Monday, 29 October 2012

Great South Run - Race Report

I entered this race some time in Spring, and I always intended for it to be one of my main goals for the year. It was my first 10 mile race, so I didn't have a PB to beat, but originally I wanted to run about 1 hour 30 minutes, which later became 1h25m - 1h30m as my training heated up.

I think I trained pretty well for this race. Over the summer I ran 10 miles several times, and most weeks I did a long run of 8 miles minimum, and this was all with the Great South Run in mind. I knew it was a very flat course, and that made me hope for a good time.

However, other parts of my preparation didn't go as smoothly. Last week I really didn't sleep well at all, and then Emma was sick on Thursday night, and up for a few hours. Then on Saturday we were staying with my in-laws before the race, and I just couldn't sleep at all. It was just one of those things, and I lay awake from about 10pm until 4am, until I finally got about 3 hours' sleep. (Lucky for me the clocks went back that night, otherwise it would have been 2 hours!).

Emma catching up on lost sleep
I knew I could run sub 90 mins, and having averaged 8.57 min/miles in March's Half marathon, I wanted to run a bit faster than that pace. From my training runs, I felt capable of around 1h 28m, and was really hoping for 1h27m something. But that was starting to look optimistic...

So we got to the start line early on Sunday morning and I was feeling tired and FREEZING cold. It was about 4 degrees Celsius, but there was a bitter wind which chilled me to the bone. Pete lent me his coat as the bin liner I had on just didn't cut it. I had to give his coat back though, and as I waited in the start corral, I nearly froze to death. I felt quite miserable, and decided to myself that I would never race one of these big events again. It's just so much easier to turn up shortly before the start, park near the startline, and not have to queue for ages before starting to run.

Wearing Pete's coat near start line
We did manage to see the elite women set off before the general race, and it was great to spot Jo Pavey (who won) and some other British athletes. Then I got into position and waited for the start. Eventually we crossed the line and were off. There were a lot of people around me (25,000 in total I think), and there was a bit of bumping and barging in the first mile. The course goes into the Naval Dockyard, and is quite narrow in places. Because of this my first mile was a slightly worrying 9m19s.

From that point I made a decision to run around crowds when I could, rather than getting stuck trying to go through them. I thought I'd lose less time by running round the outside of the main bunch in the middle. I don't know if that was the right choice or not, but it felt less frustrating than keep getting stuck behind people. Mile 2 was a better 8m58s, and I was amazed that I was quite warm, and able to remove my gloves at that point!

This race is advertised as having a lot of impressive sights, as you see a lot of famous buldings, the ship HMS Victory in the dockyard, and finish along the coastal path. However, I missed a lot of the sights, as I was watching out for other runners, trying not to trip anyone up or get tripped. While not as crowded as the Great North Run (which I did in 2010), it was busy all the way round.

I felt good though, and decided to go for it. My mile splits were looking better and better:

Mile 3 - 8m47s
Mile 4 - 8m46s
Mile 5 - 8m37s
Mile 6 - 8m33s
Mile 7 - 8m41s

This was the first time in such a long distance race, that I really felt I was racing the whole thing, rather than just running. It was a great feeling!

I was starting to feel tired around mile 8, and I developed a sciatic pain in my right buttock - I keep getting this on long runs. Towards the end I even felt like I had a blister on the sole of my foot, but my mental state was winning the battle against all of these things. I kept overtaking people, and that was the key to my speed really - a huge desire to beat all those around me!

From mile 8 onwards it was a long finishing straight along the coast, and the wind was in your face all the way to the end. It wasn't too strong though, and in fact it cooled me down quite nicely! The route seemed to be slightly downhill - or perhaps I was just running well. My last few miles were
impressive (for me):

Mile 8 - 8m35s
Mile 9 - 8m31s
Mile 10 - 8m25s

As I approached the finish, I had something left, and I gave it everything I could to sprint to the line. I overtook a lot of people in the last 200 metres! I paused my Garmin at 1h28m06s - which was also my official chip time.

I felt a little disheartened that I hadn't got under 88 minutes, but later, checking my Garmin details, I decided that I had run better than hoped, as I averaged 8.42 min miles overall. The problem was that I ran over 10.1 miles according to the Garmin (probably due to running all over the course to avoid people), and when I was planning my goals, I was assuming it would be 10 miles dead. I was only 7 seconds disappointed!

Afterwards I had to walk a long way to pick up finishers' pack, then go and meet Pete, and then we had to make our way back to the car. I got cold again very quickly, and started to feel quite rough. As well as aching, I felt a bit sick, and just generally exhausted.

So I really enjoyed the race, but the before and after were enough to put me off bigger races for a while! The medal and t-shirt were pretty cool though. Now I have a 10 mile PB to beat in the future!

Position 5638th (of about 25,000!), 1107th female, 216th in Age group.


  1. Congrats! That's a really fantastic time! I'm sorry the starting point was hard though. The cold definitely doesn't make things easier.

    I'm hoping to get a few 10mile races done in the future - I think that's a great distance since I hit a wall soon after :P

  2. Congratulations! So happy you made your goal. You had some stiff competition in your AG - wow! Maybe you can find another 10mi in the spring with friendlier weather!

  3. Well done Liz. Those really big races are hard to run when you're having to go around everyone. Weather sounded pretty nasty too. So I'm really impressed that you made your goal so well.

  4. Good job. Like the medal a ton. I don't like the waiting before a big race in the cold but I do like big races. I am looking at your stats. That was a huge race!

  5. Congratulations! You rocked it! Too bad about the long wait in the cold at the beginning, that is indeed a big drawback of those big events...