18th December 2016 was when I finally completed my first Marathon, at Portsmouth Coastal
Living 30mins from Portsmouth, I still set off reasonably early to make sure I could park. On the event website, confirmation of chargeable car park and also free spaces was mentioned. I therefore and rightly so, chose to try a free car park space in nearby roads. I am pleased to say I found one space 10mins walk away from race HQ! Weather forecast was looking good. Arriving at race HQ at Portsmouth Pyramid Centre, right on Southsea beach promenade, it was a dry, foggy and still day! So when you are about to run a Marathon on a path along the coast, you’ve got to be pleased to see there is no wind at all and for a late December race, it wasn’t cold either. Once registered at race HQ in one of the Centre’s hall, I got myself for the race while waiting and hoping to see UKrunchat runners. That’s when I bumped into Lee @Leekemp29Kemp. It was great to see Lee again.
After a catch up, it was quickly time for the race to start. After all runners got on Southsea promenade, we were all taken to the start line by a lone piper which was great! We walked to the start line for about 200meters to the pier, with the lone piper in front of us, family and friends shouting encouragements. Brilliant! Walking to the start line, I also kept looking for other runners and noticed Darren @dazstaley. It was great to meet him for the first time after many chats on Twitter.
Off we went, 9am, race start, the moment I’ve been waiting for months and it was time to put the training plan results into action. Although the aim for my first Marathon was not targeting a time but making sure I was going to enjoy the day, enjoy the atmosphere and most importantly, enjoy my race, meaning not push too hard, not suffer at the end and have a good race recovery.
After about 2 miles along the promenade, we took a right turn away from the sea front and ran through a housing estate for about 300 meters before joining another beach on the way to the path that takes you to Hayling Island, jumped (literally) onto the beach which was muddy due to the tide. We ran/slipped on the beach for about 150 meters before joining the path. This path was pretty much the length of the 13.1 out track (out and back course). Gravel, slippery grass, shingles and side road pavements was our terrain for the day. Luckily the course was flat as a pancake. I did have to make sure I didn’t miss the race photographer!
After 2h08m of steady and comfortable running, I reached the turnaround point just at the 13.1miles mark. Just before that, I saw Darren running the opposite way. After a high five, he speedily disappeared ahead. During the course I also recognised another UKrunchat runner, Spencer @SMillbery where we had a quick chat before he went ahead.
On the way back, my running still felt great, I was keeping a nice good pace and I was enjoying my race. Carrying my water pack I was able to sip water regularly during the run, which was important to me and it meant I only stopped once to refill my water bottle, rather than grabbing cups and spilling most of it! BUT, I did grab some chocolate and salty crisps at the stations! Who wouldn’t?! Being a Christmas race, they also had mince pies and mulled wine but I really didn’t fancy them during a run! Check those supporters in this photograph! They were brilliant!
As you can see from the above photographs, the course was tough on the legs and at around mile 20, I started to suffer and started to slow down. I could have pushed hard but like I said, I wanted to enjoy this race. Time didn’t matter.
With 2 miles to go, just before joining the promenade to the finish, I came across this! Yes, the tide was up. Bugger! No running there Jose! Just crawling carefully on those rocks, not to slip and end up injured! I probably lost around 5mins.
Past the rock and off I went, trying to get running again at first then trying to get into a rhythm for the last 2 miles. Those 2 miles never ended as it was a straight line on the promenade back to the Pyramids Centre. What was great was the support from everyone, including dog walkers, families, other runners that had already finished….. just brilliant! Gave me a push to finish strong, which I did, digging deep to the end!
And voila! First Marathon done! Time was irrelevant as I enjoyed the run and was able to have a quick and efficient recovery, helped by Herbalife24 very tasty shake. Next one is Southampton Marathon in April where I have a new training plan to hit sub4! Big but achievable challenge. By the way, the medal is enormous, weighs a ton and nearly broke my medal rack! so definitely worth the run.
I would recommend this race to anyone. Very well organised event with great support from all the volunteers. This is a race I know I will do again.