Stirling Half Marathon Race Report
Post date: May 21, 2018 8:59:15 PM
By Dom Sharkey
So as preparation for my Half Ironman this year I decided I needed a wee step up and entered Stirling Half Marathon, which would be my first Half. After a winter of trying to slowly build my running endurance rather than just smashing myself every session and getting injured every few months I was feeling stronger if not necessarily faster than before, so my main aim was to feel good and finish the race strongly at a solid pace.
The morning of race day came with near perfect running conditions: barely a breath of wind, mild but not cold temperatures and the rain was due to stay off (for the half marathoners at least!) this combined with the reasonably flat* course meant that for the strong contingent of CRCers across the two distances there was a decent chance of PBs on offer. After seeing the full Marathoners set off an hour ahead of us, I got the warm-up done then luckily managed to get through an opening in the barriers of the start pens, and after a bit of squeezing through got myself to the 4th or 5th row from the front.
Gun went, I found some space, checked the watch and settled in to my pace. The plan was to run to 4:00/km pace, which would give me a time of 1:24, so I locked on to this and ignored all the surging and slowing that folks seem to do in the first few kilometres. After the crowds thinned a little I found myself making a nice wee group of 4, with two Bellahouston Runners and one other guy. We formed a little pack and ran tightly together for a good spell after this. Our pace was staying steadily just a touch faster than my target so I was happy to try to stick with these guys, and we went through a few rounds of rotating places within the group which made the distance pass by quite quickly and smoothly. Heading out of the city the course opened up a lot and we could see plenty other runners up ahead. Slowly we reeled in a couple of these until we reached the halfway point. Going through 10km at 39:15 I was a little worried I was over-cooking this one, but surprisingly felt quite comfortable and listening to the breathing of the other 3 guys with me I didn’t think I sounded any worse off than any of them so when the 12km mark came and we turned, heading back towards the city again I thought, Well I’m closer to the finish now, let’s just see what happens…
So I started to lift the pace gradually and soon dropped the two Bellahouston boys, leaving just the pair of us, and we continued to move through the places catching another handful of runners. I was feeling quite fantastic at this point, not really checking the pace at all, but just running freely and was moving like a dream. I was all alone when I reached about 14km and continuing to catch and pass runners quite quickly. One of the guys I passed asked if I was leading the marathon race!
This feeling of course didn’t last, and getting back into the city around 18km I realised my wheels were starting to come off and thought perhaps I had shown my lack of experience and made my move too early. I was really weakening now and the main thing keeping me going was the thought of the shame of getting overtaken again by anyone else who I had just breezed past in the last few kilometres. My perception of distance was severely compromised now – telling myself I wouldn’t look at my watch again until I thought I was at 19km – then looking down to see 18.5 was quite crushing. Soon the course started heading uphill just to really stick the boot into me, I rounded a tight steep corner and felt a stitch coming on. Luckily I was able to fend that off, but as the course continued to climb through the main pedestrian zone in the city centre a couple of spasms of cramp hit my left calf and I had a small stumble, very nearly hitting the deck, twice! Finally the finish came into sight and relief is a bit of an understatement. Finished in 1:21:51, on what was a slightly long course, so absolutely delighted with the time.
It was a thoroughly good event all round and there seemed to be PBs galore on the day with several other great CRC performances too which is always good to see.