Monday, 25 November 2013

Great Scottish Run

About six weeks late with the race report... 

My colleague Sarah has been thinking about doing her first race for a while. After she accidentally ran 10km one night last year we were on the lookout for a half marathon. Then winter hit, we stopped looking for race and Sarah stopped running. Six weeks prior to the race on a cake-fuelled Friday afternoon I came across the Great Scottish Run and decided we were entered it. By the close of play that day we had another colleague, Meghan, confirmed in her first 10km and were bombarding anyone who passed our desks with the entry forms. If a workplace entered a team of ten, then we would receive a plaque. Everyone loves a good plaque.

Eventually we scrambled together a team. I suspect the the coordinators of the race hate me because we were a bit of a shambles. The folk I managed to threaten until they signed up were:


Garry Carr - The baby of the workplace and part-time One Direction member. Travelled through from Stirling on the bus on the morning of the event. Likes to go to the gym at 5am because that's what buff youngsters do.

Angela Gray - There's a high chance that she's entered to get a day off from her young children. With a can-do, will-do attitude, I suspect she'll be focused on each runner ahead with the intention of blasting past before the end. Should probably run in a superhero cape for special effect.

Meghan McCall-Campbell - Representing Canada (even if that's not official yet), she's the office newbie. First attempt at a 10km race although she did get lost in training once and covered the distance. Has ambitions to prove her father wrong about her running abilities.

Jackie McNally - Experienced Great Scottish Run entrant. Has been out of action over the last year due to a serious ankle injury. I still have serious faith in her. There's a high chance that she'll crack open some champagne before crossing the finish line.

Maggie Page - Team masseuse who also happens to have the good fortune of living near me in the trendiest area of Edinburgh. She's also running to get a day away from her young children. Has one 10km race under her belt with a time of 1:01. This time she's looking to sneak under the one hour mark.

Graham Reid - A soon-to-be father, he's trying to tick a few life events off before a bairn takes over and he can only get out of the house to buy more nappies. Or maybe I was just really threatening when I approached him. I have a feeling his slight frame is going to make him a speedster.

Half Marathon

Jennifer Armitage - Focused on a sub two-hour time, she's even done some training.

Arlen Barke - Pulled out at the last minute with a pansy excuse because he knew all the girls would beat him.

Sarah Mckay - Brunette team captain and inspiration for the whole team coming together. She's got new shiny purple shoes for the occasion which always means that some fast running is in order. Likes to run in the dark so others can't see her creep up behind them. Watch out.

Lynsey McKenzie - The blonde bombshell on the team who is known for terrorising other runners by sprinting around the resoviors in the Pentlands. Likely to be decked out in neon pink singing to Miley Cyrus.

Mark Thomas - With a marathon already accomplished but not currently at peak fitness, I was delighted that it didn't take too much arm-bending to get him to sign up. He even managed some training while in Toronto which took team commitment to a new level. He's Team Father (but I suspect he only just found that out by reading this...)

Myself Truly - What on earth am I thinking?!

The morning of the race didn't start off too smoothly. Firstly I was running a bit late and had to do a warm-up by running to the station to catch the 8am train. Then the train didn't come because the train company who knew that the event was on decided to schedule some maintenance. I boarded the 8.30am train along with half of my other team mates and loads of other now-stressed runners trying to figure out how they were going to drop their bags off before the start of their 10km race at 9.30am. 

Maggie and Sarah

Lynsey's daughter, Lily, has drawn us up a wee picture to wish us good luck. I'm the curly-haired figure on the right. 

On the train I saw Michael Nowicki which secured my coolness spot in my work colleagues' eyes because I knew another runner on the train. The train did stop a few times on the way. They still hadn't finished their maintenance you see. At Haymarket station I'd spent half an hour watching about ten men stand around in high-vis jackets doing nothing, so my advice for the future would be to have less guys hanging about at the station and more of them on the hands and knees fixing the track. I'm not actually sure that the scheduled maintenance involved track-fixing as my train knowledge doesn't go far beyond 'a train goes choo, choo!'

Lynsey and Graham remaining calm

Fear could be heard through the voice of the announcer on the train. He could feel the hatred boiling up on the train. I have to say that the runners on the train were remaining remarkably calm. The half marathon didn't start until 11am which is the only reason I was able to retain my cool composure. Then the 10km race started. But we were still on the train. Then the white stripy wave of 10km runners started. But we were still on the train. Then the green stripy wave of 10km runners started. But we were still on the train. You get the picture. By the time we pulled into Glasgow station, all the different coloured stripes had started and left.

Runners tore off the train for the 10km. The staff at the station had been alerted to our heightened state of pissed-off-ness and didn't bother with the ticket check. Good decision as there was a high chance that one of them would have got decked. And you know what the biceps of runners are like... 

Credit to the organisers, they let all the 10km runners catch their breath and collect themselves as a group before letting them off together in a delayed start of Edinburgh runners. I felt sorry for the runners who had to take their bags with them. Thankfully, we'd de-bagged our 10km runners and even had time for a photo. 

Graham, Meghan and Maggie for the Edinburgh start of the 10km

Once they were off, Sarah, Lynsey and I headed in search for coffee en route to the bag drop which was inconveniently placed at the finish line - a 15 minute walk from the start. I avoided the jazz dancing warm up at the start and instead discussed the pronunciation of the word Guscarbe with some other runners. The start was delayed by 20 minutes. This would never happen in ultra running. I am in the white group, my colleagues are mostly in the pink group so hopefully I'll see them on an out-and-back part of the course. 

This is the biggest field I have ever run in and I'm worried that it will be a bit much for me. We cheer when the professional runners are announced. I'm a personal fan of Freya Ross because I SAW her running the marathon at the Olympics. She didn't see me. Well she might have but she was preoccupied and forgot to wave. I won't hold it against her, not because I'm not that kind of person (I most definitely am) but because she was doing GB proud. We creep to the start line after the energetic announcer has tooted his horn or whatever he did. It's all ok. 

I do some running. There is a bagpiper and I assume we have covered a km. Turns out we've done a mile. That's a bonus 600m. Most excellent. After some unspecified (or at least not remembered) period of running I place a firm (but fair) hand on Johnny Fling's buttocks region, He's delighted. At some km marker I calculate what pace we are running by using my magnificent blue watch and my brain. And I conclude that we are running too slow. So we speed up. We power on. We wave to our fans (collectively they mount up). I ran the Edinburgh Marathon about three months after I moved to Scotland. Not a single person cheered my name during the entire race (despite it being on the back of my vest!) and there was no one at the finish to meet me. This time round, I feel like I know half the locals! That might be a slight exaggeration but many thanks to those who came out and cheered.

Our Office Manager is supposed to be out here somewhere supporting... dressed up as a Christmas cracker. That was the deal... 

At some point John gets dropped. His fault, not mine. I see lots of green bibs coming towards me and look out for work colleagues. I don't find any. People always look so different when they are souped up in their Lycra. There's nothing else for it but jetting on. At the halfway mark I decide I am still going too slow and just sprint to the end. I passed Michael on the way who had some snazzy new kicks on. I am smacking back the gels in half measures, slurping water and trying not to let any runners in costumes beat me. 

Just to throw in a bit of race reference for you; here's a photo Scott captured of Haile Gebrselassie winning the half marathon in 1:01 and setting a new course record. Good for him. Although we're all thinking it; surely he could have tried a bit harder to slip under the hour mark... I've personally still got a bit of running to do. 

Haile Gebrselassie

Course record

So run is what I do. I'll be honest I haven't been taking in the Glaswegian scenery as well as one could have. I'm now focusing on not running into the back of tiring runners. I come up behind a girl who was with me on the start line. She's running for her university. Well professional. She's taking the other runners by storm so I just tuck in behind her and together we are female superheroes. She might not be aware of this but I am sure she would have been delighted. 

Then the course goes down to the river and around the Transport Museum just to come back up again. I see John coming down as I am running up. It's all high fives and smiles but I'm secretly worried he's going to fly past in a sprint finish. I don't know how far I've got to go. some miles. The mixture of mile and kilometre markers have been confusing me all day. Some dude asks another dude for the time. They're a bit ahead of me so I waddle up and provide them with a somewhat accurate answer. Original dude and I carry on discussing whether you get beer at the finish. University girl has dropped off the pace (or maybe original dude and I have just decided on a sprint finish). 

One mile to go. I can't believe this race is nearly over. One kilometre to go. I tell original dude that we'll run a sub 1:30. I hope he didn't start too far ahead of me or else that could be a wee lie there. With 400 metres to go I run past fellow ultrarunner Bob Steele. What am I doing passing him?! I can hear lots of people cheering for me. That helicopter above is probably for me too. 

The final straight is quite long. I think everybody felt it. Original dude and I are still chugging along though. I'll admit that about halfway down the final straight I did have an 'I can't be arsed moment.' That was shortly squashed by a 'that guy ahead of you is definitely well old' moment and so I tore to the finish line with a very pretty expression on my face. I ran a personal best of 1:28. That's my second ever half marathon after running my first as a student seven years ago! Hug with original dude, hug with Bob, told off by officials for too much hugging in non-hugging area. 

Great Scottish Run sprint finish

Am I supposed to go around again? I sort of feel like I have cheated. Scott's friend James has come over from Australia to support me today. Ok, his visit may have accidentally coincided with today's event but he's here nonetheless. And he gets to meet me stinking in my running gear. That's how everyone wants to introduce the wife to friends I'm sure. 

I meet up with Maggie, Graham and Meghan to get out on the course to cheer on our fellow runners. Scott and James head to the pub. I feel ill. There's so many runners coming. Who's wearing what colour? We miss Jennifer (apologies, she probably finished when I was in the line for a hot chocolate) but manage to spot Lynsey in hot pink having an absolute blast of a party. Sarah follows by shortly after, holding back on her sprint finish until after I have taken a photo. Unfortunately, we miss Mark because he was looking so dapper in his lycra that we didn't recognise him. 

Lynsey slipping in under two hours

Sarah gliding in just over two hours

Unfortunately, the post-run celebration of beer and chips wasn't attended by me as I consumed a whopping 1.5 gels during the race causing my body to have a meltdown. 

I think that everyone had a thoroughly good time. Sarah even ran the 10km over Arthur's Seat a few weeks back with another colleague Alastair. There was just one runner in a costume during this race though; ultragoodrunner Donnie Campbell dressed as a banana. 

Everyone's times were very impressive, especially considering they were on Antonia-style training schedules which involved a six week build-up and rather limited amounts of actual training! I think we should get the team together again next year :) 

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