We awoke on Saturday to grey skies and the threat of rain. These conditions followed us over to Southsea and the heavens gave way periodically to drizzle, which made for unpleasant pre-race conditions for Jorja, and she was reluctant to remove her outer layers for the race. All the time I was thinking, “I hope it’s not like this tomorrow!”
Race time came and Jorja was in the second wave for the older girls, she managed to push her way to the front and started off well. We stood huddled under the umbrella waiting with baited breath for her to make an appearance, which she did in an amazing time of 12mins 9secs, the determination to do well showing on her face. She was thrilled with her placing of 45th and we were proud parents.
On Saturday evening the clocks were changed and the alarms checked and double checked, the last thing I wanted was to oversleep!! The rain had been torrential in the early evening and, although the forecast was ok, you can never tell, so I packed several gear options for the run.
The morning was bright but chilly when we left, and when we arrived on the common there were already a couple of hundred cars parked and people jogging along the seafront; my first thoughts were, “Really? Is 10 miles not enough for one day?” The sun was shining and it looked to be a good day; a far cry from last year, which was freezing.
At 10.30am I made the decision to run in my vest and discarded my outer layers. There was still a nip in the air but I knew I would soon warm up. Everyone was enthusiastically joining in with all the warm-ups, a clear sign that the start was close. The atmosphere was amazing, I think the temperatures encouraged people!
At 11.10am the claxon went and we were off. The race was good and I felt good. Morgan Rhys did a good job keeping pace and at five miles we were at 55mins and on target for sub two hours. We ran steadily, moving up through the field and I was feeling strong despite the heat. At seven miles when we came across the showers we made use of them, as did most of those around us, and that instant relief was heavenly…short lived but heavenly!
At just over nine miles, I told Morgan Rhys to run on; he had run at my pace for nine miles now and it was time for him to stretch his legs out. I was feeling strong and still moving through the runners. At 800 metres I started to speed up and at 400 metres I was still speeding up – those speed sessions with Jorja had paid off! Before I could blink the finish line was there; I so wanted to be under two hours. I was looking for the clocks and then I saw the green clock; the time read 1hr 52mins – I had done it. The organisation on the other side of the line was great, people handing out water and congratulations as you went past. The goodie bag and t-shirt collection site was well sign-posted by t-shirt size, and there were plenty of volunteers giving the bags out.
Walking back across the common there were people giving out much-needed fruit and Lucozade – another thing the organisers did well. And then we emptied the goodie bags; wow, so much was in there! Crisps, dried cranberries, Lucozade, a Nature Valley bar, an all-in-one meal and basically all the things you need to make you feel better after a long run. While walking back, Jorja checked the greatrun.org website and, to our amazement, the results were up; my official time was 1hr 51secs and I was 10,817th. I had taken 21 minutes off last year’s time and I was ecstatic.
Again the organisation and running of the event was faultless, so many people yet it runs so smoothly, and runners and spectators alike are catered for brilliantly.
What’s next for me? Well in my immediate future, today will be a short stint on the treadmill to loosen the joints, then enjoy half-term with a couple of gentle runs, before getting back to training. The Portsmouth Santa run and Stubbington 10K in January are in my immediate future and then my challenge next year is going to be a half-marathon. I’m looking at The New Forest Half Marathon, which incorporates several distances and terrains and Jorja can run 5K, which is more her distance. Morgan Rhys has already committed to completing it with me so watch this space…