Race No. 22 – Great South Run, 10 miles
It’s taken me a few weeks to write this blog post, because it’s taken a few weeks for the race to sink in, 3 days before the race I was convinced I wouldn’t make it to the start line after being taken ill at work and spending several hours at A&E
But even if I wasn’t running there was no way I wasn’t going to Portsmouth for the weekend as I had made arrangements with my friend Alice as she was also running & if I couldn’t run I would be her cheerleader
I hadn’t told Alice about my being ill as I didn’t want to make her nervous, it was her first race in a while & I wanted her to ace it! We met up Saturday afternoon and headed into Portsmouth for a bit of sightseeing, some dinner and to get our bearings for the following day
The views from the top of the Spinnaker Tower were amazing, if you are ever in the neighbourhood I highly recommend a visit, after about 5 minutes of umming and arring, I faced my fears and stepped onto their glass platform 100m up in the air, just thinking about it makes my stomach flip again but I am glad I did it, even if it did take encouragement from both Alice and a total stranger
Before we finished our visit we decided to partake in a little bit of carb loading ahead of the following days race, but being good little Weight Watchers we decided to share a scone with clotted cream.. *polishes halo*
A quick wander around the shops before dinner lead to a few purchases from the Nike store, then it was back to our hotel to get our kit ready, a bit of X Factor and sort out what time we had to be up and out for the next morning
The next morning we got up early and headed over to Southsea Common, Alice works for Bupa so we were lucky enough to get entry to their VIP area, meaning somewhere warm to wait, free food, clean toilets and no baggage tent queues
Alice was in an earlier wave to me so she headed out first, I decided to leave going out into the cold until the last possible moment
I was really nervous about this race, things hadn’t been going well lately, I won my spot in this race through a Facebook competition, and my original intention had been to try to beat my previous 10 mile time of 1.52.06, but more recently I had had to change my expectations, I wanted a sub 2hrs but after Royal Parks (see how I got on at Royal Parks here) even that was looking unlikely, and after being taken ill a few days earlier I just wanted to complete the course
My running recently has been awful & I have lost all my confidence, as I crossed the start line I challenged myself to the first 5k non stop no walking, for most this would be easy but not for me with my recent running record, the first two miles went well, I felt quite strong, I wanted to take in the sights, I loved running through the dockyards, it reminded me of my younger days when I had friends based in HMS Nelson & HMS Dolphin, somehow though I managed to completely miss the HMS Victory, I think I must have passed it just as I was starting to struggle and I was focusing hard on not stopping until I had seen the 5k marker, the next mile or so were quite tough, we were on a long straight road that went out and back, but the crowd support was amazing, there were very few points of the race where you didn’t receive cheers (If you are running a big race like this wearing your name on your top is a must, hearing people call your name really gives you a boost) approaching mile 5 I started to feel a little dizzy so I took a couple of Dextrose tablets and walked for 2 minutes, I knew I was getting close to the seafront and my energy levels started to lift
I am part of a Facebook running group called Run for Fun and seeing a fellow Funner standing on the sidelines cheering us on around mile 6 gave me a huge boost, mile 7 my energy levels dipped again, but this time I really thought it was game over, my eyes were struggling to focus again like they had done on Thursday, I really thought I was going to have to quit the race I took it down to a very slow walk, sipping my water and taking another few dextrose tablets, that mile was hard, I tried to run a few times but there was nothing left, I had no energy, we had hit a fairly residential part of the course, people were standing in their front gardens music blaring and cheering us on, I wanted to smile but even that took energy I didn’t have.
Eventually the 8 mile marker came around, and then we were on the sea front, I started to try to run but I was only lasting a few 100 meters before I would have to walk again, as we passed the Royal Marine Museum, I got a huge cheer from a group of Marines sitting on a tank, there is something about men in uniform that gives me a boost and off I went running again
Soon the 400 meter sign was in sight, and we were right beside the 6 mile point as well, I hung around for a bit looking out for Alice, but I couldn’t see her, I was disappointed, I really wanted to give her a cheer and say well done, the last 200m was a killer, my legs felt heavy, for the last mile or so there had been a chorus of people cheering for me and a guy called Martin who must have been just behind me, it had been making me smile as my name is Nikki Martin, I wanted to try to grab him at the finish and get a photo but the finish was manic and I think he probably passed me anyway while I was looking out for Alice.
I crossed the finish line, I had finished!! It had been tough but nowhere near as bad as I had expected, as I turned off my watch I noticed my time, 1.52.38, OMG I was still in the 1.52’s, I knew there were parts of the race I had felt good but there were parts I felt dreadful, I can’t believe my time, that’s by far my best run in months, suddenly I had a burst of energy, after collecting my goody bag & medal (that’s my one complaint with Great Run events, don’t put the medal in the goody bags, I want my bling, nothing else just my bling!) and raced through the race village, I wanted to find Alice, I wanted to cheer her on if she needed it & I wanted to see her cross the finish line
I quickly ran into the VIP tent, dumped my bag, grabbed my hoody and headed back out, my plan was to head to around mile 8 but I didn’t get a chance, my phone bleeped and it was a text from Alice saying she was through mile 8, I plonked myself near the 800m board and cheered on all the runners, when all of a sudden I saw her ALICE!!!
I am so proud of us both, we both exceeded our expectations, the smiles on our faces remained for hours & it’s definitely given us both a confidence boost with our running
Another plus for this run was that I managed a small 2 mile run 2 days later, normally anything over a 10k leaves me unable to run for a week after, my legs were tired and heavy but I done it, 2 slow but steady miles less than 48hrs after a 10 mile race, go me!!
*As mentioned in the post, I received free entry into this race but all opinions are my own, and my entry was not dependent on me writing a review*