My fellow runners have already posted about their adventures yesterday. So here I am to add my own version.
I have been watching the GSR for many years as it is on my doorstep, and I’ve cheered on everyone from elite runners, club runners, to fancy dress runners and those doing it for charity or in memory of loved ones. I had never even considered doing it myself as I couldn’t run, I wasn’t built for running, it just wasn’t my bag. One day, a friend from Pilates who was over 70, announced she was doing it and I was amazed. It was 2 years ago, there was a westerly gale, and I gave her a hug along the route as we cheered her on. I then saw the Santa run and started to think running looked fun. I was 60 years old.
So c25k followed and I found I was a runner, I loved it and I went from W1 R1, and juju’s magic plan to running 10 miles within 18 months. Many I started with have gone on to half marathons and marathons. I have been encouraged and supported by the lovely people on the HealthUnlocked forums. I’ve also had the privilege of meeting some VRBs at parkruns and races around the country and they can now be counted as running friends.
So back to the GSR. I was so nervous/excited about the run that I didn’t sleep well the week before the run, especially the night before. I was feeling all sorts of niggles during my short tapering runs, my shoes/socks didn’t feel right and I was wondering if I’d complete 10 miles. Even during the warm up, I was questioning myself and my joints. I think only Coddfish was more nervous than me.
cheekychipmunks and I decided to start together and see how we got on. Once we got running of course everything was fine and I was pointing out various places of interest along the route. We almost caught up with the 2hr 5 min pacemaker but decided we would need to slow if we wanted to complete the 10 miles. We were cheered on by the people of Portsmouth and charity groups over most of the course, children were holding out their hands for low fives and jelly babies were on offer everywhere. We passed unicorns , riot police and convicts, and a military group carrying a very heavy pole. The atmosphere was brilliant . We got to see our fantastic local drummers who always support these events, twice on the route. There was a bagpipe band, a vintage 40s group, a very good tribute of the spice girls, the local Rock choir, and a great band outside our local pub . People were stood outside the hostelries with pints in hand giving us a cheer. This is the sort of thing you miss when you are just watching in particular spots. I was so proud of my city and it’s people. Oldgirlruns , who is a great friend, was there to cheer us on at the start, midpoint and the finish, who could ask for more? I had decided that my mantra would be to complete , not compete on this run. It was more important to take it all in and enjoy hearing my name being called by complete strangers. There were four 🎵 🎶 come on Eileen 🎶 🎵 calls which always make me smile. The most emotional moment was coming across a young female lance corporal in full combat uniform with what I think was a medic’s pack on her back, running in memory of a colleague lost in combat. I touched her shoulder and said well done and saw tears in her eyes. It still brings tears to mine remembering that moment. She should feel very proud of herself. I am sorry I didn’t stay with her for longer.
Cheeky kept going as I slowed down for water or nutrition or to give my legs a rest but I managed to catch up with her again each time. On the 13th kilometre I realised that I had gone ahead of her as she was slowing a bit, having been stronger than me up til then. I had my physio’s voice in my ears that if my ITB hurts, not to run through the pain as it is a warning. I was beginning to get achy hip joints and a few niggles on the outside of my knees. I made a much needed diversion into the WCs before the final strait along the seafront, and assumed that cheeky would now be ahead of me.
I then did a mixture of walking and running, overtaking the many who were just walking at this stage, and managed a sort of sprint finish as Sandie1961 , UpTheStanley and OldGirlRuns cheered me in. I crossed the finish line and looked at my watch, surprised that I was within my entry time of 2 hr 15 mins ( my watch auto paused in the loo 😉). I promptly cried as I walked up to collect my medal and T-shirt, for this has been an incredible journey.
As I got to the exit, UpTheStanley was there to give me a big hug and I cried again, so glad that he has been by my side all the way. ( well maybe a bit ahead)
We joined the others and cheered on everyone who followed, including the RN chaps carrying heavy dummies on their shoulders, police pulling a police car and dear Coddfish who stuck with it to the bitter end despite having to walk after a slip on a clif gel block and being in pain. Such resilience.
Finally, if you haven’t fallen asleep already, I thank you all on these forums for the support you have given me. This running thing has been a changing moment in my life and something I will always be grateful for. This is my favourite t-shirt and bling too.