It’s somehow been a full 2 weeks since I lined up ready to go, so here’s a slightly belated Alloa Half Marathon race recap! This half is the first I ever ran, back in 2015, so I know the course reasonably well. This year though, I stood at the start line better prepared and with a target beyond simply finishing.
It was a bit of a windy morning, but not quite as bad as the forecast had suggested so I was happy enough as I collected my race number. After a quick warm up & a not-so-quick queue for the toilets, I got myself to the start where I bumped into a friend. A quick chat was perfect to keep me distracted until it was go time!
Then the starting gun went and we were off, shuffling our way to the start line. The first mile is a loop around houses and there’s always a good bit of support here.
I started off a little faster than planned but soon settled into a comfortable pace. Although mostly flat, the course is a wee bit undulating over the first few miles, so I didn’t worry too much when the pace on my watch creeped up above 8:10.
The rain made a brief appearance around mile 3 but it was only a wee shower – nothing to worry about!
Mile 1-5 splits: 8:09, 8:06, 8:40, 8:17, 7:43
Image credit: Colin Anderson (used with permission)
After about 5 miles the loooong, straight 4-5 mile stretch begins! I knew that we were likely to be running straight into a headwind, but it didn’t feel too bad to begin with.
Around mile 7 I spotted my parents & Ricky, complete with the usual cow bell and flag! Less usual was their beautiful rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ but it certainly put a smile on my face (and earned me a ‘happy birthday’ from a fellow runner a few miles further on!).
After this the wind really picked up. I tried my best to duck in behind other runners but it seemed to make no difference. Realising that I was still feeling pretty strong, I gave up on my failed attempts at drafting and actually managed to overtake a fair few runners.
By this point I was almost looking forward to turning onto the steep hill at Menstrie Brae, if only to get a break from the relentless wind!
Mile 6-10 splits: 8:16, 8:06, 8:28, 8:20, 8:22
As I turned off the main road I realised that my chances of a sub 1:47 race weren’t looking great. Between the wind and the impending hill I think I’d been too afraid to really start pushing. Still, with 3 miles to go it wasn’t impossible. I decided just to get up Menstrie Brae then push as hard as I could to the finish.
After the fairly steep hill there’s a bit of a long drag that takes you up to 12 miles. At this point I knew it was slightly downhill to the finish, and it was going to be tight. I really pushed hard from there and, honestly, I’ve never felt so strong in the final mile of a race.
By the time I reached the 400m sign I knew it was sprint time. This is the first half marathon where I’ve had any gas left in the tank, and knowing I was so close to my goal really spurred me on. I ran that last 0.1 at 6:10 pace, crossed the line, stopped my watch aaaaand realised I’d missed the mark by 6 seconds!!
Mile 11-13.1 splits: 8:28, 7:56, 7:29, 0:45
I’d known it was going to be close, and 1:47:06 is still a PB of over 6 minutes so no complaints here! In hindsight I think having so much left to give in the final mile is probably a sign that I could have pushed a little harder earlier in the race.
Still, it’s all a learning experience and maybe next time I’ll have the confidence to go that little bit faster! I’d planned to wait until September/October before another half marathon but this has got me itching to race again so I’m on the lookout for a summer half. Anybody got good recommendations??