Last weekend was the Scottish Half marathon and a race I had originally considering making one of my 'A' races. However, that soon changed when I got a place in the Devil O The Highlands ultra. It's only been 6 or 7 weeks since I finished that race so the half was always going to be interesting.
Since finishing the Ultra, I've signed up to Hawkins Coaching and I've now been following a bespoke training plan for 6 weeks. After an email conversation with Derek the plan was just to run to how I felt and see what time was possible.
My aim was for sub 1:30, which I thought was realistic. I've been doing some speedwork but nothing specific to half marathon racing.
The forecast was for 75mph winds but, on the day, those winds never arrived - thankfully! The morning of the race saw a slight breeze, with sun splitting the sky and I was feeling pretty good. This was going to be a good day for a run.
After a good warm up it was time to get running.
The countdown began and within 10 seconds we were off. The first mile was always going to be a bit faster than ideal, every race is, but when a 6:14 clocked up on my watch I decided I should really ease back a bit.
I got chatting with a couple of other runners and before I knew it, I was another mile in.
Mandy had dropped me off and was then making her way to the finish line back in Musselburgh but I didn't expect to see her standing at the road side cheering with her cow bell and supporting everyone. It was a nice surprise.
I continued to run faster than I was expecting. (planned pace was 6:50min/mi). Mile after mile I was surprising myself by how easy the pace was feeling so I decided to go with it.
At mile 5 it was time to turn into the wind and I just wanted to gauge how that was going to impact my running. Had I gone too hard? Mile 6 and 7, still comfortable, still sitting sub 6:30 pace!
This was now when I made a decision, a decision to start racing. I was feeling good, even with the headwind. I seemed to be dealing with it better than a lot of others around about me. I was catching and passing people with ease.
Mile 8: 6:24
Mile 9 : 6:30
Mile 10: 6:25
Mile 11: 6:30
I caught a guy who seemed to be struggling with the head wind and so I passed him, told him to come with me to the end. I slid infront of him to try and shelter him from the wind a bit. I could see his shadow behind me and I could hear him trying to come along. Brilliant I thought.
Mile 12: 6:26
Oops, I'd unintentionally upped the pace in mile 12 and the guy who was struggling had lost touch with me. I felt really bad but I was running really comfortable. I could see a group of runners up ahead of me and so decide to go chasing. 1 mile to go, I've trained on the track enough to know I can dig deep when it's needed, and today, I decided it was needed.
I came around the corner of the road and got a cheer from Malc, a fellow Edinburgh AC runner and I decided I was going to give it another push, dig a bit deeper. The legs were hurting but I was catching the group of 5 runners ahead of me. A couple hundred metres later, Mandy was standing on the road side cheering and that was my next prompt to push. I gritted my teeth and went chasing again. Maybe with 0.5 mile to go, legs screaming and pace still feeling good, I looked at my watch and saw the pace. I was motoring. With 200 metres to go I put on a sprint, past the group of 5 and kept on pushing hard.
I finished with a 6:13 min/mi!!!
1 hour 23 mins and I was done. Much faster than I expected and really pleased to finish 54th out of 2584 runners. I loved the race - great to have all the roads closed for us, great to have so many people out supporting all the runners and a very well organised event. I'll be back next year for sure!
If you are looking for a fast, flat course, look no further. The Scottish Half has it all.