After the Eastbourne Half, I took 2 days off running and only did a gentle spin. I went for an easy jog exploring my new training ground once we move office on Wednesday, but when I came back, my knee started to hurt. A dull ache on the side of the knee cap. I wasn’t amused.
Thursday I travelled up to Glasgow, but the pain remained, especially when walking uphill. I started to doubt whether I should run on Sunday. A last ditch attempt at salvaging my race was a massage with my friend Sandy, owner of Knead to Relax, who in the past had got me fit. She has magic hands I swear. In 2012, when I jarred my hamstring, it was Sandy who got my legs functional again, and kept me in one piece during the few weeks of training I got, prior to winning my Age Group at the European Champs. So, it was Sandy’s magic or bust.
Half an hour and a good pummeling of my quad later, I could walk pain free. There was still some icing to be done, but this was promising. A test run on Saturday showed I was doing ok, and my muscles had eased up. Result! Come Sunday morning, my quad and sartorious were still tender to touch, but I was ready to run.
As the name suggests, Balloch to Clydebank is a point to point race. I’ve never done one of those before. The race is also a decent club race, meaning that most people there run it for time. Buoyed by my time from Eastbourne, I decided to give this a good crack as it was meant to be fairly flat. I didn’t think I had a new PB in me, but somewhere around the 1.35 mark I felt was possible. So, I would try and go out at 42 min for 6 miles and hang on for as long as possible.
The race is really well organised and has a lot of community support, which you need considering it’s point to point. We were taken to the start at the shores of Loch Lomond and our kit was then taken back for us. The banks of Loch Lomond weren’t quite so bonny that morning with fog and drizzle hanging in the air, but crucially, there was no wind.
We set off a little later than planned. The field thinned out quickly and I found some people to run with. After the first mile, I checked my watch: 6.40 minutes. That was a bit faster than I thought, but after a short internal debate, I decided to just stick with the guys and run. Arguably, the route is not very scenic, but it varies going alongside roads, on cycle paths and through villages. Friendly, kids and you water bottles at the aid stations. I keep the pace up and play cat and mouse with some of the runners around me.
At 6 miles, I check my watch to see how far under 45 I am. The watch says 40.33. My jaw drools, a big smile creeps over my face. The last time I ran this fast in an individual 10k was 2008 (later on my Garmin shatters my lofty feelings, saying I went through 10k in 42, which is ok, too). I can’t help it, but my mind launches into calculations. I tell myself off and focus on sticking to the guys.
Past the 6 mile Mark, the profile of the course picks up with some mean, mean inclines. Individually, they’re unspectacular. At mile 10 of a half marathon, they’re devastating. I battle on, believing I can make it. But when my timer went off for 75 min and I hadn’t reached 11 miles, I saw the sub-1.30 had slipped away. I refocused, holding my form together which is increasingly difficult, and yet, I’m still not singing songs to myself. I’ve got people to cling to.
12 miles a blind corner and a steep short hill. I’m not impressed grinding nearly to a halt just before the top. It dips down and then starts climbing again. A long while. My alarm goes off for 1.30 just before I get to 13 miles. Bugger. But hey, I’m definitely on for a PB. I remember my strength as a middle distance runner which always comes in handy at this stage of the race. It’s hard but I push over the line. 1.31.33 my watch says. That’s later corrected to 1.31.28, chip time. I’m pleased, and not.
I’m thinking, could I have gone sub-1.30 if I’d gone out more conservatively? Maybe. Maybe not. Speculating doesn’t help much. Later analysis of my Garmin file shows I ran a bit inconsistently, although none of my km splits were slower than 4.30/km. That’s definitely encouraging.
I’m extremely happy with my time, and given it was a competitive club race, my 15th place among the women is great. It’s a solid basis for my season ahead.
Now, I need to switch my mind to the Tour of Flanders and to some speed training, so I’m prepared for the 10k at Reading and upcoming triathlon season.