Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Isle of Skye Half Marathon

When I visited Scotland 6 months ago, there was one area that I really wanted to see but just didn't have enough time (or budget): the Hebrides. This is a series of Islands in the west of the Highlands and are known to be unbelievably gorgeous. Somehow, as I day dreamed of eventually going back and visiting the Isle of Skye, I stumbled upon a half marathon that was taking place on the island!
Of course, I had to register! Fate was calling!

After taking a month off from running due to some minor injuries, I was back on my feet and ready to run this hilly, beautiful scenic race. 

And hilly it was. My god. As a prairie girl, I was most definitely not ready for it.

The runners gathered at the Portree High School, where the local pipe band lead us to the start line. It's the smallest race I've ever done, with only 800 runners, though for them, it was a new record for registrations! Finally we were off and the first 2 miles were uphill.

I saw the climb and thought to myself "I'm not gonna make it" but I did. I ran the first two gruelling miles and found my pace with a small downhill segment. I ran the first couple of miles next to a guy wearing a kilt! With the bagpipes, endless moors and kilts, I was constantly reminded I was in Scotland, which made my heart sing. 

By mile 6 or 7, I was getting tired. I hadn't trained in a month, mind you, so I was a little off my game. That's also when the hills started again. For a solid 3-4 miles, it was a slow uphill course and we shared the road with cars, some of which did not seem to notice us and sped by.

What I found amazing was all the people who drove to different points of the race which were a little more isolated and blasted music from their cars and clapped as we ran by. Others had sprinklers going. Such friendly people who spent their Saturday morning encouraging us instead of relaxing at home. Thank you to all of you!

Anyway, I walked most of that uphill climb and then the last 3 miles were downhill, so I ran part of that before reaching the town, where I slowed down again. I was so hungry I thought I would faint if I ran any faster! Which ended up working out perfectly as the guy in the kilt caught up with me at mile halfway past mile 12 and I greeted him with a big "there you are!!" And he told me my bright yellow compression socks had kept him going the entire race. we crossed the finish line together and got our medals and our free little breakfast before watching the award ceremony. 

We made a time of 2:33:48, which I was very proud of considering how tough of a race it was. I was glad to simply have finished it!

The record for this race is 1:11, and the record-holder ran it in 1:12 this year. Normally, a half marathon winner will run it in about 58-59 minutes, so this goes to show the toughness of it. But the locals are a tough bunch and ran it with seemingly no difficulty. 

It was such a beautiful race, and even in the grey, humid weather conditions, it was still stunning landscape, the race was well organized and the people as lovely as can be. If I'm still in Europe next year, you can be sure I'll be back!

And of course, can't forget the victory pizza! I got myself a Scottish pizza: haggis, black pudding, spicy Scottish beef and Lorne sausage and cheese. It was amazing! All handmade in a stone oven. Perfect way to celebrate a great race!

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