Tag Archives: Portsmouth

The GREAT South Run, 2016

Back in 2000 I had my first daughter in New Zealand. We came back to live in the UK in the summer of 2001. My brother-in-law Phil was turning 40 and thought it would be a good idea for my big brother Paul and I to run the Great South Run with him. Did they notice that having a baby had turned me into a different person; sleep-deprived, chore-driven, in need of a goal? I think my brother-in-law Phil couldn’t stop laughing at me, and my new-found role, and took me out for a run as ‘there-there’ therapy to help me. It worked. So there we were the three of us, a little crew, for a while. The big issue was both of them were way, way faster than I could ever be. It was so annoying. Being blokes they had a distinct physical advantage. Being one foot taller than me (well one was) meant their stride length was so massive that even during our warm-ups I would be sprinting to keep up. Phil laughed at me a lot. I laughed at me a lot.

Me, Paul and the lovely Phil, 2001. What was I wearing? Not much!

Me, Paul and the lovely Phil, 2001. What was I wearing?

Back then running was slightly different. Primarily, it was fuelled off red wine fumes. I hadn’t quite progressed to whisky. When I came back from NZ I lived with my brother. He had no choice; I was his little sister and if he didn’t give my family a place to stay I guess I would have tried to throw a punch northwards to make him do exactly as I wanted. Having two sisters must be horrible, especially when one is extra feisty even though she is extra small. (Isn’t this usually the way?).

I had to sneak this pic from my mum’s house without my brother knowing. I think this was the year of the chest infection…

We would often have a mid-week glass of wine, but never two days in a row. I don’t think. Or maybe we did a few times. I can’t believe it now, but I think we even had a few drinks on the night before some of our early Great South Runs. The thought makes my stomach churn today. What were we thinking? Well we weren’t thinking as we were able to get away with it. I can definitely remember dragging my body round the streets of Portsmouth with a hangover on a few occasions. I wasn’t really a real runner back then.

Big bro and me, I loved those Ron Hill socks

Laughing all the way to the finish line through the alcohol fumes. I loved those Ron Hill socks

The three of us would hang on for the whole 10 miles, get our medals, then usually head off to a local pub to have another glass of celebratory wine. These were the good years. There are memories on those streets, especially in Eastney, the backwater before you finally come round into the long road back to the finish. We set up a tradition – every time I had a baby I ran the GSR that same year, in some crazy bloody-minded belief it was really important to show my girls that just because you have a baby doesn’t mean you can’t still have personal goals. Even after #numbers 1 and 2 were born, and I had had blood transfusions, I was trying to run around my nearest park 6 weeks later.

Don't you love how cool Paul from Men's Running looks in this?

Paul from Men’s Running always looks this cool

I’ve had some truly shocking GSRs. But I did what I aimed for and always managed the next GSR after each birth. The three post-birth races were really awful. But the worst one was when I’d had a chest infection but forced myself to run (raising money for Alzheimer’s Society, couldn’t let them down), coughed so much all the way round that I had to stop each time. I was in constant danger of wetting myself. For the first six miles I did that run where you cough and try to not stop but pull your legs together, trying to control your bladder so you look like your running off red wine fumes…

Some of my GSR bling

Some of my GSR bling

Phil died in his 40s, losing his battle with diabetes, just before #3 was born. I ran the GSR after her birth for him. It was awful. I know he would still be laughing at me and my running, the way it goes up and down, just like the support of the American people of Donald Trump. I know he would say: ‘Tina, just enjoy yourself, don’t worry,’ and then laugh his massive donkey laugh at me all the way round. I loved that man.

I snuck in at the front - imposter anxiety!

I snuck in at the front – imposter anxiety!

Plenty of times my brother’s beaten me, too. Goddamn it, I hate that. Thing is I figured out years ago how to beat him. All I have to do is train. Because he doesn’t. He’s so laid back he eased himself out of our mother’s womb making the peace sign. I’ve been doing reverse psychology on him for years, and he has no idea. It’s OK, don’t worry, he doesn’t read my blog – none of my family do – so he won’t find out. Every week I ask him the same question: Are you coming to my running group? Every week he says: I’m too busy. So. He thinks I really want him to come. Whereas I know the more I ask him the more he won’t come. We have this weird-psychic-crazy-brain connection where I know exactly what to do to make him not do something. You only have it with the souls who were there the day you came home from the hospital, wrapped up warm and tiny, who look at your bundle of life and instantly, with their 18-month-old brain deduce ‘I know exactly what that crazy piece of life is all about.’ That’s what he’s got with me. That’s called being truly blessed.

Sorry Paul, are you still running at this stage?

Sorry Paul, are you still running at this stage?

He can still rock up to this annual 10-miler with no training and run close to 80 minutes. It’s so annoying I want to slap him every year. I have to keep up my training just to beat him. What a motivation. And the best bit is he has no idea that he’s not running because I want him to, so I can beat him. Crazy life magic right there.

We found this one waiting for his prize after we finished

We found this one waiting for his 2nd place prize after we finished

Some people write such sweet things about their brothers….


Isn’t it so cute? Oh sorry, I was looking for a lovely poem about how great a brother he is and this one kept popping up… Is it about me?

So, so pleased I spotted this one on the ferry. I'm the proudest coach... she's my superstar

So, so pleased I spotted this one on the ferry. I’m the proudest coach… she’s my superstar

Then when the race is over I say: ‘Oh, did I beat you? Ah, I didn’t realise…!’ Knowing full well I did as the moment I get over the finish line I pull out my mobile and go on to the GSR results page, punch in his name, see his time and run round that whole lower field in a glory lap, singing ‘R.E.S.P.E.C.T, all I’m asking is a litt’l respect!’ Even though something like 10,000 people finished in front of me. It doesn’t matter as I beat my brother. That’s what true victory is.

This year the GSR magic weaved its way through the streets of Portsmouth. The elites were out, the supporters were out, the sun was out. There was a bit of wind, but racing conditions were set for thousands of glorious PBs. The whole of the south coast was there, nearly every runner I know – either skipping over the cobblestones in the historic dockyard or shouting on their club mates. The support is priceless and makes the quite hefty price tag of the race (expect to pay over £40) melt into a big gooey mess of happiness and love.

I set myself quite a big target this year, 72.5 minutes and I didn’t quite make it. A duathlon last weekend finished me off. I finished with a chip time of 74.42… I ran 10.11, my watch time for 10 miles dead on was 74.03. But it was a GSR PB; on that first one in 2001, aged 30,  I did 84 minutes. So I was 10 minutes quicker even though I am 15 years older. Can’t complain about that.

I have one, and only one tiny gripe – the t-shirts are always so massive. Please, Great Run, please, can we have an XS?

Did I beat my brother this year? Stupid question…


You can enter next year’s race here

I’ll see you there.

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The Road to London #Week 12

Biking and swimming isn’t like running. It just isn’t. This week, like a crazed animal, I’ve tried to up my effort levels to try and feel as if I’m working my body. At the beginning of the week I tried running for a mile but my ankle felt a little sore as each minute passed so I turned around and went home.

Getting retaped @Knott Kinetics

Getting retaped @Knott Kinetics

Tuesday I decided on a bike-swim-bike, which felt good and I so wished I could add a mile or two run on to the end. This would have been foolish so I didn’t, what I did was a roundabout route to the pool with a steep hill, 9 x 50m efforts then zipped home as quick as I could. It was short but momentarily my legs were on fire.

The news wasn't great at the physio

The news wasn’t great at the physio

Wednesday I felt itchy so drove to the Mountbatten Centre pool in Portsmouth as there are two Olympic size pools and one is deep at both ends. I attached my trusty flotation belt round my waist and ran in the water, with a warm up, 4 x 6min 40secs (to replicate my 4 x 1 mile on the road) then a warm down before dashing to get Sienna next door from the gymnastics centre where she trains. It’s really hard to judge perceived effort in the pool as I didn’t have my heart rate monitor on, but I tried to push myself for each rep so I was out of breath the whole time. I felt a little bit shy as I trundled very slowly up and down the lanes while I puffed – most of the deep pool had the swimming club in for training. I caught a few glances from lifeguards/swimmers who were obviously thinking What is she doing? I just gave them my ‘I-have-to-do-this-as-I’m-an-injured-runner-obsessed-with-doing-a-marathon-next-month’ smile.

Biking bliss

Biking bliss

Thursday it was a really hard, short session on the turbo that gave me jelly legs. It really helped burn off my I-can’t-run angst, for a while. Coach David (more aware than most of my inner turmoil and tetchiness?) the duathlon demon wanted me to work hard (give him a break?) so gave me:

10 mins warm up with
– 3 mins in the first gear
– 3 mins in a harder gear
– 3 mins in a harder gear

1 min easy spin
5 x 30 secs hard with 30 secs recovery
2 mins easy spin
2 mins on a hard gear out of the saddle
60 secs recovery at 150bpm
2 mins hard out of saddle
60 secs recovery at 150bpm
30 secs flat out
60 secs recovery at 150bpm
5 mins warm down

I love this session!

I love this session. Kind of…

I did some S & C exercises focusing on my gluteus straight after. I loved/hated it; the second two minutes out of the saddle were crazy!

The awesome Friday runners

The awesome Friday runners

Friday I couldn’t run with the group so I cycled alongside. It was a quick session of 6 x 600m after a slow warm up to our starting point. I zipped around the circuit, trying to motivate everyone as much as I could. They are all stars, it wasn’t hard. Then I popped along to the physio, hoping (wishing?) that Lawrence would tell me my ligaments were much better and I could go and race a 10-miler on Sunday. Of course he didn’t. I’ve got another week of rest, with some daily exercises, before he decides on whether I may have a chance of making the marathon. I tried not to cry. And just about managed it.

Keeping myself entertained

Here I am again…keeping myself entertained

In the past I would have stopped exercising with an injury and started wallowing in self pity. If I wasn’t injured and not running I’d say I was feeling really good at the moment! I’ve truly learnt the importance of preventative exercises to keep injuries at bay and am staggered how little trouble I’ve had from my left glute since last summer.

Girlie sleepover in my room - I didn't get much sleep!

Girlie sleepover in my room – I didn’t get much sleep!

I say I don’t really like swimming and biking but I guess that’s not really true. I like them. I just don’t LOVE them like running. Maybe there is a little triathlete/duathlete hidden away inside me. Both have really kept me going through the winter, even when it’s been icy cold I’ve taken to my bike and I’ve never wanted to do that before. I think I need to keep learning to love both activities.

Saturday I repeated Thursday’s turbo session and put everything into the efforts… the highest I got my heart rate up to was 166, though it was really hard to do.


I swear she was in the same position when I left the house two hours earlier

I swear she was in the same position when I left the house two hours earlier

Sunday would have been my endurance run. My training plan said an 18 miler. What I wanted to do was 2.5 hours of running in the pool to try and replicate the effort. However, it was my middle daughter Amelie’s birthday sleepover Saturday night, and I don’t think she, or her friends’ mums would have appreciated me going off for about 3.5 hours. The next best thing was a long bike and this week I decided on two hours. It was so much warmer than last weekend and it was a pleasure to be outside doing endless reps along a bus route a few miles from my house.


I wasn’t focusing on pace, rather heart rate and effort, and managed an average of about 75 per cent of my maximum heart rate for the two hours. My issue is that I wasn’t out of breath once. Even a bit. I can’t see how this can be boosting my fitness though of course I know it is. Running is much harder on my asthmatic lungs. Biking in comparison seems so easy. I hope there was some transference of fitness. I didn’t have the time for any longer – there’s a limit to how long you can leave your kids on their own, even when they are getting older (and especially when the youngest gets easily bored and is quite demanding). I left my eldest, Lola in charge, however, I’m sure Sienna didn’t move off the sofa the whole time I was out!

My fav fuel and recovery drink

My fav fuel and recovery drink

I’ve done about six hours of exercise this week. I would never normally do so much mainly due to time pressures. But it’s all on my own and I’m really missing going to my weekly club session and seeing my club mates. Still…I’m not ready to give in yet!


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