Stretching with the Jr. Mockjoggers

Stretching with the Jr. Mockjoggers

The pre-race notes said “gently undulating”. They were right. There were not many flat sections on this route; just one gentle incline followed by a gentle decline, and repeat, with a couple of steeper ones thrown in to break it up. This was a gorgeous run through the East Lothian countryside around Haddington, complete with carefully cultivated fields and a genuine countryside smell. A smell that is OK once a year. I guess that is one of the reasons why I live in the city.

Gathering at the start line I was mildly intimidated by the number of club running vests on show. Definitely a higher club-runner-to-mock-jogger ratio than anything I have experienced before. Portobello Running Club vests were prominent, but the most visible by far were the dudes in bright orange and lime. I don’t know who they were, but if I ever join a running club, I want a kit like that.

As the field lined up at the start, I looked around at the club vests and moved back towards the rear of the field. The race announcer had no megaphone, so only the real racers in the front row heard anything. Suddenly there was a gunshot. I mean, like CRACK!. A few of us jumped, looked at each other in shock, then steadied and we were off.

Haddington half startThe first section was tough. There was a hill early on, which split the field. After 2 miles I found myself looking at a large group sailing off into the distance with a growing gap. I reckoned I must have been about 3/4 way down the pack at this point and it seemed a bit early for such a large gap to open. Glancing at the gamin my pace was sitting around 8:40.

Now I had a plan for this race. I wanted to repeat the negative split I had at the #virtual10miler; that is, to run the second half of the race faster than the first half. I like that way of running. So I was OK with 8:40, but found myself pushing on to keep the needle there. Doubts crept in. My recent training runs have been poor and I have struggled for pace. Now I was thinking that this was going the same way. I was getting passed by a few folks, yet maintaining a constant gap to the pack up front.

Mile 1 split: 8:26
Mile 2 split: 8:45
Mile 3 split: 8:43
Mile 4 split: 8:58

Somewhere during the 5th mile, something just seemed to click. I felt comfortable and ready to move it on. I have no idea what triggered this, but wish I did so that I could repeat it. Shortly afterwards I took my first gel, randomly selected by Jr. Mockjogger #2 as berry+caffeine and this re-enforced the vibe. I wanted to step it up.

Mile 5 split: 8:32
Mile 6 split: 8:15
Mile 7 split: 8:05

In the zone. Photo: Bob Marshall

In the zone. Photo: Bob Marshall

At the mid point I was cruising in a happy place. The weather was perfect – 16 degrees, cloud cover and a breeze. Maybe a slightly less violent breeze would have been better, but you cant have everything. I took on a few gulps of water and watched the average pace creep down towards 8:30. I started to catch folks. The big breakaway group at the start was coming back to me.

Mile 8 split: 8:31
Mile 9 split: 8:21
Mile 10 split: 8:18

At the 10 mile point I knew a PB was a possibility. I was totally comfortable. I pressed a little harder. I think I even sang out loud to some Megabass vs. Two Little Boys rave that popped up in the ‘phones. This state defines running for me. It was a surefire endorphin hit – runner’s high. At that moment, I was invincible. It didn’t matter who won the race, I was the centre of it.

Mile 11 split: 8:00
Mile 12 split: 8:28

… and back to reality. At mile 12 I passed @chriswardrope or so he tells me. I had the ‘phones on, in the zone, The Prodigy were playing and the man tells me I was not interruptible!

I do not recall a 13 mile marker. Perhaps there wasn’t one. I do remember wanting to finish strongly for my family and friends who were expecting me around 1:53. Heading back towards the finish at Neilson Park, up popped Garbage – Push It . Ideal!. When we hit the run in, I found I had something left in the tank. I stepped on the gas, high fived Jr. Mockjogger #1 with 10m to go and finished with a flourish and a sub 7 (yes, s-e-v-e-n) pace.

Mile 13 split: 8:02
Run in pace: 6:58

In some mania zone at the finish

In some mania zone at the finish

I checked the gamin. 1:50:35. A 2 minute PB. Alright! A medal and a bottle of water were thrust into my hand. Haddington rugby club had prepared a seriously enticing cake spread for the runners and I could see some of the early finishers getting stuck in. Maybe I’m odd but the last thing I wanted at that time was food. So the family gathered and we headed back to our friends’ Andrew and Vicky’s house (where we had invited ourselves and parked up) and after a decent interval had some of Vicky’s amazing home baking instead.

The Jr Mockjoggers are up in arms now though. “When is our next race, Dad?”. The competition in our home is growing.

Official Result

Time: 1:50:40
Position: 150/225
Category (V50): 27/38

Results Here

Reception committee

Reception committee

Of all the (five) races I have run so far, this was the friendliest. Organised by Haddington and East Lothian Pacemakers; from registration, the marshalling all through the race, and the tea and cake provided by the rugby club at the end, there were big smiles and encouragement at all times. This is a runner’s race, with no fun-jogging pretensions. The results show that. I was placed about 2/3 down the finish list; on pure percentage terms, the worst I have done, despite a 2 minute PB. The race is a hidden gem, and deserves more than the ~250 runners who gave it a go this year.

  1. Congrats on your PR, that’s awesome! And another well done on your sub-7:00 mile, your Garmin DOES go that low πŸ˜‰

    With regards to the smell of agriculture, that is a regular occurrence for me unfortunately, life in Aberdeenshire is like that.

    • mockjogger says:

      Yeah, my Garmin goes under 7 after all! Now I just have to repeat it. That’s the best I’ve done by some way and I hope I haven’t peaked.

  2. Chris says:

    Massive pb for you. Well done. That’s two years in a row I’ve pb`d this race, love it.
    I think the orange and lime vests belong to Carnegie Harriers over in Fife.

    • mockjogger says:

      Thanks Chris. Just checked the Carnegie Harriers website and I think you are right. I’d have loved to be on the committee who decided on that colour scheme πŸ™‚

  3. Pacemaker says:

    One of the important pieces of information you missed both in your pre race pack and at the start was that HEADPHONES are NOT allowed in events on OPEN Roads they are dangerous. You said yourself you were ‘In the Zone; hence you would not hear instructions from marshals or traffic.
    If you do join a club it is important you obey the rules. Marshals and organisers put themselves at risk for your safety. The least you can do is comply with the rules. Strictly speaking you should have been disqualified!!

    • mockjogger says:

      Thanks for taking the time to read the story and post a comment. By your name I guess you have something to do with the club. I’d like to come back on a couple of points.

      Firstly, I accept that the pre-race notes stated no headphones. This has also been the case on at least one other race I have run recently, but when questioned, the organisers of that one clarified that wearing headphones was “at the risk of the individual concerned”. While there was no reason for me to assume that Haddington race would follow the same principle, I guess I was not alone, as there were more than a few headphones out there.

      As far as I know, there was no mention made of headphones at the line up. If there was, no-one behind the first line of runners heard it, because the announcer did not have a megaphone or PA (as I mentioned in the post).

      The type of headphones I wear are the flat-over ear type. They let in a lot of ambient noise and were deliberately chosen so that I can hear traffic, hear and respect other runners and hear instructions. I don’t play music loudly. I wear the ‘phones when I am running in traffic in the city. i am happy to accept the risk of running with them in a race. I was able to hear every instruction during the race from marshals regarding directions etc.

      As for being in the zone, the endorphine-fuelled state I was in at that time would have happened whether I was wearing phones or not:) And, as mentioned already, I heard every instruction, flat-‘phones, runner’s high or both combined (except, of course, for the instructions at the start, and I wasn’t wearing ‘phones then).

      All that said, I respect the fact that marshals and organisers put themselves at risk for runner safety. I accept the fact that I have broken the rules and will seek to clarify the precise position on headphones for the race next year, if I am allowed back.

  4. […] The Haddington Half Marathon pre-race notes stated no headphones. There was no social media Q&A forum for pre-race discussion. I wore headphones. I was criticised for this on my race report. […]

  5. […] my time but was starting to tire. I was waiting for the runner’s high I had experienced at Haddington around this point in the race. I waited. I waited some more, but it was not to be. This was to be a […]