On Sunday I ran the Great Scottish Run half marathon – my 4th half but my first attempt at this course. It’s also the first one I’ve trained properly for, so I knew I was on track for a decent PB. I’d set my fastest half marathon time of 2:23:51 at Alloa in March this year.
I’d decided a few months ago, somewhat arbitrarily, that I’d like to get a sub 2hr time. By race day I was feeling pretty confident, and had set my sights a little higher. Mainly hoping to be able to say I’d taken 30 mins off my PB!
I’ve suffered a bit with an achilles injury recently (first on my left side, then my right too!). Still, during my pre-race warm up there was no pain and I was feeling good.
I’d heard that the course could get quite crowded so I headed to near the front of my wave to avoid any unnecessary weaving at the start. After a bit of nervous bouncing around, we were off!
The start of the race takes you uphill along St. Vincent Street, but between the crowds and my fresh legs I didn’t really notice the incline much. The first mile absolutely flew in and a quick check of my watch told me I was sticking fairly closely to my planned starting pace of 8:35 minutes per mile.
By this point the sun had come out and I was feeling strong. My pace felt comfortable and my achilles were still pain-free. I even allowed myself a little thought that maybe I’d manage to sneak in under 1hr 50 – a dangerous thought so early on in the race!
Shortly before the 2 mile mark, my right achilles twinged and I did a little swear to myself. I kept going and it soon eased off a bit. I was still aware of it, but it was no worse than in training and it wasn’t slowing me down. So far, so good!
The next few miles passed without incident. I high-fived a few kids, ate a couple of shot bloks, and held an average pace of around 8:30. Mile 5 was my fastest at 8:18 and I started to believe I had a 1hr 50 half in me. This was probably my most optimistic part of the race (spoiler alert!) and I felt good as we turned into Pollok Park.
I knew there were a few hills in the park but thankfully none of them were too bad. My achilles, however, were not happy. By the time we left Pollok Park between miles 7 and 8, both of them were protesting a bit more than I’d have liked.
Things got worse from there, and after a few small-ish hills in Bellahouston park I was struggling a bit. Mentally, this was definitely the toughest part of the race. I even contemplated dropping out because I was worried about doing some more serious damage.
I was still well on track for a sub 2hr time though and I wasn’t really willing to give that up. So, I figured I could tough it out for another half hour (erm, totally not advocating running through injury though – my bad!).
By the time I reached the 10 mile mark I was feeling pretty frustrated. I felt like I had a good bit of energy left in the tank but my legs had other ideas! Every time I tried to speed up even a wee bit my calves siezed up so I settled into a pace of around 8:45, safe in the knowledge that it was enough to get me that 30 minute PB!
By mile 12 my run was slightly lopsided and I was so ready to be finished. With about half a mile to go I passed the ‘Great Wall of Support’ – super cheesy, but a silly message from my dad put a much needed smile on my face!
Then I saw the 400m sign in front of me – almost there! My right calf obviously got too excited by this as it completely cramped up, causing me to stop. My main reaction at this point was disbelief. Are you f-ing kidding me??
Between there and the finish line I managed a combination of walk/jog/hobble. A couple of runners patted me on the back and offered words of support as they ran by, which usually I’d find a bit patronising but in this case was appreciative of. With 100m to go I decided there was no way I was walking any further and managed to run over the finish, coming in at 1:53:32.
I picked up my goody bad and limped out to meet Ricky & my parents (who I’d completely missed cheering me on at the end!), with a bit of mixed feelings. I’m delighted with my time, but really gutted not to have managed the strong finish I was hoping for. Still, I got to brag about that 30 minute PB 😉
Oh, and because I can’t not mention food: I re-fuelled with my first ever Five Guys (disappointing, if I’m honest!. A few hours later, I continued the food party with dinner at Ox and Finch (much better, and highly recommended!). Order the duck leg & thai yellow curry if you go – trust me!