I have relatives who live in Kilmacolm, so when I saw that the village had its own half marathon it seemed like a great opportunity – visit the family, run a half marathon – what could be better?
As the day approached, I realised that the answer to that question was “the weather”. The forecast was for heavy rain and a 15mph wind from the south. Oh joy!
I arrived at my relatives’ house on the Saturday evening, and went for a short walk round the park that would serve as the start point for the race. Kilmacolm has a reputation for being a prosperous town, and the park reflected that. The weather was fine, the park attractive, the food and company in the evening were excellent. All was well.
Next morning I got up early and completed registration formalities. The weather was still okay, but I took some consolation from my race number – if the weather were to get worse, and I should be blown over it would look the same as when I was standing up!
I went back to the rellies and had breakfast. First some Cheerios, and then a plate of porridge. I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of porridge, but I’ve read so many articles about how good it is for running that I thought I should give it a try. After that I got changed, did some warm ups and went back to the park.
By this time, the weather had changed dramatically. Runners were huddled in groups, sheltering from the wind in the lee of buildings, watching the rain battering those who were unable to find cover.
I had a last-minute pit stop and then walked to the start line.
This was a smaller race, with around 150 entrants. We gathered below a “Start” banner that had been strung across the street and listened to the race briefing. A countdown, and it was time to go.
The out-and-back route took us approximately a mile northwards from the start over country roads. Then we joined the cycle path, which is built on top of a disused railway line. From there, it heads south – into the wind – all the way to Bridge Of Weir. There is a small section of the route where we have to leave the old railway line and go through a modern housing estate, but apart from that it’s cycle path all the way. And downhill all the way!
So, outbound was downhill and into a headwind. The return was uphill, but with the wind behind us.
I realised soon into the race that I was going too fast, but my body isn’t very good at changing once it has found its pace. I also found that I wasn’t comfortable with the Strava app on my Apple Watch. Whereas a Garmin reports your pace averaged over the last thirty seconds or so, it wasn’t clear to me how much averaging is performed by Strava. I have now found out what information is displayed, I should really have checked that before setting out.
The other thing I wasn’t sure about was the fact that it was an out-and-back race. I’ve never done one before, and I expected that it would be a bit boring. But to my surprise, I really liked the format. It let me break the race down into four chunks – halfway along the outbound section, the turning point, halfway along the return section, then the drive to the finish line.
The route was attractive, though the rain was unrelenting. Somewhere about a mile short of the turn I started chatting with a lady who was running at a similar pace, and we ran together for about three or four miles. I liked that, it helped pass the distance and take the mind off the amount of work we were both doing.
After going through the housing estate I realised that this was the last couple of miles, and I tried to up my pace a bit. A final mile uphill, then back onto the country roads to get to the finish line. I was shattered by this point, and I think it shows on my face. But the time really shocked me – 1:43:17. My previous best for a half was 1:44:00 at Alloa, and that was when I was in training for the marathon. So maybe the bad conditions did suit me after all!
No bling, but a nice t-shirt, a very well organised race and a great weekend! Thank you to the race organisers and especially the marshals for braving such awful weather throughout!
Max elevation: 100 m
Min elevation: 37 m