I am so happy to be writing a blog about this race, not only because I was injured for it last year but because it is one of my favourite races of all time. I grew up as a Portsmouth girl so this race is especially close to my heart. This year I made the decision not to wear headphones so I could take in all the sights and sounds. I also got my name emblazoned across my vest and so there were a lot of shouts of encouragement the whole way round which is pretty damn awesome!
This year I decided that, because the trains were down, I would drive down by car. Bit of a mistake as everyone had the same idea! 6 miles of tail backs before a race isn’t my idea of fun. Everyone who knows me is aware of my panic episodes and ‘what if’ scenarios… ‘what if I miss the race Dad?!?!?!?’ Dad rightly pointed out that there was 2 hours to go before my wave set off and told me to relax. Unfortunately, I missed the team photo with the Crusaders (twice!) but had a couple of shots with my support team – my dad, two sisters and two nephews….
My sister Nicky couldn’t believe how calm I was this year in comparison to a couple of years ago. This year I just wanted to quash the nerves and enjoy every ounce of it.
My wave was the white wave. I frantically tried to find my friend Emma before the race, as we are around the same pace -but with no success. It was literally like trying to find a needle in a hay stack. I begrudgingly made my way to my wave pen on my own and found two fellow Crusaders – Steve Hall and Paul Stephenson. We had a great dance in the warm up to ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams. I spotted James Musselwhite, ‘the boss’ for Fareham Crusaders, hanging over the barrier and gave him a squeeze and I was ready to go.
We were off! I couldn’t take the smile off my face for the first mile. A massive wave to my family on the left – and remembering to pace myself. My aim was for 9.30MM. The weather was absolutely glorious! Perfect running conditions. I looked over to my right and passed the Portsmouth War Memorial. I looked out to sea with the Spinnaker in the background and thought, ‘this is just the best day ever’!
The first couple of miles can be a bit ‘handbags at dawn’ but runners are very polite to each other and considerate considering the amount of runners (25,000). I was a little surprised that people were already stopping to walk at mile 1 and 2 though!
Throughout the race there are lots of kids ‘high fiving’ and squealing with delight when you ‘gave them five’– Jelly babies are also being dished out at every mile, much to the relief of many runners! There are lots of different team runners taking part in this event or raising money for various charities. I was proud to represent the Fareham Crusaders this year.
Between mile 1 and 2 was the sounds of the Rose and Thistle bagpipe band. I no longer have my Scottish Nan and Grandad here and hearing the bagpipes always takes me back to days of sitting on my nan’s knee and listening to the Scottish bagpipes with my Grandad singing loudly in Scottish. It brought a lump to my throat and I looked up to the sky and wondered if my Grandparents were proud of me today.
After running past the HMS Victory, Mile 2 allowed us the privilege of running through the cobbled streets of the Naval Dockyard. All runners know that there is a camera in here and a chance of getting on T.V – ‘Hi MUM!!!’ I screamed to the sniggers of the other runners!!!!
I heard my name being called and looked over to see my lovely friends Lyndsey Howell and Sarah Moulding dressed as Wonder women! Amazing! I looked back to the right, totally lost them again…
Onto mile 3 and 4 – onto Winston Churchill Avenue –‘Don’t look right, don’t look right’ – I can still remember Lorraine Rowe (a fellow Crusader) words echoing in my ear from a couple of years ago when I ran this race! – this is when runners are doubling back on themselves on the other side of the road. Once on the other side of the road, there was another band called the ‘Old Thumper Dixie’ – who were playing the steel pans – I gave them a massive clap as a ran past in appreciation.
Hampshire Terrace – 5 Miles! Whoop! I was happy that my Garmin confirmed I was running at the same Speed -Whoop!
Mile 5 to 6 took me back out to the seafront and the masses amount of crowds – I frantically tried to spot my family and finally spotted them and was met with whoops and cheers. My nephew gave me a massive hug and was shouting to everyone around him ‘That’s my Auntie Kerry, that’s my Auntie Kerry!’. I had to unpeel his arm from my neck to continue the run.
In mile 6, I took the chance of running through the water jet washes – it was er…. Refreshing! Only after did I realise that I wasn’t wearing my waterproof mascara. Fail.
Mile 7 gave us again this year the sound of the Batala Drums. I absolutely love this band. The sounds are big and their colours are bright. It really does give you that little boost. I took a couple of jelly babies here and one went down the wrong way……
On mile 8 I struggled a bit with my hip after getting pain in the left one. I stopped for a bit…and glanced to my right – ‘C’mon Kezza, keep going – don’t let us beat you’ that angel on my shoulder – Lorraine again! Thanks Lorraine! I knew Lorraine was battling with a poorly foot and I thought – if Lorraine is doing it, I can’t give up now! Plus! I have a previous time of 1.39 to beat! Onwards I went – I decided to do my times table in my head to take my mind off things…
I approached the pub The Florence on the corner to be met with my Brother in Law and his sister – both loudly cheering and offering me their beers! I looked on with envy at their golden nectars. Henderson Road didn’t disappoint again this year. All the residents were out in force! Mics, balloons, decks, loud music – what a crowd! Thanks guys! Please don’t ever stop this tradition! It is much appreciated by the runners!
Onto mile 8 and 9 – we were lucky this year, the wind was BEHIND us. This was a rare treat! My pace had slowed slightly… but I was determined not to stop…. Shut up hip!- just two more miles and we are home! Lots of other runners were making the common mistake of taking off too quickly here and were found walking a couple of yards further up. I kept my focus on that pier and watched it get bigger and bigger. Not long to go.
A final few hundred meters to go… the home stretch… I tried to spot my family again in the crowd but without success…. Right, time for that sprint finish that I save in the tank….
I made it home with a very respectable 1.36!
I am very pleased with my time as it is 3 minutes off my last time. It was a very welcome surprise. I spotted my friend Emma Smale in the crowd – she was an unbelievable 38 seconds in front of me. I think that goes to show how busy the event actually is. Time for a team photo with the girls..
I made my way to ‘B’ on Castle fields and met my proud family – we exchanged hugs before I hobbled back to the car with my Dad.
Until Next Year GSR!
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