This year I took part in another Great South Run. After last years success with a 1:03:00, I was up for giving it another go, but this time with the aim to have fun and enjoy the day out! For those who don’t know of it (really?), it is a 10 mile race around our beautiful city of Portsmouth. It takes you along the entire stretch of the Portsmouth seafront and also around a lot of the city including the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. You get to run past the HMS Warrior and Victory ships which is always a treat. For the second year running we were treated to great conditions. This year saw the race happen a week earlier than it normally does. Great choice that was because the weekend after was scheduled for rain and the weekend before was a windy one. Excellent placement!
It has been a year of extremes for my own running. The long distances and training over the past year have left their mark in the form of a number of ongoing injuries that do not seem to be shifting at all. They don’t stop me running, but they are holding me back quite a bit. Still, I get to enjoy my running most of the time and I believe they will eventually go. I’ve been working with a physio called George from Up and Running at Roko, and learning how to incorporate stretching into my routine. I must say, George has been great. He gets absolutely mad at me for not listening to his advice on rest. I get that. I annoy myself with it. But we’ve come to a mutual understanding that my running is my daily medicine does. I need it to balance everything going on in my busy life. So, the Great South Run finally arrived. Training since the UTMB CCC has been slow going and hard. Trying to get faster and fitter and getting the legs to turn quickly has been difficult but also interesting. It’s not helped by the injuries but the whole entire process has been a learning one as always.
Earlier this year I was offered to join the Hoka One One (remember, pronounced o-nay o-nay yep?) family as a Hoka Racer, which was just a dream come true. I did wonder for a while if they had the right runner!? I am not the fastest runner out there by any means, but I guess if passion and love for running was measured in speed, I’d surely be up there. Like many others, running has become such a major part of my life. It is never far from my thoughts, challenging me, helping me develop new ideas and solving issues in every aspect of my life, and also introducing me to new amazing people and places. To now be racing for a brand I love so much and representing them in races is just a dream come true. Hoka One One running shoes that have been so kind to my legs and body ove the years and I’m extremely pleased and proud to be running for them. So the Great South Run was going to be my first time running in my gear! Awesome!
This year IBM had been great in refunding us half of the entry fee to run as part of a corporate team. I ran alongside a few other runners from IBM and we all met up before the run to get some group photos. It was awesome to have support from IBM too who have invested a lot of time and money over the past year to help support a healthy work life balance. At the site we work on during the week, we have access to plenty of great facilities to keep in shape. We have a load of different sports activities available and a brand new state of the art gym with a ton of equipment in it. There are some lovely routes around the area and a large group of us run each lunch time during the week. Back to the race day though. After our photos were taken, we headed down to the warm up area at the back of the D-Day museum and did a few laps hoping to see some of the elites, however they all been taken in to the starting area by then. Before long we were down there in amongst the crowds. Not too near the front, but far enough forward. Someone mentioned that a certain Jimmy Mallet(?) was at the start with his gigantic hammer and I just looked blankly as I’d no idea who in hell he was. I had to explain that I grew up in South Africa. All was forgiven. Soon we were off. I starred strangely at the man with the hammer and decided not to get hit. Lots of people were heading towards him however.
The race itself was pretty standard. Kicked off at about 6:30 pace and pretty much stayed about there all the way around as best as possible. I saw a few people I knew during the race and had some nice chats. I saw David Poole sporting his Bad Boy Running kit and another runner I know who was aiming for his ten mile PB. I really got into the crowds this year and decided to run through the Rose and Thistle Pipe Band who always play under the bridge near Gunwarf. For those who know me well, I am a member of this band and have been for years now. Of course I don’t play with them during this parade as I’m usually running. I ran through their circle this year and got to high five them all which was fantastic. They were on a short break between tunes when I got there so perfectly timed. I also did a lot of high fiving all the children who support the event so well. Lots of them put their little arms out hoping to get some back from the runners so it’s really good fun to line up and wind up a really big high five for them all. These are potentially our future runners! At mile seven I was going strong and well and relatively comfortable as was planned and so this year I decided to stop for my family and friends and get a photo with them all. It was great fun to see them all. Usually it’s quite high fives going through but I took my time this year. I then saw some more friends at the Eastney end of the run as we know a lot of people who live that end of the front. Was awesome to see them all. Ben, one of my core team of run directors at junior parkrun was handing out jelly babies along Henderson road which was great. The final couple of miles was quite funny. I still had some breath in me to talk and tried to get some conversation out of a large group of us who had bundled up together. It was so quiet. “The weather has been good to us this year again hey?” —– met by complete serious silence. Saying that, a guy next to me eventually replied and we chatted a bit. I guess it’s not the ideal place in a race to be striking up conversation, but at times it’s nice to take the edge off of the pain.
I came through the finish in 1:06:15 this year, which was pleasing. I’d wanted anything under 1:10 and expected to be no faster than 1:05. Target achieved. Like last year I peeled through a gap to my left after the finish to take a sit down and bumped into some of the elites who had finished and were all changed and probably ready to go home. Was great to meet Chris Thompson again with another lady who may have finshed the race but I didn’t recognise her as she had big sunglasses on. My friend Dave Harvey who had come over to see me, and I got to meet Eilish McColgan who had absolutely obliterated the competition in the ladies race. She’d also broken her mums record time in what was a very incredible run. She looked fresh as a daisy though! Not to hang around too much around there making a nuiscance of ourselves, we headed towards the finish funnel and collected our goody bags. To my annoyance, the bag contained a bloody technical shirt! Argh, not another one! When are the race organisers of these huge events going to give us the option to take a shirt or not? It’s got to be so easy to do surely? Anyhow, we collected our stuff and then ended up meeting a ton of finishers and friends at the exit of the finish funnel which was getting majorly congested. I started to get a bit cold after a while and so decided to head off home for a jog. On the way back I saw one of the IBM team finishers who was making his way through the final mile. Some shouts of encouragement were fired his way. I was surprised just how many runners there were still making their way around. It goes to show just how big this run is.
On the results side of things, we had an added bonus. Our team won the entire corporate team events category! In other words – a first place in the Great South Run! Ok, so it’s not quite that good, but it’s a great result for us. Extremely cool. A couple of our team members ran 1:04.xx times and another ran a similar time to myself. Lovely result!
The Great South Run is where running races started for me. It’s on my doorstep and is still an awesome event that attracts so many people. Everyone is running for their own goals to be reached and you hear and see so many fantastic stories. Well done everyone! As always, happy miles to you all and enjoy the winter running…xxx
PS – if you got this far through my post well done. I can hear you wondering what shoes I wore for this race. I wore the Hoka One One CarbonX. This shoe has grown on me the more I use it. The first time I ran in them they felt quite different than anything else I had used before. They feel a bit like they are missing pieces of sole at first but it’s not off putting, just different. A super fast yet very cushioned shoe. Really comfy. Check here for more information. I also raced for the second time with my new Coros Apex watch. If you haven’t yet tried the Coros watches, do check them out. The battery life is immense if you want a watch that can last a month in full GPS mode with heart rate too, and is simple enough to be really easy to use without any of those added features you just don’t want or need. Coros are definitley growing in popularity.