind and a nice temperature. I really enjoyed the whole experience and would recommend it if you have not done the Great South Run before although, now that I have done it, I will be looking for new races next year to try out.