This morning I ran in the Gosport Half Marathon. It was my fourth half marathon and my 2nd time at Gosport, my first being in 2010. For the last few years, the family has been on holiday or preparing for a holiday the weekend of the event so that’s meant I’ve not had the chance to run it. When I realised I’d be able to run it this year, I signed up and set this as my target race.
In 2010, I ran it in a little over 2:01 and my target for today was to try to go sub-2 hours. I almost made it but more about that later.
I left home at 8:15am which was later than I’d normally leave but knew I’d get to Gosport in about 30 minutes which would give me plenty of time. I also knew there’d be lots of Lordshill Road Runners at the event so plenty of company before the race.
On arrival, I parked in a public car park between race HQ and the start. Perfect actually. I bumped into Ant Gritton and Lindsey Newbold and chatted with them.
As I walked to the race HQ there were several people I knew from parkrun events. I collected my chip and started bumping into LRR members (Claire Satterly, Julian Porter, Andy Porter, Chris Lamb, Emily Smith and Rosie Essery to name a few). Ali Solomon, Chris Stocks, Becky and Steve Cleeves were there too.
The layout at race HQ is pretty straightforward and at first I collected my race number and then chatted with a fee people. I then decided to visit the loos. At that time the queues weren’t too bad.
On my way out, I bumped into Steve Robinson and Darren Foy. The time flew by and we headed back to the main huddle of LRR members where Mike and Di Mattingly, Kirsty Ware-Lane and Tony Rickman had joined the others.
At 9:45am it was time to make a move to the start area. Luckily, the choice of parking spot made it easy to drop baggage in the car and then walk to the start. Luckily I bumped into Chris, Ali and Becky again and Ali and I decided to run together to try and push each other to a 2-hour finish.
We were some way back in the ‘masses’ (the race attracts 2000 entrants and sold out this year). In a way, this was a good thing as it meant that we’d not really have the opportunity to race off at a pace that may cause a problem later in the race.
The course is a mix of roads, cycle paths, pavements and two visits Dadelus’ airfield. The route around the airfield is ‘twisty and turny’ and gives some good opportunities to see both faster and slower runners and shout encouragement. I tried to shout to any LRR member I knew as well as any parkrunners I knew.
Once we left the airfield on our first visit, we had to head out on a pavement and at times it got rather crowded. Although we were told to stay off the road, at times it wasn’t really practical.
Ali was doing really well. It was her first half marathon and the longest run she’d done in training was about 12 miles.
It seemed to take an age to get to the point where we went back onto the airfield but before we did, we had the opportunity to showboat (lark about) for some photos for Paul Hammond.
As we headed back onto the airfield, Ali was starting to drop back a bit. I eased back on my pace a little so as to not leave her behind but she shouted that I shouldn’t wait for her. At this point we were between 8 and 9 miles into the run. My pace was slowly dropping but my goal was to run at about 5:40 mins/km pace and I’d stuck as close as I could to this so far. I couldn’t drop much pace otherwise I’d not finish anywhere near 2 hours.
The great thing about the airfield is the steel band. It lifts your spirits just when you need it. Every race should have one!!
At about 10 miles, it was time to leave the airfield and head for the seafront. This was a section I’d forgotten about and although there were only 3 miles to go, the finish line seemed a long way off. I knew that I’d need to find some pace to hit my 2 hour deadline.
Becky Cleeves sporting her stripey compression socks breezed past me looking like she wasn’t trying!! (Her Garmin stays show an amazing negative split!)
Fortunately, I eased in behind a group of 3 people who were running at about the right pace and did my best to keep up with them; slowly ticking off the miles.
It was good to see Chris Rees, the MD of Try Tri UK who was running with his girlfriend. We’d been spotting each other since the first visit to the airfield. It was Chris’ first half marathon and he was doing well.
Before long I was running the last mile. There was still a chance I could hit 2 hours. It was a long mile though and as I turned into the road where the finish was, it looked too far away. I sped up trying to find the pace to get to the line. It just wasn’t possible. I tried my hardest but crossed the line in 2:06 (Garmin time). 6 seconds outside my target time.
I was happy though. It was a half marathon PB and 6 seconds isn’t long. In fact, it’s probably the time it’s taken for you to read this paragraph.
It was great having a running buddy. Some company and someone to help moderate pace. Ali did really well and finished in 2:02:33. As she was hoping for a finish time between 2 hours and 2:10, she was rightly happy. Well done Ali.
I set out to try to go sub-2 hours and almost made it. My plan had been to set a pace to achieve that and I nailed it. 5:40 mins/km on average all the way. My finish times at other distances show that I could run a half marathon in 1:50 but I tend to run faster at shorter distances. Something I need to work on.
Roll on 2014!