Time: 2:04:57 Personal Worst! Results here.
This was meant to be my last long run before the Loch Ness Marathon in two weeks (what?!) time. Turns out, this is likely to be my last run before the marathon. This is mainly due to the fact that bastard left shin/calf is hellbent on being painful, tight, and generally a pain in the ass.
Even at the Great Scottish Run a couple of weeks ago, I was hurting. I continued to hurt, but like a tool, also continued to run, for the next week until finally, last Sunday, I ran 6 miles (out of a planned 16) in crippling pain and near tears. Since then, I have been for physiotherapy twice, a sports massage once, and, until today, out for a run a grand total of ZERO times. I’m not being a lazy beast, for the record, as I am still doing spin and weights regularly, but this is totally not where I wanted to be two weeks before my first marathon.
Anyway, I was in two minds about actually doing this race all week. I was sore even just walking, and my physio had given me that nod-and-smile-and-don’t-let-her-see-me-roll-my-eyes thing when I told her I was planning on running today. She did her best to gently loosen up my ‘grisly, knotted’ leg, gave me some tape to put on this morning, and then, in hushed tones, told me unofficially to take drugs (ibuprofen). I smiled, told her I’d just grit my teeth, wear the tape, and ice afterwards.
Her response: ‘What colour tape would you prefer? We have black or pink’.
My answer: ‘How bright is the pink?’
So looking like a neon dream, I was picked up by Ronnie and driven to Crathes Castle. Deciding to arrive at 11:15 for a 12:00 race was not the most intelligent idea, and the parking lots were full by the time we arrived, forcing us (and the other latecomers) to park on the side of the road.
We made it to registration, grabbed our technical t-shirts (which are very swanky, for the record), and then I left Ronnie to find the bag drop while I joined Rhona in her quest to find the loos. After the toilet stop I ran into Teri (who, without any training whatsoever, completed her first two half marathons in the last few weeks in 1:48:xx and 1:38:xx – sick), and then we were spotted by Dawn, who was running her very first half. At this point we were in the starters’ mass, but no sign of Ronnie. We lost all sense of time as we chatted and were stunned into gear when we heard the horn go off.
And off we went! Teri was nursing a bad cold, so she decided to run with me and aim for 2 hours. Immediately we noticed the heat! It was probably around 20 degrees and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky – beautiful! But for running, tough going (to everyone suffering in the US with your heat waves – I know! But to folk accustomed to Scottish weather, this is akin to being stranded in the Sahara). Teri and I stuck together and chatted the whole way, which was nice. My leg hurt, and she was ill, so we soldiered on like invalids and spoke of ice cold water, then ice cold coke, and finally beer.
It kept our spirits high. The very nice family who created a backyard water station with their kids helping fill up paper ‘Princess’ cups with beautiful cold water was possibly the highlight of the course. There were 3 official water stops on the day, and while this would normally be fine for mid-September in Scotland, the freak heat made them seem miles apart (yes, I’m aware they were literally miles apart, but I mean like, several hundred). I also enjoyed every person who said hello because they recognized me from the great wide internet (Pete, I’m looking at you – and I hope whatever you pulled today is easing up, because you looked like you were partying in Pain City!).
The course was described as relatively flat, and I’d have to agree with that. The long, slight incline towards the end of the course was not very pleasant, but overall nothing nasty. Behold the elevation profile!
Not too evil, I think you’ll all agree. In the last 500 meters of so, Teri sped up but my calf/shin was killing me so I resigned myself to not sprinting at the end. The fact that some dude totally smoked me just before the finish line was a bit of a kick in the teeth, but whatever, fuck him. I crossed with my name being announced over the loudspeaker (always a cool rock star touch), collected my medal, grabbed some water, and then accepted a hug from Teri (who nearly strangled me with her bicep, unknowingly – I hope).
As we hung around and found more and more people we knew, we were all pretty disappointed with our times. Today marked a personal worst for me (totally not worried about marathon time – I’m lying, I’m concerned), as well as for Teri, Ronnie, and a good few others. At least Dawn stormed home with a PB!
I’m back home, showered, and soon to be fed, and while my leg is in pain, it doesn’t feel quite as bad as it did after my 6 miles last Sunday – so there is hope! While I’ve been ‘strongly urged’ not to run again before Loch Ness, I might see about a wee test run next weekend if I can get through this week in less pain than last (Queue my physio exhaling dramatically and burying her head in her hands). And as a parting gift today, here is the course map for the Crathes Half Marathon: