Monday, 6 October 2014

Haile or Hayley?

It's always a bit nerve-wracking to run a race that you're not specifically targeting or tapering for, knowing that people will be looking out for you and your result, and also using you as a target to beat.

GSR Race Route

Still, it's good to get out there and race.....for the company, for the sustained effort, for the practice, and for the enjoyment! If you only race when you're at the top of your game and and have specifically trained for that race, you're more likely to be disappointed if all doesn't go to plan.

My goal race is just under 7 weeks away and so I'm still trying to build up my training and mileage, but I felt that I should accept an invite to take part in the Great Scottish Run. Not only was it giving something back to the city that was so supportive during the Commonwealth Games, but it would be good to get some faster miles in with people to push me, and it would be my first "mass start" since the dramas of Seville (and I definitely still have some "fear" to work through there!).

Parking looked like it would be a problem on the day, and I worried about making it up in time on the day, so decided to take up the offer of accommodation in the athlete hotel for the night before the race. When I arrived to check in, I wondered what on earth I'd let myself in for when they told me that I was sharing a room with "Haile". After a double take, I realised that it was just a mis pronounciation of "Hayley"!

George Square ready
for the race
The afternoon passed quickly catching up with Susan Partridge and her family....and it looked like I might have a battle on with her brother Colin the next day, as we have similar half marathon times, though he's been running much faster than me this year.

A pre-race briefing, dinner and then it was off to try to get some rest.....or to listen to whatever movie they were watching in the next door room. 

Imposter band?
Nerves didn't really kick in until the morning when I was pinning on my name and number and attaching (both) chips to my shoes. Having met  up with a couple of other girls, we headed over to the course to do a last minute warmup/some strides. I always feel rather self-conscious about this, as we're allowed to use the first few metres of the race route. People are watching the international runners, and there are many cameras about, so I always feel like a total imposter that has sneaked in with the proper Elites!

However, in those final few minutes, I did manage to get some encouragement from fellow Scottish runners who were there supporting others, the family of a clubmate, a hug from Hayley (who had had to pull out of the race but was still there to support - it was the first time I'd seen her since the Games and so was a lovely surprise) and from a good friend Lynsey who stopped on her way to her start pen. A brief chat with clubmate Lisa, and then I headed right to one side, up against the barriers, as we applauded the "introduced" runners.

And we were off.......

This was it...the bit I was really panicking about. I warned a man near me that I would be a slow starter and so suggested he didn't stand directly behind me, but I guess that if I did this for everyone, them I'd be starting right at the back of the field.
Suddenly we were off, and a few strides later I realised that I'd managed to get away and start running without any pushing from behind. I got my legs working and so weaved my way round a few people who sprinted off past me, and was soon up behind Gemma. I was so relieved that I hadn't fallen, that I almost missed the fact that we were running uphill. it is a rather steep incline up St Vincent's Street and then an even steeper descent down the other side.

Susan's brother Colin passed me before we'd even reached the first mile marker, so there went that chance of a race within a race. Glasgow may seem relatively flat at first thought, but the race route certainly didn't seem that way. No sooner did we seem to have reached the bottom for the first hill, than we had a 90 degree bend to negotiate before we headed back up and onto the Kingston Bridge (via the motorway off ramp). Although it made for a tough section of running, it was nice to see people stretching away in front of you as you crossed the river, as I could pick out friends ahead of me by both their running style and their vest colours. 

In Pollock Park
Rather surprisingly, I was still not far behind Gemma as we entered Pollock Park (about 5 miles into the race). It seemed really odd to have been running some of the Glasgow marathon route from a couple of months ago, but in the opposite direction. This meant that we had to climb up the rise by the Burrell Collection instead of relaxing down in, but I then thought the rest of that park was flat. Unfortunately, the half marathon route then branched away from the marathon route.....directly up another hill.....and I watched Gemma smoothly move away into the distance.

As she disappeared up the road, Colin came back into view, so it gave me a bit of motivation to keep working to close the gap down as we crossed the motorway and wound our way through Bellahouston Park (and you've guessed it....they found a few more wee inclines for us!).

A friend passing me tried to get me to go with her, but my legs weren't really up for it - and she was looking amazingly comfortable (especially when you consider she'd run a marathon the weekend before). In turn, I tried to encourage Colin as I caught him, but he was having none of it either and dropped back.

I remembered crowds of supporters in July as we crossed the river (via the "Squinty Bridge")into town and ran down the riverbank towards Glasgow Green. People were again cheering runners on along this section - I even recognised some friends in exactly the same place that they'd been for the marathon (though I missed them on that day), and I felt like I was just as tired this time! It's amazing that you can be into the final couple of miles, even the final mile, of a race, and really want to stop, but I forced myself to keep going.

Finally I spotted the arch into Glasgow Green and them suddenly I was in the finishing shute.  Not an amazing time, but I'd acquitted myself well on the day and got a good hard training effort in......and how often can you say that you passed Haile Gebreselassie in a race (even if it's only because he'd had to drop out with asthme-related problems)!!!

1 comment:

  1. I'm afraid yes our city is pretty hilly in spots! Hope you enjoyed anyway :)