Peterhead Half Marathon 2013
30th June 2013
Chip time: 2:06:35
Gender Position: 14th/40
This report is a little over-due as I’m afraid, as it was somewhat of a poor performance with absolutely nothing to boast about. I had signed up for this race a month or so ago as it fell perfectly into my marathon training programme as the half way point ‘tune up race’ where I ideally would run the race at my goal pace – and hopefully feel strong and capable of much more at the finish.
That was the theory anyway. When the 30th of June arrived, the morning of my 12th Half marathon dawned bright, sunny and HOT; great for some, but a total disaster of a forecast for me. I have tried my hardest to train harder when it’s warm and never shy away from running in the sun (even though I don’t like it) in an attempt to condition myself better to running in warm conditions, but I still find it incredibly tough. I think my body really struggles to regulate it’s temperature, and despite what I wrote in my previous post about Bikram, I think the cause of this is that very rarely sweat properly. I never sweat from my face, neck or chest; sometimes I’ll get a little damp patch on the small of my back but that’s the extent of it. Sweat is important to keep the body cool and if you’re not producing much then over-heating is easy…
Anyway, when we got to Peterhead there was actually a brisk wind. After standing around at the start for a while I became quite cold and the clouds looked like they were staying, so I put a long sleeve top on under my club vest. Not my chicest look, but at least it’s still club colours…
I’ve also just noticed how squintly my number is pinned on… Oops.
My plan was to run sub-9 miles throughout, as that is my goal marathon pace for now. Closer to the date I’ll decide how far sub-9 I go, but for this purpose sub-9 would keep my on track and if I picked up the pace at the end I might even collect a PB.
The assembly for the start was at 11.30am after all the kids races had finished. It started with a lap of the running track before heading out into deepest, darkest Peterhead. I had studied the course-map but since I’m not familiar with the area it meant nothing to me. Closer examination revealed the potential for the course to be quite lumpy, but I figured my training on the Stonehaven hills ought to set me in good stead.
I only knew one other person doing the race who would be going at a totally different pace to me, so I had no chums to run with. I took my iPod to listen to (which is a rarity these days) but waited until the crowds had cleared before plugging myself in.
I’m all smiles here, but unfortunately that didn’t last long. The route went out through a housing estate for a little while before jumping on to the disused Formartine and Buchan railway line, which was surrounded by deep embankments and the chilling wind dropped. Suddenly we were no longer being protected by the wind and the midday sun beat down upon us as we climbed a long steady hill for the first three miles. I was extremely uncomfortable and cursed myself for putting on my extra layer, but I figured we’d be off the railway line soon and back in the breeze.
Splits: 8:07 / 8:85 / 8:39
Back on the roads, and things got even hotter as the still heat reflected off the black tarmac. I realised that this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park and that keeping on target pace would require some grit if I was going to get the job done. I latched on to the heels of Keith from Fraserburgh Running Club (as seen above) and just tried to pretend I wasn’t there. My body may have been present but my mind was fading…
9:32 / 9:00 / 9:29
At the top of yet another long, straight hill at 6 miles (the type where you can see exactly where you’re going – and it’s 2 miles long and straight up) I caved and walked a bit. I couldn’t bear the hot thumping in my ears from my heartbeat and I couldn’t go on without taking my long sleeve top off. I immediately felt better for it, but the damage was already done and I was well behind goal pace. It was here where I mentally gave up; I was too tired to face the thought of running faster than I every had that day to try and catch up with my goal time and I just wanted it to be over. The road ahead was another long straight which was mercifully slightly downhill, but I knew there was more incline to come and I just didn’t have it in me, mentally or physically, to fight for it.
10:18 / 10:44 / 10:40
Ultra-mindset kicked in and I tried in vain to remind myself that I was tougher than this, that I had ran for 13 hours once and covered 53 miles and this was a total joke compared to that, but I just didn’t care. I was too hot and woozy and all I wanted to do was lie down under a tree in some of that lovely, soft, shady grass… At 8 miles however there was a wonderful Oasis where the lovely people of St Fergus had put out some tables with chopped oranges, jelly babies and water. Oranges! ORANGES! My saviour in the hot Paris Marathon in April! I greedily slurped down several, eyes probably rolling back in my head in a terrifying display of overheated, thankful glee.
After 9 miles in a half I always feel like I’ve broken the back of the race and it’s time to put the foot on the gas and bring it home strongly. There was no such gas to be had however, but I did take relief in the fact that I was heading back in the right direction towards Peterhead.
10:09 / 10:25 / 10:27
As it was now a survival mission I was was walking the ups and trotting the downs and ignoring my garmin completely. The small race of 110 was now so spread out that I couldn’t see another runner ahead of me and hadn’t seen another for miles, but the cheery marshals from Peterhead Rugby Club provided plenty of cheers and sympathetic nods about the heat as they suffered bare chested in their roadside deckchairs, cool cans of juice in hand… Thoughts of harbour beers upon the return home to Stonehaven kept me moving forward and eventually I found myself in the last mile re-entering the town.
The sun chose this moment to go behind a cloud and suddenly I was given a new lease of life. I was able to return to the park and do my victory lap around the running track (a crueler torture at the end of a race I cannot imagine) at a respectable clip, and completed my last mile in 9:14.
This smile I’m wearing only portrays happiness of the race being over; no other forms of happiness including examples of the ‘runner’s high’ are included.
That’s more like it.
A season’s worst at 2:06 and 10 minutes off my PB, but I was happy to get around in the end I guess. I’ve been consistently running under 2 hours in good and bad conditions for half marathons in the last year but not in heat – Crathes in September was another scorcher and another slow effort in 2:07. I just can’t get my body to respond in its usual manner when it’s warm, which makes me wonder if I were able to take HotYoga/Bikram regularly, would this improve?
All in all it was a good little race and very well organised, but maybe there’s a reason why they didn’t post the course profile on their website. This is the elevation read my garmin got which correlates my claim that the course is within the realms of Stonehaven in terms of difficulty.
There’s no flat…there’s just up, or down.
There is a nice t-shirt though; I like the minimalist design and the fabric quality is excellent.
I’m not convinced about the back though as I have a long standing hatred for everything that has attached itself to the ‘Keep Calm’ trend, and I hate being referred to as a jogger. It’s ironic though, as for the duration of this race I was anything but calm and my pace could not be referred to anything more keen than a jog, so maybe it’s more appropriate than I thought…