It’s been quite a while since I wrote a race report. I am keeping my powder dry in 2015. Racing only when it is right for my bigger plans. Those who know me will be aware that London Marathon (April) and Glenmore 24 (September) are my two ‘A’ Races this year. These are the big dances I want to be best set for.
But, the Kirkintilloch 12.5k is a race I really love. I have completed it 5 times now. My course PB going into 2015 was 49:44 from last year. I had gone faster in 2013 but the course was altered due to road and building works, so doesn’t count. This year was the ‘classic’ route.
Now, I have been training pretty hard over the winter. I have been working with Paul Giblin for the last 10 weeks, dialling up the intensity of quality sessions and focusing a lot of the things that matter for me to meet those ‘A’ race goals. I have never been ‘coached’ before when it comes to running but I knew the value of it from previous sporting endeavours, so decided to give it a go before I am too old to be able to get any faster! I have found it to be a revelation, but I will let you decide if things are working by what follows.
Pre-race I got to meet a plethora of buddies, and I love the relaxed atmosphere of the event. Over the winter a group has formed a strong bond as a bunch of friends aim to beat 4 hours at Edinburgh and we have created a wee group on whatsapp to cajole and encourage each other on the journey. I am intending pacing the team in Edinburgh and in the picture above you can see some of the team in our Crohn’s & Colitis tops for which we will be raising a few pounds for in the process. I should say up front, John, Skoosh, Brian, Des and Scott all ran superbly well. I was extremely proud of their efforts. In fact, I am happier when then do well more than I am for myself. Barry, who is supporting the guys too, had a good run too despite being ill in the week leading up to the race.
There are too many people to mention here in terms of catch ups, but it was great to see you all.
I only switched on my game face about 3 mins before the start when Robert Rogerson gave his usual pre-race address. He’s put on dozens of races and it has never rained yet! In Scotland that is the equivalent of winning Euromillions and the National Lottery on the same weekend.
I edged close to the front, next to Gerry Craig who was his usual jovial self, and set off after a “3-2-1, GO!” from Robert. I decided I would run on feel. I have been doing weekly tempo and interval sessions and this would be a test of their impact. As it was, I was about 500 metres in when I first checked my watch, and I was running about 5:40 m/m pace, just as we got to the first hill. By the time I got to the 1km marker I was in 14th place, it was easy to count as I could just see the leaders in front of me.
By km 2, down the hill, I had reached 12th place. At this rate I would be leading by 6km! Actually, naw. Robert Gilroy, who would go on to win the race in 41:09, was already starting to get out of sight.
For those of you not familiar with the course, it is called ‘hilly’ by many, in reality it is undulating. There are no massive hills, just a continual series of up and downs like a stormy sea. The first 3.5k are also the last 3.5k with a 5.5k loop on the back roads between Kirkintilloch and Lenzie to make up the distance. It is a great route as it tests all those things you should have been working on in the winter. Speed, hills, endurance, and the ability to blow a snotter from both nostrils simultaneously. Ok, the last one might just be me, but you get the point.
I was knocking out kilometres well inside my targeted pace. As a minimum I wanted to PB by around 45 seconds. This meant I would have to run around 3:55kms. But, before the race I decided to go and try and run 3:50s, knowing that I would have some slower and some faster than this, particularly as a few of the hills are lingering ones, not steep but long.
I put the first 3ks behind me in 3:45, 3:40 and 3:46 – well in side PB pace. I came to the hill which climbs to KM four and took it easy. By this stage I was in 10th place, which is a position I would never move up or down from. No overtaking or being overtook.
To be honest, from here on, it is a case of simply managing my effort. I was churning out the kilometres quite comfortably, only time I felt strain was on the climb at 7k, but even then I managed up fine without losing any distance on 9th place. I never gained either.
Then, at 8k my lace came loose. I was only about 10s ahead of Derek Martin and didn’t want to stop so I just kept running. On the downhills it was ok but when going up the hill it was annoying. By 10k, which was a PB for me over the distance, I was far enough ahead to tie it but decided not to bother. I’d gone this far! I was through 10k in 37:40 and knew I was on for a massive PB by this point. I pushed hard for the last few kms to consolidate this and found myself running hard up the 11-12 km hill, the hardest stretch on the course and then I was surprised to see my pace really pick up in the last 500 metres. I had no chance of catching 9th, and to be fair, he looked like he was just cruising anyway, and I covered the last 500m in 3:27km pace. A decent kick given the efforts in the preceding 12k.
I came home in 10th place, and the only non-club member in the top 20, with a time of 47:15, 2 mins and 29s faster than the previous year. I felt totally in control and could have gone quicker. I was fresh (I jogged home after the race) and despite not even tapering into the race (I did a hard speed session on Thursday) I was able to blow myself away with a massive PB. It wasn’t the fact I ran so much quicker than the previous year, but the fact I was able to do so without feeling too much stress. Clearly the winter training has been effective so far.
I am not training for short races but they are a great test of fitness. My main indicator will be in April then September but the early signs are good and I am genuinely excited for the season ahead! As a runner I regard myself as an ultrarunner but this is a such a fun race to do. Maybe it is the hills which make it so.
Many thanks to Kirkintilloch Olympians and their swathe of volunteers for putting on such a great race. I really appreciate it. Congrats again to all who ran yesterday, and especially those in the photo above. Awesome day.
(thanks to Karen Craig and Steven Hill for the photos)