The marathon is not a race that I’ve ever really enjoyed, even back when I used to run road races regularly. The distance is so ubiquitous that performances are compared without reference to the different terrain or weather conditions. My best marathon was at London in 2004 when I ran 3.57, my worst was over 6 hours at Glencoe in 2012. These races are not in any way comparable other than the distance, but when you tell someone you ran a marathon, the distance is the only reference for most; when you tell them you’ve run an ultra the reaction is different.
However, on Sunday, I drove to Loch Katrine to take part in the sprint part of the Loch Katrine Running Festival, 26.2 somewhat undulating miles along Loch Katrine and I have to confess I smiled for the entire race.
Loch Katrine holds a special place in my heart, having spent school trips, Scout camps and walking breaks there in my youth, so when my friend told me about the race I was keen to take part. The race was organised as a one off fund raising venture for but proved to be so popular that it has become a fixture on the running calendar. My intention had been to run as a training run and test my nutrition, hydration and pack for the West highland Way race, however it didn’t quite go to plan.
A somewhat hairy drive over the Dukes Pass with snow and black ice prior to registration made me somewhat nervous about the race and the extreme cold when I registered had me questioning my choice of shorts and vest for running in. However, the sun was beginning to warm the day up as the race started and I decided against wearing my buff and gloves.
I felt relaxed and comfortable over the first mile and realised that I was running faster than intended. I slowed slightly for mile 2 but still felt comfortable and decided to race. Running along the loch side was gorgeous, with the snow covered peaks smiling down. As the course undulated along, I ticked off the turning point for the 10k and the half marathon and my next goal was the top of the loch at the 10 mile point which I hit in sub 1.30. At this point, I was looking out for the front runners heading back towards the finish and was soon spotted Dr Andrew Murray running back.
I hit the halfway point at PB pace and began the homeward leg with a focus on a PB, and maintained that pace for the next 6 miles. About 19 miles I could feel the wheels coming of and my pace slowed by a couple of minutes a mile as I struggled to push myself towards the end. I crossed the line in 4.21, an excellent time for the course, to be given my medal and a hug by race director Audrey McIntosh.
I was initially disappointed with myself for dropping the pace in those last few miles, I was running on empty, but I should have been ok, I’d been eating well and taking on fluid. Having reflected on my performance, trying to maintain a pace I haven’t trained for over the distance had depleted my energy reserves and had had built a large glycogen deficit. I was craving sweetness and drinking my electrolyte solution to try and replace it. Of course I was using a zero calorie solution so that wasn’t achieving anything. Foolishly I had Cliff Shot Blocs in my pack but never even thought to use them.
PS I did get a few pictures but I’m having some technical difficulties uploading them onto the blog. That’s what happens when you buy a camera off eBay.
My training has been going well this month and I’m on track for another 300 km month. I’ve broken my Parkrun PB and my young son has gotten seriously into Parkrun and beats his PB on an almost weekly basis, I’m going to struggle to stay in front of him at this rate.
I’m using my big event over the next year or so to raise money for COPS, please use the button to donate via justgiving. I have a couple of fund rising ideas that I’ll unleash in the next few weeks so please dig deep. £1 from every reader would destroy my target.