I would be lying if I said that hills were my favourite thing. But living where I do, about two-thirds up the valley wall of the southern half of the Forth Valley, I have to get used to them.Continue reading “Doing The Hills”
So, I’ve been away for a while. Quite a long time, to be honest. I have been running, I’ve just not had a huge amount to say since the Alloa Half.Continue reading “Been away for a while!”
The 2018 Alloa Half Marathon was originally scheduled to be run on 18th March, but bad weather caused the organisers to postpone the event – and today was the new date.
Okay, this was it. After eighteen weeks of training, five hundred miles of running and who knows how many hours, it was time for the Stirling Scottish Marathon.
That’s it! Training is complete, there’s nothing more to do but go for an early bed and make sure I get up bright and early tomorrow.
Here is the event guide!
And we have a weather forecast too…
Wow, that’s the last full week of training. By this time next week I’ll either be finished, or walking round the course really slowly!
And so we hit the first week of taper. The mileage starts to fall, the muscles get a chance to recover and we are getting ourselves into a place where we are ready to run the marathon. Which is, you know, still months away, right?
In truth the programme is fairly similar to that from two weeks ago, the week between the two longest runs. So we started on Tuesday with a five miler round Linlithgow Loch. It started fairly tough, but once I loosened up it was okay.
Max elevation: 80 m
Min elevation: 41 m
On Wednesday I was stuck in a lunchtime meeting that went on so long I really couldn’t go for a run until the evening. I was taking Cameron to the gym in the evening anyway, so I ran there. But my heart wasn’t in it, and I only managed five miles instead of the programmed eight. I don’t think that that will cause a problem.
On Thursday, it was another five mile run and so I again ran the Loch. Honestly? It’s starting to pall…
Max elevation: 80 m
Min elevation: 41 m
Friday was a rest day, and I had booked a sports massage with Carolyn from Life Fit wellness. She did a great job of finding all the tight muscles in my legs and working some movement into them. It felt great!
Saturday was a four mile pace run, that ended up being significantly fast than it should have been. I blame technology – my running app has updated to a new version, and the “30s moving average” display field is broken – the numbers are all over the place.
Max elevation: 79 m
Min elevation: 71 m
On Saturday evening I watched the marathon from the Commonwealth Games, and was distressed to see Callum Hawkins collapse at the 40km point of the men’s race. I hope that he makes a full and rapid recovery. As I explained to my wife, however, she needn’t worry – I don’t know how to work myself so hard as to get into such a state!
I had planned to take my Garmin watch with me on the long Sunday run, but I forgot to put it in my bag – so I repeated the problem on the Sunday run. This was a rather nice run, however, and I was able to enjoy views of the Falkirk Wheel, the Kelpies, Falkirk’s human sundial the Love and Kisses sculpture all on the one run.
Max elevation: 88 m
Min elevation: 2 m
So another week done, and the marathon another week closer. It’s going to be on me before I know it.
A new week dawned, but the old weather came with it. We had strong, cold winds and even colder wet snow. It was simply very unpleasant.
Any hopes that it would disappear early in the were dashed by Tuesday lunchtime, and I chickened out of going for a lunchtime run. Instead I did my five miles on the treadmill at the gym – perhaps not much fun but better than being outside in that weather!
By Wednesday the weather had improved a bit. At the end of last week I had signed up for the Stirling Campus 5k; a 5k run around the campus of this beautiful University. Now that came nowhere near the eight miles I was supposed to run today, but it did seem like a nice idea. So I registered for the event and picked up my race number. But I then went for a bit of a run before the 5k started.
Max elevation: 34 m
Min elevation: 24 m
When I noticed as I was running was that the paths were very wet and very muddy. No surprise there, as it has been raining a lot over the past few days. But… well, it was really wet!
After doing my run I joined the others at the start.
We filtered through a funnel then ran out along the north side of the loch. About two thirds of the way round we left the lochside and climbed the hill towards the football and rugby pitches. A slightly complicated route round the periphery of the pitches followed, before we ran back down to the waterside and finished the race by running round the south side of the loch and back to the starting point.
I was wearing my old running shoes, which have less of a grip than they used to have. I really should have been wearing trail shoes. It was inevitable that I would take a tumble at some point, and of course I did. It happened on the loop round the pitches, and luckily there was no damage done. Except to my cleanliness, of course!
At the end of the run we went back to collect t-shirts and had some lovely stovies – a Scottish dish based around meat and potatoes. They were great for warming us up after a run in the cold.
As I walked back to the car, I realised we were at the Golden Hour before sunset, and the campus was looking lovely. I grabbed some photographs before picking up some spare clothes and getting changed before daring to sit in the car!
Max elevation: 37 m
Min elevation: 24 m
Then came Thursday, and my plans to run just after work fell foul of the need to drive folk around. So instead I went out later in the evening on a five mile route I had done before.
My ankle was a little twingey on the Thursday, which I put down to having tried to run fast the day before. Nothing to worry about, though.
Max elevation: 111 m
Min elevation: 27 m
Saturday came, and I did a loop from my house out to Muiravonside and back. I went along the side of a waterway called Manuel Burn. This used to be an easy thing to search for, until the musical Hamilton came to prominence. I do remember that the Burn caused problems to retreating soldiers after the Battle of Falkirk, but I haven’t been able to re-find the information!
Max elevation: 150 m
Min elevation: 90 m
And then Sunday. I was on golf club duty, so rather than running in Stirling I took my son to the Club and then ran south to the Forth & Clyde Canal. I joined it at Union Road and turned right – that is, heading west along the canal.
The plan was twenty miles, though I wanted a route I could add to if I was feeling good. I had tracked the distance on a map and I knew that there was a place called The Boathouse in Kilsyth – a marina that would, I thought, be impossible to miss. Armed with my new Ronhill Marathon Waist Belt, I started running and just kept going.
The outward journey was fine – I was passing places like Kelvinhead and Wyndford, which offered gorgeous views to the Kilsyth Hills – and I reached the marina pretty much on schedule. As per my plan, I was walking for 30s every three miles to reflect my plans to walk the water stations at the actual event.
I turned and came back home. It wasn’t until about mile seventeen or eighteen that I started to get the “what is the point of all this?” blues, and I was able to run through them without too much difficulty this time.
Soon I reached the Bonnybridge, and I must admit that the stretch to the Falkirk Wheel seemed to go on forever. Then I carried on to the canal’s junction with Union Rd at lock sixteen, and I had to decide whether to take the short way or the longer route back to the canal.
I took the longer route, and ran on to Rosebank, and then back along Camelon High Street to Stirling Road. To my horror I saw that when I reached the car I was short of the 22 mile target, so I had to continue on past the car for a while before returning to it. I got the twenty-two miles on the clock, and stopped – delighted to get the chance to stand still. More so to sit down!
But that’s it. That’s the “development” part of the training done. Now I taper for three weeks, and get myself ready for the race. I think I am mentally prepared – when the time come – barring injury – I’ll be ready.
Max elevation: 56 m
Min elevation: 13 m