The Portsmouth Marathon is just about one of the most perfectly timed events there is, running a marathon run a few days before Xmas followed by a period of rest (well ok minimal mileage to keep the Marcothon December run-streak going) over the Xmas and New Year period.
Unfortunately, my running over the past 6-8 weeks has been hit or miss. I had targeted this event to try and trim down by marathon PB to finish the year on a high but a knee injury, lower mileage and greater eating not quite recovering from the knee injury meant I’m not in shape I was a few months ago (8lbs heavier than September) and Portsmouth was just going to be a boys day out.
We (Michael, Jim & I) drove down to the start of the race from Reading in the darkness, wind and rain and I sat in the car not feeling that motivated.
The race starts on the coast at the Pyramid Centre and we parked right next to the start, registered and collected our numbers and readied ourselves for the start of the run.
There seemed to be more people than last year and it felt like they were struggling with the numbers as the registration centre was still packed with queues of people getting to the baggage points as they called people to make there way to start the line. I stood in amongst a group of runners trying to shield myself from the rain as the race started, with a stream of people still exiting the registration area at the time and dashing down to the race start. The event had chip timing so no-one was really going to miss out and this wasn’t a PB type course anyway. I’m glad they didn’t delay the start as people were getting cold just standing round.
I set out with Jim and Michael who were setting the pace and I tucked in behind them. The run is an out and back course over a mix of sea-front path, short beach areas and some muddy and wet pathways from the start at Southsea to Hayling Island. Some areas are quite narrow meaning its single file in short sections.
The plan had been to at least make an effort for the first half and see how I felt and I followed the guys around a 7.30m/m pace. With the constant changing or terrain on short sections I found it hard to settle into a rhythm during the run. Thankfully the rain had died down but the amount of puddles meant you were going to get your feet wet… no big deal really.
As we got closer to the halfway stage, the lead runners were heading back and I spotted a few familiar faces and gave a wave. I was starting to struggle a bit now to maintain the pace and the fitness wasn’t there, the knee was starting to creak a bit and I was lacking some motivation; Level 2 on the Scale of Motivation https://ultraavon.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/avons-scale-of-motivation.jpg
Therefore as soon as it hit the half-way point in around 1.37ish I thought that will do I can trot back now and dropped off the pace.
Jim had continued on at the same pace and Michael was a couple of minutes behind me and I trotted on by myself. I passed a few people the other way and said a few quick hellos and high fives and then trudged on.
It was still quite windy (unsurprisingly on the coast!) and you were buffeted around a bit but the sun came out although the head-wind made it a bit more difficult on the return leg. I made sure I took my lucky hat off and gripped it forcefully over one or two exposed bridge sections. If I lost my hat then I would have been crushed.
At the 16 mile point I was slowing even further and started to look for excuses to ease off, I stopped for two comfort breaks, paused at every checkpoint for a drink and a snack and also walked the short beach sections aswell. As a result, quite a few runners drifted past me.
I was hoping Michael would catch me up so I had some company and glanced back a few times to see if I could spot his distinctive orange jacket but with no success.
I trudged the last couple of miles along the seafront towards the finish thinking I am so glad this will be over soon finishing in an unspectacular 3.37. Not the season high I had planned to go out on but having reminded myself of the course layout, it was never going to be a PB course.
Jim had finished in 3.27 and Michael finished a few minutes behind me looking equally miserable. We got changed and had a nice pub lunch at a nearby pub before heading back home.
Overall, I was pleased to have banked the distance just before the Xmas break but didn’t really enjoy the run. The race was well organised but appears to have exceeded capacity with it seeming a lot busier than last year. I’m not a massive fan of the route and its always going to be a tough run with the weather in December but I have to say the medal is really good with a distinctive design.
No plans for the remainder of the year apart from some short runs to finish off the December run streak then I will see how the knee is and either rest (not likely) or put together and start a training plan for 2014 (more likely).