running blog


Gosport Half Marathon

It is so nice to be able to write my anniversary blog post about a really good race. Yes, the Gosport Half Marathon does what it says on the tin… Its flat, fast and has pb potential. I didn’t manage a pb, (that’s more about my training than the race) but I had an enjoyable race on a wonderful autumn morning. (If a little unseasonably warm, but I imagine far better than any potential November alternative!) The race is a good size (2000 entrants), friendly and extremely well organised and marshalled. Highly recommended. I’ll be back next year (with a wee bit more training) to have another go at bagging a pb!

Our morning went well, we were up and out, without too much hassle from the teenagers (they did get tea in bed!) before 7.30am and left the Isle of Wight on time on the 8am ferry. I was dropped off at the race around 9.15 and needn’t have worried about cutting it fine for a 10am start because I walked past some Sea Cadets trying to inflate the start/finish on the way in, plus the organisation at race HQ (a school) was slick and I collected my timing chip and deposited my bag very quickly. There were also minimal queues for the loos!

We assembled at the start where I lined up about 2/3 of the way towards the back. There was no jostling or elbowing to get to the front in fact most of us were discussing whether we should slide a bit further back and it was an over polite matter of ‘after you’, ‘no after you’… to move forward and fill up the gaps!

The race started on closed roads where the field of runners took over the road. Before mile 1 we were directed onto a cycle path where we could run 3 or 4 abreast. I took care to keep checking my speed and easing off as the pack was moving at a good pace and I was mindful of how I’d feel 10 miles further on. After mile 2 we entered Daedalus Airfield for a first 3 mile loop. It was here where the water stations were and lovely marshalls offering Jelly Babies. I was on target pace, slightly ahead of Mr Virtual Partner and going well. A friendly crowd with a few passing conversations along the way. At one stage I was asked by a passing runner for the time and pace and was happy to give stats having been in that situation last race myself.

My first wobble came at about 8 miles just after we entered the airfield for a second time for a reverse loop. My glutes and achilles were getting painful, my legs felt heavy and my pace was falling. I zipped up my man suit, sprayed on some ‘Man up Spray’ and with Mr VP telling me he had overtaken me for the first time it was enough to spur me on to keep up a little more effort and for the next bit I managed to keep from loosing it completely by anger – at Mr VP (smugly telling me he’d finish sub 2 before me!) and other runners for rattling, overtaking on the inside or sniffing.

My spirits were lifted as we left the airfield after mile 10 with a wonderful view of yachts on the Solent and the Isle of Wight looming through the clearing fog. Yes it was a flat race but the two small ramps down and then up, to and from the sea front arround mile 11 to 12 were killers on my poor dead legs! My wheels fell off at mile 12 where my legs and glutes were really painful, my legs felt like lead and I was shuffling, hardly able to lift my legs. It really was a matter of mind over matter and mental grit at that point, not to give up and walk but to keep up some effort. Before mile 13 I was overtaken by a couple and I hitched a ride tucking in behind them using their energy to follow and try to keep up with them to the last corner.

Funny how the human body is…. feeling completely beat at mile 12 to soldier on and find at mile 13 a few more beans and even muster enough umph for a moderate sprint finish!

Great medal, nice reusable cloth goodie bag and including the best bit of all, a nice slab of delicious ginger cake! Yum!

No, it wasnt a PB but I’m pleased to be where I am. I managed to maintain my target pace for 7 miles. Not too shoddy a performance seeing as I was a bit light on training mileage and I have to remember that I have only been back running after injury for 7 weeks. Race experience helps and I’m learning that for my target HM time, I probably need to include a couple of runs of at least 13-14 miles and more mileage so I can keep pace for 13 miles. However, my finish time is in line with pre-injury times and only 3 mins off my PB. So all in all a good run. Onwards and upwards!

Post Script.

My family report a very interesting morning at one of Gosport’s excellent museums – Explosion, Museum of Naval Firepower after a breakfast of hot chocolate and bacon butties on Lee on Solent sea front. So it’s not all bad having to get up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday because of ‘Mother’s’ running habit!


A Birthday

No it’s not my birthday, I’ve given them up, having had too many significant ones already and anyway I’m being blocked by my older brother who has been 37 for years and years!  No, on 20th November my blog will be one year old! (yes Jogblog it’s nearly time for Janathon again!)

Rather timely, I am running the Gosport Half Marathon on Sunday and much as I’d like to celebrate the day with a Personal Best I’m not so sure it’s going to happen. I’m definitely getting closer to it but I think I still have a little way to go.  At least it’s a nice flat course so, cold sea breezes permitting, I hope it will feel fast and I can keep up my improvement streak.

I’m having to grovel a bit with my family because the race will result in them all having to get up before 7am on a Sunday because of my geographical naïvety.  (As you might have noticed most of the races I run follow a pattern, ie they are in Central London, easily travelled from Central London or on the Isle of  Wight.)  This year I even ventured across the Solent to Portsmouth for the Great South Run, so I assumed that Gosport, also being just the other side of the Solent, would also be an easy race to get to from the Isle of Wight. Hum…, turns out that in reality, with ferries, Sunday mornings and getting from ferry port to ferry port to race means that public transport looks problematic and driving the long way round (Portsmouth is a blooming island) by car is the quickest way to get there. Therefore (because of the dreadful price of IOW car ferry tickets) the team get to come along too!  (I have been nice and researched some interesting museums which will be open at the time for them to visit so it’s not all bad, other than teenagers and expecting them to move before noon and all that).

Anyway my training has gone well, I’ve certainly enjoyed some recent long runs, enjoying the time out on my feet with my music and surrounds, not noticing the time. However, recently I have noticed a few aches and twinges in my hip so have eased up this week taking tapering seriously.  It’s a bit of a reminder that I have started to neglect my stretches, foam rolling and exercises.  So for the rest of this week I will avoid the stresses and strains of BMF and will stick to a couple of slow easy runs followed by lots of stretches and rolling.  This morning I had a very enjoyable run, I had to concentrate to keep the pace easy and because of such a lovely mild autumn day in the park felt I could have plodded on all day.  I managed to drag myself home after 5.5 miles having planned to run 4.



I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not very good at pacing. I might have learned not fall into the most obvious traps, like sprinting off at the start of a race, only to die round the first corner, but I realise that I don’t always judge my pace very accurately. I can ease off too much or push too hard for the distance, finding that there is not much leeway in my judgement between too fast and too slow! Maybe I am too reliant on my garmin or maybe I don’t use it properly, I don’t know.

I decided to try the virtual partner on my garmin and yesterday was keen to get out and run and give it a go. However life events took over. So today, determined to keep up my training for my half marathon I decided to make up the missed 4 miles by running to and home from BMF.

Today at BMF we did lots of leg drills, after a mad running warm up, so I guessed it was very good half marathon practice to try running at a set pace on worn out legs on the way home. (Not to mention feeling cold and decidedly wet and muddy). I wasn’t sure about the virtual trainer thingy. I need to run with it more and get more used to it. At least I’ve worked out which stick man is me (the one behind) and am working out what the small print stats below show (when I can manage to read it on the go!) The main problem with trying to keep up with the damn thing when running in town is that I have to pause, slow down and stop to cross roads safely and dodge pedestrians while Mr Virtual Partner gets away!

Hopefully my plans to run more races in 2012 will help me improve my times by more pacing experience in addition to regular training mileage and a few less pounds around my middle.

Forgetting all about pacing, on Sunday I had the most fantastic run. I was in an upbeat mood and set off for a long run. I plugged in my music and went where impulse took me exploring London on a lovely afternoon, passing new areas and going for a look at the Christmas window displays at Harvey Nichols. I was so ‘in the zone’ running felt wonderfully effortless and I carried on to do all 12 miles (of a planned 10 to 12), in 2 hours. That evening I discovered that long runs are also wonderful because I could have a good supper with half a bottle of red and apple pie and still be under my calorie allowance for the day. Result!



Oh hello there! Thought I’d send my Lego persona to say Hi seeing as this is my 100th blog post and its only 11 weeks until the return of my Lego running blog with Janathon!

100 is also in the news this week with a 100-year-old completing the Toronto Marathon.  He started running at 89 so there is definitely no pressure yet for me to sign up for a marathon until I am much older! With many of my blogging friends signing on the dotted lines for marathons in 2012 I have to admit that I was carried along with their enthusiasm and seriously deliberated which marathon I should enter.

This month I discovered that, after recent injury, I was still able to run a Half Marathon (slowly) after limited training.  Undertaking a marathon is a big time commitment which I don’t think I’m ready for yet.  On the other hand I can get half marathon fit in much less time, run several more next year and have a go at attacking a new ambitious PB.

Looks like It’ll be a busy year running lots of races!

In the mean time my general fitness and pace at BMF are coming back. I have the Great South Run (10 miles) in two weeks and the Gosport Half Marathon later in November. Both races have the advantage of being nice and flat so training and continued improvement willing I will be trying run as close as I can to my HM pace last year and see if I can match or beat my PB.