Today I wake up in general post race agony after taking on the hardest race of my life….
After taking part in the official Great South Run photo-call earlier in the year and meeting the amazing Paula Radcliffe, the build up for the Great South Run was bigger than ever for me. Unfortunately, after a persistant irritated nerve, three weeks of what felt like utter exhaustion with no running at all, and a week of illness the week of the great south run didn’t start too well.
Race day came and although the bug might have gone, then came the nervous tummy, brill! Dosed up on Imodium, ibuprofen and caffeine tablets I was as ready as I would ever be to take on the biggest race in Portsmouth.
We arrived early by train, it was a good decision as Southsea common was extremely busy and the runners were flowing in continuously. The atmosphere was electric, after only ever visiting as a spectator, I was super excited to be a runner today although I certainly didn’t feel like it…
9.45am and time for a team Crusaders photo!
Buzzing from the atmosphere we headed to the bag drop which appeared unmanned and our bags were basically shoved in a pile next to a letter of the alphabet! Not ideal.
Another quick pre-race pic…
A quick coffee, toilet stop then we got in our White wave…
There was roughly a five minute delay to start after the previous wave, quick warm up, then we were off.
My first three miles were going well, averaging 9.22 which didn’t feel too bad, with amazing views past the beautiful historic dockyard…
and through the streets of Portsmouth, with cheers from the amazing Fareham crusaders really helping. Then it began to go downhill rapidly, never trust the first three miles! I’m not entirely sure exactly what went wrong, but my legs felt heavy, I had no energy and the various jelly babies and glucose tabs were not really helping and if they did I didn’t notice the effects.
After 5.5 miles I was ready to give up, my injury was actually not hurting but my new compression socks had given me severe blisters on the bottoms of my feet and it was agony. It felt like my feet were on fire, not to mention the weather was a beautiful 16 degrees with little to no breeze! Every time there was a water stop I had to grab the opportunity to throw some water on myself! It was becoming unbearable. The water stops were a plenty though, which was a relief.
Thousands of spectators lined the streets once we hit the main corner near Clarence pier near the seafront at around 6 miles. A few more friendly crusaders appeared on the corners of canoe lake to take a couple of photos, perfect contenders for the ugliest race photos blog…
Me saying “Please take a good one!” he didnt…. Cheers Ian! Lol
Then there was a shower, not a rain shower but a little run through mist area, I’ve never seen it before and it was brill! So refreshing! Great touch!
The last 4 miles were the most difficult, I had dropped from 9.2-11 minute miles after all the water stops and I was showing no signs of speeding up. It took all the mental strength I had inside me to not give up, and with runners dropping like flies to a walk it made it even more challenging.
At around mile 7-7.5 I hit the dreaded wall, but, there was an awesome guy in his garden banging out the tunes on Henderson Road, I arrived to Taylor Swift, “Shake it off” and I can tell you that was honestly my highest point of the race! I was buzzing down the road, at least for a few minutes anyway, so a massive thank you to whoever you were on Henderson Road, what a legend!
On the same stretch I was also motivated by three ladies from the Gosport Road Runners, who encouraged me to not give up with one lovely lady walking with me for a bit, giving me her water and helping push me on my way! I was so thankful! What an awesome club!
The last two miles approached, I saw another group of Crusaders, then the bit everyone had been talking about arrived, the seafront stretch. I was so looking forward to a seaside breeze but, nothing, just a loooooooong stretch of beating sun. The worst part about this section is there is a giant inflatable arch which looks like a finish line, then you get there and realise you still have a mile to go….. Argh!
Exhausted, but with metres after metres disappearing behind me, the finish line was finally in sight…
I managed to pick up the pace on the last stretch but couldn’t manage a sprint finish. After the toughest 10 miles of my life, it was all over.
It was a long way out of the finish area and all I wanted to do was get my bloody socks and trainers off! I Collected my goody bag which came in the form of a drawstring Morrisons shopping bag, quite quirky!
The goody bag was packed with fruit bars, crisps and even pasta! We got a free T-shirt, but the medal was a little disappointing, I’ve seen better and you had to fish it out of the bag and put it on yourself which was slightly naff.
I managed to finally escape the crowd and collapsed in a heap on the muddy grass, wet bum, but I didn’t care! After a little rest and some people watching, I hobbled over to my family on Castle fields.
I finished my first GSR in 1.44, when I should have finished in around 1.34, but, under the circumstances it wasn’t at all a surprise, just more of a disappointment at such a monumental race in my home town of Portsmouth.
Around 20,000 runners descended on Portsmouth on the 25th October 2015, with running royalty such as Jo Pavey on site. I might not have beaten my 10 mile PB but, I still managed to finish in the top 50% and in the circumstances I can’t complain.
Funnily enough there was another Nikki Smith who seemed to have stolen my race! Lol so this is what I will be aiming for next year…. And I will get it.
The great south run 2015 nearly beat me, but I’ll be back next year, stronger, faster and ready and deserving of a PB!
Until next time, feeling very proud to be from the amazing Portsmouth! Home of the best 10 mile race in the world!
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