Going for Gold / Getting Better – Balloch to Clydebank Half Marathon 2020

Aye the old Britpoppians amongst you will be rubbing your hands together for the musical double whammy, but these songs have to be earned. Please note this is a one take written in 20 minutes at lunchtime report so sorry for any omissions or mistakes.

We are living in funny times, unprecedented times for many, particularly my generation, things going on that I won’t even try to comprehend. Now I’m irritating, I’m a grumpy bassa, I am a moan and I know all that, but even I knew that the cancelling of all the marathons was something that had to happen and even though I was disappointed due to all the work I have put in, I back it 100%.

Sunday was due to be my last long run before taper, 20 miles including the Balloch to Clydebank Half marathon which I was hoping to do just sharper than proposed marathon pace, so around 1.23/ 1.24 would have done the job nicely.

But there is no marathon.

There are no other races in the pipeline, it could be a long time before we get to race again as there are more important things going on in the world right now.

I was swaying 50 50 about even running and I know a few folk who decided against it. I totally got that. Part of me was hoping it would be cancelled but the other part of me wanted a chance to see what was in the legs after my training block. To validate what I’d done. This isn’t the place to debate whether running was right or wrong but I didn’t take it likely. I had made the decision, if I went along, if I was to run, then all there was to do was leave it out there. No fear, no doubts, I was going to give the sub 80 a go and to hell with the consequences.

No regrets.

I’d done 1.20.27 last year at the GSR when I was in peak form. Calves had cramped the last mile or so but I feel fitter just now. I may not have the speed but I certainly have the endurance, my 14 weeks training have got me there at least, like a Duracell bunny but a very old one. I got to Clydebank and we were bussed up to Balloch. I was with the Airdrie crew and banter was great. I do however think that instead of covering farts with a cough people were now covering coughs with a fart, but maybe that was just standard for Airdrie. The atmosphere at Balloch was great in the circumstances, had a wee warm up with Happy Shirlaw and Steven from Killie and watched 400 runners cram into one bus stop, sheltering from the rain before the race started. Did I feel good? To be honest legs feeling a bit heavy but expected from marathon training, there has been no taper opportunity, my A aim is gone now so this was potentially it, my season, my training. I looked around, no Henry Kelly but I was still Going for Gold, my gold, my aim. Sub 80, for the first time I am after you. Have a song.

The start was moved back due to flooding as we go down to the water, the finish to be adjusted accordingly. There were also another couple of detours so the mile markings would mean nothing, the watch would be important so of course my GPS kept falling to give me stress, but green as we went, and we went away fast. As we hit the water there was the bizarre sight of everyone having to screech to a halt and go single file but these things happen, through that and things start to settle down. I’m going at 80 min pace. The faces I expected to see at that kind of pace are there, Richard from Cambuslang, Grahame from Ayr, Ronnie from Perth, Derek from Cumbernauld.

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I try to hold onto a faster group containing Andrew from Kirkie and Alan from Lothian but despite a second k in the 3.30s I couldn’t keep up and had to let them go. The first 5 miles or so was into a headwind as we headed down to the real big watter. We stayed together as a group until the first real wee climb and Grahame put the foot down taking a few other guys with him. I was with John from Dumbarton and Andrew from Greenock and over the next few miles we worked well together, never letting the pace settle, all of us pushing the pace along to that sub 80 when it threatened to slip, the tough section from Dumbarton going in quickly. Sounds like everything going smoothly but in my usual way I was trying to derail that – I had a tussle with a thorny bush and it won, cracked my arm off a lamppost, my nipple was bleeding due to bad pin positioning and at the water stop I managed to drop the water before drinking it as it slipped through my glove. Cheers to John for offering me his at this stage, an appreciated gesture. I was finding it tough but about manageable and as we went through Bowling I was worried that  would add getting hit by a car to my other calamities so I speeded up to get on the pavement and accidentally started pulling slightly away. Ach well its nearly 10 miles, 5k to go, I went through 10 miles in 60.40 at Glasgow so lets see if I’m below that. Through 10 miles in basically 60 minutes.

It’s on.

The legs were heavy, they were burning. I had no idea of the route but the head was down and I was going for it. I am starting to catch people ahead and pick them off one by one, the diversion section sees me slide round a corner and hit a railing but it’s not going to stop me. I’m in a rhythm, I am not going to blow this. The calves feel fine, I’m in the zone and it feels good. I know I’m in the last mile and I am starting to close on Andrew, Grahame and Stephen from Cumbernauld. Gav Harvie spoils my chances of a stealthy overtake by roaring me on but much appreciated 🙂

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Last 800 and I’ve not much else to give to be honest. Pain on the face up the last wee section, eyes shut, blood and snotters as they say.

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And over the line. Sub 80 skelped in 1.18.27. Really,really chuffed with that. Delighted for fellow Team Baldy John from Airdrie coming in under 80 for the first time as well, had been waiting for him to come by me to be fair but just held him off. Gav Hinde wasn’t there for a picture so Mark from Airdrie joined the pic instead, forced to wear a cap as his hair is too nice.

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So that was that. Job done, and the thoughts of what might have been marathon wise. I had myself in the shape I wanted but take nothing for granted as on the day anything could have went wrong.

My splits here, and really happy with them, I’m getting better at this pacing myself thing now I think. So have some more Shed Seven as well.

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So there we go. Who knows when we will all meet again. Thanks to all involved in this race for the final hurrah. It’s always a pleasure running with you all and racing with you all, take care of yourselves and your loved ones. We will be back and we will savour it more when we get to do it again. Peace x

Thanks Tony McGale, Gav Harvie, Jennifer Beattie, Grahame Hopper for the pics.

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