I was looking forward to running the Clyde Stride (which was on 27th September) as my last long run before heading out to the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon (KAEM) and using it as a bit of a testing ground to see how my training was panning out. Albeit the Clyde Stride is run on a lot of tarmac (unfortunately) and on rather flattish and very runnable terrain, so not at all like KAEM, but it would test my endurance both physically and mentally.
Since signing up I had set my sights on a podium at this race, and before hand had it in my head that I just needed to run 9min/mile (just!) to get me through in 6hrs which would be a time I would be supremely proud of and one that I thought would guarantee me a podium.
How to do it? I planned out my race strategy and worked on taking fuel every 45mins through the race to keep me strong, for this I had a mixture of gels (I used Torq & Hammer), and the odd Torq energy bar and peperami stick in between gels, along with some flat coke about halfway through the race. There were only going to be 3 checkpoints, with only water supplied at these so you needed to fully self sufficient using drop bags if you wished. I chose to carry enough with me to get to the 2nd checkpoint, then restocked (and threw out excess food….why did I take a Snickers bar x 2, Soreen chocolate loaf….sometimes I just never learn!) and carry it all in my Northface FL Race Vest Pack.
I made sure I was competitive from the start and headed to near the front of the starting group so I wouldn’t get caught up in any of the starting congestion and headed out strongly. The weather was good, it was dry, slightly warm by Scottish standards but suited me down to the ground. The route was well marked and great volunteers along the route to keep us safe crossing the roads. I ran on my own for most of the way and it was only just before checkpoint 3 that I caught up with a runner and chatted for a bit before I was surprised by seeing my husband, Dion, on the side of the road cheering me on, he ran a bit with me motivating me to keep going. He raced around to the actual checkpoint and suggested taking my bag, it was ‘only’ 9 miles to the finish so if I carried my water and shoved a gel down my bra, that would get me to the end, so I grabbed that and headed back off again after giving him my bag.
Coming out of the last checkpoint I caught up with Robert, an unassuming young man running in a kilt and colourful socks who was more than up for a chat, which I had been trying to avoid the whole race to keep myself focussed. We took a wrong turn in the first couple of minutes together (see, it was the chatting….) but quickly got ourselves back on track and I told him about my goal of a podium finish which I was currently on track for, he was such a sweetheart saying he’ll keep looking behind so I don’t have to and there was no way I was going to lose my 3rd ladies positioning. As we continued chatting, I came to realise this was no ordinary man I was speaking to, this was no other than Marathon Man UK. If you haven’t read his story as yet, you should, it had me shedding a tear when I read his story after the race at home and I am full of admiration and in awe of him and his mission to run at least one marathon (or ultra) a day for a year to raise money for NSPCC & Dreams Come True, helping disadvantaged children.
Needless to say I was getting tired now after pushing so hard, but running with Rob, who was on about day 166 (so onto his 166th marathon/ultra) it quickly put me back in my place so as not to complain. The last couple of miles of the race were through beautiful woodland on gorgeous switchback trails as you came into New Lanark, and as you saw the finish line, you went through a little hole in the rock wall and then you were done. 9h 16min! I was stoked! 3rd lady!
My hubby was there at the finish line to cheer me in, and quickly got me sorted by taking my finishers beer from me, swapping it for my recovery Mars Milk whilst we waited for the presentations. As 3rd lady there was no way we were heading off before I got my award.
Clyde Stride was a great run, well marshalled and the route easy enough to follow, not too challenging in terms of terrain, but a good distance that you can push yourself on, so for me it was a great race that has filled me with confidence ready to crack on with Kalahari.