Stathaven Striders Half Marathon

Thanks to Paul K. for his review of the Strathaven Half Marathon which was contested in tough conditions yesterday. Well done to everyone who took part and thanks to Paul for his excellent race report. First time we’ve heard of blogging as a race completion strategy.

 

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Well that’s the first race of the year for me under the belt, and what a way to start. I had a plan to run hopefully four or five half marathons this year and, both wanting to start early and keep some motivation over the winter, had signed up for the Strathaven Striders Half.

 

This had, pretty much, kept me going over winter and, with my trusty training partners Finola and Kirstin, helped me run some ridiculously early Sunday long runs. If I never see Stewarton Road again, I’ll be a happy man.

 

As everyone does, it’s weather watch time in the week running up to a big race. Last year had, apparently, been predominantly snow and there were multiple warnings about the conditions in the briefing emails. Given that it was a) February and b) in Strathaven going towards the windfarm, I was under no illusions; a sunny, balmy race this wasn’t going to be.

 

I dressed on race day with a short sleeved base layer, t-shirt and shorts, but had about three different outfits in a bag with me. Registration over, and the long-sleeved base layer was quickly donned. Training had been going well but looking at the conditions (and having had a sore throat last week) my approach was planned and a revised, conservative, time of under 2 hours was agreed on (I was, of course, arguing with myself in my head). There was a good Runbetweener turnout as well, although a few were masquerading as Bella Harriers!!!!
We set off, walking, from the school – behind the obligatory piper – and round to the start. Pre-race briefing had been held indoors. Overcast and blowy, it was a sign of things to come. The race was off promptly at 10:15 with a wee wriggle round some houses and side streets, and we were then out onto the country lanes.

 

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I’d talked to a few folk that had done this before and knew that the outward half of the loop was uphill, and that was true. I can think of only one proper downhill section in the first half of the race. Although appearing to be always on the up, there weren’t any significant hills to start with (I’m thinking of Stewarton Road again), but the problem was the wind. The race’s tagline was ‘Run With The Wind’ and they weren’t wrong. I’m told it was, in parts, around 20 mph gusting to 40 mph – and you felt every bit of it from about a mile out, until about four and a half miles. It blew into you, or across you; there was no respite or let-up – it was constant. I started writing this report in my head at this point to take my mind off it.

 

 

The weather made the view bleak and other than one family cheering on Carol (I hope she did well) the only other spectators were three horses and some sheep. I must mention the very patient cyclist who got caught up with us near the start. He graciously freewheeled until there was a clear space to pass, rather than weaving in and out. He also appeared open to bribes for a backie. Although bleak, there was a good bit of banter on the course, especially when the forecasted rain started. I felt my decision not to race hard was vindicated.

 

At four and half there was the first significant hill, but in the blink of a 90 degree turn, the wind died. Wow, I couldn’t believe the difference, and wasn’t bothered about the hill either, longish as it was taking us up to the water station at roughly halfway. I found it getting a bit busier on this hill, passing folk who’d started off too fast. However, in turn, I found a few passing me.

 

The water station also coincided with the top of a hill and a nice big downhill section followed. I fairly flew down this, and nearly paid for it later, bit it felt good. Downhill, over halfway, no real wind – what could go wrong? Plenty, as it turned out.

With the out part being uphill there is a reasonable assumption that the back part was predominantly down, but that didn’t feel like it was the case (Garmin & Strava will call me a liar though). I’m beginning to think of Arran last year which appeared to be 13 miles all uphill despite starting and finishing at the same point.

 

Country lanes had, momentarily, turned into farm tracks, but still flat. At just over 8 miles I took a gel to help with the final section. But half a mile later I was in trouble – the wind was back, with a vengeance, and so was the uphill nature of the course. One corner almost had me at a standstill, and a post race look at Garmin (eventually) showed that, albeit briefly, my pace had dropped to 10:53 a mile! It had been 6:35 a mile on the downhill at half way, and was roughly 2 minutes a mile slower than training pace. Iron Maiden’s ‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner’ popped into my head and I was acutely aware of the lack of support in terms of my training partners, or friendly faces. Race days are definitely different to training runs.

 

The wind so bad, directly into my face, that at this point I was questioning my own sanity, and post race discussions found out that I wasn’t the only one. It was also at this point in the race that I lost my target runner. I spent most of the first part about 20 to 30 metres behind her, but had overtaken her before half way. She passed me and was off, and I felt absolutely spent. The wind didn’t die again until about 11 and a half miles and, hand on heart, I can say that those three miles were some of the toughest I’ve run. The mantra of one foot in front of the other was so appropriate. Thankfully the course began to level/go down and allowed a measure of control to return.
The legs were heavy as we entered the last mile, but I knew that bit was downhill and I was determined to finish as strong as I could. Entering the park with 200 metres to go, all over thickish grass, it was hammer down and making the whole thing look like a breeze. You need to put a show on, after all my kids were watching.

 

I’ll be honest to say that I found the race tough, as did many others. Brutal (in terms of the wind) was an often used, but apt, word. Without the wind, I’m sure that would be a different race, but it’s fair to say that the race is definitely a test. I was glad of my training – especially Stewarton Road, and would have struggled on this occasion without it.

 

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One final surprise, seven seconds off my PB. That’s my 5K and Half PBs broken this year already. Don’t know how I managed it, can’t explain why, but I’ll take it. Don’t know what that says, though, about either my performance or my previous PB, but I look forward to answering that question throughout the year.

 

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RUNBETWEENER OF THE MONTH – GILLIAN GLASS

If you have not spoken to Gillian Glass in the last 3 months then you are either:

 

a. not running enough; or

b. are avoiding her on your bank manager’s advice (she’s on commission with entrycentral and StuWeb)

 

What can we say about her. Gillian is a positive whirlwind of energy. Quite where she gets her energy from is still in doubt but climate change scientists are keen to hook her up to the National Grid.

 

Without Gillian it’s safe to say The Runbetweeners would still look like The Boy, Me and our respective wifes turning up sheepishly to Run4It every Monday. That all changed the moment Gillian walked through the door. In fact if we added a question to our pre-run questionnaire about how people heard about the Runbetweeners the options would be:

 

a. Gillian Glass told me to come

b. Jo Jingles told me to come at a children’s party

c. I am only here to buy a pair of socks

 

Gillian has inspired so many of our runners to sign up for what might be perceived as ‘club runners’ events. It’s safe to say she’s a major factor in the continued growth of running in the southside of Glasgow. Gillian is also the ladies captain of Glasgow running institution The Bellahouston Harriers where she encourages and inspires everyone to participate in everything 🙂

 

Gillian continues to make great progress in her own running progressing steadily through the distances and chipping away at her own personal and course records. There was a time at the end of 2018 when she was averaging 2-3 pbs a week 🙂 As she gains experience Gillian has also learned to listen to her body and pick events more conservatively – something we never thought we’d see. Impressively though Gillian is still at every event cheering from the sidelines, marshalling and encouraging even when she is not running herself.

 

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RUNBETWEENER OF THE MONTH

 

THE WARM UP WHEN THIS SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA

ABOUT YOU

Name: Gillian Glass
Age: 45
Town of Birth: Glasgow
Running Club(s): The Runbetweeners and Bellahouston Harriers
Something interesting we don’t know about you: My powers of persuasion know no bounds, but you probably do know that!! However, I managed to get into both Whitehall and Hyde Park Barracks and get a wee shot on the Queen’s horses! Thankfully this was in the days before social media (but I do have photos!)
THE LONG HARD MILES WHEN YOU WONDER WHY YOU’RE DOING THIS

RUNNING (write as much as you want)

How and when did you start running? I always played tennis so only started running when I joined the police years ago but thereafter it soon became treadmill running at lunchtime and I only ran the Women’s 10k once a year.
Why did you start running? I heard about parkrun, in 2014 went along to Pollok, with my children in tow as my comfort blanket. I loved it and soon became addicted to going every Saturday!

I joined the Runbetweeners in 2016 thinking I would only manage along to 2 sessions but actually ended up only missing 2 sessions a year due to being on holiday. I was there more than Kenny and Jack!

I then joined Bellahouston Harriers and it’s been the best thing I have done. I am grateful to have met so many lifelong friends through running.

What is your favourite route to run? Why? I just enjoy running anywhere really but love running in Arran as the scenery is stunning.
What is your favourite race? Why? Ooh, I love them all!!! Brian Goodwin – best 10k in the Southside!! It’s on Friday 21st June this year, Beer and a burger afterwards! Kyles 10 miles is another favourite though
Proudest running achievement? Why? Getting a sub 50min 10k…. in the Brian Goodwin of course! I just never thought it would be possible
What are your current running goals / ambitions? I hope to run Manchester marathon better than Stirling in 2017. Would also like to better my 10k time. Also hoping for a good time in The Glasgow Half this year. Love this run and the support along the way is brilliant. Last year a runner I was with asked me if I knew everyone in Glasgow as they were all shouting me on!
One bit of advice you would give a new runner? Just enjoy it, try parkrun, join a JogScotland group or running club. Best thing I have ever done is join a running club
What does your better half / family think about your running? Oh they all think I am mad! I probably am though! But they are very encouraging and somehow I seem to have inspired my youngest to take up running too. Even persuaded him to do cross country!
THAT BIT WHEN THE SMILE RETURNS TO YOUR FACE

SPRINT FINISH (answer in less than 5 words)

What is your favourite Runbetweeners session? I love them all but like the figure of 8 session in Newlands Park even although it’s hilly and I don’t like hills very much.   Oh and I like when we do shuttle runs too
If you could run anywhere in the world? No real desire as such but think a race abroad is appealing.
Pollok parkrun personal best and seasons best? 24.28
Favourite parkrun? Love them all! Pollok is my home run and love all the friends I have running there. I took part in the 10 x10 parkruns and enjoyed going to different ones. Drumchapel is the toughest I have done but so friendly and everyone finishes with a look of OMG!!! But they go back again!
With 6 months injury free training how fast could you run Pollok parkrun in? Oooh well as it’s the new, hillier course, I would like to get somewhere near my course pb. Under it would be great but I need to be realistic here as it’s bit hilly so let’s say 24.45
Favourite distance? 10 K. Yeah I think 10k so no idea why I have entered another marathon! I love track sessions too
Who is your running hero? Everyone who I see out there running, fast or slow, young or old
Your best running habit? Encouraging people to sign up for races and cross country
Your worst running habit? Chatting in a race, trying to get them to sign up for parkrun and races etc. I don’t do this anymore though and find myself saying to people – I can’t chat today.   I feel a bit rude but it worked wonders for me last year and I had a wee run of 16 pbs in a row!
One for the guys – tights or shights?
Kenny or Jack? Love, love love them both!!!!
COOL DOWN

WELL EARNED CAKES

Describe The Runbetweeners in your own words. The Runbetweeners is a fantastic, friendly and encouraging group, made up of people of all ages and abilities and we are very lucky to have 2 amazing leaders in Jack and Kenny.