884.61 – 900.92KM: The Windy One (Great South Run)

October 30, 2013

Last weekend, whilst all of Britain prepared for the worst storm since people began caring about menial statistics I took my 1000km Challenge to the South Coast, and Portsmouth to stare into the eye of the storm and reach the 900km milestone with the Great South Run. After 3 marathons in a month a 10 mile race should have been nice and easy, however things aren’t always that simple.

At over 200 miles away, the Great South Run would be the furthest race from my doorstep and coming the week after the Yorkshire Marathon it would be an expensive couple of weeks, with lots and lots of driving. We left for Portsmouth early on Saturday morning, but despite planning ahead and looking at possible routes that would avoid driving past London these were forgotten as soon as I sat down in the car. Over 5 hours later (thanks M25) we checked in to our interestingly named B&B before heading into Portsmouth for the afternoon.

The B&B was located about 10 miles away from the centre of Portsmouth so after a 20 minute drive we were parked up and were ready to explore. The city seemed oddly quiet for a Saturday afternoon, but with the weather and both of us being tired and hungry we didn’t stick round long enough to find out why, instead once I bought an awesome Christmas Jumper we began looking for somewhere to eat.

Perhaps subconsciously I was just trying to make what should have been a relatively easy 10 mile race more challenging, as when we sat down to order my stomach did the talking and I went for the biggest thing on the menu, followed by the biggest desert. This gluttony continued on into the morning when after being given the menu I opted for the Full English Breakfast, not content with the amount of meat I had eaten the night before. I had often wondered just how much extra I got from eating porridge before every race, as sometimes I feel spent by the first couple of miles, but I was about to find out the hard way.

Forecasts earlier in the week had warned to expect heavy showers, on top of the wind, so I was prepared for a fairly miserable run. Fortunately on the drive to the start the sky seemed reasonably clear, so I needn’t worry about the rain and once parked up I could instead put all my energy into getting to the toilet before the race started on the 30 minute walk to the race village. Once I got to the front of typically long queue to the toilets there was only a few minutes to spare until the start of the race, so I quickly said goodbye to Jenny, gave her my jacket and jumped the barrier into the crowd.

About a mile in I began to regret a heavy 12 hours of reckless eating as I began to feel very tired and achy and I knew I had a long race ahead of me. In that regard I was very thankful that it was only a 10 mile race, as it would end up feeling a lot longer. On a handful of occasions this year I have gone into races with the intention of taking it steady, only for that plan to go out of the window very early on. Fortunately this wasn’t the case on Sunday as the weather and general fatigue meant that I had little choice but to run at a slower than normal pace and try and enjoy the race. I didn’t realise it at the time but it was to be my last ‘big’ race of the year, leaving only ‘local’ races.

With the impending MegaStorm I knew that the last couple of miles would be tough. The organisers had warned beforehand that they were keeping a very close eye on the forecast, should the event have to be cancelled. Any reviews I had read of the previous years’ events always mentioned how windy sections of the course could be so I was prepared for the worst. As I turned the corner onto the sea front no amount of preparation would have made those winds any easier, all I could do was put my head down and run the hardest two miles I could just to feel like I was moving forward.

I was therefore very surprised to see that my pace for those last miles didn’t drop significantly, the 9th mile was only a couple of seconds slower than the 8th and the last less than half a minute slower than that. I crossed the line outside of the 80 minute target I had set myself, but given the circumstances and the weather I was happy enough just to cross the line.

The journey home would be a bit of an adventure. After making the mistake of joining the M25 on the Saturday we made sure to steer clear of London, opting instead for the route that would take us through Winchester and Oxford on the hunt for somewhere to eat. A couple of hours later all we had to show for our quest was a bag of Jelly Babies and more frustration, eventually we gave up and headed for home and ended up eating half a mile from our door step.

So here we are, still in October but with only two months worth of weekends left in the year and only 100KM to go to it is now a case of when, not if I reach my 1000KM target. In the nine weeks left of 2013 I have signed up to another 5 races, with my eye on another 2 meaning that I’m likely to reach the thousand kilometers without the need for including any more Solo Runs.

03/11 – Solo Run – 10KM (910.62KM)
09/11 – Robin Hood Trail Run – 10KM (910.62KM / 920.62KM)
17/11 – Rother Valley Half Marathon – 21.1KM (931.72KM
/ 941.72KM)
23/11 – Nottingham MoRun – 10KM (941.72KM
/ 951.72KM)
24/11 – Norwich Half Marathon – 21.1KM (962.82KM
/ 972.82KM)

01/12 – Solo Run – 10KM (982.82KM)
08/12 – Turkey Trot Half Marathon – 21.1KM (983.92KM  / 1003.92KM)
15/12 – Lincoln Santa Run – 3.5KM (987.42KM / 1007.42KM)
22/12 – Solo Run – 10KM (1017.42KM)29/12 – Solo Run – 10KM (1027.42KM)
31/12 – Liverbird New Year’s Eve Marathon – 42.19KM (1029.61KM / 1069.61KM)

It is unlikely that I’ll find any more races that I’m able to enter before the end of the year, so if all goes to plan I should reach my target on the second weekend of December in the Turkey Trot. Ideally I wouldn’t have to do any more solo run’s to make to total up but I’d rather go into the Marathon on New Year’s Eve knowing I had already completed the challenge and treating it as a celebration, rather than having to rely on good weather and no injuries to go to the wire on the final day. Also after a year of  running all over the country it would be a massive anticlimax if I was to reach my target outside of a race on a Solo Run.

As always, please visit http://www.justgiving.com/shanes1000km and donate what you can and please share news of what I am doing with others.


Distance: 16.30km | 10.13 miles
Time: 01:21:22
Official Time: 01:21:24
Average Pace: 04:59 min/km | 8:02 min/mi
Playlist: Ayreon
Goody Bag: Medal, T-Shirt, Powerade, Galaxy Bar, Protein Recovery Bar


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