Great Scottish Run Half Marathon 2017: Race Recap

A week ago I ran my 4th Great Scottish Run. Given that I entered the race back in March, I feel that this one has had the longest build up in terms of thinking about it and planning. I guess one of the things about the GPS watch and closer tracking of training runs is that it is fairly easy to get a good idea of likely time and speed on race day. An element of the unknown is taken out and I knew I was on track to be aiming for roughly 7 and a half minute miles. This would give me a finish time of around 1 hr 38 mins and on race day I more or less delivered this! My ave speed was 7.19 minute miles and my average pace for each mile was as follows:

0-1 miles = 7.24

1-2 miles= 7.31

2-3 miles= 7.15

3-4 miles= 7.23

4-5 miles= 7.16

5-6 miles= 7.27

6-7 miles= 7.23

7-8 miles= 7.23

8-9 miles= 7.21

9-10 miles= 7.11

10-11 miles = 7.19

11-12 miles= 7.08

12-13 miles= 7.20

13 miles – finish= 6.54


I was quite consistent in my race speed, in terms of split times.  (Between 9-12 miles seems to have been my fastest phase and I slowed up for the last full mile.) Thus, the conundrum that I now face is how to insert that extra something into my training to push myself to a tighter margin. Being honest, I feel I was fairly comfortable for most of the race and only really experienced the hurt from around 11 miles. I do perhaps have a slight wonder if I could have pushed myself a little harder? What would have happened if I had pushed for 7.10 miles and seen how long I could hold on? Would I just have blown up and finished slower? My training would suggest otherwise, but I think because I did not finish utterly broken, I am perhaps wondering if I could have shaved a minute or more off my time. Or maybe, that is just my mind’s way of forgetting the fact that I was on the edge of discomfort most of the race.

The race photos at the end certainly look as thought the tank was well and truly emptied:stolen pic2stolen pic1

I wasn’t too bashful to get my pic taken on the Bank of Scotland time board.

Bank of scotland photo

I was also pleased with my overall stats:race position

14th in my age group and 80th female overall ( 941st of 11,157 total competitors)

In any case this is a race I love. The weather was disappointing, but it certainly could have been a lot worse and you cannot beat being a part of something like this. The atmosphere is always special and I do feel a kind of existential sensation as I approach Glasgow Green and the streets are lined with cheering crowds.

St Vincent street

I am thinking seriously now about my next challenges in the new year. I will no doubt hunker down for maintenance running over winter, but I want to consider something big for 2018. I still have an itch to defeat my marathon demon and smash the illusive 4 hour barrier. I also have a rather morbid curiosity about ultra running and I have been considering whether I could take on something like the Hadrian’s Wall 69 mile race. The human body is a wonderful thing and I love seeing how far I can push both my mind and body. Now if only I could get myself a coach. ..Any volunteers?



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I love having a bit of down time with the boys at weekends. We have not been anywhere much or done anything much, but it has been nice just to slow down a little. Scott has introduced Luke to the joys of Swiss Family Robinson (The bad pirate film). This sitting together watching it was a brief interlude as most of the viewing involved replaying set piece battles in the living room!


We have had a few park trips which mainly involve Luke trying to do whatever Scott is doing:


Thankfully Luke isn’t up for trying this yet:SAM_7399SAM_7400SAM_7401SAM_7402

Scott appears to have tired of his role as my kitchen apprentice, but Luke has readily taken over. He loves baking, especially using the electric mixer!


Scott took part in the Viking parade with his football team:SAM_7406SAM_7422

And he loved his trips to the fair:SAM_7424

Hopefully we may be able to stretch out a bit more “outdoorness” in the next few weeks.

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A Scottish Summer

Another summer holidays has come and gone. The weather has been a bit of this and a bit of that, so we have had plenty of indoor activities – swimming, cinema and softplay.SAM_7344SAM_7354SAM_7343SAM_7341

Whenever possible though, we have tried to get out to enjoy the best of the weather. Scott had 3 weeks in football camp and we were away for 2 weeks, so I haven’t had too many days with both boys on day trips. Unfortunately, my two boy days also seem to have coincided with lousy weather so it is sad that we haven’t had many outdoor trips altogether.

Scott has been spoiled with all the footballing opportunities. SAM_7307.JPGSAM_7355Crazy hair day apparently doesn’t get old!SAM_6555SAM_6556SAM_6558

Luke was joining in by the final week too:SAM_7308.JPG


Some of our park outings were decidedly chilly!


And sometimes we made the most of some late afternoon sunshine:SAM_7256

We were frequent visitors to the park all summer:

A lot of time has been spent “throwing stones in the big water”…



This boy loves jumping in puddles and our weather system certainly obliges!


Luke is a big fan of a trip over the water to Cumbrae. The combination of boat, bus and beach is a big winner and we had a couple of lovely daytrips in Millport together.



Finding a crab:SAM_7160SAM_7161SAM_7162SAM_7164SAM_7165

Poor wee guy had one spoonful of ice-cream then crashed!SAM_7167


This throwing arm got some good workouts in!SAM_7263SAM_7264SAM_7265SAM_7266SAM_7267SAM_7268SAM_7269SAM_7270SAM_7271SAM_7272SAM_7273SAM_7275SAM_7276SAM_7278SAM_7279SAM_7281SAM_7283SAM_7284SAM_7285SAM_7286SAM_7289

A change of clothes later….SAM_7291SAM_7292SAM_7299SAM_7300SAM_7301SAM_7302SAM_7304SAM_7293No mistake this time with the ice-cream!

Many of our days were fit round football camp and while Scott was at the West Kilbride camp, I took Luke to the Kilwinning Carnival.SAM_7312SAM_7313SAM_7316

The boys were keen for a shot on the underground in Glasgow:SAM_7331We parked up at Shields Road and took the subway to the West End for a wee run around the Botanic Gardens:SAM_7317

Perhaps as much as anything, I just loved having the time to let the boys “be” and having a bit more time for something as simple as Luke spreading his bagel is bliss for me.


It has been great and it will take a while to get over the bereft feeling of the end of the holidays. I will certainly miss the cheeky faces!




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Secret Seven

My dear Scott,

I cannot believe that you are turning 7. How are you so grown up? When did that happen? When did you stop being my bouncing no sleep baby? My chatterbox toddler? My inquisitive nursery boy? You are still a chatterbox, but you are also squarely in the school-age category. Apparently age 7 is the stage that little boys move away from the exclusivity of their mothers’ arms so I know I need to accustom myself to this next stage.


You can be a bit of a closed book at times and don’t always tell me what you are thinking. This means that when you are in the mood for giving a bit of yourself, I love the talks we have. I get to have conversations about wars, themes of books, crime and punishment, and morality in sport. It keeps me honest, which I like a lot. I think it’s ironic that I spent the first 3 years of your life wishing you’d grow up, and I find myself now wishing you’d stay a child for just a little longer.


You are still a kind boy. You share everything with everyone, and you give away toys to your brother without any sense of propriety. When you gave away so many of your football stickers I confess to being a wee bit sad. “But mum,” you said, “he didn’t have that sticker and he really wanted it”.

Your competitive instinct is extremely strong and I don’t know if that comes more from me or your dad! More than anything though I want you to know that you don’t always need to be first or best at things. I want you to understand that you have nothing to prove to us and that in life being comfortable with yourself and being at peace with being 2nd or 67th at something is the best place to be.

I realise that, as a practical adult living in a practical world, my mission is often to extinguish a lot of your exuberance. I say you are “too much.” I tell you to be quiet, to settle down. Seeing you singing along and jigging away as the Corries pump out our sound system at 7am can be a bit of an overwhelming experience for this grownup. In exhausted moments, I get impatient and shout. I try to shape you into what I feel a mature 7-year-old “should” look like. Although I keep trying to tell you to behave, there is no need.  I am seeing more and more of the young man you will eventually become. But what you know now, with the infinite wisdom of a child, is that we should all be living with your passion and spirit. Leaving nothing behind at the end of the day. No fears or worries for what might happen tomorrow, and no ruminations about what was lost yesterday.


Neo filter (2).jpg

As aggravated as I may get when I tell you to “behave!” and you don’t listen, one day that defiance will serve you well. One day, I will be proud that you don’t do something just because someone else tells you to.

I’m emotional as I write this because I know that you will now be able to read most of this all by yourself. That you won’t need me to help you with the words.

I am very lucky to be your mum and I hope you have a wonderful 7th birthday.


Happy birthday Scoots xx

Here are your answers aged (almost) 7:

Favourite colour: red

Favourite food: chips

Favourite toy: Kindle

Favourite story: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Favourite TV programme or film: Football challenges on YouTube. Seeing films in the cinema – Spiderman and Pirates of the Caribbean

Favourite superhero –  Cristiano Ronaldo

Favourite song – Castle on the hill (Ed Sheeran)

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“Spectacular Jousting” is spectacular

Last Sunday we made more good use of our Historic Scotland membership by attending the Spectacular Jousting event at Linlithgow Palace. Visiting the palace itself has been ear-marked for another day as once again there was so much going on at the Peel that there was no time left for exploring the palace.

We made use of the free park and ride service provided on the day which gave Scott and Luke the added bonus of a wee bus trip from the car park on the outskirts of Linlithgow straight to the Palace. We arrived in good time for the start of the event and Scott got involved in the Children’s Army which involved grouping the kids into schiltrons and marching.


I loved seeing all the kids that had dressed up too. There were some brilliant costumes. If only I could get either of my two into a tabard!

They are both rather partial to a sword fight, however….SAM_6499SAM_6502SAM_6510

There are two jousting shows during the course of the day and I really enjoyed them. The players put on a great show with the appropriate numbers of heroes and villains to cheer or boo.


The champion showing off some great balance at the end, straddling two horses:


In-between the two bouts of jousting there were acrobatics from jesters and an amusing Assassin’s tale. The boys didn’t want to sit back and watch most of these other shows so we took a walk round the encampment to sample the Medieval life.

SAM_6542This boy loves a guddle:SAM_6533SAM_6530

He is also very fond of the dragon that he met at Ardrossan Castle a couple of weeks ago.SAM_6534SAM_6535SAM_6537Ice-cream break


A sunny day would make this day pretty unbeatable, but there are some things that even Historic Scotland’s efficient organisers cannot control.

We left the event more than satisfied with the entertainment and I am pleased to say that both my boys have #gotthehistorybug



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Countdown to summer

The weather would definitely suggest otherwise, but the summer holidays are here. The past few weeks have had a few bumps and I feel ready for a rest.

I took Luke to the Ardrossan Castle Carnival (Scott was at a birthday party) and he had fun charging about with a sword.SAM_6429SAM_6428SAM_6431SAM_6427SAM_6438

I clearly have him well-trained as he claps and exclaims in delight whenever I mention visiting a castle now! Events like this set a pretty high bar, though, with jousting knights, a dragon and carnival games.


When the dragon “woke up”, Luke got quite a fright and burst into tears, but he soon settled to arguing with it; “You’re not taking my sword, dragon. No!”


This is an excellent free local event that even showcases jousting. I have a feeling that these are the same knights that we will be seeing at Spectacular Jousting….Not that jousting is a niche “sport” or anything!


In-between times we have had some Fathers Day baking – Victoria Sandwich and Key Lime Pie with meringue. Luke loves helping with any kitchen activities at the moment and whenever he sees me put an apron on, he goes to get his on. It is messy, but nice.

Scott has had a couple of Funworld birthday parties and Luke was at the last one too. He was delighted to be there and play with his lovely older friend who is extremely patient with him:SAM_6463


We stumbled across a fun event in George Square in Glasgow last weekend. The boys enjoyed the carnival atmosphere, music and activities.SAM_6472SAM_6475SAM_6478SAM_6479Looks like Scott is ready to dive into summer.  🙂

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Rock of Ages at Dumbarton Castle

A couple of weeks ago we had our second experience of Historic Scotland’s Rock of Ages event at Dumbarton Castle. Sadly the weather was not up to the lovely sunshine that we were treated to last year, but there was still plenty to keep us entertained. It does amuse me to think about the contrasts in our weather system considering we were slapping on the suncream last year and this year I bought a cup of tea to heat up! There was also a section of the castle that was closed off this year due to the weather.

While Luke and Billy caught up with some zeds in the car, I took Scott out and we were immediately drawn into the action, watching a display from the Covenanters. This stirred up Scott’s sensitivities and he wanted to head off to the castle for a sword fight.

Scott cannon - Copy

Luke was soon with us and keen to join in on the action:




Rock of Ages has an assortment of characters from different phases of history and Scott was pleased to see his Playmobil Roman Centurions!



The shield is remarkably heavy:


I enjoyed talking Scott through the WW1 display and the evolving battle strategy:





Both the boys were happy to watch a lot of the displays, though we did discover that Luke is not keen on all the action….He likes the shouting…




But, “no like it big bang.” He is not a fan of the musket fire!



Thankfully, Luke’s enjoyment of all things castle seems to be continuing as this Historic Scotland event is becoming a bit of a standing calendar commitment. Hoping for better weather at our next one – Spectacular Jousting!


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