Another week closer to Manchester, and another up and down one. Didn’t expect everything to go as smoothly as the previous week had and certainly wasn’t disappointed. Some sessions were on really tired legs but I guess that is what a lot of marathon training is about. My Sunday long run was to be mixed up a wee bit. After PBing at the Alloa Half marathon last year during marathon training, the only one that would fit in with my Manchester training was to be the Strathaven “Run with the Wind” one. This was it’s official title. Others varied from “Run like the wind (as you’re in Deliverance country)” AND “Run against the wind up big hills and wonder why you paid for the privilege you daft baldy fud”. Probably a bit of truth in them both, and maybe it was just the wind, but I’m sure I could detect the plucking of banjos.
I’ve been very ambitious in my training this year and the paces have all been based on a 3.05-3.10 marathon. If I was fully fit and hit every marker at training I reckon I could do that with a bit of luck and with the stars aligned, but one mistake I made last year was chopping and changing all the time. I made this plan based on a 3.05-3.10 and I will see it through based on that. Not expected on the day, as I have said before I just want to finish better than I did at London, and if I can beat that 3.23 from that day then magic. So why am I telling you this? Ah ok. It’s a marathon paced run I had to do. So looking for something in the region of 1.32 – 1.37 and it’s job done. No heroics. No PB chasing. No bothering about who goes past me, and most certainly no racing. This was the plan, and the importance was to mean it in the morning, keep myself disciplined, and keep myself stress free. It’s been 6 months since I put on the Motherwell vest and there was, to be honest, mixed emotions in putting it back on. Let’s not let the enjoyment from the last couple of months disappear. Hello again Mr Vest, ya big bag of Kukri Conundrums.
Now I had mentioned the various titles of this run and it’s true that it’s no flat PB racer course for the normal punter. If you like hills it’s for you. Looking at the profile there’s a climb from mile 3 to 6, another one from about 8 -10. The climb took you up to Whitelees windfarm so was going to be windy and cold. The John Hughes Motherwell AC Clothing code of conduct of “The vest is not an overgarment” was to be breached for one day only. I do believe there is an amendment to the constitution that declares if Malky is not to be given then the member has the right not to bare arms, so I was good with it. Went up with Ewen who was also doing it as a marathon paced run, and met up with the rest of the MAC troops, General Neil of Malkieland was in fine fettle, and was good to see John B, President T, Kev and Ross from the club. Was good to catch up with many people from many other places as I have been out the loop a while, so hello again everyone and thanks for the kind words. The mood was good. The weather was kinder than had been forecast, and with base layer, buff and gloves on it was time for the mile jog up the hill to be piped to the start, a lovely touch. Was nice to meet Ian from Ayr who called me the media writing guy which made me laugh. I was to get to know his back quite well over the next 13.1 miles. Off we went and a downhill start. Aye they are kidding us on here. That soon changed and we were into the first wee climb. Watched as Neil flew away in the distance alongside Murray from Hamilton. Did notice however that the first mile marker appeared a lot sooner than expected and wasn’t believing that I’d done it in under 6 minutes so for the rest of the run the mile markers were to be ignored. I knew there was a long climb coming but it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, maybe the Blackhill transmitters runs have helped. Steadily up, running alongside Simon from Cambuslang. Great to see him back out there as I know he’s had a tough time lately. It was great to get to around the 6 mile mark and time to descend. There had been a downhill before that, but that was followed cheekily by another climb.
As we got to around that 6 mile marker I saw the gaffer from Running Friends Scotland Facebook group taking pictures so was only polite to give him a greeting. See? Was actually enjoying it and just having a steady run out.
Was feeling good, but reigned it is as best I could going down the hill. Job to be done. Didn’t seem that long anyway and we seemed to be climbing again. Had a wee gel and just took in the surroundings. It was cold, aye, the wind was building up, aye. But it was lovely. The hills, the wind farms, the trees, the wee roads. And the unfortunate sight of people about a mile ahead in bright colours also seemingly about a mile above you. Really? There was to be more climbing then. Climbing until mile 10, from 8 to 9 particularly tricky into the wind but getting to the peak was sweet. I had been enjoying the climbs believe it or not and had actually slipped into a pace a little faster than expected so time to reign it in again. But it’s three miles downhill to the finish and not easy to go too slow.
Was probably going to finish in the region of 1.30 and that without ever pushing and was feeling brilliant. Round the corner, down a hill, then a wee cheeky climb before the final corner and the run across grass to the finish. Cheers to fellow Manchester marathon goer Mark Ellis for the encouragement and the photo here. Man I look fat though.
Always nice to hear your name getting read it as you come to the finish, except at Helensburgh and was surprised to see the clock was still in the 1.28s.
My second fastest half marathon ever without giving it any welly? I will take that. Looking at the watch however and saw that the distance for me was some 200 metres short. Would account for the first mile for me. Somewhere in the 1.29s for a half would probably be more accurate but still better than expected. Maybe it’s in the GPS in the hills, but personally and disappointingly I think it was short which I think is unforgivable, especially in such a well organised race with a great goody bag, amazing marshalls and volunteers, cracking soup (told you I’d mention it Ian) and a great atmosphere. For me it has sold itself short here and everyone I spoke to came up short. Despite that was great to see how well everyone had run. Neil and Murray in 1.25 and 1.22. Dougie Holmes breaking the 90. Cracking runs across the board and a great day. But I still feel that sour taste in the mouth. Can we all have got the distance wrong? I wouldn’t have been comfortable taking it as a PB and I know a lot of people who did a PB today. Only 40 seconds or so but still.
But back to me, me, it’s MY blog after all. Really pleased with the run out. I’m maybe in better shape than I thought and with 7 weeks to go I still have the time to get myself into a shape on par with last year. I could have probably gone a couple of minutes faster today, but that is for another day. In the plan I trust. Oofos on (a present from Elaine) and then my cake reward. Sorted. And you know? I loved getting that MAC vest on again.
Hope all your training going well. For anyone training for a marathon can I point you in the direction of 3 writings from last year, 1 I did for run4it, my marathon itself and the lessons I learned.
If you have enjoyed reading then my wee reminder. Please consider a wee vote for me in the Running Awards. I still haven’t taken my top off on instragram or put on a pair of Beth Potter style shorts. Even the surgical stockings are behind me.
I will put the voting link in each blog, hope you don’t mind, it’s below under Online and Publications, then personal blog. Voting reset when the shortlist was announced, so if you voted before please do it again, or I will be last 🙂
So you’ve been good. Thanks to everyone for a great day, Gordon, Mark, Brian and Strathaven for the pics and here’s the tune. From my favourite album of last year, Mr Loyle Carner.