A Marathon and a Half (or more accurately a Half and a Marathon)

I’ve not been great at blogging recently.  Keep forgetting.  Must be getting absent minded.  Actually I’ve got quite a bit on right now and just haven’t had the time, but I’ve sat myself down at my computer and right now I’m going for it 🙂

Just over 2 weeks ago it was Peterhead Half Marathon.  Did the race for the first time last year and loved it despite the fact it was a tough course and I got sunburn, so a year on I was well up for it again.

This year the weather again looked good, so made sure I had applied sun cream prior to the race.  I had offered to drive up, so I picked up Shona (shondo) and Diane (Lip Gloss) and up the road we headed.  It was an uneventful trip, thankfully and apart from being not quite sure exactly where I was going when I got to Peterhead we found our way without too much effort.

Once there we registered and then went to find the toilets for the first time.  As usual there were a few toilet trips before the start!  We met up with friends and before we knew it, we were all being called down for the off.

The course starts with a loop of the running track and then heads out the old railway line before turning off and going through some stunning scenery.  Pretty much as soon as we had started I was at the back, however this year there was a tail runner (Caroline) who I know, so I was up for some good chat and banter along the way.

We soon settled into an  easy pace.  With the weather being warm I wasn’t up for going full throttle, especially the week before a marathon, so I just kept to a comfortable pace.

Carol & Caroline
We were loving it or perhaps delirious! Photo courtesy of Beverly Thain

We just plodded on, but just before half way we caught up with one of our Hazlehead jogscotties, who was feeling the heat about.  I felt okay, so just went on ahead.

Was so pleased when I got up the hill at St Fergus as I thought that was the worst of the hills over.  What I didn’t realise is that wasn’t true and as I headed back towards Peterhead, there were still some lumps and bumps along the way.  Still I seemed to be having a good time.

Peterhead 2016
Enjoying myself – possibly. Photo courtesy of Coreen Hutchison

Eventually the route heads back into the town and I was starting to feel the miles.  There was also a head wind to contend with and one final short sharp hill which I really struggled with.  I had to walk for bits now as my legs were tired and heavy, but I just had to keep going.  I was on for a PB – yet again.

I had a little walk before turning into the running track as I knew I could not stop and walk here.  I think I almost managed a bit of a sprint finish, although it didn’t really look like one, but felt fast.

Peterhead Finish 2016
About to cross the finish line. Photo courtesy of Tony Jones.

When I got over the finish line I was chuffed to find I’d knocked almost 10 minutes off my PB 🙂

Peterhead Result
Yay, another PB 🙂

After some refreshments (ie a cuppa) and watching the kids races, it was time to head back via the supermarket for snacks.  For those who are interested here is the elevation profile.

Peterhead Half Elevation
It’s not flat.

So fast forward a week and I found myself in Orkney 🙂

Shona (shondo) and Fiona S were my companions on the plane on a thankfully uneventful flight.  I’m not particularly good with small planes, however I think the G&T I had prior to the flight helped, and it wasn’t that bumpy really, just a little bit of cloud on take off to content with.

I’d opted to stay in a hotel at the Harbour, so once we got into Kirkwall I said my goodbyes to the others and headed to the St Ola Hotel.  Got myself checked in and sorted out then decided I’d better eat 🙂

Saturday was spent in Kirkwall, just chilling out and spending cash (like it was going out of fashion).  It turns out that I can’t resist a craft fair and I ended up buying quite a few items.  It also turns out that I can’t resist jewellery.  Bought more of that too.

Chanced upon the rest of the group which now included Ronnie (RunningRonnie), his other half Rebecca and Lauren.  We all pottered around for a bit before heading off again in our separate directions.

I ate and then retired to my room to sort everything out for the morning and once everything was ready headed for an early night.  My TV decided to scare the living daylights out of me by switching itself on in the middle of the night, but once I’d got over the fright I went back to sleep and woke early but fairly refreshed on Sunday morning.

Breakfast was had and I got myself ready.  Then headed 0ut to registration.  Got speaking to folks there.  Was nice to be in such a relaxed atmosphere and the chat was good.  Everyone was lovely and so friendly.

Eventually we all gathered and it was time for the off.  Had a bit of a countdown and then we were away.  Straight way it became apparent that I was going to be at the back of the pack.

Orkney start
Photo courtesy of Siobhan Miller.

I just settled into a comfortable pace and got on with things.  Soon enough I was joined by Alex who was on the tail bike.  He was to be my companion for the race.

Me and Alex
With my escort. Photo courtesy of Kelly Drever.
Orkney run
Another action shot from Kelly Drever 🙂

The weather as you can see was a bit damp at times.  There were sunshine and showers and in some places some nasty headwinds to deal with.  Still I plodded on and the miles passed by.  Alex was fantastic keeping my mind off running.  He gave me a bit of a guided tour of the race route and we did lots of chatting and he put up with me complaining that I was tired and my legs were stiff.  I stopped at every single water station and even had to visit the bathroom at Finstown, but I was just taking things easy as I knew the route was tough.

As the miles ticked by Alex pre-warned me about any inclines and even told me when I could have a walk break, which were mainly up the hills.  It was pretty much like having a personal coach 🙂

Eventually mile 25 came and went and I was almost there.  The last mile consisted of a short off road section, which sapped my legs of what seemed to be the remainder of any strength I had, then a right turn down to a cone and round before heading back up to the main road and along to the finish point at the hall.  I think this was the hardest part of the race (other than the hills!).  You could see the finish, but it just seemed quite far away.  Once round the corner though I went as fast as my legs could carry me and was delighted to get over the finish line in a pretty respectable time of 6:01:15.  I was well chuffed considering the amount of chatting I’d done at each water station.  Predominantly due to the fact that everyone was so friendly and really encouraging.

I gave Alex a hug for all his help as I am sure I would have been a lot slower had he not been there.  I was given my goody bag and collected my drop bag and soon it was time to head for the bus back to Kirkwall.

Once I’d got back I got a chance to have a proper look at my goody bag.  Totally awesome.

Orkney Goody Bag
Hmmm beer 🙂

After a shower and massage (thanks to Lorna Stanger), it was time to get ready for the post race Ceilidh, although I must say I didn’t do much dancing but the spread of food laid on was amazing.

I would so recommend this race to anyone.  It was tough, but the scenery was just so beautiful and the hospitality and encouragement of the local people was second to none.  Here’s one little photo of the route as well as the elevation profile 🙂

Orkney
The route, looking over to Rousay.
St Magnus Marathon Elevation
It’s quite hilly.

I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank the organisers for a brilliant event.  I loved every minute of it (other than the rain, wind and hills!) 🙂

Orkney – I will be back.

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