I decided on a running event as it is hard to do many road cycling miles in the winter unless you have a turbo trainer, which I don't. There were so many to choose from, 10k's, half marathons and of course the full marathon, what to do?
I plumped for the half marathon as it was more of a challenge than a 10k but required a lot less training than a full one. Rather than go for a city pavement run I chose the Loch Katrine half, which although was still on hard tarmac had the added bonus of some stunning scenery.
The race was last Sunday, which thankfully was a clear blue sky day, slightly cold with a bit of a breeze but no rain or snow.
We arrived in plenty time (Beth ran too, she is in marathon training) which was great as it gave us plenty time to register and settle our nerves and get a good warm up done. The event is relatively small in size, approx 300, but includes a 10k, half and full marathon.
The marathon runners set off first and their course would take them the 13 miles down the loch and back, our route was obviously half that distance down and back.
It is a very popular walking and cycling route but I have never done it before so the route was unknown to me, which I actually quite like, although I do usually prefer circular routes, but you can't have everything.
We set off and not having run with other people around me in a very long time I was slightly concerned that I might be tempted to run too fast etc so I just focused on a pace that I thought I would be able to sustain for the 13.1 miles.
The route was quite undulating and so tried to keep as similar a pace as I could on the ups and if my legs allowed make the most of the downs.
As I approached the half way mark I was feeling quite good as I and done quite a few 6 milers, but hadn't really done too many over the 10 mile mark, so my thoughts at this point were "can I keep this pace going for the same miles back?"
I knew I was going fairly well as I could check the time on my watch and I was under an hour at the turning point. I tried to keep fellow competitors in sight and where possible try to catch up or at least match pace.
My legs were feeling pretty good and my calf muscles which have been acting up recently were also feeling ok. Basically it was head down and try and continue the same pace. As I approached the 11 mile mark I was feeling quite tired and possibly a little dehydrated but I could hear feet pounding behind me and tried hard not to let anyone past. At 12 miles the feet were closer and I looked over my shoulder and there was a lady just on my shoulder. She spurred me on by telling me that I had been the best pacemaker for the last 6 miles and I should dig in and give my best to get to the finish in a good time. This comment really spurred me on and I eventually crossed the finish line in 1:54:38.
Under the 2 hours, I was very pleased.
The race was an extremely well organised event and the route although out and back was in some of the most stunning Scottish scenery. It was also a very friendly race with competitors give encouragement to each other as they pass. The winner of the marathon even gave encouragement as he passed me!! He ran a full marathon in 2:49:35. Impressive to say the least.
Sadly I was unable to stop and take photos, which was a shame as the day was beautiful, so this is one from the start line.