Okay, I’m being a bit lazy. Been pretty busy recently, but there has been a lot of racing happening, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to blog about them all.
Last Sunday was Dyce Half Marathon, which is a local race. It’s an out and back route using an old railway line (Formartine and Buchan way) organised by one of the local running clubs, Metro Aberdeen. It is pretty flat, although surprisingly, there is more elevation than you would think, as shown by this lovely graph:
I started at the back accompanied by Kirsteen and Kayleigh on the the sweeper bike. My asthma was playing up a bit so Kirsteen soon pulled away and I just plodded away with Kayleigh. It is actually a quite scenic route.
As this is pretty much a club race, I knew I would be last, but they welcome all standards of runners, so I just plodded on and there was lots of support from the marshals and runners on the return leg, including a high five from eventual race winner Ron Gauld, that nearly took my arm off 🙂
The turn point was marked by three marshals, so I duly jumped over the line and turned starting on the way back. Was still having trouble with my asthma and after all it was supposed to only be a training run, so I should have been taking things easy.
Things were starting to get quite tough on the way back, but the chat was good (thanks Kayleigh) and there were some interesting sites, including what must be an old signal box or something similar.
Thankfully the miles ticked away and finally I was approaching the finish line. Ann (Abz1903) who has been one of my regular running companions, came to meet me to encourage me on to the finish. I was pretty tired, and so glad when I came into the park and saw the 13 mile marker.
Final time was 3:16:44, which actually happened to be the second fastest half I’ve ever run. Not quite sure what happened to it only being a training run! I was really chuffed with my run (but not my breathing) and I’d been saved some fruit 🙂
Fast forward to this weekend. Two days and two races. First up was the BRG Coastal Challenge, which you can choose to walk, run or cycle. It starts from Fraserburgh beach and goes all along the coastal trail to Gardenstown.
This is most definitely a challenge with a 404m ascent.
As you can see the first few miles were pretty flat, however I was not quite sure where I was going (as I went off a wee bit earlier as I knew it would take me a long time) and I nearly got lost! Thankfully some kind folks pointed me in the right direction and soon I was on the route and had found the signs. In my defence I’m directionally challenged at the best of times!
I unfortunately missed a brilliant photo opportunity at Pittulie, where one of the beautiful granite cottages had a lovely garden with a church pew sitting outside. Painted on the pew was:
“A pew with a view”
It wasn’t till I was passed it that I thought about getting a picture, but decided to press on instead as I wanted to get some good miles in early which I had the chance.
After Rosehearty, the challenge really starts. There is however some of the most beautiful scenery which does take your mind off what you are putting yourself through (a bit anyway).
The miles were ticking away. I was running as much as I could and walking when I had to. We passed a farm with these fellas.
Then there was some more lovely scenery.
There had been a few undulations that I didn’t really worry me, however I was a little more concerned when I came across this:
Still I plodded on. Some of the cyclists were having to get off and push their bikes. I wasn’t surprised.
Some of my friends who were also doing the race passed soon after; Ronnie (RunningRonnie), Elaine (idle_wilder) who were running and Jeananne who was cycling. Managed to get up the 12% but further down the road I encountered this:
Yup, it was very down. Couldn’t really run down it, there was more of a skipping, walking type thing happening, which didn’t look particularly graceful. Thankfully at this point I was pretty much past caring what I looked like.
Unfortunately where there is a down there is usually an up. A little further up the road there was the mother of all ups.
In the distance you can see two figures in orange, who were more friends, Shona (shondo) and Lindsay. I decided that before I tackled this hill, I was going to have to take a selfie 🙂
There was no way that I would manage to run this, but up the hill I had to go. The view from the top looking back was so worth it.
By now I was tired, but still in good spirits. For once I seemed to have fueled correctly and I felt good. I’d not suffered any of the low points that I normally get during a long run. I had however come to the conclusion that:
- It is impossible for me to run up an incline that has double digits.
- It is impossible for me to run down an incline that has double digits.
Not long before I came to the final water station I noticed this tree. Having missed the photo opportunity near the beginning I wasn’t missing this one.
Finally I reached the last water station. I was tired, but still feeling okay. My feet seemed to be in one piece, which is always a good thing. Once I was through and a little further down the road I heard a commotion behind me. Soon it became apparent that was Ann (Abz1903) having a water fight with one of the marshals.
We plodded together for a bit, each of us running a bit and walking a bit and ahead of us there were 2 walkers. Even better, we were going to get past them. We pushed on (as much as you can when you are shattered) and were soon nearing the final mile. There is a bit of uphill, but as soon as you come into Gardenstown it is ALL downhill. The town itself is set out in a kind of zig zag arrangement so for the final half mile you are hurtling downwards. I just couldn’t stop. I had no energy to put on the brakes and gravity was carrying me downwards. At every turn you think you are almost there, only to be met my another turn. I did feel a bit sorry for finishers coming up the hill as they had to get out of my way. Down and down I ran. Ann had gone on ahead as she was determined to beat her time from last year. I was just glad my legs still remembered how to run and it turns out that it is possible for me to run down an incline with double figures (10%). Another few corners and I could see the finish and I could see another couple of walkers, who almost broke into a run. That wasn’t happening, they were not going to beat me. I ran as fast as my legs would take me to the finish. I’d done it!
I think it’s safe to say that is the hardest thing I have ever done. My final official time was 4:48:10. I got some water, but we couldn’t hang around as we had booked the bus back to Fraserburgh. The bus had a bit of trouble getting down to the meeting point and while we waited I initially failed to notice my worst enemy – midges. Lots of them, and they were biting.
Finally we managed to get the bus turned round and we were on our way back to our starting point. I now have over 20 midge bites, which thankfully have not been too itchy so far.
Once back at the start it was time to drive home and when I got back I rewarded myself with a shower, some snacks and this:
Was also rewarded with a fantastic t-shirt and medal.
I totally understand why they call this a challenge. Would I do it again? Absolutely 🙂 Got lots of encouragement from the folks passing me.
Finally today was a race much closer to home, the Fare Challenge (hmm, another ‘challenge’). There are 3 distance options; 5k, 10k and half marathon. I wasn’t going to push it so I’d signed up for the 5k. I had hobbled round this route last year, so was looking forward to trying it properly this year.
Again, not a flat run, with 111m elevation, all within the first mile.
Anyway, after the exertions of yesterday I was looking at taking this easy. I was looking to beat my time from last year which was 56:32 (due to injury), so I wasn’t putting any pressure on myself.
We were piped to the start line which was a really nice touch. There was a bit of a walk, which takes in some of the 10k route. Trail shoes (if you have them) are definitely recommended!
I started at the back with one of our jogscotland ladies, Julie. She’d been on holiday recently and hadn’t done much running so she was hoping to do under 50 minutes. As the route starts uphill, we took it easy and walked when we needed to, but kept pushing onwards.
Once you get to the highest point, you reach a water station, which is unusual for a 5k, but this also forms part of the 10k route. It was a hot day, so to be honest the water was very welcome.
Then comes the down part 🙂 My trail shoes were a bit more grippy so I was leading the way shouting right, left or middle to Julie, depending on where the best footing was. All I could hear was giggling behind me. Soon it was time to put the arms out and be aeroplanes, after all we would soon get the 10k leaders coming past.
Once we’d got down the main part of the hill, things flatten out a bit so we were able to start building the pace. There was one more rise that I just didn’t have the energy to run, so we power walked up it, getting lots of encouragement from passing 10k runners on the way. When things flattened off again, we picked up the pace. I knew we would manage the sub 50 minutes, but how much under could we get? We pushed on through some more mud, and before we knew it, I could see the finish line ahead. Julie came along side as there was more room and I shouted out any hazard so we could get to the finish as fast as possible.
The finish is on a little incline, but we pushed to the end and we made it 🙂 My official time was 48:52, so I was well chuffed as this was a massive improvement on my 2014 time.
We were given out medals and then a handshake whilst we got our goody bags, and then on for a banana 🙂 The handshake was a lovely touch.
This is probably more pricey than a lot of 5k races, but the goody bag was brilliant. Here’s what we got.
There was time for ice cream and lots of chat before heading home. We saw our friends finish and there was a surprise prize for June (DoricQuine) 🙂
I ended up with this thanks to Michael 🙂
With only 3 weeks until the Great North Run and 5 weeks until Loch Ness, I’m feeling a lot more comfortable. It’s been a hard few weeks, but I feel the training is now paying off.
For those lovely people who have already sponsored me, don’t for get to have a guess at my finish time for your chance to win the bottle of Pink Bollinger and for anyone else who wants to sponsor me, here is the link: http://www.totalgiving.co.uk/mypage/lochnessmadness