I took part in the Portsmouth Marathon on the 23rd December. The entry came due to a late injury withdrawal from a friend and I offered to take his place at the last minute and we managed to transfer the entry over with the race organiser. It’s quite nice when you can enter a marathon at a drop of a hat.
I hadn’t really tapered for the event and was planning on using it as a good paced training run. I travelled down in the morning with Matt Dunn and we caught up with a few people prior to the race (shout out to James Elson, Sam “Wookie” Robson, Duncan Glenn, Kate Alexander and Luke Ashton).
We set off at 9.30am, the run was going to take you from the Pyramids Centre along the coastal path towards Hayling Island Theater and back. A lot of the route was along pavements and paths but there were some sections along muddy tracks and shingle/stoney beaches. When it was muddy, it really was muddy! There was also a lot of pools of water on the course from the constant rain the week before so pretty much everyone got wet and muddy.
I set out with Matt Dunn but had to make an early pitstop at the public loo’s about 2 miles in before resuming the run. I carried on around 8m/m pace and hit the half way point around 1.45. As I approached the half way point I had already seen James, Sam, Duncan and Matt turn ahead off me. The first half of the route was ok although I didn’t really enjoy some of the narrow sections early on as it made it difficult to run your own pace. Having made an early pitstop for a minute or two I found myself behind a lot of the people I had drifted passed earlier and little opportunity to overtake.
The way back was a little tougher with the wind in your face and a bit of tiredness/stiffness in the legs from a lack of tapering. Thankfully, it didn’t really rain much and after another quick loo stop I took it steady on the way back with my pace slowing slightly. Around 20 miles or so I could feel both my hips were really sore (I think I need some new shoes) and the pace dropped a bit further but I was on for a comfortable 3.45 finish.
The last few miles of a marathon always seem to drag but finally I hit the long stretch along the beach towards the finish. Unfortunately I had to stop for another quick pit stop at the public loos but plodded out the last couple of miles, made a 20 yard dash for the line and finished in 3.37.
After the race, I caught up with the guys. James had a storming run finishing 11th in 3.01, Sam finished in 3.19 and Matt and Duncan finished around 3.25.
Duncan accused me of not trying as I wandered into the indoor registration/finish point as I looked a little too fresh but I’m not sure I felt that comfortable as I could definitely feel the last few miles and sore hips!
The organisation of the event was excellent. It was a medium sized event (1000 people approximately) with good facilities and free tea/soup and snacks afterwards. There were plenty of marshals around the course directions were dead easy. The course itself was not as scenic as I imagined and I have to say I didn’t like the narrow sections at all especially earlier on to be honest. It’s probably not a fast course with the mud and puddles and wind against you on the return but that’s largely down to the weather conditions in the build up.
After the race, Sam, Matt and I enjoyed a catch up and a pub lunch near to the start before heading back. All in all, a few more miles in the legs at a good pace which I don’t usually train at and the final event of the year completed just before Xmas.