Gun Time: 1:56:33
Chip Time: 1:56:00
Gender Position: 26/75 (Category Position: 19/46)
Medal: Yes (+ goody bag!)
I was not looking forward to this race, which means it is exactly the kind of race I should be doing more of. After foolishly entering without even glancing at the elevation profile, I discovered that this course was rather unpleasant, hill-wise. Oh, and I suck hard at hills.
On a brighter note, my friend Ronnie (from the gym, where I spent roughly 83% of my free time, much to my boyfriend’s irritation, as he would prefer I spent 83% of my free time dressed in a maid’s outfit ‘servicing his room’) had entered the Stoney half on Friday night, just shy of entries closing. On a whim. His longest ever run, before today, was just over 8 miles. He’s sensible that way. Anyway, this meant I had a lift there and back, which is always good news for me!
I was picked up at 9:45 and we headed to Stonehaven. Once there, we ran into Caroline (a spin instructor at the gym) +1, Rhona and Kynon, a few runners from Twitter, and I was introduced to some of the Aberdeen(shire) Fetch crew, which was nice as it’s always good to be able to put a face to a name (even if that name is merely a screen name). After registering, Ronnie and I had to trek back to the car park to dump any unnecessary belongings, I shoved my mp3 player and 2 gels into my bra (because I’m classy like that), and then we headed back for pre-race mulling. Just after 11, the runners began to assemble at the start line, and we were (I believe) briefed on the race, but the only thing I could make out was ‘Keep to the left!’
When the horn sounded, I was not totally prepared to run a half marathon, but off we went! My goal, other than ‘finish it’, was to try to maintain the pace I’d love to run my debut marathon at. I was actively slowing myself down during the first mile, and it was annoying. Thankfully (ha!) the ENORMOUSLY DICKISH HILLS did a fine job of keeping my pace way down for the first 4 miles. Thank you hills, you had my back. As I kept my music off until mile 8, I was able to have little chats with a few of the people struggling alongside me as we trudged forth. This was particularly useful during a walking break (I know), when I spotted a photographer up ahead. I instructed my companion to ‘look alive’, and we bounded past the snapper, before breathlessly continuing up Cheyne Hill (at least that’s what my new BFF said it was called). FYI: Cheyne Hill is a strict mistress. And I don’t like her.
Once the downhill bits began (and after angels sang Hallelujah in my mind), I left my buddy in my wake, chugging along at a respectable pace. The downhill bits were sweet. I don’t really know how I can put into words how much I appreciated them, but know that if they were a person, I’d consider naming my firstborn after them. It was around mile 6 when Rhona came zooming past me. She had spotted Kynon up ahead and was determined to catch him. After all, she couldn’t let her boyfriend beat her during his first half marathon, right? I considered following her, but looked down at my pace and thought ‘fuck that.’ She was making some good progress when another ma-hoo-sive hill decided to just turn up out of nowhere and shit on everyone’s parade.
Thankfully, near the top of the hill (I thought these were meant to be over and done with!) there was a water station, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I walked a bit more. It was the nicest 30 seconds of the race up until that point. Hands down. After sucking down a gel (and getting sticky gel crap all over my hands, which annoyed me for the rest of the race) I picked up the pace again, and started to enjoy some more downhill sections.
After another mile or so I passed Rhona again. She had her earphones in (and I might have as well) so didn’t bother with any chit chat (which would have consisted of me panting and repeating ‘I hate hills’), and I also spotted Caroline +1 up ahead. I caught up to them, and they both seemed to be struggling a little. I mentioned that they were over halfway there and it was all downhill from there (I didn’t know if that was the truth or not, but that’s what I would have wanted to hear). Then I took my second gel and marched onwards.
The next 4 miles or so were along a busy-ish road, and I felt pretty strong as I slowly picked off runners. I caught up to Kynon and gave him the heads up that Rhona was coming for him, and then continued on my sweaty way. It was about here that my heart rate monitor strap starting really digging in under my bra (this always happens when I run over 10 miles), and I knew that I’d be stinging badly in the shower later on. Up until this point, I was pretty sure I was putting in a dismal performance, but my pace was good, and I realized that as long as I kept it up, I’d manage to finish in under 2 hours, something that seemed near impossible during the first 6 miles. Awesome.
The last couple of miles flew by, and I was amazed I wasn’t feeling more worn out. I kept picking off a couple of runners here and there, and before I knew it I was back on the field staring ahead at the finish! For maybe the first time in my life, I held back and did not sprint the last 400 meters like a douche. This meant that when I crossed the finish line, I didn’t feel like I needed to blow chunks; result!
I fully took advantage of the drinks section in the finishers’ area, and re-hydrated like a beast. I got my medal and my goody bag, then went to meet Ronnie, who sickeningly managed to run his first ever half marathon in 1:46:35. I was also approached by a guy who asked ‘Are you medal slut?’ A fan! Hello, reader! Rhona came in soon afterwards, smashing her PB and managing her first half in under 2 hours (and her 7th half marathon ever), followed by Kynon, who she had clearly managed to hunt down!
After the race, there was a selection of sandwiches and cakes on offer, which looked delicious, but I couldn’t stomach. I had a couple of bananas, and all the high5 fluid I could get my hands on. Originally, the pub had been planned, but the rain had started coming down and I really wanted a shower and my sofa, so Ronnie and I said our goodbyes and headed back to the car.
So that’s half marathon number 3 in the bag. Next up? Tough Mudder Scotland (unless I have another impulsive moment) in two weeks time. And now, time to get intimate with my foam roller, because I’m really into self-harm today.