Skye Half Marathon 2016

On Friday I went into work really early, worked a half day, then left at 1130 so I could pack and leave Glasgow by around 1230. I knew the journey to Skye would be long, and it was.

But my car was good – I think it was my first long journey in it, and it made a difference – automatic windscreen wipers and lights, and a bit of cruise control made the drive a lot more comfortable.

After a 5 hour drive I got to Portree and registered for the race. We got a handy and branded bag, with a White tshirt, a pen, a timing chip, my number (542), pins and some information.

I stayed with my good friend who lives just outside Portree again. I hadn’t seen her for 2 years and it was good to catch up. We had curry for dinner and ice cream (and chocolate and toffee sauce) for afters. Yum.

And I met this little beauty – Ben the 8 week old collie puppy. He’s so cute, and trained to do somethings already, like sit, and do things for treats. He even knows how to escape from the garden too.

My friend lives on a croft there, and they have a cat – called ‘Black Moggy’ to chase the mice away.

And a pet sheep (called Cuddles) and her lamb. Cuddles gets fed oatcakes twice a day, and I was lucky enough to feed her before I left. How the other half live!

Anyway…enough about the animals… I was there to run too. I’d run the Skye half marathon in 2014, around 6 weeks after the Belfast Marathon. I’d trained for it in 2014, regular running but I didn’t think I could get a pb.

I ran pretty free the last time. I wanted to enjoy it, but decided it was a good idea to start at the front. I kept it steady for around 3-4 miles, then just let go. My avg HR then was 169 and max 177, and I surprised myself with a half marathon pb of 1:38:08.

I remembered the really nice scenery, and the hills, but mainly the downhills if I remembered rightly. Mile 5 in particular and the last 2 miles were good ones.

This year was similar in terms of build up – the London marathon run in a similar time as Belfast. And then 6-7 weeks between the marathon and the Skye half marathon. But the difference this time was that I wasn’t really focussing much on running.

Running fast or running anything. I was more keen to have recovered, and have had a lot of other things going on, so my own running has taken a bit of a back seat.

I’ve not been doing any speedwork and have been focussing mainly in running easy or long. I was up for having fun again, and I decided I’d run to around 160 for my heart rate and see what happened.

The night before I laid out all my gear, including my yellow cape. I wasn’t sure about it, but I decided you only live once, so thought – why not? I forgot my magnet clips so had to go old school and pin my number on. Magnets are so much better, but it was ok.

The morning of the run and I went dish to the start for around 930ish. When i was there I met a friend of a friend (Mike) called Jim and Doreen. They were really friendly and it was good to get to know them a bit.

I also met Roddy there who I know through another friend. He overtook me around 8-9 miles in, then I overlook him around 11 or 12 miles in. We stuck together mostly and I finished slightly ahead of him I think, but he was faster on chip time, some good running from him anyway. 🙂

Before the start, I dropped my bag in, and was impressed with the organisation of everything. Over 800 runners took part, and most things seemed to go seemlessly. (It took a while for them to find my bag when I came back, but that was ok – the two girls running around for the bags were doing a good job).

There was a warm up, and I took the opportunity to stand on the sidelines and chat to a few other runners. I met Archie who was doing the Heb 5 or 6.

He looked like he was up for enjoying himself, and I met him on the final stretch where he said he was dying, but he was nearly there, so I hope he made it. I think he did.

I saw some other faces I recognised from running circles and felt glad to be a part of it.

I walked to the front of the crowd and we all walked up to the startline, led by the pipers. The count down started, then we were off. I was only around 3-4 rows back from the front and many ran off ahead of me.

I noticed my HR was up quite high already, 150-155-160… After a short while we took a left, and we went right up a hill. I didn’t remember this hill from last time, and that seemed to be the then throughout the run. Up down, up down, up up up. (I was aiming to keep my HR below 160 for at least the first 4-6 miles).

One thing I wasn’t doing this time was paying attention to my time, or pace or mile splits. I noticed they were under 9 minute miles, but I was more focussing on not letting my HR go above 165, or trying to get it nearer to 155/160. Doreen passed me early on.

I spent the first 4 miles being overtaken mostly, and taking in the lovely scenery. Big breaths, looking around me. I felt very lucky to be running it again. (I must get out of the city more often!)

I’d taken a double espresso gel before I started, then had a wiggle caffeine gel at miles 3 and 7. I had water in my water pack.

I remembered mile 5 when it came, but I didn’t push it the way I did last time. Gravity helped me to run fast than I had been (downhill) and the pipe band were good. It was here I first saw Nicky, a very friendly runner who I later found had run the London marathon this year.

Mile 6 ticked by and it seemed to be hard… but I was still enjoying myself. I eased off a bit, being ruled by my heart rate, trying to keep it from going too high (160+). It was then I started chatting with Nicky and ran with another guy called Gavin who was aiming for sub 2 hours. I was pretty sure we were on for it.

Mile 7 was the start of the big steady hill… I remembered it from last time, but I didn’t remember it going on so long… on and on and on it went. I was chatting to Nicky along the way, and spoke with a few others. It was here I met Doreen again and tried to encourage her. Nicky recognised her hair stile from the Arran half marathon – small world.

(Jim & Doreen at the end).

The hill (miles 7,8,9) seemed to go on and on and I thought the downhill was coming, but it seemed to never come. Again I wasn’t looking at time, just heart rate, and it was seeming to go up and up.

I let Nicky go on ahead for a bit so I could recover a bit. And at one point I noticed my HR monitor had slipped a bit, hence the down spike in the graph. I fixed it and it went back up to 160-165 ish.

Miles 11 and 12 came and before I knew it I just had to hold on and let the downhill and gravity help me along. I caught up with Nicky again, and let my legs take me. I remembered this time 2 years ago and I was doing the maths to see if I could beat my pb, I really pushed it on the last few miles then.

Today was different. I hadn’t really been looking at my time and by that point. With about a mile to go I was around 1:45 in. My time was the result of my fitness and effort (HR). My avg HR was a bit lower this year, but not by much – 165/169.

The last mile was hard, but I was reminded why I stuck to heart rate where in the last half mile I pass another runner helping / comforting a club runner who looked like he’d passed out / was in distress.

I shouted for a medic for him and people were on their way to help him. It might have been hard for me, but at least by running to my heart rate I have a limiter to stick to. I ran into the end, down the hill to the finish and felt good.

I finished in around 1:53, slower than I’ve done before, and 15 minutes slower than 2 years ago. But I wasn’t really focusing on time, nor had I been in my training. The conditions were similar, the route was the same. I can only think that my fitness isn’t as it was 2 years ago (for a similar HR / effort). I was still pleased with my run and how it had gone.

It seemed like 2 years ago I didn’t really notice the uphills, and this year, I noticed them and they seemed to add on that 15 minutes. But time didn’t matter in my training and it doesn’t matter to me now – it was a fun enjoyable fun, which started to get hard at points, so I eased off.

I met Doreen at the end, and went and got my bag. Then met a rather sweaty Jim who had got a pb of 2:01. I went on to get a shower and a change, but by the time I came out most of the cakes had gone. 😦 I had soup and managed to scavenge a bit of cake.

I somehow managed to miss the prize giving. But I don’t think I would have won a prize. I did get a few people saying ‘nice cape’ and someone said ‘first cape’, but apart from that I just enjoyed it. (Here’s me with the Old man of Stor in the background).

Dinner was a big steak and ale pie and cranachan for dessert. Yum. (Jasper likes his food!)

Once again it was a well organised event, little tweaks / improvements seem to have been made since the last time, and 800+ runners on mostly closed roads on one of the most beautiful places on Scotland (in the world?) was great.

I’d do it again, but if try to prepare more for it and do some more hill work and speedwork to get myself more fit for it. See what the outcome of running with my HR up that high would be next time.

I drove the long drive back to Glasgow on Sunday and stopped in Fort William for a chippy. It was nice to see my friend (and all of her animals) and it was a good weekend away.

I came back home and had an early night. I awoke in the morning to a text from my aunts friend saying that my aunts headstone was finally in place (around an hours travel from fort william). I kind of wished I’d been able to go over to Lochaline to see it, but I’ll go another weekend instead.

Next up is busy with work before some holidays. And I’m keen to get back into running consistently and strength training. I’m not sore after the run which is good – maybe a sign that I didn’t push it too much after all. My arches of my feet are a tiny bit sore, but ok. And everything else feels fresh as a daisy. 🙂 all good.

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2 Responses to Skye Half Marathon 2016

  1. Myriam says:

    Thank you for your text! It’s very interesting to know how the race is. I go to Skye for the half marathon in 1 month, it will be the first time. (I’m french, excuse me for my english)

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