Given that half 7 in the morning is far too early for a dram, the only way round this was to head down to Dundee with a car-load of people. This was my second half marathon last year (and ever) and I remembered it well. Given the even is extremely good value for money (at £13.10 for those that get entered early enough) I decided I may as well be coerced into entering it by Rachel. Yeah… OK, even I’ve stopped buying that excuse for entering every race under the sun.
First thing in the morning, everyone turns up at my place ready to leave for the ridiculously early start of 9:30. Unfortunately for most of the passengers, it would be a one way trip and the way back would be spent stinking up the train. You see, I had plans with Lauren to head down to Loch Lomond for a bit of an adventure. More about that later. We arrived in Dundee with just over 30 minutes to pick up our race numbers and get ourselves organised. There was a short delay in picking up our numbers, which left us running about a wee bit. Thankfully, there was no queue for the men’s toilets with 15 minutes remaining before race start and only a short wait for the girls. We headed over to the start line in perfect timing to get into position.
My goal for this race was my first sub-two hour half marathon. Remember that the start of the race is a bit congested, and gently climbing uphill through the woods for the first two miles; coupled with the fact that the race only has timing mats at the finish line (gun time only), I left the girls (who were happy to take any time required given the states of their legs and hangover/car sickness states) back a few rows and thought I would push on.
The first mile went by as expected. Dodging people and trying to get up the hills whilst keeping out of other people’s way. At the end of the first mile, I heard people talk about their current pace and decided to take a quick look at the pace I was doing just in time to see my Garmin go into sleep mode having not been started at the start. ARGH! This was all I needed with no chip time and only a gun time.
Never mind. I was running strong and managed to get up and out of the wooded area in a reasonable time. The next two mile were bliss. Steady downhill and on the concrete. Time to stretch out the legs and get myself a good, solid start. I punched out two miles of around 8 minute miles.
The rest of the race was fairly uneventful. Some varied terrain, flat running and a roads to cross with Police presence stopping the traffic for us (great value for a £13 race). A long boring uphill stretch along the duel carriagewaybrought us into Broughty Ferry for the final two miles of mainly downhill, a couple of bridges (and a fun bouncy bridge) and a nice gent spraying his garden hose over the fence. Lovely!
Running along the final stretch, along a very thing bridge where some idiot decided it would be a nice place to stop while riding slowly over on her mountain bike. One bike handle into the stomach later and I carried on, only to see the clock at the finish line read 2:00:45. I hadn’t made my sub-two hour HM… or had I?
My Garmin stats read an average pace of 9:10. Had this been running for 13.1 miles instead of 12 at this pace, then I reckon my half marathon took me 2:00:05… Hmm… I guess I’ll never know if I’d have been able to push past that extra 5 seconds or not. Either way, it was my quickest half marathon this year, so my trend of getting faster in every race continues.
Following the race, it was time to drop the girls off at the train station and go get showered and fed. Fight with Desperate Dan and march with some penguins…
Feeling refreshed and starting to recover from the race it was time to head down to Loch Lomond. On the cards was a full day canoeing and island hopping (including a visit to Wallaby Island, which I was assured there were wallabies on. After looking for them and finding nothing, I remain unconvinced…) As well as not finding any wallabies, we didn’t get to meet Kevin Bridges and “the guy from chewing the fat” who were in the pub moments before us. We also had ourselves a treat… a 34 mile cycle ride in torrential rain and a thunderstorm. Yes, we were tricked into thinking it was a lovely day when we headed out. So much fun, I headed home from the trip and bought myself a bike.
In my excitement of choosing and buying my first bike in ages, I text Rachel and suggest the unthinkable… going cycling instead of running! The guy at the till would soon put a damper on that as he suggests that I pick up my new purchase on Wednesday. My jaw drops as I realise I won’t be leaving the shop with it there and then. Oh well… I get to pick up my bike on my birthday this way.
It’s getting close and I have a 17 mile training run to do tomorrow… so we’ll catch you next time!
I would just like to add that there have been some criticisms of this race around Facebook and various other places online. Whilst there are a few problems in the running of the race (which race doesn’t have these hiccups?) the majority of issues have been acknowledged by the organisers. I feel that the race is great value for money and any problems or issues were not found by myself on the day of the race. There were queues at the toilets, but these were easily avoided by going to the other toilets close by. The water was in the goody bags at the end, so if you needed a second bottle you did have to ask for it rather than help yourself. I would do this one again without a second thought.