I wrote back in July about setting myself some targets for the end of the year. These were all based around my running and general fitness so as 2018 draws to a close, it makes sense to review them.

  1. Great South Run in under 1:30 (9min per mile / 5:35 per km)
  2. Half Marathon in under 2:00 (9:08 / 5:41 per km)
  3. Getting my weight under 13 stone (currently 14stone)

I’m going to start with target 2 as the half marathons occurred before the Great South. My plan was to run 2 hilly events (Winchester and Basingstoke) and then be ready to smash the 2 hour mark in the flat Gosport Half.

I ended up using my experience of the Winchester Half in an assembly at school and it went a little bit like this…

On the morning, it was chucking it down. There were severe weather warnings and although it was meant to be less severe around lunchtime (where I would be at about the half-way point) it still didn’t look good. But, I had paid my money so I drove to Winchester and sat in the car for about 30minutes as the rain poured down.


Eventually, I plucked up the courage to go out and get wet and stood huddled in the Guildhall waiting for the rain to subside. I chatted with a few people and told them my goal for under two hours and how I had never achieved it before and this was my first time running this event. Their opinion? No chance today in these conditions and with these hills. Hills? My wife had warned me about those but how bad could they be?

About 200m into the race, the hills started. My pace was all off as I slowly plodded upwards and I felt so disappointed that I wasn’t going to get anywhere near my target time. Eventually, the rain stopped and there wasn’t much wind either, plus the hills flattened out and I was able to make up some time. I constantly checked my watch, planned out my pace and caught up with where I needed to be.

In the assembly, I talked to the children about my planning and my motivation and the thought process of failing and how I was going to get around this. I could have given up when the guy told me I wasn’t going to do it anyway as it was too hard but it spurred me on. I also talked about using resources as I got stuck (my watch) and how I was determined to do my best even if I di’t achieve it this time. I had two more chances after all.

At around the 10mile mark, I caught sight of the race pacers for sub-2hours. These were my models, my WAGOLLs. If I jogged with them, providing that they started when I did, I should get 2hours. My thinking was that they had probably started before me as I had caught up with them so I needed to beat them. We had a little chat as we ran, they told me I was doing well (always nice to hear) and then I pushed on. The frustrating thing was that as the race was ending, I didn’t know where the end was. Winchester High Street was full of twists and turns and I knew it was coming…but not quick enough. Suddenly the finishing line was in sight and I crossed in 1hr 55mins 10secs. I waited at the finish line and hugged the 2hour pacers when they crossed the line, they barely remembered me but they had helped me so much to reach my target.

Two weeks later came the Basingstoke Half. The obvious target was to knock that 10 seconds off target under 1hr 55min. This race was nowhere near as eventful as I had run it before (albeit a slightly different course, apparently this year they ran it the other way round) and I also knew that I could beat 2 hours so the pressure was off. There were a LOT more down-hills than Winchester and the up-hills didn’t seem too bad. I ended this in 1hr 54min 16secs. Almost a minute off my PB from the previous race!

Another two weeks later, came the Great South (Target 1). This is my favourite race. The build-up is fab, it’s flat and scenic plus there are people cheering the whole way round. I’ve ran it for the past 10 years and I love it. This year I ran with James (@jamesblakelobb) and I’ve ran a few races with him and he always beats me, just by 10-30seconds but still, it’s good to have a challenge. We set off quickly knowing we were aiming for 1hr 30mins which was 4mins quicker than the previous year…

Pain set in on the way round and my hip was killing me but I kept pushing and I finished in 1hr 26min 47secs. When I crossed the line, I could barely walk and it still hurt a few days later. I ended up pulling out of the Gosport Half due to injury but I had smashed my target for the Great South.

So where now? This year I have ran a 10k in under 50minutes, a 10mile in under 90mins and half marathons in under 2hours. These are all big targets. I could just try and “get them a bit quicker” next year but if I didn’t run again, I would be happy with all of those times. I am currently finding it hard to motivate myself to plan targets for next year. Do I run races that I have ran before or do I try new ones? I currently have a 10k booked plus the Gatwick Half and of course, my 11th Great South, but we will see what the times are like. Eventually, I will get slower as I get older anyway! I’ll see what happens when January kicks in…

Oh yeah…Target 3…the weight loss. How did that go? Errr, I haven’t weighed myself in ages but I know it has gone up. Ah well. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad is it?

After the Great South Run