If consistency is key, I suck.

Considering I have run a grand total of one excruciating, poorly executed, full marathon, I am hardly what anyone would consider to be an expert.  I am fine with that.  I have, however, done a lot of reading up on the best ways to train for a marathon, and the thing that seems to be common in all training programs, from ‘I just want to finish with my legs still attached’ to ‘5 minute miles?  No problem, sucker!’, is consistency.  Well, shit.

After Loch Ness, I had a few more races in 2012, but from about mid-November my weekly mileage dropped.  Significantly.  Part of this was down to the fact that I felt like I had earned a break, and part of it was down to my very, very, very painful calf/shin combo.  A pain that was bad enough that every time I even considered going for a run, my shins would speak up:

areyoukiddingme

This pain stayed with me through December, and while it is still lingering, the rest has made a big difference.  I’m no longer wincing every time my left foot makes contact with the ground, but it isn’t perfect – that’s why I’m getting regular sports massage where my leg is turned into mincemeat, and I cry, and I squirm, and I shout obscenities, for £38 an hour.  Bargain.

While the rest has obviously benefited me in the sense that I have less pain, I am acutely aware that I am running a little bit behind in my training, highlighted by the fact that the two lovely ladies I will be going to Paris with are currently doing some monster long runs.

Plagued with guilt, and ignoring all sensible advice, I have opted to ramp up my long runs, despite doing little more than zero miles throughout the week.  My last 3 long runs were 10.5, 15.35, and 17.5 miles.

IMG_20130127_115806

Now, before you throw a side eye in my direction, I’m not doing nothing throughout the week.  I do spin twice, weights 2-3 times, and plenty on the elliptical machine to keep fitness up.  However, it isn’t running, so I’m going to start sneaking a few extra runs in here and there to stop my training from looking like this:

Mon: gym stuff
Tues: gym stuff
Wed: gym stuff and half-assed 2 miles on a treadmill
Thurs: gym stuff
Fri: gym stuff
Sat: gym stuff
Sun: LONG ASS RUN

I mean, what I am doing just now has consistency, of sorts, but not the kind I want – running consistency.  Hopefully, as spring gets closer, I will be worried less about a spectacularly catastrophic, ass-over-head fall on the ice, and can enjoy being blinded by the early morning sun, risking a head on collision with a bus instead.

IMG_20130127_123725

This weekend will be the Forfar multi-terrain half marathon, and I’ll be running with a group of myself and three others at a relatively non-killer pace.  Our aim is to get some miles in and demolish the ‘gigantic feast’ that we are promised will be presented for hungry runners upon finishing.  A ‘drop-down’ week, if you will.

“Thank fuck.” – my legs.

Hypochondria and forgetting anniversaries.

I guess I can add ‘forgetting our five year anniversary’ to the blossoming list of reasons why I suck as a girl.  I knew that it was in January sometime, but checking my own Facebook profile at lunch today confirmed that I had missed it.  And yes, I know how lame it is that I listed our anniversary date on Facebook, but it was clearly a wise decision considering how lousy I am at remembering it.

Apparently the 19th of January marked 5 years since the day Ian and I began ‘dating’.  I use the term loosely, as there was no official conversation during which we both confirmed that we were in fact turning down other sexual partners, but we both agreed that the 19th would work because that’s when we both recall first sleeping together hanging out.

Our five year anniversary was last Saturday, when Ian and I were at a friend’s birthday party.  He is German.  And a chef.  He cooked us traditional German food with curly kale, potato, and sausage.  It was extremely filling, and prevented me from working my way through more than 15% of the birthday cake.  At the party, full of people in their 30’s (apart from my good, youthful self), conversation inevitably turned to babies, weddings, and other such revoltingly mature stuff.  Being the ones sans baby (there was a baby there), Ian and I began being asked when we’d tie the knot/procreate/etc., to which we both pulled the whole ‘it’s too soon’ card.  This brought questions of how long we’d been together, and we couldn’t quite decide whether or not it was more or less than 5 years.  I made a mental note to check at some point.  I then proceeded to drink more beer, which I would regret during the next day’s long run.

Anyway, five years is a long time.  I am officially in my longest ever relationship, and despite not even knowing what day it was, Ian and I got a decent ‘anniversary photo’ at the party:

Me and Ian, after a few adult beverages.

Me and Ian, after a few adult beverages.

In other news, I have been taking it unchacteristically easy at the gym these past couple of days, mainly because my lower right abdominals have been pretty tender and sore.  This occasionally happens since my abs are generally weaker since my abdominoplasty (posh word for ‘tummy tuck’) in 2007, since the muscles were cut and sewn back together.  For the past few years, after an over-enthusiastic high kick in an exercise class, I get bouts of tenderness where I tore my ab muscle just a bit, and then didn’t let it heal properly because I was being a dick.  I assumed I was going through another one of these ‘I have overexerted  myself and will have a tender stomach for a week or two’ experiences.  Unfortunately, I went to Google and started self-diagnosing.  This is a REALLY SHITTY IDEA for a raging hypochondriac, and I obviously came to the conclusion that I had a hernia and that I would need surgery that would put me out of exercise for months.

MwQmB

The comma on the wrong line really bothers me in this meme, but it was so accurate I couldn’t resist using it.

I hate feeling like one of those people who waste’s people’s time, but since I needed to go see my doctor anyway (to get a letter saying I’m unlikely to die during the Paris marathon, and please may she run), I booked into what I can only assume was a cancellation slot this afternoon (usually I have to wait at least a week).  After a lot of poking and prodding (and grimacing), I am told there is no obvious hernia, though there could be a small one deep within the ab wall, but that it could just as likely be the same superficial muscle damage that has plagued me for years.  Diagnosis?  If it still hurts, go back in a few weeks for a scan and take it easy with abdominal exercises.

I am feeling a little more positive, but opted against heavy weights tonight, because if it involves teeth gritting and grunting, it involves my core.  Instead, a late anniversary dinner of Mediterranean fish cakes with Ian.

I am a disgrace to my gender

Despite looking the picture of femininity in some of my earlier childhood photos, there were warning signs that, according to some standards, I was going to be a failure as a chick.  Here is a photo of me and my little brother at Christmas in Indonesia:

We got wooden owls.  My brother is demonstrating his 'owl' face.

We got wooden owls. My brother is demonstrating his ‘owl’ face.

This picture stands out to me because my mother had obviously just brushed my hair.  I distinctly remember having my hair brushed, on average, 3-4 times a year, usually under duress.  Hair brushing was a waste of time, and the bristles on brushes were really scratchy.  No thank you.  I am also fairly sure she would have tied that blue ribbon on my dress into a bow, but it became unravelled, possibly when I was doing whatever caused my bangs to look as though I’d just had my face licked by a dog. I now introduce exhibit B.  Still wearing a dress, my excitement at wearing said dress and being photographed wearing it are evident…

Say cheese!

Say cheese!

…ly non-existent.  At this point, tying my hair up is less hassle than trying to make me brush it.  The real solution, as my mother soon discovered, was just to get rid of the hair altogether:

Class photo! (In our PE kit, for some reason)

Class photo! (In our PE kit, for some reason)

I am the one to the right of my friend Jen, who had the most amazing ‘fro, I think we can all agree.  My bouffant bowl-cut is less amazing.  And, as an aside, the boy on the far left is fabulous.  With little hair to take care of, I continued my descent into failed womanhood, never learning the all-important skills of blow-drying, crimping, curling, using hair products appropriately, etc.  But these are definitely not my only feminine flaws.  I can list countless ways in which I feel sub-female, but instead I’ll list 5.

1. I cannot paint my fingernails.

Well, I can, but really badly.  Generally if you end up with the same amount of nail varnish on your skin as on your nails, you’ve gone wrong somewhere.  Now, if I ever find I really want to paint my nails for an occasion, I’ll do them about 3-4 days in advance, then do lots of dishes.  I find that the abrasive sponge scrubs the polish off my skin, but not my nails.  Then I just need a top coat, and it looks nearly good.  I would say that I am equally crap at applying eye-liner  but in truth it’s only when I’m doing one side, and that’s only because I’m blind in the other eye, so I’ll cut myself some slack there.

2. I do not wet myself over babies.

Because really, one person wetting themselves in a situation is quite enough, unless you’re into watersports, then I guess the more the merrier.  Generally, I find childbirth revolting.  Don’t get me wrong, I know I came from my mother’s vagina, and I am eternally grateful to my parents for choosing to procreate, but every time I learn something new about childbirth, it puts me off the idea of having my own even more.  I remember knowing that babies came from inside their mother’s bellies, but upon careful examination of my own stomach, could not work out where from, since I met significant resistance at the end of my belly button.  I asked my parents, and they fully explained.  Fully.  My dad even drew diagrams.  My parents told me that when I started a new school (I was about 5-6), the teacher asked us all to write a couple of sentences about where we were from. Apparently I wrote:

My name is Rachel.  My mommy met my daddy.  They did sex and I was born.  Then I came to [insert school name here].

So it wasn’t like I didn’t know the drill.  But then came sex-ed class.  And the video of a woman giving birth.  There was a lot of screaming, a lot of gross looking flaps of skin, a lot of blood, and one ugly, wrinkled, sticky baby to show for it.  I could feel my thighs pressing together, it was that traumatizing.  And then I found out more. Pregnant women can suffer from all sorts of nasty stuff.  Haemorrhoids.  Morning sickness.  Craving pineapple on pizza.  Complications.  And then there’s that whole thing about apparently crapping yourself during birth. Oh, and I never knew what the word ‘episiotomy‘ was until recently.  When I searched that on Google  I could almost swear my legs were crossed 83 times.  I have so much respect for mothers.  Because ouch.

Re-reading what 'epiostomy' means.

Re-reading what ‘episiotomy’ means.

There are certain situations in which babies are OK, however.  When they’re asleep, when they’re happy, when they’re clean, and when they’re not eating.  In fact, at a party last night I requested a shot of the baby (a couple of new parents dropped by for a couple of hours), and it was one of the cutest babies I’ve pretended to fly around a living room with machine gun wings, and then make dance to rock music.  Plus, when it touched my face, his tiny hands weren’t covered in baby food.  And after 5 minutes, and a faint whiff of fart, I could hand him back to his parents.  While I’m not denying that baby made me smile, I don’t want something that size exiting something that currently struggles to accommodate something the size of a cucumber.  I would like to stress I did not say ‘an actual cucumber’.

3. I do not want to have sex with that kid from Twilight/’World’s Most Desirable Men 2012′

For research purposes, I scanned through Glamour magazine’s Sexiest Men of 2012 and can only say that out of the ONE HUNDRED men they list (a bit overboard, really), I would count 4 as attractive. For the record: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Leonardo Dicaprio as a fatter, sleazier looking guy than he was during the Titanic era, RDJ, and James McAvoy, but all of these were chosen because they come across as really likeable people in interviews, or have played characters that I want to pretend the actors are like in real life.  So, basically not 100% to do with their looks.  And not 100% to do with reality.  You should probably not judge the other 96 guys too harshly, however, as I am a person who favours David Bowie in his mullet/glitter/eyeshadow/drugs phase and Steve Buscemi.  

4. I would fail a class in complimenting 

Generally, the people I hang out with most frequently have a penis.  This is partly because all of my girlfriends have moved away and are currently dotted around the USA while I freeze my ass off in Scotland, and partly because outside of school, it’s kind of harder to make friends because you aren’t forced to see people every day, so keeping in touch can kind of fall behind.  But when I am in the company of females, I am blown away by how nice they are to each other.  They say things like ‘I love your hair’ and ‘that dress is beautiful’.  They notice that you have (badly) painted your nails.  They do things that boys do not do, and that make me feel a tiny bit awkward sometimes.  If I receive a compliment I usually go a bit red and mumble a thank you, because I don’t know what to do with it.  If I try to give a compliment, I come across sounding like a creep.  Because who wouldn’t sound weird saying: “I like your tights.  The darker colour really emphasizes your calf muscle.  It would make a nice steak if we were all stranded on a mountain and had to start eating each other.”?  Nobody, that’s who.

5. I’m atrocious at flirting

Not that flirting is a skill that I require, what with being in a long term relationship and having the moral backbone to not sleep around, but when I have found myself single, I am retarded at picking up on signals.  I mean, my friend Grant frequently accompanied me as my wingman, and had to tell me when I was being hit on.  My finesse in matters of courting pretty much extends to approaching a male I am interested, saying, “I am Rachel, if your personality doesn’t suck we could be licking each other’s teeth later, please indicate your level of interest.”  Not particularly suave, but then I usually get distracted by a song that I just HAVE to dance to, or end up challenging people to drunk push-up competitions.

These days, Ian often makes comments about men I end up speaking to in bars about various things.  Usually, I have become embroiled in an argument and am enthusiastically fighting my side, and I would say I win 90% of the time (sometimes because the other party is too drunk to keep arguing, sometimes because they eventually come around to my way of thinking).  Ian, however, tells me that they only submit because they think I might sleep with them.  I’d rather keep on believing that my debating skills kick ass, and that Ian can become irrationally jealous of hairy men in bars.

Although I think it’s tacky, I am kind of in awe of chicks who can flirt their way to a free drink without making the man feel like he is being used.  I tried that once.  It went a bit like this:

Me: Hey.
Guy: Hey.
Me: Are you buying a drink?
Guy, holding wallet, at a bar: Uh, yes.  Yes I am.
Me: Cool.
Guy (raising eyebrow): Are you trying to scam a free drink?
Me: Yeah.  I’m not doing very well, am I?
Guy: Definitely not.
Me: Cool.  I appreciate the feedback.

Despite all of my shortcomings, I do have boobs, and according to Ian I display fairly stereotypical symptoms of PMS, so I guess I’m not a complete failure.  I find that running has helped to introduce me to a bunch of other wonderful, flawed women.  Ones that would rather hurl themselves into muddy bogs than get manicures at the weekend.  Ones that are not self-conscious about grunting and sweating in public.  Ones that are glad that they look like crap after a workout, because it meant they put in the effort.  And ones that come on 15 mile runs with me when the weather is like this:

Deeside railway line (January 20th, 2013)

Deeside railway line (January 20th, 2013)

And with that, my second long run of over 15 miles is done in preparation for the Paris marathon.  Thank you, ‘ladies’*, for the company!

At the halfway point today.

At the halfway point today.

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Me and Ronnie, trying not to slip on the ice.

Here’s to being a failure!**

*And gentlemen.
**And yes, I know that you do not need to be good at all of these things to be considered a woman.  I am also aware that the implication that being a woman consists of such trivial things could be considered offensive to women in general, but whatever, have a hissy fit.

Rest days.

Today was a rest day for a few reasons:

  • It was a parents’ evening at school, so I had to miss spin class.
  • I was really, really tired, because on top of exercise, I have a lot of work to do.  As in the type of work that pays my bills.
  • By the time I left school I literally had no sensation in my feet.

Aberdeen is not a well-known tropical resort that holiday-makers flock to.  That’s because it’s freezing – or below freezing if you were to look at today’s highs.  Last night a freezing fog descended on the city as I navigated my way to the gym:

Aberdeen fog

Aberdeen fog

I may have mentioned before that as a Texan who was brought up with heat, I do not function well in extreme cold (and yes, my idea of ‘extreme cold’ is usually what causes people to consider wearing a sweater).  Kids I teach even tweet about how my classroom is always a like a sauna.  Don’t give me weird looks, if they don’t want their teacher reading that stuff, they should change their privacy settings.  Rookie mistake, kids.

Anyway, I got the what I thought was the good seat in the hall where the parents’ meetings were taking place.  The one right next to the heater.  Unfortunately, it was also the closest seat to the doors, and a constant draft was caressing my lower body.  It was only after my last appointment that I stood up to discover I could not feel my feet.  Having played with the idea of sneaking in an hour at the gym after work, I decided it would probably be a much better idea to just go home.  Where a lot of this happened:

Energy level: ZERO

Energy level: ZERO

Having defrosted and had a power nap, I thought that I should use some rare time to myself to be productive and get some marking out of the way.  I had a few jotters with essays written about the negative effects of reality television, so I cracked open the first one to read:

‎”Reality TV is one of the many things I hate about the human race. Reality TV highlights everything that is wrong with these modern times, 95% of all reality tv stars are sluts, whores, chavs, and inbreds.”

Maybe I should tone down my opinions at work.

In running news, I have a 6 mile cross country race on Sunday, and weights on Saturday.  Would it be foolish to try and get in my long run of 14 miles before the weights?  I’d rather do that than break my long run into two short runs (the cross country race then 8 miles in the evening).  Do split runs count?

Calling fat people ‘fat’ and a successful 10 miles

I’m not one to follow celebrity gossip (that is a complete lie, I read gossip magazines on the elliptical at the gym cover to cover – don’t judge me), but I occasionally read about celebrity spats, and with all this social media stuff, it’s easy to follow along and watch all these fancy shmantzy people act like complete tools.  Recently?  Lady Gaga (who kind of infuriates me, but who also makes very catchy music) wrote an ‘open letter’ to Kelly Osbourne (who irritates me slightly less, and who has a father that made good music and took way too many drugs) shitting on her for her presenting job on some trashy fashion show, and saying that she’s so bummed that she feels it is “culturally important to note that [she] have chosen a less compassionate path” in life.  Than Lady Gaga.  Who clearly thinks she’s Mother Theresa now.

Anyway, she’s basically saying that as a former fat chick, Kelly should be aware of how hurtful her comments on appearance might be, and by making fun of the appearances of others on a fashion show, she’s saying it’s OK to make fun of people based on their appearance.

Being a former porker, I have been on the receiving end of some pretty vicious comments about my size.  Having my own grandmother tell me I should spend 30 minutes on an exercise bike instead of 30 minutes baking brownies was one that I remember, but amongst the tamer jabs.  I also remember coming across some graffiti on the ‘graffiti wall’ at work one night and feeling pretty bad.  The ‘graffiti wall’ was in a staff only area where spare chairs were kept for functions, and it was usually reserved for graphic drawings of vaginas and tits, and lists of the ‘most shaggable’ staff.  I never featured.  Except for a tiny section in the corner where someone had scribbled Rachel is a fat, ugly goth.  Next to that, there were further comments from more of my colleagues about the various levels of damage they might incur by sleeping with me (crushed to death, lost in the vast sea of fat, flattened, eaten after the act).  They were  extremely creative, so I have to give them some recognition for that, but it did not make for comfortable reading.

Nobody wanted to have sex with this.

Nobody wanted to have sex with this.

Still, seeing and hearing things like this was good for me.  Sure, I’d feel pretty unhappy about my appearance, and frustrated that at what I had allowed myself to become, but it also made me determined to do something about it, and realize that I was not ‘cute-chubby’, but ‘full-on-fat-ass’.  One day I woke up, found some ‘work out clothes’, and walked to the nearest gym.  It took about 20 minutes, and several patronizing ‘I’m sure this will change your life’ smiles to join, and then I used the elliptical machine for 45 minutes.  I went back the next day.  And the next.  And then kept going.

About a year, and 80lbs. later, I could honestly say that I was glad I was bullied when I was overweight.  Yes, at the time it was hurtful, but if I hadn’t been, then I could have gone through the rest of my 20’s without being concerned about my weight, and if I hadn’t turned things around, who knows where I could have ended up?

"It's OK, I'm drinking Diet Coke."

“It’s OK, I’m drinking Diet Coke.”

Now I want to make it clear that I am no more a Kelly fan than I am a Lady Gaga fan, although I would like to say ‘Bravo!’ to Kelly for turning into a functioning human with two bat-shit (ha) crazy parents, but I guess I don’t really see the big deal about poking fun of people, especially in a cheesy fashion show that probably has less significance in the world than my last shit.

I also do not live in Gaga’s crazy world of sparkles, and unicorns, and raining candy, and frilly dresses, and ‘art’ (this subject alone is enough to prompt a 10,000 word rant from me, so I’m just going to move along quickly), and rainbows, and calling a hand a paw, and supporting LGBT issues because it’s apparently edgy just now, and apparel made of meat, etc.  The idea that ‘everyone should just be nice to each other’ is achievable, MAYBE, in a nursery with like 5 kids who get along, but I just cannot believe all people are capable of being nice all the time.  Unless they fake it.  But that’s even creepier and doesn’t really count.

I guess what I’m saying is that while I agree with Lady Gaga in as much as I think any TV show on E! is trash, I think she’s being completely unrealistic about her hopes for a super happy future for mankind, and I also think it’s kind of ‘LOOKATME’ for picking on someone for such a non-issue.  She also comes across as a bit of a douche for being all preachy and shit.

I’m also saying that sometimes bullying sparks positive change – it all depends on how you react to it.  If you have a friend/relative/colleague who is unhealthily fat, tell them.  To me, that’s nicer than telling them they look fabulous while Type 2 diabetes destroys their insides, and their arteries clog up with each extra doughnut they shovel down their throat.  Oh, and never tell them that mini skirts are for everyone.  They’re just not.

In other, less chunky news, I managed my 10.5 mile ‘long’ run today, followed by an hour of Body Balance, which is a class that is a mixture of yoga, thai chi, and pilates.  It’s a good way to stretch after running, so my plan is to try and time my long runs to end just before the class on Sundays I’m not racing.  While the weather was not ‘partly sunny’ this morning, but spitting cold rain, and windy, but I’m happy to report no tornadoes.  Also, no severe calf pain!  I can’t say I was too enthused at giving up my long lie though:

Ready to head outside.

Ready to head outside.

First ‘long’ run of the year tomorrow.

While the weather has been largely appalling for the last few days, the forecast shows a window of opportunity (partly sunny, no real wind) at the time I was planning my first ‘long’ run of 2012 (and my late start to training for Paris in April – thanks tight left calf).  Inevitably, this means I will end up ploughing directly into rain, sleet, snow, hail, gale force winds, cyclones, tornadoes, tsunamis, and the apocalypse.  Obviously, enthusiasm is already oozing from my pores.

The good news about tomorrow’s ‘long’ run is that at this stage, long equals ten miles.  Part of me wants to do more, but the part of me that remembers the crippling pain in my lower leg that plagued since before Loch Ness does not.  In a way, ten miles seems like a decent test for my left calf, and it has been foam rolled, stretched and massaged to within an inch of its life.  My sports massage therapist gave it a pretty severe pummelling on Thursday, and I’m back next Friday to assess the damage after the weekend.

Side note: He also told me that my anterior tibialis was the “best” he’s seen in his life, because it was so defined.  I had to ask him what the hell that was, unfortunately knowing that is was not the term for ‘ass’, and he pointed it out.  For those not in the know, here is part of a leg:

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My show piece

Tonight – another date with my foam roller, and peppered rump steak with fried mushrooms.  I am looking forward to one of these things more than the other.  I’ll give you one guess.

In other news, I have started a facebook page if any of you fine people care to have my soothing words of wisdom infiltrate your life on a more regular basis.  You can go here for that.  And finally, a photo taken right before the finish of the Lumphanan Detox 10k a couple of weeks go.  Please note, BOTH of my feet are off of the ground!

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Photo: Stuart Milne

I hope everyone has eased back into their workout routines after a bit of festive indulgence/laziness!

Sunday Night Blues

Reasons why I am not in a particularly happy mood:

  • My shins are still not letting me run very much.  Or maybe it’s my calf?  Either way, my lower leg has been experiencing a ridiculous amount of pain, so I have not run regularly since, like, November.  Rest appears to have done nothing.  My training for the Paris Marathon should have started this week. Awesome.  On the plus side, my back, triceps, biceps, and shoulders are looking kind of buff (to me).
  • I go back to work tomorrow.  I have been off since the 22nd of December (a perk of being a teacher).  I have grown accustomed to doing whatever the hell I want to.  And daytime drinking.
  • The scratch cards Ian bought tonight?  Yeah, we didn’t win.  And yes, I know how tacky scratch cards are.

In other news, my search term results never fail to bring a smile to my face:

searchtermwtfJust in case anyone happens to stumble across this site using this search again, may I direct you here, here, or, though not necessarily ‘cycling’ lycra, here.  You’re welcome.*

*Regular readers: do not click on the links if you are at work/with your parents/not into seeing the outline of a dude’s junk in lycra.

EDIT:  You’re all a bunch of perverts:

In less than an hour!

In less than an hour!

Lumphanan Detox 10k 2013

Time (gun): 54:44   [Results here]

Position: 204/322

Medal: No, but we got a t-shirt, small goody bag, and delicious soup afterwards.

IMG_20130102_132219

After a beautiful New Year’s Day, I was looking forward to the first race of the year, but when I woke up on the morning of the 2nd, it was to the sounds of rain lashing against my bedroom window.  Although the weather forecast said the rain would clear by lunchtime, I was not optimistic.

I got up, had breakfast, got changed, and dumped a dry set of clothes in my rucksack, and played some mahjong on my laptop until 9:30, when Ishbel picked my up, with Teri already in the car.  The rain had gone off, but it was still very gloomy outside.

We arrived in Lumphanan with plenty of time, picked up our race numbers, and then wondered what to do for the next hour and a half.  The newsagent across the road from the hall was closed, but there was a small tea room open, so we decided to hit that up for some tea (Ishbel) and hot chocolate (Teri and I).  It was a cute tearoom, but it was just one older lady making the drinks, and I am going to go ahead and assume she was not accustomed to the volume of people who were wanting hot drinks that morning!  Eventually we got our drinks, and found a seat:

IMG_20130102_132302(1)

About 20 minutes before the start, we took advantage of the tea room’s bathroom (but I did not purge what I wanted to purge, out of respect for the rest of the customers in the small cafe – a mistake, as it turns out), then headed back to Ishbel’s car to reluctantly remove our warmer layers:

Ishbel and Teri

Ishbel and Teri

Me and Ishbel

Me and Ishbel

Teri and me

Teri and me, looking very white.

Group shot!

Group shot!

It was around this time that Teri noticed the firemen in full uniform.  She was extremely vocal about how much she appreciated a man in uniform, and all complaints about an uphill 2k at the start ceased.  Everyone seemed to be migrating towards the start, so we followed, running into several people we know along the way.  Mid-chatting, we all commented when the sun blasted through the clouds and blue skies appeared overhead.  Then, without any warning (that we could hear) the horn went off and the crowd started moving forward.

Within about 50 paces, we were on a steady incline.  From the drive in, we knew we had to endure this until the 2k marker, so spirits were not particularly high.  Ishbel stormed ahead, and Teri and I stuck together.  I didn’t bother looking at my heart rate.  Or my pace.  Or the distance.  Or, in fact, my Garmin at all.  For the whole race.  The uphill start was kind of draining, but it actually passed a lot faster than I was expecting, and then came the beautiful downhills.  Or so I thought.

From about 3k, my guts were in agony.  Several times I felt the onset of a stitch that never materialized, and I felt like my sphincter got a better workout than my legs.  Still, I pressed on because, well, it’s shameful to waste downhill sections.  And there were quite a few to come:

Lumphanan Detox 10k elevation

For the most part, the course was on the roads, but at about 7k we were directed onto a very muddy farm track.  No amount of careful footing was going to save my feet from getting cold and wet, and I’m told that every year this section is either very muddy, or very icy.  I was happy with the mud, though a good portion of this was uphill, which was unpleasant.

Lumphanan Detox 10k route

Lumphanan Detox 10k route

As soon as we were back on the roads there was a definite feeling that everyone was speeding up to finish.  Teri started pressing on ahead, then waiting for my grimacing, upset-stomach to catch up.  She was very excited about the soup.  After 9k I started smiling.  When the finish came into view, running became effortless (what the fuck, legs?).  And then it was over.

Ishbel was waiting for us at the finish, and we decided to wait and cheer some people we know in, while Teri aggressively searched out the soup.  When we eventually made our way to the soup hall (spicy lentil was delicious), Teri was already on coffee and biscuits, and talking about all the food she was going to eat later.  This woman’s stomach is a bottomless pit, only confirmed by tales on the journey home of her SEVEN course New Year’s Eve dinner.

Before we set off, we decided to get a group shot of us in our race shirts, only to discover that the sizing was ridiculous.  These have to be the snuggest race shirts I have ever encountered.  I was wearing a large, apparently:

IMG_20130102_131437Teri is not in this picture as she refused to put on her ‘medium’, instead going back and trying to exchange it for a ‘large’.  Amazingly, she got one!  And then we set off home, in the sunshine, up the hill we had started the race on:

IMG_20130102_133319

Race one of 2013 – done!

New Year’s Day on Bennachie

Gallery

This gallery contains 11 photos.

I hope everyone has recovered from their hangovers – Ian and I shared a bottle of ‘champagne’ and I was tanked after, literally, a single glass.  We also had chocolate Angel Delight – for any US readers, Angel Delight is … Continue reading