On the 26th September, Kenny and I were delighted when we received an unexpected message from Jog Scotland HQ – a notification of our being shortlisted for the ‘Jog Scotland Group of the Year’ award. We were both over the moon to be nominated for the award and are very lucky to have stumbled across a small pocket of runners in Glasgow’s Southside which has grown and transformed into a fairly large community of enthusiastic, friendly and encouraging Runbetweeners. Upon informing the group of our nomination they stepped up immediately: 30 tickets were snapped up and Susan did an incredible job of organising tables, tickets and transportation for an evening which promised to be fantastic. Kenny and I were also pretty chuffed that this took a little of the attention away from our failing to organise the long-promised ‘Group Night Out’.
With sparkly dresses purchased and kilts readied, the group met at Run4It for the much requested group photo. Whilst it took a while to recognise everyone out of their lycra, we eventually got organised and managed a cracking photo of the group before piling onto the Vengabus and making our way to the Hilton – and the thirty of us definitely made an entrance as we slipped into the reception.
It was at this stage of the evening that Chris Smith demonstrated his fantastic ability of making prosecco appear out of thin air – an admirable and very useful skill! Between the bubbles and the laughter we began to spot the Olympians and famous athletes with whom we shared the floor. It was at this moment that we first realised the scale of where we were and what we were doing – prior to actually arriving, we hadn’t realised just how big a deal this evening was going to be.
The awards got underway and Brian Burnett kept things entertaining with insightful interviews and interesting details of the nominees in each category. Shortly after Chris demonstrated that his resourcefulness applied to desserts as well as prosecco (thanks!), our award was called and, unfortunately, this would not be our night. This was the turn of Tain Joggers who had achieved some incredible things as a group. The initial disappointment of not winning was soon forgotten however as the dancefloor opened up and June grabbed me by the arm to teach me some Ceilidh dancing.
The Runbetweeners may not have picked up an award on this occasion, but we had an incredible night which reminded us that we have come much further than we ever could have hoped initially. To think that our little group, which in some early weeks had attracted a grand total of 0 runners, had not only managed to fill three tables at an awards ceremony, and made the shortlist alongside some incredible groups, was truly humbling. Kenny and I are incredibly proud of everything that the group has achieved and the achievements of those runners within the group. We have a fantastic bunch of runners and love turning up on a Monday evening and hearing tales of parkruns, races and adventures. The enthusiasm is infectious and we cannot wait to see where the group will be at this time next year!
Thus is a bit of a belated report on a brilliant morning on one of those rare days when the sun splits the sky in the south side of Glasgow. Moira’s Run was the runbetweener run of choice for October and it proved to be a the perfect fit on a brilliant morning. Hectic, but (fun)run-filled, the morning took precise military planning as many of us managed to volunteer at junior parkrun’s first birthday event before making the mad dash towards Queens Park for the start of the 5k run at 10-30am.
This was my second year at Moira’s run and despite cutting it fine to meet the rest of the team I could immediately sense the same special atmosphere in the park that I’ve rarely experienced on race day. There’s an absence of ego, competition and nerves at Moira’s Run. Hard to put in to words it’s much more than another 5k. It was great therefore to bring such a large group to experience and support such a worthy cause.
All the talk pre-run was about the hills; how steep, how many and how tough that steep downhill would be on the joints! To be fair The Boy and I had told people the route was undulating but we had kept a lid on how hard a run this is in order to get along a big crowd of folk. Thankfully The Runbetweeners as well as being running daft are also a generous lot and they were more than happy to support The Moira Fund in their annual fundraiser.
On to the run itself – a two lap course starting near the Glasshouse the route follows the perimeter path around Queens Park heading towards Shawlands before striking towards the Goals football complex. This section has a short climb, long steep descent and decent stretch of flat to get the legs going. Runners then head around the Queens Park duck pond before making their way towards the first of two significant climbs. This one sees the route work up the path towards the flag pole as you approach the 1.5k mark. This is a tough old slog but thankfully the route veers sharply to the left at the half way point and levels off passing above the refurbished bandstand.
A floral tribute on a bench reminds runners of the special nature of this run and you can sense the warmth and goodwill throughout the park.
The route makes for the tennis courts before another sharp uphill section back towards the start/finish line for lap 2. Eeking out a smile for the assembled throng runners then make off to complete the second lap.
Finishing the route and receiving my medal from Moira’s Mum I was compelled to run back to support the other runbetweeners and participants out on route – it’s just that sort of run.
It’s really hard to convey what makes Moira’s Run so special but it just seems to bring the best out of people and really represents everything that is great about living in Glasgow. An event that could be a solemn and sombre occasion is so happy and upbeat. What a great testament to the organisers and legacy to Moira.
Retiring to runbetweeners HQ for the morning to refuel post race we were treated to a feast by Mary which rounded off a great morning.
If anyone would like to donate to Moira’s Run which supports families who have experienced bereavement following the murder or manslaughter of a loved one you can find details on their website at http://www.themoirafund.org.uk
Alternatively why not enter Moira’s Run 2018, raise some money and take part in what must be the friendliest, most rewarding and uplifting event on Glasgow’s running calendar. We will definitely be back in numbers next year…. and hopefully someone can iron out those hills.
Since running the Berlin Marathon, several people have approached me to ask about the sudden halting of my training updates on here. I managed to write up my training reflections for the first few weeks of the block however these soon fizzled out when things got a little hectic at work. For now, the details will remain on the pages of my training diary but here is a quick summary of the final few weeks…
Ticking off several key long runs containing chunky sections at Marathon Pace did wonders for my confidence and I found myself entering the taper period with my eyes fixed firmly on a PB. A particularly gruelling session took place three weeks prior to race day and is definitely one which I will repeat in future marathon endeavours. The session covered 24M and included 5 sets of 3M at Marathon Pace with 1M between each set at a pace roughly 45secs/mile slower. This was a tough workout but it never felt like I was out of control and this gave me a huge boost. We drove out to Paisley for this run and made use of the cycle path down to Lochwinnoch and back. This was ideal as we did not have to worry about traffic, hills or road crossings.
I took a fairly short taper and maintained a slightly higher mileage than in previous Marathon build-ups. This definitely helped me psychologically as I was running well and it was nice to be running comfortably on a regular basis in the lead up to the race. I also followed a similar eating plan to my Amsterdam Marathon effort of 2016 – if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it! This meant that I spent three days doing a ‘carb-depletion’ phase at the start of the week and then followed this up with four days of ‘carb-loading’. On the day prior to the race I settled back into a regular (although still fairly carby) diet in order to avoid feeling bloated on race day. I know that there is a lot of debate regarding the effectiveness of ‘carb-depletion’ but it seems to have worked for me in the past so I’ll continue to do it.
On the morning of the race, I woke up very early for breakfast. I have struggled in the past with stitches when eating late and have since found that eating 4hours before my marathon does the job and works for me. I went for my standard pre-marathon breakfast of porridge, banana and a coffee and then sipped an isotonic drink throughout the morning. I also had a small flapjack a couple of hours later just to keep hunger at bay.
I was over the moon with my results of 2:31:31 – a shade faster than I had been hoping for and a shiny new PB. I loved the route and will follow this brief summary up soon with a full review of the race itself.
On Saturday the 21st of October I anxiously headed to Dunoon to compete in the first ever Cowal Way Chase Ultra event – a combined ultra run with relay option and cycle between Glenbranter and Portavadie in the heart of Argyll. This was my first official tilt at an organised ultra (the less said about CLYDE AND SEEK the better) and I was looking forward to a relatively low key introduction to ultra running on home turf.
With a dearth of long runs in the bank post London (all the way back in April) this was always going to be a slog but with so many fellow Dunoon Hill Runners toeing the start line I was keen to support this new event. Sadly the weather had taken a real turn for the worse on the morning of the race and the stunning Argyll landscape was largely clouded from view during the run. This did little to dampen spirits as runners gathered under the gable end of the village hall in a vain attempt at seeking shelter from the elements. The rain was relentless throughout the run making conditions tough going although it did ease prior to the start of the run.
So on to the course. The route itself is predominately run on undulating (code for uphill or downhill) forestry track with sections of flat road running. The relay and solo runners set off first (under the watchful gaze of the Adventure Show’s Dougie Vipond) before the cyclists chase in hot pursuit. The difference in start time allowed most of the runners time to reach the summit of the first peak before the bikes start passing. At a little over 1,000feet in under 4 miles this is a tough start to the run as you climb up through the forest before reaching the highest point of the route. The long descent into Glendaruel gives some respite to tired legs as runners and cyclists reach the changeover point for relay runners and bag drop area. At this stage approximately 10 bikes had overtaken me, each less impressed with shouts of ‘gies a backie’.
Reaching the checkpoint around 11 miles I wasn’t hungry or thirsty but I was most definitely gubbed. The climb had taken it out of me and despite everyone’s advice I had set off way too fast. Sitting in 4th place at this stage my hopes of catching anyone ahead of me were gone. My legs felt heavy and my breathing and energy levels just weren’t right. A lack of preparation on the hills meant what was to follow was unfortunately not going to be pretty. It was more about a finish now than a time or position.
Not feeling hungry at this point the checkpoint was perhaps several miles too early in the route to benefit me properly.
Heading out of Glendaruel the route passes along two or three miles of road which should have been heaven to me but I felt like I was running in hot tar. As I reached the start of the second climb I was glad of the excuse to power walk the next 5-6 miles which mainly involved a lot of climbing and trying to stay warm and as dry as possible. Around this time I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, isolated and tired on a bleak day. Looking back I wish I had waited for some company and spent some time moving forward with someone else. This is one of the key aspects about the ultra running community that I really envy and with a relatively small field it was just not possible at this stage of the run.
From the top of the second peak I adopted a jog-walk strategy with anything remotely looking like a climb fair game for a walk.
My watch died shortly after the 35km mark which at the time felt like a disaster. As I hadn’t looked it for a while I had literally no idea how much further I had to go which was hard to take. The mental endurance required to complete an ultra (alongside a marathon) is definitely as important as your physical endurance. It was now just a case of one foot in front of the other as I carried along the well marked route towards the promised post-race refreshments.
As it turns out the end actually came a lot quicker than I though as Portavadie suddenly appeared in view as I dropped below the cloud level at the end of the second big descent. The expected onslaught of runners overtaking me had not arrived as I’d apparently built a decent enough lead in the first half to cling on to 5th place.
Photo Credit @capturedbyGG (facebook)
So after my first crack at a near 50k course will I be rushing back any time soon?
First let’s start with the positives:
I ran the first ever Cowal Way Chase Ultra which means I have the potential to go into the annals of history as an ever-present should I return next year
The event was really well organised, low key and friendly
I know most of the route offers stunning views although I did not see them on the day
Race entry included full use of the indoor and outdoor spa and infinity pool facilities at Portavadie plus soup, tea coffee and a hot buffet style feed later in the afternoon once all the competitors were home
Areas for development:
I was undertrained for such a long distance after a relatively low mileage block of training post-London
I set off way too fast. Even although it felt easy it was arrogant to think I could carry on at that sort of pace for 30 miles on such a challenging route
The climbs were long and tough and even worse my knees hurt badly on the downhill sections
I found the course lonely and hard going in such bad weather conditions
All in I need to carefully consider whether ultra running is for me. I definitely get the appeal, the camaraderie, the wild places, the personal battle but my running has been going so well in the middle distances and on the road that it was tough to take such a battering during a pretty much universally successful season. Sharing the day though with my fellow Dunoon Hill Runners was amazing and there were some awesome performances through the field from super-fast times to longest distance run in both the solo and relay runs.
Thanks as always to the marshals who supported brilliantly in tough conditions, some in more than one location along the route and a huge well done to everyone who took part. This event is another option on a burgeoning sporting calendar in Argyll and one cyclists and runners would do well to consider for next year. With a top feed and amazing facilities at the finish line I’d be tempted to return…maybe just as a relay runner next time around.
A special mention to Charlie Collins who put in such a huge amount of work to get the event off the ground.
This was my first stab at the legendary Jimmy Irvine which is somewhat surprising given how popular the event is among the Glasgow running scene. A really interesting article about Jimmy is hyperlinked below.
A normally flat route traversing the inside of Bellahouston park and Mosspark Boulevard this years route stuck mainly to the inside of the park with a trip to the highest point thrown in for good measure. A nice touch for those pining the loss of the Southside Six and flagpole bagging this year.
Inspired by Laura Muir and Mo Farah I decided to double up and run both the Short Course X-Country at Kirkcaldy and the Jimmy 10k this weekend. For me racing, within reason, has never been detrimental to my performance as long as I am careful with my training load (this does not take much persuading on my part). I have certainly lived by that mantle in the last 6 weeks, limiting myself to one or two sessions a week with a splatter of iconic races thrown in to the mix. Racing brings a joy that training can’t quite match and gorging on them is easy at this time of year.
Feeling in good form the target was to break 39 minutes for the first time after carding 39-08 twice already this year. My 5k and half marathon times in recent weeks meant bar disaster this was a realistic goal.
Heading to the Jimmy I was buoyed by the news that the course was only a little hillier than previous years and likely to be only marginally slower. This news came from the Oracle Matt via The Boy so in running terms was indisputable after being crushed through super computers, cross referenced and studied in depth. On top of this it was a crisp, clear morning, perfect for racing.
I decided to jog to the start rather than cycle or get a lift and the 2 mile warm up loosened the legs and cleared the head. The midday start was ideal allowing the paths to clear of any ice after one of the first big freezes of the year. It was great to see so many Bella vests and Runbetweeners both racing and supporting as I made my way to the start line.
Starting pretty close to the front of the pack I anxiously questioned whether I had positioned myself too close to the rapid guys so I set off at a comfortable pace over the first 600 metres or so rising slowly towards the farthest reach of the course. The new route heads out towards the Nithsdale Road exit before turning 180 around a cone giving the rare opportunity to eyeball the opposition both in front and behind. The next 400 metres then climbs to legendary Southside Sticker Stop number 5, thankfully up the gentler path rather than the steps. Sadistically this was one of my favoured parts of the course as the field thinned and I took a few scalps. Working hard on the climb I maintained my sub 4min km pace on what I knew would be the tougest section of the course hoping I hadn’t expended valuable energy this early in the run.
Reaching the summit I enjoyed opening up my gait through the long downhill drag towards Paisley Road West and the 2km marker. This was a cracking section to pick up the pace and let loose. The route then follows the outermost path in the park past the sports centre before heading for Mosspark Boulevard. Flat and fast it’s important to keep on top of your effort levels in the middle section of this run.
Exiting the park briefly the route reenters the park before turning back on itself brutally into a previously unnoticed headwind. Gritting the teeth you head towards the second of the three laps (I am not sure this is an accurate description of the route as you only cover some parts of the course twice) where I was immediately spurred on by The Runbetweeners Support Squad who had placed themselves brilliantly on a section of the course that was to become very familiar over the next few km.
Approaching the cone for the 2nd time a quick body check told me I was in good shape and heading for a new pb (a pretty big one at that) if I could maintain the pace. Giving The Claw the eyes I felt strong as others around me started to fall back as i tried to corner the cone at race speed. Forcing me much wider than turn 1 I focused on the pack ahead and set about catching as many runners as I could.
Heading towards the 5k mark we passed the support team again and the encouragement spurred me back out towards the furthest reach of the course, this time running the outermost path past the sports centre in the opposite direction. Around this point I got detached from other runners, noting as he passed in the opposite direction that this had happened to The Boy too. After lauding the benefits of pack running earlier in the year this spurred me to kick again to reach the group in front.
Passing the sports centre around the 7.5km mark I was starting to struggle although the terrain was dead flat. It was therefore nice to get some shouts of encouragement as runners passed in the opposite direction. I really liked this about the New course and spent a large part of the switchback sections exchanging words of support with friends out on the course over the final few km. It was such a sunny day it was hard not to feel inspired and upbeat amongst so many friends.
Heading back to the Boulevard the relatively small incline felt worse than the trip to the summit of Mount Flagpole this time around. With the knowledge that I was nearing the head wind again, and on ever-tiring legs, this was the point in the race when you just need to get the job done.
The strategy now was to pick up some places over the final 2km, this would ensure I had the best chance of maintaining the pace I had set throughout. It was great therefore to head back into the heart of the park and receive such an incredible amount of support for a third time. At the same time the Boy was approaching the finish and looked to be running well despite being isolated on his way to an incredible 4th place just a little outside his own pb.
With just over 1km to go the route heads out to the cone for a third time before heading back to the start / finish zone giving a fourth opportunity to pass through the wall of noise in an area of the park that should surely be named ‘Runbetweeners Racket’. Spurred on by cheers and the buzz of my watch indicating 6 miles I kicked for home only spotting the clock at the final second clicking to 38:00 as I crossed the line.
With a previous pb of 39-08 and a race target of 38-30 I was delighted to see the time but slightlt gutted that I had missed a landmark time of sub 38 after apparently coming so close. The way a runner’s mind works sometimes is pretty cruel.
It was therefore with great relief that on checking my garmin and chip time I clocked in at 37-55. A pb of 1minute 13 seconds.
In conclusion then I won’t have a bad word said about this excellent pb potential course. Superbly marshalled, excellently supported and diligently organised this is one I will definitely be back for next year. Just the right amount of elevation to make it interesting this creative route made the most of the limited space and road restrictions to deliver a great race experience.
There were great performances right through the field with The Boy leading the Harriers to team prize alongside strong runs from Harriers and Runbetweeners on a tougher than anticipated course – sorry Oracle Matt 😉
After several aborted attempts we excitedly made the journey north last weekend for the 2017 Coigach Half Marathon, the 6th running of the race. Starting in the village of Achiltibue, by Ullapool, the epic drive started after work on the Friday via Inverness before completing the 5 hour road trip on the morning of the race.
Leaving Ullapool it became obvious why our friend Catherine sold this as a must do race. The mountains grow in stature and loom over the single track road which leads towards Achiltibuie with each passing mile and as you near the coast you are met with stunning views over the Summer Isles. This was our first visit to this part of Scotland and without doubt the landscape provided a stunning backdrop for a race. Off to a good start.
Registration was friendly and professional showing again that the level of service you get at local runs is usually far superior to mega city events. Another bonus was receiving change from my £15, a very fairly priced event.
After checking in with friends in the neighbouring village of Achnahaird and settling in to our digs for the weekend we headed back to the start line. As the map shows this is a looped course that hugs the coastline before heading inland and back towards the start area. As promised there was also some decent elevation (this would be greater than either Arran or Run Mhor, two tough courses I’d attempted earlier in the year). This was about as much as I knew about the route so I set about trying to get some local knowledge prior to the start of the race.
In the 90 minutes after arriving at registration Catherine and her family had told me about the two big climbs on the route (the one I could see and the bigger one I couldn’t), the volunteers at check in had told me to save something for the last few ‘tough’ miles and I’d also learned the finish was not downhill to the community hall but up a pretty steep gravel path to the school playing field. And also the start line was 1km out of town 🙂
Despite all this I knew that the course played to my strengths on the uphill with a reasonable amount of elevation giving me the opportunity to hold on to some faster opponents. The route was also remeasured and would be shorter this time around meaning I’d already saved approximately 400 metres on last year’s entrants.
After waiting on ‘Uncle Angus’ to park the bus and jog back to the start line the ladies were called to the front of the field of 49 runners – good to see manners are alive and kicking. Race instructions were on the wry side – right up my street. And then we were off….
The first couple of miles descend to sea level and with the wind at your back it is difficult not to go off too fast. In fact after a few hundred metres I found myself in unknown territory as I briefly led the field. Quickly realising how dangerous this would be I moved behind the lead pack of 4 runners who were clocking along at a decent pace. I decided at this point with local knowledge fresh in my mind to slow down a little in advance of the hills, wind and tough final few miles and watched the leaders gradually open up a gap on me. I’d decided to target as close to a 1:30 half as possible given the undulation so was conscious of bagging some time on the faster downhill miles without going crazy. Not always an easy balance.
By the time we reached the foot of the first climb at the 5k mark I was totally isolated but enjoying the views out over the Summer Isles. Gritting my teeth the climb was tough as the wind now moved across the route rather than at our backs but with the top generally in sight most of the way it was a case of getting the job done. Rounding the first corner the route levels off briefly allowing runners to refocus energies on the scenery and dodging the sheep lazily meandering their way across the track. Around this time I closed the distance quickly and passed the runner in 4th place, noting that the field ahead has stretched with the 3 runners now well spaced out.
A long and enjoyable downhill section follows the first big climb. Checking my watch I was well on for 1:30 and was comfortably beating my pb pace from the Glasgow Half on these easier miles. Feeling good I tried to open up a bit of a gap on the runners behind by pushing hard through this section.
Reaching the Top of the Big Climb – Photo Credit Anne McGee
Turning inland around the 6 mile marker the second, and biggest, of the climbs stretches out before you with an encouraging cry from the marshal, ‘there will be water at the top… if it’s not blown away!’. The wall of wind at this point was fierce as you meet it head on for the duration of the ascent. A bad combination in anyone’s books. Focusing on the runner ahead I worked hard in the climb and reached the top looking reasonably fresh (see picture above) having moved into third place. Sensibly the volunteers at the water station had moved beyond the hill to a sheltered section of the route.
Potentially the best bit of the course the profile is downhill for the next couple of miles as the road heads towards Achnahaird where Lisa and I were staying for the weekend. Lochs and mountains enclose you and provide respite from the wind making for enjoyable running. With all eyes on the runner in second place it was in hindsight a bonus that Natalie Stevenson of Fusion Triathlon Club came blazing back at me on the downhill section as we were able to work together through this section. This caused me to run these miles faster than I would have on my own. I was racing rather than pacing my own race.
With the support crew out in force at the bottom of the hill I passed through Achnahaird in good time and feeling fit. Nothing though was going to prepare us for the section between Achnahaird and Achiltibuie where the relatively gentle climb was exacerbated by the worst head winds of the day. Natalie and I passed the runner in second place between mile 10 and 11 but the pace dropped dramatically on this section as the combination of physical and mental fatigue took their toll.
Stretching ahead and giving myself a bit of a gap in second place it took all my efforts to keep going as you can tell from my very bad poker face in the picture above. With the balls of my feet burning badly again in my new shoes it was very much a case of ticking off each step and talking myself through to the end after being a tad ambitious in the middle section of the course. Mental note – remember all local knowledge in future races as the final miles definitely required something in reserve.
Turning in to the final mile and a half of the course and heading back (up) through Achiltibuie the relatively gradual incline felt a million times harder that the first climb or second ‘big’ climb earlier in the route. It was now a case of getting to the end and trying to hold on to second position.
Rounding the final corner at the 13 mile marker the last thing I wanted to see was a gravel track headed steeply uphill to the finish line and it was at pretty much walking pace that I completed the course. I was absolutely delighted though to finish on the podium and in second place on a tough course. My time of 1:25:39 was within a minute of my pb which on this route was a real step forward given that I didn’t manage to break 1:30:00 at Arran on a course with 70 metres less elevation.
All in this was another top race and a definite contender for the most scenic route I’ve run. It would definitely be on the list for an annual visit. I absolutely loved everything about the route and it must rank as one of Scotland’s most friendly races. The final ace in the pack was a great post-race buffet in the Community Hall. A top event this run was small, friendly, scenic and challenging in just the right measures.
These are the days when you need to be really grateful that I’m able to be out there in such amazing places. For me this was about as close as it gets; the day when I managed to hit a rich vein of form on a course well suited to my strengths in a remarkable part of our beautiful country.
Well done and thanks as always to the race organisers and everyone who gave up their time on the day to help out including Anne McGee who uploaded some of the photos (copyright) to the events page and is raising money for the Highland Hospice.
It was brollies at the ready this morning as I headed in to town to meet my Dad early doors. One of the biggest events in the cities sporting calendar, it’s brilliant to see the streets of Glasgow given over to runners for the day and although the weather was miserable at best the sprinters definitely got the best of the day as conditions deteriorated in the early afternoon. Heading towards the river the buzz on the Broomielaw as the 10k runners hit the 9k mark certainly inspired me as I said my goodbyes and made my way towards George Square for the start of the half.
The Great Scottish Run had not been in my plans this year with cost a significant factor given the range of community / running club organised in many stunning parts of the country. Followers of the blog will know that that big city runs don’t feature too often but there’s something special about pounding the streets of your home town with larger numbers of spectators than normal. With a half price entry due to last’s years short course I decided to go for it and was determined to finally dip under the 90 minute mark this morning after narrowly missing out on a number of very challenging courses earlier in the season.
It was great to see so many Runbetweeners taking on the challenge this morning and people were in good spirits before the start. Everyone was confident following a good period of training and keen to round of the summer season in style. In my own head (after a pep talk by The Claw) I was aiming for a race plan of:
Goal A – sub 85 minutes
Goal B – 87.5 minutes
Goal C – Sub 90 minutes
Setting multiple goals is something I have picked up from listening to the Marathon Talk podcasts and it’s something I wish I had been capable of doing earlier in my running journey.
Heading off from St Vincent Street I stuck with David from the Harriers who was pacing the 90 minute runners. A relatively gentle but prolonged uphill drag it’s important not to get too carried away here and on the climb up the Kingston Bridge if you are to run well on the flat later on. I was deliberately holding something in reserve and between the 1 and 2 mile mark I started to move away from the 90 minute group.
The section between Scotland Street School and Pollok park ticks off a lot of miles and I was pleased to see a huge Harriers and Runbetweener support crew at the end of St Andrews Drive including both my wife and The Boy. This meant I would see them again 3km later when exiting the park. Feeling spurred on by their support I picked up the pace a little and started passing other runners regularly. The uphill reverse parkrun climb is part of the Harriers Time Trial route and I was able to put local knowledge to good effect. I know the number of paces, every pot hole and inch of this section of the route and through gritted teeth I maintained a sub 6-30 minute mile pace before picking up to a quicker split at the brow of the hill.
Exiting the park and spurred on by my support crew for the last time I knew the toughest miles lay ahead. Bellahouston Park is a tough little section as you pass through the middle miles of the course and switchback a number of times. I was feeling confident though a bit concerned that the field was getting a bit strung out. On the two small Bella climbs I managed to pass a few other runners bringing me into contact with a group of about 4 runners for the pass down Paisley Road West.
A watch check showed I was about 18 seconds outside Goal A around the 9 mile mark but on track for Goal B. A quick body MOT told me I was in good nick although the ball of my foot was burning badly – this has happened in my last few runs in racing flats. Turns in particular were painful but more the grin and bear it than slow down sort of pain. Most importantly my legs still felt good and my breathing was controlled, even on the climbs. I was definitely on for a crack at Goal A so I decided to try and pick up the pace rather than leave it too late and regret it later on.
Miles 10-12 passed comfortably as I clocked 6-20s. Crossing the Squinty Bridge I knew the finish was approx 1.5 miles away and I decided to kick again along the flat drag. The road quality improves here and it was nice not to feel every small crack and bump in the road in my racers as the ball of my foot continued to burn badly in my new shoes.
As I neared the final 1k it was head down and dig deep time for the first time in the race as a combination of the distance and quick miles caught up on me. Seeing the big screen and a motivating message from my number 1 fan gave me the oomph heading into the final 400 metres. I could see the White Wave clock ticking closer and closer to Goal A with each passing stride but was delighted to cross the line just under 1:25:00 and in a chip time of 1:24:42. Officially a PB of 5mins 27seconds. Not bad.
This is definitely one of my top 3 performances alongside my stand out 10 mile races of 2017. 2018 is going to be about the Marathon and 5k and 10k and I need to take confidence from recent performances. This was a great end to a brilliant week after The Boy and I received news that The Runbetweeners has been nominated in the category of Best JogScotland group.
It was great to shelter under the umbrella in The Clutha’s beer garden as the wind picked up and rain got heavier cheering on Harriers, Runbetweeners and familiar faces. Most looked pleased with their efforts and are hopefully resting up and reliving the day on catch up TV. Well done to everyone and I’ll maybe even see you next year.
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Our pick for race of the year 2016, there was never any doubt that The Boy and I would be in Tighnabruaich yesterday for the annual Kyles 10 Miles Road Race. With the biggest every entry it was great to see so many familiar faces toeing the start line as well as many of our friends taking on this iconic race for the first time. Importantly though the race remained small enough to retain the intimate community vibe which has made it such a popular and well regarded event.
There was a good turnout from both Bellahouston Harriers and Dunoon Hill Runners this year meaning I was in for a no-win scenario plumping for a colour clashing combo of Harriers vest and Hill Runners buff after donning the local vest. Whilst my usual rule is ‘when in Argyll or on a hill don the Hill Runners vest’ I had travelled down from Glasgow with my Harriers team mates and wasn’t even too sure if my Dunoon vest had made it through the laundry cycle after the Cowal Hill Race.
Most pleasingly though for The Boy and I was the strong turnout from our Monday night running group. For some this was their longest race to date and they did brilliantly on a tough, but ultimately rewarding, route.
On to the race itself I’ve promised The Boy I will keep it brief (for a fuller course overview see previous posts). So in a sentence this is a looped route with 6 hilly miles followed by four reasonably flat miles on open country roads. And if the editor had his way that would be it. Perhaps he’s keen to keep this one close to his chest, I wonder why?
If I really have to keep it short and you’re going to stop reading here all I will say is this is a race that you should seriously consider doing at least once.
For those who want a little bit more keep reading…
The route is situated in one of the most incredibly scenic parts of the now Rough Guide awarded most beautiful country in the world. There are too many vistas to mention but the top views on the route include a short sideways glimpse of Ostel Bay, one of Argyll’s hidden gems, and jaw dropping panoramas over the Isle of Arran. With an early September date in the race calendar it provides a good test before Autumn Marathons and 1/2s and there’s more than a decent chance of good weather – the two good days in May and then again in September after all are what we Scots refer to as summer.
As well as the views the organisers manage to maintain a level of personal service alongside a professional race day experience that rivals the best out there. This was evident again despite a larger entry this year. This includes contact in advance with the organisers through to on the day assistance. Throw in an incredibly friendly welcome from marshals, locals and interested passers by and you’ve got the key ingredients for our kind of race. The true test of a race as everyone knows though is in the post race refuelling options and here the Kyles 10 Miles triumphs with refreshments on tap, home baking and burgers cooking on the BBQ within metres of the finish line.
This year’s race went well overall with The Boy and I both recording course best times and bookending the top 10 much to our delight. It was great to see both Harriers / Hill Runners and friends of the Runbetweeners running strong on a tough route. Interestingly if my school running club had entered as a team we’d have been in with a good shout of a team prize.
Personally I felt strong over the hills but struggled to pick it up on the flat final 4 miles, a now familiar tale. After reaching the top of the shinty / golf course hill at the 1st mile marker I worked with ‘man in red running top’ to close the gap on the ever consistently fast Iain Morrison and a runner from Garscube Harriers. Closing the gap over the next two miles ‘man in red running top’ and I continued to climb and descend at a good pace over the outward section of the loop. Having someone to battle against definitely contributed to a personal best performance for me but on the final descent towards Carry Farm I struggled to maintain the downhill pace, gradually losing contact with ‘man in red running top’. This left me hopelessly adrift and running alone for the final few miles. Digging deep I was pleased to see later that I managed to maintain a sub 20 min 5k pace over the last section of the route when it felt like I was wading in treacle. The last mile was brutal with my legs feeling heavier with each passing step but I was delighted to cross the line in a little over 66 minutes.
The Boy was already gearing up for a two mile cool down by the time I finished and looks in great shape ahead of his tilt at the Berlin Marathon in two weeks. Congratulations to him for the win with a 40 second improvement on last year’s effort and for photo of the day.
Most impressive yesterday though were the performances by The Runbetweeners who have caught the running bug badly. Despite the odd blister and tired legs everyone loved the route and it was great to see everyone coming home with giant smiles across their faces. It really was a fantastic achievement by each of them. A good warm up for tomorrow nights time trial 😉
As always thanks to the race organisers and marshals who give so tirelessly of their own time. It is much appreciated.
This was a tough week and a bit of a mix to be honest! Things started fantastically and I felt great on the progression run. I managed to work down to a couple of reps at 5:25/mile and felt strong. This was a similar session to one which I completed before my Marathon in Amsterdam last year however this attempt ended up being significantly faster than that effort – a nice little confidence booster!
On Wednesday however I had to stop my run half a mile early due to really bad stomach cramps. I had further stomach issues on Thursday too, though thankfully I was still able to complete the session.
On Friday and Saturday I was made it through all of the runs with no further issues which was a relief and I felt great. I am really starting to feel fit just now and these runs felt fantastic.
Sunday was a big one. 24Miles with the middle 20 at 6:20/mile (approximately 30seconds ahead of Marathon Pace). I made my way round Pollok Park before heading up along the cycle route towards Paisley and along the canal before turning and heading back on myself. It was really useful to have company on the first section of this run and Darren and Stuart ran with my to the half way point. It was also a nice boost to see Cris and Craig when I was heading back as we used the same route for our similar sessions. I felt great on this run and the pace felt comfortable – again it was a huge confidence boost as I enter the final month of preparation. I did get a bit of a fright when I stopped however as I attempted to stretch my calves (which had been very tight) and I got a sharp pain up my Achilles and left calf. After a couple of minutes the pain disappeared and things seemed to clear up. I decided to take a day off tomorrow and to focus on a stretching/icing/foam rolling strategy to get through it! Fingers crossed…