The Road to Berlin: Week Five

Week Five: 07/08/17 – 13/08/17

Total Mileage: 70.8

Monday:        6M Recovery

Tuesday:        12M (8 Steady)

Wednesday:  6M Recovery

Thursday:      2M Time Trial (Race)

Friday:            AM:  5M Recovery

                          PM:  6M Easy

Saturday:       AM: 8M Easy + Strides

                          PM: Conditioning Circuit (Light)

Sunday:          20M Easy

Reflections
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Delighted with the way this week has gone. This is the final week of my school holidays and it has been great to get out and get some quality sessions under my belt. 

Tuesday’s run was a great confidence boost as I ticked along the 8 Steady miles at ~ 5:51/mile pace and felt comfortable. I will look to build on this in the coming weeks as I attempt to tune into Marathon Pace.

Thursday was another huge confidence boost as I ran a PB at the Bella Harriers Time Trial with 9mins 58secs. I enjoyed a nice 2M warmup and cool down with my brother Oli who was up visiting and felt brilliant toeing the line. I made an effort to hold back a little in the first mile of the race andlooking at my Garmin data after the race revealed that I actually ran the first mile 7secs slower than when I ran my previous PB. Nevertheless, I felt really strong because of this and hit the ascent with confidence. This was the first time that I have really felt in control running up the hill on this course and it seemed to fly by. I hit the peak and wretched things out with a fast finish. I managed a slightly negative split despite the climb and this definitely contributed to the PB. I was also lucky to get a fancy photo taken after the race by award winning professional photographer Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert who was taking portrait style photos of club members for his latest project.

Friday and Saturday were both geared towards recovering from the hard start to the week and I felt good getting through the slower miles. On Saturday I also managed a very light circuit of conditioning in the gym followed with a brief, easy swim and a sauna.  I finished the day feeling refreshed and spent a lot of time on the foam roller in front of the athletics.

Sunday was a big one and I headed out with the lads for a 20M Easy paced run over the moors. This is a very hilly route with over 1000ft of ascent, mostly in the first half. We manage to tick the miles off however and stuck to the planned pace effectively. This really is a stunning route and the views make the hills worth climbing! I tested out race strategy with gels today and had success with taking two Science in Sport gels during the run. I had one at 10M and one at 15M and had no issues with them. The run concluded with coffee and croissants courtesy of Craig before I popped home for some more foam rolling and stretching.

This was a fantastic week or me. It was my biggest week in terms of volume so far and included some nice confidence boosting short runs too. I’ve got a few more ‘big’ weeks to go before hitting my taper and am feeling very strong. I’ll be focusing on hitting the sessions as planned in the coming weeks and also ensuring my nutrition and recovery is effective to support this. 


Thanks to Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert for the photograph!  

The Road to Berlin: Week Four

Week Four: 31/07/17 – 06/08/17

Total Mileage: 53.7

Monday:         10x 1min on/1min off

Tuesday:         6M Recovery

Wednesday:  18M (10 Moderate)

Thursday:       6M Recovery

Friday:             8M Easy

Saturday:        REST

Sunday:           11M (7 Tempo) 

Reflections.

This week was spent pretty much entirely in Cyprus (I flew back to London on Saturday evening) which meant a slight shuffle of the sessions. I was worried about trying the do the Tempo run whilst away as I felt the heat would make it very difficult to hit the speed that I was aiming for. I therefore swapped this session with the long run which had been planned for the weekend. I also switched out Monday’s planned Hill Session as there were no hills available and so did a fast,flat interval session instead.

Monday was an a tough session in the morning heat and I definitely underestimated it. I got the session done but realised I would definitely need earlier starts from this point on. I also realised that I would need to ensure I had water for all of my runs. 

Tuesday was much more enjoyable as I was able to drop the pace and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Salt Lake.  This also gave me a chance to scout out the first section of a route for tomorrow’s longer run. Felt good and had to make a real effort to hold the pace back towards the end of the run.

Wednesday was a session which I had been dreading. It would mean being out in the heat for a long time and there was also the very real possibility of me getting lost! I decided to get up before the sunrise and head out at 5:30am.  I also decided to break the run into sections which would enable me to re-fill my water bottle. I set off for the first 5M section at an easy pace and made sure that I consumed a full bottle of Gatorade during this loop. I then re-filled my bottle with cold water during a quick pit stop and headed back out the door. I gave myself one more mile of easy running to get back into a rhythm before hitting the 10M at Moderate pace (6:30/mile). I felt great and succeeded in holding this pace for the duration as I completed a full loop of Larnaca’s Salt Lake and headed back along the seafront. This faster section was followed with a couple of easy miles to bring the total distance to 18M.

Thursday and Friday were a nice dip back down to gentler paces and I was able to soak up the sun with a little less pressure. I felt good although I had a little tightness in the left calf, leading to a slight ache in the shin, after the 8M Easy run on Friday. I’ve been slacking on the stretching/foam rolling while away so will make an effort to get back on with this!

After a rest day on Saturday and a flight back to London, I headed out for a Tempo run on Sunday. I got a lift up to Kenley  Aerodrome for the session as I figured this would be nice and flat and traffic-free. Unfortunately I didn’t consider how windy it would be and this made it very tough to hit my target splits. I missed the goal pace by a few seconds per mile but this still felt like a decent session. It was a relief to get through the run with no aches in the shin or calf.

This was a good week of training and it was nice to get everything done without it eating into the holiday too much. The change of scenery was fantastic and it was great to be running in the heat before cooling off in the sea and enjoying my ‘recovery’ wth a book on the beach.

The Road to Berlin: Week Three

Week Three: 24/07/17 – 30/07/17

Total Mileage: 62.6

Monday:          PM: 6M Recovery

Tuesday:         AM: 8M Easy + Strides

Wednesday:   PM: Kilmaurs 5k Race

Thursday:       PM: 6M Recovery

Friday:             AM: 18M (10 Steady)

Saturday:        AM: 8M Recovery

Sunday:           AM: 8M Easy + Strides
Reflections.

This felt like another solid week. There was a slight shuffle around of my original plan due to a holiday in the Cypriot sun which would make fast running very difficult! With my flight to Larnaca departing on Saturday, I was advised to bring the long steady run forward to Friday. This meant that I could at least settle in to my first day of holiday with an ‘Easy’ run and not an 18 miler! The shuffle would mean fewer days recovery between race day and my long run but sometimes things just need to get done!

Monday and Tuesday were fine and  just ticked along feeling comfortable at the designated pace. I have been making an effort to do my strides properly during this marathon attempt as this is something that I have found easy to neglect in the past. I have found a decent stretch between two sets of lampposts on Tantallon Road which serve as reasonable markers of distance and these have worked effectively.

Coming into Wednesday’s race I was feeling confident. I had not been satisfied with my 5k time at Springburn parkrun a week and a half earlier and was keen to give myself a boost with a fast time. Secretly, I was hoping to challenge the 16minute barrier but, all things considered, I was happy enough to finish in 16:09. I felt much more comfortable than I had done previously and this gave me another indicator that things are moving in the right direction.

Thursday was all about recovery so it was a nice and simple recovery run into town to pick up some clothes for holiday (nothing like leaving things to the last minute!).

The long run on Friday was hard going and completely due to poor planning on my part. I had flown down to London to see family before my Cyprus flight an had planned on doing this run while there. The idea was to get 6 Easy miles under my belt before hitting 10 sub6 miles and then finishing up with a final 2 Easy.  In my memory ‘The Woldingham Run’ is a flat, traffic free loop which I could double up to get my 10 faster miles. I discovered mid-run however that, while it is indeed traffic-free, it is definitely not flat!! I had a quick re-shuffle of my route (which for someone with my sense of direction is always dangerous!) and managed to get things sorted. The run ended up being fine and I was glad to get it done.

Saturday morning was a straightforward recovery run before my lunchtime flight to Larnaca.

Sunday was my first run in Cyprus of the holiday and was pencilled in as 8M Easy + Strides. I found a map which suggested a that a footpath would take me all the way around the Salt Lake which is not far from where I am staying and which looked to have a fair few miles to it. I had no idea how suitable this ‘footpath’ would be for running, all I knew was that it would be hot. And so it was that at 7am the alarm went and I headed out the door with a (too big) bottle of water and a sense of adventure. Vicki was a also heading out for a few miles along the seafront – which as handy as I am sure a lot of partners would be less than impressed with a 7am alarm on the first morning of a holiday! The footpath was ideal but the heat was rising and was close to 30degrees even at this time. I will need an earlier start before my long run next week! For my strides I ran along a section of the newly pedestrianised seafront which was absolutely fantastic. The sun was rising over the ocean and I could smell the strong Greek Coffee from the roadside cafes. Post-run it was straight to the beach for a dip in the sea and a few hours of reading my new book (Stephen King – Dark Tower 1: The Gunslinger).

All in all this was a good week. I was pleased with my 5k performance and glad to get the long steady run done – besides, it is difficult to complain when your day consists of running in the sun, sipping Iced Coffee and eating Souvlaki. Magic.

The Road to Berlin: Week Two

Week Two: 17/07/17 – 23/07/17

Total Mileage: 64.1

Monday:      Rest

Tuesday:      AM: 14M (8M Steady)

Wednesday: AM: 7M Recovery

Thursday:     AM: 11M (6M Tempo)

Friday:           AM: 6M Recovery

Saturday:      AM: 6M Easy

Sunday:         AM: 20M (16M Moderate)
Reflections.

This was a good week and provided a nice confidence boost after the mixed experiences of last week. There were three key sessions here and I was pleased to successfully hit all of them and feel good in the process. Tuesday’s session included a nice set of 8M at 5:55/mile pace which felt comfortable  even in the heat. I ran this session solo along the Clyde Walkway, which has become a bit of a standard route for my paced efforts, and focused on feeling relaxed and loose through the miles.

Thursday’s Tempo run filled me with dread. Last week I really struggled with a 3x2M Tempo which I ran with Gregor. During that session I had failed to maintain the required pace and faded miserably towards the end. It had been a run that ended with me feeling dehydrated, frustrated and filled with self-doubt. I decided therefore to take a different approach to this week’s effort; I would treat this run as a race. I woke up early for a small breakfast before relaxing for a couple of hours in bed. I then completed a full warm up including some mobility work and foam rolling. I even dressed as if this were a race: vest, split shorts and racing flats. I decided not to take my music with me and to head out for the run solo. By limiting distractions, I would give myself the best possible chance of hitting my target splits. I managed the pace much more effectively on this run than I had on previous efforts and reaped the benefits of not going out too hard. The more conservative first mile (5:30) meant that I felt strong at the halfway mark and was even able to increase the pace slightly as I turned for home. I averaged splits of 5:28/mile across the 6 and, most importantly, felt great.

It was nice to get a couple of easy days in after the Tempo run and I spent these in Sheffield with Vicki visiting family. It was great to explore some new places at an easy pace and I even got to take in a new park run  (Graves parkrun report here!). We discovered just how hilly Sheffield really is and I was relieved to not be running tempo paced sessions here! 
After a couple of easy days it was time for the long run. This was a 20M effort with 16M at Moderate effort. The pace would vary slightly due to the  route having a steady climb for the first half and a descent for the duration of the second. I got the train out to Kilmarnock with the boys and we would run back through to Glasgow. After 3M of easy running, Cris and I increased the pace to 6:30/mile and held this for 7M. This felt good in spite of the ascent and the slight headwind and so when we hit the 10M point, we dropped the pace to 6:20/mile. Cris and I held the pace together for the next 7M before he dropped off to complete his easy section and I added in the bonus 2M that I had pencilled in at this faster pace. After 16 Moderate miles, I dropped down to easy pace to complete my run. It was a nice session and I felt comfortable at this pace. Getting a 20 Miler in the bank also felt good and definitely gave me a confidence boost as Berlin looms on the horizon. It was also the perfect precursor for the ‘all-you-can-eat buffet’ which I enjoyed with the lads afterwards.

This was a good week and I enjoyed the three sessions. It was nice to get this in before my upcoming holiday in Cyprus too as I have a feeling it is not going to feel comfortable hitting the target sessions in the heat! I’ll do what I can! 

Graves parkrun – A little bit of tourism!

With Kenny off exploring Japan this weekend, I decided to do a little tourism of my own. Vicki and I made our way down to Sheffield to visit some family and enjoy a couple of days of drinking coffee and eating cake in a variety of cafes and tearooms. Throw in a parkrun and you have all the ingredients of a pretty successful mini-break!

Our initial plan had been to re-visit Sheffield Hallam parkrun as this is very close to where we would be staying. We were surprised however to discover that the event was cancelled this weekend due to a local festival taking place within Endcliffe Park and so we set our sights on Graves parkrun – a new event for us and an exciting (though hilly!) prospect.

Vicki and I were both planning to squeeze a few extra miles into our Saturday morning (Vicki was hoping to make this her long run while I was hoping for half a dozen easy miles before my long run tomorrow!) and so we set the alarm and Vicki set off solo at 7:30 while I grabbed myself a welcome cup of coffee and curled back under the duvet for an extra half hour in bed. As the clock struck 8 I popped out the front door and joined Vicki for the short, yet mountainous, run across town to Graves Park. We arrived at the park with about 15minutes to spare and my brother Tom joined us for the pre-run briefing before we took our places on the start line. The event was fairly busy, potentially due to the event cancellation at Hallam parkrun, and the friendly, welcoming atmosphere that seems to be an ever-present aspect of the parkrun experience was in full flow. After a few words of advice and encouragement we were off.

My plan was to run 6 miles at approximately 7minute miling and so I took up a position which was fairly close to the front without being too near to the sharp end – I did not want to get carried away in a battle against someone which could potentially ruin my plan for the session.

The run begins with a long sweeping downhill section through a park with stunning views out over the surrounding countryside. It was fantastic to experience this without the pressure of racing and I enjoyed settling into a rhythm and taking it all in. A friendly shout from the marshal at the bottom of the hill directed us towards a narrow footpath through the farm and I found myself bounding along between fields full of slightly puzzled looking sheep. The pathway here was fairly narrow here but fortunately this was not a day when overtaking was a priority and I tucked in behind the runner in front of me who was keeping a nice steady pace. If I were returning to Graves in future and planning on racing this route, I would definitely make it a priority to go out hard and secure a place at the front before reaching this path as overtaking here would be near impossible.

After the narrow pathway things opened up again and we found ourselves snaking up through the fields and back out of the farm. We passed ponds and woodland before returning to the large open field in which we began. This meant a return up the hill, this time on grass, to the start line before he route retreated itself. Again, this hill is definitely one worth remembering if returning here for a fast race as it is a fair climb and the grass could be energy sapping underfoot. It is not a finish that I would like to be reaching neck and neck with a rival!

The second lap was very enjoyable as things had spread out a bit and I was happily plodding along in a steady rhythm, taking in the beautiful views of Graves Park and already thinking about the forthcoming breakfast of bacon and cream cheese bagels (an absolute belter of a post-run brekkie in my book). I crossed the finish line pretty much on the pace which I had planned and made me way back round the route to cheer on Vicki and Tom as they tackled the final hill. Barcodes were scanned, photos were taken and breakfast was organised. Tom and I jumped in the car home while Vicki ran back to squeeze in her final few miles down the epic hills which had been conquered earlier in the morning.

This was a a fantastic parkrun and definitely one worth experiencing if you find yourself in Sheffield. It is not as quick as the Hallam event but it is a beautiful park with plenty to see on the run. The hills are challenging without being nightmarish and the event is busy without being over-crowded. All in all, this was a very enjoyable morning of running – and the bagels were not bad either!

                            

The Road to Berlin. Week One

The Berlin Marathon has always been the ‘A’ target for 2017 and, as I begin my race-specific training, I thought I would keep a record of my training and reflections for each week online. I currently keep a handwritten training diary which enables me to keep an eye on my training and track my progress over the year however during my preparation for the Amsterdam Marathon 2016 I found it interesting to read the training diaries of other runners online and so this year I have decided to add my own contribution. My current marathon PB is 2:34 which I secured at Amsterdam last year. I would like to build on that in Berlin. This will be a fairly short marathon block as I struggled with injuries earlier in the year and decided that I would delay the marathon-specific work and focus instead on building up some speed. I also took an easy week prior to commencing this next period of hard work during which I cut my mileage drastically, had a massage and generally took things easy!
  

Week One: 10/07/17-16/07/17

Total Mileage: 68.5

Monday:            AM: Strength + Conditioning (light)

                             PM: 6M Recovery Run

Tuesday:            AM: 4.75M Easy

                             PM: 7M Easy + Strides

Wednesday:      PM: 11.5M (3X2M at Tempo)

Thursday:          AM: 6M Recovery Run

Friday:                PM: 8M Easy

Saturday:           AM: Springburn parkrun

                             PM: Strength + Conditioning (light)

Sunday:             AM: 18M Easy

 

Reflections

This was a bit of a mixed week for me. I introduced a more specific running strength and conditioning element to my training and took this at a low intensity due to it being a new addition to my training.  

Wednesday’s Tempo run was hard going and it was a very hot day. I made a couple of big mistakes which had a negative impact on the session. Firstly, I don’t think I managed my hydration through the day effectively and I really felt this during the later stages of the session. Secondly, I took the first couple of miles far too quickly which meant that I faded in the later stages and particularly struggled in the final mile to hold a tempo pace. After this session I felt horrific and had to jump into Tesco for something to drink. It was definitely a lesson in preparation and I will be certain to manage these things more effectively in future! 

Saturday was a chance to put in a fast 5k run at Springburn park run and, again, this was a disappointing experience. I had managed a PB of 9:59 at the hilly Bella Harriers 2M TT last week and hoped to build on that by pushing for a sub16 minute parkrun. It became clear in the first mile however that my legs were not going to play along and they felt heavy and tired almost immediately. On reflection I believe this could have been down to a couple of things but mainly my very short warmup due to a late arrival at the park. I think I probably still had some of Wednesday’s tempo in my legs also. I crossed the line in 16:18 which was frustrating but I am happy that this was a blip which I can overcome easily. 

Sunday was a good one! I really enjoyed the 18M Easy run which I took solo. I like the new route which took my along the Clyde Walkway for a large portion of it and I will use this again. I held an average pace of 6:43 per mile which felt comfortable and I managed to stick to this pace consistently throughout the run. It was nice to complete this run exactly as planned. 

Overall this was a mixed week. Wednesday and Saturday’s runs were disappointing but I take some comfort from knowing where I went wrong and that it is easily fixable. Sunday was a much better run and allowed me to finish the week on a positive note. I managed to get a decent number of miles in as well as a couple of strength and conditioning sessions and feel good about going into week two. 

Beating the Drum…better late than never!

Well this is a bit late as I managed to delete my first write-up. Here goes the second attempt:
Last Saturday our Runbetweeners JogScotland group made the trip across the city to visit Drumchapel parkrun. Fifteen members of the group (plus the two handsome leaders) would be running the route and Finola would step up as a Marshal for the event. Meeting outside Run4it in order to organise lifts gave Kenny the perfect opportunity to explain just how tough the hills of Drumchapel would be. Kenny had run the route before however I hadn’t yet had the privilege and this gave him the perfect opportunity to wind me up with tales of mountains to be scaled. I decided to take his stories with a generous pinch of salt – after all, I have fallen victim to Kenny’s jokes before!
When we arrived at Drumchapel it was clear that this was a very friendly event – the smaller numbers definitely give it a fantastic atmosphere of community and appreciation. Our group all looked fantastic in their new Brooks running t-shirts and we were made to feel very welcome – even getting a special mention from Brian the Run Director! Chris was also pleased to get a shout for completing his 100th parkrun and the invitation of post-run cake was widely appreciated! 


After a short pre-run brief we were off. The route begins with a fairly sharp downhill path that twists and turns out of the woods. As I was filming the event on my GoPro, arm pinned to my side in order to maintain a steady shot, it was pretty tricky maintaining my balance on this winding section but I just about kept my footing! The downhill start serves as a nice introduction before the inevitable levelling out. The route then undulates slightly for a few hundred yards before the first real climb. This short-lived ascent is soon conquered however and then another nice downhill into the woods is on the cards. At this point in the run I concluded that the hills here ‘aren’t too bad actually’. 

Then we hit the big climb.

This was a much more notable ascent and it was at this point that I heard a familiar voice approaching from behind me. Kenny had caught up and we decided to run the remainder of the route together (I think he just wanted to get in the video!). Once we had reached the summit, things levelled out and made their way back to the start for the end of lap one.

Repeat.

Repeat again.


By the third lap the hills were taking their toll and I can see now why Drumchapel has a reputation as a tough course. The woodland location and trail underfoot however make this a picturesque and enjoyable run. The marshalls were fantastic (especially Finola obviously!) and the event was a nice change from the usual Glasgow parkruns that we find ourselves doing.


Post- run, the runners headed off to the cafe for well deserved coffee and cake while Kenny and I had to disappear to the Emirates for some JogScotland/SAMH Mental Health Awareness training. The Runbetweeners all did fantastically well on the challenging course and reported back that they’d enjoyed the change of scenery. I am sure many will be back to take on the hills again.

Special thanks to the volunteers at Drumchapel for putting on such a fantastic event and for making us all feel so welcome. We will definitely be recommending people head over and pay you a visit!

Bellahouston Harriers 2M Time Trial

2 Miles is not a distance which we get the opportunity to race over very often. It is short enough that it is going to hurt from the gun and long enough to give you time to think about the pain. However the Bellahouston Harriers 2 Mile Time Trials always manage to attract a decent crowd and the atmosphere is consistently electric. This month’s edition was no different. At just two pound entry (with post-race soup included in the fee!) this has to be one of the cheapest running events on the calendar and the fact that it can all be over (relatively) quickly makes it an ideal opportunity to test your fitness once a month over the summer.

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After a very social warm-up lap, we made our way, slightly nervously, to the start line at the entrance to Cartha. Tom didn’t hold us there for too long however and after a few words of thanks and last minute instructions we were off.

The first half of the route follows a gradual downhill towards Lochinch and it was during this speedy section that the first thoughts of doubt crept into my head. The nature of the distance means that a slow start can be very hard to recover from and the slight descent encourages a fast start. I found myself, as always, wondering whether I had in fact gone off with a slightly too much enthusiasm. The run was missing a couple of notable Harriers who normally give me a good target and so I found myself striding solo towards the White House. I checked my pace slightly and focused on maintaining an efficient form and trying to relax, knowing that the downhill section would not last forever.

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As I turned the bend at Pollok House and began the ascent, I felt better than I remember feeling in previous attempts. It was during the climb however that the fear started to creep back in – could I really hold this pace up the hill which never seems to end? I broke the hill up into sections in my head and focused on these smaller targets, allowing myself the idea that I would reconsider my pace after the next goal had been surpassed. This seemed to do the trick and I managed to crest the hill without having to make too great a sacrifice in pace.

As I hit the sharp bend onto the final downhill section of the route I felt great and seemed to pick up a second wind from somewhere. The slightly muddy surface underfoot however meant that I had to check my stride a touch as I bounded down the pathway and this seemed to provide another boost of much needed adrenaline as I panicked that I was going to have thrown away my chances of beating my previous time. Emerging from the path with 400m to go I kicked on and the encouragement of several Harriers at this point was incredible. The final section is always longer than you think it is going to be and I was grateful for another shout of encouragement from Robbie Ferguson as I re-entered Cartha for the final twisting metres.

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I crossed the line feeling strong but empty, satisfied that I had given everything in the final stages of the race. I was unable to really think about anything else going on at this stage and so did a bit of a double-take when Tony announced my time for me. 9 minutes and 59 seconds. A nice personal best and my first ever sub-10 minute performance. It was great to see Stuart and Darren both sprinting over the line shortly afterwards, each producing their own PB performances.

It was a night of many stand-out performances with Kenny also securing himself a big PB and several of the Runbetweeners making their debut over the distance. The event is a small one, but the atmosphere is always fantastic and there is a lot to be said for a short, fast race with friends followed by a hot cup of soup and a crusty roll. It is a great example of what makes Bella Harriers such a brilliant club to be part of.

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If you fancy joining us for the next one, it will take place on 10th August and is open to everyone. Thanks to Ann, Tony, and Stuart for the photographs.

The Isle of Arran Half Marathon – Boats, Trains and Automobiles

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Team Bella Before The Race

Just back from another enjoyable day trip, this time to the Isle of Arran Half Marathon. Another great local event which ticked a number of runbetweener requirements; reachable as a day trip, scenic and a relatively small field. Safe to say the Isle of Arran Half Marathon is another fine addition to the list of road races on our great tour of Scottish Classics.

An early start was required for this one as we (minus The Boy) caught the 8-40am train from Glasgow Central. Method of transport number 1 gave plenty time to catch up with other runners. Ross, the returner and experienced Arran runner assured us this would be undulating but flatter than Run Mhor last week putting my mind at ease. The boat crossing, method of transport number 2, passed smoothly as we waited for the canteen queue to die down before ploughing into the breakfast rolls ignoring Brian’s no food 3 hours before a run rule.

Upon race entry runners have the option of bundling coach travel to the start line at Blackwaterfoot and when we disembarked at Brodick we were efficiently directed to our awaiting coach – method of transport number 3. Slowly ascending out of Brodick it was clear that undulating would be the theme of the day as we quickly crossed the String Road to the east coast of the island.

Registration at the finish line gave runners the chance to scope out the final 200m lapped section of the course around the grassy field. After a short pre-race welcome and briefing we were off, this time by my preferred mode of travel; foot – method of transport number 4.

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Registration / Start / Finish Area

I’ll sum up this race pretty quickly as it didn’t go particularly well for me personally. My race pretty much split into 3 parts. A Trilogy so to speak…

Episode 1 – Flying (almost gave me the excuse to call the article planes, trains and automobiles)

The first few miles are predominantly uphill. This occurs at a time in the race when everyone is pumped with adrenaline and running too fast. You would think I’d learn by now but no I went off at sub 1-30 pace on the inclines draining the energy stores early doors. This was going to come back and bite me big time in future episodes. Despite this I was feeling good and mile 4 provides a good bit of downhill into Machrie where the cross winds coming off the sea hit you for the first time. I was hitting 6-22 per minute miling and things felt pretty good. I was in a pack of 3 with two runners from Garscube Harriers and we had built up a reasonable gap on the runners behind.

Episode 2: Driving with a Flat

Turning at the hairpin out of Machrie things started to fall apart pretty badly as I was dropped by the two other runners . First by a few metres and then by a good 15 seconds over each of the next few miles. Thinking back this was the time I needed to dig in but my legs were tired from my exertions at Run Mhor the previous week and just as I started to slow Team Garscube seemed to move up a gear. Looking back at my Strava profile this is the longest and steepest incline in the route and although it feels reasonably gentle while running it was clearly taking its toll as I started to suffer badly.

I was hoping for a first legitimate sub 1-30 and this was throwing a spanner in the works despite building up a 60 second buffer in the first 4 miles. Apparently there was some downhill on this section but my legs still wouldn’t believe you if you told them. The sound of my flat footed trainers slapping off the tarmac confirmed what I knew… I was gubbed and struggling to keep my legs turning over. Exiting Episode 2 on to the String Road I was hoping for a gentle downhill home straight back to Blackwaterfoot with a sub 1-30 still a possibility.

Episode 3: Towing a Caravan

Unfortunately for me on the day the hills kept coming and they all felt like mountains by this stage of the race. Devoid of energy my mind started giving in and I slowed down badly on miles 10 and 11 which rolled back towards Shiskine. Team Garscube were now small dots in the distance and I was just hanging on. Despite a decent amount of descent into the finish I just couldn’t get going again until the home straight missing out on my sub 1-30 target by 9 seconds on the official results.

Collapsing in a heap I was surprised to have run it so close as I had given up the chase at the start of episode 3. However I had been hoping to be comfortably under the 1-30 mark so was a bit disappointed with my run. As usual my mood was perked up pretty quickly by a goody bag containing home made rolls and biscuits. A real nice touch and it was great to hear Brian who I had travelled with had finished in 10th spot with a huge pb. Coming 2nd in the V60 category he beat all of the V50s too. An incredible and inspiring effort. Finding out Team Garscube had put two minutes on me showed me what I think I am capable of on a flat course. 15th place overall so not too bad.

It was great then to turn my attentions to spectating as I watched the rest of the guys from Rouken Glen Juniors and Bellahouston Harriers come in. We then headed for a couple of refreshments in the local hotel before catching the bus back to Brodick. After a good feed on the ferry home we managed to cadge a lift home to the southside – method of transport number 5 by my count – arriving knackered and stiff after a hard run.

As always thanks to the marshals and race organisers. This was a really well organised event with a community feel. Small touches like the rolls in the goody bags complimented traditional aspects like the lack of chipped timing giving this race an authentic feel which is sadly lacking from the mega-city events where you feel more like a number than a participant.

A tough race that I am glad I did – maybe next time I won’t do another hard race quite so close.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1064661436/overview