Time: 1:57:01 [RESULTS HERE]
Crathes half marathon was earmarked in my diary as my last longish training run before Loch Ness, so I wasn’t particularly concerned about my time. In fact, I was aiming for around 2:05 as I had coerced Ronnie into cycling from Aberdeen to the start line, running the half, and then cycling back – roughly a 35 mile round trip on the bikes. And because some people are scum, I didn’t really fancy leaving my belongings (change of clothes, wallet, phone, keys, food, water, random crap) hanging off my bike, so opted to wear my rucksack during the run. So basically, I have no idea how I managed to run my fastest half marathon of the year.
I woke up at about 6:30 for a shower, and noticed that walking was painful. Having stopped doing my regular weights workouts about three months ago because I’ve been having issues with my abs (long, annoying story I won’t subject you to because I get really frustrated when I think about it), it was maybe not the wisest idea to partake in a weights class on the Thursday, opting for the weights I regularly would have because I cannot handle having less weight than somebody in a weights class (at least if it’s an after school activity, and half the class are teenage girls). Even before I was squatting and lunging like my life depended on it, I was thinking this is dumb, Rachel. Why do you keep doing dumb things? I hate you. My more competitive voice was just shouting MORE WEIGHT WEAK HUMAN! I guess we know who won that argument.
After my shower, I confirmed with Ronnie that cycling was still on, because the forecast was good, and I felt that with winter looming we needed to take advantage of clear skies while we still could. We met at Ian’s at about 9, and set off about 15 minutes later into a chilly headwind. Taking the back roads from Peterculter meant no annoying traffic, but it did mean a few slight undulations to warm up the legs. I was surprised at how fine my legs felt on the bike, and I had hoped that I would feel fabulous after my warm up. Ha.
Once we arrived at Crathes, we locked up our bikes and Ian sped off back home to do some yard work and weights. Sadly, when I stepped off my bike I still felt like a cripple, so I just tried to remind myself that I got through the Forfar 1/2 marathon, and the Dundee 1/2 marathon this year in a similar level of pain. I was not anticipating an easy couple of hours when I registered and collected my t-shirt.
It was kind of cold, so I threw on my old favourite hoodie. The one I used to wear practically every day. When I looked more like this, and it was ‘fitted’:
Apparently wearing clothing that sits on you like a tent isn’t very flattering, so you’ll just have to take my word that I don’t look this fat in real life, but that my legs are indeed my worst feature. So I’m extra excited that they are accentuated in this group shot:
We had our obligatory bathroom breaks, before settling into the crowd at the start line. The countdown happened, and we started pretty much on time, before shuffling over the starting line. Ronnie and I were running together, and we remarked on our rather admirable pace in the first mile and a half. Expecting to burn out early, we restrained ourself to a more conservative pace until just after 2 miles, when Ronnie started experiencing pain and cramping in his calf. After it worsened for another minute, I told him to walk and stretch it out, which we did. After about a minute, I asked if he was ready to run again, but he did not look happy, and told me a couple of times to just go on. Once he said he was sure, I took off, and that’s the last time I saw him until he finished.
The course was undulating, but there are no shocker hills to attack, so it’s just a case of pushing on until you get a little downhill break. My pack felt kind of heavy, and the sun had come out, so I had definitely warmed up. I still looked down at my garmin to see a pace that I thought would last until maybe 7 or 8 miles before I began to struggle, but though to hell with it and kept going. I think the fact that the route is along back roads as well as country tracks kept it interesting enough for me not to obsess over checking my pace too often, but was pleasantly surprised every time I looked down.
At about ten miles, we were directed onto a second off road track, and it’s here that I remember starting to overtake quite a few people, but I was feeling fine. In fact, it wasn’t until just before mile 12 that I started to hurt. My bag straps were digging into my neck, and my legs started to feel heavy, but by this point I knew that all I’d need to do to get a sub 2 time is stay under 10 minute miles. Just to be safe, I pushed on a bit. Exactly what I should be doing two weeks before a marathon, I’m sure. I passed Kate (who seemed to be full of energy and encouraging a couple of club members to the finish), and made it my mission to catch up to whoever was in front of me. Then whoever was in front of them. Ad nauseum.
I remembered a long and punishing uphill section from about mile 12 last year, but I didn’t really notice too much of a hill this year (that’s got to be a good sign – thank you trail workouts). Before I knew it, I was turning left onto the service entrance for Crathes Castle and knew this race was as good as done. Elated, I sped down the grassy finish chute and across the line, stopping my Garmin (I remembered!) and hobbling over the the people cutting off the chips from our laces. Hobbling is pretty accurate. My legs hated me.
I waited for Ronnie to come in, and then waited for some of our other friends, most notably Suzy who was running her first half marathon and came in just over 2 and a half hours. I also met a Claire, a girl I’ve interacted a bit with online, and who is also running Loch Ness in two weeks. Apparently she spent the whole race using me as a pacer without knowing who I was. I also had a very pretty lady come up and ask if I was ‘medal slut’ and I’m sure I was completely awkward, so if you’re reading then I am very flattered and felt like a rock star, but I am also kind of crap when I’m put on the spot, so I hope I didn’t come across as a creep!
After everyone had come in, Ronnie and I resigned ourselves to the fact that we now had to cycle back home, so we packed up, unlocked our bikes, and set off, passing some of the final finishers and shouting encouragement as we cycled past. Luckily, our route home took in parts of the course, and we happened upon an unmanned water station. Ronnie took full advantage of the already opened bottles and filled up his own stash:
Despite a few angry moments as we came back into town – there were road works going on and a few of the drivers didn’t seem to understand the significance of a cycle lane – we made it home unscathed, and I was glad to get cleaned up and out of sweaty clothes.
I wouldn’t hesitate to run this again next year, as the course is pretty fast and varied, it’s close enough to cycle to (Ronnie will hate me again next year), and I love the t-shirt: