Crathes Half Marathon
15th September 2012
Time: 2hrs 7mins 29secs
Position: 272nd/463 finishers
Gender: 83rd/283 females
The Crathes Half Marathon takes place in and around the grounds of Crathes Castle, a beautiful 16th Century castle surrounded by nearly 600 acres of estate on Royal Deeside. After being delighted with my result from the Moray Marathon, as soon as I got home I started searching for more races to do and this was an obvious choice. Many of my friends enjoyed the race last year, and a Half Marathon is my favourite distance. I had even heard that it was quite a flat course, so could another new PB be possible I wondered?
The race started at a very leisurely 12pm. When I left Stonehaven at around 10am it was comfortably overcast and it seemed like perfect running weather. The further inland I drove, the brighter the skies became and when I arrived at Crathes the castle was sitting beautifully under a cornflower blue sky.
I was glad to arrive on the early side as parking was limited. I was lucky to be able to pick a prime spot right next to the exit of one of the car parks, in the shade. I wandered up to registration and found the Crathes Pipe Band rehearsing solemnly and dwarfed by the castle, and a field with some tents which was beginning to fill up with people.
The race website stated that there were 600 places available, and when I signed up a fortnight before the race there were only 6 more to fill. They had also organised fun events for supporters and children to do whilst awaiting their runners, and many people had taken advantage of the fine weather and had set up picnics already.
Registration was quick and simple and I also received my race tshirt. They were provided in women’s sizes – what a coup! I am amassing an ever-growing drawer of ill-fitting white race tshirts which are never worn unless as a middle layer when it’s cold. This shirt is excellent quality, black, and fits perfectly so I am very pleased with it.
I headed back to my car to ditch my things and get race ready. I had decided to come alone for this race, there was no way to cheer on the course really and Kynon had other things to do at home so I was happy to fly solo on this occasion. There were a few usual suspects from Fetch who were running though, and once I was ready to run I caught up with Jane, Carolyn, Stuart, Caroline and Rachel whilst staying in the shade.
My Mum then surprised me by popping up! She had decided to take advantage of the lovely weather by taking a day trip to the castle and gardens as she has a National Trust membership and my Dad was out taking pictures. She knew I was racing obviously, so had managed to find me in the crowds.
It was really warm! I was dreading another potentially disastrous hot run – I do not do well in heat at all and after the suffer-fest that was the Dunblane 7.5 mile race earlier this year, I wasn’t looking forward to a Half Marathon of heat. Bear in mind of course, when I say hot I mean North East Scotland hot – it was about 23C, or 73F. I still have no idea how people can run in hotter climates – you have my utmost respect.
I decided to lose my usual Fetch bandana since it was too warm for the extra layers. I was also going to Mike Raffan‘s wedding later that evening and didn’t want a tan/burn line across my forehead! I had one more trip to the toilet and then it was time to line up at the start. The race seemed the perfect size – not a small and intimidatingly elite field, but big enough to create a bit of atmosphere and excitement at the start. However, not big enough to be a logistical nightmare!
I positioned myself about half way down the field. Given the heat I had no designs on time and I just wanted to enjoy a race without pressure. I hoped I could hover near 9 minute miles but I wasn’t going to push myself if it became horridly hot; again, attending Mike’s wedding was the important event of the day!
The race started on an uphill slope out of the castle grounds before getting on to a back road out into the country. It was quite a congested start and it took a good few miles before we spread out a bit. It turned out to not be quite as hot as I feared due to a nice breeze, but the sun was still strong. The first few miles were flattish but with some gently undulations. I was really ready for water when the first stop appeared and decided to keep a hold of my bottle.
I’m afraid I don’t have my splits for this race as they’re still on my garmin – this report is overdue enough as it is so I won’t stall by waiting to include them. Take my word that there’s nothing to write home about. Around 5 miles I think we turned on to an Estate track which was rocky and involved a little more concentration.The jaggy rocks began to aggravate the funny nerve on the sole of my left foot and I hoped it would pass – I was not in the mood for a tough race, this was supposed to be fun!
The route itself was scenic and had enough nice things to look at to keep me occupied. I was glad to get back on the road once more around 7 miles so I could zone out and ignore how thirsty and tired I was. A memorable moment at around 8 miles was a combine harvester in a field which was doing an about turn in a corner just as I was passing, an it spewed clouds of corn husks and dust into the air around me which was most unpleasant. I took a huge gulp of air and tried to hold my breath but it really, really didn’t work. I and everyone around me coughed and spluttered as the nasty air filled our lungs – not a nice experience at all.
There was another off road section at around 8.5/9 miles and I had perked up by this point and decided to speed up. The usual mind games I play with myself to pass the time were working and I realised I was close to 10 miles which meant only a 5k or less than 30 minutes of running to go which cheered me up to no end. I also enjoyed passing a few people, especially women who would be in my age group!
I had thought I was on the home straight, but just after 10 miles the incline took a sudden kick and there was a long, slow drag stretching ahead of us. A straight road climbing up in to the sky with a mirage of heat shimmering about the tarmac? Damn.
Those last miles went on forever and were made even tougher by the wind blowing right in our faces. At least it took the edge off the heat, but it was not much fun. I was delighted to pass the 12 mile post, knowing that 13 was inside the castle grounds and the last one we’d see. I decided to stop being pathetic and actually give the last mile some gas, if anything so I could finish the race sooner! We finished down the hill we’d climbed at the start which meant gravity could lead the way and all I needed to do was not trip over on the grass. I felt like I whizzed past the crowds without enjoyed much of the atmosphere, but there were a lot of people supporting which was great.
The finish line was well organised and I had my chip cut off and medal pushed into my hand whilst being hustled out of the way towards the food. I was able to claim a lucozade, water, some fruit and a chocolate biscuit before finding a tree to hide under and flop in the shade.
Mum came over and gave me a hug and we chatted about the race; apparently there had been quite a few heat-related casualties at the finish and at least two ambulances departing with sick runners. I was fine but just in real need of some salt and sugar – I demolished that lucozade in seconds.
I caught up with my friends, all of whom had had tough races and there were no notable PB’s to speak of. I didn’t hand about for long as I had had a strong desire for a footlong subway and a huge fountain coke from the Subway at Cults on the way home since mile 12, and nothing was going to get in the way between me and that sandwich.
A thing of beauty! Extra olives, extra chillis and the naughty chipotle mayo on chewy cheesey bread. Hello, Lover. I ate it in bed before falling asleep for an hour to recover.
Here’s the t-shirt – isn’t it nice? It’s also the only Half Marathon specific tech shirt I have. It’s really thick, quality fabric so will be great for Autumnal running.
I wish I could say the same for the quality of the medal though – I found it lackign somewhat and it reminded me of a child’s chocolate Christmas coin. Still, it fills the second last space on my medal rack nicely and I reckon I can get one more on there neatly before I need to get shopping for another.
By the time it came around to head out to Mike’s wedding I was fully restored and ready for a good night. I was glad it was a runner’s wedding I was going to as I had a shocking racer-back tan on my back from a summer of running, which my lovely halterneck dress showed off beautifully. Vikki and Iain were there as well as many other running friends – it was so nice to see everyone dressed nicely instead of sweaty running gear!
Don’t we scrub up well? A bit of a change from 1am in Kinlochleven 80 miles into the West Highland Way Race…
Mike and Annette had a beautiful wedding and are currently away on honeymoon in St Lucia. Congratulations guys, and thank you so much for including us in your day!
That’s all I’ve got for now, I’m taking a bit of time off running this month and doing strength and conditioning work at the moment which I will update about soon. I’m enjoying the mental and physical break – I feel like I’ve been training non-stop since the start of this year!
My next race will likely be the Fraserburgh Half in November as I can’t find anything good on in October! Does anyone have any suggestions? The only things I can find are the day after my birthday, which isn’t a good idea; not even for the RedWineRunner.
As always, thanks for reading; even after this hiatus. I have some big goals already lined up for next year so this break is needed before I throw myself in at the deep end once more!