I thought it would be wise to test this route out. I had been told it was a tough one but I have been working hard on hills recently and felt ready for the challenge. Myself and my friend Iain set off on our usual Sunday long run to Strathaven. Iain prepared a map so we didn’t get lost. I did forget to mention to Iain that I had four hours sleep as the social butterfly that I am took me to a party until 4am! I was in good form and ready for a 13 mile jolly! We walked to the start and set off. It became apparent to Iain and myself that I wasn’t coping too well with the run. In fact at mile 4 as the hills were showing no sign of calming down I stopped! Iain was slightly baffled but I just had no energy at all and my legs were going nowhere! I took a gel and Iain did his usual counseling session before we took off again. I was having a complete nightmare out there and completely underestimated the route and how sleep deprived I was. I managed to plod along and finish the 13 miles, I didn’t really have a choice as we were in the middle of nowhere.
The last three weeks have been mentally tough for me as I genuinely didn’t want to run this race. I have put in some decent training runs since then which really helped my confidence so I decided just to go for it and treat it as another training run.
I was a good girl all weekend and did lots of preparation. Plenty of water, some good food, being positive and ready to take on the hills. As we walked to the start line my nerves were eased with my two friends Joanne and Iain chatting away. As we made our way to the start line I noticed many familiar faces some of the Cambuslang Harrier guys who are always supportive and in particular a great guy called Donald who is a Strathaven Strider. Donald and I coached together and completed our CIRF qualification together. He immediately lifted my spirits with a big welcome hug.
As we set off, I kept with Joanne who is much faster than me. But Joanne and I are training for the same events so it’s good for us to spend some time together. I help Joanne to not start off too fast and she helps me with a bit of chat to ease into the first few miles. We started the race having a bit of a giggle and I immediately noticed some good legs that passed by. As friends tapped me on the shoulder as they passed by I continued to congratulate them. I remember Donald running past and me telling him he has the best legs I have ever seen. I could hear Donald still laughing as he weaved in and out of the crowds. I hung in for the first 4 miles until the hills started unveiling rapidly. Joanne was running ahead and I decided to keep to marathon pace as planned. I kept her in sight until Mile 6 but she started to fade away in the distance and that blonde ponytail that I often chase was going for it! I knew then that Joanne was going to have a good run.
My pace took a massive dip on the hills but I had a strategy which was to power up the hills and gain speed on the downhill. It was working for me and I finished the first part of the race feeling strong. Not too fast but reasonable enough! I could hear the breathing from my fellow runners as the undulating route took shape but my breathing was controlled and silent. I was feeling strong as the hills were starting to die down. Mile 9 hit me hard after a good run at it. I noticed a photographer at the top of the hill so I tried to be show off a bit and sprint up the hill! I paid for it that full mile, the gradual increase went on for what seemed like forever then I came to mile 10. I had a real talk to myself at this point, ‘Jenna you can do 13 miles in your sleep get a grip!’ A bit modest I know but it worked. My pace started to improve and I held it together steady to mile 12. I needed some music at this point but I couldn’t get the thing to work! Typical!! I remember the last bit being downhill but there was a traffic light at the bottom of the road and I tried to maneuver around a car. I almost stopped as I tried to run around it as I was being told to turn left. So there I was on my last part of a half marathon struggling! Greeted by a hill that I knew I had to get my tired legs up! There was no sprint finish from me… 2hr 39 secs and the last 1k was tough when it shouldn’t have been. Note to self is more hill work required, especially during the later stages of my training runs. The last KM at Strathaven had cost me my sub 2. I’m looking forward to Alloa half in a few weeks and I am determined that the hill at the end will not phase me.