Glas-Go!: Or Sqkr's definitely Great... - Marathon Running ...

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Sqkr profile image
SqkrHalf Marathon

Or Sqkr's definitely Great this time Scottish Run.

Fuelling was at the forefront of my mind today, as I crashed so unexpectedly at the GNR a few weeks ago—I think partly a psychological response to a miserable time, but also as a result of pure inexperience. That day I learnt that running 13.1 miles in a race is not the same as pottering about at a leisurely pace in the countryside and requires a different fuelling approach, and I was determined to use this new knowledge wisely. So, once comfortably on the bus to Glasgow, I tucked into my special homemade flapjacks* and also drank a whole dose of green tea Tailwind. The trip onwards was a little fraught, as it turned out the motorway had been closed in both directions due to a 'police incident', and the traffic ended up at a worrying standstill for some time...

...buuut I finally got to the city centre, and after a quick coffee stop at Greggs I made my way to the baggage buses, which I was delighted to find were genuinely buses—colour coded double-deckers, with tracksuit-stuffed bags sitting upright looking eagerly out of the windows like it was their first day at school. I duly prepared myself for my run: I'd no pockets so strapped my phone to my hand, filled up a little doughnut bottle with more Tailwind and stashed an emergency gel under my towelling wrist band. Minimal, but hopefully enough.

And then to the starting line! My pink number was a point of contention as I'd already asked the race organisers if it was possible to move up from this last wave, but they curtly put me in my place and told me no, I belonged in the pink wave and that was where I must stay. Not to be put off, I parked myself confidently (probably too confidently, but fake it till you make it, right?) at the front of the pinks and cheerfully waited for our gun to fire.

The announcer went on and on (and on) about the horrors of the St Vincent Street hill ahead, and indeed it looked pretty steep from where we were. But bang! once we were off it felt completely fine, almost as if there was no elevation at all. I was astonished to see walkers already however—people really just don't like hills! I chuckled as I came down the other side, I've seen so many of these streets in very different conditions—usually fuelled by gin in place of flapjacks.

At 1 mile, the first sighting of a roadside piper. I knew there would be a few—this is Scotland after all, and no event is complete without some ceremonial bagpipes—but I was intrigued to find out how many they would field today. The Great Winter Run piped in every single km marker, but 21 individual bagpipers seemed unlikely!

Down towards Finnieston, the giant cantilever crane stoic and silent as ever, before taking a right turn over the Kingston Bridge. One half of the M8 was still operating as normal, with all the cars peeping and passengers cheering out of the windows as we briefly powered along the motorway. The view from up on the bridge was glorious, the geometric skyline of outer Glasgow and the Clyde stretching away ahead of us, steel grey skies momentarily making it look like a lithograph from an industrial history book. And then the sun breaking through once more, sparkling crystalline on the rooftops and water, bringing us all back into the present.

The race was just the right sort of busy—there were about 30000 runners over the course of the weekend, so maybe 15000 half marathon finishers—but plenty of room to comfortably manoeuvre. Other runners' presence was made known by the flecks of peripheral colour, their footfall a distant rhythm in the back of my mind, rather than the pulse-racing asphalt feet clatter and impatient jostling of the GNR.

Peeling away from the motorway we headed along Scotland St, past the beautiful but dilapidated redbrick James Howden & Co buildings, reassuringly plastered with hoardings proclaiming a new lease of life to come. The aesthetics of a former industrial town slowly making a new identity for itself. Things progressively got more residential, and by 4 miles we were making our way down some lovely leafy streets, lined with small pockets of cheering residents, wrapped up warm as there was an autumnal chill in the air, handing out sweets. At one point I encountered 'High Five Corner', bedecked with a huge banner and delighted children proffering tiny, excitable hands. I did a lot more high-fiving on this run that I usually do! And then another piper, a little further along, playing melodies to quicken our battle pace.

Continuing down St Andrew's Drive the greenery started to envelop us. Eventually we turned into Pollock Country Park, shipbuilding a distant memory as we made our way through the tranquil woodland estate. I was genuinely over the moon to spot Kingsley in the crowd at the 5 mile mark—the David Shrigley designed Partick Thistle mascot of dreams and nightmares—and gave him a high five too, for good measure. I had to clumsily text Mr Sqkr about this moment as I ran, it was a real highlight for me 😄 The estate remained lovely and refreshing to run through, with gnarled trees dividing up tiny patchwork paddocks, cows peacefully observing. Some considered the event from afar, others were really fascinated, poking their big wet, hirsute noses over the fences and occasionally lowing at the brightly coloured stream of runners.

One of the men I'd been running alongside—I'd noted him particularly for his McEnroe sweatband, and having 'small things for Scott' pinned to his back—stopped to talk to a waiting BBC crew, and the penny dropped that it was Grant Hutchison, brother of Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit. My motivation for taking up running a year ago came about after the suicide of a good friend, and Grant lost Scott very recently under similar, heart wrenching circumstances. I try to raise awareness where I can with my own running, but Grant's fanbase is rather bigger than mine! I watched his interview later, honest, emotional and more than a little bit sweaty. I suddenly felt reflective surrounded by the beautiful, wild park, particularly as I'd heard the reason for the motorway closure earlier on was the result of police trying to talk someone down from a bridge. I do think that we are becoming more socially accepting of mental health concerns, and more often recognise the spectrum of mental health is broad for each and every one of us. Indeed, those lights and shades we all experience to a lesser or greater degree are what make us human and brilliant. But there is still so much more that needs to be done to empower people to take the positive steps they need, and although I have no answers I do believe just being more aware of ourselves, of others, is the foundation to any change in attitude.

The haunting sounds of distant bagpipes accompanied the final section of Pollock Park, and we emerged to find three young musicians drawing us from the sanctuary of the woods back into the city. Via the questionable medium of taking a running selfie for my scrapbook I discovered that I'd moved ahead of most of my pink starting wave, and was now running amongst the green wave. Triumph! I know it's not the point of the day at all, but as a matter of principle I was delighted to have surpassed the expectations of the stubborn wave allocators.

At 7 miles I spotted a couple of well-wrapped supporters I had seen several times on the route earlier, with sturdy tweed coats and scarves and a placard saying GAUN YERSELF HAYLEIGH. I hope Hayleigh got a bit of extra spring in her step knowing they were doing such a great job of following her round and cheering! I certainly did. Another couple of pipers here too, but this time silent, and having a well-earned tea break on foldaway chairs.

Coming into Bellahouston Park the skies began to darken suddenly, we'd been really lucky with the weather up until this point but I'm very familiar with the fickle, drizzly skies of the West Coast and as the heavens opened and the wind picked up speed I sighed a little to myself. I spend a lot of time vocally comparing the (lovely) weather in Edinburgh with the (dreich) weather in Glasgow, much to all my colleagues' annoyance. As we got absolutely battered by the elements in the exposed parkland I felt vindicated by my East v West banter, yet still very cheerful. I'm glad it wasn't so horrible at the start of the race though, or I might have felt less chipper.

I decided now might be a good time to fire up my SIS gel, tropical punch flavour, which sounded like a good counter to the very untropical rain. Bleurgh, gels really are weird. As I tried to take delicate sips (? not really the word) it seemed to simply gloop itself onto my lips and then not want to come off. I carried on trying to actually ingest the stuff for most of the way round the park, which at least distracted me from the weather. And then, lo and behind, a SIS gel stop! I grabbed a couple of replacements, hoping above all else that they weren't chocolate flavour. I tried to stash them in my waistband and forget about them, but with every step they worked their way further away from the elastic and I eventually found myself having to rescue them inelegantly from, well, down my trousers. Advice: don't put SIS gels in your waistband for safe keeping, it simply doesn't work. They end up in your pants.

The weather cleared up immediately on leaving the park, leaving me wondering if there was some sort of fairytale magic chasing away the blustering wind and rain from the remainder of the course, perhaps courtesy of the bagpipers stationed at the park exit. I'm not sure what sorcery they undertook to control the elements, but I was glad to be able to dry off a bit in the sunshine. And then, wait, Grant Hutchison again! He must have worked really hard to catch up after stopping to chat for the live coverage.

Another piper stationed at 8 miles, this time playing a relatively jaunty reel. In addition to the veritable army of bagpipers, the entertainment on route was spontaneous and charming; along with the supporters cheering on the streets and leaning out of tenement windows there were beatboxers, a vaudeville troupe, a brass band, tiny cheerleaders with silver pompoms, a ragtime outfit sheltering from the rain in a bus stop but not missing a note, a brilliantly absurd clown band, so many choirs and singing groups—it just felt so lovely and community spirited. The whole city turned out to bolster our spirits and seemed to know exactly what we needed and when.

At 11 miles I successfully avoided the shower tunnel, and waved at my workplace. I've run round here for mini lunchtime training runs a lot lately, but today the atmosphere was considerably more conducive to enjoyment! In fact, I think I smiled for about 90% of the run, even during the ten minutes of relentless, horizontal rain. Evidence supplied, with my smiling 13 mile photo!

Onwards over the squinty bridge, we came across a photographer remonstrating with a runner who had flung a bottle of water aside without thinking, and drenched the snapper right through. No iconic bridge photo for me...never mind, I'd taken a bazillion selfies! It occurred to me at this point I'd not seen a single person drop out of the race or pull up poorly. Everyone seemed to be running the best, strong, most joyful race they could without pushing so hard they inadvertently capsize themselves. It was certainly a very different atmosphere to my last half marathon.

I know the final Broomielaw strait very well indeed, I walk or cycle this way to work and back daily. It felt much shorter today, and I was rather taken by surprise by the 13 mile marker. Nearly at the end, and still feeling strong! I don't know if it was the Tailwind, the gel or the lingering effects of the flapjack but I held a pretty even pace throughout and certainly didn't feel like slowing. There was a cacophony of music and voices all the way through this final mile, pipers and cheering and heavy breathing mingling together into a peculiar but mesmerising experimental run track. My phone lights up with messages, friends had been secretly tracing me on the app and fire through encouraging words and gifs of rockets and Mo Farah. The running surface changes to soft sand and the finish line looms large, I cross it with a time of 1.58. That's more like it! The run I knew I could do. Thoughts of the GNR dissolve entirely, I love running again. I feel great, I'm smiling, Glasgow really did itself proud. It starts to rain again and I don't care.

*Recipe to follow sometime, I have a tweak to make however as they're currently a bit more crumbly than is practical for a mid-run snack.

44 Replies
linda9389 profile image

Texting while running? You're brave! Just wait til roseabi reads that - I remember getting firmly told off a few weeks ago for looking at my phone on the run :D :D :D

Sounds like a fantastic run, what a difference. As for the time - wow, just wow. Brilliant job, awesome. I want that flapjack recipe :D

roseabi profile image
roseabiPartner in reply to linda9389

Very naughty, tsk 😊

Sqkr profile image
SqkrHalf Marathon in reply to roseabi

I knowwww but it was Kingsley! He had a soft, fuzzy hand 😂

roseabi profile image
roseabiPartner in reply to Sqkr


in reply to Sqkr

That's pretty terrifying! Glad he pepped up your spirits though. 😁

Sqkr profile image
SqkrHalf Marathon in reply to linda9389

The best part about the flapjacks is they're genuinely tasty, I've been having them for breakfast most days, even on those I have no intention of running 😁 I am sure they must help me to work a bit faster too 😀

linda9389 profile image
linda9389Administrator in reply to Sqkr

Can't wait for the recipe!

misswobble profile image
misswobbleMarathon in reply to Sqkr

There’s the power flapjack recipe on here It’s probaly pinned 😋

roseabi profile image

Such a lovely run and report!!! WELL DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! xxx

Great advice re. gels in pants. Slurps? I love pipers for a race 😁😁😁 And we are all just Cow TV you know 😊

Poignant stuff, I'll be pondering it at Beachy Head I'm sure. Good on you, and Grant, and everyone really. It's good to have running to keep us level... sometimes!

Another race I want to do, dammit!! 😊

Sqkr profile image
SqkrHalf Marathon in reply to roseabi

I probably was slurping, there's nothing ladylike about my running. And that's how I like it 😁

It is a good time to think about things for sure. And particularly during a big event, you're in this little bubble, surrounded by crowds of people but you're so heavily focused on looking inwards you barely see them. It's a strange and apt parallel.

I took a photo of every piper I saw en route, ten if you include the fellows having a cup of tea 😊 I'm sure I missed a few though.

Decker profile image

Wow, a brilliant read and race! So happy that this one worked out better - due in no small part to your adjustments, I’m sure. I need to try that tailwind out. You definitely showed those organizers what’s what. 😁 Congratulations!!

Sqkr profile image
SqkrHalf Marathon in reply to Decker

Thank you! It was a great day, I enjoyed it so much. And thinking about fuelling for once was a real success—I am a convert!

misswobble profile image

Note to self to order Tailwind for marathon. I have none left, eek

misswobble profile image

Pity about the rain but I suppose coming at the end it did cool you down tad

Well done. Sounds a huge race 😯 😃👍🏃‍♀️🏅

I’ve got some trail Capri tights with gel holders 😁. I don’t do gels so I can loop my jacket, gloves etc through the loops instead 🙂

Sqkr profile image
SqkrHalf Marathon in reply to misswobble

I love that idea, like a sort of Batman style utility belt with useful stuff attached to it 😀

Macmac profile image

Brilliant! Well done on a great result. It sounds like you had a very enjoyable half this time. So pleased it was a good experience this time for you too. 👏🏼👏🏼😊

Sqkr profile image
SqkrHalf Marathon in reply to Macmac

Thank you, I had a blast 😊

Lordi profile image

Great time!

Sqkr profile image
SqkrHalf Marathon in reply to Lordi

Thanks Lordi, now to knock a bit more off next year!

SaskAlliecat profile image
SaskAlliecatHalf Marathon

What a great report Sqkr! I'm glad this one was more what you expected. I'm also a huge Tailwind fan, currently mixing my berry and lemon for a lovely combination. I haven't used any of their caffeinated versions yet, but perhaps some day will add it to my arsenal. I have to order it online so have 2 large bags right now to work through but am hoping to increase my distance over winter again.

Decker profile image
DeckerModerator in reply to SaskAlliecat

Where do you order yours from Sask?

SaskAlliecat profile image
SaskAlliecatHalf Marathon in reply to Decker

I order mine from in Edmonton but when you go to the store locator on the tailwind website, there are 4 stores listed in Toronto

Maybe one is close to you. Living in "Nowhere" Saskatchewan, I often have to order stuff online but am quite excited to go to Running Room in Regina on my way to my trail race next weekend. Let's see what goodies I can leave with 😂

Decker profile image
DeckerModerator in reply to SaskAlliecat

Thank you! It never occurred to me to go directly to their site. I was looking on Amazon :)

Sqkr profile image
SqkrHalf Marathon in reply to Decker

If you order from them directly they personalise it and send you a little handwritten note too. I also got an email from them a month or so after I ordered wishing me luck in the GNR, which I thought was lovely. I'm an absolute sucker for good customer service!

Decker profile image
DeckerModerator in reply to Sqkr

That is a really nice touch. Who does that these days?

Sqkr profile image
SqkrHalf Marathon in reply to SaskAlliecat

Thank you 😊 My favourite is the green tea so far, which doesn't actually taste much like green tea but is very refreshing! I'd never thought about mixing them to get different combinations, ooo that means the possibilities are endless!

What a brilliant run and amazing support. Well done on a fantastic time!

Sqkr profile image
SqkrHalf Marathon in reply to

Thank you! 😊

Tbae profile image
TbaeMetric Marathon

Just magic young woman of steel.

Glasgow ‘smiles better.💥🏃‍♀️👑💥☄️

Sqkr profile image
SqkrHalf Marathon in reply to Tbae

Thanks tbae 😊 People Make Glasgow for sure.

Fantastic Sqkr!! Sounds like a brilliant run, really pleased you got the time you wanted. Great post and pics too :) :)

Sqkr profile image
SqkrHalf Marathon in reply to Lorijay

Thank you! 😊

Brilliant race report and a brilliant run! AND you managed to take photos and do high fives and STILL get under 2 hours! Fab-u-lous!! xx

Sqkr profile image
SqkrHalf Marathon in reply to APScotland

I've honed those multi-tasking skills over the years! Now if only I could learn to drink water successfully when running without pouring it everywhere... That's a skill that's evaded me so far 😂

So, so pleased to read from your race report that you're back in the zone and had a much better experience. Saddened as this is the one I wanted to do but couldn't this year due to other commitments. This is the one that was highly recommended by my surgeon's assistant and dare I add he suggested that I give Edinburgh a wide berth. Those damn hills. Having done the Moon Walk which included Arthur's Seat in blustering winds and driven rain, he might have a point.

So, anyway what a marvellous post and experience and I hope very much to join you next year.

What's next for you? 😘

Sqkr profile image
SqkrHalf Marathon in reply to

Yes! Next year! It's definitely a recommendation from me too. It was a great balance of big and friendly 😊 Edinburgh isn't so bad...the hills feel terrible but speeding down the other side of them is flipping great. I think the May half marathon is flat, it's just the 10k that has the hill of doom! I'm biased but I'd still recommend that too, it's very pretty. I'm a bit sad to think that I'll probably do the half and avoid it though, that hill is like an old friend now 😅 My next one is the Supernova run at the Kelpies, just a 5k this time so need to get my speed challenge in the bag...

Sandraj39 profile image
Sandraj39Half Marathon

Another Flapjack runner! It really is the way to go; will you link to your recipe please - will it make me as fast as you??😉 Huge congratulations on your great run and fantastic time! I really loved reading your race report ( you clearly love to write!)🙂

Sqkr profile image
SqkrHalf Marathon in reply to Sandraj39

Is that a polite way of saying 'that's very long' 🤣

And absolutely, I hope to make my version 2 flapjacks this weekend, and will definitely post up my recipe once I'm happy. It's just riffing off the recipe linked here a couple of weeks ago, but I love to hear variations of things so it would be brill to get a few more flavour and combination ideas going round!

pinkaardvark profile image
pinkaardvarkHalf Marathon

Great run and writeup sqkr. Made me feel a bit homesick, even for the horizontal rain 😁. I don't think I could have been in Pollok country park without popping in for a look round the burrel though 😊. It's amazing that you can get so far and back during a run. I would find all the shower tents and mascot slapping and free gels slung a bit terrifying though. Happy with a paper cup of water every 5k.

Sqkr profile image
SqkrHalf Marathon in reply to pinkaardvark

Drinking from a cup results in abject failure and embarrassment for me when running, I've no coordination at all it turns out! 😅 I'd definitely recommend it as a good way to take in a bit of nostalgia if ever you decide to tackle a freebie-and-mascot-sized race 😊

Whatsapp profile image
WhatsappHalf Marathon

Well done. Interesting about the effect of the race fuelling. Placebo or real I wonder? Actually I wouldn't care ewither way. Looking to embark on another half and wonder if fuelling, which I dodn't do last time, might help me as I faded back towards the end.

ju-ju- profile image

wow fabulous run and such a good time too, well done!!! I will eagerly watch for the special flapjack recipe, and yum, I drink green tea by the gallon, its lush. And as for the pics, wwow you look fantastic, and so happy and fresh too :)

AntSharpe profile image
AntSharpeHalf Marathon

Brilliant run, fabulous report, glad you tried gels, I couldn't do it without them, and forced 3 down on my HM. They are weird, I actually feel like I chew mine!

Sounds lovely! Very inspiring, thx 😊

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