My husband is what is generally known as a ‘Reluctant Runner’. He doesn’t really enjoy it until it’s over and only really comes along to keep me company although, as he can’t string a sentence together when he’s running, he’s not much company at all! Last winter I asked him if he fancied training up to do the Great Winter Run and, much to my surprise, he said yes. The race itself came as a bit of a shock to him as it climbs Arthur’s Seat before it descends, but he did it in under 36 minutes. If I’m honest I was both proud and a bit shocked; when I started I couldn’t have achieved that! Come registration time I asked him again if he fancied it. He’d done another 5k since the last Great Winter Run, just a local one, and I wasn’t sure if he’d be up for another one. Again, to my surprise, he said yes.
Training has been intermittent. Hubbie hates our tiny treadmill, saying that it pains him to keep his feet close enough together so as not to hit the sides. What little training we did we managed by travelling into Dumfries or running up and down the village. It wasn’t really sufficient, but he could run for over 3 miles if we put in walk breaks every 3 minutes. That would have to do.
We always make a weekend of it, arriving the day before so that we can get settled into the hotel and suss out the buses. This time on Friday night we had a pasta meal (gluten free for me) at Bella Pasta before heading across to watch The Hobbit at the Vue in the Ocean Terminal at Leith. It’s a perfect arrangement.
The following morning we were up bright and early and breakfasted at 8am. The bus then picked us up right outside the hotel at half 9, delivering us safely at Holyrood at just before 10. The race was to start at 10:35, so we had just enough time to walk across to the bag drop off point and back to the start. Perfect timing thanks to the benefit of hindsight! Last year we’d got there a good hour ahead of time and gradually got colder and colder whilst we waited for the start.
Of course this year we knew what to expect – a climb for almost 3 km followed by a descent of 1.5 km and the last bit on the flat. Last year we had started at the back and found ourselves struggling to pass people who were walking up the hill. This year we had been given green numbers, a full tranche towards the front, and we made sure that we started further forward. If we were going to walk we knew that we would keep to the side, so as not to get in anyone’s way; some people are not so considerate and just walk wherever they stopped running. I find that kind of attitude selfish.
After a rather awkward warm up (really, we are packed in behind those fences – doing a full arm/leg workout is nigh on impossible without taking someone else’s eye (or worse) out) we set off. We ran a steady (slow) start and attacked the hill sensibly. Straight away the difference between my hubbie’s fitness level and mine showed itself; whilst I was happy to run uphill for the full 3 minutes, hubbie couldn’t and we took more walk breaks as he struggled to get his breath. I tried to be encouraging without making him feel as if he was letting me down. It’s a tough job being a coach!!
We did our first mile in 13:01 which, considering most it was up hill, wasn’t bad. The course starts to level out after a mile and this is where I wanted to make up time, but hubbie was still winded from the climb and taking longer walk breaks. I didn’t want to leave him behind so I tried to distract him with the fabulous view, the mileage countdown boards and Capital FM at the top of the hill! It didn’t work as well as I’d hoped and mile 2 came in slightly faster at 11:59.
Once we’d past the half way point we were heading down hill. It’s a rookie mistake to fight gravity. Let the hill take you down and lean slightly into it, I kept telling him. Leaning back just hurts your shins and knees! Mile 3 was far faster at 10:13. Great what a “bit of a hill” can do for you when you’re on its tail!
We crossed the line in an unofficial 36:43. It was slightly slower than last year which we clocked in 35:54, but at least hubbie didn’t look as if he was about to puke by the end! For someone who doesn’t “run”, rarely trains and is a good couple of stone overweight, I think he did really well.
He tells me that he is now in retirement and will be happy to be my wingman next year. If I’m honest I’m itching to tackle this 5k untethered and see what I can make of it.
Our Goodie Bags were amazing! I was initially disappointed that despite requesting a small t-shirt when I registered I was only offered a medium which, as a man’s size, is massive on me. That’s another shirt I won’t be wearing outside of the house. Regardless of that, we had a great medal and a bag full of freebies. Other race organisers should pay attention! We pay a hefty price to enter these races – great sponsorship means we get more for our money.
I really recommend this race to anyone close by. It isn’t huge in terms of entries, but it has a big race atmosphere and organisation. Alongside it runs national cross-country races, which are great to watch.