“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Friedrich Nietzsche may not have been referring to training for a half marathon when he delivered the now ubiquitous line, but it’s certainly applicable.
When you’re about to embark on a 12-mile training run for the first time you do seriously wonder if you’re going to make it to the other end alive. As the mileage increases each week, so does your incredulity. Consequently, when you complete these seemingly impossible distances, the thought of running 13.1 miles gradually becomes less daunting.
The reality of the task ahead of me sank in a few days ago when I received my race number in the post. My date with the Great Scottish Run on 4 October is now official, so excuse me as I slip into this racey little number…
I chose the event for my first half as it’s my home city and I’m lazy. Seriously though, I’d grown up watching the race – held in its various incarnations – and always thought, “one day that’ll be me”. After completing the 10k event a few years ago, I got a taste for the big race occasion. Now it’s time to fully immerse myself and take on the half marathon.
My 10k experience should stand me in good stead. The sheer scale of the event becomes apparent as you’re standing on the start line gazing at the never-ending sea of heads around you. Looking up the hill on St Vincent St you hear a collective sigh, but it’s soon replaced by more positive feelings as the adrenaline kicks in.
Seeing the streets and parks of Glasgow so busy with runners in the lead-up to the event has also given me a clue as to the race’s size. There’s no other event where I know quite so many people taking part. My Facebook feed is full of sponsorship requests (of which I’m one, but more about that later). Family members, colleagues, friends, and even taxi drivers have all shared their half training stories with me.
It’s reassuring to know I’m not alone in this adventure. I’ll be joined by 15,000 other runners at the start line – one of whom is Dennis Kimetto, the fastest marathon runner in the world. Wonder if he fancies being my pacemaker.
On the subject of pace, the most common question you get asked when discussing the half marathon is, “What sort of time are you going for?” The temptation is to blurt out a ridiculously ambitious target in the hope it’ll impress your fellow runner. The drawback of this approach is the ensuing embarrassment when you inevitably don’t reach that target. So instead of being gallus I usually mumble something vague about aiming to finish in “close to 2 hours”. The timing, of course, is irrelevant. To quote another philosopher (ok, it's the late US tennis player Arthur Ashe), “Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” I may feel differently when I’m on mile 11.
In another first, the race will be the first time I’m running for someone other than myself. A family friend was involved in a serious road accident, incurring massive medical bills as a result. I’ve been asking people to donate to his accident fund
to show their support.
Entries for the Great Scottish Run 10K are still available. For more information, visit the Great Scottish Run website