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Loch Leven was supposed to be my goal half in terms of the training I’ve been doing this year, but after catching a cold shortly after Alloa I never quite regained my mojo even though my health returned. This left me feeling slightly despondent, but also less concerned about a time as by this time I’d be happy just to get around.
The things I could plan for were the weather/conditions and the fact that it was an afternoon race. The former I managed to totally mess up on, leaving my sun cream behind and forgetting to bring my buff as protection from adding fly protein to the equation of what to eat before/during the race. The latter I sorted by having cereal for breakfast, a sandwich in the car at the beginning of the drive over to Kinross and a mars bar shortly before arriving. I did remember to take my Camelbak and spent an important 15 minutes in front of a mirror adjusting the straps and using gaffer tape in order to move the buckles and straps well out of the way of my arms to avoid chafing, especially as it was aiming to be hot enough to have the ERN race vest and no other t-shirt layer.
I got there in plenty of time to register, but not quick enough to get a car parking place in the community centre itself, but thankfully they had arranged overflow parking at a nearby campsite which was just a few minutes walk away. I gathered all my stuff that I needed for the race and left everything else in the car to avoid unnecessary trips back after getting my race number, but forgot about the race t-shirt. It turns out there’s just enough space in the Camelbak key pocket to stuff a tech t-shirt and I was ready, after a brief ‘Hi’ to Niamh.
The community centre had excellent facilities. I snuck into a disabled loo in a quiet corner with no-one else in sight, but on my walk back out it looked like there were plenty of toilets available with minimal queues.
I’d read that there were slight changes to the route to avoid bottlenecks in previous years. Part of this involved a 1 mile walk to the new start point along with several hundred other runners. It felt very strange walking that far to the start point – and far further than a mile, but eventually we reached the start flags and chip mat and after a few moments of the usual unintelligible announcements we were off.
It was a stunning day. Temperature around 12 degrees in the shade, but it didn’t look like there was going to be much of that with a blue sky and dotted clouds. There was enough of a breeze to keep you from overheating too much, but not enough to hold you back. For the first few miles there was little sign of flies so I was hopeful I wouldn’t miss the buff (which would probably have caused overheating anyway).
As one of the slower runners I spent most of the race with the roads mostly to myself with the old runner just visible in the distance in front, and the occasional leap frogging of position from runners behind, some who were walk-running. In the first section we had good support from locals cheering us on our way. Apart from a couple of sections the roads were mainly open, but the level of traffic was much lower than it had been for Alloa and it just felt like everything was less rushed – cars less impatient to overtake, and I also had the advantage of the Ambulance following behind occasionally overtaking in order to stop at strategic points like water stops and junctions in order to make it very obvious to other car drivers that there were runners around. I never felt vulnerable as I had at times at Alloa.
The terrain was gently undulating with the odd couple of hills, but nothing as bad as the dreaded 11 mile killer of Alloa (I’ll stop with the comparisons now), so I found it easy to keep a steady pace and just enjoy the views and the peace and quiet as at times I couldn’t hear anything other than the sounds of the countryside. According to the statistics of our research company, it was revealed that Cialis is a therapeutic drug created to restore male sexual life. The main area of its purpose is to fight erectile dysfunction, because of which a man is not able to maintain the necessary erection for intimacy. Read more at https://cupfoundjo.org/generic-cialis.
The route vaguely circled Loch Leven such that it was visible on my left, but sometimes at a distance, and a variety of interesting hills passed by on my right making me think of hill runners I know who would be itching to get off the road and up those inclines.
One quiet stretch gave me the glorious sight of a glider coming down to land, going overhead what seemed just a few metres above my head. It looks like such a peaceful and graceful way to fly. I tried getting my iPhone out in time to take a picture, but it had landed at the airstrip a distance ahead before I’d reacted. Running slowly without a goal target does mean you have time to take scenic shots, albeit shaky as I like to run my races even if I’m not ‘racing’ them.
My garmin having died a death a while ago I’d invested in a basic TomTom GPS watch as my iPhone GPS is no longer reliable (remembering the horror of Devilla 15k measuring more than 16k). It was great to have an accurate distance logged, with it checking out spot on with each mile marker that I passed (with mental maths conversions in my head as I prefer to log in km). It does make my average pace look much worse, which is still taking some getting used to, but I do recognise that it is now showing me just how slow I really am these days.
Although I did indeed swallow a fly or two (not sure if being 53 make me an ‘old woman’) there was only one stretch where I had to run with a hand covering my mouth in order to avoid making that a few million ingested. Overall I was better off without the heat/burden of carrying a buff, although the pictures of mosquito/bee face nets posted on FB did look like they’d be the very thing if you could pull off running a race looking like a beekeeper.
The undulations turned into a definite climb just after 12k, it did slow my pace a bit, but felt fine and didn’t sap my will to live like in that recent race I’m trying not to keep referring to. There were several water stops on route which I didn’t need in terms of taking on water (and I was very glad to be able to take little sips whenever I wanted in the heat and how much I was sweating), but I took the chance to pour some of it over my head and down my neck to cool off a bit. As the afternoon passed the water in these cups got progressively warmer and the final water stop was more like taking a shower in terms of temperature – not much different from the temperature of water in a camelbak reservoir that’s been sitting on your back for hours though).
I managed to reach about 10 miles feeling it was all eminently doable despite my recent lack of training, but after my legs started to remind me how I hadn’t demanded more than 12 miles in training in the past month and that had nearly ended in a walk. The last mile was the toughest where I had to mentally hold on and find some way to take my mind off the strong desire to give up and find a sofa to lounge on. I tried singing to myself (this race was a ‘no headphones’ one as per the new regulations), but was struggling to remember the words. I tried ‘one man went to mow’ but lost count after about 10! I tried chanting ‘not far to go now’ and ‘I can do this’ like I often do at this point in a race, but I wasn’t feeling the magic. For the last section we finally came off road onto a cycle path and I tried counting down the remaining 100s of metres left with as few glances at the TomTom as possible “what do you mean I’ve only gone 20m”, but FINALLY the 13 mile marker came into sight and then the side path running up alongside the community centre with views over the playing field where the fair was taking place. There was absolutely no chance of a sprint finish happening, but my time was sub 3 hours and in fact I snuck in just a minute or so ahead of my time at Alloa and was cheered across the finish line by a welcoming committee headed by Jim the announcer declaring that the people at the end deserved just as much of a welcome as the leaders who had come in more than an hour ago.
A bottle of water, a banana and a Caramel biscuit were all I needed in the goody bag before I drummed up the energy to walk back to the car and head home. Perhaps if I do it again next year I’ll find out if the fair is worth visiting, but for me it was enough to have completed the race on my own two feet and running (albeit slowly) the whole way. Next time if the weather is anything like similar I will DEFINITELY not forget my sun cream, as I’m still feeling sunburnt and tender on my shoulders several days afterwards despite copious applications of after sun cream as soon as I got home).