Time: 3:02 ish
Medal: Yes (same as last year’s)
And yes, that is what my nail looks like currently after it lost a fight with a closing door back in April.
Having been back at work for a full week, I feel like I’ve aged 20 years, and the suggestion that I’ve just had 6 weeks off seems laughable. Throw into the mix a disgusting head cold, and I present you with a girl who has run once this week, and has done a grand total of zero other workouts. Waking up this morning, shuffling to the bathroom to cough up a night’s worth of grossness so I could breathe properly, looking outside at the rain pelting down – I was so, so unenthusiastic about running 17+ miles today.
But when does that get in the way of running a race? Pretty much never. So I threw myself into the shower (running fresh is important), lubed up generously (I learned my lesson after 1st degree chafe during a 12 mile run whilst the heaven’s opened last month, and did not care to repeat that experience), threw on my kit, and had a bowl of cereal. And then did a load of washing. And then washed the dishes that had piled up during the week (let me remind you I was sick). And then I vacuumed. Oh, sorry, did I not mention that I woke up at 4:37 am and could not, despite feeling exhausted, get back to sleep? Because that happened.
At about 9:30, I reluctantly left my warm, dry apartment with everything I needed, and made my way to the pick up point, where Naomi was waiting for me. She had already picked up Sheri, so it was a quick trip to pick up Susan, and then we were off to Fraserburgh, which I have had a hate-hate relationship with since the 10k there last year. I was uplifted when we drove past the sign to ‘Gash’, because sometimes I have the maturity of a 13 year old boy. The sky was overcast and grey, and rain continued to fall, but it could have been much worse, as we discovered upon arrival that there was no discernible wind – a miracle along the Scottish coast!
Ronnie had driven to Fraserburgh the night before and registered us all, which involved picking up our numbers and t-shirts, which were a step up from last year’s white, I must say. He had also been up early to drive his car to Gardenstown (the finish), so that we could all be driven back to Naomi’s car at the start. Luckily we arrived early, as this took longer than anticipated, and we had to navigate to Ronnie’s mum’s to pick him up, nearly driving the wrong way down a one way street!
Once back at the start, we had a quick toilet break before congregating in the rain with the decent turnout of runners for a safety briefing. We were all told that the clock had started 2 hours ago with the walkers, and at 11:00 we were off along the relatively flat first 5/6 miles along the coast that lulls you into a false sense of security.
The five of us set out together at a steady pace, walking through the water stations because we knew there were a lot of relay teams, and as we were treating this as a training run for Loch Ness, weren’t keen on competing with fresh legs. Despite how I felt earlier this morning, I was feeling pretty strong, possibly down to the fact that my body got a bit of a rest this week (apart from a 12.5 mile run on Thursday evening). Susan and I fell in behind a youngish boy who was running as part of a relay team, and Naomi and Sheri were treated to a history of Ronnie’s childhood a little further back.
After about 6 miles, ‘flat’ was no longer an option. If you weren’t going up, you were going down, and there was no let up until the end. Ronnie, myself, and Susan powered up the hills, and Sheri and Naomi fell back. It stayed like this for another mile or so, and then Ronnie fell back as well, as Susan and I aimed to catch ‘man in yellow’, the gentleman running the second leg of the relay with the young boy from earlier that had been tagged just as the hills started.
Knowing this was some great hill training for Loch Ness, Susan and I kept going, and eventually passed ‘man in yellow’, but we could see him, as well as Ronnie and Naomi close behind every time we stopped for water. Having run this last year, I knew what was coming, so Susan (and the rest) had been warned in particular about the 17% incline at about 14 miles. Possibly inspired by my photo from last year, Naomi made her feelings about the hill quite clear when she reached it:
I will say, this photo does not do the steepness of the hill justice. You’ll just have to take my word for that.
Susan and I battled up the hill next to cyclists that had come off their bikes to push them up the hill (they had set off an hour after the runners), and were eventually rewarded with some downhill running that didn’t make us fear for our lives (ie, not the 20% incline we had to run down earlier). At this point I still felt strong, which I was thrilled about, because at this point last year I was nearly a broken woman. Susan, however, was starting to feel fatigued, and when my Mr. Motivator chat wasn’t helping, she told me to go ahead for the last couple of miles.
There was a woman up ahead who was running the last 3 miles or so as the final leg of her relay team, and I made it my mission to pass her. I grunted hello as I overtook her, and continued on the mostly downhill path until I saw the town sign up ahead – nearly done!
I kept at a steady pace for the final mile or so, but had to try and slow myself down during the steep and slippery descent towards to harbour! During my final few strides of the race, I overtook a couple of walkers (an added bonus), and clocked my time as being just over 3 hours, which is only a couple of minutes slower than last year.
A couple of minutes later, Susan appeared, followed shortly by Ronnie and Naomi, and then Sheri. Adorned with medals and shivering, we made our way to Ronnie’s car to warm up (and hopefully dry off), stopping to take a couple of shots of the finish/harbour. The blurriness of Ronnie’s phone’s camera should indicate the levels of precipitation:
My goal for this run was to run at a steady pace instead of shooting off fast and burning out like I did last year. Despite being slightly slower, I count it as a success. I was also curious to see how much more successfully I handled the hills since I’ve been including quite a bit of trail running during this training cycle, and was pleased that I didn’t feel the need to walk quite as often. The real test, however, will be how I feel tomorrow. Or, more specifically, how my legs feel tomorrow.