RACE REPORT – Alloa Half Marathon 2016

ALLOA HALF MARATHON 2016

TIME: 1 Hour 37 Minutes and 32 Seconds

OVERALL : 506/2301 finishers

CATEGORY: 25th/275 senior females

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It has been over a week since this race but I feel like haven’t had a spare couple of hours to sit down and write this report yet. Mainly because every time I’m not working or training just now, I’m asleep on the couch. Yes, WHW training is definitely starting to hurt, but more on that later….

The Alloa half marathon is my local half. The start line is a 5 minute walk from my front door and the race begins from the swimming pool where I work. I had absolutely no excuse not to go and give it another bash! This would be my 3rd time running it, having previously ran it in 2011 (my first half) and 2013 having to miss out in 2014 through illness and 2015 as we decided to stay in Stonehaven and party with friends the night after the D33 and the half was the following day. This year however there was a week between the 2 races and even though I knew I would still be tired, I decided to sign up anyway and it give it bash to see how my tired legs would manage and also as more training miles for the looming WHW race.

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I toddled along an hour or so before the race started and greeted all my club mates who were also running. All 80 odd of us! I haven’t been to training much over the past few weeks, as previously mentioned, as I really don’t enjoy plodding the same routes in the cold winter night, running too close to cars and getting in everyone’s way, so there were a lot of people I didn’t recognise. They probably thought I was the newbie! After wishing everyone good luck and getting a team photo, we all piled across the park and up to the start line, which this year had been changed to having time allocated pens as there were so many people running – over 3000 people entered which is double the number that ran last time I completed this event! I shuffled into my starting area and then noticed I was standing next to a guy with a 1:30 pace balloon attached to him. I panicked, but then noticed more of my club mates heading towards me, and the guy with the balloon headed further forward into the crowd. I had no idea what time I was aiming for. My legs were still a little creaky from the D33 the week before, but that aside I was feeling strong. I didn’t want to make excuses, as that usually results in a bad run so with the final decision of “give it everything until you fade”, the hooter went and we all surged forward and over the starting mats.

The first few miles were fast. I got swept along with the crowd and kept spying a 6:xx on my watch. Too fast? Who knows, I’ll just go with it! The route goes round through a housing estate, back onto the main road through Alloa before heading down towards Tillicoulty, follows a straight road along the Hillfoots for 4 miles before turning back up toward Tullibody, up a steep brae about 10 miles in, and back along the main road towards the Leisure centre where we started. It’s a great route and a fantastic course for a personal best, but something wasn’t right. What was that big bright thing shining in the sky? I have slogged through the winter months, churning out miles in the snow, sleet, wind and rain and come to one of the first races in the season and it was actually HOT! This I was not prepared for!

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As the road descended towards Tillicoulty, I noticed that my shoe didn’t feel right. I was wearing my normal road shoes and hadn’t changed my socks, so why was something rubbing 4 miles into a race?! I tried not to think about it, but as we rounded the corner I noticed somewhere I could jump out of the way of the crowds and try to fix my sock without getting in anyone’s way. Once adjusted, things felt slightly better and I carried on, grabbing a bottle of water and downing half of it and pushed on out of Tillicoultry. The road along the Hillfoots is amazing. You can see ahead for miles and it’s pretty much pancake flat. I know this route well and I knew there was nothing challenging until the Brae in a few miles, so I put my head down and started to pick people off as I powered along, still feeling reasonably fresh. More water in Alva, a wee downhill to gain some momentum and on towards Menstrie and the infamous Brae. As I passed the 10 mile marker I slowed down slightly to prepare myself. To be honest, the hill isn’t really that bad. I run it as part of my regular training route in the summer and usually enjoy it. It’s not even that steep, just pretty long but today it pretty much stole the last of my energy. I went from feeling awesome to feeling like I’ve just finished an ultra marathon in a split second and the top of the hill seemed a long, long way off! I plodded to the top, still maintaining 7:xx minute miles (but feeling like I was going backwards) and finally, there was the top! I was greeted with cheers from some friends and back on the flat I pushed on, through the last water stop at 11 miles and tried to summon the last of my energy to get to the end. Just as I was trundling up the last hill out of Tullibody (again, not really a hill but today it felt like a mountain!) Graeme from my running club caught up with me and demanded a piggy back! Graeme had also run last weekend and was now feeling it as well, so with one last push I managed to stick close to him and pick up the speed for the last couple of miles to the finish line. Just as I passed the 13 mile marker I spotted my Mum and she gave me a big cheer, so I powered over the line, overtaking a few more people as I ran up the finishing straight and finished in 1:37:32 – 6 seconds slower than my personal best! So close, and if I hadn’t stopped to fix my shoe maybe I would have set a new PB, but I was elated with my time as so chuffed to have nearly set a new PB the week after a fast Ultra!

Chasing people down along the Hillfoots...
Chasing people down along the Hillfoots…

I stumbled across the finish line to get my medal, picked up a t-shirt, water and banana and found all my team mates who had already finished and ran amazing times. So many new PB’s, first local lady for Eilidh and brilliant runs for many new club members running their first half marathon. Couldn’t have been prouder to be a Wee County Harrier that day!

I found my mum, had a quick wash and then for lunch in the sun. Another awesome weekend and has helped me to see my training is paying off. I can’t wait to run another half marathon on fresh legs and hopefully smash my half marathon time!!

WHW training report to follow. Less than 12 weeks to go…..

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