Sri Chinmoy 50k

Coming back with a bang!

To give some context to this blog, I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences of my latest race, the Sri Chinmoy 50k in Perth but I didn't want to post it on a walled garden / closed platform like Facebook, Instagram etc. Plus posting a blog on Instagram isn't what the platform was designed for. 

I decided I'd relaunch my blog and hopefully blog about my training, races, running adventures over the year. Blogs will be infrequent but I will post on all my socials to let you know when I have posted. 

So back to the race. 

Sri Chinmoy 50km, North Inch, Perth, 24th March 2024

Since before Christmas, I've had the 50k marked off on my training plan as a target race. A race to train for during the cold, wet and dark winter evenings, something to keep me motivated and focused to get out the door and train.

I've been getting coached by Robert Turner as part of the Pyllon Trax team and before I even get in to how the race has went, I want to give a massive thanks to Rob for his coaching and mentorship over the past weeks and months. 

Training had went really well, I think I maybe only missed a handful, if that, of sessions that he had scheduled for me. I felt fit and I was really looking forward to the race. 

Training sessions had ranged from big long runs of up to 52k, some long runs with target race pace thrown in and some nice easy social runs along the coast from Edinburgh to North Berwick, it had it all. Then during the week I had speed sessions, hill work and a nice mix of easy runs too. The balance was perfect. No injuries or niggles and I felt I was handling the milage increases well. 

Yes, I was getting tired during the week but that only really lasted for a few weeks and it was just around the time that the training was peaking. Training with 65+ miles a week and doing full time job etc takes its toll.

65 miles might seem low or it might seem high for some of you reading this. I didn't really think about it like that. I just did what I was scheduled to do and then at the end of the week I would see a total done. It's one of the many reasons why I pay for coaching. I don't need to think or worry about the sessions or mileage, I let someone (Rob) worry about that stuff. 

1 week to go

With only a week to go it was taper time. I'd done everything I could and I was feeling confident that I could run a pretty good time. The chats that I had had with Rob were along the lines of...."I think I can run at 2:59 marathon pace" which would bring me in around about the 3:30 - 3:35 time for 50k. Training paces had shown that it should be possible and all I would need to do is execute the plan. 

However, things don't always go to plan when it comes to racing. On the Tuesday evening before the race I went out for a run and felt my right hand side hamstring grumble at me. It wasn't a pain that worried me but it was also not nothing. 
I woke up on Wednesday and could still feel it but I thought I'd just run it off on Wednesday evening. I did an easy 40 min run but for pretty much the entire run I could feel it. This was not what I wanted. 

A quick text message to Rob on Thursday and the order for the rest of the week was rest and foam roll. Which I did. 

Race day

The alarm went off and Mandy, Toby and I got up, had breakfast and jumped in the car for the 1 hour drive from Edinburgh to Perth. The roads were nice an quiet and we got to North Inch with plenty time to spare. We headed to the Pyllon crew tent which had been setup and I unpacked my stuff and had a quick chat with everyone in the tent. 

The 100k runners were already 3 hours in to their race and they were looking amazing. If I hadn't know the start time, I would have sworn they were just doing a warmup for the 50k. 

After a quick chat with Rob about the race, it was time to gather for the race briefing. 

The race is set in North Inch in Perth and it's a lapped course. Each lap is 2.381km. 21 laps makes the 50k route. It's a pretty flat course and the weather was almost perfect.

The briefing was simple, we start the race on the left hand side of the pavement to allow the 100k runners to run on the right hand side, after about 200m we were then able to merge in to the race. 

With seconds to go, my GPS was ready, I was ready and we were ready to go. 

The race

The first couple of laps for me were time to learn the course. Figure out if there were any things I should look out for and I kept an eye on my pace. Target was 4:15min/k pace or about 6:50min/mi pace. 

First couple of laps and I was doing pretty well with the pace, floating about right but even early on I felt I wasn't finding it as easy as I should have been.

My first 10k split were :  

  1. 4:18
  2. 4:14
  3. 4:13
  4. 4:18
  5. 4:13
  6. 4:16
  7. 4:16
  8. 4:15
  9. 4:17
  10. 4:17

Only another 40k to go! The second set of 10k splits were: 

  1. 4:17
  2. 4:18
  3. 4:15
  4. 4:18
  5. 4:18
  6. 4:19
  7. 4:16
  8. 4:12
  9. 4:17
  10. 5:09

So, at around 13k I started to need the toilet. I thought maybe it was just in my head and I could ignore it. So I continued on for another lap, but as you can see from the splits, I was slowing. Then I found some pace, probably because I decided I was going to the portoloo. Then I ran to the loo and they were all full! Nightmare. So then I went out for another lap and finally got to go to the loo at the 20th km.


(photos by Gordon and Michael)

Now this is when things started to unwind for me. I went to the loo and then the next couple of laps I had a stitch just sitting in my side. 

I tried to ease the pace to see if that helped and mentally the head was going in to overdrive. I was only just at the half way point and the body was starting to play tricks on me. The stitch, legs not hitting pace, effort level feeling really hard, I was feeling too hot, then I felt my hamstring starting to tighten up. 

I just needed to tough it out, get past this blip and then everything would be ok. I've had tough sections on training runs and things do usually get better. 

  1. 4.21
  2. 4.29
  3. 4.21
  4. 4:24
  5. 4:23
  6. 4:23
  7. 4:27
  8. 4:26
  9. 5:09
  10. 4:42

I wasn't hitting the pace but I was staying consistent so I accepted in my head that 4:25 ish pace was now the new aim, forget about 4:15, they were in the past. But it's not that easy. I came in to the finish straight again on the 39th km and stopped. I was done. I felt horrendous. I was calling it a day and accepting that I wouldn't finish the race. I'd been thinking about this for almost a full lap. The stitch wasn't really going away, my hamstring was still being a niggle and I wanted to prevent any further injury. 

I came in to the Pyllon tent and told Mandy and Rob my decision. But somehow, between the two of them, I found myself grabbing some Haribo sweets and heading back out for another lap. 

One lap at a time

It was now all about finishing. Not about a time, not about anything else, just run 1 lap at a time. See how I feel after each lap and then make a decision from there. 

After that pit stop my pace kind of settled again but it was now another 10 seconds or so slower than the previous "this pace is ok" decision. 

  1. 4:35
  2. 4:36
  3. 4:32
  4. 4:38
  5. 4:46
  6. 4:43
  7. 4:53
  8. 5:10
  9. 5:20
  10. 5:13

The legs were really giving in now, I was down to a shuffle by the end of the next block of 10k. I was taking on water and gels as often as I could. I was throwing water down my back and over my head, trying anything to just get back in to the game. It wasn't happening. 

Mandy and Rob were trying their best to keep me motivated and moving and the spectators on the route were giving me tons of support, shout out to Paul and Avril Foster who were giving so much support and encouragement on each lap, it really helped. Also a special shout out to John Cassidy on the mic (from Young Hearts Run Free podcast), I got a shoutout on one of the laps "And here comes Owain, the ScottishRunner!" - I'm sure people who don't know me were wondering what the hell he was talking about. 

10k to go and that was just over 4 laps of the park. 4 laps, I could manage that. When runners were in to the final 5 laps, the time keepers would announce on the mic how many laps you had to go, when I heard 4 laps to go it gave me a real boost. Not in pace but just mentally. Tick of a lap at a time. 

3 laps to go, come on Owain, get this one out the way and it's only 2 laps which is basically the finish because, if you start the 2nd last lap, you aren't going to stop with just 1 lap to go, are you? No! No you are not. 

These were the thoughts going through my head. Playing games with myself. Using the training I'd done to battle it out in my mind. I've ran loops for years. I train around a 1k industrial estate, I have a 900m loop in my local park. I know what I need to do to get a run finished and I was now drawing on everything that I had in me to finish. 

  1. 5:21
  2. 4:50
  3. 5:28
  4. 5:36
  5. 5:53
  6. 5:28
  7. 5:47
  8. 5:45
  9. 4:52
  10. 7:07

Ticking off the laps, 1 lap to go, I was going to finish! The pace picked up and all of a sudden I had a bit of extra energy hidden somewhere, or so I thought, but then bang! The worst stitch of the race kicked in. I had to stop dead in my tracks. 1k to go and I couldn't even walk. I couldn't breath. The stitch was right behind my ribs and I was gutted. I tried stretching, tried taking deep slow breaths, even tried running through it but it wasn't happening.

I just tried to keep my body going forward and I could see on my watch that I was getting close to the 4 hours mark. I was already gutted to miss my target time but now to not get sub 4 hours, I was not wanting that! 

I jogged / walked around the lap to get me down on to the final stretch and my watch pinged saying 50k done, but the finish line was still 400 metres away. I could see the finishing arch, I just had to get my body over that line!

Mandy was on the course cheering me on, Rob was further down the finish straight along with some others from the Pyllon tent, I had to finish. 

I tried to explain to them that I had a stitch and that I couldn't run and in my head, all I could hear Rob and the others shout at me "Suck it up! Get running! Final push!" Whether they said that, I don't know but it's what I heard and so I did exactly that. I pushed my shoulders back, picked up my feet and held my breath, because not breathing actually made the pain more bearable!! 

I gave it everything in those last 200m. I gave out grunts of pain as I approached the line. I just had to cross the line and I did. I finished in 3 hours 58 minutes.

(photo by Mandy)

Owain with his medals from the race

Looking back at the race

Now that I've had time to reflect on the race, I still can't pin point exactly what went wrong. Nutrition? Maybe. Under estimating the conditions, probably - I had a sunburnt face the following day! Mental toughness needs improving - Yes, probably. 

It's now Wednesday and my legs are still smashed. Going down stairs has been problematic but my hamstring is absolutely fine. What does that tell me? The hamstring was more than likely a taper phantom and never actually an issue in the first place. 

Do I blame the course? Because it's laps? Nope, I really enjoyed the course and I would do it again. The support was brilliant, the event was organised so well. Having support crew to hand out water / gels on each lap is a massive bonus. I just didn't bring my best on the day. 

Am I gutted, absolutely. Months of training and then on the day it just doesn't come together. But it's now in the past, I can't change any of it and I now need to look to the future. 

What will be my next race? I don't know but I can guarantee it will be shorter than 50k.

And finally.....

Thank you to Mandy for putting up with me training for all these months. Being gone for hours on end at the weekend and being the best supporter I could ask for. 

Thanks to Rob for getting me in to the best shape I could have been in, his coaching has been brilliant and I look forward to what we can do together in the coming year.

Thanks Adrian Stott and the event team for putting on a brilliant event in Perth. It's a shame it's not an annual event but maybe that's what makes it so special.

Thanks to all the supporters / general public for being great on the day, each and everyone of you were amazing.


Published on : 27 March 2024