It’s a week to go to the Loch Ness Marathon and I don’t mind admitting to being a bit nervous already! Nerves usually kick in a day or two before a marathon but I’ve never known to get them a week before but then this is no ordinary marathon we are talking about. Loch Ness will be symbolic for me as it will be the last race in my fundraising challenge for Macmillan and when I cross the finish line, I’ll have covered 1000 miles since April between running and cycling.
Nerves can be good before a race and I’m curious that I’m getting them earlier than usual. The funny thing is, I’m not really that nervous about the running bit of Loch Ness. I ran the race last year and I know I can run the distance but I have no idea of what my time will be on the day. I started out thinking this race would be the one where I try to get a fast time (under 3hrs 15mins) to qualify for a Good For Age place in the London Marathon in 2016 but as I’m already going to be returning to Paris in April, I can technically do it then and so Loch Ness will be about going out to run at my best and see what happens. I’ve discovered this year that when I run without setting a target for a time, I run faster and better probably as I’m more relaxed.
The nerves are more linked with this race being the last one in the challenge and so it becomes more meaningful than the other races I’ve done so far this year. That’s not to say the others weren’t important, they were simply different. This race has a bit more emotion attached to it
One of the great things about the training I’ve done this year is that I’ve been able to turn up at races without having actually trained for them! I did it at Loch Leven Half Marathon in May when I entered a few days before and ran it to see if I could get close to 1hr 30mins and feel like I could keep running once I’d crossed the finish line (I did) and also at Pitlochry 10km today. Pitlochry’s a race I’d last done in 2009 and I made the decision last night to make the trip up today. My last Sunday run before a marathon is always 10km and I thought it would be useful to go and push myself in a race rather than just a regular run. I believe that if I can get used to pushing myself at a fast pace, my target pace will be easier to hold on to next week.
Pitlochry boasts a great route with some hills in it and is one of the more challenging ones that I have done as there aren’t that many flat bits. The route has also changed since I last did it and I must say I was very impressed. The race still starts in the main street and follows the road out towards Killiecrankie before turning left just past Faskally Caravan Park and follows a nice path towards Faskally House and past Loch Faskally with some spectacular scenery. We continued through Faskally Wood, which plays host to The Enchanted Forest, and eventually onto the footpath that runs alongside the A9 before heading back in beside Fonab Castle and the final stretch downhill and a sharp left to the finish line beside the Pitlochry Festival Theatre.
I finished in 38th out of 322 runners in a time of 41.06, which is the same time I ran the first 10km of the Scottish Half Marathon a couple of weeks ago which I’m really happy with given the Scottish Half was flat and so to replicate the same time on a hillier course is good, especially as the first half of Loch Ness is very undulating. All that’s left to do now is a couple of easy runs, a bit of cycling to keep the legs ticking over, plenty of rest and get myself ready for the big race!