#greatscottishrun “You won’t win.”
Such was the parting encouragement from Daughter#2 (said with love and a precocious knowing irony) as I set off under a haze of Sabbath-breaking, band-abandoning, child-neglecting guilt. The sermon I would be missing was to be on something along the lines of: “Each of them did what was right in his own eyes” from the book of Judges. Very apt.
With my high energy breakfast down my neck and my last-meal banana at 9.05 precisely I was all set for the 11.10 start time. We were all warmed up, appropriately toileted, psyched to go and then the start was delayed for some reason. Thousands of people suddenly had their biological clocks all wrong. Very annoying.
It may have been to do with the Edinburgh trains. It may have been to do with the tail end of the 10k. I like to think of it as classic Glaswegian glaikitness and an inherent inability to move a few cones around at speed. While I should have been worrying about my own blood sugars and bladder capacity, I was really more worried about how the BBC would cope with an additional twenty minutes of pre-race build up. Having watched it back now, I needn’t have worried. The BEEB had plenty of footage ready for such a fail as the start.
Suddenly, all impatience and references to piss ups and breweries were put to the side as we finally got going.
St Vincent Street has never looked so steep, but chasing Haile Gebrselassie into the distance was fun enough that it felt okay. I expected a swift left turn onto the Kinston Bridge, but we had to go further along, then left past the McDonalds at the SECC.
Up onto the Kingston bridge, which didn’t really feel like the Kingston Bridge, somehow. I think one needs to be in a car to have it feel right. The Kingston Bridge was really dirty with random small bits of car lying about. It was visually cool though, seeing the flood of people on the motorway.
There was a long stretch along Paisley Road West, which was about as dull and insalubrious as a bit of road can be. This was probably my least favourite bit, because although our side of the road had the four mile marker, the other side of the road had faster runners coming back from Bellahouston Park going past the seven mile marker which was a bit depressing.
I started to feel positively ill between four and five miles, but the promise of a change in terrain, a drink and a energy gel at five miles kept me going. I was also bang on schedule. Into the park and it was snack time. Out of the park and it was my turn to feel smug, flashing past the other runners as they passed the four mile marker and I passed the seven.
Crossing the river the second time was my favourite part – the Squinty Bridge would have made a great finish line, and I was about ready for finishing just about then! I was hoping for a great photo opportunity, but the photo man was wiping his camera lens when I passed, so that particular juxtaposition of speed and civil engineering will just have to live on in the memory and imagination…
At last we were into the interesting architecture section all the way down to the ten mile marker at the Riverside Museum. Although it would be fair to say I was struggling at this point, and my target time was well out of reach – I was still running! Even up the hills! It was about ten miles that a lot of people seemed to be reverting to a walk, but I was determined to complete the course as fast as was possible – it had gone on long enough!
Where was Glasgow Green? That one-and-a-tenth miles was the longest stretch of the whole race. The mile in Bellahouston Park was suspiciously short and the home straight was suspiciously long, I can tell you.
As I was running along, each pace was a concerted effort. In my mind I was trying to ban myself from thinking the word “struggle/struggling” while generating a catalogue of aches. My left hip put in a formal complaint about the “ruddy adverse camber” – but I just naturally kept running on the left of the road as if I was driving, so my left leg kept having to dip a wee bit deeper than my right, and after the thirteen miles, it had had enough.
And suddenly I fired through the stone arch into Glasgow Green and the home straight again seemed suspiciously long.
And across the finish line! Only seventeen minutes late!
Medal and T-shirts on, we headed for the Underground. That was a laugh. The whole city seemed to have developed a sudden incapacity to go downstairs forwards. I opted for a sideyways lope.
A half marathon is really far. There is no need for it.
Tough Mudder was a lot more fun. I wore my Tough Mudder t-shirt on the Half Marathon, and it was nice to have a few camaraderie conversations with other Mudders on the way round.
It was (I hesitate to say it) the equivalent of childbirth (where Mudder was no where near) – in terms of duration, pain and recovery.
I am thankful that, at forty, I have run a Half Marathon. It is a good genuine challenge, and I am glad I succeeded in finding out how fast I could run that far.