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The omens for this race were good. Sex/age categorisation had placed me in the Supervet section. How cool is that? It’s like I can swoop down and cure all the animals the ordinary doctors don’t know what to do about. The dinner before the race was a perfect pasta/beef combo. And it was a quite-chilly 15 degrees, overcast with a light breeze, if a little muggy. Considering the forecast was around 25 degrees and sunny, that was a result.

I arrived at the start point at Camperdown Park, Dundee, an hour before the off. After dusting the Crete beach sand off my Mizunos, I headed over to the start point and picked up my number. No queues here or at the toilets at this time. Corralling was random. The race organiser used a megaphone to encourage those with faster expected times to line up towards the front. I stayed around the middle of the pack. And then, without much fuss, we were shuffling forward to the start gate and off. And thus started a Half of two halves. Or maybe that should be quarters? Anyway, the first part of the race wound it’s slinky way mainly through trails and meadows, up, down, round and round. A cool breeze in the shade. A good part of the second half involved a seemingly endless path alongside a highway with Mr Sun getting his hat on and letting us know about it.

The start. I'm way back in the pack somewhere.

The start. I’m way back in the pack somewhere.

After a short run through the park we were suddenly funnelled into a narrow trail path going up through the woods. There was room for 2-3 max to run beside each other and, as there had been no time for the pack to sort itself out for pace, there was a fair amount of jostling and general mayhem as faster runners tried to find a way around the slower runners. Anyway, the combination of hill and narrow path resulted in a slow start. After reaching the top of the hill, the path and runners spread out.

Mile 1 split: 9.46
Mile 2 split: 8.36

Near the top of the first trail section at Templeton Woods. I look like I'm about to nut the guy in front. Photo: John Mill

Near the top of the first trail section at Templeton Woods. Photo: John Mill

I had put out my race target the evening before and I was shooting for 1:56. With the slow start I had a compelling desire to push on and bring my average pace down. After two miles we emerged from the woods onto pavement and a long decline and I promptly overcompensated for the slow start by putting in two sub-8 miles. This is the first time I’ve been sub 8 in a race, but it was a long downhill after all:)

At this point on the course it was my pleasure to meet Rhona, aka Red Wine Runner whose report on the 2012 Edinburgh R&R half marathon helped motivate me to enter my first race. Thankfully we were running downhill and I could get a few words out.

Mile 3 split: 7.44
Mile 4 split: 7.55
Mile 5 split: 8.28

My race plan was to reproduce the negative split I had at the #virtual10miler three weeks ago. However, race adrenaline, running downhill, and a desire to compensate for a slow start had pushed my pace on too far and I was ahead of time. I hadn’t run since returning from Crete, which meant I hadn’t run more than 3.5 miles for about three weeks, and doubts crept into my head. I started trying to reign it in a little. but the adrenaline was still flowing and the average pace monitor was sticking resolutely to 8:32.

Mile 6 split: 8.32
Mile 7 split: 8.44

And then the second half of the race began. Back onto the pavement and, right on cue, the clouds parted and out came Mr Sun. I took on some water around the 8 mile point and then we were heading up the Arbroath Road and a slight incline that seemed to go on for-e-ver, but was in fact about 2 miles. Compared with the scenery and variety of the trail section a the start, I found this part pretty monotonous. The heat didn’t bother me though. Maybe I was getting some payback for those early morning 3 milers in Crete.

Mile 8 split: 8.39
Mile 9 split: 8.43
Mile 10 split: 8.45
Mile 11 split: 9.00

At the 11 mile point we turned right towards the sea and Broughty Beach, via a housing area. I was struggling a bit at this point and thoughts of putting in a negative split were fading. But my pace hadn’t suffered too much with the endless incline and I know a PB was on the cards if I could just keep going. I’d like to thank the man spraying water over the fence just before 12 miles. It was so refreshing I almost stopped to dance in it. All too quickly though, we were through and running parallel to the beach, and the end was in sight.

Mile 12 split: 8.09
Mile 13 split: 8.35
Run in pace:  8.29

MedalGarmin stopped under 1:53. The race is timed to the starting gun, with only individual finish times recorded which added a bit to give me an official time of 1:53:06 and a new PB!

A pretty cool medal and a goody back with water and some energy stuff were thrust into my hands, and then I sat down in the shade to recover, just long enough to miss a bus back to the start point. I found myself sitting in the next bus for far too long with no air conditioning and a bunch of over-expiring runners. My sweat glands hit maximum warp, and whoever finds themselves in seat 3A of that bus on its next journey will be swimming along. The seats were cramped. After about 20 minutes on the bus it arrived back at Camperdown Park and my legs and knees were so stiff I almost didn’t make it down the steps.

Overall a great race and one that I will look forward to doing again. I quite enjoyed the insanity of the first bottleneck section. The only negative point is that long incline beside the Arbroath Road. Water came in plastic cups rather than bottles, and no tee-shirt, but given the low entry fee that’s fine.

My gamin tells me there was a net drop of about 120m which will have contributed to the PB.

Official Result:

Position: 310/755
Category (Super Vets): 33/71
Time: 1:53:06

Elevation

  1. Fiona Edwards says:

    Enjoyed your blog Mike. I live half a mile away from the bridge over to the beach so it was interesting to hear your descriptions of the area.

    It is also good to hear other runners experiences of my local race.

    Keep up your writing!

    Fiona

    • mockjogger says:

      Thanks Fiona. Nice place to live. I hadn’t been to Dundee for some time and was surprised at how vibrant it was. I’ll be back.

  2. Congratulations on the PB.

    I’ve been running for about 5 years now and this is the first year I’ve noticed the effects of running with “Mr Sun”. I reckon getting a PB in recent conditions should count as an extra-special performance.

    • mockjogger says:

      Cheers! The heat seems to suit me for some reason. I’m quite happy plodding along there soaking up the rays.

  3. Leon Ramsay says:

    I incorporate what was Miles 3->5 on many of my training routes . The feeling running down this part (after always having run uphill to get to that point) is quite liberating, always gives me a buzz & leaves me running with a smile… I feel lucky with the choice & variety of routes in Dundee but that stretch up Arbroath Road is one I’ve only completed a few times as it is quite soul destroying.
    Your splits from 9 miles onwards were very similar to my own. Well done on your PB!

    • mockjogger says:

      Yeah, that was a nice long downhill. I read once that “downhills are free” and its a mantra I employ all the time now. It’s only after bottoming out I tend to remember that what goes down, must come up, so to speak.

  4. Great report, and well done on the PB! It was lovely to meet you and I was so chuffed and flattered to hear what you said about motivating you to race. Thanks for stopping by for a chat 🙂

  5. mockjogger says:

    Thanks Rhona – I look forward to a few more mid-race chats down the line. Hopefully around mile 20 if I make the step up to the full monty.