For some reason, I seem to like to do a half Marathon around 2 weeks after a Marathon. This is not deliberate, merely something I have noticed in looking back. On returning from Milan, I noticed that it was a full 3 weeks without a race and we couldn’t have that, could we? Also, my first race planned was the Balmoral 15 mile trail race. I thought that a HM first would help my legs get a feel for the distance again, so I looked up the guide and found the Angus HaM (Half Marathon) on Saturday 19th April. That’ll do nicely! It was reasonably cheap (£18), reasonably local (50 miles) and one I had never done before.
In the days following Milan Marathon, I did a lot of walking around in Rome doing some sight-seeing. I returned to the UK and had my first run on the Friday – 6 days after the Marathon. This was probably too soon to go back to it, as I felt my legs still sore and tired. I kept going regarless and would run twice more in the next few days. Still feeling heavy legs, I decided to go to Kincorth Jog Scotland on the Tuesday night where they had us doing sprints, circuits, squats and planks Duthie park. To say my legs were sore the next day would be an understatement. This forced me to have three days off before Angus HaM. Hopefully it would work in my favour. Given it was less than 2 weeks since I ran a Marathon I was not expecting anything special with this race and would certainly not be hitting any times like I did in Inverness. You see, this race was hillier than Inverness and there I ran a lot quicker than I was expecting. There’s no way I was matching it. All through 2012 I struggled to hit a sub-2 hour half Marathon, and although I am in a bit better form I still didn’t believe that was the standard I was running at.
At the last minute I got a message from indecisive Greg who would be running the race after all. He drove through from Peterhead on the Saturday morning, parked at mine and we headed down together. Arrived nice and early, got our numbers and sat in the car deciding what to wear to run in. The sun was out, but it was a little chilly. Knowing it would warm up I opted for short sleeves and long legs. I have came to the conclusion when decided what to wear during a race that it is impossible to know what to wear. Each time you change your mind just means that the probability of choosing the correct gear for the weather decreases significantly. All that you can know for sure is that whatever you finally settle on will not be the correct choice. Before we set up, I handed Greg the car key as I was expecting him to finish in the region of 20 minutes before my expected 2 hours.
The race started promptly at 10:30 and I immediately got swept up in amongst some faster runners. During the first mile I kept telling myself to slow down, it was far too fast. Unfortunately, I had been fiddling with my Garmin just before the race as I had on a new heart rate strap and could not see the pace we were running at. When my watch beeped after the first mile I noticed I ran a 7:38 minute mile. Far too quick for me, slow down. Brr… it’s cold and windy though. I wish I had my long sleeves on.
The next few miles, I thought I would try something new and go with heart rate rather than miles per minute, so I left my watch on that setting and ran to keep roughly a steady 160 bpm – comfortably hard work. As this was an undulating course, I figured that it would mean I would run slower on the uphill sections and faster on the down hills. As you can see by the graph at the bottom of the page, I managed to keep my heart rate steady and sure enough, my pace follows the curves of the altitude graph.
Seeing what pace I ran the previous mile consistently surprised me as each mile my watch beeped and told me somewhere between 7:45 and 8:15. I had a bit of a debate with myself on whether or not to keep this up, worrying that I would suffer in the final few miles. In the end, the deciding factor to keep going was hearing Rachel in my head saying at Loch Leven half “let’s keep this up as long as possible” when we were running a quick pace. I conveniently forgot about my struggles in the second half of that race.
The majority of the race had been down hill and had felt great. As I reached 9 miles I was starting to tire though and we now had to regain a lot of the height that we had lost. I decided just to try to keep on running. I had ran every inch of the last 9 miles, I would love be able to finish the race knowing I had ran every inch of the course. 10 mile marker came and my watch beeped 8:45. I was now really feeling tired in the legs, but my watch was reading 1 hour 21 minutes. Supposing I slowed down to 10 minute miles, I would be coming in at 1:51 – the same as I did in Inverness. It’s hot though. I wish had put shorts on. Even better than that, if I managed to get back to my 8 minute miles I would be running a PB. A half Marathon PB is kinda a big deal for me, given I have never had one. My friends say that my first one is my PB, but I don’t agree. That’s just the time of my first one. It can’t be a PB if I have nothing to beat. It’s just the benchmark that I have never managed to get to again. Also, this was set in July 2012 on the hilly Stonehaven half course. I also told myself that although I was tired, these final three miles would never be as hard as the final 3 miles two weeks ago in Milan.
During all of this counting and thinking, I lost track of myself and completely missed the 11 mile marker. By the time I saw a marker up ahead, I was over the moon to see that it said 12. Mile 12 marker was on a hill and I remember wondering if this was the infamous last mile hill that every one was talking about. It wasn’t. Well, it was. At least, it was part of it. You see, the final mile hill is the whole mile. I had to dig deep and do everything I could not to walk in this mile. I saw a runner a wee bit ahead who looked strong and was running well. I latched on to him and made sure I kept running as he would never give up. Moments later, he gave up. I passed him and carried on to the next person. I had nothing left though, I was going to have to walk. Wait, I recognise that blue Inverness half T-Shirt. That’s Greg. I’m not walking if I can catch Greg. It can’t be Greg. Oh, it must be that other guy I saw wearing an Inverness half T-shirt. Hold on it is Greg. I run past him, call him a slacker before realising that I cannot do that AND then walk. So, I kept on until the top of the hill. Into the gates of the park, I could now see the finish line up ahead. I heard footsteps behind me, I though that it would be Greg coming to pass me before the finish. It wasn’t. I certainly wasn’t letting some random pass me just before the end. I hit the acceleration and finished around 5 seconds before the guy who tried to pass me.
Over the moon with my run, Greg and I went for ice cream in the sunshine after chatting to some of the other runners. Sitting outside, in the warm sun eating ice cream and I felt for a minute I was back in Italy. Until I tasted the ice cream that is 😦 Overall a great race that I am pleased I have done. Ran on quiet country roads, four water stations (cups in one, two and four and bottles in the third water station) and police presence at junctions. Medal and goody bag with water bottle at the end.
Category Position: 66/198(?)
Overall Position: 131/257
Gun Time: 01:48:12