RUN BALMORAL 10K 2013
Official time: 50:39
Overall: 452nd out of 1855
Division: 42nd out of 463
Gender: 74th out of 858
This is the second year running I have completed the Run Balmoral 10k race and it was even better than I remembered. I had high hopes for this race as the last time I completed it I hadn’t been running for very long, so after a year of proper training and many, many races later, I was ready to tackle the infamous hill again.
Jemma got the train through to mine from Glasgow on the Friday night as we had quite an early start the next day and hoped to get there with a bit of time to spare. However, sitting on the couch at about 1am, chatting and planning our morning, Jemma asked me what time I thought we should get there as we’d need to leave time to pick up our race packs. I had a giggle, thinking she was joking and said that we had them sent out weeks ago. She then thought I was having her on and only believed me when I went go get mine! Oh well, an unscheduled trip to Glasgow the next morning it was then! Not that I minded at all and it gave Jemma the chance to pick up a few other bits and pieces she would need for the weekend and for me to pick up various items of clothing that I had left at their flat over the past few months! So by 10:30am, after a hearty breakfast of porridge with nutella and a few cups of coffee, we were leaving Glasgow behind us and heading north to Balmoral. We stopped in Perth to pick up various goodies for after the race, including some fine ales for Jemma and a few cans of gin and tonic for me (for once we had driven home of course!), had a quick dash to the toilet, filled up with diesel and we were off again. I somehow managed to take the wrong road out of Perth and had to detour through Coupar Angus. I don’t think this should have added too much time on to the journey but we got stuck behind a car towing trailer which was swaying all over the road and put me off overtaking. We finally got in front of them and we were back on the very windy road up through Glenshee and over towards our destination.
One of the things I don’t like about this event is the amount of cars that descend upon the tiny village on race weekend. There are 3 different races on the Saturday and the event organisers do very well to make sure the cars are all parked in different areas to allow people to leave after their specific events, but it’s still a lot of traffic considering there is only one road in to the estate! We finally got there with about an hour to spare, but take off 10 minutes to park and another 15 to walk up to the starting point and I was now starting to worry we were pushing it for time as we still needed to get to the toilet and drop off my bag. At 1:45 pm there was a minute’s silence for the Boston marathon and after a whistle blew to mark the minute was up, the field erupted into applause. With the start time now fast approaching it was another dash over to the bag drop as we squished all our belongings into my backpack, pinned our race number and tags on, made sure our sunglasses were at the ready and with an exaggerated leap over the fence to our estimated starting area, we were finally ready to go. With 3 minutes to spare!
Run Balmoral is a huge event. For such a remote place it always amazes me how big this event is and with all the families and supporters that come along for the races, it’s packed to the rafters. And with last years time to beat, I wasn’t going to be squished to the back as I knew how difficult it was to get a fast start as the first 2 miles were along a rather narrow track. However there were so many runners all standing along a very narrow road and it was very hard to get to where I guessed I should be standing. Once standing there I overheard quite a few people saying they didn’t know where they should be standing ‘so just stood here’ and guessed there might be some squishing and pushing to deal with after all. The foghorn went off just after 2pm and after a few waves of shuffling forward, we crossed the starting mat and we were on our way. I knew I needed a fast start as the hill would bring my splits right down but as predicted I had to duck, dive and zoom up the grassy verge to get by big groups of runners. Finally I seemed to be running in a straight line and the pace began to pick up.
Mile 1 – 7:42
Mile 2 – 8:06
Not too bad a start considering the sheer volume of people and wiggling all over the path I had done.
And then came the hill.
I have trained my butt off for months knowing this would be tough, although I had done worse. But oh.my.god. It still got me. I don’t know if it’s because my foot is still giving me grief or because I had been so tired the previous week at work but I found it really tough. Not as tough as those who decided to walk as soon as their foot hit the hill.. come on people, you were pre warned there was a hill involved!! However, I pushed right to the top, albeit slowly – no more than a foot dragging jog as I got to the summit and was overjoyed to see the piper. I had my music on really loudly this year so I didn’t hear him, but I gave him a cheery smile as I sped on by towards the water station. I launched a cup of water at my face and felt the power automatically filling up in my legs again as I hit the first part of the descent. This was it, I had slowed down but I could still make up for lost time in the last 5k and catch Jemma who was bounding out of sight in the distance.
Mile 3 (up the hill) – 10:05
Mile 4 – 7:34
I glanced at my garmin at one point going down the hill when I felt like I was flying. It said I was running at a 6:xx pace. Wow, these hills were excellent, and they just kept coming! The following 2 miles really helped me get back on track and as I ran by the 8km signpost I felt strong. I suddenly had a flashback to this point in the race last year and inwardly grinned at how good a felt compared to how dead I was on my legs then. What a difference a year can make and I’m glad I’m putting the effort into all of my training runs because this is why I do it. To notice the improvements in my strength and stamina and to finish a race with obstacles like this one and still having power in my legs and a grin on my face.
Mile 5 – 7:44
Mile 6 – 7:56
The last mile and a bit brings you back towards the castle and through the crowds of spectators cheering you on. As much as I love having the support this is one race that has bugged me 2 years running at this exact point. The kids are getting more and more desperate to get a high five from the runners that they come further and further into the path to reach out and the path gets narrower on both sides for the runners. At one point a guy ducked right across in front of me to get to his daughter who was on the opposite side of the path and although a nice gesture, he didn’t look behind him before he veered across and I almost ploughed into the back of him. Seconds after that, a kid decided he wanted to be on the other side of the path and ran out among the runners – so very nearly tripping up the woman in front of me. Not a wise move!! However, the cheering is a very welcome factor at this point and really helps you give it your all for the last little section of the race. I could still see Jemma’s ponytail swishing about in the distance ahead of my, but by now I could tell she had her serious face on and was going to finish strong. I wasn’t going to catch her this time.
The final section of the race loops back around on itself, goes down a steep hill and onto the flat path along to the finishers chute. I still felt like I had more so I pushed and managed a sprint finish. Or what I think was a sprint finish after such a hilly race. Whatever I was doing, I was NOT going to let the man beside me pass me as we flew along the final flat, but he got me in the last few meters. I will blame the fact I don’t have long legs. Any excuse….
Jemma was waiting for me at the finish line with a huge grin on her face and together we went to collect our medals, t-shirts and water. I remembered to stop my garmin right on the line and once again it registered just short of 6.2 miles (6.19 this time!), but I’d clocked 50:38 and Jemma came in at 50:01. That’s 5 minutes off my course time for last year and if it hadn’t been for my slow plod up the hill, it would have been very close to my PB. Not bad at all!! The adrenaline soon kicked in for both of us and we were buzzing all over the estate talking rubbish. I actually got a twitter message later that day from someone who had spotted us ‘on a gel frenzy’ in the run for it tent. I couldn’t have described it better myself!
I was worried about getting back out of the car park as last year it had been a mess and taken us over an hour to get out of the field alone, but having waited a little longer to get some food and have a sit down after our race I think we missed most of the madness. We were back on the road within 15 minutes and home with plenty of time for pizza, gin and ale with Craig, who had been away being a radio star that day!
I’m very glad I went back to run this course again as it makes me realise my training is really paying off when I look at not just my time but my overall position and ranking. Not bad, not bad at all! On the whole I have to say it’s an amazingly well organised event considering the number of people who attend and the event staff were very helpful. I think now that I have beaten my time, I wouldn’t go back for the 10k as it is a bit of a trek for us, but maybe we’d try the 15 mile trail race next time. Always on the look out for the next adventure!
With weary legs and heavy eyelids it was time for bed…. and to prepare for round 2 with the Balfron 10k the following day.