So here’s a fun fact: this is not a memorial race!  I only know this because the announcer made a point of letting us know that Jimmy would, in fact, be starting us off.  So now you know!

This race took place last Sunday, 13 November, in Bellahouston Park in Glasgow.  This meant a swift return to the site of park #5 of the Southside Six.

I got over in good time thanks to yet another lift (I’m a bit of a scrounger, I’m noticing), this time courtesy of a very kind work colleague, Andy,  I’d talked into signing up the month before.  We collected our race numbers from the Glasgow Club Nethercraigs, and made our way back to the park after only a minor misadventure, and had our warm up.

It was a midday start, and fairly promptly it seemed, we were on our merry way.  The course is roughly two laps, starting at pretty much the highest point in the park which gives you a cracking first kilometre downhill.  It takes the shorter way round the northern part of the park and is then mainly flat, with slight undulations feeling substantially more than that when you’re attempting to travel at pace!

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I didn’t really know what to expect from this. My legs didn’t feel great after the last couple of weeks, and at the parkrun the day before, I was convincingly seen off by a mate during the last 2k and finished in 20:36.  Don’t get me wrong, that wasn’t a flat out effort, but it was a struggle.

As for this race, I set off quickly and feeling fine.  It’s easy to feel fine at the beginning.  3:38 for the first kilometre was followed by a 3:52, then a 3:55…around here I started to get a little concerned about the steady decline in pace, which wasn’t helped by a 3:59 for km 4.

By this point Andy’d given me a shout out as we passed each other at the first hairpin turn, and I gave a shout out back as our paths crossed at the second.  The only steady (if small) uphill section followed as you approach the start area, but thankfully we don’t return to the top of the hill but skirt around it.

I say “thankfully”, but I was really feeling it, and the whole way round the back section was unpleasant.

I resisted the urge to watch-watch, only checking it when it buzzed to give me my km splits, but they just kept getting slower for the same level of effort.  To complete the picture for you, kms 5-7 went:

5 – 4:02
6 – 4:03
7 – 4:13

Ouch.

Now I knew I’d burned up almost all my spare seconds if I had wanted sub 40 for only the second time, and started to focus on the knowledge that sub-41 was a respectable, achievable target given what I’d done recently.

Just as I exited the park for the long drag with the couple of hairpin turns, the 8k mark was passed.  I felt awful by now, but the split said 4:07.  Psychologically that was huge – I’d finally stopped going slower!

I had had it in my head that the whole race was going to get progressively worse (a “Thatcher”, I’m fairly sure I’ve heard the MarathonTalk guys call it) and this doesn’t do much for your mood!  Fortunately, that particular bullet was now dodged.  Even more, it put the spring back in my step.

On that back straight, someone came up along side me and then just stuck there…this sometimes happens for a bit, but the problem was the path was only wide enough for two, and we were catching another runner in front.  This johnny-come-lately had stolen the ‘free’ lane.  Now, I don’t drive so I can’t say it gave me a sense of the Catatonia, but it gave me a really good idea of how it might feel.

I sped up, back past this pain in the arse, overtook the other person, and gave everything I had to make sure this guy couldn’t come back at me.  On this chilly November day, the fire was lit!

I reached 9k on the return path with a 3:54 split, and a quick check of the watch told me that I was back on a sub 40 if I could keep the momentum going…

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A big sprint (well, I thought so anyway) just as the rain started and I came into the park with just over a minute to go.  Mission accomplished!  I crossed the line in 39:37 officially, 67th of 504 finishers.

As well as the customary bottle of water and banana for finishing, the Bella Road Runners had also drafted in some delicious Tunnocks caramel wafers as sustenance, and the tech t-shirt as a reward for our achievements:

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It’s light blue, but I don’t think it much looks it in that picture.

Andy finished just 4s off his time in the GSR 10k last year, so all the motivation to keep it going and try again!

Overall, I enjoyed the race – it’s easy to say that now.  But I liked the course, and the thought in my head now goes that on a less twisty one, that time could be a bit lower still.  Nice to know there’s a bit of speed in the legs, despite my attention really being on the longer stuff.

No question the reasonably calm day we got helped the experience.  I’d heard last year was heavy rain and a mean wind to go with it, but if you get lucky with the conditions, this should certainly be considered as a good way to wrap up the road running for the year.

This is also my last race of the year, so I’m not quite sure when the next post will follow.  I’ll find something to go on about, I’m sure.

Until then.