Run - 28 October 2012
build up to the Great South Run was cold, wet and very windy. Traffic
leading into Portsmouth was queuing from about 8.30am, but I eventually
managed to find a car park on the outskirts, and followed the crowd of
runners heading down to Southsea front.
last time I did the Great South I remember a warm October, lots of
crowds and walking around in singlet and shorts. This time I had on
tracksuit bottoms, fleece and a hat and was biting my tongue against the
wind and rain.
However, I was in a much better position than the other WAC runners,
Katherine Dunkerton and Rebecca Hughes as I did have my secret weapon of
a VIP pass. The advantage for my Geordie background and a friend who is
Brendan Foster’s PA.
the VIP suite and was in my element. Whilst watching Sally Gunnell and
Iwan Thomas go through their warm up routines I tucked into a sausage
bap and played ‘celebrity spot’.
thought I had better look prepared, but as my stretching seemed very
pitiful compared to Sally Gunnell, I decided to get a photo opportunity
and warm up next to the Diabetes UK charity runners. However, the best
part of the whole VIP section was not having to queue for the toilet.
Every race should have a dedicated toilet block, and that really took
the pressure off whilst adjusting the Garmin and IPod.
meant to meet Katherine to run with but with mobile phone signal dying
about 45 minutes before the start and several fruitless efforts of
searching, I made my way to the start line. By pure accident I ended up
at the front of White, and although it was good to talk to Tony the
fridge carrying Geordie it was also terrifying.
countdown began and with Kelly Holmes hitting the start button a sea of
White overtook me. At the speed I went off Usain Bolt would have been
proud, but after 100 metres reality (and the freezing wind and rain)
soon brought me back to a 6 minute K.
first two miles went by really quickly, and luckily I did manage to warm
up halfway through the docks. The 3 mile mark came round quickly and 5K
in less than 30 minutes was good for me. The long straight with 4 mile
at the top was tough with the wind, but motivational as you came down
the other side seeing a lot of people were still behind you. A careful
navigation of the water bottle tops kept the runners on their toes,
before a bend left to go back along the seafront.
miles the heart sank a little when you saw the first runners heading
into the finish, and the pull up St George Road is never the most
attractive. One house definitely merges into another!
miles came and went, and hitting the 8 mile mark on the turn into
Henderson Road spurred me on again. Well it did until you hit the
Esplanade and had the full headwind and rain in your face. The Yomper
statue meant to inspire was slightly drowned out by the ambulance that
rushed by with blue lights flashing, but 9 mile soon approached and the
BUPA boost zone came into sight. The jelly babies were a very welcome
sugar boost as was the sight of South Parade Pier.
at about nine and a half miles that my right knee decided that it had
done its run and now needed a rest. Limping and hobbling I made it to
the side, and several stretches later told the knee to behave and
carried on. The knee dutifully complied for about 200 metres before it
brought me crashing to the ground, and I am forever grateful to the lady
by the side who helped me up. The other runners decided with 600 metres
to go that getting to the finish was much better than helping the fool
who had just fallen over.
Stretches later and the fact that by now all the crowd were giving me
encouragement and telling me, ‘It is only a few metres’, spurred me into
action. Running would be a step too far, but a quick walk saw me over
the line. OK - I was beaten by the Flowerpot Men, and gave Sonic a good
run for his money, but actually 10 miles in 1 hour 35 had put a smile on
second advantage of the VIP area. On making it back I had a changing
area and settled down to hot food, tea and coffee and warmth. Yes -
WARMTH !! That was the best 30 minutes eating warm food, drinking my tea
and looking at the shattered athletes walk outside in the rain. Feeling
refreshed and already motivated for more I took in coaching advice from
the ladies’ winner Jo Pavey.
glad that Olympic athletes have the same problem I do with Energy
supplements, and that on long training runs Jo hides her drinks in
people's hedges as she hates to carry water. We both agreed that Jelly
Babies and Jelly Beans are the way forward for energy boosts.
high now I decided some inspiration for Dame Kelly Holmes was called for
and we discussed various training techniques.
agreed that Rio is only a few training runs away for me, and it is good
for every runner to dream. On that point I left and walked and met the
fellow WACers. Rebecca had run a superb 1 hour 22, and Katherine a
fabulous 1 hour 33. Sitting having coffee on the way home one thing
became clear. You have all the benefits of VIP pass, and mixing with the
stars, but the best people on the day are the fellow runners from WAC
who always support you, and the benefits of Tuesday, Thursday and
Saturday running are what makes the big races more special.
next year ....