|Half Marathon start|
|Runners coming in on the big screen|
We were up at 6.30 this morning having an early breakfast in preparation for the Southampton 10k (me) and Half Marathon (M).
It's the third year the revamped event has run and the first time a marathon has been added to it. Several of our friends were running in each event so there were a few familiar faces at the start, out on the course and at the finish, and more still were spectating in various places around the city (although I didn't see them, M did). Over 5000 people ran across the three events with 30,000 supporters lining the streets of Southampton cheering everyone on.
It's the first big city road race I've done, and at times the crowd noise felt a little over-whelming, probably because most of my training is done on my own with the dogs through countryside empty of people. I tried to keep my focus on my breathing which helped, but couldn't resist clapping the cheerleaders who were doing a grand job bouncing up and down and waving pom poms while shrieking encouragement to everyone who'd come down off the Itchen bridge, and high-fiving some of the little kids who were standing with their hands held out hopefully as the runners went by.
At key moments (the long, up hill slog over the Itchen bridge, and the last mile in particular) the crowd support was fab and just what was needed to carry flagging energy levels forward. This was helped by the fact you could opt to have your name printed on your race number so lots of people I didn't know were yelling me on by name. People are so generous towards one another - complete strangers - at these events. It's good for the soul.
I kept a steady pace all the way and watched my gps so I knew when the last k was starting and managed to sprint it to the line, setting a new 10k PB which I was very pleased with. I was knackered (although as it turned out only briefly) at the end, so reckoned I judged the pacing about right.
M came in soon after and we collected water, bananas, beer, t-shirts, medals, found our two eldest children who'd been cheering us on, and stopped to chat to some friends. You get cold quite quickly after a race so we put the t-shirts on for warmth, which was when I realised that while M has '13.1 miles' on the back of his, I have '26.2'.
I went back to swap it for a 10k one and discovered there'd been a mix-up with the labels on the boxes and all the 10ks had gone. So now I have a totally fraudulent 'well done: you've run a marathon!' t-shirt when all I've done is a quarter of that distance. I wouldn't feel right wearing it so it will sit quietly in the drawer until such time as I muster the aptitude to run a full marathon and then it will be deserved. I just hope people who ran their first marathon today didn't end up with a 10k shirt!
While I enjoyed the run and I had no energy left to go any faster at the end, I think on reflection I should have run the Half. The 10k distance isn't enough of a challenge anymore now that I can run it comfortably, and as the average times for the HM today were 2:20 hours and I should be able to get round in 2, I think it would have been a better bet. When I compare how I feel after today's race to how I felt after the Cub and the West Wight Challenge, I don't feel I've especially tested myself. Still, this year of racing has always been about finding these things out and I will take the learning from that, so it's All Good.
Hope you've all had a good weekend?