An early entrant in my race calendar, the Great Scottish Run was a race I had been looking forward to for a long time. 12,000 people, a city route, crowds yelling support and live TV coverage capturing the whole thing. That, and I was lining up alongside Haile Gebrselassie. It was going to be like the Christmas days of old.

Great Scottish Run tweets @mockjogger YOU CAN DO IT MIKE!  #greatscottishrun

Great Scottish Run tweets @mockjogger YOU CAN DO IT MIKE! #greatscottishrun

My participation had been in doubt after I developed a sore hip, later diagnosed as ITBS, during a training run three and a half weeks before the race. After a complete running layoff, a lot of stretching and a newly-formed masochistic relationship with a foam roller, I tried a couple of gentle runs in the week leading up to the event. A few seconds of my 15 minutes of fame were consumed by a “you can do it” tweet from the race organisers captured on the race website. How could I not run after that? The day before the race, with some elation, I pronounced myself good to go. As if Haile needed the challenge.

Race day started pretty inauspiciously. I hadn’t slept well; concern about lasting the distance was dancing a tango with my sleep cells. A breakfast of cereal and blueberries was followed by a 20 minute walk to the train station. The first train of the day had been cancelled and so mine was chocked full of 10K and Half Marathon runners. More shenanigans was to follow when the train stopped in the middle of nowhere and the Scotrail announcer declared a delay with unknown arrival time n Glasgow. I had some time to spare, but plenty of 10K runners were getting fairly stressed as their start time was looming. At this point I found something useful to do with Twitter:

The train finally arrived 25 minutes after the start of the 10K and I witnessed a great display of joined up thinking by Scotrail and the Great Scottish Run organisers. The ticket barriers were opened with no checks, letting the 10k folks exit the station like it was on fire, to find that the race organisers had set up an extra start wave to let them compete after all. Nice one.

One gripe about this race is that it has no bag drop at the start. I could have left my bag in left luggage at the train station, but I was heading for beer right after the race ended. So I walked 15 minutes from George Square to Glasgow Green, munching a Stoats apple & cinnamon porridge bar, made strategic use of the toilets in MacDonalds, dropped my bag and walked back to the start.

View backwards from the start as the mass ranks gather in the green zone

View backwards from the start as the mass ranks gather in the green zone

The race has three start waves – elites and white-labelled fast runners; normal green-labelled runners; and slightly slower pink-labelled runners. I made my way to a start point about 50m back from the front of the green pen and looked round at the hordes of people collected in a human train around George Square, all set to go. Taking great care to stretch my legs while trying not to look like a ballerina I waited for the start. Five minutes to go, I pressed random start on the race playlist, and couldn’t hear a thing over the PA which was thumping out a warm-up. The warm up music really wasn’t working for me and I wanted to get into my own music zone, but it was not to be. Despite the huge number of runners and the enthusiastic MCing I felt strangely flat. I just wanted to get started and feel the legs working.

Four minutes to go and 10,000 Garmin’s reached hopefully towards those elusive, invisible satellites. And, with perfect choreography, fell back down again as the announcer declared a 15 minute delay to the start. My mood went from flat to grumpy. I was disappointed. I had built myself up for this one and I just couldn’t capture the vibe.

Then the elite runners were announced, the first gun went and they were released. About 10 minutes later, the green zone was shuffled through to the start and off we went.

The start. That's me in the red circle. Really. (Photo courtesy BBC)

The start. That’s me in the red circle. Really. (Photo courtesy BBC)

I knew I should take it easy for the first few minutes to make sure the legs were stretched and working fine, and was grateful when the sheer volume of runners and the uphill start along St Vincent Street combined in a natural antidote to my urge to bolt like a rabbit out of the trap. The centre of Glasgow is an impressive place and as we passed Finnieston Street, with a good amount of vocal support, I remembered how much I like big city races. The legs were fine, and without really thinking about it, as we went over the Kingston Bridge, I began to pick up the pace.

Mile 1: 8:50
Mile 2: 8:20
Mile 3: 8:25

My good mood was short-lived. Now that I could actually hear my music, the random DJ gods were throwing up a fairly mundane selection. I just wasn’t in the mood for rave. This coincided with a race route which left the city centre and headed out through some fairly run-down commercial zones. Linkin Park – Don’t Stay improved things as we found ourselves moving along Paisley Road West in the opposite direction to the white runners heading back along the same road. Some people like this connection in a race. I don’t. I would rather not see how many people are already out there in front running faster than me. Then we broke away from the road and took in some nice scenery around Bellahouston Park before re-joining Paisley Road West in time to see some of the pink runners running where we were a few minutes ago.

Mile 4: 8:32
Mile 5: 8:55
Mile 6: 8:12
Mile 7: 8:17

In my previous half marathons at Haddington and Highland Perthshire I have deliberately set off quite slowly then gradually picked up the pace. This time, in my joy at actually running again, I had forgotten all about that, and at this point my pace was quick, for me. Then, around the mile 7 marker, I began to feel a tightness in my right leg. My first thought was “Oh no”. My second was “Well, I’ve passed the half way point so if I have to walk, at least I’ll be walking forward to the finish not back to the start”. Fortunately by the 9th mile the tightness had abated and I felt optimistic that I could finish the race running. The route took us round Festival Park and across the stylish Clyde Arc bridge before heading past the new Hydro venue and the Clyde Auditorium, then a loop around the Riverside Museum (a Jr. Mockjogger favourite) which hosted the 10 mile marker, and back along Pointhouse Road. Not a bad show, Glasgow.

Mile 8: 8:24
Mile 9: 8:12
Mile 10: 8:34

My feeling of relief with the abating of the leg muscle tightness was soon to be replaced by one of fatigue. Two things suddenly dawned on me at the same time. First, I hadn’t run this far for a month and second, I’d run the first part of the race quickly. I was starting to look for the mile markers now and was struggling to keep the pace up. As we reached Anderson Quay I did not take the option of a run-through shower, and even the sight of Glasgow Green up ahead was not enough of a boost for me. I was simply running out of steam. The crowd numbers picked up as we past the 12 mile marker and headed into the park for the final run in. I heard the announcer call my name amongst a list of others, then I passed through the finish line, deposited my race chip, collected my swag bag (the best so far, complete with T shirt, quality medal and chocolate) and headed back to collect my bag.

Mile 11: 8:32
Mile 12: 8:55
Mile 13: 9:23
Run in pace: 9:00

Still standing after the finish

Still standing after the finish

All in all this was a race of contrasts for me. Perhaps I had been looking forward to it too much, or was too worried about whether I would be able to finish it, but I didn’t really got the vibe. The route itself showed some of the best Glasgow has to offer, but also some mundane treks through run-down commercial zones and near the M8. Many areas had sparse support, but the start and finish were both huge. In any case, I hope this is the last time you hear the term “ITBS” from me.

One final highlight was to come, as I let google guide me to WEST where I had a pre-arranged tweet-up with two giants of the running-blog scene: Jemma, aka @jemmasaid and Matt, aka @angryjogger. As it turned out, in real life one was more of a giant than the other;) After a couple of beers in great company chewing over races past, present and future, I headed back to the train station and home.

Official Result

Time: 1:53:21
Position: 3540/8902
Gender: 2930/TBA
Age Group: 214/TBA

  1. TartanJogger says:

    Great report; glad you enjoyed your beer in WEST- the best way to celebrate!

    • mockjogger says:

      Absolutely! All races should have a mandatory watering hole within 500m of the finish line. Thats’s 3rd on my list of things to sort out when I become THE LEADER (after headphones and mandatory post-race massages).

  2. I agree about races where the route doubles back on itself: I hate seeing how far back I am, but then when I’m on the other side, I like seeing how many people are slower than me. Fiercely competitive as always!

    Great race considering such low mileage leading up to it! Hope your ITBS will become dormant, just noticed you’ve got many races lined up for next year! And I won’t be at a single one 😉

  3. mockjogger says:

    I still have gaps to fill on the race calendar and have no doubt I’ll be shouting boo! during a race some time next year! Probably as you pass me 🙂

  4. juliaL49 says:

    Ha, I was on that same train and the toilet queue was an interesting thing to watch (unless you were in it at number 21 or so).

    I was just about to say that I beat you by 6 seconds but then I looked up my time and it was 1:55:15 – two minutes slower than I had been thinking all these past months…