Toward for a Tenner

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After managing to manipulate our holiday dates it became clear that I was going to be able to make the Toward for a Tenner Half Marathon in Dunoon this year having missed out last time around. Bookending the Orkney Marathon at the start of the summer holidays this would be the ideal end to the summer and I (in hindsight naively) thought a relatively easy run to see how the rested legs would hold up in advance of some longer races over the next two months. Having done little running for the previous four weeks an easy 9 miles around Budapest the previous Saturday reassured me that I still had a decent level of endurance off the back of my marathon training and was in reasonable nick.


Fast forward a week and it was great to see so many Dunoon Hill Runners behind the scenes welcoming hundreds (literally) of runners off the Argyll Ferry to race HQ in the newly refurbished Dunoon Pier. A gentle jog along the West Bay to the start line and I took my position tucked in among some familiar faces aiming for a sub 1:30. With a current pb of 1:32 I somehow convinced myself that if things went well a sub 1:30 could be on. The wind would definitely play a factor and sheltering in behind some tall and / or wide runners was the game plan overheard prior to the gun (or should I say pipes and cannon).


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Thankfully The Boy’s Racing Shorts Were Censored Out of This Shot


Setting off I hung off the back of a group of about 8 runners over the first 4k ticking over at 6min55sec miling. An ominous feeling of something not being quite right consumed me around this point and I started to drift from the pack running the next few miles largely on my own occasionally passed or passing another runner. Although my mile splits were slipping and conscious that the gap between me and the pack was growing I convinced myself that running 7-20s into the wind for a few miles would be ok as I’d come flying back towards Dunoon with the wind at my tail.


I maintained a reasonable pace as we passed through Innellan en route to Toward and the turning point via the Lighthouse but the effort was taking it out of me and the gap between me and the pack was growing more and more with each passing mile.


Ticking over I was pleasantly (and not jealously at all) surprised to see The Boy coming back at me on the other side of the road having completed the 1 mile loop around Toward before I even entered the loop. So 6 miles in and he’d already put a mile between us. The Boy had built up a good lead by this point of about 250 metres and managed to give me some encouraging words at a point where I was starting to feel uneasy on my feet.


The shade and protection afforded by the trees around the loop at Toward provided welcome relief from the strong head winds and uncomfortable temperature of the first half of the race. Turning for home I was aware that today wasn’t going to be a pb day and focused on getting to the 10 mile mark within 8 minute miling positive in the knowledge that I had built up a decent pace on the first half of the race and wouldn’t be too far of my season opener of 1:32.


Whether it was battling against the wind in the first half, the heat (didn’t imagine I’d ever say that about a race in Dunoon) or some undiagnosed tropical disease my legs turned to jelly around this point and it felt like I was carrying someone on my back. As I approached Innellan I was feeling light headed, getting gradually slower and contemplating chucking it. I allowed myself a short walk before breaking into a gentle jog. Around this point I was being regularly passed by more consistent and prepared runners.


Leaving Innellan I was delighted to get a couple of Haribo into me and meet up with Scott who’d had a wardrobe malfunction and who joined me for a couple of miles. Undoubtedly the company got me to the finish line on a difficult day. 500 metres from home I had to let Scott go as I slowed to a crawl along the promenade before mounting the last reserves to cross the line in a time of 1:43.


Overall not a great day at the office and the fact that my quads are still burning two days later serves as a reminder that four or five sessions in five weeks is wholly inadequate training for a half. Chalking it up to experience I now have some hard sessions planned before a possible outing at the trial Glasgow Marathon and The Wee Eck ultra (50k) over the next 8 weeks. One thing is for sure there will be no pb chasing on either. My previous season form was based on a solid base of winter training and I need to be back training consistently to complete both of these challenges.


Or maybe I just need some short shorts like The Boy?



Big shout out to all the marshals on the course for their great encouragement, to The Boy (I look forward to his take on the run) for a comprehensive victory in the Half and to Lisa for setting an impressive new PB in the 10k, a great result in tough conditions.


The Toward for a Tenner event is great value – chipped timing, a t-shirt and a medal. A good route in a town full of great people at an ideal time of the season for anyone working towards an Autumn Marathon. Double the number of runners compared to last year this event is sure to go from strength to strength and hopefully becomes an established event on the Scottish Racing Calendar. I look forward to coming back stronger and more prepared next year.


Splits below for anyone who can empathise with a run that just slipped away from them.


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2016 Challenge – Joker vs Joker (aka Jack vs Kenny)

A new year is extra special for the running community bringing with it the opportunity to set personal bests but also more easily and quickly achievable season bests as pointed out by our good friend Emma at ParkRun. Therefore a new year can only be a good thing for The Runbetweeners.


2015 was a great one with lots of races, Jack persuaded me to join the Harriers, new friends, a great response to the blog and a couple of ladies in white dresses made an appearance. Although legally recognised as husbands in 2015 the running gods will equally acknowledge the formidable and unbreakable relationship between Jack and I 🙂 (much to the bewilderment of Vicki and Lisa).


So what’s in store for 2016? Well we’re two ParkRun’s in already so we’ve hit the ground running, literally. Elsewhere;


  1. Jack and I are starting a running group – The Runbetweeners. It is due to start in a couple of weeks and we’ll finalise details in the near future and post them up here first for those interested. It will be based in the South Side and initially meet on a Monday evening – open to everyone it will primarily be aimed at those new or returning to running in the new year with the aim of completing a race in the spring / summer.
  2. The Joker vs Joker challenge. The Boy doesn’t know about this yet. In a nutshell. 12 races – 1 per calendar month (I pick 5, Jack picks 5 and we agree on two others – probably Kyles 10 Miles and MokRun?). The winner will be the person who beats their pb by the greatest %age accumulating over the year with a forfeit for the loser. Slower than your pb = addition of %age, faster than pb = subtraction of %age. Winner is the best negative %age at the end of the year.


So I’ll start by nominating some of my choices and our favourite races that I will be entering. I know Jack will do a few of these too.


My remit for a good race in 2016 remains the same as always; fun, scenic and a good ethos where the race adds something to the local area / community – feel free to add any suggestions (particularly for early in the year where we’re a little sparse)


May – MokRun (Half Marathon)

July – Magnus Marathon / Orkney (Marathon)

August – Toward for a Tenner (Half Marathon)

September – Kyles 10 Miles (10 Miles)

October – Amsterdam Marathon (Marathon) or Coigach Half Marathon (Half Marathon)

November – Southside 6 (16 miles)


If you are interested be sure to be quick entering some of the above if you fancy them as they’ll sell out fast. Especially MokRun which launches today and The Southside Six.


In between times we need to get some more unique running challenges going. Two early contenders for 2016 are:

a. A re-run of the Clyde 2014 Mascot Statues around Glasgow

b. A run along the canal path from Glasgow to the Kelpies