Balloch to Clydebank Half Marathon 2020

I was a sort of dreading the Balloch to Clydebank Half Marathon this weekend… partly because I felt my training hadn’t been going too well – I’d missed a couple of long runs, then bonked (with not enough energy) on my last long run 6 days before the race… and I was a little nervous about how hard it would be on the day.

I’m pleased to say that I needn’t have worried. I’ve been running since 2008 and I’ve learned a lot – put simply, over the last 12 years I’ve learned how to push my body and heart to get the most from it to get the fastest time if I want to. I sort of forgot about my last half marathon race – the Glasgow Great Scottish Run at the end of September – and I also forgot that I got a time I was really pleased with for it – 1:45 or so…

Fit Girl drove me to the race about 8:15am… we saw a few rainbows over the empty roads which was nice.

Coronavirus and the uncertainty that might come is also probably at the back of my mind too. Hopefully it’ll all be ok. It seems we were lucky to get one of the last mass gatherings / races before things get more restricted / cancelled in coming weeks and months.

After the bonk on Tuesday last week, and the fact I wasn’t sure how I’d run… I decided I would take this half marathon race as it came. But I’d recovered ok by Wednesday So for the race on Sunday – no pressure – just run to how I felt and see what happened. I was careful to fuel properly and ran with a water pack, and I also had a coffee with my breakfast. Breakfast was Greek yoghurt, fruit and fibre, blueberries and milk.

I wore what I wore when I ran this race (and my first half marathon) for the first time in 2010… plus the waterpack and my mizuno flats.

With lots of wear on the soles, they were more or less on their way out, but I decided I’d wear them for one last race. I’ve run this race in 2010, 2011 (course pb), 2015 with Fit Girl and again this year. It’s a well organised race, a good number of runners and a good route. It’s more or less down hill for the first three miles – which I should have checked before I started this year!

The route has changed a bit in the last few years it seems, and the finish was at a different bit… but you run more or less on a cycle path from Balloch through Dumbarton and into Clydebank. There are some uphills, flats and downhills, but all in all it’s a good route.

Fit Girl dropped me off at the start about 10 minutes before the start – and I joined other runners to shelter from the rain in a bus shelter. It seemed like a competition to see how many runners you can get into a bus shelter – and with the rain, there was quite a lot of us. And there were also a couple of nice rainbows too.

Before we knew it, it was 9am and time for us to start. I didn’t hear much of a race brief, but then we were starting. It was still raining and seemed to keep raining for 4-5 miles and there was quite a bit of wind at the start too, but not too bad. There was a bit of a deep water section less than a mile in, but we’d been warned about it in an email by the race director, and we just needed to go single file past it.

After that I started to run alongside a runner from a Campbeltown club… we seemed to have the same pace and high cadence and it was good to be running with her. We didn’t talk until a bit further on, but perhaps we kept each other going. I spoke to a guy from a Portabello running club, and started to draft behind some other runners to help me (shhhh don’t tell them).

I felt like I was ticking along nicely, from the start and through miles 5 and 6…. then the weather brightened up and I started to feel a bit warm. I noticed my cadence was quite high which was good – 185 up… and my heart rate was ticking along around 165.

Around half way I noticed a female runner in yellow come up behind me and her cadence was even higher. I stuck with her for a bit, but my HR ended up going up to 170 so I pulled back a bit and let her go on – Anne from Airdrie Harriers.

Miles 7 and 8 I ran and spoke with Steven, up some hills and through and past Dumbarton. Up the hill, mile 9 and then running towards Clydebank. Around mile 10 I was still feeling strong but i felt a little niggle in my right quad…it was ok, but something to be aware of. My feet felt a bit sore, maybe time to retire these trainers after all. I’d taken a strong caffeine gel around 2 miles in and a standard one about 6 miles in and decided that would be enough.

With a couple of miles to go I was pleasantly surprised that it looked like I’d maybe get between 1:43 – 1:45 if I kept going. I chatted with another runner, a tall guy, joking that his long legs were an unfair advantage, before he used them to run away ahead of me. Running steady, I encouraged others as I passed them, and usually got an acknowledgement back.

I was checking my heart rate as I ran, and my Garmin was telling me what it was in my ears too. I’d put music on through my aftershokz for this run and it seemed to help. With about half a mile to go, I was at about 1:39 and if I kept going like I was I could maybe make 1:43 or 1:44.

A bit of a surprise as I thought I’d be closer to 1:50 or more. I kept pushing for the last bit, on a new part of the route I hadn’t run on…. then before I knew it my Garmin was at 13.1 and I stopped it at 1:44:02. The course went on a bit longer than my garmin and my chip time ended up being 1:44:25. That’ll do nicely.

I got my goodie bag, medal and T-shirt at the end and the legend that is Debbie Martin Consani took my pic when I asked her to. Afterwards I did a short walk back to Fit Girl’s car where I had a stretch and she looked after me. Home for a soak in the bath and some lunch.

All in all a good race and event and a good day. My legs are a little sore, and my neck for some reason (tense probably), but not too bad. I’m sure I’ll be recovered soon, especially if I get a good few sleeps in.

This time I was just 1 min and 2 seconds slower than my first time running the route 10 years ago… and my average HR was 10 beats lower, max was much lower. I’ve learned better how to push myself to my max and use my heart rate and technology to help me.

This is a run I’d fully recommend and maybe I’ll be back to do it next year. 🙂

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