Taken with my iPhone23 prototype's "dream capture (tm)" mode

Taken with my iPhone23 prototype’s “dream image capture ™” mode

And the winner of the Highland Perthshire Half Marathon is …. Mock Jo… Ugh .. What time is it? iPhone battery drained… Fuelband still working… Shit! 20 mins late.

And thus began the race before the race; the race to get to the start line on time. Family up and dressed, downstairs to the MacDonald Loch Rannoch restaurant for breakfast in double quick time (museli, fruit coulis, dried banana, milk and coffee for me). Then a drive Colin McRae would have been proud of to get to the start at Wade’s Park in Aberfeldy before the full marathon set out at 9am, blocking cars from getting in to the parking field.

I just made it, and parked the car. With 15 minutes before the half marathon field was due to assemble, the toilet queue was looking touch and go. I decided to risk the touch, so to speak, and joined the queue. I made it out with 7 mins to go and dashed back to the car to get changed. I know I should have changed before arriving, but the weather forecast was changing every 10 minutes and I had no idea what to wear. The short dash back to the car featured a heavy shower turning to bright sunshine.

I had brought my entire running wardrobe, which, admittedly, is not very extensive. I decided to go for one upper body layer with long sleeves, tight shorts and loose shorts over them. A relatively good choice, as it turned out, as the rain stayed away. If I had gone with the second waterproof layer I would have been cooked. First I had to attach the race number. With the seconds counting down in my head I managed to attach the number to the back of the shirt. Idiot. Start again, this time with mild panic beginning to set in.

HPM paradeI got back into the back of the car to change, trying to shield my modesty from the ladies in the car next door. One minute before we were due to assemble, I tried to exit the car. Childproof f^&$@ing locks! Who put those on?? OK, I did. After climbing out via the drivers door a voice on the PA announced that the race would be delayed by about 15 minutes. With a sigh of relief, I let my heart-rate slow down and casually joined the other runners, like I had planned it just so.

Pipers led the march as the runners and assembled guests made their way from Wade’s Park to the start point at Craggs Corner. What a stylish way to start a race! This was a first for me – a great way to get the race vibe going and engender some camaraderie amongst the runners. I lined up in my now-customary mid-pack position and was delighted when the young lady next to me mentioned that she reads the blog and had also run the Dundee half. Buoyed with a big smile, the hooter sounded and off we went.

DullThe first 4-odd miles were flat, along the B846. The roads were not closed and the occasional car passed in both directions. At 2.5 miles we passed the signpost for the village of Dull (paired with Boring, Oregon), which raised a smile. I would love to meet the person who brokered that pairing deal.

My game plan this time was to run the race in three stages, similar to the Haddington Half Marathon, getting progressively faster. I was running at a steady 8:40 pace and felt comfortable. The only obvious sign of the cold I had earlier in the week was the greater than normal amount of snot I had to cope with.

Mile 1: 8:36
Mile 2: 8:42
Mile 3: 8:40
Mile 4: 8:40

We turned left and headed down country road towards Kenmore. We had to avoid some puddles and a big dumping of what I believe was horse-shit. Either that, or one of the more advanced runners had gone for the pre-race ultimate carb loading experience and something had gone badly wrong. Trying not to dwell on that thought, I passed the 5 mile marker and picked up the pace a little.

Kenmore HotelTaymouth castle entranceAround 6 miles we entered the picturesque village of Kenmore. Plenty of support here from the locals, and, as we passed “the oldest Inn in Scotland” and headed into the grounds of Taymouth Castle estate, we were offered jelly babies, which I was forced to decline as another runner was in the way and I didn’t want to slow down. It was about now that it dawned on me that, not only was the course scenery very appealing, but the race organisation and marshalling were both top notch.

Mile 5: 8:37
Mile 6: 8:17

Taymouth castleAnd then it got even better, as we ran through the exquisite grounds of Taymouth Castle, past the building itself and its golf-course-in-preparation. It was an effort not to just stop and take in the scenery. As I had picked up the pace, I started passing some other runners. This is another part of running a negative split that is important to me. It is psychologically beneficial to gradually wind in and pass other runners. It is like you can absorb some of their energy as you pass. It gives me more of a boost than a gel.

The course had been fairly flat up to now, but at 8 miles we hit an energy-sapping hill exiting the estate and joining the A827 back towards Aberfeldy. I pushed hard and it didn’t slow me down too much. I was thanking, not for the first time, my Holyrood Park training runs. After the climb we had a long gradual decline to compensate.

Mile 7: 8:24
Mile 8: 8:14
Mile 9: 8:42
Mile 10: 7:52

At this point I was happy with 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 different race. With fatigue setting in, and none of the euphoria I had found the last time, it came down to a gritty last 3 miles. I consciously didn’t look at my Garmin at all for the latter part of the race. I wanted to beat my best time and was grinding it out as hard as I could. I didn’t want to know if my pace was off.

Mile 11: 8:12
Mile 12: 8:24

I was still passing some runners but got passed myself by a lady wearing a Highland Perthshire Marathon T-shirt, and a guy wearing a yellow waterproof jacket. I couldn’t keep up with them.

High 5Then a sharp left turn, over the bridge and we were back in to Wade’s Park. I heard Jr. Mockjogger 1 shouting Dad! and I high 5’d him and, 10 metres later, his brother. As I ran towards the line I heard the race announcer call “Finishing strong, number 399, Mike Wilson”. I was so happy to hear the “finishing strong” comment I nearly veered off before the line to give him a big hug. Then I was over the line, stopped the Garmin, and knew I had a sub-1:50, new PB.

Mile 13 (technically 0.98 mile according to the Garmin): 8:13

WaterA medal was thrust in my hand (very original, with a guy running in front of a girl, hope that didn’t upset anyone), and I was pointed towards a guy with a computer. He printed off a receipt showing my finish time and pointed me towards the Event Control caravan where I was issued with a hand written certificate. Now that is slick. None of the larger franchised races I have run so far have been able to turn around an official result in real time.

Race resultEveryone was smiling. I grabbed a cup of tea and acquired two donuts, banana, apple and cake for the Jr. Mockjoggers. Just as I was sneaking out with the donuts I met Kat @katsav who I have been following on twitter – it’s great to meet fellow runners from the blog and twitter, and that gave me another big smile!

More from my iPhone23 prototype's dream capture mode. This feature has wings.

More from my iPhone23 prototype’s dream capture mode. This feature has wings.

The race day experience was not over yet. First, I headed back to the local leisure centre for a shower and a complimentary leg massage, a melt-like experience in its own right. When I become The Leader the second thing I will do, after sanctioning the use of certain headphones in races, is to obligate all race organisers to provide post-race leg massages. Later in the evening the whole family went along to the ceilidh organised by the race.

hpm certificateSo, while being more expensive than many half marathon races at £27, this one provided more than enough value to justify it’s price tag. Without doubt my favourite race so far, with the prettiest course and the best organisation, it is already pencilled into my calendar for next year. But next time hopefully the full marathon, two loops of the circuit.

Official Result

Time: 1:49:37
Position: 92/236
Gender: 70/116
Category: 16/21

Results Here

  1. TartanJogger says:

    Great review: love the vivid description of the manure-or-other!
    Well done on the PB! 😀

    • mockjogger says:

      Thanks! I must admit I had to work hard to put that manure thought out of my mind for the rest of the race. My next couple of races are in the city, so should be safer on that front 🙂

  2. John Hutcheon says:

    Good review, and totally agree with your comments on the race. Very well organised and friendly event in lovely countryside. You passed me just after the 11 mile marker (I recognised the ‘mockjogger’ monicker from Haddington) and I tried, unsuccessfully, to keep pace with you to the finish. Ended up 20 seconds behind you, just beating the 1hr50m mark for the first time.