Monday, October 25, 2010

Great South Run 2010

Huw texted me last night to say he's sick and won't be running today - shame I reckon he would have torn up this course in the perfect race conditions down in Portsmouth. The alarm went off at 5AM to give me plenty of time to get the trains down south. I didn't fancy driving and the ensuing chaos on arrival with 23,000 competitors entered. With Huw having bailed, I had a damn good think about jacking it in too and staying in my nice warm bed. Sod it, step up to the plate monkey boy. HTFU. And other such rubbish - I slunk my sorry ass out of bed.

Conditions on arrival were ideal: cool, sunny, no wind. The course is more or less totally flat. Goal was a sub 60 with the additional goals of pushing hard into the red zone, maintaining strong mental form throughout and being competitive right through to the finish. Sub 60 is a tall ask on the best of days, and we're well into the off season. This was going to be interesting.

Breakfast involved an apple, a pear, 2 cups of coffee from various train stations and 2 croissants during the 3 hours to start time. My that's the breakfast of champions Howard. Hey it's only a 10 miler right? What could possibly go wrong?

I started close to the front. It took 10s to cross the start after the gun, 10s which they did not take off my official race time the buggers - I'm going with my watch time. Even so, as always there were a bunch of muppets up there who had seeded themselves in totally the wrong place. I looked over at a guy in a devil costume, sporting a foolish grin and carrying a plastic trident in front of me.  I won't repeat what I thought.  Maybe this is not such a bad thing - it meant my first 2 miles were a little slow rather than being crazy adrenaline induced fast, and also meant I was overtaking people throughout the race. After mile 1 nobody came past me.

I settled into a good rhythm and felt strong. Miles 2-6 felt fine with a decent pace. I noticed my auto lap mile function on my GPS watch (Garmin 310XT) seemed to be a number of metres down on the mile markers, and this got more pronounced throughout the race. My final distance showed 315 metres over 10 miles. The course is accurate so don't know what the hell was going on with the watch.

After the 6 mile marker I had to start really focusing - I knew if I could get to the 8 mile marker in good shape, I'd be able to push home. At this point another runner asked me what I was looking for and I said sub 60. Me too, he said, and this is my 6th attempt. Good luck mate, it's going to be tough, I replied as cheerfully as I could.

As it happened we ran together to the finish and encouraged each other when it got tough. Usually I don't like someone hanging on my shoulder but I was glad to have this guy there. We had to catch runners ahead of us - holding position was tempting but would just not be good enough, and we slowly bridged from one runner to the next.

At the 9 mile marker I felt pretty rough but my running partner was pushing on and shouting encouragement. I practised another mental technique (I'll cover this in my next post), clearing the mind - I relaxed, focused on my breathing, on my rhythm and just staying with my new running partner. Disassociate from the pain - not far to go. With 800m left he started to breathe really heavily and let out a couple of groans. Keep With It! I shouted, Keep With It! He immediately settled down.

I'm kind of embarrassed about the next bit, but my bowels weren't feeling too great and I had a Paula moment in my running shorts. Nothing to do but keep going. Sorry, I know that's Too Much Information, but hell this is my race report and next time I need to remember to make better breakfast choices!! Besides I reckon I'm kinda badass for pushing so hard this had to happen.

And finally the finishing straight with a runner close ahead. I had no real desire for a sprint finish but there was my running partner / mobile support crew shouting Go On, Take Him! Gee thanks, because you know what, I feel real energetic right now!!  HTFU Howard, HTFU.

I began to wind it up. I came past him and made a few yards, but hang on, Damn, I kicked too soon - I was tying up! I looked back and sure enough here's hero boy coming back at me strong. I kicked again with just metres to go and we crossed the line together - not sure who took the photo finish, and not sure anyone cared. I was totally spent and am pretty sure I couldn't have gone any harder with my current level of fitness.

59:17 with all goals achieved. I maintained a strong mental attitude throughout, I practised positive self talk and clearing the mind, I dug deep and endured some good old fashioned red zone pain and stayed competitive right to the finish line. Oh yeah, and did I mention I shat myself?  Actually that goal wasn't on the list, it was just an added bonus.

Average Pace 5:56 per mile, 3:41 per km
Average HR 179

85th Overall
34th Amateur
7th M35-39
14,924 finishers

Pace Breakdown
Mile Split HR
Mile 1 6:00 166
Mile 2 6:04 175
Mile 3 5:41 178
Mile 4 5:25 180
Mile 5 5:43 181
Mile 6 5:42 183
Mile 7 5:55 182
Mile 8 5:56 183
Mile 9 5:57 183
Mile 10 5:51 185
315m 0:58 186


  1. That is a spectacular, spectacular result. Very well done!

  2. You've taken it to a new level Houston. Bad ass indeed! At least now you know what it takes to go sub-60. That's a great run. Well done my boy.