The "not a half marathon" run

The "not a half marathon" run

In the run up to the end of 5x50, I foolishly suggested trying a 'half marathon' distance as the grand finale. I don't think I was all that serious but, once stated, it had to be done.

The plan was to park my car at Aberdour station (on the north side of the Firth of Forth, opposite Edinburgh), leaving there around 7am. From there, follow the coast to the Forth Bridges. Stop for photos then run over the Forth Road Bridge to South Queensferry, from where I would go towards the Dalmeny Estate, finishing up at Dalmeny railway station for the 09:30 train back to Aberdour and my waiting car.

Well, the start was delayed - I simply underestimated how long it would take to get to Aberdour. But parking at the station was free - good - and if I had an electric car, there were two charging bays where I could have plugged it in!

I set off about 07:20 and followed the Fife Coastal Path which skirts the town and passes by the golf course. A couple of miles later, I came across a ruined church that I hadn't previously known about.

The path then goes around Dalgety Bay - some nice houses there! A sign said 4 miles to Inverkeithing and I arrived there in less time than expected. Inverkeithing was always going to be the test. I haven't run much further than 10k, and that's the distance covered to Inverkeithing ... with another 11/12km still to go.

Well, the video blog will show that I had only a couple of niggles, and these had come and gone pretty quickly. Heading through the town, I was feeling good. I passed the scene of a "road traffic incident", which was a bit of a diversion for me. Maybe a bit more of a diversion than expected though - the path had been very well signposted up to that point but I think I must have missed an arrow. I would pick it up again quite soon though.

From the built up town, turn down a side road which heads up a STEEP hill. I confess to having walked up this, but I think that was OK. Into North Queensferry, and another diversion - a sign for the Coastal Path ... but it went back towards Inverkeithing, so I guess I must have arrived via an unofficial route :)

Now I'm under the Forth Bridge (the railway one) - a great place for a video clip, even if you could barely see the bridge for the mist.

Out of Queensferry, the Road Bridge was only a few minutes away. Up onto the deck and into the mist.

This was what I had come for! It's a suspension bridge, and the centre of the deck is a lot higher than where it lands on either bank. I had expected the uphill half to be hard work but in reality it was absolutely fine. Likewise, the 'downhill' side didn't feel downhill. All too soon, I hit the southern landfall and South Queensferry. There's a beautiful little harbour which most tourists miss.

I popped down there for a video clip ... and the battery on my iPhone ran out. Surprised ... but I guess I had both Nike+ and Endomondo's GPS running for almost two hours. OK - so now I couldn't track the rest of the run. Fortunately, I had checked the Nike+ stats before doing the clip. 18.2km in 1hour 52 mins. A half marathon is, I think, 13.1 miles so some mental arithmetic said I had about 3km left to do. At the 6 mins/km pace I'd maintained for the last few miles, that made 18 mins left to run. If I played safe and did 20 mins, I shouldn't be undershooting the dstance.

Heading through Queensferry, proudly bearing my C25K 'graduate' T-shirt in case wilmacgh was looking for me ( ) I came across the same group who were abseiling from the Rail Bridge. What a crowd there was! They were doing it for the Chest, Heart and Stroke Society. Music playing and a professional photography unit all added to the sense of 'occasion'. Slipping my way between these lunatics, I headed along the same track as Wilma, but only as far as the gate at Long Craig Pier, where I turned around to head back to the Hawes Inn and a well-deserved coffee and bacon roll.

Phew - I'd done it. A half marathon distance, running all the way (other than that steep uphill) having done no real preparation other than C25K and the 5x50 Challenge. The time? I expected to do the first 10k in around an hour, then to walk the other 7 miles - at best, another 1h 45. this gave a total estimated time of 2h 45m The real time was that 1h 52 when the phone went Phut! Take off a few minutes for photo stops and it would be about 1h 45m. Then add on the extra 20 mins for the additional few km and the half marathon comes in at 2h 05m. I think I'm happy at that. Better than happy ... My time 30 years ago was 2h 47m (which shows that, even then, I wasn't really a runner)

And how may Km could I log for the 5x50 Challenge? Let's say the run was 21.5km. Then add the distance from the Hawes Inn to Dalmeny station - about a mile, so say 1.5km. I reckon I can genuinely log 23km for my adventure!

Well, that's been a long story - but it was a long run. But doesn't it show yet again that we can do so much more than we think we can? You bet!


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31 Replies

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  • You could add an extra 1km for writing up the report ;-)

    Fabulous Malcy. Well done!

  • Woo-hoo! You are amazing! Pom-poms just aren't enough any more :)

  • Oh, wow, Malcy, you really did the team proud there! The Forth Bridge bit sounds really good. Looking forward to the video! :)

  • Absolutely fantastic, well done and such a great blog. I almost felt as if I was running with you! Maggie :)

  • Great effort!

  • Absolutely awesome. Truly inspirational. Can't quite believe it. So happy :)

  • Well done. You finished in style. What a fabulous run and great achievement.

  • ok, I couldn't quite resist looking at this before going in the shower! Fabulous effort, it's such an achievement. I can't get over it and hope you will be wearing the same smile I am for some time! Excellent job :)

  • Fab blog, fab run, fab time, fab total, Malcy you are wonderful! ;) Well done

  • I am absolutely gobsmacked. What can I say? BRILLIANT Malcy, brilliant :-)

  • Congratulations on the brilliant achievement. Wow, some run!! :)

  • Fabulous blog Malcy! You are ending this challenge on an extra high note!! Very well done, enjoy the high you reached today and enjoy your achievement! Top-notch!!! :-) Gayle

  • It was a great experience - the novelty of the route, more novelty (and challenge) from the distance. I guess, as you said on Friday, that it's very different to where you are. I'd love to get to the States some day. I had a chance to submit a paper to a conference near Dallas - but I guess that area would be as different to yours as is Scotland.

  • Wow, you will ace the gnr at this rate!!! Wish I was anywhere near as good as this. :-)

  • Thanks - having done today's run I'm now pretty sure I'll be OK. but one swallow and all that. Once I get the Great Trail Challenge done and dusted (that's 3 weeks today) I'll start building up the distance a bit more regularly.

  • Very wise, must be a huge confidence boost to know you can do it though. May I ask what hm training plan you'll be following? I'm still undecided.

  • I'm not really following a plan. I found the basic C25K one really good, but can't seem to get to grips with any other.

    I definitely need to have a target to aim for - to give me a purpose. I really find it difficult to get out the door ... almost every time! So it's great to have something that I can use to tell myself I really have to do the run. For the GNR, I set a mid-way target - the Great Trail Challenge on 9 June. That was what got me trying the 10K and finding I could do it quite easily. I was able to take that and try doing the 10K up the Lomond Hills - very different to running on the flat. I'm still working on finalising doing two peaks in 11km but it gave me the confidence to at least try today's run. I knew I could do 10K and reckoned I could do 15. But I never for a minute imagined I could do 22.

    So, having done the run today, my brain is working out why I can do these things. (Sorry if I'm going on a bit) My logic is that, having built up to quite a good 5K capability, the cardio and muscular condition is in place. So it's as though my heart and lungs can keep pumping the oxygen and blood to my muscles for as long as I want them to. the limit is how much energy is available to be burned - as long as there is carbohydrate (or whatever) to burn, I can just keep running. Writing this, I honestly believe I could run a marathon. Not right now, but by just building up the muscular side of things over time.

    So I guess the answer to the question is that I run my own plan, listening to my body and doing what I think it can do. And every time it lets me do more than I thought it could, I just up the ante for the next time. That's really where the idea of the "not a half marathon" came from. I just thought "why not?"

    Hope that helps, and sorry again for going on a bit too much ...

  • That is one awesome run and an fab time!!! Go Malcy!!! :)

  • Thanks - this was a freak event - I really take my hat off to people like yourself who have done 'real' HMs

  • A real M is 13.1 miles and that's what you've done so its real enough!

  • What a fantastic achievement, I'm sure your very pleased, I know I would be. Thanks for sharing a lovely blog

  • Thanks Phil. Running over the Forth Road Bridge, I just couldn't believe how well the run had gone. Still hard to believe it.

  • I just knew you would (1) get out there despite the birthday celebrations the night before and (2) you would rock it!! What I didnt expect is that you would RUN the whole damned thing!! I should have known better because you are after all the God of Hell Fire!! :D

    Fantastic, brilliant, superb, wonderful....I doff my cap in deep respect to you Malcy!! I am in awe!

    Sue :)

  • Oh, and BTW, I have a glass of champers here so am toasting your achievement right now! Cheers!! :)

  • Thanks Sue. You must know me better than I know myself!

    Yes, of course I was always going to get myself out of bed this morning and have a go. But the way I felt at yesterday's Parkrun? (frowned expression on face that I can't describe in writing ...) I really felt awful. I thought it was because of the bulk that I ate on Friday evening - but on reflection that wasn't the whole story. I haven't been eating take aways for over a year and I think my body just couldn't handle the sugar, oil and monosodium glutamate (is that how you spell it?) that goes into such delicious food.

    The difference last night was that we went to a really good restaurant. Good ingredients, cooked well.

    It doesn't explain why I was able to run so far, but isn't it interesting?

  • I can relate to that. My husband is a chef so I am very lucky to get good, freshly cooked food at home (he actually does enjoy cooking at home even after doing it all day for a living!) When I got out sometimes or we get a takeaway it can really affect my gut especially when you are trying to eat healthily and not used to all that oil and other unknown ingredients....

  • Wow ! Brilliant achievement and what a great time ! You star !!!

  • Brilliant Malcy - what a run and a great blog to go with it.

    The change in diet is probably a big part of it - along with 5x50, and a large dose of bloody mindedness :-)

  • Fantastic blog Malcy. Sorry I missed you. I reckon I would have been at Hawes Pier about 9:30, maybe half an hour ahead of you. I'm in awe of you being able to do the Forth Bridge and the shore run after you had run 10k.

  • That sounds amazing. You're a very inspiring person.

  • Malcy you are fantastic! That sounds like a super run, wow! Well done!!! :-)

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