I ran a half-marathon (I refuse to use the term ‘mini’ marathon. I think it’s diminishing and insulting for some reason. Which is probably why I refused to run the Indy Mini in Indianapolis…that and the fact that I hate Indianapolis….) last weekend as part of my training for the Paris Marathon. It was my halfway point of #marathontraining. And what a mind trip that was. Well, first, technically (according to my Hal Higdon training plan) I should have run the half the week before. But I couldn’t find any races anywhere near me and I wanted to do an actual race. So I switched and ran a 10-miler the week before and my half this past weekend.
The race was about an hour and 40 minutes away. It didn’t start until 11am so that sounds pretty good. But the registration, which is at Lossiemouth Community Center, closes at 9:45 sharply. Because, duh, at 10am the busses leave to carry you to the start of the race at Kinloss. Which is 13.1 miles away. So, that means we had to leave at 7:45 to play it safe and make sure we make it to the race and also allow time for a hydrated runner stop en route. I woke up at 6:15 which isn’t bad really compared to the times I’ve woken up for races stateside….but considering I was still up at 3am, tossing and turning, until I finally got up and took a swig of Nyquil for a few hours sleep…it was almost unbearable getting out of bed. I was happy I wasn’t driving though- I went with two lassies from my Jog Scotland group. One girl, is training for her first full marathon that’s on the same date as mine (but not Paris).
I’m not sure why I couldn’t sleep. I guess nerves. The excitement of a race, the unknowing what this course is like, and mostly the utter self-doubt, it was all there. This is the mind trip. Half-marathons have been my furthest race distance. I normally would train for 3 months for a half and have my longest run be 14 miles. I am running a half and I hadn’t run more than 12 miles at this point. And I haven’t been training a full 3 months for this. And I haven’t been running at tempo on those 10 milers. And I took a full week off. And. And. And it was just a head-trip. I loaded up my brain on my marathon psychology books. I had mantras and affirmations and visualizations. But I couldn’t shake the doubt.
But we get there with 15 minutes to spare. Easy peasy to pick up our bibs. Able to go to the bathroom. And then onto the bus. I will share my bus encounter on a later post about Scottish running culture…. But everyone was super nice and it was fine. We went over this big hump of a man-made hill and someone complained about it and then the big, burly Scotsman behind me laughed and said, that wasn’t a hill! That was a speedbump. And I thought, shit.
So we then had 45 minutes to kill at the Kinloss Community Center. I guess the background of this race is that Kincloss and Lossiemouth were both air force stations, turned into army stations, and the run used to be an exercise for those soldier-people. Now I think Lossiemouth is no longer an active base…but I could be wrong.
Anyway, I was able to pee (yes, again) there and do my ass-activation exercises with a resistance band. And then we went outside for the start. Where we were told the roads weren’t closed, we have no precedence over automobiles, and the marshalls have no authority over any one. This was all while standing next to this sign:
So that seemed like a great omen…only 4 deaths!
And then they said 1, 2, 3 go….and we went. There wasn’t really a line in the road or anything. Just start next to the automobile death sign. Alrighty.
I stayed with my friends the first 2 miles, but I knew they were pushing me at a pace I couldn’t maintain. I started dropping back a couple yards, and right at 3 miles my shoe was untied and knew I would never catch them. So off I set through 13 stinky, hilly miles. There were the long, slight, endless inclines. There were the straight up inclines (I think 3 of those). There were pig farms to run through. And horse pastures. And cow farms. And it’s Scotland so you know there were sheep. And no, we weren’t running on farm paths, just roads that had farm on each side of them. This might be renamed to the Smelliest Half-Marathon. I can handle horse shit. Or even cow shit if it’s JUST cow shit. But pig shit?! Come on. Pig shit after sheep shit, before and after horse shit, followed by cow shit. Blergh! And at the first of the 3 water stops that army dudes that were staffing the water stops (thanks guys! Although, definitely British armed forces as they politely golf clapped and said a monotone “well done.” I was waiting to hear “cheerio and run along now.”) there was this stank. I don’t know what it was. It was worse than all the shit combined though. It wasn’t the army dudes. But…I just have no idea what smells that bad.
Anyway. So I was by myself. Literally. Could see people ahead. And could see people behind. But totally alone. I think it was between mile 4 and 5 there was a pretty curvy hill. And I walked. And I was like damn it. Oh this was after we ran over that “speed bump” already. And a guy I had passed in the beginning caught up to me. He said (more or less) that he was trying to pace with me and was trying to tell me to will me to keep going as he was closing the gap. Well, I started running with him. Then another half a mile there was this collelsooul hill and I had to walk again. But I caught up to him and decided to okay, let’s just press forward with him. Don’t quit. Because I really can’t because I’m in the middle of freaking nowhere. So I slog on through with him for 3-4 miles. We talked a bit for the first few miles. He was from Glasgow. This was his first half. He is training to be part of a team running from Glasgow to Edinburgh. He was raising money for…I think it was Hope for Heros. There was a lot more said that I couldn’t understand. And eventually I put my headphones back in and slogged some more.
And then I just stopped again. On another one of these endless, gradual inclines. And I was so frustrated. And I thought, I have no freaking business running this race or training for a marathon. And I wanted to stop and I really hit a low point. And then I looked up and saw the incline ahead and started a mantra, “I love hills. My ass is made for hills. I dominiate hills.” And I did. And I passed my Glasgow friend. And I passed a couple other people. And eventually I saw the mile 13 sign ahead….and after a turn into solid wind coming at me- I pushed hard to finish. And I looked at the clock (not the race clock…there wasn’t one) and saw that wow, I had PR’d. How the hell did that happen with all those hills, all that walking, all that self doubt. Whaaaat.
I waited a few minutes for my Glasgow friend to finish. My friends had waited for me and we all cheered him in. He gave me a hug and a kiss and turned back around out on the course to find his older, and in poorer health uncle to run it in with him. What a guy.
Cost – Great
£15 is just fine.
Parking – Good
I didn’t have to drive or park, but even though we were one of the later people to arrive, we got a parking spot easy peasy.
Bathrooms – good
No complaints. I mean, they weren’t like Penninsula bathrooms, but I never had to wait long….and if you haven’t noticed, I pee a lot.
Registration – Fine
You had to know your number, which no one did. So you had to look up your number, and then go get your bib. I feel it would be easier if it’s just alphabetical. But really, it wasn’t a big deal.
Timing – AWFUL
This wasn’t chip timed! What?! I haven’t been to a non-chip timed race in…ever? So there was a start time and a person at the end with a pen and paper writing down your end time. Old school to say the least. But I guess it worked out alright?
Course – BLERG
I mean for this Midwest chica who has only ran in Chicago, it was hilly as hell. For the Scotsman…I mean, maybe they didn’t think it was that bad. My friends didn’t think it was as awful as I did. But they did admit it was rough and that they lost a lot of steam around mile 10. And then there’s the fact that is seems the course was short. The word is even the race officials admit it to be 13.08…but everyone around us clocked 13 even. Hmmmmm.
Goodiebag – Eh?
We got a t-shirt. But not a really great t-shirt and there was only men’s sizes. No goodie bag when you finish. Some cups of water and bananas. But then you went into the community center and there was sammiches and cookies, and to drink….tea! No bottles (or even cups) of water once you were away from the finish line. That was bizarre. I just wanted something cool to drink. Not tea. Not now. #culturaldifferences
Competitors – Great!
Everyone was super friendly. Most people were really fast and badass. But still friendly. Love it!
Nope. But that’s fine with me. I do wish they would invest in a little better bibs here. I like to hang my bibs on the wall- and race bibs here are basically a sharpied number on a piece of computer paper.
2 hours, 6 minutes, 19 seconds. With walking?! Whaaat?! Happy girl. Especially because my last half I was much lighter (like 15 lbs)…and now I’m fat and still improving. I should really get on the weight loss train for speed…. And even if I need to add another minute for that tenth of a mile….still happy.
So yeah after a total mental breakdown….I PR’d. Which made the ride home much more pleasant and I can confidently say I am continuing marathon training and expect to crush Paris.