Couldn't wait, this morning. I rushed Anne out of the house in my desperation to get to our destination. I'd been looking forward to this all weekend. The baggy shorts and vest were packed. As were the sun glasses.
Blue skies, golden sands, beautiful, supple hipped, young ladies in grass skirts and that funny fat bloke with the high pitched voice and a ukulele doing bad Judy Garland impressions. What's not to like? After surviving another Scottish winter I was keen to get some warmth into my weary body.
Sadly I'd got it completely wrong and Alloa on a dreech, cold, March morning as is far removed from paradise as you can get.
Still. I wasn't there to loaf about anyway. No indeedy. I was there to run my first half of the year.
The organisation appeared to be spot on, and we collected our numbers quickly and headed into the local sports club hall to pin numbers to vests, and attach the compu-chips to shoes. We also had enough spare time to meet and natter with a few other runners before heading off for a short warm up.
These days I like to keep my warm up going till the last moment if I can. But at this race the field was so large there was little option but to head to the start early to ensure a good position - this resulted in a seven or eight minute period standing about getting cold and listening to the usual starters instructions.
Soon enough though we were off. The first mile appeared to be a rather uninspiring loop around the block in a housing estate, but after that we soon headed out of Alloa itself, and the roads became more "rural" and pleasant.
The first mile had passed in about 5:43 and I went through the usual crisis of confidence and suddenly thought I'd perhaps bolted off too quickly (not an unusual occurrence for me).
Just got the head down and concentrated on keeping, if not the pace constant, then at least try to keep the effort constant.
There were a couple of climbs today - but nothing that gave me any real trouble - keep the effort the same and accept that the pace will drop a bit (it's going to be the same for everyone).
What I had heard about in advance though and I didn't like were the long, long straight sections.
You have sight of runners ahead of you - but they are way ahead. Maybe you are catching them (slightly) but it doesn't feel like it. I just pulled the brim of the cap down and kept my eyes fixed a few meters ahead of me.
Mile markers were quite a bit out, and at one point as I passed the 10 mile sign I dared to dream that I was on for a PB...... until my Garmin "beeped" the arrival of the real mile 10 about 90 seconds later!.
To be fair to the organisers the mile markers did "even themselves out" by the end.
Crossed the line in 1:18:45 by my watch. A bit off a PB, but still the fastest half I've had in 3 years or so - so I'm chuffed. Have to wait for the official results to see my position.
Anne too, got a quicker time than her last few outings, so a good day all in all.
I'd love to have finished the whole day off under a palm tree with a cool drink served in a coconut shell.... sadly all we got was a disappointing coffee and a German biscuit in the local ASDA.
The drive home confirmed that at Hermiston queueing for donuts is still popular among the SFB's of Edinburgh.