It was only after doing Tough Mudder that I had the idea of doing the Great Scottish Run 10k. I thought I’d dislike the running, but it turned out I actually enjoyed heading out for an hour to build up my stamina. I figured that rather than let the running fitness fade away I’d keep at it and enter the 10k alongside my sister, Hazel.
I assumed we’d do some training rides together, but Hazel, Ian and the kids went off on an epic tour of a holiday at the end of July. Then when they got back Hazel developed a bad chest infection that she never quite got over in time to build the miles up, so ultimately she decided not to do it. After my experiences attempting cycling events when I’m not quite fit enough, I can’t say I blame her.
Leaving the house for the first train to Glasgow on a Sunday had me feeling a bit sleepy, but it was cool seeing all the other people with numbers on their t-shirts joining the train on the way. The train was mobbed by the time we got to Glasgow and I could feel the excitement building!
I got off at High Street, my usual stop for going to work, and walked down the hill to Glasgow Green so I could leave my stuff at the bag drop. Stopping to ask a member of the event staff where I could find the marquee, he told me he had no idea, but a man walking up the street gave me the bad news that it was a bit of a farce. He explained that the level of security they outlined in the entrant pack was non-existent and it was just a case of leaving your belongings on a cage rack in a marquee that had no security staff outside it when he was there. The man was heading back to his car because he didn’t want to risk it, so I thanked him for the advice and continued unsure of what to do.
As I walked I called Eoan, because I knew he was heading in to do the half marathon and thought that if he was heading in early enough I could leave my bag with him. It turned out he wasn’t heading in until well after the 10k start time, though, so there was nothing else for it – I made my way to the bag drop to see what the situation was.
When I got to it there was a man in a high vis’ jacket standing guard outside, but inside it was exactly as the man had described – an inadequate looking cage rack was off to one side and people were stuffing their bags into it with unconvinced looks on their faces.
In the letter it had said that we’d place our gear into polythene bags that would be tagged with our race number and we’d only get them back with our matching race number at the end. That was the way it worked at Tough Mudder and it had been really well done, so I had assumed they’d do the same for The Great Scottish Run. Unfortunately it was a poor arrangement, but I couldn’t run with the bag I’d brought so I just had to risk it. Stuffing my jacket inside I pulled the water proof cover tightly around it and perched my bag high on top of the cage rack. No sense in making it low-hanging fruit.
I had 20 minutes to get to the start line, which was plenty of time, so I walked up chatting to an old guy who told me he’d done quite a few of these over the years but had injured his back a few months before and wasn’t confident about his fitness. I told him I hadn’t actually ran 10k yet myself, but he said that was no big deal – I hoped he was right.
My estimated time was around the 60 minute mark and folk in this category had a number with a blue background. The blue muster point was absolutely mobbed, and I was a full three blocks back from the start line when I found a gap in the fence and joined the throng.
People were bobbing up and down and stretching, but as more people joined it got too crowded to do much of anything. I slipped on my Tough Mudder headband that matched my orange MS Scotland t-shirt and, feeling my shoes were a bit loose, knelt down to tighten the draw-string on them. But as I did so everyone started moving forward, so I had to stand up and move with the crowd leaving my left lace flapping about, which I knew I’d have to fix before I properly started. The problem was that the crowd kept moving until there was nothing else for it, I started the timer on my phone and just started running along with everybody.
It wasn’t until just before the actual start line that there was enough space for me to pull over to the left and tuck the draw-string into the pouch on the tongue of the shoe that keeps it out of the way. I made a mental note not to make that mistake again!
As the race started up St Vincent street, which is quite a steep climb towards the top, I was mindful not to set off too fast in my excitement. That plan fell by the wayside right away, though, as I just didn’t feel comfortable running in the pack with so many slower people causing bottlenecks. I took to the pavement several times to dart around people before blending back in, which was quite good fun, but I kept reminding myself to be sensible about it – I didn’t want to end up walking because I’d gone nuts at the start.
When the Endomondo lady said that my first kilometre had been a 4:50 I felt that was a bit fast considering it was up hill, so I forced myself to stay in the pack and ease off a bit. She said my second kilometre was just over the five minute mark, which was still a bit too fast, I thought, but it was just too tempting to accelerate and nip through the gaps in the crowd!
I’d slow right down for the fourth kilometre, though, as folk really eased up on the climb up over the bridge crossing the Clyde. Some people just stopped altogether and I had to take evasive action to get around them, but by the time we were coming down the other side of the bridge the crowd had thinned out considerably. I passed the 60 minute pacemaker girl on the way down, so I knew I was on course for being under the hour mark, which was the reasonably achievable target I’d set myself.
The next few kilometres passed by at quite a consistent pace. I did feel I could push harder along the flat bits, but had no idea how hilly the course might get later on so I played it safe for the mid part of the race.
It was only when I got to the 8km mark and my phone told me it was just over the 41 minute mark that it dawned on me what a good time I could set if I picked up the pace a bit. I re-filled my water bottle at the next water stop and contemplated whether it was worth the risk for the next few hundred metres until I got to a sharp left hander.
As I rounded the bend a man in the crowd behind the railings on the outside shouted “Ooh-Rah!” and gave me the thumbs up – clearly a fellow Tough Mudder! I smiled and raised a fist in recognition, and this was the moment I decided to push on for a time as close to 50 minutes as I could manage. I was a Tough Mudder – I’d pushed through that and left it all out there on that course, so I owed this event the same effort.
I only picked it up a little at first, but when my phone said it was at the 9k mark I properly took off – running down the pavement for a lot of it to pass loads of folk. As my phone had been a couple of hundred metres out of synch with the actual distance markers, I realised I’d been a bit over ambitious as we crossed the bridge back over the Clyde. There was still a few hundred metres to go, but tried to keep it up all the way to the finish line. The last kilometre before the bridge had been a 4:25 – the fastest I’d run all day.
Crossing the line was great, although I did feel a bit sad that I had no family or friends there to greet me at the finish. After getting my medal and my picture taken I made my way back to the marquee to see if my bag was still there. Some guy spotted the Tough Mudder headband on the way and got talking to me about it, as he’d also done the event back in July. Amazing how that bright orange headband brings out the camaraderie!
I got someone to take my picture outside of the bag drop marquee in case my bag had been stolen – might as well do it while I was still smiling! Happily my bag was up high where I’d left it and with it I made my way to the nearby Gorbals Club for a shower, swim and a spa to relax my weary muscles.
By the time I was walking back over the bridge to the finishing straight there was nobody about left on the course, save for the marshals waiting on the half marathon runners coming in.I decided to head straight home rather than waiting around for that myself, but I’d really enjoyed the day.
My official time was a shade under 53 minutes – not too bad for my first 10k and definitely a good time to aim for when I do my next one. 🙂