So that was the Great South Run 2016, my third major event this year, and what a rip roaring success it really was.
Let’s get the facts and figures out of the way first. I finished in a time of 2:19:18, in 15126th position, 1157th in my age/gender group, 2152nd in my age group and 8088th in my gender. All pretty boring and meaningless admittedly but there were plenty of people behind me in each instance so it’ll do me.
The day started with a pre-arranged reunion with some of my Diabetes UK friends from the London Marathon. We’ve all become good friends in the last year or so and it was lovely seeing them again plus it settled my pre-race nerves considerably.
After spending an hour catching up it was time to leave my baggage into the holding area – which I found eventually after mistakenly spending about five minutes in the queue for the ladies!
Onto the starting area. I was in the Green Wave and therefore the last batch to leave. It was good to soak up the atmosphere as the other waves went first …. and then it was our turn.
I’d decided upon a five minute run split with 90 seconds of walking, and had hoped to complete it throughout the course. I did, more or less, apart from taking comfort breaks or the occasional picture or selfie.
I tried to go as slowly as I could at the beginning but, inevitably, I was considerably quicker than I would have liked. However, that was ok and I felt strong. After a couple of kilometres I knew I was going to have a good run and as I progressed each time split pleased and surprised me, even when I stopped for some of the aforementioned reasons.
And it got better. At around four miles the course double backs on itself for a while so I was able to have a good look at how many people were behind me – and there were loads! That normally doesn’t happen to me.
On and on I pounded, sticking rigidly to the five minutes and, at times, almost willing the walking portions to end quickly so that I could get going again. By now I have the sense and experience to know I need to conserve myself so I resisted the temptation to run for longer.
With two miles left the course turned back along the coast. In previous years, apparently, the weather has been awful along this part not to mention the headwinds …… but not this time. It was a glorious afternoon, the sun was beating down, I could hear the noise from the finish area and I was well ahead of my target time.
Just what was going on?
Because I was ahead of where I thought I’d be I eased off between miles 8 and 9 to save something for a big finish.
And what a finish it was. I made the conscious effort to move across the left side of the road where the majority of the official photographers were based.
800 yards, 400 yards and then 200 ….. time for a bit of showboating. As I spotted each photographer, I pointed at that them to catch their eye, I punched the air and put on a bit of a sprint. Fickle, I know, but I wanted a damn good finishing pic!
At the end I ran like the hammers of hell, weaving around and between those in front of me. I knew I’d done well. I was pleased with my performance and I wanted my last few yards to reflect that.
After collecting my goody bag and my all important medal I made my way back to the baggage area – and suddenly realised that it was at the top of two flights of steps. What sort of sadist plans that? Ouch.
Anyway, steps safely negotiated, I then headed back towards the Monument not for one second expecting my friends still to be there – but across the common I heard this cheering and shouting and, lo and behold, they were there ……. and they were there with cake! CAKE!!!!!!!!!
I couldn’t believe they’d waited for me and their delight to see me really was heart warming. It rounded off what had turned into the perfect day.