This isn’t the 1/2 marathon I am using my training plan for and so the intention was just use it as a training run.
I therefore wasn’t tapering and plans went a bit kiboshed when I missed my normal Monday running club run and ended up with the first run of the week being Friday followed by an easy run on Saturday which isn’t ideal preparation when you doing 1/2 marathon on Sunday.
I compounded the situation by not going to bed at a suitable time and watching a film on my iPhone till stupid o’clock, I did at least wake on time when the alarm went off and I had done my prep so all my running kit was ready.
A group of us shared a lift – thanks Mike – and it was good to chat on the way there swapping race hopes and gathering tips from Mike who done the race before.
We arrived in plenty of time and collection of the race numbers was straightforward. There were some stalls outside and I took advantage of a Run4it offer (supply email address and be in for a chance of free shoes) which included jelly beans as I’d forgotten to bring any race fuel.
Queueing up at the start and there were enough people that they had zones. I had a chat with another woman about the kind of races that we had each done.
And then we were off. I just took things easy at the start. It’s most definitely a road race as we were running on the roads the whole way. Sometimes said road was closed off and police stopped the traffic at roundabouts. Other sections felt a bit more hairy as you weren’t quite sure if you were supposed to be blithely crossing roundabouts without giving way to traffic. I’d heard tell of sections where you’re running in amongst two way traffic and this did indeed turn out to be the case. This was fine in theory, but could have done without some risky drivers coming past too fast and/or too close when you’re running in the gutter (either no pavements, pavements not having received any TLC this century, or pavement too narrow when overtaking run-walkers), but I didn’t feel my life was actually in danger. Just a bit disturbing at times.
I knew there was ‘the hill’ at the 11 mile mark and I’d looked at the profile to know there were other humply bits earlier on, but I hadn’t anticipated the long, long stretches of gradual incline which slowly but surely sapped the remains strength in my legs well and truly away. It also undulated more than I expected in the first 5k before we reached the main flat section next to a cycle path.
I had a few people around me. Some run-walkers who I overtook and was overtaken a few times enroute. A chance to call out words of encouragement.
I was amused by passing a sign for a Burger Van and hearing “oh, what I wouldn’t give for a burger right now” from the ‘perhaps running will lose me some weight and not make me look like I exist off burgers’ guy I’d just overtaken 😄
I was happy with my time for the first few km, but the gradual inclines started slowing me down. They weren’t of the ‘grit your teeth and power up to then get the joy of powering down’ type hills of the Smokies 10m. Just the slow degradation of pace and morale ‘is this a hill, or is it flat and I’ve just lost the will to pick up the pace?’ Later I reached the ‘I can tell it’s downhill , but my legs don’t believe me’ stage.
It was beautiful blue sky weather with fabulous views of the hills around Alloa/Tillicoultry, but for long stretches you were just on a samey looking road and I would have loved a left or right turn to break up the monotony.
It was warm and I was sweating hugely so I was very glad to have my new 2l Camelbak to sip on at regular intervals, although they did have several water stops as well.
Half way was a relief, but then I just had ‘the hill’ to look forward to if I didn’t lose the will to live on the never ending road, where you couldn’t tell if the yellow marker way up ahead was the much longed for 9 mile marker or just another arrow indicating straight on (as if that wasn’t bleeding obvious).
The hill at 11 miles wasn’t bad in itself, except that I was completely bushed by that point and we turned a corner (finally) and I discovered more upness.
When we finally started down I was so completely drained that my brain still insisted I was climbing Everest.
I saw two people down being attended to by Ambulance crew. Overheating I’d guess – although I think the weather forecast was just for 10-12° – no shade didn’t help. This had the result of slowing me down further as there was no way I was risking joining the downed.
I was SO glad to see the 13 mile marker and stagger over the last section to be greeted by my club mates as I made my way to the finish to receive medal and White tshirt (after being promised something garish after previous years pink or orange)
2:56:37 is officially my slowest HM race. I think I’ve only had one run at a slower pace. Combination of sweating so much and gradual inclines totally taking it out of me. Good as a training run, though, and since that was its main purpose I was happy enough.
If I do it again next year I would a) taper beforehand and b) consider starting my training plan with this one as the target as more long runs would help build up the necessary endurance that was a bit lacking today.
Photos courtesy of Ann Rautenbach and Emma Lougheed.
Video courtesy of Alloa Half Marathon FB page
A video of today's start..
Posted by Alloa Half Marathon on Sunday, 20 March 2016