Half Marathon PB by the Sea

I hadn’t even thought about running the Gosport Half Marathon a few weeks ago. I’d got my PB at the Great Eastern Run in Peterborough at the start of October (76.56) and was delighted by beating my previous PB by 5 minutes and my previous best of 2014 by 8 minutes. 


It all changed when my fiancé Sarah (who was due for her half debut at the Blenheim Palace Half also at the start of October, but got ill so couldn’t do enough training) decided she wanted to go for another half before we went on holiday. I looked around for halves nearby that would be good for a beginner and the Gosport half popped out at me. The course was flat and promised great views over the Solent and it was only 20 minutes drive from my granny’s flat in Portsmouth! It was less than £20 to run so Sarah signed up. 


Then we had the conversation about whether she wanted me as a supporter, to run together or for me to run separately and support her over the last mile. She said she wanted me to run at my pace and be there for her at the end; I didn’t need a second invitation and signed up! 


We drove down to Portsmouth on Saturday afternoon, getting updates from fellow LBACers who were finishing the Dirt Half. My granny is an excellent host, but kept offering us beer, chocolate biscuits and even put about 100ml of oil into the spaghetti!!  We had a decent night’s sleep and set off with plenty of time to make the start. Unfortunately the weather was the complete opposite of my experience in Peterborough and there were heavy rain showers while we prepared at a school acting as race HQ. It wasn’t great fun queuing up for the bag drop in the rain, but the organisation was excellent. 


The start was about 400m round the corner and we got into position, I left Sarah and wished her luck, I knew she would have no problem. I looked around and spotted a few familiar faces (which always seems to happen!) and chatted with Tim a Kent AC athlete, the club who my brother represents. We set off just after 10 giving the organisers time to brush some of the water off the course, but we were promised it wasn’t too bad! 


The course did drain incredibly well and I settled into a nice early rhythm. I felt strong after running a nice 17.22 at Oak Hill parkrun 24 hours previously and started running consistent 3.30 Kms. The two lap course took us on pavement along the seafront of Lee-on-Solent round a residential area and then back along the esplanade, right by the beach. It was generally dry, but there was one big puddle (it was nothing compared to the water at Keysoe!).


Sarah and I were well supported by my dad and his large brown poodle Taylor! After the first lap I was feeling strong and had actually run a 10k PB which I was pleased by, but couldn’t help but notice my pace start to slow and the group I’d run with left me behind. I stayed calm and kept going dropping a bit, but still completed 10 miles in about 57 minutes; then I knew I just had to run a 19 minute 5k to break my PB. I was slowing, but clung on and had the great encouragement once more from Dad and Taylor I pushed on for the last mile. As we turned the corner for the home straight I could see the clock in the distance just tick over to 1.15 and I sprinted to the line to get under 1.16 finishing with a gun time of 1.15.58; what a feeling! People look at me strangely when I punch the air as I go over the line, but why do anything if you aren’t delighted when you do well?  This was the best time I’d ever run and possibly my best ever sporting achievement.


After drinking as much water as I could I jogged back to support Sarah who executed her game plan perfectly running a fabulous 2 hours and 2 minutes; quite an achievement for her first half marathon! It wasn’t long ago that she was struggling to run a 32 minute parkrun and she’s already looking into where her next half will be. 


We can absolutely recommend the Gosport Half Marathon to anyone of any running ability. It was well organised, friendly and compared to a lot of similar sized events cheap; you didn’t get a t-shirt at the end but you could buy one for cost price £8. 


My attentions are now turning towards qualifying for London in 2016, so I’ve entered the MK Marathon at the start of May and the Kent Roadrunner Marathon at the end of May with the goal of running sub 3.05 to get a ‘good for age’ place. Everyone keeps telling me now I’ve run a 75 minute half that a sub 3 hours is guaranteed, but as certain members of our club (myself included) know very well, with a marathon nothing is guaranteed.