On Sunday, I ran the Gosport Half Marathon. This was my 3rd attempt to finish in under 2 hours and I’ll spoil the ending by stating right now that I failed! D’oh! This is your excuse to bail unless you fancy reading the gory details and numerous excuses because as usual I have a multitude of excuses for this and I’ll summarise those later. However, with every race come the lessons learned and the intent (however short lived) to learn from those mistakes and do better next time!
Let’s start with mistake or excuse number 1 – not enough long runs in training. In fact, my longest run since Challenge Weymouth Half was 14km.
I arrived at race HQ at 8am and picked up my race number and timing chip and had just affixed the chip to my shoe laces when Becky Cleeves came out and offered me a free pre-race sports massage. Becky is a few weeks into her course and will complete it in May 2015. The massage took about 15 minutes and warmed my legs up (as well as making them glow like beacons!) Having left a charity donation, I went back out to see who I could find. After a few seconds, I saw Chris who told be that his partner, Ali, who I planned to run with was close by. We wandered into the hall and settled in before being joined by Andy, Robert and Susan amongst others. On my travels, I also bumped into several LRR members and other running friends from other clubs. With almost 60 LRR running, this was quite a well supported event.
My original plan had been to run with Tamsyn and Ali, but, I didn’t find Tamsyn in the start area. However, as I lined up for the start with Andy and Ali, Clare S from LRR and Ian Bowers both stood close by. It was clear we were probably a little too close to the start line given our anticipated pace. Oh well… I looked back and saw Di about 20m behind us! D’oh!
The course this year is new due to building work on the airfield that’s been traditionally used in previous years. This meant 2 loops off the sea front. Although almost pancake flat, this kind of course can be tough although I had enjoyed (in hindsight) Weymouth’s Half Distance Triathlon course which was similar so was unsure whether I’d love or loathe the new Gosport course (it turns out I preferred it to the old course and I hear that was a common view).
Fortunately, the heavy showers that had drenched the area in the 45 minutes prior to the start of the race had subsided and we started in dry conditions. Not too bad at all really.
Within the first km, it was clear our pace was too quick and we didn’t really settle back into our desired pace for the first 3km. However, I felt strong and didn’t want to back off too much (mistake number 2). Unfortunately, Ali got a stitch and had to slow up so Andy and I continued on. At times I thought I was running by myself until Andy reminded me we were ahead of target! Oops! I ran along with Andy Porter for a while and managed to keep up with him as he slowed to get water from the water stops. I didn’t take on water or jelly babies (mistake number 3).
I have to say that the first 7-8 miles felt good. I was on target for a sub-2 hour finish. However, that’s when the wheels came off and I got a stitch. I ran through it the best I could. There was a turn around point and as I headed back along the seafront I spotted Tamsyn, Helena and Paul all close behind. I knew that I’d struggle to keep ahead of them at this point.
It wasn’t long before my fellow club-mates passed, all looking like it was a walk in the park. This was a little demoralising but I tried my best to keep them in my sights. Up until I got to the 10 mile point, a sub-2 looked possible. However, at 10 miles, I knew that a sub-2 hour finish was going to be unlikely and this hurt! In sympathy for my pride, my right calf started to spasm. Hey ho!! I then needed to take regular 5-10 second walk breaks. Andy did his best to entice me to run. He said that there was still a chance I could get close to 2 hours so I tried. At the next couple of water stops, I drenched myself in water and took on some jelly babies. These helped but it was too little too late. The last mile was agony, mentally and physically but I was determined to finish. As we hit the last 400m, I tried to open up the throttle. I wanted to finish in under 2:02. That was my new goal! I gave it all I had and went for the line. Crossing the line in 2:01:27, I was pleased that I’d found the energy to get under my revised target.
I was shattered. The simple act of walking was a big struggle. I’d given it my all but paced wrong, fueled and hydrated wrong and messed up my chance of a PB. As I’ve said, I liked the course and think that I can seriously improve my finish time with better training and on-the-day pace management.
Every cloud has a silver lining though. According to Strava, my 10 mile split was a PB! In fact, Strava helped prove how hard I’d worked:
Many thanks to Andy for running with me and for putting up with me especially for the last 5km.
My race season for 2014 is now over. The next race on my calendar is Stubbington 10K. Between now and then, I have some work to do!! I want to do well in this race and that means some decent training, some weight loss and trying to get some sleep occasionally!!