Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Balfron 10k Race

Entry for 22 April 2007:

Last month when Mike Hough, one of my colleagues, proposed that we do the upcoming 10k race in Balfron, I readily agreed, eager to experience a Scottish road race. And so Diane, Cristina and I set out this morning for the small town of Balfron, about 45 minutes drive north of Glasgow, quite close, really, to Aberfoyle, where we spent a good part of yesterday. It is located in a green valley on the far side of the Campsie Fells from Glasgow, with rolling hills and a small river, the Endrick Water, running through it.

We met Mike and his partner, Allie, there, at the modern community school in Balfron that was the base for the run. There were about 600 runners entered, and the day was ideal for running: about 10 degrees Celsius, with a light breeze and overcast. There was good energy at the school, with runners and observers there to have a good time. Although it was a bit cold and a light smirr was falling as we lined up to start the race, the rain soon let up and we warmed up quickly after the race started.

The pack was quite thick to start with, partly because of the narrow roads, so it took some jockeying for position at various points on the out-and-back course. We mostly ran along a one-lane, paved but pot-holed country road that went east along and above the Endrick Water, over rolling hills. About a kilometer into the race, we passed a heard of cows, lowing in mild concern at the herd of humans stampeding by.

I was aiming to break 50 minutes, my usual goal for a 10k race, which made it very convenient that the course was marked in 1 kilometer increments: I just needed to maintain slightly better than a 5 min/kilometer pace. The smaller interval made it easier to pace myself by providing me with more frequent feedback. There was a long hill descent between 2k and 3k, during which I picked up a half minute. While I was concerned about running too fast at the time, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because I had to give back that half minute on the return journey!

Out-and-back courses can be boring, but the lovely surrounding and density of the runners meant that there was never a dull moment. The last klick I poured on as much speed as I could muster, especially at the very end, when I passed several runners in the home stretch. My unofficial time (by my watch) was 49:11, a time I was very pleased with, especially for my first Scottish road race. Mike came in a minute or two behind me, but still did quite well for not having trained much, and was very pleased with himself also.

Afterwards, we drove a couple miles back to Killearn, another village with a couple of good country pubs. There we had a lovely pub lunch (much better than anything I’d even eaten in England), talking about the race, Chile, and our lives for quite a while. Finally, it was time to drive back to Glasgow. Even though Diane and Cristina hadn’t run, they were both pretty tired too, and so we laid low for the rest of the day. My first Scottish road race was a great success and made for an excellent day out in lovely country, deepening our relationship with Mike, Allie and Cristina. I’m looking forward to many more races and afternoons in the country!

Additional note: The race results were posted 2 days later: Mike finished 279 out of 581, at 52:14, while I finished in 200th place, at 49:26. (The 15 sec discrepancy from my time is the time it took to reach the start line at the beginning of the race, so Mike's real time was about 52:00. Not bad for a couple of geezers!

1 comment:

Kenneth said...

That's cool, dad. Good job on your time! Today, I went to a go tournament. It was likewise an interesting and new experience. I'm officially 8kyu now, since I entered as such and won exactly half of my games (which should happen because handicap makes every game even in theory). Unfortunately, I didn't get a lot of homework done, so I now need to get going on that.