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Great South Run 2014
Having missed the Great South Run for the last couple of years, I was looking forward to this years’ event. It’s always a great atmosphere and there were a good few fellow Hedgies running. I’d had a bit of a break from racing after a disastrous few races in the early summer… Heat and running just don’t mix for me and the self-imposed ‘pressure’ of a race just made for a woeful combination so I had decided to take a race break and just run for fitness a while. That made the GSR my first race in about 6 months. Eeek!
I can’t deny that I went into the race pretty undertrained. I had stopped joining the Sunday morning long runs on a regular basis when the marathon training mileage got too high for me. Combined with a general lack of time to run and the shortening daylight hours, I hadn’t run more than 7 miles in at least 2 months… Double Eeek!
All that aside, I was feeling fairly confident as my last few runs had felt pretty comfortable. I allowed myself to start thinking about a target time and actually thought it was doable.
So, excuses aside, the day itself was pretty perfect for running. A bit chilly, overcast and not too windy. Having lost every other white wave Hedgie when I nipped off for a last pre start trip to the loo, I dropped back into the green wave to run with a friend of mine who had never done it before and was really nervous. This meant an extra 20 minutes or so hanging around – we’d already been hanging around for almost 2 hours! I was cold, in danger of getting hungry and keen to get going.
When we did eventually get going it was really crowded. My last time here it took around three miles to get some space so I’d mentally prepped for an easy first three and then planned to step the pace up a tad from there on. Unfortunately there was no real space until about 5 miles which meant that finding ‘my groove’ took far longer than I had anticipated. Somewhere around 4.5 miles I lost Jenny and was running alone. Thankfully the support along the route is always amazing and I was quite enjoying Hi 5’ing the kids and soaking up the atmosphere.
At the Lucozade station I repeated previous race errors by taking an energy drink. I don’t personally think an energy drink is warranted for less than 2 hours intensive exercise if you’re properly fuelled before the start but I was thirsty. Two swigs of Lucozade and I was even thirstier! I should have remembered as I’d made the same mistake here last time and repeated it at the Reading Half! It’s a shame they don’t also offer water there as I’d prefer to miss the water at 3 miles knowing there would be some at 5.5 miles. So, with a mouth drier than the bottom of a bird cage I was off in pursuit of the 7 mile water, but with an added niggling feeling I might need a wee!
The miles were ticking by nicely. Although I run with my Garmin, I actually rarely check it as it messes with my head too much. I’d had a look at 3 miles and worked out I was, just about, doing the pace I’d planned but I didn’t check it again until almost 7 miles when I was starting to feel fatigue in my legs and my head was starting to sabotage my run by telling me I needed to walk – just for a bit! I battled the voices in my head for a bit but the voices beat me and I started to walk when I was about 200 metres away from the 7 mile water station. I was so annoyed/upset with myself! Having started walking I thought I may as well give myself a bit of recovery time, so I walked to the water, had a good drink and then spotted the loo’s.. I couldn’t resist. I was already battling my head telling me my legs were too tired to run, I didn’t need the niggling need for a wee to become a bigger deal so I stopped my watch and nipped in to mitigate that.
By this point, Jenny had caught me up so I waited for her to pay a visit and we headed off together again. A quick check of my watch told me I was going to struggle to achieve my hope to get anywhere in the 1:30’s but, I reasoned, I only had a parkrun to go so I just needed to push on. Sadly, having had the luxury of a short walk, my legs disagreed and I found it really hard to get them moving and then my toes started to feel a bit numb. Then I was hungry – after all that waiting around at the start…. Then I started fantasising about a nice cold pint!
The last 2.5 miles were all about the run-walk. I can’t lie, the thought of food and a pint were keeping me going. The comfortable pace for my legs was becoming too fast for my breathing and at 9 miles it was absolutely obvious I wasn’t going to get in the 1:30’s. Oddly at 9 miles my watch was saying I had covered 9.2 – I’d be interested to know if that’s a Garmin anomaly or if it’s the result of 5-6 miles of hopping about all over the place trying to find some clear space to run!
Suddenly I only had 400 metres to go and everything finally clicked back into place as I picked up my pace considerably. I crossed the line with 1:40:39 on my watch but knew the chip time would be slower because of my comfort break. When the text came through it showed 1:42:33 – my previous time here was 1:48 so I know I should be happy with that. Typically for me though, all I could think was that if I had just tried a little bit harder I could have got the time I wanted.
On reflection, whilst I do harbour some disappointment about my time, there’s always another race (or next year)! As brilliant as the GSR is I do have mixed feelings about it. It’s incredibly busy and, despite (or maybe because of) the massive crowds, there isn’t the team camaraderie found at smaller races. In fact, I only saw three other Hedgies during the whole race! Yet these types of races always make me emotional, like when I watch the London Marathon. They’re the kind of races that attract such a wide range of runners all running for different, and often very personal reasons. And sitting in the pub afterwards with my pint and scrolling through Facebook, it was awesome to see so many people achieving amazing times or other personal goals, raising hundreds for various charities and just generally buzzing about their race.
Well done everyone!
This is the tenth of a regular ‘monthly’ newsletter published to club members providing summary key updates.
HERC Newsletter - October 2014
1) Do you have a nickname? Sezzie
2) Describe yourself in 3 words.. Obsessive, stubborn, wine lover
3) Who would you want to play you in a film? Debra Winger in An Officer and a Gentleman - just the last bit when she is whisked off her feet!!
4) Why did you take up running? My Dad made me when I was getting ready to join the Navy
5) What is your favourite race that you've run and why? Bournemouth Marathon. Never thought I could ever do it. The support was amazing and it was very emotional.
6) Who is the most famous person you have met? Lived next door to Alan Shearer when he played for Saints
7) Favourite song? Killers Mr Brightside
8) Favourite distance to run? 10 mile
9) What races have you got coming up? GSR, Gosport, Hayling
10) Why HERC? I would of never ran the races and loved running with the support. It's the best!
Quick fire round
1) Beer or Vino? Afternoon beer, night time wine
2) Red, White or Blue? Red
3) Hot or Cold? Hot
4) Summer running or Winter running? Summer
5) Italian or Chinese? Italian
6) Cake or Chocolate? Cheese!!
7) Adidas or Nike? Nike
8) Apples or Blackberries? Apples
9) Strictly or X Factor? Strictly
10) Intervals or Long distance training? Long
Hi Guys, my name is Donna and I appear to be becoming a marathon addict!!!
Having watched from afar, as what seemed to be most of HERC run Bournemouth marathon, feeling very jealous and googling which marathon to attempt next, my decision was made earlier than I had initially anticipated!! Tiernan posted that a place had become available at Abingdon so with less than a week to go I jumped at the chance!! The reality struck and other than my husband I didn't tell anybody other than people who had read the post on the HERC facebook page! Mainly as I knew what the response would most likely be and didn't want any doubt to creep in! My father had already advised me to give up running that week; my mums response to the idea of a triathlon was, 'Oh no!' so with that in mind I kept things quiet.
Anyhows, race day arrived, the journey to Abingdon went smoothly with the mandatory selfie in car taken we found ourselves at the start. Organisation was fantastic with approximately 1000 entrants there were no queues! Yes you read correctly no queues for the toilets, no queues for the bag drop, no queues for the last minute panic trip to the toilet yet again! Also, as the start was at a sports centre there was not a single porta loo in sight, the facilities were clean, showers afterwards were warm and again no queues!!
Stood on the start line on the track we were left waiting only a few minutes before we were on our way. As Matt left me in his wake he called back, "Something to think about over the 26 miles could you write a race review?' So over the next 4 hours I tried to look around and remember things in order to share my experience.
Within the first 3 miles the reality of running my second marathon in 3 weeks hit as I saw 3 people having to stop at the side of the road to stretch having gone off too quickly, I tried to stay focused and believe my body would not fall apart. A strange sound was ahead as we grew closer we ran past a turkey farm - a first for a marathon and very different to my previous town experiences. This was followed by some farm tracks and some mud before running through an idyllic small town. I think this was my favourite part as it was sooooo cute, it also had the most supporters in one place along the whole course which was lovely. The course then followed a river. At about mile17/18 I was lapped by the leaders as i headed out on the second part of a loop they were heading off in the direction of the finish line which was hard but amazing to see how fast they run.
The course as a whole had a small part followed by a loop which you ran twice before heading back to the Sports centre. The course was varied from on road, off road, muddy paths, cobbles - you had to keep your wits about you as it varied often and towards the end having to go up and down pavements when your legs were tired was agony. There were some lovely country views through farm land but with that came little protection from the wind which was difficult running up the slight incline on the second loop. Also, having to run through an industrial estate a second time was tedious but overall it was an enjoyable course not my favourite and I wouldn't rush back but I'm pleased I completed it. It taught me my body is stronger than I first thought, that I can overcome my asthma when it plays up and that anything is possible if you're determined enough! It wasn't my fastest, it wasn't the prettiest ( one of my photos made me look like a bedragledwitch where the wind took over my hair!) but I know I can accomplish things when I put my mind to them.
As I headed back towards the stadium I spotted some of the HERC runners, the first people I knew over the entire course, I entered the stadium and being able to see the finish was like Chinese torture as you had to run round the track before crossing the line! The finish was most welcome, the medal awarded by the local beaver scouts and a neon running shirt will be put to use on these dark evenings. This was a well organised local race, With only 1000 runners it was quiet and lonely I often found myself running on my own, the support was sparse but where there was support it was enthusiastic and appreciated. Due to this it required a lot of inner strength and determination.
The race had a 5 hour cut off so attracted fast athletes as we left we saw the people behind the cut off car and I really hope they still received a medal. People who wore headphones were disqualified so this race is not for everyone but if you want a challenge it's worth a trip up to Oxfordshire.
This will not be my last marathon, like I said I am becoming a marathon addict, I've already registered for Brighton next year and entered the moonwalk 2015 but in future I will make sure my family will be there to support me. I missed a friendly face to look out for so roll on Sunday and the Great South Run hopefully I will have recovered enough to enjoy it!
Being a newbie, not only to the club but to running in general, the thought of a 5 mile Cross Country race was somewhat daunting. I had thought about not doing it a number if times on Sunday morning but I am so glad I did.
Meeting everyone at the station, fairly chilly and a little bit groggy after the celebration evening the night before, I was put at ease by the other people running and those who were there to support us. We drove to Basingstoke and were soon donning our vests and getting ready to walk to the start line.
I was surprised at how many other clubs and runners had turned out and was getting increasingly worried about getting lost or coming last. I needn't have worried, fellow Hedgie Helen Hobbs was running her first cross country too so we decided to stick together.
It wasn't long until we were off, running uphill into the woods. We made a good start and were soon running at a comfortable 11m mile pace. I soon realised that my road shoes were going to make things interesting as I started slipping & sliding all over the show, luckily I didn't actually fall over...phew!
Running into a field of sheep was something I had never thought of but they soon moved out of the way of the herd of runners coming towards them. We were making good progress and a quick glance at my watch showed we were halfway after 25mins. We kept going through the trees and mud until a Marshall told us we had just half a mile left, it was wasn't that far but it felt like it was ages away.
It was amazing to come down the hill to see Hedgies running back down to cheer us on and get us up to the finishing line, which was up the biggest hill I think they could find.
WE DID IT!! And I for one loved every minute of it...not just the sausages and cakes afterwards.
I didn't get lost or come last, so that afternoon I went out and bought some trail shoes ready for the next one.
The morning of the first cross country race I woke thinking what a relaxed day I was going to have, until 30 minutes later I was persuading my hubby to drive me to hedge end station to meet everyone because I'd decided I was going to do the first cross country run of the season.
Once arrived at Pamber Forest, and trying not to let my nerves get the better of me, I went to the start with the rest of the hedges. When the race had started, the blue/white/red vests soon disappeared into the distance, and Lisa and I continued our way along the path.
The path was muddy, wet, had lots of small obstacles, was hilly, and had sheep. They were bleating their disdain at being disturbed by many runners going through their field.
The course was hard going, but with Lisa as company, we kept each other running through the forest. During the last half mile I wasn't sure whether I was going to cry or be sick, or even both, but regaining my composure, I kept going up to the end which was on hill!!!!! Thankfully we were encouraged on by Cliff and Alan both coming back along the course at the end to keep us going to the end. Being a generally polite person on paper I will say the hill was steep, but my actual thoughts were less polite as I was finishing that hill!!!!!
Running a race where you know that your speed and endurance is not as good as many other experienced runners is really daunting, but as the saying goes, you have to start somewhere. Having the support of the team before and at the end kept me going. And also with Donna taking part, meant that Donna, Lisa and myself managed to place a women's team regardless of where it was actually placed. I felt that I had contributed something to the club. I had doubts about doing the race on the journey up, and wondering why I was doing it, but I was going to give it a go. But having the feeling that the rest of the HERC members had faith in you that you could do it, meant that my motivation to keep going was stronger.
To hear more experienced runners say that the course was tough was reassuring that it wasn't just me that found it tough in places.
Full set of results from the SXCL race at Pamber Forest. A great effort by all those that ran.
Anyone who has been within 100 yards of me (or indeed Facebook) over the last few weeks will know that I was more than a little excited about running my first marathon! There are so many highlights of the day that I make no apologies for the length of this report but I will try not to go off on too many tangents!
I am still on such a high and as the days go on the more it sinks in just what I have achieved. The day itself began with my usual bowl of porridge and the obligatory Facebook status update along with some equally frantic posting and commenting from half the Hedgies! I left the house at 6.30am to begin a short trip around Bursledon, Hedge End and West End to pick up Linda, Anna, Giuseppe and Mark. It was obviously a good omen that I arrived at each point of that route exactly when I said I would and we were on our way by 6.50am – although we hadn’t even got on the motorway when I was told I drive like a girl…the Hedgie spirit was well and truly underway and it only got better as the day went on!
Seeing as none of us had read the ‘important details’ part of the pre race instructions and therefore didn’t really know where we should park we headed to Kings Park Athletic Stadium – seemed sensible given that was where the start was and figured we would soon enough find signs that we were in the right place – the great big queue of cars was a bit of a giveaway so we joined that and found a parking space pretty easily.
We walked the short distance to the stadium where I headed straight for the ladies – surprisingly (and possibly a bit concerning) this was the first visit of just three from the time I left home in the morning until I got home at about 6.30pm – good in terms of the nerves, pretty shocking hydration wise though.
Not surprisingly there was a massive queue in the ladies and because of that we missed the start of the half marathon (which was right by some portaloos with no queue…oops, sorry guys) but it did provide the first proud moment of the day when someone said to me after spotting the club hoodie “I’ve seen loads of your lot already today” and it wasn’t even 8am! I obviously couldn’t resist telling her there were over 20 of us in the marathon alone!
I am now conscious that I have only got to 8am in this report with 2 hours to go before the start and a 4 and a half hour race still to cover, well 4:23:01 to be precise so that has shaved nearly 7 minutes off my story! Sorry, I couldn’t wait until the end to write my time again!
It didn’t take long for the other Hedgies to arrive – the place was a swarm of red hoodies! And hats and gloves – it was freezing! So it was no surprise that no-one wanted to strip off to put running tops and numbers on, let alone have to leave our stuff at the baggage drop off point but at about 9.30am we were all ready to head to the start and suddenly the usually noisy Hedgies were very quiet….
We said good luck to the speedies in the pink and orange waves and made our way to the green start pen where we resumed a bit more of the Hedgie banter but it was quite obvious we were all asking ourselves what on earth possessed us to voluntarily sign up to a 26.2 mile race – I don’t even drive that far to and from work each day!!!
But at 10am the first wave started and we weren’t long behind – only a couple of minutes walk to the start and then we were off. I got a bit over excited (hard to believe I know) and started my watch too early so by the time I had reset it I had lost a few seconds and had a slight panic that it didn’t want to start again but thankfully it did – completely irrational behaviour that I was fretting over about 10 seconds in a marathon!
The first few miles were a really surreal experience – I was surrounded by all these runners yet apart from the sound of feet on the tarmac it was eerily quiet – I don’t think I have ever done a run since joining the club where I haven’t chatted most of the way round so I was feeling pretty uneasy about this – I tried talking to Linda but felt like I was in the cinema with all these eyes staring at me to be quiet, it was very unsettling.
However, I stuck to my plan to begin nice and steady to allow my legs time to warm up and was soon settled into a comfortable 10mm mile pace. I haven’t done many races since my sprinting days where I naturally started as fast as I could and with the worst experience since then at the Great South Run in 2011 very firmly in my memory (where I hated every step from mile 3 onwards) I was determined that if I was going to do anything on Sunday, I was going to start slowly – first goal achieved :-)
You’ll be glad to hear I am not going to re-live every mile – mainly because the course was so wiggly that I must have been in most places at least twice going in one direction or another so I don’t really have any idea of what mile I was at any given point so I will just share my highlights with you.
Throughout the whole race I can honestly say I didn’t think about walking once – not even on the hills. On reflection this may have been a wiser choice given the inclines were pretty brutal but my stubborn, bloody minded attitude knew that goal number 3 was to run the whole lot without stopping and I knew I wouldn’t be able to say that I had done this if I had walked any part of it. So I didn’t.
However I would be lying if I said there weren’t points that I thought about slowing down a little bit but each time this thought crossed my mind I managed to battle past it either with a jelly baby or two or with the support from everyone I knew that was there that day, plus a few I didn’t know!
Although the first people I saw were Billy and Kate I wasn’t expecting them to be there so didn’t see them in time to make the most of them (sorry guys!). My focus was on mile 14 where I knew the ‘Hedgie Pen’ would be and where I thought my family would be too and they didn’t disappoint. As I came down the hill to the seafront, right in front of me were about 10 members of my family frantically waving and screaming at me – wow!
The adrenaline rush and the fact that I was running down a really steep hill just gave me so much momentum as I turned the bend to see the Hedgies!
This photo superbly captures just how pleased I was to see them! Complete with new found energy and several high fives they cheered me on my way down the promenade – at this point I glanced at my watch and knew I had definitely sped up so I dropped my pace back down to a sensible level.
From thereon in the miles all kind of rolled into one until I got to about mile 23. By that I mean that the next 9 miles or so were loops of the promenades and piers where I spent the majority of the time looking out for and high-fiving the other Hedgies on the course. Tiernan is well known for his in race photos and this one certainly didn’t disappoint and perfectly demonstrates the amazing team spirit on the day.
By mile 23 my legs were really starting to feel it – the hills were done and they had taken it out of me but I could work out from my watch that I would come in well under my goal number 4 target of 4:45 and was definitely heading for goal number 5 of a sub 4:30 if I could keep this pace going – there was only a Parkrun left afterall….only Parkruns are really hard after 23 miles!!!
I kept thinking that the further I ran along the promenade away from the finish, the more I would have to do on the way back and this was mentally the toughest part of the race for me – but I kept going and finally came to the turning point. All the way back I just kept chanting ‘less than 30 minutes left…less than 20 minutes left until I got to mile 25 when I my body realised I had just a mile to go and started to head for home. Goal number 6 was to finish strong and with mile 26 being my fastest one of the whole day I can safely say I achieved this one too.
For anyone who has been paying attention you may think I can’t count as I have missed out goal number 2. Goal number 2 was to enjoy the race from start to finish and cross that line thinking that this was one of the hardest things I have ever done but to not be put off wanting to do another marathon. I think this photo more than shows that I enjoyed it but I am slightly unnerved that I found it a lot more comfortable than I thought I would…could a longer distance really be on the cards…
I had meticulously planned out my training over the previous 6 months and had gone over the race I wanted to run in my head many many times before the day itself. I knew what I was capable of doing, I was very confident I could do it but you can never tell what will happen on the day. I had planned to run 10mm mile pace so with an average pace of 9:57 I was spot on, even with those hills and I was delighted with my very even pace of 2:10 and 2:13 for the first and second half respectively.
Goal number 7 heading into the day was to finish in a time of 4:15. I didn’t achieve this which I was a little disappointed with initially but on reflection I really shouldn’t be. However, I can’t call myself a runner if I don’t always think I can do better – watch this space to find out next year as I’ve already entered for 2015!
This truly has to be one of the highlights of my life, the race went perfectly to plan but the day delivered so much more in terms of the Hedgie Spirit I have become to know and love...long may it continue!