Sunday the 12th of May brought my first encounter with the Monklands Half Marathon. Both my sister and I signed up after reading a post on Facebook about a few spaces being available. I had remembered straight after signing up why I had avoided it previously, a 5 mile double loop in and around Drumpellier Park....nasty.
The weather had been great all week and the sun was shining on the Sunday morning. Sarah seemed more relaxed this time around compared to our outing to Stirling the fortnight before. We hadn't discussed an estimated time for the race but I knew her next milestone was sub 1 hour 55 minutes so my plan was to run in or around our pace at Stirling but I didn't want to put too much pressure on it, given the heat and brutal double loop which would create psychological warfare midrace.
The crowds gathered and we set off on the 13.1 mile route around the park. The start was along a grass section which was heavy on the legs and a early reminder of what was ahead. We soon found our pace and it wasn't long before Sarah was highlighting that I had went out faster than expected. I had been ill the week leading up the the half. I was due to run the Troon 10K that week and had to withdraw. I hadn't ran all week except the day before the half to make sure I was feeling up to it. I had felt like a bit of a caged animal so a combination of the good weather and the race day buzz was pushing me along at around 8.15 min/mile pace, just a touch too quick for what I'd planned. The following few miles I managed to pull back and maintained a steady pace around 8.35 min/miles.
By the time we had completed the first loop we had got to grips with the course and could anticipate the hiller sections. There were also a quite a few areas of public footpath along busy roads which were challenging. The good thing about the route was there were plenty of short decents that we could pick the pace up again so overall our mile splits were fairly well paced with a few of the miles dropping down to nearer the 9 min/mile mark. I was feeling the heat around the usual struggle miles at mile 10 and 11 and the mind games were beginning to kick in but by this point we were heading back into the park which made for better running rather than along the main roads.
We finished the race along the grass stretch again, crossing the line just over 1 hour 54 minutes and another PB finish for Sarah. I managed another questionable 'photo finish'...
Following the half I've had a good spell of running. I clocked up a 45 mile week and this continued into following week with a target of around 100 miles this month. I've had a few niggles and some foot trouble that have forced a few rest days but all in all I'm running well at the moment. Next race is the Men's 10K in Glasgow which is always an enjoyable run.