An oxymoron I know—the words ‘race’ and ‘me’ aren’t a natural fit. If what I did on Sunday 30 September could be described as racing, I challenge you to find that tortoise and it isn’t the one that beats the hare.
Anyway, here’s how the Great Scottish Run panned out for me. The annual race is the largest running event in Scotland and this year it attracted 30,000 participants in both the 10k and half-marathon.
I started in the pink wave (i.e. the slow coaches) and the start was snail-like thanks to the sheer numbers. No complaints from me there as a slow start is what every expert recommends.
Running over the Kingston Bridge is something else—it presents the views of Glasgow that turn up in black backdrops on TV programmes, in films and books set in the city. You see the armadillo, the Finnieston Crane, the towering Hilton Hotel and the odd church spire or two, silent monuments to the man-made standing either side of the mighty Clyde.
The run always attracts the elites and the fastest man, Chris Thompson, finished in 1.02.07 with the fastest woman at 1.09.15. There was also a proposal at the finish line and the woman said ‘yes’.
As the fastest woman crossed the finishing line, yours truly was still at mile seven chanting the mantra “you can, and you will do this” over and over in a mind versus body competition. Thanks to clever tech, my husband was able to track my progress through the Great Scottish Run app and managed to cheer me on those last 50 metres over the finishing line, two hours and thirteen minutes after I started.
[Instead of missing my triumphant sprint to the end as happened at the last race.]
Diabetes care and exercise
And the diabetes care? Ahem! Everything I did points to how not to train for a half marathon and what not to do on the day. Dear reader, the furthest I ran in training was seven miles, although I had the odd day where I ran twice as per what ultra-marathon runners do in training. I managed to run the whole thing without even a toilet stop.
On the day, I woke up with super-high blood sugars thanks to a roll I’d eaten the night before. Yes, just one lousy bread roll rocketed my blood sugar levels through the night and my first test of the day was 18.6. I took one and a half units of fast-acting insulin and my basal dose, minus two units.
Super-high sugar levels made me wary of eating before the race, but I did have a Trek protein flapjack one hour before. Ping! As the race was about to start, my blood sugar levels went up again to 16.6. I knew I couldn’t start running on that, so I took one unit of fast-acting insulin and crossed my fingers.
I took my insulin pen with me, jelly babies and the FreeStyle Libre sensor—and, er, didn’t use it at all on the way round. I couldn’t be bothered routing around in my little pack to find it, and there is something to be said for relying on the feedback your body gives you. At the seven-mile mark, I decided I’d better eat a jelly baby or two, and at the nine-mile point, I accepted a gel from the SIS stall. From then on, I ate eight jelly babies spaced out for the rest of the run.
Blood test at the end said 8.3, rising to 11.1 an hour later and then plunging to 5.4 half an hour after that, at which point I ate a meal roughly 50/50 protein and carbs.
Lessons for another time? Do more blood tests during the race. Ignore the carb loading advice for the night before (or don’t do it with bread or flapjacks) and watch out for adrenaline. The nerves kicked in an hour before the run and that might have contributed to those high sugar levels, so the next time I might not lower the basal insulin rate as much…
But wait! There’s not going to be a next time, is there Emma?! Confession—having sworn I wouldn’t do it again, I’ve changed my mind. The Glasgow half-marathon is so atmospheric you can’t help but be swept up in running fever. Crowds cheer you almost all the way round armed with witty signs—my favourite was the one telling us we were getting in good practice for the zombie apocalypse—and the sense of achievement you experience at the end is… Indescribable.
And seeing as I proved I can do a half-marathon without ever running more than seven miles in training, the idea of doing it again next year appeals.