Sunday, September 04, 2005

Glasgow Half Marathon 2005

The alarm clock shattered the Sunday morning silence in my bedroom at exactly 6.45 am. Fiona threw back the covers and leapt out of bed, while I kind of grunted and rolled out, reluctantly. The reason for this early rise was that I was running in the Glasgow Half Marathon and Fiona was participating in her very first 10 kilometre road race.

I stumbled blindly, still half asleep to the window and peaked through the curtains. My worst fears were instantly confirmed. The previous day, the weatherman had predicted that it was going to be a glorious day with the temperature into the mid seventies, today and unfortunately it looked as if they he hit the nail on the head. Definently not the kind of day that you would want to be running 10k, or indeed, 13 miles!

I immediately shelved my plan to wear my Star Trek uniform as I had done in the previous year's race as running about in Lycra on a hot, sunny day would not be fun at all. I'll never know how Captain Kirk managed!

Ensign Baldy runs to find a portaloo in order to get rid of the Klingons! (Picture taken from 2004 Half Marathon)

Fiona was hyper due to this being her first run and I couldn't blame her as I know what a buzz I get from taking part in these events. I was pleased that she was so up for it as she was going to need all her energy today.

We got ready and had a light breakfast and at 7.30 Fiona's Junior from work, Kelly arrived to look after Ryan in our abscence. God bless her, there are not many young girls who would give up her Sunday morning lie-in to babysit someone's kid.

We left at 7.45 and caught the bus to Glasgow. Half an hour into hour long journey and I was climbing the walls. First of all because I despise travelling by bus, but we had no choice as the first train was not until 9.30, and secondly because Fiona was doing my head in by going on about the race. I briefly considered breaking her legs so that she would not be able to take part. (I am, of course, only joking)!

By 9.00 we were in George Square which was buzzing with people and we had to go through the ordeal of queueing up and then using the Portaloos. Fortunately, as it was still early in the day, they were not too horrific.

The 10k growd gathers

The front of the 10k runners

We made our way down to the starting area and found a gap in the crowd which Fiona squeezed into. All that was left to do was to wait for the start of the race. I could see that Fiona was apprehensive, which might sound peculiar but if you have ever ran in a road race you will understand just how nervous you can get. Personally, I think that it is a good thing as it gives you a good Adrenalin rush at the start of the race.

Fiona ready to start

At 9.30 the starting pistol fired and she disappeared into the distance among the crowd. I noticed that the vast majority of the runners were women, which surprised me. Since I usually only show up for the start of the Half Marathon, long after the 10k runners have departed I really expected more of a 50-50 split between women and men.

Click here to see the start of the 10 Kilometre race.

I lay on the grass at George Square and closed my eyes. I enjoyed listening to the sounds all around me of people talking of past Pesonal Bests, which charities they were running for, kids laughing and playing and the MC doing the best to motivate the crowd.

I suddenly realised with some sorrow that unfortunately it was going to be a solo effort for me this year. Usually I run the Half Marathon with Jim, but he is away on holiday, Kath usually runs the 10k and this year was supposed to be running in the Half Marathon, however she has damaged her hip (Thomas, sympathetic as always nicknamed her "Granny Manson"). Hammey has been known to make an appearance, but not this time and Thomas & Ann come along to offer moral support, but they too, were absent. I felt a bit sad to be doing it on my own but that was the way it was going to be and I would just need to get on with it.

I shook myself out of my self pity and made my way to the front of the runners, shortly before 10.30. Amazingly, I was only 10 metres from the start line. This was down to my cunning plan of putting my estimated finishing time down on the application form as one and a half hours, thus giving me privelage to run with the elite athletes at the front. The reality was that I would have to flag down a taxi in order to make it in that time!

I looked back and surveyed the thousands of runners behind me. It was quite a sight. They were warming up in various ways, chatting to each other and switching on their i-pods. Good, the troops were ready.

The smell of perspiration and Deep Heat hung heavy in the air, making my eyes water and the sun continued to beat down relentlesly, raising the temperature and I could feel that my baldy head was already beginning to cook. The MC announced to the crowd that this was a record year for entries with 9,898 running in the Half Marathon and 7,639 in the 10Kilometre race.

Sir Jimmy Saville O.B.E.'s voice boomed over the tannoy to offer words of encouragement to the runners and a tall gentleman dressed in a full Batman outfit walked passed me, trying to find a good place to start the race. I assume that he was running in the Half Marathon and was not taking part in a Fathers For Justice protest! Just a couple of the unusual sights and sounds that you experience on a day like this.

Dr Evil, ready to run with the Karate Kid lurking behind him!

At 10.30 we were off. Running down St. Vincent's Place towards the City centre and on towards the Kingston Bridge. It was at this time that my ruse of putting an early finish time on my application came to fruition as the bridge was relatively uncongested. The previous year I had been reduced to walking pace as 10,000 runners tried to squeeze onto the bridge at approximately the same time. I was not impressed as any hope of smashing the magical 1hour 45 minute mark disappeared.

Click here for the start of the Half Marathon.

We ran on down Paisley Road West and into Belahouston Park. The difference in scenery, atmosphere and crowd support between the Glasgow Half Marathon and the East Kilbride Half Marathon was obvious to me with the Glasgow event winning hands down in every catagory.

Around the 4 or 5 mile mark I was really feeling the heat and I started to walk for a while. I would have to do this more and more as the miles went on. The water stations were a blessing and I greedily snatched 2 bottles from the hands of the volunteer who was giving them out. One was to drink and the other was to pour over my head!

The Half Marathon route

Glasgow is such a diverse place with the poorer areas and their myriad red, sandstone tenaments to the more affluent areas around Darnley Road with their neat bungalows and pristine front gardens. However, wherever, we ran the crowds were behind us 100%.

At 6 miles I got a second wind and found that I could run at a reasonable pace without having to stop for a sneaky walk. It was around this time that my mind began to wonder and I devised a cracking personal challenge.

I wondered to myself if it would be possible to enter myself into the Half Marathon AND the 10k run next year. It would be well within my capabilities to run a 10k in less than an hour and then as soon as I finished make my way back to George Square and run the Half Marathon. That would be a total of 19 1/2 miles but I think I could do it.

A quiver of excitment at my plan made me increase my pace slightly. Of course it would mean I would need to train properly, as at the moment I don't have to train, I just turn up and run the 13 miles of the Half Marathon, as luckily, I am reasonably fit. It would certainly be a major achievement for me. I have never fancied running a full marathon but 3/4 of one, two medals AND 2 Tunnocks Caramel Wafers in my goody bags might make it worthwhile!

Anyway, on we went through Pollock Country Park which is a real high point of the run, it's beautiful. It was also good to get some shade from the heat under the canopy of the trees.

I picked up the pace a little for the second half of the race and was really enjoying myself. I knew at this point that I was going to finish in a time of less than two hours which would exorcise the demons of my shocking performance of 2 hours+ in the East Kilbride Half Marathon several months ago (see entry for June).

I passed a pub called the Star Bar and the thought of treating myself to my favourite chocolate snack, popped into my head. A visit to the ice cream van would be required tonight to purchase the world's finest chocolate snack as a reward to myself!

Onwards, and I approached the 12 mile mark. The bagpiper was blowing into his pipes like there was no tomorrow (the bagpipers are used as mile markers). I had to laugh as he hit several bum notes and I wondered if the heat was getting to him too.

Into Glasgow Green and I stopped to walk at the last water station before the big push. With a deep breath, I set off and increased my stride, puffed my chest out and pulled my slightly flabby belly in! The crowds thickened along the sides of the road, a sure sign that I was almost at the finish.

There were more and more casualties lying by the side of the road with First Aid people attending to them. They had obviously succumb to the heat and I could not help but feel sorry for them to have come this far, only to be defeated by the unseasonably warm Scottish weather.

At the 13 mile mark the smell of the Tennents brewery filled my nostrils. "Puts you in the mood for a pint!" said a man as he ran passed me. He would get no arguments from me.

Almost at the home straight now and the MC announced over the tannoy that if you wanted to finish in under 2 hours then you had better be quick. I panicked, reached into my reserves and broke into a sprint.

It must have looked good to the crowd as I hared round the last corner. However, as I looked up at the clock it had just changed to 1 hour 57 minutes. Panic over, I took my foot off the brake and slowed down to a jog again.

Twenty metres from the finishing line and I began to walk and started to film myself with the video camera. A woman in the crowd began to scream at me, "run, run, run!" I ignored her!

Click here to see me cross the finish line.

I crossed the line in a time of 1 hour and 57 minutes and 37 seconds and made my way round to the area where competitors collect their rewards. I felt remarkably fresh and was buzzing with excitement. I carried on and collected my goody bag, banana and a cup of hot, sweat tea. The goody bag contained the usual rewards such as bottle of water, biscuit, T-shirt and medal. However, this year it also contained a small can of deodorant and even more bizzarely, a packet of Dolmio Pasta Sauce. The reason for this is a mystery to me.

To see the full race results, or to enter yourself into next year's race!
Go to

After a quick search, I found Fiona who waved excitedly at me. She had completed her run in a very respectable 1 hour 26 minutes and 58 seconds, and was quite rightly very pleased with herself. We found a space on the grass and sat down while I drank my tea and Fiona told me all about her run.

Me & Fi on Glasgow Green

I smiled as she told me that she had shaken hands with Sir Jimmy Saville and then cringed as she informed me that she had pulled him up because she had written to "Jim'll Fix It" when she was a kid and he had not replied!

Apparently, he said to her "Now then, now then" which is obviously his defence mechanism when an irate 30-something pulls him up for not fullfilling their childhood dreams. I'm right with you, Jimmy she scares the shit out of me too!

We walked through the bustling Glasgow streets to the bus stop and after a lengthy wait our bus finally arrived. By the time we were approaching home I was feeling it from today's exertions and the oppressive heat on the overcrowded bus.

Now, here I am sitting out my back door, writing this for you lovely people to read, with an ice cold Bud at my side.

Only one thing is missing. Where is the ice cream van? I want my Star Bar!

My running number and medal!

Friday, September 02, 2005

My new placement

I started at my new placement this week at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. As you may, or may not be aware, I spend 6 months studying in Uni and then 6 months of the year at various locations at Hospitals or out in the Community with District Nurses etc.

My previous placement was a bit of a personal disaster for me as I failed to achieve all of the outcomes that I need to complete my training. I can't put my finger on exactly why I didn't cut the mustard, but when I was there I certainly felt like I was being compared to other students who were either further ahead of me in their training or were wanting to work with the nurses when they qualified and were certainly trying to grease the wheel with their potential future employers.

I left my final placement last year, a much better nurse in terms of knowledge and confidence than when I began, and this placement just totally removed all my confidence and made me consider leaving the course for the first time.

It is not too late for me to redeem the situation as I can still achieve the outcomes in my new placement and in my final placement. However, I have made life difficult for myself and I will need to be on top form to make the grade by the end of my training in January.

Therefore, before I started my new placement this week I was really apprehensive and within 15 minutes of being there I did not feel any better as I sat in on what was the most comprehensive nurse's handover I have listened to. I will openly admit that a lot of it went over my head, so I decided to grab the bull by the horns and tell the nurse that I was working with of my concerns. I am pleased to say that she reassured me that this ward in particular gave very detailed handovers, more detailed than many other wards and I would not be expected to take in everything immediately. The staff seemed nice and I had worked with a couple of them before including my colleauge, Gillian with whom I have shared most of my placements.

This is definently going to be a great place to learn and a chance to see things that I may never see again. For instance on my first day I was able to witness a Cardioversion which is basically when the heart is not beating the way it should. The patient was anaesthetized and had pads placed on her chest. She was out cold, before they started but when they started to shock her, but she sat almost bolt upright and opened her eyes as the first shock of 150 Jules was given!

On day two, I saw a chest drain being inserted for the first time and you just dont expect to see a Doctor trying to force an instrument into someone's side and hearing a loud "pop" when they succeed.

My final shift this week was the best one, with me feeling a little more confident around the ward and having got to know the staff a little better. Also, I was able to see someone having a Pacemaker fitted, which was fascinating. The Doctor was good enough to explain everything as he did it.

However, it did not go exactly to plan and took twice as long as it should have with the Doctor having great difficulty getting the probes that he had just inserted in the patients heart into the correct position for the Pacemaker to do it's job. It all worked out in the end but it made me seriously consider, as I have before, about becoming a theatre nurse when I qualify.

On the other hand, I love being on the wards and I think that interacting with people is one of my strong points. Unfortunately, you dont do much interacting with a patient when they are lying unconscious in theatre!

The thing that brought it home to me was when I went into the room of a 94 year-old gentleman to chat to him for a while as he had had no visitors that day and he began to tell me about his experiences in the war. He talked about how much he disliked the French, calling them cowards. He really liked the Germans saying that they were family people, just like us. However, his eyes filled with tears as he talked about his time in the Middle East and as he spoke of the death and destruction, the look in his eyes said more than words ever could.

It is at times like that when I know that I have made the right choice by training to be a nurse and how much I love doing it. To be in a privilaged position where you can touch people's lives and make a small difference to them is fantastic, and because of that I will overcome the difficulties that I am having at the moment and do what I have to do.

Wish me luck!!!