Running

Scottish Half Marathon

So my running app says 13.20 miles was run today, which means a whole 10th of a mile of extra pain! I made it to the end though and it wasn’t all bad by any stretch. Just that last stretch. Never has a 5k felt so hard as when it is tacked on to the end of 10 miles.

Running app map and stats for race
My route along the Scottish waterfront

However everything seems better after a hot bath and fish finger butty so I can now put this day into context.

If you want a good time, this run is definitely one to consider. Mainly flat or downhill, with only a few gentle inclines. We did get some headwind along the water front but I’ve had stronger winds in Liverpool. Plus the organisation is really good with wide roads pretty much all the way and some gorgeous scenery to boot.

I didn’t quite realise when we booked our hotel in Leith, that it was on the right side of Edinburgh to get me to the starting line. They have a park and ride system where you can pre-purchase the bus ticket or buy it (slightly more expensive) on the day.

If you need your own personal support team then it’s a bit trickier as so many roads are closed for the race. Anne tried to catch me just before the 5 mile mark but she couldn’t get there in time because of this. So you either have to know the nook and cranny roads or camp out at a spot a lot earlier. I’m not bothered by having an entourage though as I just like to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.

The start ‘village’ was very roomy and well organised, and I didn’t have to wait too long for the toilet  (the loo queue is obligatory pre-race however many times you’ve been before!). It was quite a bright and sometimes sunny morning which was very nice while we were standing around.

Lots of runners assembling for the start
Pre race assembly

The race starts at 11 am so there was quite a bit of standing around and as I was placed in blue band (it depends on your previous or guesstimate time) which was right at the back. But we shuffled forward quite quickly and set off at just after ten past. The sun kindly hid behind some clouds for the vast majority of the race which was perfect timing and there were only a few drops of rain at the end.

I wish I had taken more pics along the route as when we turned back towards Musselburgh the water front was gorgeous. I had managed a selfie along with this one, but my teeth were still covered in beetroot juice from the gel I’d just taken so that one had to be deleted!

Boats on the water side
Boats lolling around while we do our hard work!

I started to get a little tired around 8 miles but had another gel which they provided and that got me into double figures. At this point everything started to hurt all at once and although I had another gel in my pocket, I didn’t think more energy was what I needed. A hip replacement was more like it. There was now a bit of walking involved but I was not bothered, so long as I got to the end somehow.

Lots of people were cheering us on towards the end, and that final mile or so was run on pure adrenalin but I managed it and was very relieved to see that Finish line.

Plus points were that I didn’t get picked up by the sweeper bus and actually my average miles per minute were pretty spot on to what I hoped – just under 11 minute miles. So although that last part was really tough it was a pretty good day all in all and it will serve as a good base time for the next run!

Life, Running

Pre-race Jitters

This bib coming through the post this week makes it official. Sunday (tomorrow!) is my first half marathon in over two years.

No more pretending it isn’t going to happen!

I don’t know if climbing ladders is good preparation for a race, but that is what I was doing all day yesterday. And although I knocked my knees a couple of times coming down ( oh my goodness, why does that hurt so much!), no lasting injuries were sustained. I’m building a wooden gazebo in the back garden, with the very kind (and honestly I couldn’t do it without him) help of my mate Gary. So far we have spent two and half days in total. But getting the days back to back has been problematic over the summer with both of us busy at different times. It is coming together as you can see, and I think one more day will sort this bad boy out and we have ourselves a nice, if somewhat airy, room on the outside.

Wooden gazebo with roof tiling half done
Nearly done but not quite yet!

At least I did something physical as I’ve barely run all this week or last. It makes me a little nervous as I find that doing a gentle 5k or so a day or two before the race ‘wakes’ (technical term) my legs up.

It is what it is though. I could have gone this morning but I still need to pack and do a quick tidy up before we get going, and, of course, knock out a quick pre-run blog. This doesn’t count though, as we always try and have a couple of cups of tea in bed and have a bit of reading time, so I’m focused on this for a concentrated hour.

I am looking forward to the big day though, even though the butterflies are setting in already. The course is apparently very scenic as we will run along the estuary. I have to think of it as a nice day out and not worry about the time. I have reconciled myself to the fact that I’ll take about 2 and a half hours but at least I’ll be well ahead of the sweeper bus, that will pick up people taking longer that 3 hours 15.

Plus Anne and I will have a lovely weekend in Edinburgh. We’ll be meeting up with family and have tickets to explore Holyrood Palace, erstwhile residence of Mary Queen of Scots, amongst other Scottish royals.

So, there is fun to be had this weekend. I will do okay on the day, and it can be my new baseline from which hopefully I will improve. Watch this space!

Running

Seven Weeks to Race Day!!

It seems like an age since I’ve talked about running and it has been an age, or at least a good three months since I’ve run in any systematic way.

But the beginning of this week was officially the ‘seven weeks to go’ mark of my half marathon race in Scotland. That run that I’d talked about all the way back in March is actually, well, ‘racing’ towards me at an alarmingly fast rate and I need to knuckle down to something a little less piecemeal and a little more precise in my training for it.

I had hoped, when the going was really good in the first part of the year, to write some technical notes on ‘base training’. This is kind of the underlying body conditioning that you may see in the first four weeks of a sixteen week training plan. Perhaps I’ll get around to it in the build-up to another race.

However, for this race we are way past that point but I’m hoping that there is some ‘muscle memory’ from those early months. Plus, my body did get a jolly good workout during the Lincoln to Liverpool cycle ride. So all is hopefully not lost.

I gave myself a great confidence boost last Saturday when I managed a 9 mile run without too much pain and that was by far the longest run I had managed since April. I was exhausted for the rest of the day though so there is definitely still a lot of work to do.

Today I put my fair-weather runner predilection aside and went out in the cold drizzle for 10 miles.

The drizzle developed, after 30 seconds of running, into a heavier drenching. Knowing I would be out for about two hours gave me a few moments of panic. Then I breathed through it and reminded myself that I’ve been through worse. The Norwich Half in 2014 comes to mind for wettest race conditions ever and I survived that, so 10 miles here would be a cinch! It’s a good job though that the later iPhone models are waterproof as everything got a good soaking.

Muddy wet trainers and socks on the floor
Muddy and soaked

My aim is to try and do that 80/20 rule that I learnt on my Chi running course so this run needed to be slow. That is a little hard to gauge sometimes when you’re running on your own, as you can feel quite bouncy and energetic at the beginning. In fact I think that running deliberately slower than you can is almost as hard as going hell for leather.

This week I had already picked up the pace with the running club on Tuesday with a 7 mile handicap. Pensby Runners holds a mini race on the first Tuesday of every month, with the route alternating between 5 and 7 miles. It’s a handicap because you set off in the order of how long you would take to complete the route with slower runners going off first.

It was a good distance to test my ‘race pace’ for the half, which I hope will be around 11 mins per mile. A race, however informal it is, will always make you step up. Invariably you will want to keep the person in front within your sight so they will pull you along for a while. But you have to work out how much you can take without losing all your reserves to complete the full distance. My final average turned out to be 10.40 mins per mile which I was very pleased with as that included a sizeable hill at the end.

I didn’t feel dead on my feet at the end of that, but the following day when I managed half a mile instead of three I realised it had taken a lot out of me. So the rest of the week’s runs needed to be slow and purely about mileage.

Today, to stop me going off too fast I kept myself distracted with my favourite film review podcast, and periodically checking my body for any tightness. I have a bad habit of scrunching my toes until I focus on them and make them relax. And I’m very adept at slouching which is not great for your back.

I finished my ten miles in slightly over two hours which was fine: 12.07 minute miles, and now I’ve put my feet up to watch the Olympics which always blows me away! It’s not that you feel inadequate watching these people, it’s that they’re on a completely different planet.

Which is good because I don’t want to give up my trainers just yet. As I will never be one of the elite, the race will never be about competing against other people. It is all about me and how well I can improve and compete against myself.