Great Scottish Run – Kirstin

Regular Runbetweener Kirstin has written us a fantastic guest review of last week’s Great Scottish Run…

Having joined the Runbetweeners over two years ago, and strangely turned into someone who can run and enjoys running, the GSR Half seemed like the ideal challenge to take myself to the next level. I’d completed one half marathon before – on holiday in Amsterdam in Oct 2017 with no training behind me other than the GSR 10k – and after months struggling to train for an eventually cancelled Alloa Half, I decided I was finally going to conquer this distance. The timing of this race was perfect, as I could take advantage of the lovely summer weather and long daylight hours to actually put in the significant training that had always been lacking from my race efforts.

My training officially started with the Run the Blades 10k– from then on I added a mile a week to my long runs. I knew there were some issues with my general fitness, so I also joined a 10 week strength and conditioning class, and I know this has had a huge impact on my stamina. The training was tough at points, but I knew it was necessary, and on the morning of the run, I knew I was able to run the distance, and run it well.

Race day arrived. The train journey in to the city centre was very busy with runners, and it was great to be able to see the 10k runners along the Clyde as we approached Central Station. I had downloaded the app on my phone, so I knew my fellow Runbetweeners including Kirsty Cunningham and Susan Redpath were well into their 10k efforts and I vainly tried to spot them. A short jog later, and I was at the start. I had a target time in my head, based on my Kyles 10 Miles effort, and on the week of the race slowly started vocalising this, slipping out to people that “I’m really keeping it a secret, but I want sub 2:15”. However, something funny happens to me when I’m on the start line of any run though – I get competitive. And as soon as I found myself in the green wave – front and centre – I knew I wanted 2:10. I couldn’t see anyone I knew around me that I could run with to help me secure this target, or even a pacer (short people problems), but I decided I should push myself and before I could question things further it was time for a cheesy choreographed mass warm-up and then we were off!

The run starts by following the same route as the 10k, with an incline up St Vincent street, a quick jog round trendy Finnieston, and then the highlight of running over the Kingston Bridge! My pace was fairly fast for the first three miles – I decided I needed to make this time at the start to give me a shot at 2:10, but then I steadied myself out and settled in for the long haul. I didn’t know the next part of the route too well, but I soon found myself on familiar territory as many of my training runs had been around Pollokshields, leading into Pollok Park. Knowing where I was going really helped, as I could set myself clear targets. There was also great support from Runbetweeners spectators Donna Gillon, Jenny Brown and Blythe Lindsay.

Running through the park was lovely as always, but when we came out and made our way to Bellahouston we found ourselves in a very cold, heavy shower and running into a headwind. This mile wasn’t pleasant. Soon though we were out of Bellahouston and on to the home straight. I really couldn’t believe how quickly the race was passing and how strong I felt. I checked my watch at every mile and my pacing was really steady. I knew I could make 2:10, and unbelievably I saw I could get home sooner than that! From miles nine to twelve, my mantra became “maintain”. I was so scared of running out of steam, and this part of the race was hard work – but I wasn’t giving up! Running over the Squinty Bridge I got another boost, with great encouragement from Ian McBain of GFR. From then on, it was straight alongside the river to the finish. This is such a fantastic part of the course – everyone has given their all, and it really putting in their best efforts. Unbelievably, as I hit about 12 and a half miles I spotted June MacLeod ahead of me. This is how I knew I had just run the race of my life, as June is a much faster runner than me. In June’s defence, she was on her twentieth mile of the day, as part of her Bamburgh Marathon training. I chased June to the finish and was absolutely delighted to finish in 2:08:28.

This race really is a special one. The huge number of participants across the 10k and Half Marathon events, and the family mile and races for young people the day before gives Glasgow a huge buzz. A huge number of Runbetweeners not yet mentioned in this report participated including Gillian Glass, Karen Rosling, Anne Williamson, Jill Mair, Paul Burningham, and Jacqueline Glass. (Jack and Kenny ran too of course). The event is wholly inclusive, but also provides the ideal challenge and I can’t wait to return next year.

Scottish Athletics Awards Night 2017

On the 26th September, Kenny and I were delighted when we received an unexpected message from Jog Scotland HQ – a notification of our being shortlisted for the ‘Jog Scotland Group of the Year’ award. We were both over the moon to be nominated for the award and are very lucky to have stumbled across a small pocket of runners in Glasgow’s Southside which has grown and transformed into a fairly large community of enthusiastic, friendly and encouraging Runbetweeners. Upon informing the group of our nomination they stepped up immediately: 30 tickets were snapped up and Susan did an incredible job of organising tables, tickets and transportation for an evening which promised to be fantastic. Kenny and I were also pretty chuffed that this took a little of the attention away from our failing to organise the long-promised ‘Group Night Out’.

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With sparkly dresses purchased and kilts readied, the group met at Run4It for the much requested group photo. Whilst it took a while to recognise everyone out of their lycra, we eventually got organised and managed a cracking photo of the group before piling onto the Vengabus and making our way to the Hilton – and the thirty of us definitely made an entrance as we slipped into the reception.

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It was at this stage of the evening that Chris Smith demonstrated his fantastic ability of making prosecco appear out of thin air –  an admirable and very useful skill! Between the bubbles and the laughter we began to spot the Olympians and famous athletes with whom we shared the floor. It was at this moment that we first realised the scale of where we were and what we were doing – prior to actually arriving, we hadn’t realised just how big a deal this evening was going to be.

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The awards got underway and Brian Burnett kept things entertaining with insightful interviews and interesting details of the nominees in each category. Shortly after Chris demonstrated that his resourcefulness applied to desserts as well as prosecco (thanks!), our award was called and, unfortunately, this would not be our night. This was the turn of Tain Joggers who had achieved some incredible things as a group. The initial disappointment of not winning was soon forgotten however as the dancefloor opened up and June grabbed me by the arm to teach me some Ceilidh dancing.

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The Runbetweeners may not have picked up an award on this occasion, but we had an incredible night which reminded us that we have come much further than we ever could have hoped initially. To think that our little group, which in some early weeks had attracted a grand total of 0 runners, had not only managed to fill three tables at an awards ceremony, and made the shortlist alongside some incredible groups, was truly humbling. Kenny and I are incredibly proud of everything that the group has achieved and the achievements of those runners within the group. We have a fantastic bunch of runners and love turning up on a Monday evening and hearing tales of parkruns, races and adventures. The enthusiasm is infectious and we cannot wait to see where the group will be at this time next year!

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