Great Scottish Run Half Marathon
4th September 2011, Glasgow
2hrs 15min 4sec, 6256th out of 8473 finishers
I had been anticipating this race for quite some time, and I’m happy to report that it did not disappoint! As mentioned in my preparation post, this race was the original race I signed up for about 10 months ago when I started this blog…it was going to be my ‘big goal’, the one I worked towards. Back in’t day when I thought marathons were cool, but I had no desire to run one. Kind of how I feel about Ironman events now (which is scary, as we all know how my being ‘not interested’ in marathons turned out). Anyway – it felt like a bit of a milestone race for me as instead of it being an ‘A’ race, I was going in prepared with three completed half marathons behind me and a month to go ‘til my first marathon.
I had decided to treat it as a dress rehearsal for the marathon – I would wear the outfit I want to wear at Loch Ness, take the nutrition I plan on eating and run the pace I plan on running. I wanted a good, strong run out of the race but wasn’t fussed about a personal best – in fact my main priority was crossing the finish line in zero pain, with loads still left in the tank. I’ve got the rest of my life to get my half marathon PB down but right now, it’s all about the marathon…
We drove down to Glasgow on Friday night and stayed with Badger’s Mum and Dad in Paisley. On Saturday we spent the day walking around the West End of Glasgow and enjoyed a big lunch and a couple of beers at the Brewdog Bar. We had a room booked at the Charles Rennie Mackintosh hotel, which although sounds glamorous; is actually a super-central, budget travel hotel. I booked through late-rooms.co.uk and got a good deal – it was 3 minutes walk from the start line which was all I really cared about.
Our room was up in the rafters – this was one of the strangest hotels I’ve ever been in!
Badger and I are both on the tall side so we had to be constantly on the watch for the ceiling and only one of us could be on the move at one time! Unfortunately there was no air-conditioning or temperature regulation whatsoever and the room was BAKING hot. The window opened, but that let in the sounds of Saturday night Glasgow as well as a small breeze…we were stuck between a rock and a hard place. We went for silence over being cool, which left me in a sweaty mess for most of the night. I didn’t get a good night’s sleep and was awake when my alarm went off at 8am.
Breakfast was 2 bits of weetabix, and beans on white toast with orange juice. There were quite a few runners eating and it was interesting to see what they ate. It took a huge amount of restraint to turn down the vegetarian full Scottish, but I knew it was for the best.
I remembered a little too late as I finished my plate, how much fiber is in baked beans. Momentarily I panicked, but then if something went wrong I figured it would be good to know what NOT to eat from the hotel for a pre-marathon breakfast.
We checked out and wandered through a deserted central Glasgow. This was just after 9.30am and we saw the first waves of 10k runners go past!
As we rounded the corner on to George Square I realised what how many people 22,500 actually looks like and it was really quite breath-taking!
We stood and watched the remaining 10k waves go past before we were allowed into the square for the half marathon muster. Out of all the 14,000 10k runners that we could have seen, we were lucky enough to see Jo run right past us! She was looking strong and happy and finished in 1hr07m.
On top of the bus starting the race was Daley Thompson, double Olympic gold medallist and legendary decathlete! There was also the Lord Provost and another man who I presume was high up in the Bank of Scotland.
The 10k runners streamed past for over 20 minutes.
When we finally were able to cross into the corrall area I took a quick snap to show the stream of runners stretching up into the sky all the way up the St Vincent St hill. It doesn’t show too well but if you click the picture to get the full view it’s a little better…. John Kynaston was at the top of the hill however, and took this fantastic picture!
So. Many. Runners.
When we got into the corral area I went straight to the toilet queues which at this point were not too bad. I was keeping an eye out for Fetch tshirts but mysteriously there weren’t that many about!
Within a short period we’d met up with Ian and Donna and Jen and Joe and we were all ready to go.
Despite having completed three halfs and having completed 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 mile runs recently, nerves were still beginning to creep in. It was getting warmer and warmer just like every day I’ve raced on so far this year. Having a barbeque? Let me know and I’ll find a half marathon nearby to compete in – I can guarantee temperatures will reach into the mid-20s. Memories of the agony of racing hard in the heat were coming back to me and the race was seeming less and less like something I wanted to do. I knew deep down I’d be fine though and I just needed to HTFU and get going.
We had one more trip to the toilet and then it was 11am and we had to hop in to our corrall.
Donna and I were in the yellow corrall, i.e General Population, plodders united, or the slow one I had no qualms about this, but it did occur to me that there was a risk of us being stuck behind walkers or very slow runners if we didn’t get up to the front. We got as far as we could and then listened to the race being started.
As the different coloured corrals went we were moved around the square one by one. There were performers on stilts with big flags to lead the corrals!
At around 11:25 am it was finally our turn to cross the starting line!
There’s half my face…
…and off we went for that lovely uphill start. It really wasn’t that bad at all – a nice warm up for the legs. After it the first couple of corners were a little crowded but then the field spread well out. I just soaked in the atmosphere and enjoyed a steady pace listening to the crowds, before plugging in some mind.in.a.box and settled in for the long haul.
The route goes West out of the city centre before looping back and crossing the Clyde via the Kingston Bridge. These were major roads which were closed – it felt so cool to be running on motorway slip roads and dual carriages!
There were still cars on the bridge who hooted and shouted as we went past; every time someone hooted everyone started cheering. The atmosphere amongst the runners was one of sheer enjoyment – everyone had a smile on their face.
You could see runners far ahead of you arching over the bridges.
There was a small group of Royal Marines running in front of me here with their Drill Sargent. They all had full kit on with backpacks and appeared to be doing some form of run/walk combination in perfect synchronisation. At one point I ended up sandwiched between them and a kerb on a corner and since they were moving as one they ended up nearly forcing me off the course! I guess one marine isn’t allowed to step out of line even if he’s about to trample a young lady.
My camera was getting really sweaty here so I had to put it back in my pouch for a bit. At this point it was nearly three miles and they had gone by without me even noticing! After the water station there was a timing mat – My 5k split was 32m:04s which was a little slow but that accounts for the slow climb out of George Square.
I was planning on eating every half hour so I had a gel with my water. I held on to my bottle as they were little hand held ones so no trouble at all to carry. The course meandered through some residential areas where there were lots of people lining the streets and hanging out of their windows cheering us on. There was also a family who had a stand with grapefruit and orange slices at mile 4 – I took a grapefruit and it was the most wonderful thing I’d ever tasted!
The next stage of the course entered Bellahouston Park. There were still so many supporters! It made such a difference having people smiling at you and cheering you on – always something new to look at or listen to. The other runners on the course were constant sources of distraction as well; many people had signs on their back or personalised tshirts advertising who or what they were running for. I found myself a little choked up at times when running behind someone with a particularly emotional cause – ones in particular that still stands out was a lady who was running for a Stillbirth charity and had a tshirt with ‘Running for name, our little girl who fell asleep on date 2011’, and a girl younger than me who running for a Cancer charity in memory of “My Daddy, my hero”. I know these things are fairly common in big races but it was the first time I’d seen it.
Other interesting sights were the big groups of young Sikhs and Muslims running together for various community projects, including girls and women in hijabs and full body coverage who must have been ROASTING. I’ll never complain about being too hot in a race again, I promise…
The half point came and went and I crossed the 10k timing mat in 1hr 5m 19s. I knew at this point that I was definitely not on course for a PB without really exerting myself – but this was good, I was right on track for my ‘marathon dress rehearsal’ goal.
The route went into Pollock Country park and I was very glad of the shade. For some the heat had sadly become too much and there were at least two runners being tended to by medics, including a man who was covered in sacks of ice as an ambulance approached. Despite there being no spectators in this part of the course there were still things to look at – drummers, steel bands, jazz groups and bagpipers all crept up at various points which were great to listen to.
Shortly after we left the park there there was an unofficial water stop ran by the Glasgow Sikh Community. They had water hoses, sponges, buckets and cups – a welcome treat at 9ish miles when the last official stop had been at 5 miles. I’m not sure that’s the best of plans to be honest – the water is at 3, 5, 10 and 11.5 miles; there is no clear reason why they couldn’t have one slightly earlier than 10, however the Sikh community did a great job.
We were then making our way back towards Glasgow Green and the finish – the miles just seemed to slip by effortlessly! I was aware of how many people I was passing continuously – at the 10 mile point you could really tell the difference between people who had put the training in and people who were perhaps winging it off the back of a 10k. The closer we got to the Green the more crowds there were – I felt like a rock star running through them! There were car dealerships with PA systems set up, shops blaring music and more drumming groups, a radio station seemed to be live broadcasting from mile 12 as well. It was at this point I decided I was ready to finish strong and make the whole thing look like a walk in the park; I lost the water I was carrying, took a final gel, lengthened my stride and picked the pace up.
The last mile went so quickly I had to check my garmin at one point to see if it correlated with the mile sign. The crowds were two or three deep and people were calling out my name cheering me on (the electrical tape held out just fine ). People all around me were walking, huffing, panting and running like the walking dead…I’m please to say I was cruising past them all with a huge grin on my face and sprinted into the finishing chute feeling like I’d just had a walk in the park.
Badger unfortunately was dodging quite a few people to take pictures so there weren’t too many usable ones.
You can just see in this picture that there were metal barriers on the edges of the course; people were banging on them really hard and the sound was fantastic as you ran up the chute!
I felt pretty awesome. Marathon-photos.com did a good job of capturing it, but unfortunately it’s not good enough for me to fork out £17.99 for a digital download!!!
This was the view immediately after the finish line, on the walk to get medals and goodie bags.
The medal is pretty sweet; big and chunky and will look great on my shelf
Donna sliced a huge 13 minutes of her time from Dyce and came in at 2hrs 27minutes! She was delighted and had a great race as well. We are both so excited for Loch Ness; it’s amazing to think that in a month we’ll be marathon runners
Joe ran his first half marathon, with no training whatsoever, in 2hrs 6 minutes…which is pretty amazing given the circumstances. He had a great day too and I think there’ll be more races in his future – imagine how well he could do if he puts the work in! It does make me wonder what I’m doing with all this running 30 miles a week nonsense…maybe the key is to not train at all for the best times?!
So that’s about it – I will definitely be back next year, and I’d absolutely recommend this race to anyone who is thinking about doing a half marathon. If anything, the crowds and momentum will get you around regardless of your training situation!!