Oddly enough, my last few posts have all been 5K race reports, but that really sums up my recent running exploits. I should really start to build my mileage again soon ready for my autumn races, but after my success in Clermont whilst on holiday, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to test myself over 5K once home in more “familiar” weather and this local Jog Scotland event offered the perfect opportunity.
I actually received an email telling me about this one while I was still away, so even while writing my last post I had it in mind that I might enter this race (the promise of chip timing, a medal and a running belt in the goody bag certainly sweetened the deal!) and at only £14 with my Scottish Athletics membership (with no travelling since it was practically on my doorstep) a bargain too. So I signed up.
Organised by Jog Scotland and GSI Events (who also organise events such as the Edinburgh Marathon Festival, Kilomathon and Big Fun Run among others) this was part of a series of 4 events taking place over the weekend: Aberdeen and Perth on Saturday then Edinburgh and Glasgow on Sunday. The 4 races were timed in such a way that one would be the morning and one the early evening on each day, so it would be possible to take part in all 4 (and quite a few people were). Entering online was really straightforward, particularly since my details are already held from previous events so it was a simple case of just confirming everything. Final details were available to download from the website and I got my confirmation email immediately. All I needed to do was turn up and collect my race number at the start area as I had entered too late to have it sent out.
Steve decided not to take part in this one as he is marathon training right now and had a long run planned for the next day, however he was still involved as he has worked with GSI events previously so he was asked to do the warm up and be the lead cyclist. Since he had to go to support me (and hold my jacket!) he said yes straight away.
To be honest, I had no idea what to expect from this one in terms of numbers or abilities of runners. Most of the marshalls were from my running club but that didn’t necessarily mean there wouldn’t be any really speedy people there. As it turned out the field was quite small at around 60 runners – good news in terms of getting plenty of space to run but not so good if everyone else was really fast and I was the last one home! There were certainly a few “serious” looking people there, but equally a fair few who looked like they would likely be jogging/walking the route.
The route for this one was all too familiar: start at the George Duncan athletics track, run down to the North Inch (about a kilometre), run one lap (another couple of kilometres or so) then return to the track on a different path to create a loop overall. Straightforward enough and flat as a pancake, even if running around the Inch is not my favourite thing to do!
After Steve’s warm up we were called over to the start line to get into position. Initially, I selected my usual spot kind of in the middle, but then I had a look around me. I clocked one whippet-thin racing snake at the front who I thought would win (he did) and another guy from my running club who I knew would likely be right behind him (he was). There were also a couple of women who looked reasonably serious, but nobody else who had elected to start at the front looked like they would be hugely faster than me. I bit the bullet and wormed my way to the front – what was the worst thing that could happen?
5…4…3…2…1 and we were off. As we left the track and headed down past some cottages towards the Inch, there were people flying past me. Could they maintain the pace? A quick check of my watch told me I was going too fast so I tried to settle into my pace and by the time the first mile was done I was comfortably passing the same people who were now slowing down (although the leaders were quite far ahead already). Mile 1 in 7:51. A little fast but I was aiming to be around 8 to 8:15 per mile so not disastrous.
It was a windy evening and as I ran down one side of the Inch the wind was swirling around me. This was briefly punctuated by some raindrops (which lasted a minute at most – good old Scottish summertime!) then as I turned to run up the other side of the Inch by the river it was like somebody turned the wind off. All of a sudden it felt very warm, much warmer than it had been during the day, and a bit tougher to run. Mile 2 in 8:07. Pretty much on pace.
My pace suffered a bit in mile 3 though. As soon as I stepped off the Inch onto the paths by the golf course I ran into a headwind and it was “head down and battle on” time. Running club friends who were marshalling were calling out encouragement and telling me my position, but I couldn’t hear them properly as their words were lost to the winds. I was running just as hard but I knew I wasn’t moving as quickly: mile 3 in 8:21. Not ideal but definitely affected by conditions.
By this point, I was getting excited. My mile splits in Clermont were 8:30, 8:26, 8:26 so I was looking good for a PB. All I had to do was keep moving for the last 0.1 to the finish and I had it.
Except it wasn’t 0.1 miles to the finish. There was a small loop by some houses just before returning to the track and by the time I crossed the line my Garmin was reading 3.28 miles. Gutting. My best ever 5K performance and my official time of 26:41 wouldn’t actually be a PB after all, even though both Garmin Connect and Fetch Everyone declared my 5K time to be 25:12 – a PB by 39 seconds! No point in getting upset about it though – at least I proved to myself that I could run faster, even if my official time didn’t reflect it. The better news for me was that I was 2nd female and 12th overall so a pretty decent performance (and I averaged 8:08 per mile which was right on target).
Crossing the finish line I was handed my medal, a bottle of water and a goody bag containing my running belt and the usual selection of samples and food. A good haul for the price I paid, however without my Scottish Athletics membership I would have paid much more for my late entry.
Overall, this was a well organised race and very accessible for anyone looking to take part in a race for the first time. Although the winner completed the course in around 19 minutes, there were still walkers finishing in 50-55 minutes so there was no intimidation, just plenty of encouragement to give it a go – the last finishers were cheered and applauded as much as the first. The price was certainly reasonable, however I would recommend entering early to get the best rate. My only quibbles would be with the inaccurate measuring of the course and with the fact that prizes were offered to the top 3 overall rather than to the top 3 male and top 3 female finishers. I’ll admit I probably wouldn’t have thought about this had I not finished 2nd female, but in most races the top 3 overall will likely be male, so this kind of excludes female runners from getting a prize unless they’re super speedy. It’s a small issue, but maybe something the organisers could consider for next time. As its happens, I did receive an email inviting me to provide feedback so I have had the opportunity to pass these ideas on. In my experience, GSI events do act to improve events based on the feedback they receive so I would have no hesitation in signing up for this event again next year. Perhaps some of you will join me…