I was looking forward to this race since I’ve had an easy time training wise last month, and it’s now time to get back into doing a bit of effort. It’s been ages since I’ve done a half and the last one I raced was Glen Clova 2004.
On the drive up you knew it was going to be a wet one, pouring rain and a lot of water on the roads to be waded through. At the hotel before the start it was lovely to receive complementary comments from folk I didn’t know about the West Highland Way race on the Adventure Show and that the Beeb had done a good job of getting across how special the race is.
One girl who spoke to Pauline and I was quite anxious about the race, she’d just gotten over a virus and wasn’t sure about running in the cold and wet conditions, we suggested she didn’t race it, just keep her jacket on, stay warm, run easy and enjoy the scenery, she was still concerned about the distance as she hadn’t gone over 12 miles this year concentrating on 5 and 10 kms and getting some cracking PBs at them too, so I then suggested that she should just run the first three miles and if she still wasn’t happy turn back. She then thanked me and said she knew she’d feel better if she spoke to me! I thought that was so nice of her to say that, then my next thought made me smile. “Aye, speak to Nutsy, that’s bound to make you feel sane!”
I did the usual dither on how many layers to wear, I settled on tights, long sleeved thermal, vest, hat, buff and gloves, I didn’t feel it was enough but I was planning to run hard so hoped that would warm me up! We were off, I wasn’t sure how to pace it at all, the last races I’d ran at a fast pace (well, fast for me!) was the Tour of Fife series, there’s nothing tactical there, you just go like the clappers and hang on! I settled on going as fast as I could while staying relaxed and controlled. At about 5 miles I felt as if the sock on left foot under my heel was rumpled, I’ve never had that happen before I thought it must be because my feet were soaked with wading through the floods then I felt my toes hang over the insole, it wasn’t my sock that was rumpled at all but the insole, well, I’ve definitely never had that before! I considered stopping to sort it but then thought, it’s only 8 miles to go, if I wasted time flattening it out would it just rumple up again? I’ve coped with worse, I’ll just keep going.
I did a bit of reminiscing during the run; it was at Glen Clova half many years ago I met my first West Highland Way runner, Stan Milne, and I had the incredulous look on my face that I’ve since seen a few times on folk myself. One year the road was just an ice rink for the whole way, another year the gales were so fierce on the second half when we turned into wind the mile markers had been blown out of the ground and were hurtling up the glen towards us. Pauline and I had ran together that year and we worked as a team, taking turns in front of each other for a hundred pace then swapping over, we went past a lot of other runners that day. Today the wind was kind to us, there wasn’t much and it was behind us on the return, I remembered my old tactic in half marathon running, work to 10 miles then kick, I tried but I’d already been kicking from the word go! It’s an undulating route and the biggest hills are saved for the last couple of miles. The thought of stovies, beer and warm dry clothes spurred me on to the finish. Pauline’s scientific speed work she’s been doing paid off, she was second lady, Gail was third, and a sack of tatties in a Carnegie vest (aka me) made up the team, we got a bottle of wine each for 4th ladies team. I like the way Forfar do the prizes, first 15 men, first 15 woman irrespective of age category and 4 mens team prizes and 4 ladies team prizes.
After a big plate of stovies, three pints of a wee beer exclusive to the Glen Clova Hotel, I was warm and dry, and could contemplate my race. I was happy with my effort considering how rusty I was at this distance but I hadn’t forgotten how tough a half can be. Well it was my 104th!