A wreck on the Southampton Half Marathon course recce

Things have been a little hectic this year and my training has suffered. As I come to the end of my time with my employer of over 10 years, I’m hoping that my new job will give me the opportunity to get back on the bike and in the pool a little more than I’ve managed over the last 3 or so months.

Where possible, I’ve tried to keep up with my running and get at least 3 runs in per week. With the Southampton Half looming less than 5 weeks away, this is important and my focus has definitely been on getting miles under my feet.

After Sunday’s Eastleigh 10K my Garmin advised that I’d need 72 hours to recover. Approximately 31 hours later, Lordshill Road Runners group E was recce-ing the Southampton Half Marathon course. Nuts. I was pleased that I wasn’t the only one that had lost their mind as the group included friends Ellie, Lauren, Jonathan, Angela, Rosie and Martin Wood ask Dive the 10k.

We didn’t start at the official start area at Hoglands Park but instead started at the Common where we normally meet for the Monday night sessions. This would mean that we’d meet the challenging parts of the course after a couple more miles of running than we would on race day.

The course is a little complicated and we didn’t have the benefit of signage or marshals so we made a few mistakes along the way.

The first challenge on the course is the out and back over the Itchen Bridge. This was always the bit of the course I was dreading and our Run Leader, Dave, gave us the choice of whether to miss out this section in the recce. I’m sure several of us hoped the consensus would be to avoid the bridge but we did it. It was the first point of the recce where I was starting to think about opportunities to take a shortcut back to my car.

I was tail running which I was pleased about as our pace was higher than we’d agreed amongst the group.

We made it safely over and back across the bridge and then weaved our way around St Mary’s Stadium where we saw a runing group lead by John Grant. I was running along with Ellie whose calves were screaming.

We then headed towards Bitterne Triangle before following the river through the aptly-named Riverside Park. Fortunately, that section of the course is flat but the most challenging section of the course still lay ahead – the long incline along Burgess Road. Eek!

By that point, I was feeling it and resorted to a few walk breaks as we scaled the ascent. Fortunately I was at the back so managed to get away with it. I don’t think the rest of the group will ever know 😉

Having made it to the top of the hill, we then followed University Road and roads in that area before heading onto the Common where we were again given the opportunity to cut out part of the course. A few did but not all. I’ll not name and shame because those that cut across the Common were the sane ones. I decided to follow the course. How I then regretted that decision.

As the rest of the group sped off, I plodded along at a snail’s pace (a very slow snail at that) back towards the Bellemoor Triangle. My snail’s pace grew slower still until forward motion was almost non-existent and I’d taken root.

I eventually caught up with Ellie and we then made the most of the descent and increased our pace as we rejoined the group at the Bellemoor to muted applause.

In total, we covered about 19.7km so not quite the full Half Marathon distance of 21km but close enough for me.

Although there were times where I seriously doubted my decision to run the course the day after a 10K race, in hindsight, I’m glad I did. It was a good opportunity to experience the course and to do so while fatigued which should make race day seem slightly less of a challenge. We’ll see.

In other news, my role as Race Director for the Lordshill 10K is going well with good progress being made to clear of the several pages of tasks. There are only a handful of things I need to do before other Committee members ramp up their involvement.

I’ve signed up to the Good Friday Triathlon near Oxford. I’m hoping several triathlon friends will be doing it too.

Finally, on Monday, I get to lead my first LRR training session solo as Run Leader. Eek!

That’s all for now.

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