Today was my first race since last summer. I was asked to arrive by 8:30am for the pacer photo, which was 90 minutes before Southampton 10k started. I also needed to fit in a 32km run according to my training plan. As a consequence, I planned to run 10km before the race, do 10km during the race, run 5km home and then go out for 7km this evening. However, things didn’t quite work out that way.
5km run to the start
I woke up early, but faffed around and didn’t leave as early as I had hoped to. Being late is one of my worries, so I decided that I would just do 5km before meeting the other pacers in Mettricks.
When I arrived at Guildhall Square, I saw Chris Rees almost immediately. It was great to see him. He works so hard to put on a great range of events across the city and surrounding area.
By the time I arrived, the upstairs room was a hive of activity. I had a look through the pacer vest box and could only see 60 and 65 minutes – there didn’t seem to be anything slower. I mentioned it to Rob who was puzzled. Then I found that someone had put the two 70-minute vests at the far end of the table. Previously, I’ve worn a pacer t-shirt, so I hadn’t paid much attention to what t-shirt I put on this morning. I’d chosen an ABP events t-shirt from 2020 when events were cancelled. Wearing my pacer vest made it easy for Matt, my fellow 70-minute pacer, to find me.
After putting on my vest and race number, it was time to go outside for a group photo. The weather was overcast and there had been a bit of drizzle on my run down. However, in contrast, the room in Mettricks was incredibly hot. This meant that going outside felt chilly. We had to stand around for a few minutes whilst various running clubs posed for photos, and then we posed for a group photo.
Just before 9am, we all headed out. The half-marathon pacers needed to get into position and the 10k pacers wanted to cheer everyone on. It was good to see Pat, a work colleague, who was aiming for a fast time in the half marathon. I also noticed a group of fast Lordshillers jog past, including Dan Campion wearing a fetching white bin bag.
The sheer number of runners in the half and marathon group was surprising. I recognised lots of local runners but expected to see more runners wearing club vests. I also knew a lot of the bike marshals – fellow parkrunners Malcolm, Kate, Pete and John were all doing this role.
After the runners had gone past, Matt and I went out for a warm-up run. I had initially intended to do 5km, but we cut it short at 3.1km as I was starting to get nervous that I wouldn’t be able to maintain the right pace for the race. This was a silly fear as I’ve run further than 20km at a faster pace than 7:00/km. Running with our pacing vests on really confused the course marshals and the crowds clapped us as we ran past.
Pacing Southampton 10k
At almost 10am, Matt and I went out to join the start pens. I saw my long-time friend, Jez, warming up at the start. (Back in 2016, we appeared in Runners World as Jez has always encouraged my running and even ran my first 10k race with me). I hadn’t realised that Jez would be running, but he’d had a good race at Eastleigh a couple of weeks back and was hoping for another good result. I also saw Laura and various other parkrunners.
When we got into the start pen, quite a few people introduced themselves as they were hoping to run with us and achieve PBs. I really hope that some of them achieved their goals today.
Running down the high street, I saw Reena, Barbara and Trevor. They all looked to be enjoying themselves. Then when we reached Ocean Village, I saw Jo.
Matt and I were very careful with our pacing, never going too far above or below our pace of 7:00/km. However, we recorded different distances on our Garmins, so we had to sprint the last 100m and didn’t quite meet our target time of 70 minutes for Southampton 10k, which was very disappointing.
After finishing the race, I saw Chris Stocks and then went off to get my t-shirt, medal, banana and water. Sue and Helena from Bartley Park parkrun were giving out drinks and t-shirts. It was good to see them.
I then saw various Lordshillers/former Lordshillers, including Yvonne, Jo, Patrick, Angela, Elaine and Cary. Yvonne was supporting her son. It sounded like the others had enjoyed their races.
I went back to Mettricks and finished my bottle of Lucozade before drinking a bottle of water. Then I ate a banana. I think I’ve struggled on my recent runs as I’ve not drunk enough. Then I changed into my new t-shirt and packed everything into my rucksack.
It was then time to go into the John Hansard Gallery where some videographers from the University of Southampton were waiting to record a video. I said my part and then set off on the final part of my long run.
14km run home
I ran back up London Road towards the Common. I figured that seeing other runners still taking part in the race would help to spur me on. As I got to the gate of the Common, I saw Reena, so I had a brief chat with her. It sounds like she had a good race. Then I saw Ellie and Tim. Ellie and I did quite a few long runs together when I was training for my first marathon back in 2012. I ended up walking across the Flats with Ellie as I was enjoying talking to her, so I didn’t record that bit.
After I left Ellie, I ran from the Bellemoor towards the crossroads. It was great to see Annie Bruce-Low, a well-known older runner, supported by another runner (who I think might be her son). Then I saw Kate cycling the route. Finally, as I was about to leave the Common, I saw Kim and Vicky with the final half marathoners.
Shortly after that, I turned a corner and saw Fraser and Helen, a pair of maritime archaeologists that I worked with on my first project at the University of Southampton. I turned onto Highfield Lane and then battled my way up Church Lane to the University. At that point, I needed to make a decision. I could either head for home, knowing that I would have to go out again later or I could keep running along the marathon route until I reached ~9km and then turn back and run home. The latter seemed like a better plan.
Completing my 32km run
I ran down Burgess Road and through Riverside Park. At the end of Riverside Park, I turned and ran back. I walked and chatted with a man (possibly called Dario) who was having cramps in his legs. Hopefully, I helped to encourage him to keep going. I gave him a gel and then ran on. At the top of Burgess Road, I headed to Bassett to go home.
I needed to make up the distance a little bit, so I ran out and back along all of the side streets. As I got to the final 500m, Stu and M came out and ran with me for a bit. It had been a tough run, but I was grateful that I managed to make it through.