Archive for August, 2012

 It’s not often I get to talk about “that time I won a race”.


I suppose that is not strictly true as I can *talk* about it as many times as I want (collective sigh) but what I mean is that I don’t often win the damn things.


So going into last Tuesday evening’s Roon the Watter 6 miler in the lovely Gatehouse-of-Fleet in Scotland I was not expecting to come out on top. I had decided a top 5 was on the cards, given that I had finished 6th two years earlier. That was after a fairly poor performance with some asthma issues (excuses alert!). I knew I had to go back and race it properly. Cue 2012. We were in that part of Scotland on holiday, visiting Bec’s dad, Jon, himself an experienced runner.


Roon the Watter is Scottish speak for “Around the Water” I think. Scotland doesn’t bother with new-fangled metric nonsense, preferring to stick with the good old fashioned 6-mile races. Not conforming to current running society’s more favoured 10km. No complaints from this end, since it provided me a good opportunity to improve on my rather weak PB set two years earlier at the same race. Hey it’s the only other 6 mile race I have done.


The day was great, ideal conditions for running, possibly not spectating. It started raining about an hour before the evening start. The starting horn was sounded and off we charged. I had looked around on the start line for a few recognisable faces who I thought might be there for the win. I couldn’t see them and guessed they might be a few rows back or something. Once we got going however, it was very clear that no-one was going to take the pace out. It was never my intention to set off in the lead but it happened by default. About half a mile into the race I was a good 10 or 20 metres clear. The first mile marker went by in 5:44. A sensible start after all. I had been wondering if I was somehow sprinting like an idiot. Where was everyone? In the second mile I stopped hearing any other footsteps and started to think this might be a canter home. I lost concentration a bit as a result and slowed to a 6:12 for the second mile.


Then things started to get more interesting. During the third mile I heard someone gaining on me, and gaining pretty fast. Oh well, this is it, I thought. If they’re closing me down this quickly they’ll go straight past. I told myself second was still a good position and felt a bit silly for thinking I could win the thing. The guy caught up with me shortly before the third mile marker, which I’d run in 5:42. Halfway in 17:38. I decided that I owed it to myself to at least try and stick with him for a few minutes, so I latched on.


The route is pretty hilly throughout and I noticed that on every uphill he slowed a lot. So much so that I thought he might be trying to psyche me out and wondered if it was tactic. I didn’t push hard on the hills but I seemed to stretch away on each one before he caught up on the downhills. We yo-yo’ed like this for the next mile or so, on a very undulating section of the course. I came to realise he just wasn’t very strong on hills.


Having a memory like a sieve I did not remember much of the course from my run two years earlier, but luckily I had spoken to Jon earlier who was also running it that day. He told me that mile four to five is uphill and the final mile, five to six, is flat and downhill. I formulated a ropey plan. I would hit it hard as soon as we passed the 4 mile marker and would work my ass off for that mile, get a lead and run the final mile as hard as I could so (hopefully) the guy wouldn’t be able to close the gap on the downs of the final mile. I did it and it worked a treat, which I was thankful for, because the effort on the hills had floored me and I knew if he caught me now I’d be cashing in my chips.


Running the final mile back into town and down the high street was a very cool experience. I knew Bec, Jodie, Abby and Teri would be watching somewhere on this road and it felt awesome to be the one following the lead car through this part of the course. I turned into the final right hander up the road to the finish, crossed the line and that was that. J


At the prize giving I was awarded a floating trophy, a big shield with the race winner each year engraved onto it. They did nervously confirm that I would be able to return the following year to give the shield back, being that I was coming all the way from England (the deep south). I also got a mini version of the shield which I get to keep, and a voucher for the local pub in Gatehouse.


I may not get to experience this kind of thing again so I made sure to savour the moment.


Thanks to my able support crew, cheering in rain or shine. And well done to Jon who comfortably completed the race, using his “start sensible, finish strong” approach meaning he crosses the line looking like he hasn’t run yet.



My mile splits went 5:44, 6:12, 5:42, 5:56, 5:58, 5:20. Halves of 17:38 and 17:14  for a finishing time of 34:52.

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