Pip Nichol reports from Jedburgh’s Festival of Running.
Jedburgh Half Marathon: October 27th 2013
After the Great North Run killed my post-marathon blues, I entered Jedburgh half marathon in a fit of enthusiasm, determined to do some training this time and to kill those race demons after having to drop out of Jedburgh at the last minute last year. When I woke up ill on Friday morning and was put on antibiotics I figured that this race was just going to be my doomed race. I’m sure everyone has one. I’d been training a lot in the previous weeks, but hadn’t managed to fit in anything longer than 6 miles. When I saw the weather forecast the day before, I just laughed. High winds and heavy rain. It just fit.
Euan (Clubbs) and I got a lift to the start from a chap from the Newcastle parkrun (who expressed an interest in the club after we went on about it at some length during the journey…) and we got our numbers, dumped our bags and got ourselves ready to start. The rain hadn’t materialised, but the wind had. I like the start of Jedburgh – the bagpipes stop and someone shouts ‘go!’ then nothing happens for a moment while they fumble with the starting gun. It’s a small race, and starts on a hill, so if you’re mid-pack it can take some work to extricate yourself. Euan was off like a shot and I spotted him disappearing into the distance as we rounded the corner and hit the first hill.
At this point, I still had vague hopes of a PB since I’m normally okay with hilly courses. The first 4 miles are undulating, which has the helpful effect of spreading the runners out a bit, but also killed my legs. My pace was spot on, but I wasn’t sure how long I could keep it up for. We’d been sheltered by hedgerows and trees up until this point so I hadn’t realised how strong the wind was. It hit my back as I got onto some more exposed road and I happily let it help me along… until I turned a corner a moment later and a gust nearly knocked me into a bush. That was the last time it was behind me. At that point I knew there was no PB in the offing, but I didn’t care – I was really enjoying myself! The sun was out and the countryside was beautiful. It was going to be a hard, but good day.
I caught sight of the leader coming the other way up the road and tried not to think about the look on his face as he battled into the headwind. Approaching halfway I caught sight of Ross Anderson coming back the other way, looking strong, and I plowed up the next hill as hard as I could muster. At this point I picked up a tail. This guy just would not go away. Every time I tried to get past him he’d speed up then slow down and settle in in front of me. Aggravating as it was, it kept me rather distracted as the long final hill started to slowly materialise and the wind hit me full force in the face.
David Daniels had warned us about this hill the previous year, and while I know from experience that if he warns you about a hill it’s a big one, but for some reason I hadn’t quite expected this one to be quite so horrendous! The road slopes up slowly for about a mile and a half and then suddenly turns into a huge hill at about 11 miles. The only thing that kept me going at that point were another runner who cheered me on up the last bit and a couple of marshals promising that the end was near. As we hit the downhill, most of the runners were absolutely destroyed and had slowed right down. My legs were like lead but by this point I just wanted to be finished and my tail had reappeared. For my sanity I needed to shake him off. As I passed him for the last time I heard him mutter, ‘oh, its you again’. Chuckling to myself, it carried me past quite a few people to the finish.
I was stunned when I looked at my watch and saw that I’d beaten my Great North Run time by 30 seconds, and wasn’t actually far off my PB. I was even more shocked when I discovered I’d finished 7th senior lady. It was a tough, tough race, but I absolutely loved it
Results can be found here.