June MacLeod – Runbetweener of the Month

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July’s Runbetweener of the Month is sure to be a popular choice as we get to know more about one of our bubbliest members, the ever-smiling June MacLeod. Fresh from completing an Ultra Marathon she has completed a number of 3k, 2 Mile, 5k and 10k races in the last few weeks and has well and truly caught the running bug.

 

In the pursuit of speed June has even been seen ‘sans cap’ in recent weeks in an effort to shave precious seconds off her personal bests. As a result she has been smashing her times across the distances in no small measure due to the brutal winter training she undertook in preparation for the Three Lochs Way.

 

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June is a fantastic asset to the Runbetweeners family. Energetic, relentlessly chatty, willing to try anything and a great friend to the rest of the group.

 

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June @ Bellahouston Harriers 2 Mile Time Trial 31st of May 2018

 

RUNBETWEENER OF THE MONTH

 

THE WARM UP WHEN THIS SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA

ABOUT YOU

Name: June MacLeod
Age: 59yrs 11 months
Town of Birth: Glasgow
Running Club(s): The Runbetweeners and Bellahouston Harriers
Something interesting we don’t know about you: I was part of a team who won an award for innovation in building design.
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? 6/12/14, I completed my first parkrun, I had only done hillsprints at bootcamp prior to the this.
Why did you start running? I had been doing bootcamp on a Saturday morning in Bellahouston Park. One of the group sometimes went to parkrun before it. I ungraciously thought ‘if she can do it, so can I’. I had never done any running because my knees were sometimes sore. After my first attempt at parkrun, I realised that I needed a different sort of fitness to run successfully. I went along to an introductory course, on treadmill over 4 weeks, which helped improve my running fitness. As they say, the rest is history….
What is your favourite route to run? Why? I’ve only been running routes since joining the runbetweeners in June 2016, so I don’t have a lot of options to consider. I like the route around Queens Park, and another which goes across the squinty bridge then through Kelvingrove Park. I like running where there are trees and water.
What is your favourite race? Why? I started running races after joining the Bellahouston Harriers. I never thought I could do that, races were for real runners, I didn’t race, I just went for a run. Then while out running with Gillian Glass, doing 7 miles, the furthest I had ever run, I was convinced to run the Alloa Half 2017. Well you know what she’s like! Despite the horror stories people tell you, this is an ok run; not my favourite though, that’s the Kyles 10 miles, just because it’s beautiful scenery, even the smelly farm bit is ok.
Proudest running achievement? Why? I think my proudest moment is telling people I run (I like the look on their face, mostly horror) and being able to talk about the great people I have met because I chose to join a couple of clubs. Oh, and my pb, did I mention Helensburgh 53:14.
What are your current running goals / ambitions? My previous goal was to run 60 parkruns before I was 60. I’ve done that. I’ve run, well run, walked, climbed, and slithered my way around a 34 mile ultra marathon. My ambitions for the next 12 months are, run a marathon, reach 100 parkruns, get below 50 minutes for 10k, and below 25 minutes for 5k at parkrun and to volunteer as often as I can. I think the most difficult one is the 5k as I don’t get into a good stride until a couple of miles have passed.
One bit of advice you would give a new runner? Join a club and get some running buddies.
What does your better half / family think about your running? They think I’m a bit daft, especially when I’m out in the rain and snow. My husband is the proud owner of a Running Widow t-shirt.
THAT BIT WHEN THE SMILE RETURNS TO YOUR FACE

SPRINT FINISH (answer in less than 5 words)

What is your favourite Runbetweeners session? Hills within Newlands Park.
If you could run anywhere in the world? Vancouver Marathon.
Pollok parkrun personal best and seasons best? 26:06 / 27:30
Favourite parkrun? Drumchapel
With 6 months injury free training how fast could you run Pollok parkrun in? 25:50
Favourite distance? 10k
Who is your running hero? Forrest Gump, because he just went out and did it!
Your best running habit? Warm up and dynamic stretching
Your worst running habit? Not stretching at the end
One for the guys – tights or shights? Colourful patterned tights
Kenny or Jack? Yes.
COOL DOWN

WELL EARNED CAKES

Describe The Runbetweeners in your own words. The runbetweeners is a small run group associated with jogscotland. It is coached by 2 thoroughly pleasant and sociable young men, Jack and Kenny, supported via Run4it by Jordan. The membership is diverse, friendly, funny and a pleasure to know.

 

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Hackney Marshes parkrun

There’s something quite exciting about visiting a parkrun for the first time. The consistency of the parkrun model ensures that each event shares the same comforting familiarity yet it is always intriguing to discover the subtle variations that each has to offer. This could be a difference in size, terrain, route type or even simply the accents emerging from the masses. Regardless, these nuances are what give each event its identity and are precisely what makes parkrun tourism such an appealing prospect.

Last weekend I found myself visiting my brother in London and so, naturally, Vicki and I spent some time researching the local parkrun options. After much deliberation, we settled on Hackney Marshes. I had enjoyed hearing about this event on the ‘Running Commentary’ podcast (well worth a listen on a long run!) and fancied the sweeping, flat route through the woods that surround the mass of football pitches. Unfortunately, due to her injury, Vicki was unable to run this time so she contacted the event team and offered to volunteer as Timekeeper for the morning. She got a bit of a fright when she realised the size of the field but manage to keep her cool and record an accurate set of results (although she could definitely have stopped the watch a few seconds early for me!!)

The morning of the run was stunning; the sun was shining and the park was buzzing with runners, footballers, cricketers and dog walkers all taking advantage of the weather. I managed a quick warmup loop without getting lost (a bonus!) and then took my place on the start line. After a brief introduction from the Run Director we were off. The route winds gently away from the start on a long, flat path through the trees between the pitches and the River Lea and the shade was welcome as we made our way along the course. I took the lead and felt quite good as I hit the 2km point which was marked with a 180 degree turn. Heading back the way we had came, it was great to get some friendly shouts of encouragement from the runners coming the other way and the path was wide enough to accommodate traffic in both directions.

Shortly before reaching the ‘start line’ I found myself directed off on a side-path for a 250m detour before another 180 degree turn and a final push to the finish. I felt OK but the legs were definitely lacking the spring that they had enjoyed pre-marathon. Today would not be a day for PBs but certainly served as a good wake up call. I made my way through the finish funnel to the cheers of my 18 month old nephew and claimed the first finisher token in a time of 16:02. I was fairly pleased with the time as I knew I wouldn’t be in prime 5k shape having been focused on the marathon for the last 3 months, however it was a little annoying to be so close to 16minute mark and not dip under – there’s always something!

The morning was complete when I returned home to a fantastic bacon roll and mug of coffee before spending the day celebrating with family and swapping my trainers for my dancing shoes in Shoreditch that night. This was a great parkrun experience and it all comes back to the volunteers without whom these events would not be possible. Thank you!

Skid Row Marathon

 

Tonight we ditched the trainers and swapped the tarmac, trails and 10ks for the movies for a special one off screening of the critically acclaimed running documentary Skid Row Marathon. Intrigued after several spotlight features on the ever excellent Marathon Talk we mustered a small gang of like minded runners and made a night of it.

 

‘Health Snacks’ in Abundance

 

Meeting in the foyer we caught up with familiar faces. Most, surprised to see The Boy fully clothed and decent (no short shorts in sight), were still keen to talk through his minor celebrity appearance on the national news two weeks prior. How long is he going to dine out on this one? #iknowjackarnold

 

Settling in to our seats we were treated to messers Yelling and Audenshaw on the big screen in a short film about the compelling holistic benefits of running and the excellent work of The UK Running Charity. This feature, alongside the powerful running poem, set the scene perfectly for the main event. Tony’s honesty in particular, ‘running is sometimes not that much fun’, drew the first laugh of the night and thankfully there were no Yelling budgie smugglers in sight in full cinematic glory.

 

Skid Row Marathon follows the inspirational voluntary work of Judge Craig Mitchell. Sentencing criminals to life imprisonment by day Judge Mitchell wakes early to lead residents of the Midnight Mission in Los Angeles on dawn training runs. These homeless and often vulnerable participants use running as a part of their rehabilitation and are living proof that structured activity and social interaction are crucial ingredients in getting back on track. Through these sessions and Judge Mitchell’s encouragement their  lives are transformed. Participants are encouraged to stick at it with the lure of participating in an international marathon and through months of training genuine, heart warming and beautifully unexpected friendships develop between Judge Mitchell and participants.

 

 

At times funny (a highlight definitely being the monkey chat) and poignant the incredible work done by Judge Mitchell to help those often forgotten by their own communities is set against the contrasting landscapes of Los Angeles, Accra and Rome. The premise is simple and humbling in equal measure. Put on some trainers and run. With others. Run a little further each time. Support each other. Stick at it. Commit and improve.

 

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Although a one off screening we hope others will get to see Skid Row Marathon whether on the big or small screen. Thanks to Marathon Talk for the recommendation.

 

Making Waves at the Troon 10k

After a brief but thorough downpour earlier in the afternoon, the skies cleared and the stage was set for a fast evening of running at the Troon 10k on Wednesday night. Among the eager runners lining the seafront stood several Runbetweeners, many of whom were anxiously preparing for their first 10k of the season. This was not an event that I would be participating in myself, instead I had the troublesome task of cheering from the sidelines and patiently awaiting the famous fish and chips while the runners got battered (sorry!) by the increasingly noticeable wind.

As we stood at the start line, I was amazed at the number of participants that this race attracts – I always forget the size of the event and it is a testament to the Troon Tortoises that it runs so smoothly every year. I did not realise until I was informed on the evening that members of the club are not allowed to enter the event themselves and are instead expected to assist in its running. It is on a separate night later in the week that the members then run the route themselves in a more private race after which they bestow upon themselves (quite rightly) the race day t-shirt. The impressive organisation of the Troon Tortoises was a stark contrast to the pre-race preparation of Kenny Taylor, who realised two minutes before the start of the race that he was wearing the wrong trainers and was forced to dash back to his bag, moving faster than Gillian Glass when a new race appears on the calendar!

Trainers switched, Kenny made it back to join the masses and moments later they were off. The runners weaved along the seafront as wave after wave they were released from their pens. A bold start from Michael Deason in the blue and yellow vest of Shettleston Harriers made his intentions clear and he led the charge with Richard Mair of Kilmarnock and David Millar of Irvine Running Club in pursuit. Hundreds of smiling faces followed the lead pack away from the sand and around the golf course as the wind guided them gently away from the start line.

The chief support squad of Vicki, Finola and I, made our way to a point at roughly 4miles where we would be able to see the runners pass before making our way back to the start. Here we watched as the lead group passed, with daylight between each of them, looking strong into the final stages. Many familiar faces passed by with runners from a vast number of local clubs making the effort to attend this event. Mark Porter of Bellahouston Harriers flew by on his way to smashing his PB shortly before Kenny came bounding around the corner on track for a fast time of his own. Following in Kenny’s wake were fellow Harriers Neil Nairn and Mikey Gowans who both went on to absolutely annihilate their own PBs – surely a great sign for both with Neil having recently run the London Marathon and Mikey closing in on his race in the Edinburgh Marathon at the end of the month.

Leading the charge for the Runbetweeners were Paul Burningham (running for Bella Harriers) and Jenny Brown. This was a huge race for both runners as Paul succeeded in dipping under 40minutes for the first time and Jenny managed to finish as 13th female on her debut over the distance in an impressive time of 43:22.

There were great performances all round from the Runbetweeners with a bucketload of PBs from Gillian Glass, Kirstin Campbell, Karen Rosling, June McLeod and Clare Taylor. Jacqueline Glass also put in a great performance and managed to equal her PB which suggests it’s only a matter of time before that barrier is crossed!

As the race drew to a close, the rain decided to make an appearance and we disappeared swiftly into the local chippy for a feed. Annoyingly, were too late for fish but we left with a steaming bag of chips in hand and made our way back home feeling pretty pleased with our little mid-week trip to the seaside!

Well done to everyone who took part and thank you to the members of the Troon Tortoises for putting on such a great event – The Runbetweeners will definitely be back!

Katharina Zimmer – Runbetweener of the Month

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Another interesting read this month as we find out more about ever-happy Katharina. Laid low over the last few weeks with injury and illness this was a perfect opportunity for Katharina to complete the blog challenge. As one of our newer runners Katharina’s motivations for running resonate strongly and we are always open to new members as well as people visiting and living the city for a short period of time.

As well as running Katharina likes to visit other parts of Scotland in her spare time showing friends and family around when they visit from her native Germany.

Katharina apologised for her poor English when submitting the article – suffice to say it is better than ours and one of us an English teacher.

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All Smiles @Newlands Park
RUNBETWEENER OF THE MONTH

THE WARM UP WHEN THIS SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA

ABOUT YOU

Name: Katharina Zimmer (or just Kathi)
Age: 19
Town of Birth: Bocholt (Germany)
Running Club(s): The Runbetweeners
Something interesting we don’t know about you: I can make chocolate disappear suddenly
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? When I moved to Scotland in August, 2017.
Why did you start running? I wanted to meet people and improve my fitness in a social way.
What is your favourite route to run? Why? At home in Germany along the fields (because it’s all flat where I live).
What is your favourite race? Why? Santa Dash because it’s the funniest/weirdest thing I’ve ever done.
Proudest running achievement? Why? I ran 5 Miles with my host mum’s running club without knowing it would be that long.
What are your current running goals / ambitions? Running Pollok parkrun in under 30 minutes.
One bit of advice you would give a new runner? It will get better every time, so lift your bum from the couch and go for it.
What does your better half / family think about your running? They are impressed that I do it so regularly as they all hate running.
THAT BIT WHEN THE SMILE RETURNS TO YOUR FACE

SPRINT FINISH (answer in less than 5 words)

What is your favourite Runbetweeners session? Every team session.
If you could run anywhere in the world? Isle of Skye.
Pollok parkrun personal best and seasons best? 31 minutes and 35 seconds.
Favourite parkrun? Pollok Park.
With 6 months injury free training how fast could you run Pollok parkrun in? Hopefully under 30 minutes.
Favourite distance? 5k.
Who is your running hero? My Host Dad (Douglas McConville).
Your best running habit? I talk to distract myself and others from the actual running.
Your worst running habit? When I don’t concentrate on my feet I stamp like an elephant while running.
One for the guys – tights or shights? NA
Kenny or Jack? Whoever brings the bigger cake to running next time.
COOL DOWN

WELL EARNED CAKES

Describe The Runbetweeners in your own words. A lovely group of people who want to improve and motivate themselves & each other.

London Marathon 2018 – A race like no other!

What a crazy week it has been! As I stood nervously on the start line of the London Marathon, eyes gazing beyond the bouncing shoulders of the elites ahead of me and down the welcoming slope of Shooters Hill, I had a plan in my head of how I would like the race to pan out: I knew what pace I would be aiming to settle into once the Queen had signalled the start of the race; I knew that every fifth mile I would be squeezing a slightly warmed, but very welcome, carb gel down my throat and I knew that various groups of family and friends would be poised at a number of well thought out stations along the route, ready to yell messages of support (or friendly abuse) as required. I hadn’t, however, put much thought into what might happen after the race. I am sure that if I had, I would not have imagined that I’d be standing 24 hours later with a BBC Camera perched at the back of my classroom and with an e-mail flashing at me from my computer asking me to phone the local newspaper back ASAP. This was not necessarily going to be the race that I had planned, but it was certainly one which I will never forget.

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Training had been fantastic. Since crossing the finish line in Berlin seven months earlier, London had been the focus. I had put in the hours in training through a tough cross-country season, gruelling solo runs along the Clyde Walkway and even ploughing through snow courtesy of the ‘Beast from the East’. Smashing several of my PBs along the way, this was one of the most consistent training blocks that I have ever managed. The goal had always been to break 2:30:0 and I was feeling confident that this was definitely on the cards…

Then I thought about the weather. As my taper drew to a close and the carb-loading commenced, I began to think about possible race-day conditions. Most forecasts were indicating that this was going to be a warm one and to be honest my initial thoughts were relief that it wouldn’t be as cold as the training that I had suffered through in our typical Scottish Winter. It was when I started hearing whisperings of ‘the hottest London Marathon ever’ that I was forced to take things a little more seriously. At Berlin, on a cool, wet September morning, I had not consumed any water for the duration of the marathon. I knew however that in a hot London race, this would not be a sensible tactic.

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I lined up on the start line with a bottle filled with ice having taken on the advice I heard on Marathon Talk about ‘pre-cooling’. I had spent the previous hour sitting in the shade with the iced placed periodically across my shoulders and the back of my neck in order to lower my core temperature. I ditched the ice and found myself squashed in amongst the other excited athletes in the Championship Start. Having had difficulties with congestion in the past, I managed to make my way to the front and found myself tucked in just a few rows behind the pros. Seeing the likes of Kipchoge just ahead of me was phenomenal and it is moments like that which make running in a big city marathon that little bit special. Before I had a chance to get too star struck, the Queen appeared on the screen to press her button and start the race.

We were off!

People talk about the fast start at London but nothing quite prepares you for it. The long slope of Shooters Hill falls away before you and it can be very difficult to stick to a planned pace. I went through the first 5km in 17:16 – a little quicker than intended. I managed to hold myself back a little over the next 5km and settled into a pace that I felt I could sustain. Just before the half way mark I passed over Tower Bridge and felt a huge rush as the crowds roar filled the road – there is nothing quite like this moment and it never fails to take my breath away. I had found that my comfort levels were fluctuating through the first half – I had moments where I felt fantastic and others where I felt lethargic. This seemed to be a turning point however and the next 5 miles were great. I started to really enjoy the run and found I could work the crowd a little for an extra boost.

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Then I reached mile 18. This is where I first experienced the sensation that everyone who has run a marathon will know well. This was the moment that I realised I was slowing down. It is a strange feeling. I didn’t feel particularly ‘tired’, I simply realised that I was putting in the same amount of effort and yet not travelling at quite the same pace. This is where marathons are made or broken. It is a fine line that needs to be walked (or jogged!) when you still have 8 miles to complete of the race. A voice in your head is telling you to slow down to ensure that you reach the finish (this was accompanied by images of the incredible Callum Hawkins collapsing in the final stages of his marathon only weeks earlier) and yet a voice in your heart is whispering that you just need to grit your teeth and see how deep the well goes.

I saw the pace drop a little but reasoned I was still on target for my goal and that I could afford to be a little careful for a few miles. As I reached mile 22 however I realised that things were slowing more than I could afford and that the initial target was falling out of reach. I battled on in the heat and felt positive as I continued to pass other runners who were also struggling in the midday sun. I was forced to accept that the 2:30 target was not going to happen today but realised that a PB was still on the cards. I knuckled down, focused on the positive and fought my way onto the Mall.

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Crossing the line in 2:31:04, I felt a strange cocktail of emotions. As relief at finishing and the pride of having a medal draped over my shoulders mixed in with the tinge of disappointment at not hitting my target I felt strangely conflicted. This was a PB (my previous being 2:31:31) but it wasn’t the PB I wanted – I was still a 2:31 marathoner, no one really cares about the seconds! It was moments later however that I felt my first taste of overwhelming satisfaction (and slight incredulity!) as I glanced at my phone to see a message from a friend declaring me the 33rd finisher. Thirty-third?!? I thought this must be a mistake but soon had it confirmed and I was ecstatic – I had not even considered my position in the race as I had been too busy thinking about my time.

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I enjoyed a very quick celebration with my fellow runners, my brother, friends who had travelled down to watch and, of course, my wife Vicki before we needed to rush away for our flight back to Glasgow! A quick shower, a few slices of pizza in a plastic bag for the journey (thanks to my awesome sister-in-law Laura!) and a short train journey took Vicki and I to Stanstead for the final leg of our journey. A short delay to our flight meant that we were back in our flat just after 11pm and finally my head hit the pillow for a few hours kip before work on Monday morning and I enjoyed dreams of a nice, quiet day in the classroom…

“Jack, you’re needed in the headmaster’s office now – apparently it is urgent!”

My colleague had just burst in during my second period of the day with no idea what I was wanted for – but it sounded important! I was a little scared (and more than a little confused) as I entered his office but was greeted with a handshake and invited to take a seat.

“The BBC are on the phone. They want to come in for an interview – and they want to film you teaching your S3 class”

Despite my fear that I would make a fool of myself on camera, and after a stern/desperate chat with my pupils, things actually worked out OK and the footage on Reporting Scotland didn’t make me look like a complete idiot! I was overwhelmed with the messages of congratulations that I received after this and I even got a free Greggs in the morning from the staff who had seen my interview! What a bonus!

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The week since has been fantastic. I may not have achieved the initial target but I am incredibly proud of the result. I am now left planning for the future – I know that I have more to offer in the marathon, but for now it is time to reflect and recover. In the meantime I need to thank a few people who helped in the long road to London:

  • Bellahouston Harriers – for providing a huge level of support to all of us who were running.
  • Matt – who put up with almost daily questions and who provided an unparalleled level of advice and guidance throughout the training block.
  • The Locker Room – for that extra touch of motivation when needed.

And most importantly to Vicki who put up with months of my obsession, anxiety, bragging and distraction, all the while struggling with her own injury. I couldn’t have done it without her support.

Bring on the next one…

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Three Lochs Way – Jacqueline Glass

An absolutely mind-blowing, epic challenge. Not much more needs to be said.

 

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Running an Ultra and Having a Blast – As You Do

 

Having run one ultra before it’s definitely for the hard core and there are none more so than Jacqueline Glass and June Macleod who undertook the Three Lochs Way last month with good friend Karen Hattie. The camaraderie amongst ultra runners is the stuff of legend and this comes across in Jacqueline’s review.

 

Ultra Running is undergoing a boom at the moment. As a result more and more events are springing up with several multi-stage events extending the parameters beyond even single run events. Many well established races like The Fling continue to grow and have been complimented by new races on a diverse and intriguing ultra calendar with races such as The Wee Eck Ultra and The Cowal Way Ultra in Argyll.

 

Sadly preparations were not ideal with bad news 24 hours prior to the off but this did not deter our dream team or the near 200 plus runners and walkers from completing the gruelling Three Lochs Way.  An unbelievable and awe inspiring achievement. Here Jacqueline recalls her race experience.

 

Loch Lomond, Gare Loch and Loch Long

 

It was in June 2017, together with my running buddies Karen Hattie & June Macleod, that we decided to take on a challenge – The Three Lochs Way on Saturday 7th April 2018. An event organised by Pure Challenge.

 

Less than 24 hours before the event we received an email advising the company had gone into administration and all future events were cancelled. As this information started to filter through to everyone who had entered, there was soon a Plan B in place as participants from all over the country took to social media. Soon there were alternative arrangements being made to ensure that the event would go ahead.

 

Training throughout the worst winter in years we unanimously agreed that we would go with Plan B! The challenge was still on!

 

Rewind several months – We started our training in January with none of us having run more than a half marathon distance. We decided we would adopt the Jeff Galloway run/walk/run technique. It meant we could increase our mileage by more than the recommended weekly 10 percent rule and so reduce the risk of injury and fatigue. This worked well for us and we settled into a 4:1 ratio.

 

Our longest run, three weeks before the challenge, was an out and back along the cycle path from Linwood to Longbar (just past Kilbirnie). We were elated to reach a milestone of 26.3 miles! We couldn’t believe we had run a marathon distance, (I know a marathon is 26.2!) complete with backpacks containing everything but the kitchen sink!

 

Tapering for me included the Tom Scott 10 miles the week before the event followed by a snowy Easter Monday Runbetweeners session a few days later.

 

Friday 6th April – The Night Before

 

June and I drove up to Balloch where we had booked accommodation for the night, a rustic and bijou B&B! Karen drove up with her husband Jeff, who was going to be our support on the day, and they were staying in Dumbarton. We arranged to meet for dinner in Balloch later that evening.

 

After a wee cup of tea, and getting our stuff organised for the morning, June & I toddled along the road to a local hotel to meet Karen & Jeff.  We soon discovered that the restaurant was almost full of people who had travelled to Balloch for the event. Conversations soon ensued about the disappointment of the official event being cancelled but everyone was optimistic about Plan B and looking forward to meeting up in the morning at various times to set off.

 

 

Saturday 7th April – Race Day

 

1.15am – I was wakened by growling and rumblings in my stomach! I curled up and prayed it would pass but no – a mad dash to the loo! Fortunately, our bijou room had a bijou en suite. I emerged 30 minutes later cursing my choice of dinner, a gamey pate followed by tempura mussels and anchovies. I thought a ‘fish’ dish would be ok! As I crawled back to bed June appeared to be sleeping soundly and blissfully unaware of the volcanic eruptions!

 

5.30am – The alarm went off. Crikey, needless to say the last thing I felt like doing was a 34 mile run/walk/hike! I did feel better though and Etna had settled so I wisely stuck to my normal pre run breakfast of a bagel with peanut butter and a banana which I had brought from home. June went to the dining room where fruit, yoghurt and cereal had been left out for the early risers.

 

7.15am – Time for the off! We bundled our extra supplies into Jeff’s car and set off for the Visitors Centre where other runners/walkers had already excitedly gathered. We thought our Jeffing ratio of 4:1 would not be an option for the route and decided to run as much as possible and walk the challenging uphill sections. This proved to be a wise decision!

 

Stage 1: Balloch to Helensburgh 13.5km

 

Setting off from the visitors centre we passed through Lomond Shores, crossed a footbridge over the main road then a fairly steep climb to the ancient route of Stoneymollan road. This was an old coffin road used to carry the dead to a burial ground. Passing Goukhill Muir we crossed the Highland Boundary Fault with beautiful views over Loch Lomond.

 

The descent into Helensburgh was mostly rough track through open moorland and a deforested area with wonderful views of the Firth of Clyde. Our first checkpoint was in the car park of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House, aptly named as its quite a hike up the tree lined streets to reach it! We were pleased to see Jeff already waiting for us there. Our fellow Bellahouston Harrier, Colin, had joined Jeff to meet us too. We only stopped long enough to refill our water bottles, have a quick snack and a welcome rhododendron toilet break and then we were off again!

 

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Stage 2: Helensburgh to Garelochhead 14.75km

 

Leaving Helensburgh we passed through woods, farmland and moorland until we reached some tarmac on the minor Glen Fruin Road. We met lots of other runners/walkers on this road and no one passed without shouting out a friendly encouraging greeting. The camaraderie was fantastic and helped to pass the time on this long stretch.

 

We met Jeff and Colin again at Checkpoint 2 which was at the Garelochhead Military Base. There were a lot more people gathered here than at our first checkpoint. This is where the local volunteers, on hearing of our cancelled event, dropped off water bottles, bananas, home made flapjacks etc. Again the mood of everyone was upbeat and it was great to meet up with others we had met along the way! By now we were being recognised everywhere due to our rather brightly coloured leggings!

 

Stage 3: Garelochhead to Arrochar 19K

 

This route took us through the Ministry of Defence Garelochhead Military training area. A tarmac road then mostly boggy forest roads with the occasional rocky trail. The route was undulating to say the least. We encountered an almost vertical hill by which time my legs were just about to give up and I thought I may have to crawl up it!

 

As this was going to be the longest part of the route we had a short respite at Craggan carpark where again Jeff was waiting for us with some welcome goodies. We also unloaded some of our waterproof gear & other things from our rucksacks, that we realised weren’t now essential (to relieve our poor aching shoulders), checked our feet for blisters, changed our socks and were soon on our way again.

 

More rough tracks, steep ascents and descents followed but soon we could see Arrochar in the distance at the head of the loch. The scenery was spectacular with wonderful views over Loch Long to the Arrochar Alps. It was just too misty to clearly make out the Cobbler though. Our legs by now were tiring with the relentless hills and it was a relief to reach our last checkpoint at Slanz Restaurant in Arrochar.

 

As the restaurant had not been advised until that day that the event had been cancelled they had already erected a small marquee where a BBQ had been set up in the car park. The smell wafting from there was so enticing but as we still had another 11km to go we settled for one of Karens white choc & peanut butter blondies and a lovely cup of hot tea. A luxury also to use the restaurant’s loos!

 

Jeff, as always, was there to psyche us up, top up our supplies and waive us off with a cheery ‘see you soon’!

 

Stage 4: Arrochar to Inveruglas 11km

 

We had been advised by the restaurant’s owner that there was a detour in place a little further down the road. We passed some walkers we had met earlier and then heard them shouting ‘you’re going the wrong way’. We walked for a few miles on forestry track passing or seeing no one else, growing concerned we may have taken a wrong turn. Suddenly a guy appeared from nowhere biking towards us from the opposite direction. We stopped to chat and he reassured us that we were on the right track to Inveruglas. We never did see the walkers again!

 

This was without doubt the toughest stage of the route. Weary with tired legs on a long track with more ascents. The trail took us through Glen Loin woodland where the path climbs up a narrow pass to Coiregrogain with Ben Vorlich visible in the distance. We finally reached a tarmac path and from there it was only a couple of miles and a welcome descent to the main footpath into Inveruglas.

 

About another mile along this footpath which runs alongside the busy A82 and then the Inveruglas Visitors Centre and the end was in sight! Jeff was there to greet us with a giant medaille en chocolat and a bottle of fizz!

 

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Jacqueline, June and Karen

 

Manchester Marathon – Jill Mair

Our final instalment on the Marathon Manchester comes from marathon debutant Jill Mair. Progressing from 10k a few years ago Jill committed to a marathon plan through the winter giving her the confidence to aim for a time specific target. Jill’s enthusiasm for running comes through this review. In turn her friends and family were out in force giving her timely boosts around the course, an important element for any marathon runner. ***Spoiler Alert*** We’re delighted to say that Jill deservedly smashed the Manchester Marathon.

 

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Never ever in my life did I think that I could complete a marathon!!

 

I started running when I was 30 and set myself the goal of the ladies 10k in Glasgow May 2011. I ran with mum’s from my daughters dancing. Four of us completed the 10k and I finished just under 57 minutes. I had caught the bug and the same year completed the Glasgow half marathon in 1hr 59. Sadly I didn’t do much after that, I returned to work, my girls started school and my running fell by the wayside because life got a bit hectic!!   Over the coming years I went out now and again but not racing.

 

Fast forward to July 2016, I was trying to get back into running when Gillian Glass told me about The Runbetweeners and as they say the rest is history and over the past couple of years my running has been consistent. I have completed a few half marathons and 10k’s since then and even joined the Bellahouston Harriers, my race times have got better and this is what made me believe that I could take on the Manchester marathon.

 

I have to say it is one of the best things that I have ever done. I trained hard five times a week and I stuck to my plan like glue. I just felt that for me, I needed to know that if anything went wrong on the day it wasn’t because I hadn’t trained. With being part of two running clubs I have plenty of people to go running with. I tended to do the weekday runs myself then always had company on the long ones. Susan and I did a lot of running together, having someone with the same goal is really helpful. We faced a lot of horrible weather but we laughed through it.

 

On the week leading up to the Marathon my excitement rose. I had no nerves, which for those who know what I am normally like on the start line of a race, this is not like me!!

 

The Marathon:

 

I woke up at 5.45, 15 minutes before my alarm. I had brought porridge and banana with me (my usual long run breakfast) I had that with a cup of tea and drank plenty water.

 

We all met up in reception at 7.45 for the walk over to the start line. The weather was perfect. There was a toilet stop and then we mustered with the 4 hour pacer and walked over to the start line with him. By 9.08 we were off it was all quite quick and we were on our way. We seen our first supporters Vicki and Lee(hubby) at around 4 miles. At 7 miles friends of mine that live in Sale were out to cheer us on. One of my best memories is at around 11 miles we turned a corner and The Proclaimers ‘I would walk 500 miles’ was blaring and that was just amazing and just after we saw our supporters again including my friend that had travelled down from Glasgow with her family just to watch the Marathon. Susan and I ran together for the first 16 miles which was great as we chatted away the miles.

 

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Once I went off on my own I just kept focus and kept an eye on my watch, to make sure I didn’t start to run too fast. I had a plan and I wanted to stick to it. 16 miles is when the route comes off of the tram line so our supporters were not able to get to us, I knew that I was not going to see them until the finish line. It was actually ok because there were plenty of people out to cheer on all the runners. It is amazing when someone shouts your name even if you don’t know them, it gives you such a boost.

 

I had trained to 22 miles so I didn’t even think about the miles until around 23 when I realised that was the furthest I had ever run. My legs were ok, but my feet started to hurt!!! The toughest part for me was the last mile and a half, I started to get a bit of a stitch and I felt a little sick but there was no way I was stopping. The finish line was insight. With not very far to go Lee and all my other supporters popped up and that gave me the boost I needed to cross the line.

 

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I can honestly say that I loved it. I still can’t believe that I have completed a Marathon. I am now resting but itching to get going again!!

 

Thank you to The Runbetweeners for creating an amazing group and to the members for becoming my running chums and support crew.

MANCHESTER MARATHON – KAREN ROSLING

Our second Manchester Marathon report of the week comes from Runbetweener Karen Rosling. After a brilliant training block and a great first 16 miles it’s a really honest account of what happens when things don’t go to plan during the Marathon.  Karen’s story shows that sometimes things don’t play out the way you want on the day and this is something most marathon runners are unlucky enough to understand. At the time it can be hard to accept after all the work you’ve put in but it’s important to regroup and recognise the enormity of the achievement.

 

Despite debilitating stomach problems Karen showed real grit and determination to finish the run when others would have chucked it and gone home. A truly heroic effort. We also love the bit about Vicki popping up at the right time and supporting Karen across the line. Well done Karen on a fantastic run.

 

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After nearly 4 months of marathon training through the most horrific weather conditions the plan was complete.  I was feeling fit and ready to go both mentally and physically. We had a fair few ‘character building’ runs which helpd me develop the mental strength I would need to get me through the 26.2 miles and across the finish line.  Trusting the taper was the hardest part of the plan as the miles and frequency of training diminished. Marathon panic set in.  Phantom niggles played havoc with my mind and I worried while I was resting for race day I was rapidly loosing fitness.
Race day was here! Surprisingly I was calm when I woke for breakfast and I remained calm throughout the morning, excitement was building.  We were actually going to undertake the huge challenge of the marathon.  After a mad and very stressful dash to the baggage drop, which turned out to be further away from the start than our hotel we followed the crowds of buzzing runners to our starting pen.  Once we had eyes on our pacer, the man that was going to keep us in check we settled and slowly made our way towards the start.
Garmins ready, we were soon on our way.  The first 4 miles passed with ease, keeping to the plan of starting off easy we kept with our pacer but everyone was wanting to keep right by him and it was becoming more and more difficult to run without tripping over feet.  We decided to run just ahead of him.  Unbeknown to us we had increased our pace and as we went through the 10k mark our main man wasn’t just behind us like we thought, he was nowhere to be seen.  Feeling good we pressed on, afterall we may need this time for the latter half of the marathon should we ‘hit the wall.’
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Donnan and Karen maintain an impressive early pace
Running good and feeling fresh, we were ticking off the miles.  The crowds and bands throughout the course offered amazing support and we were now looking for our own cheer squad.  Expecting to see Vicki, Lee and Anne around miles 8 -9 the next miles were passed reading spectators posters, giving kids high fives and scouring the crowd for our friendly familar faces.  As we passed and heard Vicki shout our spirits were lifted and so was our pace.  The crowd really do motivate you and keep you going.
As we reached the half way point, I started to feel my stomach growl and spasm.  Here I was the girl with the toilet phobia looking for a portaloo – I wouldnt use a portaloo if you offered me a million pounds!  As the miles passed my pace slowed and my stomach gave me more and more trouble.  By mile 16-18 I was now down to a run walk and by mile 18 I knew I could not run another step.  At this point I managed to convince Donna to leave me, and hoped she would still be able to get a decent time.  From here on in I spent my race looking for the portaloo.
My race really wasn’t going how I had dreamed.  As I walked fellow runners tried to encourage me to run but my stomach just wouldn’t let me.  I was starting to get upset and angry at the situation.  I had trained so hard and I knew i was better than this.  With my head down I walked and walked and walked, the miles taking longer to pass and the clock seeming to speed up. As I continued my sub 4.30 dream was gone and my sub 5 hour wasn’t looking good either –  I phoned my mum.  Answering the phone she was cheering, she thought I had finished but what she got was a blubbering me!
As I passed a marshall, I asked her where the next toilets were she simply pointed ahead and said that way.  I asked how far and she shrugged her shoulders.  It took great willpower for me not to punch her right between the eyes.  If only she knew how desperate the situation was.  Turns out the toilets were 3 miles ahead!  Not a good situation at all, at the aid station I seen an empty bin bag which I tied around my waist just incase.
 As I approached mile 22 I decided to phone Vicki to tell her to go home as I wasn’t finishing anytime soon.  The reality of the situation was just upsetting me and I wished the ground would open up and swallow me.  I started to look for another way to the finish line, at this point I realised I did have the grit, determination and stubborness I needed to finish this.  The marathon wasn’t going to beat me.
At mile 25 Vicki had walked to meet me.  She was a true angel, never have I been so glad to see a friendly, smiling face coming towards me.  I don’t know if she was as pleased to see me.  I honestly don’t think that I would of finished the race without her.  As we rounded the corner onto the home stretch I really didn’t thimk I could walk another step.  I could see the finish but I was done.  I eventually crossed the line in5 hours 20 minutes.  Totally gutted and so disappointed. 
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But as I crossed the finish I knew I would need to do another marathon.  On this occassion the marathon beat me but I will be back to beat the marathon and hopefully achieve my goal time.