Richard Dennis was largely responsible for making me do this - well RD and also Michael Geoghegan. It was Michael's idea for us to enter in the 1st place, way back in whenever entries opened and it was Richard that told me that I should do it just because my blog is getting boring...That stung a wee bit. When I saw it was going to be sunnier in the east than the west today I did hanker a bit for a bit of a beach run - but we were committed to the adventure of trying to get somehow to the South side of Glasgow and run six parks in 16 miles.
We only went really wrong once on the way there - turning prematurely onto the M74 and having to come off, turn around, get back on the M8 and try again a bit further down the road. Getting to the Queen's Park involved a bit of shouting but nothing too bad. We got there with 45 minutes in hand, plenty of time to find registration, get signed in, chat to folk, go and look at the big fish in the glasshouses etc. Because we were in glasshouses for registration (we didn't throw stones, haha) it was nice and warm which made the thought of stripping down to a vest and then running like that outside all the less appealing. A triathlete looking lady came up to me and said I was very "brave" for just wearing a vest. As we all know, when people say you're being brave what they mean is that you're being stupid. "Brave" was exactly what the committee said about my dissertation when I was an English student many moons ago. Anyway, the triathlete lady's comment made me decide to definitely wear just a vest and be damned. I never really thought about it again so I guess it was the right decision.
It was a good day for running, fairly windless, although a bit grey and the air was cold and damp. I don't remember ALL that much about the race. If I hadn't known that I was going to a series of parks I could have fallen for the notion that we were maybe doing laps of a couple of parks with some daring road sections in between. I had no sense of where I was at any time. In fact I began to muse about what I would do if I suddenly had to drop out, because I didn't know where I was, didn't know where I needed to get to, don't know Peter's phone number...it was a bit of a thought. I thought maybe the best thing to do would be to ask someone to let my use their i-phone and email Peter's brother and ask him to phone Peter for me. That might work.
Some people were racing me a bit I think, and I was not knowingly racing them back, but swapped places with a triathlon looking bloke a couple of times. (Triathlete because he was wearing dark glasses on a cloudy day and was carrying a bottle of energy drink. Triathletes never leave hydration and nutrition to chance.)
Talking of nutrition and all that, it had been a long time since breakfast and I found I was fading a bit. A few of the marshals had boxes of sweets so I thought I would take advantage. They were sports mixturey sweeties - the really tough ones. I wasn't sure if they would release any sugar into my system any time soon - but I had a couple of fried eggs anyway. Attempts to chew them didn't go well and threatened to choke me so I swallowed them down whole. I'm not sure they helped.
I was preferring the bits in the parks by far - especially when it was off-road, but there was some entertainment to be had with hair-raising road crossings. I thought the number of people who slowed or stopped to let us cross was surprising (I don't think it would happen in Edinburgh) and in general people were very nice and tended to cheer us on. There were lots of marshals out on the course and lots and lots of arrows showing us the way.
Quite late on - in which ever park has the Burrell Collection, I caught up to Neil Jones of Dunbar, who had slowed down to have a gel. He warned me the next bit was tough - and indeed it was - there was a rather circuitous route round and then up a flight of steps. I thought maybe Neil was tired because he ran the Amsterdam marathon just a couple of week's ago so didn't really expect to see him again - but see him I did as he bounced past me up the steps! I was in touch with him for the next few miles, sometimes catching up, sometimes falling behind, and it was good to have a focus. While following and not really trying to catch Neil I passed quite a few other folk so I guess we'd both raised our game.
My Garmin was bleeping out the miles later than others around me so I guessed I had under-measured somehow so far and held the hope that the end was nearer than I thought. I was still surprised, with my Garmin only showing 15 and a half miles when Neil indicated the final slog up a hill, complete with more steps. My legs started to burn as I tried to run hard up hill - it wasn't really happening, and Neil, who clearly likes steps, pulled away easily. Still, it was good to be finishing. Peter was there taking photos and telling me I could run faster. I didn't waste my breath telling him that I could not. And then, thankfully, it was over.
Peter was excitable, having come in 4th and first older gent. He also had a bloody scrape on his knee which was encrusted with mud which I tried to wash out with my bottled water. He was resistant however, saying I was getting his shoes wet. I gave it a scrub out later in the glasshouse.
So, what was best about today, I would say, was the general fun of seeing other runners and swapping stories. I quite liked the running and definitely ran faster than I would if I was on my own. There was a good post-race feed and the whole event had the feel of something organised by runners for runners with the intention of making it a good, memorable race, not making a profit.
On the way home we got lost again, this time more severely. We had a bit of trouble getting back on the M74 but when we did we made the mistake of relaxing...when we saw we were following signs for Edinburgh we thought we were home and dry...but we must have missed our turn-off because after a while we realised that we were no longer seeing signs for Edinburgh - only Stirling and Kincardine Bridge. After a bit of swearing we made our peace with having a drive in the late afternoon sunshine....
I hope you are happy RD.