Monday, 29 October 2012

Great South Run Race Report

The weekend just gone might well have been the busiest in the race season for runners. I know of at least 5 races that went on over the weekend including the Fleet 10k, the Guildford Night Fright, Run To The Beat Half Marathon in London and the Great South Run down in Portsmouth which I took part in. 

For those not in the know, GSR is a ten mile race around Portsmouth and is just about the flattest race I've ever run. It's affordable, well attended and a real highlight in the calendar. Even though I've run several half marathons in my time it was the first time I'd run the event, and that particular distance. I chose it because I didn't feel up to running a whole half marathon this year but still wanted something bigger than a 10k. So this was my "big race" of the year, my highlight, the one I put in all the training for.

I only live about 45 minutes drive from Portsmouth and thanks to the clocks going back it meant I didn't have to be up quite as early as I'd feared. In fact if it wasn't for wanting to get parked I could have left later than 7:30am as I wasn't due to cross the start line until 10:48 in the white (middle) wave. My parents and OH came along to cheer and support me, which given the bitter conditions that morning I'm even more grateful for! My OH knows Portsmouth really well so managed to find us free parking and get us out of the city fairly quickly afterwards. Given about 25,000 people took part I was incredibly impressed by how easy it was to get in and out of the city and with the organisation in general, especially at the finish when there's a tendency to get bunched up and lost at big races.

The course was really well marked with loads of marshals, plenty of cheering stations and spectators along almost every inch of the sidelines. The water stations were long and well managed (with bottles! so much easier than cups) and the Bupa Boost station at mile nine was a nice touch with jelly babies and vaseline for those who wanted them. I went with Nectarfuel gels (one summer fruits, one blackcurrant) which certainly didn't do me any harm, although I'm still to determine how much they help. It felt good to take something on anyway.

The staggered start made a huge difference and I didn't suffer from having to dodge people too much at the outset. I made the decision to run with music (just one ear), even though there were bands on the course, really to help me pace myself more than anything. I used Audiofuel's Feelin' Free DJ mix on loop which got me round in my  target time. I got a bit of a twinge in my right knee half way round which didn't get any worse but didn't go away either, so I'm wearing a support for a day or two, and my posture was awful at the end so more core work is in order! There was a fantastic atmosphere all the way around the course; I had one girl clap me on the shoulder as she passed around mile 8 and say "well done Farnham" (I was wearing my club vest). My supporters took up residence around the 6.5 mile mark and on the final 100m stretch. I only just heard them shouting at me above everyone else and found enough energy to pump a fist in the air as I ran a bit faster towards the finish line (I couldn't call it a sprint finish). In the past dad's commented that although I *say* I enjoy running I never look as though I do but this time he said I looked pretty relaxed and strong even at the end.

And my finish time was... 1:40:00... I was thrilled, absolutely thrilled. I ran the whole thing without stopping, all be it with positive splits. It made all the training feel worthwhile and gave me a huge confidence boost. We got funneled very effectively through the finish area to collect our goody bags containing a medal, t-shirt, foil blanket, and an assortment of edibles. I'm now going to take a week off to let my knee recover, then get a couple more runs in before the Brutal 10k in November. No more serious training until December though, just enough to keep on ticking over.

On a side note, Powerade were one of the sponsors and had a stand where you could get your sweat loss measured. They weighed you before and after the race, took into account how much you drank and how many loo trips you made and then tell you how much you sweat and how much liquid you should take on as a result (about 1.6 times the amount you lose within 4 hours). I always thought I lost a lot through sweat but apparently I had one of the lowest sweat rates the guy had seen that day. Very interesting!

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