Great Scottish Run 2013

Photo by Steven Hill

Yesterday was the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow, there were two races, the 10km and the Half marathon. I opted for the Half and this is my race report from the day.

A race that I need to get to from Edinburgh always brings in extra logistics. I tend to travel the day before to the location and stay over night, less stress that way, but since it was just along the M8 to Glasgow I thought I would just drive in the morning.


Mandy was also meant to be racing, she was down to race the 10km but due to falling off a step and seriously injuring her ankle, that was now out of the question. Her sister was racing the 10km so she came along with me as support crew.

Training at Harrison park on a Sunday morning has had many benefits, one of them is I have been able to try different breakfast options before taking on the tough session and what I have found works for me is 2 slices of toast with jam and peanut butter on them, washed down with a glass of water or orange juice. Due to the 1 hour drive over to Glasgow I also took some Soreen with me to snack on during the drive and a bottle of Lucozade. I don't usually drink Lucozade but the last couple of half marathon's I've felt I've been missing something during the later stages of the race and I've also found drinking just water makes me need to go to the toilets too often prior to the start, annoyingly I've also had to stop mid-race in the past!

We got on to the road and got to Glasgow without any hassle, got parked and then we made our way to the finish area. Unlike many other races, the organisers asked the runners to drop their own bags off at the finish area rather than offering transport for our bags. This was a bit annoying but once at the finish area you realise it's not that far to walk to get to the starting area, probably a mile which turned out to be a nice easy warm up.

After dropping off my bags I said cheerio to Mandy and said I'd see her in a couple of hours! This is the point where I usually zone out, try and relax and basically spend some time in my own head but as it happened I met up with a couple of people that I know and we had a chat on the way up to the start line which was good. Once we got to the starting pen I wished them all the best for the race, had a final visit to the loo and then made my way up to the front of the white pen.

The order of service was, Start line, Elite Men and Women, Fast Paced Club runners then the white pen, followed by the Green pen and then finishing with the Pink pen. If I am honest, I had expected to be in the fast paced club runners pen but I must have put a slower time down when I entered. It ended up not being an issue though because 5 minutes before the start of the race the marshals told those who were at the very front of the white pen, that we could mix in with the fast paced club runners, perfect!

With just a couple of minutes to go the weather was looking ideal, not as windy as forecast and no rain either. I took off my t-shirt and tried to slow my heart rate down. I was really looking forward to this race, I'd heard such good things about it but a high starting heart rate is almost guaranteed stitch territory for me in the later stages, not only that but the first mile was up St Vincent street which is a brutal way to start any race!

11am - still not started, and then there was an announcement to the crowds by Brian Burnett, there was going to be a 15-20 minute delay! This was not great considering most people had taken off their warm clothing in preperation for the start and since we had all merged in to other pens, the clothes we had taken off were now lost at the side of the pens further back with no hope in finding them again. I decided to get out of the pen and go for a short jog to keep my legs warm and relaxed. In the process of jumping the barriers I found myself inside the VIP area and within a couple of metres of Mr Haile Gebrselassie! I did think about going across to shake his hand but the big bouncer security fella made me think twice and I just jogged past.

After a couple of strides and stretches I climbed back in to the pen and we were now on the final countdown to the start. The elite runners were lined up in front of us and being introduced for the BBC sports coverage which was being shown live on BBC2.

We were off and the plan for me was to run 6:28 min/mi pace or slightly faster so when the first mile, which was uphill had past and my garmin said 6:15 I thought I better ease it off a bit. It was a great early boost to have @Alftupper shouting from the sidelines though and maybe it was his shout that made me take on the first climb with such gusto!

Mile 2 was a bit slower which was a conscious effort as it was another climb up along the M8 over the Kingston Bridge and being so early in the race I didn't want to kill my legs. 6:25 was the mile split but already I noticed my garmin was clocking up the miles earlier than the signs on the route so I started to use my garmin as a rough guide and not to worry too much about my pace.

Miles 3, 4 and 5 were a bit of a slog, up along Paisley road west, in to the wind and on a slight incline. I started to battle for position with a couple of people along this part and without pushing too hard eventually pulled away from the group and started chasing the next group in front of me. Running around Bellahouston park was a nice change to the race but it was quiet twisty and a bit slippery underfoot due to the leaves on the ground but once we came out of the park, it was back along Paisley Road West which was now downhill with the wind on our back. We were also starting to see the hundreds, if not thousands of other runners still making their way up to the park. I spotted a couple other club mates and gave Alan Forbes a high five on the way past. I really enjoyed this part of the course because I just switched off and completely relaxed on the down hill section, this also shows though in my pace as it started to creep up again to 6:20 and 6:21 pace.

When I saw the 6:21 I focussed again and started to get down to business. At the 8 mile marker I was on countdown, less than 10k to go, 2 miles until the 10 mile mark and I'm feeling good. I always treat 10 miles as the half way point in any half marathon race, the final 3 miles can be where it all falls apart for me and I was determined not to let this happen in this race.

There were only 2 more climbs to go, one to get me to the transport museum and then the second one on the way out from the museum. I attacked the first climb and closed the gap between me and the other group in front. The museum was mile 10 and I was a bit dissappionted by the lack of supporters at this point. I had expected it to be jumping with crowds as it's a great vantage point. A couple of times along the course I had to start clapping to get the supporters to respond. I'm not sure if they didn't think the first 200 or so runners need support but it really does help.

The second climb was infront and again I attacked it and relaxed on the downhill catching and passing the group I had been aiming for. Now it was just 3 miles to go, a Saturday parkrun, but the business end of the race!

Some where between miles 10 and 12 I caught up with a runner who looked over at me and then said 'I enjoy your blog posts', this took me by surprise and in those brief few minutes I found out we had been chatting via Twitter before the race. It was @Ali140128.

With only a mile to go the legs were starting to hurt and the mind starting to wonder, the straight road was becoming boring along the river side and I couldn't see the finish anywhere. My garmin was now quite a bit out so I couldn't trust that for the distance. I just had to dig in and hold my pace.

Mandy gave me a shout of encouragement but due to the rain which had started from about mile 11, my eyes were stinging and I didn't spot her or the big banner which said 400 metres to go!

400m to go

Coming in Glasgow Green the finish line looked so far away! I struggled to keep my legs moving and also prevent myself from being sick, I was giving it my all in the final stretch and was over the moon to see the clock tick at 1:23.16.

My aim for this race was to get a season's best, even if it was just a couple of seconds, but to go out and take over 2 minutes off my time from Moray Half Marathon was unexpected. I just felt really relaxed for most of the race and it shows in the result. I was 1 minute outside my PB and it was the fastest I have ran a half marathon in 2 years. I've got Glen Clova in November so I might just shoot for a PB there but it really depends on weather conditions as that course can be brutal!


Overall thoughts about the race yesterday -

  • A fast course and a course I would race again
  • Worst section - between SECC and the transport Museum, it feels like no-mans land. A bit boring.
  • Best section - the final 200 metres was great with supports cheering, could have done with more support out on the course.
  • A very well organised race and don't let the luggage drop off put you off entering.
  • A shame the medal isn't race specific, it's a generic Great Scottish Run medal which I guess they use for the 10k and half.

I wasn't sure if wearing my lightweight racing shoes (New Balance 890) was going to be a good idea or not, as I've not worn them for a 1/2 marathon before. It turned out to be completely the right thing to do, they felt great and I got a number of comments about how bright they were! No blisters either so they will be my long distance racing shoes from here on in. I doubt I would want to do a full marathon in them though.

I'm really pleased with my splits in general, it's the strongest I've ever finished a half marathon and I put that down to Harrison Park training. It's made me realise that I can push harder than I think I can after a long run and having the sick feeling for the final 400 metres rather than the last 2 miles shows I paced it almost perfectly as well. I couldn't have given any more.

Finished 113th / 8902, in 1:23.16

This weekend is the start of Cross Country races so I will be interested to see how that goes.

Thanks to Mandy and Steven Hill (@stevenjjhill) for the photos.

Owain Williams

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