My first Half Marathon race

My first Half Marathon race

A few rambling thought on Sunday's run.

On a bit of a whim a couple of weeks ago I thought I'd like to find a half marathon to run as a sort of test ahead of training for my local HM here in Inverness in March. I searched the Scottish Running Guide and found the Fraserburgh Half Marathon coming up. Fraserburgh is about 115 miles from home and I dithered about travelling so far. My son said it was a long way for a short race! Huh, a HM is not a short race for me, so I decided to register.

I've previously run 22km several times over the summer as long, off-road runs, either by myself or with my hubby (on his bike). On those occasions I'd taken my time and stopped for numerous photo stops and to check my map, etc. I've not run that distance non-stop, nor at a fast pace, so this was a hard race for me.

A few musings on the day:

Fraserburgh is a good route for a HM as it's fairly flat with only 80m of ascent and a scenic, varied route. The race started with a wee loop around a couple of residential streets which being quiet on a Sunday morning meant we could run up the middle of the road and get the early start-of-race jostling for position over easily. The route then headed out of town along the pavement on the trunk road for 1.5km, before turning off into a country estate along a private road with no traffic. This started as a surfaced road then deteriorated into a muddy farm track. Thankfully the sun had melted the early morning ice (it had been below zero on our drive to the venue) and it was just muddy and not slippery. We then followed a winding route along narrow roads between fields with scattered farms and no traffic. We left the roads at about 12kms and followed the old railway line for 3 kms, then back along the estate road we'd gone out on.

I placed myself near the back of the pack of runners, but I was surprised at how fast the field was. I tried to keep a steady pace from the start, only passing those ahead of me who were going much slower than what felt good to me and slotted into a position with others going at a comfortable pace. However, when I glanced at my Garmin at the first water stop, I saw we'd done the first 5km in 27 mins. The off-road sections were slower and although I was a little disappointed that I'd not managed the run in under two hours, I was happy enough with my finishing time of 02:03:30.

Thoughts on fuelling: because of the early start for the long drive. I realised I would need something extra over and above my usual pre-race breakfast of two weetabix, so took a wee home made muesli bar. However I should have eaten this on the drive there (DH was driving); by the time we arrived and I remembered about it, I only dared nibble at a small piece before running.

In race re-fuelling: I think I need to start trying different energy gels, or food. The Haribo jelly sweeties just didn't do enough on a long race. I had two with water at the 12km water stop and they took ages to suck/chew and left my mouth all sticky for what was maybe minimal energy boost.

After the race I certainly refuelled; in fact I stuffed my face with cake! The race is run by the Fraserburgh Running Club and the group members put on a lavish spread of food for runners and family and friends. As well as drinks there was soup, sandwiches and cake. Lots of cake! Tables groaning under the piles and piles of traybakes! Not the best post-run fuel, but what the heck, it would have been rude not to help myself.

Core strength training: this race showed me that if I wish to improve my running I NEED to do more core strength work. I felt the small of my back start aching from about 12kms and my shoulders and neck joined in the general protesting for the last few kilometres. I'm going to have to start something to add to my running and cycling.

For anyone interested, you can see the route on my Garmin map:

I've shared a few more of DH's photos (the twisty route on the back roads meant he was able to get to 3 or 4 different vantage spots):

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21 Replies

  • Just checked the results page and see I placed 231 out of 291 runners. My race clock time (no chips) is 02:03:54. I was right when I said it was a fast field; there were only 20 runners who took 02:20 and over.

  • Well done Sheila you are a true star and inspiration. And I am so sorry I missed you in Edinburgh! Delia

  • Thank Delia, I'm really disappointed I couldn't manage the trip south to meet you in Edinburgh.

  • That's amazing running, well done! Great blog and interesting conclusions about what will help in the future. Can't believe you entered this on a whim a couple of weeks ago!

    Wishing you the very best in your local HM in March.

  • I think the sudden desire to run a HM came about because I had completed the Culloden 17.46km run and not died! After that I wanted to find my time on a 'proper' distance.

  • Well done. It looks like a nice friendly local event - we get more people at the Edinburgh Parkrun each week!

  • It was a super friendly event. I enjoyed chatting to the other runners - in the queue for the loos, at the start line, running alongside me, and at the celebratory nosh-up/prize-giving at the end!

  • Lovely happy pic and amazing, analytical blog - you are certainly getting things in place for further success next spring! All the very best with your plans - I hope you find the right jelly sweets ;) And thanks for keeping so many others inspired! Terrific x

  • I have a big bag of Haribo to get through before I start on other race-fuel testing!

  • Congratulations! The Garmin shows a few very fast km's too!

  • I didn't look at my Garmin except to check the time every so often. I was running by effort, not pace and in the earlier section was able to chat to some folks around me, so felt my effort was fine.

    Now if I could just keep all my kilometres at 5:40-ish I'd be happy.

  • Clearly a great run, and I love the "entered on a whim" approach!

  • Thanks, OldNed. Sometimes it's good not to be too organised long in advance and just go with the flow.

  • Just checked out the photos. They're great.

  • I'm so lucky my biggest fan (hubby) is also a keen photographer. In fact he stopped at a few places on the way home and got many more pictures.

  • Fantastic result and an inspiring post swanscot. Keep up the good work. I've taken note of your comments about fuel too.

  • Thanks. Note, the scoffing cake post-run is, perhaps, not the recommended re-fuelling advice. :-)

  • Excellent time, and I agree with you - certainly not a short race. Glad you enjoyed the re-fuelling, even if not strictly recommended, you certainly earned it.. :-)

  • Not a short race at all, but from having studied training plans now (after the event) I can see how it is possible to train to run at a set pace for that distance.

  • Massive congratulations :) Fraserburgh is not that far from me, if I'd known there was going to be cake....... :)

  • Maybe next year...?

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