My first official half marathon as a Strider, this was the race I had been training for … my target race I think the professionals say! It was a cool (but dry) morning – perfect conditions for running. I was a student in Glasgow so love the place and still have many friends there.
The weekend had started with kids’ races on the Saturday which were fab. On Sunday morning I arrived in Glasgow city centre with my sister and best friend and managed to cheer a few friends on in the 10k before heading to the start line. It was well organised, the different waves went in different side streets to accumulate on the road leading to the start line. There weren’t enough portaloos portable toilets but we managed to get to the start just a few minutes before the gun. You could see the long uphill stretch of St Vincent street ahead – about a km or so of hill to get you warmed up! After a busy start, the runners thinned out and I found it easy to run at my own pace. The crowds were great and there was a piper at every mile (“Just count down the pipers” I was advised at the start!).
It was an experience to cross the Clyde by running over the main motorway (M8) sliproad with traffic still whizzing by on the main carriageway – although most cars slowed down and beeped their support for the runners! Then onwards through the “South Side” through parks and along roads with plenty of crowds to cheer you on. Finally back over the river and along the riverside to finish on Glasgow Green.
I ran my last unofficial (ahem) ‘training run’ with a few other people from Newcastle to South Shields a few weeks ago in a time of 2h10. I was hoping to knock about 5 minutes off by not having to weave in and out the crowds so much. It was cooler and flatter and I felt great. As the race went on, I thought I might be able to break the 2 hour mark if I could keep my pace up. I ran this race once as a care-free student in 2002 (my only other half marathon) and got just under 2 hours – could I get a PB 13 years and 2 kids later? Well yes I could! Thanks to the excellent training I have had with Striders and Durham Mums on the Run, I was absolutely over the moon to finish in 1.53.16.
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This race is organised by Mounts Bay Harriers and takes place in the West of Cornwall just a few miles from Lands End. It’s not a long drive from my parents’ house and as it was a beautiful evening I managed to persuade my husband to come with me and run too. The entry process was well organised and I was chuffed to be able to put ‘Elvet Striders’ on my entry form for the first time. We checked out the map on a board, giggled at the fact we would be passing through Bottoms and Brew and tried to ignore the other runners complaining about ‘that hill’ so we could remain in ignorant bliss. The description of the course on the website is brilliant so I’ll quote it here:
“The route is described as ‘undulating’ by most Cornish runners, many of whom have recorded their PBs on it. Visitors from East Anglia tend to describe it either as ‘hilly’ or ‘bl**dy hilly’ while Northern fell running types tend to consider it a bit ‘soft’. True, there are a couple of pulls around the course, but these are more than compensated by a couple of descents and a great deal of fast level ground.”
I never did any running when I lived in Cornwall and I’ve obviously not become truly ‘Northern’ yet as I thought it was pretty darn hilly! The first mile was pleasantly undulating but then the second mile was all up hill and very steep followed by another long steep climb at the halfway point. We managed to run up all the hills but got overtaken by a few people on the downhills so I need to work on that. The route was inland and there weren’t many views due to the high Cornish hedges along the lanes but it was very pleasant, quiet running and the glimpses of sea and countryside were lovely with plenty of uplifting support from marshals and a few residents along the route.
I can’t imagine recording a PB on this route due to the hills so I dread to think what the other local races are like but I really enjoyed it and it was a good challenge. Over 300 runners took part, mostly club runners from all over Cornwall. We were pleased to finish (together) in under an hour (56.28). We ended the evening by driving to the coast and watching the sunset over the sea with a bag of chips. So if you’re down in Cornwall one August, I’d recommend looking it up.
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