I took part in the 2008 Glasgow Half Marathon yesterday. One year on from my first half marathon, a very different runner was hitting the streets of Glasgow. My goal last year had been to run it in a reasonable time, but primarily to get around and justify the sponsorship I’d managed to raise. It was an unknown quantity. But as I enjoyed myself thoroughly, I decided to take my running up a notch and joined a running club.
So a year later, I’d managed to run the Helensburgh half marathon in my buildup, and completed the clubs winter handicap championship (coming second, no less). The Glasgow Half would be the last race for me to complete the main club championship. A total of 15 races over the course of a year.
I’d been training as hard as I could, but hadn’t managed to get quite as many decent long runs in as I’d needed, and this showed in Helensburgh. My goal there had been to get around, but I still managed a time of 1:41:23, a full 11 minutes improvement. I was chuffed to bits, and deliciously close to a 1:40. So that became my target for Glasgow. “Get safely below 1:40”. I figured a 1:37:30 target time would be sensible, but largely dismissed any suggestions of anything faster than that.
The day dawned, and despite heavy rain in the North of England (which had, I think, been expected to move further north), nothing other than grey clouds and a breeze hit Glasgow. Nice for a change, but perfect running weather. I took no chances though and took all the appropriate precautions (close inspection of the Helensburgh photographs will reveal why), and headed in to town with Frances (who was going to dart around the course and take pictures).
After a brief warmup, I joined the starting area. I was in the white group (ie. the first section to start). Last year I was in the green area (third group to start), so felt like quite a step up. Ahead of us loomed St Vincent Street, which seemed to get steeper and stepper as the start time approached. The course was different this year due to road works, so we had an incline up St Vincent Street, over the M8 to Finnieston, then up an off-ramp and onto the M8.
Whilst trying to ignore Jimmy Saville who seemed to do nothing more than wave, the start seemed like quite an anti-climax, and after the usual big race jostling (reminding me why I prefer smaller club-run races) it was off up St Vincent Street. I’d largely written off the first couple of miles given the inclines, but the first mile bleep gave a time 0f 7:29 – nicely on target. A relief, and I’d been feeling a lot better than expected (all those hill training sessions paying off!). The second mile was even better, but probably too fast: 7:05. Perhaps because there was a bit of downhill along the way, and the crowds were easing out a bit.
After last year, when I found it all very interesting, the run over the Kingston bridge (M8 bridge through Glasgow) felt a bit of a silly diversion, so I was glad to get off the bridge and onto the flat straight that led through to Paisley Road West. Mile 3 at 7:02 was another speedy split, so eased off and found a more reasonable pace, but still fast at 7:12, but seeing Frances gave me some encouragement and passing some fellow club runners I’d been eyeing as a target perhaps helped too. Mile 5 at 7:30 was a little under pace, but a few windy corners, and I wasn’t too bothered. More than enough ‘in the bag’. Time for a wave as I passed through Bellahouston Park, where Frances’ brothers Brendan and Paul, who were with my nephew Nathan (looking very confused as to what all these silly people were doing). But I did manage to get a bit confused by the changed water layouts (a feature of the race).
Mile 6 at 7:18, and Mile 7 at 7:23, and feeling very comfortable, but not wanting to push some as I knew Pollok Park was coming up, and it *always* catches me out, despite doing most of my training there and knowing it’s inclines inside out. Through the park saw Mile 8 at 7:31, which was better than I expected, and Mile 9, just as we exited at 7:33 (missing Frances’ parents and assorted uncles and aunts, but hearing them). They’d changed the exit from the park at the last minute (as far as I can tell), so a nasty incline was inserted by the Burrell collection, but pleased my times weren’t too affected. I’d also passed a Fetchie (Alex) from the 1 mile challenge a few months back suffering from stitch. Something I’d never experienced in a race, but come mile 10 (07:30) I was starting to feel a bit in my left side. That said, it could also have been trying to drink water. I knew I needed some, but struggled with it. So mile 11 was at 7:34 pace. This was through the dull streets into town, so whilst the end was almost in sight, it was ‘dig deep’ time.
Another sighting of Frances around the 12 mile mark (7:27), and just over a mile to go. Whilst by now feeling really rather tired, I managed a 7:13 (thousands of people lining the finish straight must have helped too), and I was across the line in 1:36:46, a full minute faster than even my most optimistic time prediction, and very safely under my target of 1:40. That said, I’m not looking forward to the finish-straight pictures that are usually available, which will probably have me pulling a very odd expression!
I’d largely made good progress throughout, and didn’t really lose too many places once I’d taken them. I fell in with a few people along the way. I was quite glad to see a chap with loud headphones disappear off into the distance. Grrr!!! Similarly, the chap with the very noisy breathing/nose-blowing (what was that noise! Sounded like a dog sneezing…), I was glad to get some distance ahead of him! It’s amusing what can annoy/inspire you to push that bit harder whilst you’re running!
Along the way I was boosted by the support from the Bellahouston Road Runner supporters. Many of the club runners who weren’t taking part in the Half (many did the 10k earlier) were along the route crying out names or just “Come on Bella!”, which really made a *massive* difference. If there was a club-supporters championship, I’m pretty sure Bella would be up there at the top!!
Chuffed to bits with my time, and delighted to have finished the season in such fashion. I’m deferring thought of targets for next year for some time, but already eagerly looking forward to the next few races. I’ve a 10 mile race next weekend down in Cumbria (where I’m away for a short holiday), and am looking forward to finding a decent 10k somewhere to mount an attack on my 45:01 time!
* Full results
* 2008 Glasgow Half Marathon pictures (Bella Selection), courtesy of Frances
* 2008 Glasgow Half Marathon Pictures, the full 245 picture set, including Beagles!
* Norman’s writeup
* Ian Goudie pics, plus a special mention for being the loudest supporter!
* Jim’s pics
* Captain Caveman’s pics selection