BRG Challenge (Broch, Rosehearty, Gamrie) – What a Difference a Year Makes

This is described as a challenge rather than a race and with a 17% incline and 20% decline included in the route, that’s exactly what it is.  I loved this last year so much I decided to enter again this year.  I bagged an early start last year as I knew that I’d be slow, however this year decided that my times had improved enough not to warrant an early start, so I lined up with everyone else.

Scrounged a lift with Shona (Shondo) along with Kristi (deloreanchick) and Justine and off we went.  Weather forecast was for warm weather, so I was extremely glad I’d taken my cap and sunblock!

We got ourselves registered and paid for our bus back and then had the obligatory several trips to the toilet before we assembled for the race briefing and soon we were off.

I’d elected to run with my hydration pack, so had enough fluids with me, which in the warm turned up to be a very sensible decision.

Almost immediately I found myself at the back of the runners, so I decided to just try to get some good times in for the first few miles which are flat as I knew what was coming after that.

Before we had gone half a mile, I came across Shona who had taken a tumble and banged her head.  She told Kristi and I to go on and she walked back to the start.  She ended up at the hospital getting paper stitches, but was thankfully okay.

As Kristi is faster, she led the way asking a few folks to make sure we were going in the right direction (I got a bit lost last year).  Soon enough I was in familiar territory and just tried to settle into a comfortable pace as I knew it was going to be a lonely run.

The scenery on this route is absolutely stunning.  I didn’t stop to take pictures this year as I had a deadline to meet.  The bus back was due to leave at 4pm, so with us starting at midday, I had to complete the run in less than 4 hours or find my own way back to Fraserburgh!

I knew that the hard work really starts once you leave Rosehearty.  This is where the lead runners overtook me last year and where the lead cyclists went past this year.  It was actually quite a strange feeling, because I am quicker, the route seemed somehow less long in the earlier stages.  At each water stop I took an orange segment.  These are ever so refreshing, especially in the heat.

What also struck me was the fact that until around 25 minutes – as also observed by Naomi (Metro_Nome) had passed, none of the cyclists bothered to give any encouragement.  I was quite clearly the last runner (by quite a way at this point) and when the runners had passed me the previous year, most of them were very encouraging, right from the 1st person to pass.  I was glad to find that the other cyclists were happy to shout out and there was a fair amount of banter (although none would lend me their bikes!)

Mind you, here is a reminder of the elevation.  A lot of the cyclists had to get off and push their bikes!

BRG Elevation Reminder

Elevation – there were hills!

I could see a runner ahead and eventually I caught up with her.  It turned out to be fellow Fetchie Mary (Mol).  Was lovely to run with her again, so we just stuck together.  Around the 10 mile mark I started to get the first pangs of cramp in my calf.  I’d been taking electrolytes in my hydration pack and I also had liquid salts that helped a bit, but in the end the last 7 odd miles were a matter of run when you can and power walk when the cramp kicks in.  We ended up passing some walkers, which was a fantastic feeling as they started 2 hours ahead of us.  We pushed on, me with my funny run (sometimes an odd hobble) and walk and eventually got to mile 15 where we caught up with some other runners who were having a tough time.

There was a kind of runners convoy going on here as we shuffled towards Gamrie (Gardenstown), but we overtook some more walkers and soon we were heading downhill towards the harbour.

Zig-Zag

Some of the turns were sharp and about 10% decline – couldn’t stop!

There was some swearing here I must admit as the cramp really started kicking in, which reminds me  I must apologise to Mary for my bad language.

I finished in last position for the runners, but the 4 of us all finished within seconds of each other, so I was actually delighted, especially when I saw my official time of 3:48:08 which knocks off just over 1 hour from my time last year.

Here are my splits:

1) 1m – 12:02(12:02/m) 124/172bpm 43cal 4.99/6.88mph
2) 1m – 10:49(10:49/m) 163/191bpm 52cal 5.55/6.41mph
3) 1m – 10:47(10:47/m) 156/161bpm 82cal 5.57/6.05mph
4) 1m – 12:04(12:04/m) 147/161bpm 90cal 4.97/5.93mph
5) 1m – 11:21(11:21/m) 141/161bpm 68cal 5.29/5.7mph
6) 1m – 13:09(13:09/m) 121/159bpm 73cal 4.56/5.95mph
7) 1m – 13:25(13:25/m) 112/147bpm 53cal 4.47/5.28mph
8) 1m – 14:08(14:08/m) 119/157bpm 52cal 4.24/5.79mph
9) 1m – 11:41(11:41/m) 122/150bpm 55cal 5.14/5.98mph
10) 1m – 14:57(14:57/m) 97/141bpm 33cal 4.01/5.99mph
11) 1m – 14:34(14:34/m) 126/157bpm 75cal 4.12/5.92mph
12) 1m – 15:03(15:03/m) 96/156bpm 53cal 3.98/5.33mph
13) 1m – 13:27(13:27/m) 114/153bpm 82cal 4.46/6.42mph
14) 1m – 16:46(16:46/m) 113/156bpm 93cal 3.58/5.61mph
15) 1m – 15:10(15:10/m) 119/152bpm 80cal 3.95/6.14mph
16) 1m – 14:36(14:36/m) 135/164bpm 71cal 4.11/5.74mph
17) 1m – 12:16(12:16/m) 143/166bpm 56cal 4.89/6mph
18) 0.18m – 1:57(11:05/m) 125/142bpm 9cal 5.42/6.81mph

Here is a comparison to my performance last year:

BRG Comparison1

Definitely faster

BRG Comparison2

The Proof

There was no time for any messing about once I’d finished.  Was reunited with Kristi and Shona (who was fine and even ended up running the hardest part of the course!)  Got my medal and grabbed some crisps then we had to head for the bus, which this year was at the top of the hill!  We decided to head up the steps rather than round the long way following the road.  This was not easy and there were what seemed like an endless amount of steps, but we eventually got to the top and made it in time for the bus.

This is where things got interesting.  Once the bus was ready to leave, there were a couple of false starts as we tried to pull away.  Turns out the driver had left the handbrake on!  Then we ended up going the coastal route that we had just run.  Given the elevation this caused us a fair amount of apprehension, especially when the bus refused to go on and started to roll back down one hill, with black smoke coming from the overheating clutch!  We all decided it would be better for us to get off the bus and walk for a bit up the hill as at least that way we would come to an untimely end.

Walking up the hill itself was pretty interesting given that stiffness was starting to set in, but all in all this probably helped more than it hindered.  It certainly helped the bus driver, as he managed to get the bus up the hill and out of danger.  He pulled over and we all got back on.  We continued along the coastal path and thankfully when we came to a junction everyone was insistent that we turned onto the main road rather than following the remainder of the coastal route.  This good choice was met with much relief amongst the passengers, as at times during the journey I have to admit I had my eyes closed.

Thankfully we made it back to Fraserburgh in one piece, so we disembarked and gathered ourselves together for our journey home.

This is such a fab event.  It is very much a challenge and if you’d have asked me yesterday if I’d do it again, I would probably have said no, however the stunning scenery and great marshals mean that in fact I will more than likely be back next year to see if I can actually manage to get some of the fantastic food before the bus back.  Thankfully the organisers already know about the bus incident!

BRG Medal

Race Goodies

PB Crazy

Hello everyone.  Again I find that it’s been a while since I last updated this blog.  I won’t go into it, but there is a lot going on in my personal life just now, so I guess I just haven’t really been up for it, but I do have several races to update you all on.

First of all we have Dundee Half Dram.  I first ran this race last year and really enjoyed it so I decided to go back for another shot.  I volunteered to drive so picked up Shona (Shondo) and Ann (Abz1903) just after 7am and we had a good run down to Dundee, following a quick bathroom pit stop in Tesco.

We got ourselves parked and registered and then joined the long loo queue, which to be honest went down quite quickly.  Timing for once was good and there wasn’t that much hanging around till the race briefing and then we wee off.

The first part is through Camperdown park and there is a fair amount of incline.  I settled into a comfortable pace and ended up running with one of our jogscotties (Amanda).  We ended up running together for about 9 miles before a tight shoelace meant Amanda decided to adjust it, but I decided to push on.

Towards the end of the run and before you come back through the houses there are a couple of inclines, which when you are tired are pretty hard to negotiate, however I managed to push on through the first one, but just before the top of the second one I had to have a little walk break.  After this you turn and you meet the 11 mile mark, so you know there is not far to go, however those last few miles seem to be the longest miles ever.

The sting in the tail (well one of them) is that you cross a railway bridge that is really steep.  It is really hard to run over and then you turn for the finish – into a headwind!  At times it felt like I wasn’t moving at all and I was trying my hardest to shift myself forward as I could see my time was looking good.  Not far from the finish there is a ‘wobbly bridge’ which is the only way I could describe it.  When I ran across it I felt honestly like I was going to collapse.  It felt like every single bit of energy was being sapped out of my legs.  Once over it though, I felt fine.  The final hurdle so to speak that you need to negotiate is some uneven grass which leads to the finish.  Not that easy to do a sprint finish but I did what I could and was rewarded with my first sub 2 hour 30 minute time.

Official result – 2:28:04

Dundee Finish

Happy to reach the finish line! – Photo courtesy of Tony Jones🙂

Splits were:

1) 1m – 12:02(12:02/m) 69/109bpm 8cal 4.99/6.43mph
2) 1m – 11:28(11:28/m) 67/80bpm 5cal 5.23/6.54mph
3) 1m – 10:50(10:50/m) 101/127bpm 35cal 5.54/6.28mph
4) 1m – 10:36(10:36/m) 88/111bpm 16cal 5.66/6.41mph
5) 1m – 11:01(11:01/m) 67/80bpm 6cal 5.45/6.26mph
6) 1m – 11:28(11:28/m) 72/107bpm 4cal 5.23/6.31mph
7) 1m – 11:36(11:36/m) 61/86bpm 5cal 5.17/6.53mph
8) 1m – 10:56(10:56/m) 39/58bpm 19cal 5.48/8.8mph
9) 1m – 11:55(11:55/m) 33/43bpm 66cal 5.03/5.94mph
10) 1m – 11:32(11:32/m) 36/40bpm 52cal 5.2/5.89mph
11) 1m – 11:23(11:23/m) 36/52bpm 51cal 5.27/6.11mph
12) 1m – 10:43(10:43/m) 44/58bpm 12cal 5.6/6.69mph
13) 1m – 10:53(10:53/m) 44/58bpm 10cal 5.51/6.66mph
14) 0.16m – 1:40(10:13/m) 57/73bpm 5.87/6.79mph

We waited for the rest of the jogscotties to finish, then headed back to Camperdown park and then homeward bound, but not before stopping off for muchies and scoffing Strawberry Tarts, which were amazing and kindly provided by Garay’s Bakery (Dee Street, Aberdeen, just in case you would like to pay them a visit).  Very much the most enjoyable post race treat – EVER🙂

Next up was the Ballater 10m race.  I’d never done this one before, but wanted to give it a go as I hadn’t raced over that distance since March.  This time Shona (Shond0) did the driving honours and we had Diane (Lip Gloss) with us.

As Aberdeenshire was hit badly by storms early in the year, the route had to be somewhat modified, but more on that later.

We arrived without incident, got registered and then joined the portaloo queue.  After at least one more bathroom trip, we gathered for the pre-race brief which mentioned the course changes and then we lined up for the off.  There is a lap of the field first before you head out into Ballater and pretty much by half way round that I was at the back of the field.  I just settled into a pace that I thought I could maintain and went with the flow.

The route was nothing short of breathtaking and took in the most beautiful countryside that Aberdeenshire has to offer.  The course changes showed us exactly what damage the storms had done as part of the route was completely washed away, so we were clambering down a bank.  It made the course a little more technical, but that bit more interesting.

I had been warned that there was a hill around half way.  The route I thought was fairly undulating, but when I turned a corner I realised I had hit ‘the hill’.  You go up so far and think you are at the top but there is more.  I ran when I could and walked when I couldn’t.  I’d also gained a few places so was feeling quite good.  When I finally did get to the water stop after the top of the hill I had a quick break for a drink and decided to push on.  There is a lovely downhill section here before you turn on to what is essentially a ‘tractor trail’.  I love trails so I really enjoyed this part, but before we got on to a more normal forest path we had to negotiate another washed out piece of the route, which was more of a scramble than a run.

Once passed that though the route flattened out on to forest track.  I was starting to get weary here, but had made up another few places.  However as much as I love running on trails, this part really sucked.  It was long and straight and seemed never ending.  It was a relief when I finally turned back on to the road and was heading back towards Ballater.  Just before you reach the town again, you go back along some of the same route as you did at the start, however you don’t quite go the same way to the finish.  This was the only part where it wasn’t completely obvious where to go and although there were arrows on the road, but this time you are pretty tired and not thinking straight.  I know some folks went the wrong way at this point, but I was lucky and chose the right path and before I knew it I saw the park and the finish line ahead.  One small downhill part to take you on to the field and then push on to the finish.  Really pleased when I saw the clock and my watch.  Guess what?  Yup, another PB🙂

Official result – 1:50:35

Splits were:

1) 1m – 10:38(10:38/m) 199/228bpm 5cal 5.64/6.61mph
2) 1m – 10:54(10:54/m) 214/240bpm 5cal 5.5/6.88mph
3) 1m – 11:54(11:54/m) 190/240bpm 5cal 5.04/5.82mph
4) 1m – 10:47(10:47/m) 178/232bpm 9cal 5.57/6.71mph
5) 1m – 11:22(11:22/m) 161/207bpm 9cal 5.28/6.8mph
6) 1m – 11:18(11:18/m) 106/147bpm 16cal 5.31/6.94mph
7) 1m – 11:39(11:39/m) 145/203bpm 28cal 5.15/7.55mph
8) 1m – 10:32(10:32/m) 174/207bpm 61cal 5.7/7.05mph
9) 1m – 10:42(10:42/m) 92/131bpm 8cal 5.61/7.11mph
10) 1m – 10:35(10:35/m) 144/202bpm 14cal 5.67/7.29mph
11) 0.02m – 7(6:56/m) 191/191bpm 8.65/8.11mph

Again once everyone was finished we decided to get some food, so headed to one of the local cafes for much needed carbohydrates, which were yummy🙂

Fast forward a couple more weeks and the most recent race which was Dyce Half Marathon.  This is organised by Metro Aberdeen Running Club and takes in an out and back route along the Formartine and Buchan Way.

Shona (Shondo) drove again and we got there in enough time to get our numbers, but the bathroom queue was so big we ended up nipping back to the car to collect our bags and rejoining the queue where we had left it pretty much.  Thankfully the race organisers let us know that they wouldn’t start the race till everyone had managed to pay a visit, so that took some of the pressure off, although I was having issues trying to get my race number on!

Eventually we were sorted and lined up outside ready for the off.  Again in this race the initial start and finish involve a lap of the grass, so I just took it easy at the start, again being at the back of the pack.  I fell into step with another runner once we got on to the path although I’m not quite sure what I was thinking in this photo:

Dyce Happy

Off my head? – most probably.  Photo courtesy of Katie Milne🙂

I just settled into a pace that I was comfortable with and ended up passing a few people in the first few miles.  I could see one of my Metro friends (Jane) in front of me and tried my best to catch her.  The closest I got was at half way, but she was way stronger than me in the second half and it was all I could do to keep her in my sights.

I really noticed that the time was passing a lot quicker this year.  I seemed to be making good progress even though I couldn’t catch Jane.  We had the added obstacle of the bypass to negotiate this year, so there was a little detour which had not been there previously.

By 10 miles I was feeling tired, but still fairly good, however by the time I got to 11 miles I was starting to unravel a bit.  These seemed to be the longest miles ever.  Finally reached the 12 mile marker, but then cramp hit.  There was some swearing, but I pushed on, well as much as I could anyway.  Was not at all happy and could not wait to be finished at this point.  Finally I could see the park and had to take a few more steps walking to let the cramp subside before I attempted a decent finish.  I was so glad to haul myself over the finish line and stop.

Dyce Half Finish

Thank goodness for that! – Photo courtesy of Graeme Lornie

Official result – 2:24:31

Splits were:

1) 1m – 10:35(10:35/m) 132/148bpm 54cal 5.67/7.96mph
2) 1m – 10:39(10:39/m) 145/159bpm 80cal 5.63/6.62mph
3) 1m – 10:51(10:51/m) 156/161bpm 85cal 5.53/6.12mph
4) 1m – 11:14(11:14/m) 156/163bpm 90cal 5.34/6.3mph
5) 1m – 11:09(11:09/m) 160/166bpm 92cal 5.38/5.94mph
6) 1m – 11:16(11:16/m) 161/168bpm 92cal 5.33/6.04mph
7) 1m – 11:23(11:23/m) 157/166bpm 84cal 5.27/6.29mph
8) 1m – 10:51(10:51/m) 150/166bpm 91cal 5.53/6.21mph
9) 1m – 10:26(10:26/m) 144/162bpm 56cal 5.75/6.36mph
10) 1m – 10:54(10:54/m) 136/168bpm 65cal 5.5/6.55mph
11) 1m – 10:56(10:56/m) 150/170bpm 90cal 5.49/6.07mph
12) 1m – 11:19(11:19/m) 127/154bpm 91cal 5.3/6.61mph
13) 1m – 12:15(12:15/m) 111/141bpm 59cal 4.9/6.57mph
14) 0.07m – 44(11:12/m) 104/123bpm 6cal 5.36/6.41mph

For once I managed to finish in time for the prize giving, but not before I had scoffed a fair share of the food.  I missed it all last year, but was well chuffed to be able to feed my face this year.  The best bit was that I even got a spot prize.🙂

Dyce Goodies

Medal and Alcohol – the perfect combination?

So that’s 3 races and 3 PBs.  I know I can’t keep doing this and I’m going to run out of steam at some point, but just not sure when that is going to be.

Next up this weekend is the BRG Challenge which took me 4 hours 48 minutes last year.  Since I don’t want to miss the bus back, I’m going to have to shift myself and do it in 4 hours or under this year, so I guess that will be another PB in the bag.

After that is Glenmore 12 hour race – my first attempt at an ultra.  I’m pretty sure it was a good idea at the time, but the closer it gets the more crazy I think I must be.  I totally blame Ann (Abz1903), she is such a bad influence😉

Still I’m sure it will be fun – there is alcohol on my shopping list🙂

A Marathon and a Half (or more accurately a Half and a Marathon)

I’ve not been great at blogging recently.  Keep forgetting.  Must be getting absent minded.  Actually I’ve got quite a bit on right now and just haven’t had the time, but I’ve sat myself down at my computer and right now I’m going for it🙂

Just over 2 weeks ago it was Peterhead Half Marathon.  Did the race for the first time last year and loved it despite the fact it was a tough course and I got sunburn, so a year on I was well up for it again.

This year the weather again looked good, so made sure I had applied sun cream prior to the race.  I had offered to drive up, so I picked up Shona (shondo) and Diane (Lip Gloss) and up the road we headed.  It was an uneventful trip, thankfully and apart from being not quite sure exactly where I was going when I got to Peterhead we found our way without too much effort.

Once there we registered and then went to find the toilets for the first time.  As usual there were a few toilet trips before the start!  We met up with friends and before we knew it, we were all being called down for the off.

The course starts with a loop of the running track and then heads out the old railway line before turning off and going through some stunning scenery.  Pretty much as soon as we had started I was at the back, however this year there was a tail runner (Caroline) who I know, so I was up for some good chat and banter along the way.

We soon settled into an  easy pace.  With the weather being warm I wasn’t up for going full throttle, especially the week before a marathon, so I just kept to a comfortable pace.

Carol & Caroline

We were loving it or perhaps delirious! Photo courtesy of Beverly Thain

We just plodded on, but just before half way we caught up with one of our Hazlehead jogscotties, who was feeling the heat about.  I felt okay, so just went on ahead.

Was so pleased when I got up the hill at St Fergus as I thought that was the worst of the hills over.  What I didn’t realise is that wasn’t true and as I headed back towards Peterhead, there were still some lumps and bumps along the way.  Still I seemed to be having a good time.

Peterhead 2016

Enjoying myself – possibly. Photo courtesy of Coreen Hutchison

Eventually the route heads back into the town and I was starting to feel the miles.  There was also a head wind to contend with and one final short sharp hill which I really struggled with.  I had to walk for bits now as my legs were tired and heavy, but I just had to keep going.  I was on for a PB – yet again.

I had a little walk before turning into the running track as I knew I could not stop and walk here.  I think I almost managed a bit of a sprint finish, although it didn’t really look like one, but felt fast.

Peterhead Finish 2016

About to cross the finish line. Photo courtesy of Tony Jones.

When I got over the finish line I was chuffed to find I’d knocked almost 10 minutes off my PB🙂

Peterhead Result

Yay, another PB🙂

After some refreshments (ie a cuppa) and watching the kids races, it was time to head back via the supermarket for snacks.  For those who are interested here is the elevation profile.

Peterhead Half Elevation

It’s not flat.

So fast forward a week and I found myself in Orkney🙂

Shona (shondo) and Fiona S were my companions on the plane on a thankfully uneventful flight.  I’m not particularly good with small planes, however I think the G&T I had prior to the flight helped, and it wasn’t that bumpy really, just a little bit of cloud on take off to content with.

I’d opted to stay in a hotel at the Harbour, so once we got into Kirkwall I said my goodbyes to the others and headed to the St Ola Hotel.  Got myself checked in and sorted out then decided I’d better eat🙂

Saturday was spent in Kirkwall, just chilling out and spending cash (like it was going out of fashion).  It turns out that I can’t resist a craft fair and I ended up buying quite a few items.  It also turns out that I can’t resist jewellery.  Bought more of that too.

Chanced upon the rest of the group which now included Ronnie (RunningRonnie), his other half Rebecca and Lauren.  We all pottered around for a bit before heading off again in our separate directions.

I ate and then retired to my room to sort everything out for the morning and once everything was ready headed for an early night.  My TV decided to scare the living daylights out of me by switching itself on in the middle of the night, but once I’d got over the fright I went back to sleep and woke early but fairly refreshed on Sunday morning.

Breakfast was had and I got myself ready.  Then headed 0ut to registration.  Got speaking to folks there.  Was nice to be in such a relaxed atmosphere and the chat was good.  Everyone was lovely and so friendly.

Eventually we all gathered and it was time for the off.  Had a bit of a countdown and then we were away.  Straight way it became apparent that I was going to be at the back of the pack.

Orkney start

Photo courtesy of Siobhan Miller.

I just settled into a comfortable pace and got on with things.  Soon enough I was joined by Alex who was on the tail bike.  He was to be my companion for the race.

Me and Alex

With my escort. Photo courtesy of Kelly Drever.

Orkney run

Another action shot from Kelly Drever🙂

The weather as you can see was a bit damp at times.  There were sunshine and showers and in some places some nasty headwinds to deal with.  Still I plodded on and the miles passed by.  Alex was fantastic keeping my mind off running.  He gave me a bit of a guided tour of the race route and we did lots of chatting and he put up with me complaining that I was tired and my legs were stiff.  I stopped at every single water station and even had to visit the bathroom at Finstown, but I was just taking things easy as I knew the route was tough.

As the miles ticked by Alex pre-warned me about any inclines and even told me when I could have a walk break, which were mainly up the hills.  It was pretty much like having a personal coach🙂

Eventually mile 25 came and went and I was almost there.  The last mile consisted of a short off road section, which sapped my legs of what seemed to be the remainder of any strength I had, then a right turn down to a cone and round before heading back up to the main road and along to the finish point at the hall.  I think this was the hardest part of the race (other than the hills!).  You could see the finish, but it just seemed quite far away.  Once round the corner though I went as fast as my legs could carry me and was delighted to get over the finish line in a pretty respectable time of 6:01:15.  I was well chuffed considering the amount of chatting I’d done at each water station.  Predominantly due to the fact that everyone was so friendly and really encouraging.

I gave Alex a hug for all his help as I am sure I would have been a lot slower had he not been there.  I was given my goody bag and collected my drop bag and soon it was time to head for the bus back to Kirkwall.

Once I’d got back I got a chance to have a proper look at my goody bag.  Totally awesome.

Orkney Goody Bag

Hmmm beer🙂

After a shower and massage (thanks to Lorna Stanger), it was time to get ready for the post race Ceilidh, although I must say I didn’t do much dancing but the spread of food laid on was amazing.

I would so recommend this race to anyone.  It was tough, but the scenery was just so beautiful and the hospitality and encouragement of the local people was second to none.  Here’s one little photo of the route as well as the elevation profile🙂

Orkney

The route, looking over to Rousay.

St Magnus Marathon Elevation

It’s quite hilly.

I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank the organisers for a brilliant event.  I loved every minute of it (other than the rain, wind and hills!)🙂

Orkney – I will be back.

Too Busy to Blog

There has actually been loads happening since I last blogged.  Can’t believe my last blog was after Manchester.

Okay, so what has been going on.  Well, lots actually.  I’ll cut to the chase so you don’t have to read lots and to be honest I get pretty tired come Friday evenings.

So, in summary we have:

Took part in my first 2 hill races.  This consists of the Krunce Series organised by the Cosmic Hillbashers.  This year they are taking place in Tyrebagger Forest which is not too far away from me.  Here is the proof🙂

Krunce

It’s all downhill from here! (NOT) – Photo courtesy of Rod MacInnes

I bagged myself a 5k PB at Dunecht Dash.  Set off way too fast hitting the first mile at 9:32, managed to hold on a bit during the second mile for 9:45, however mile 3 hurt, a lot which is why it was a 10:22, however I managed to get up the last little hill and recorded an official time of 30:37.  Was so chuffed as I thought never in a million years would I have a time starting with 30 something.  Next aim is to go sub 30.  I know now I can do it I just need to keep my cool at the start!

At the moment I’m training for Glenmore 12 hour race, so I’m loosely following an ultra training plan.  I have St Magnus Marathon in Orkney in just over 2 weeks and I have been crazy enough to sign up for Peterhead Half next weekend.

As well as all this, I have started a new job, so there is lots to learn but I’m really enjoying it.  Looking forward to getting more into things as time goes on.

You may also have noticed that there is a lot less of me than there used to be.  I am pretty much now at the target weight I set for myself years ago when I really struggled to lose weight.  I’m in pretty much the shape I’ve ever been in and the clothes sizes are decreasing.  One problem is that I seem to have a stunning set of bingo wings (also evidenced in above photo).  Still I’m working out to mitigate as much of that as possible.

Training is going well and last week I had the opportunity to run with a wonderful group of people.  We were all supporting Ben Smith’s 401 Challenge.  For those of you who have never heard of him, check out the website:  http://www.the401challenge.co.uk/

Unfortunately due to work commitments I was unable to join Ben for the time he was in Aberdeen, however I managed to swing things so I could make it to Ellon.  In another twist of fate, Ben was forced to cancel the run as he had been having severe back problems.  You can read all about what happened on facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/the401challenge/?fref=ts

However, we decided to run for Ben since he was unable to do so.  I joined the second leg which would be for half marathon distance.  Here we are at the start:

401 Run

Running for Ben – Photo courtesy of Glynis Buchan

It was damp but the route was fantastic.  Whilst on the run I clocked up the equivalent of a 10k, 10 mile and half marathon PBs, but I suffered with the usual cramp towards the end of the run.

Mind you I’d already run Hazlehead parkrun before hand as it was Carole’s (Rosemount Raver) hen run.  Ann (Abz1903) even dressed up as an orange.  In case you are wondering, the jogscotland Hazlehead kit is, well orange.

Team Orange Hen Run

The Bride to Be and a Crazy Orange🙂 – Photo courtesy of Tony Jones

Was a fantastic day out and I was proud to be with my friends and when I ran in Ellon, it was lovely to meet new people and run in new places.  I think we did Ben proud, and I hope I will get to run with him some time in the future when he is better.

Will do my best not to leave it so long until the next blog, but until then, happy running folks🙂 xx

 

3rd Time Lucky aka Ooopps I did it again (with a little help from my friends)

Not quite sure where to start with this one, but wow, what a weekend.  Training hadn’t been ideal always, but I’d run the Tay 10 for my last long (ish) run the week before and I’d taken it easy and loved every minute of it.  Previously that far into Marathon training where the taper is getting to me, I haven’t felt the love, so for once I was actually quietly confident about the whole thing.

There were quite a few folks from Aberdeen going down but my arm had been twisted to enter the race (yeah right) by Ann (Abz1903) so we left on the Saturday morning to get the train.  Journey was lovely and uneventful and we caught a taxi to our hotel and checked in.  All was good.

This was the view we had from the end of our floor:

IMG_20160409_191208

Holiday Inn – Media City🙂

The view out of our room was a little less inspiring, but you can’t have it all.

IMG_20160409_190753

Lots of roof tops, but we were on the 15th floor.

Once we’d got ourselves settled in we decided to take a wander around to find the baggage drop and start.  It also gave us a chance to check out what local eateries were around🙂

We did find the start and bag drop areas with relative ease, apart from it seemed, taking the long way round, and by this time it was pouring down so on our way back to the hotel we managed to find a local Tesco, where some emergency clothing supplies were bought.  For the record, jeans are not the best thing to be wearing in the rain!

That did mean that we found a quicker way back and even managed to pop in to one of the BBC buildings, so I could get my photo taken with these guys:

Daleks

Ha, not looking so scary now!

Of course whilst there we also found this:

Dr Who

I wonder if there was anyone at home.

When we had managed to dry off a bit it was time for food.  Thankfully the rain had stopped and we opted for Bella Italia and I settled for a pizza :)  This was a bit of a recurring theme!

This is the view we got as the sun was setting:

IMG_20160409_190816

No more rain.

Then it was time for bed.  We had taken the Tesco stop as an opportunity to pick up some breakfast supplies and additional water, so we had made sure we were well hydrated, which led to unbroken sleep – enough said!

When we awoke in the morning, it looked cold, but the sun was there.  Forecast was for sunshine, so I was extremely glad I’d packed the sunblock!  We had a leisurely breakfast  and then got ourselves ready to go.

IMG_20160409_221705

Fetch kit at the ready, although I opted to ditch the buff and don a cap instead in the end.

We left our hotel and started to wander up to the baggage drop.  More about that later, but I was extremely thankful for my high race number!  This of course also involved a standing in the toilet queue, but we managed to find some in the cricket ground round the other side, which were not quite so heavily populated, so with about 10 minutes or so to the start we were heading up to our muster point.

Ready

Feeling good about to set off🙂

The start was a bit strange, in that there was no arch, gantry or anything so we didn’t really know where the start was, so as soon as I saw a timing mat I started my Garmin.  I was feeling totally amazing and was shocked to find we were with and then in front of the 5:30 pacer.  I did wonder at the time if that would backfire later on, but Ann assured me everything would be fine :)  The first mile marker confused me greatly as it was turned around, so only around 0.6 miles, which was a bit worrying till I figured what the problem was.  I’d settled into a pace, so I was happy enough, but then I saw a familiar face.  It was our very own Race Angel Autumnleaves :)  She bounded across to meet me and I got a big Fetchie hug, which gave me another boost.  Was so glad to finally meet her.

I was pretty much running on a very wonderful runners high.  In fact so much so that I ran though 10k in a PB time (oopppsss) and was even managing to take gels and drink on the go which I normally wouldn’t do for fear of choking!

We got to about 11 miles when I started to come down from my high.  I didn’t realise that Ann wasn’t having the best time, so she’d suggested going down to a run walk strategy and actually I’d realised that this would be a very good idea since I was fading.  I’d actually never run without stopping for this distance before as normally I would walk through water stations!  Another new thing that I should not really have tried on race day!

Still we started doing a 4 minute run 1 minute walk and the 5:30 pacer only passed us around half way round.  We were able to stick with her for a while, but I knew that would have been a massive ask.  I just concentrated on keeping going.

I think we saw most folks we knew were running which was fab, and saw lots of other Fetchies.  Got a hug from Naomi (Metro_Nome) around mile 12 as she was on her way back, which perked us up a bit too🙂

I must admit, this is the part of the race I did not love.  I seem to get a dip around half marathon distance, so every run was a bit of a struggle and I felt a bit rubbish.  It was also getting way too hot for my liking (come on folks, I live in NE Scotland!).  Mind you even folks more local were complaining about the heat.

Some of you may know that I sing in Aberdeen West Rock Choir.  Seeing one of the Rock Choir groups en route, perked me up a little too and I followed Ann as we went slightly off course to run right past them🙂

I can’t remember exactly where, but eventually my foe struck – cramp!  I was glad I’d taken salts with me.  We also met one of our other friends Michelle here, who was running for the same charity I support.  She was having issues with cramp too, so now there were 3 of us :)  This actually gave me another boost which I was desperately needing.

We plodded on and the miles ticked away, granted some of them not quick enough for me!  Sometimes I had to walk longer when the camp got bad, but I did what I could when I could.  At one point when we passed a farmyard, I was almost sick, the smell was something else.  Ripe would be an understatement.  I think I may have actually picked up the pace for a few minutes to get past this!

The cramp had settled as much as it was going to for now, so I tried to just relax and noticed some of the interesting characters around us.  We were running close to a gentleman in a naked suit, so there were lots of wolf whistles.  Poor guy was having to hold his number down to cover his naked suit modesty as there were a lot of children out supporting!

I think this may have been around miles 21/22 as there was lots of loud music, in the boost zone.  I think I just wanted to be finished by here.  All I could think about was that I was hoping to get to see Autumnleaves again at mile 24🙂

Some of the walking breaks were a bit longer now as the cramp came and went, but all in all I was still going okay.  I’d taken a hydration pack filled with electrolyte drink and I had liquid salts, both of which I was very glad of.

Eventually it was mile 24, and my yup, I found my Race Angel :)  Could not do much for the cramp by this point other than walk when I couldn’t run, but I tried to keep as much as possible to the 4 and 1 strategy, but I must admit I was willing Ann to tell me it was time to walk.  What I haven’t told you is that whilst we’d lost the 5:30 pacer I was still on for a very good time!

For the last 2 miles I chatted to Autumnleaves and found out that there had been many folks suffering from cramp and that she’d had a lovely day being a Race Angel (such a brilliant idea).  Felt like I’ve known her for years.  This is why I love fetcheveryone.com.  There are so many wonderful and supportive people there.🙂

When we got into the finishing straight Naomi joined us and when we got closer to the line Michelle, Ann and I held hands and finished together.  I stopped my Garmin and just about collapsed at the time it told me.  I yelled over at Autumnleaves for a last hug and then hugged Ann and Michelle as we went off in search of medals etc.

I managed to get my ass of a mobile phone (which refused to charge up in England) on so I could call my hubby and best mate to let them know how I’d got on.

This is my chuffed face:

Medal

Medal is not the size of my head, it is just close to the camera!

It was then we found out that there were issues.  The tracking had been a bit of a pest and some folks seemed to get it working okay and others didn’t.  The baggage claim for anyone with a number up to 12,000 was more of a joke.  The queue was about a mile long and that is not an exaggeration.  People were taking up to 2 hours to get their bags back!  An apology has since been issued.  Luckily once we realised that this was not our queue (thanks Paul), we got our bags really quickly, then nothing else to do but head to the pub!  A Fetchie meetup had been arranged, but unfortunately it ended up being just me, Ann and Naomi, who captured this wonderful OMG I’ve just done a marathon photo:

Mental

Elated, or something!

I managed a diet coke and a half pint of Guinness before we wandered back to our hotel, dropping Naomi at hers on the way.

I was tired, and a bit stiff, but no blisters (a first).  Lovely shower (no chaffing either) and change and we ended up having dinner at our hotel which has a Marco Pierre White restaurant.  I had a pizza again!

Okay, I know some of you will be wanting to know how I did.  Previous Marathon PB 7:09:48.  New Marathon PB 5:49:33.  Yup I took a massive 1 hour 20 minutes off my time.  I must stress I could have not achieved this with out the unfailing support of Ann, who has endured my ramblings and grumpy rants throughout training.  Thank you Michelle for your company and Naomi for the hug and post run pub meet.  I’d also like to thank all my friends who believed it me (even when I didn’t) and everyone who gave me a shout out on the day.  The marshals were great and I really hope the Race Angels idea goes global.  It’s awesome.  Totally feel like I’m in the middle of an Oscar winning speech here, but I’m so proud I could burst.  I could never have imagined doing what I did on Sunday.

For those of you who are interested, here are my mile splits:

1) 1m – 12:23(12:23/m) 98/123bpm 26cal 4.85/5.51mph
2) 1m – 11:58(11:58/m) 127/145bpm 70cal 5.02/5.78mph
3) 1m – 12:06(12:06/m) 143/148bpm 82cal 4.96/5.42mph
4) 1m – 12:13(12:13/m) 143/151bpm 83cal 4.91/6.26mph
5) 1m – 12:08(12:08/m) 145/154bpm 77cal 4.94/5.74mph
6) 1m – 12:13(12:13/m) 140/154bpm 80cal 4.91/5.51mph
7) 1m – 12:11(12:11/m) 115/145bpm 76cal 4.92/5.73mph
8) 1m – 12:09(12:09/m) 125/155bpm 43cal 4.93/10.14mph
9) 1m – 12:27(12:27/m) 113/138bpm 56cal 4.82/5.54mph
10) 1m – 12:24(12:24/m) 107/136bpm 78cal 4.84/5.5mph
11) 1m – 12:43(12:43/m) 88/121bpm 23cal 4.72/5.51mph
12) 1m – 13:59(13:59/m) 75/97bpm 36cal 4.29/5.46mph
13) 1m – 13:16(13:16/m) 75/91bpm 37cal 4.52/5.99mph
14) 1m – 12:58(12:58/m) 74/87bpm 14cal 4.63/6.11mph
15) 1m – 12:38(12:38/m) 70/99bpm 8cal 4.75/5.97mph
16) 1m – 13:07(13:07/m) 76/92bpm 9cal 4.58/5.8mph
17) 1m – 12:56(12:56/m) 77/90bpm 13cal 4.64/5.94mph
18) 1m – 15:04(15:04/m) 94/141bpm 37cal 3.98/5.28mph
19) 1m – 13:09(13:09/m) 92/140bpm 40cal 4.56/5.55mph
20) 1m – 14:09(14:09/m) 97/137bpm 41cal 4.24/5.43mph
21) 1m – 12:53(12:53/m) 90/105bpm 67cal 4.66/5.37mph
22) 1m – 14:33(14:33/m) 114/151bpm 26cal 4.12/5.55mph
23) 1m – 14:18(14:18/m) 125/158bpm 57cal 4.2/5.21mph
24) 1m – 16:02(16:02/m) 132/163bpm 67cal 3.74/5.51mph
25) 1m – 14:50(14:50/m) 137/174bpm 89cal 4.05/5.34mph
26) 1m – 14:22(14:22/m) 131/171bpm 78cal 4.18/5.35mph
27) 0.5m – 6:25(12:56/m) 127/148bpm 24cal 4.64/6.74mph

We stayed over on the Sunday night and spent Monday having a bit of a wander before the long journey home.  Even managed some retail therapy, but it was good to keep the legs moving.  They are a little stiff today still, but I seem to have got off lightly considering how I’ve felt after my previous marathon exploits.

IMG_20160412_093101

Loot

IMG_20160410_152342

Only a couple of seconds off my official time. Boy was I chuffed.

Next time, I might just see what I can do to hang on to that 5:30 pacer, oh wait, I have another marathon in a couple of months.  I might just take that one easy🙂

PBs Galore

It is safe to say that I’ve had an amazing couple of weeks running wise.  Regular followers of my blog will know that I’ve lost quite a bit of weight recently due to me being strict with myself and eating a low carbohydrate diet since my Diabetes diagnosis.

Well in fact I’ve lost a total of 22lbs and counting in 6 months.  Here’s the proof🙂

Comparison

Great North Run 13/09/15 compared to Inverness Half Marathon 13/03/16

Needless to say as I’ve touched upon previously, carting around less weight has enabled me to run faster.  The first challenge was the Arbroath Smokies Ladies 10 mile road race.  This was to be the 4th time I’d lined up on the start line.  In each previous attempt I had been last, but not this time.

It’s not a flat course, so I just set off at what felt like a comfortable pace and tried to just keep it going for as long as I could.  When I struggled to run up some of the hiller parts of the course I walked, and before I knew what was happening I’d managed to break the magic hour for 5 miles.  I was pretty much elated when I did it, but I managed to keep some of my fellow faster jogscotland leaders in my sights and managed a repeat performance over the next 5 miles, except I managed even quicker as the second half of the course is more downhill.  Even when I was getting tired I managed to keep my pace reasonable.  Here are the comparisons from the last time I set a PB there:

Smokies Comparison

2013 Official Time – 2:20:31 compared to 2016 Official Time – 1:56:32

To say I was chuffed to bits was an understatement.  I was almost beside myself with joy.  Could quite believe I’d taken almost 24 minutes off my PB!

However, then came the cold.  It started pretty much the next day and I felt a bit on the rough side all week.  Was just really in my throat and nose, so I carried on running, but didn’t push myself too hard.  Well I had a half marathon to run!  So fast forward to the weekend just past, and I was in Inverness.  As I’d only just set a PB for the half marathon distance in November last year, I wasn’t sure really if or how much quicker I would be.

I just tried to keep my pace sensible and although I had a bit of an energy dip at 8 miles then again at 12 miles, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d found it the previous year.  In fact, I was again a fair bit quicker netting myself a cheeky 15 minute PB:

Inverness Half Comparison

2015 Official Time – 3:18:53 compared with 2016 Official Time – 2:43:46

Unfortunately afterwards the dreaded lurgy returned and I’ve not been feeling quite so brilliant, which is not good, since this weekend I’m scheduled to do my last really long run (20 miles) before Manchester.  I have been resting and I’ll try out a little run tomorrow, so keeping my fingers crossed.

Still really on a high from both weekends.  There were so many friends at both races and I also made some new friends as a result of my Inverness adventure and had the best fun on the train back to Aberdeen (although I drank too much Gin!)

If Carlsberg did weekends, I think they would have both been included.

100th parkrun

By rights I should have done this ages ago, but what with being injured for a while in past years and doing more than my recommended share of volunteering, it’s taken till today to hit that magic number.

Regular readers will know that I’ve shifted quite a bit of lard in the last few months and as a result I can actually run with lots more prowess than I was previously capable of.  Okay, so it is still not that natural or pretty looking, but it is most certainly faster.

What I really wanted from my 100th parkrun was a shiny new 5k PB.  A sub 35 minute run was what I was looking for, but as today approached I started worrying that I was putting too much pressure on myself.

Last night I was busy checking the weather forecast and checking the Aberdeen parkrun Facebook page as there are some ongoing works on the prom which I was worried would perhaps mess up my plans, but the RD and organising team had been working hard to get an alternative in place.

Had a restful sleep and then my usual porridge breakfast (counting my carbohydrates of course), then set off to said beach location.

Got there in plenty of time, so did a quick warm up and spoke to lots of friends.  I’d asked my good friend Shona (shondo) if she would run with me, so the first thing she did was confiscate my Garmin!  Then it was time for the off.

I made sure I didn’t stand too far to the back as this really wastes time and I soon got into a stride.  I knew said stride was definitely faster than I normally run, but I went with it.  We were joined by Ronnie (RunningRonnie) and Kristi (DeloreanChick).  I was working way too hard to do much talking, so any response I could give was pretty much one syllable.  It was also a swear word.  I was a touch worried I’d started way too fast, but Shona did let me know what my mile splits were for the first 2 miles.

With the works on the lower prom, the route had been changed to an out and back along the top prom, which meant no dips so it was flat and most certainly fast.  The slowest part of the run going round the cone at the turning point.  Somehow I managed to keep the pace up, but I knew I’d started to slow a little.  Thankfully I was still breathing fine when we reached the bend and I was given instructions as to exactly where to run to get the best line.  I was too tired to think, so just did as I was told.  As I got closer to the finish I managed to speed up and crossed the finish line.  At this point I had no idea what my time was, although I knew I’d nailed the sub 35.

Turns out it was sub 32!  Final official result was 31:31.  I was absolutely delighted.  My stats were as follows:

100 parkrun

PB Stats🙂

We headed to the coffee shop at Satrosphere Science Centre for tea and teacakes to celebrate.

100 parkrun done

Looking very pleased with myself. Photo courtesy of Kristi (DeloreanChick).

I’m sure I’m still in shock as looking back the run was very surreal, but I did get text and e-mail confirmation of my time, so I know I did it.

Not long later another e-mail came in which also made me very happy:

100 notification

Yay 100 club – I’m in🙂

With more races in the weeks to come I’m hopeful that I can add to my PB collection, but I’m taking each race as it comes, but what I am doing is enjoying my running.  Most of all I am very lucky to have the best friends and running chums, who have been with me on this journey.  It is a lot easier having you folks at my side, so a special thanks to Shona as well as Ronnie and Kristi for today.  Was great running with you.

Looking forward to the next few weeks and finding out what I can achieve🙂