5k, half and full marathon

This blog is overdue by over a week but I wanted to let you all know how things have been going. 

Aviemore half marathon

Mandy and I headed up to Aviemore for the 10k and half marathon and it was really good. We took the train up on the Saturday and then ran on Sunday. 
The half marathon is one of my favorite half marathons, it has a mixture of trail and road running but due to the large amount of descent from Badaguish the race doesn't count towards any official results. It's classified as a downhill race so although my time was a new PB for the distance, it's unofficial.

Looking at previous race results I thought I may be able to get a podium finish so I was really looking forward to the race. Saturday was a horrible day weather wise, it rained pretty much non-stop from Edinburgh to Aviemore but on Sunday the sun was out and the wind and died away to almost nothing. Perfect racing conditions. 

I'm glad it was dry because we had to queue 30 mins to get the bus up to the start line at Badaguish. Not ideal and I hate to think what it would have been like waiting for the bus in the wind and rain!

After a quick warm up it wasn't long until Mandy and I said good luck to each other and made our way to our start lines. Although the half and 10k started at the same place, they had different start lines. Just before the start I spotted a local Edinburgh runner - Stuart Livingston, well there goes a 1st place chance I thought to myself but I still thought I might be able to squeeze a 2nd or 3rd place if I ran well. 

We were piped to the start line and after a short countdown we were off and so were my podium chances. Straight away a group of 10 runners shot past me and made light-work of the first couple of miles. Out of that group 2 individuals made their intentions very clear within the first 1/2 mile. They were breaking away from the group with ease and they eventually finished the race in 1st and 2nd place with only seconds separating them in a brilliant time of 1:11! Stuart finished 3rd in 1:15, even on a good day I wouldn't have been close to this time. 

So with a podium chance out the window I continued to execute my race plan. Race hard and see how the legs were with 3 miles to go. Although the race does get classified as downhill there are still some pretty good climbs, especially in the first half of the race. At one point I looked at my average pace on my watch and it was sitting at 6:15min/mi! Well off my target pace of 5:55. 

Aviemore course profile

I didn't panic and just kept on focusing on my form and pushing hard when I felt I could. I started to pick off some runners and as soon as I passed them I focussed on the next person ahead of me. It felt great to be catching and passing people even with 3 miles to go. With a mile to go one marshal commented to me that I was having a strong run, it was maybe a standard comment he said to everyone but I did feel strong and I thanked him for his comment, it gave me another spring in my step as I kept on racing. 

I crossed the line in 8th place in a time of 1:18:15 which I was really pleased with. 4 minutes faster than I've previously ran the course so I'll take that. 

St Andrews parkrun

Mandy and I were up in Crail at the weekend and we decided to do a bit of parkrun tourism. St Andrews parkrun was about 20 minutes drive from where we were staying so we headed down and arrived in plenty of time. Set in Craigton Country park you run 3 and a bit laps of the park to make up the 5k distance. 

I did a lap of the course before the run started and instantly felt like today was going to be a good day to run. It's a beautiful park with a miniature railway set up within it. You have to run over the level crossings during the race and past a boating pond and well kept grassy areas, simply stunning. 

I didn't get the best position on the start line though, I had thought where I was standing was the start line but I soon found myself behind a couple of other runners so when we were told to go I couldn't get a clear run towards a narrow bit of the path. I wasn't sure on the grass etiquette (Portobello parkrun ask that we don't run on the grass) so I found I was trying to spot an opportunity to pass people without going on to the grass but then I spotted a gap and went for it. I was now out in front and instantly relaxed in to a good pace and before I knew it all I could hear was my own footsteps, no-one behind me!

Lap 1 done and I started to catch some of the slower runners but no congestion issues and everyone was really kind and friendly and this is what I love about parkrun, you might be first or last but everyone treats you the same, it's a great way to start a Saturday and if you haven't tried a parkrun before, head over to www.parkrun.org.uk and register for free and get along to your weekly run this weekend. 

I passed Mandy on my second lap and kept on pushing for the final lap as I wasn't sure if I was slowing enough for someone to catch me - the race isn't over until you cross the finish line! 

In the end I found out I had a 37 second lead on second place and finished in 17:29, not a PB but my first parkrun win. 

My mile splits could have been better as well. 5:27, 5:42, 5:39 so I need to work on getting the times a bit more even. 

St Andrews parkrun results

Stirling

Just over a week ago I had a moment of madness but a moment long enough for me to pull my credit card out of my wallet and announce my return to the marathon distance in 2017! I've signed up for Stirling marathon! 

I'm nervous and excited to take on 26.2 miles again. Training specifically for the race wont start until early 2017 but until then I'm focusing on getting my average weekly mileage up to about 70 miles and that should give me a good base to build from. 

The course looks interesting and as it's the first year of the event I thought it would be a good time to come back to the marathon and see what is possible. 

Owain Williams

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