Lauran’s Note: Dear reader(s)! Thanks for checking in. Saturday, August 8th was meant to be the day of the 10th of my LauranDoes179 Challenge races – the Haddington Half Marathon in East Lothian, Scotland. However, I sprained my ankle a few weeks ago and, with three marathons to get through in September and October, I decided to bribe Mikey, my gazelle of a husband, to run for me to give my ankle some more time to heal. So, without further ado, here’s Mike….
Saturday morning began with a negotiation. Given Lauran’s unfortunate injury and with the bigger, longer (wine filled) races still to come, she decided that it would be sensible to sit this one out and wanted to see whether I would take on the honour of running for the TeamDrea challenge in her place. I, deviously, thought it might be useful to try and leverage something out of this negotiation and posited various combinations of alcohol and junk food she would have to provide for the use of my legs. In the end, I was won for three bottles of wine (Ganevat, naturally). Lauran obviously triumphs in adversity, or I am just a cheap date.
I was, of course, likely to run this race anyway, having completed five of the 10 races Lauran has done so far, but I was struggling with my race strategy. The course profile and description indicated it would be a pretty fast race, but I wasn’t sure whether I was in good enough shape to attempt a PB. In the end, I sort of wimped out and settled on thinking I would just ‘run’ it without any objective, although this didn’t last long.
The event itself was held in the ‘Royal Burgh’ of Haddington. It is a quaint, small town, set in the rolling agricultural heartland of rural East Scotland. In a random history fact, John Witherspoon (US founding father signatory), whom Reese claims to be related too, comes from a neighbouring village. The event was a circular loop starting and finishing at the Haddington rugby club. It was a comparatively small event, with only 250 entrants, hosted by the Haddington & East Lothian Pacemakers running club. As I was limbering up on the pitches, enjoying the sunshine and not really thinking about how hard I was going to run, a former work colleague and friend, Chris, appeared ready to compete which in the end turned out to solve my race strategy!
Chris had only previously run one half marathon and we began discussing how I could help pace him round the course to break his PB of 1:38ish. This ultimately helped me a lot because I had a better objective for the race: not getting beaten by Chris!
And so the race! The small field gathered on the roads outside the rugby park, getting in the way of the cricketers in the interim. The starting pistol set us on a route which was predominantly run on single track country roads through the rolling hills. It was a great day for running and, given Chris was with me, I started off at quite a substantive pace. I realised around 2-3 miles in that I was going out too fast – definitely around my 5k pace already – and was mindful that I should push it too much. I was feeling motivated and running well, so I wondered whether a PB might be on, and certainly a stab at the mythical 90 minute mark might also be attainable. As we wound around the country roads, and the small field became even more condensed into a handful of folk slightly in front of me, I wondered whether I could keep this pace going.
Chris popped up on my shoulder at around 7.5 miles, at which time I think I shouted “Where did you come from!?!” Turns out he had been about 100 meters behind me and very much ahead of his target, using me very effectively as a pacemaker. At the 8 mile time check we were around 55 minutes; “5 miles in 35 miles” I barked to myself. I thought I would see how much my legs had left so I stepped the pace back up knowing there should be only one more, slight ascent between here and the finish. 10 miles felt fine, but from then on it was a struggle. I had someone around 10 seconds in front of me, and that was the benchmark to get me to the finish. The scenic country road now had become a monotonous green blur that just seemed long. When we got to the edge of town, I felt that the pace was slipping, as was my confidence, and I just wanted to see the finish. Ironically, by the time we got back to the rugby club, I closed the gap slightly on the girl in front who it seemed like I had stalked for the past 3 miles and I sort of stumbled over the finish. I had no idea of my time, but I wasn’t bothered at that point. A lie down and cake and coffee were required. Chris had maintained his good pace and, although a gap had opened between us, he ended up finishing one place below me and only 47 seconds adrift – but still a massive 6 minute improvement on his PB. We wound down in the sun to the sound of the pipers whilst lamenting another poor performance from Wales in the rugby internationals though both of us were delighted to have achieved a time neither of us had planned. Sunday morning revealed my final time of 1:30:23 and a 31 second improvement on my PB. I learned a fair bit about the race tactics I need to put to use next time (not burdening myself with a watch certainly helped) and sometimes running for a good cause in the countryside just cannot be beaten.
Just another 23 seconds to go…
Don’t forget, Lauran is doing all this running to raise money for the Blazeman Foundation for ALS research as part of the larger TeamDrea challenge. To make a donation, please click on the ‘donate’ button in her header or visit the link below….thank you so much!
Lauran’s next race is the ridiculously amazing Marathon Du Medoc in Bordeaux, France on September 12th. Adieu until then!