Time: 1:36:42 [RESULTS HERE]
Medal: No, but I was pleasantly surprised when we got a technical shirt at the finish.
After my DNS last weekend, I was determined to get back on track, especially since I have really struggled since Loch Ness with being sick, and being under strict instruction from my physio to do no exercise for over a week to let my swollen, angry hip calm down.
To put things into perspective, I usually work out 6 days a week, with a total time between 8-12 hours. This is a mix of running, cycling, weights, cross trainer, etc. The week after Loch Ness I managed a single 4 mile jog. The following week I managed a couple of spin classes, a weights class, and a painful half marathon. The week after that? Two spin classes and a weights class. And after that? A 6 mile run, a weights class, a spin class, and a DNS. Not great.
So Monday, all guns blazing, I began my comeback week. It looked a little something like this, and it probably isn’t a smart way to gently dip back into work outs:
Monday: 45 minute spin class, 30 minute HIIT class, 1 hour pilates class.
Tuesday: 3 mile run, 30 minute HIIT class, 1 hour weights class
Wednesday: Rest day (parents’ evening at school and sports massage)
Thursday: 45 minute weights class
Saturday: 15 mile trail run
Sunday: Templeton 10 mile road race
Why yes, I did decide to try out a back-to-back long run weekend with a ten mile race as my recovery run. I may not have been so cocky about my planning skills if I had actually taken 30 seconds to look up the elevation profile for this race. Behold, pain:
Yes. It did feel as bad as it looks.
With storm level winds forecast, and with rain hammering against my bedroom window, I couldn’t help but laugh to myself when my alarm went off at 6 am on Sunday morning. On stiff legs, I went about gathering everything I would need (but forgetting half of it in a morning fug), and before I knew it, Ronnie was outside, raring to go (this could be a slight exaggeration – he seemed less than enthusiastic).
Ronnie doesn’t have a small car by UK standards, but even I was aware of it’s bulk being pushed around on the dual carriageway as we headed towards Dundee. Upon our approach, we drove under a “WARNING! STRONG WINDS” sign, and chuckled. We. Were. Pumped.
We arrived at the start after the main (and overflow) parking had been filled, so had to park up on the sidewalk with other late(ish)comers. Then we left the comfort and warmth of the car to head towards registration, which was quick and painless. We had about 50 minutes until the 10:30 start, so decided to take shelter back in the car, like everyone else was doing, before heading down to registration at about 10:05.
A quick pit-stop in the toilets, and we began the roughly 1 mile trek to the start line, half jogging, half walking. We had been told that the hill we ran down at the start would be the hill we would be running up at the end. Dick move, race organizers.
I ran into Danielle and Sally, who I had met during the Dundee 1/2 last year, and we also found Claudia at the start. Before we knew it, we were off, Claudia surging ahead and out of sight, and after a couple of minutes, during which I felt like I had been hit by a bus, we were horrified that we were pretty much bringing up the rear. There were a lot of club vests on show, so I knew there would be a lot of fast runners, but I guess I was expecting (hoping) to see a few more people behind me.
The hill we were enjoying for the first half mile or so was the hill we would be running up to get back to the finish area, or so we had been told. Considering I was panting doing a 9:30 minute/mile pace, I did not have high hopes for my time, but kept reminding myself that this was a recovery run, and that I had run 15 miles the day before after a prolonged hiatus. I was also paying very close to my ankle (which I had rolled 4 times the day before and felt a little shonky), and my hip (that had forced me to rest due to inflammation, and that had been playing up after about 9 miles of the trails). Thankfully, there were no noticeable protests from them. Just my burning lungs, and the skin on my face being completely violated by the icy wind.
We hit some pretty serious incline quite early on, and through gritted teeth, powered our way up the first one. A few undulations later and a rather uninviting hill loomed on the horizon. Around this point, Ronnie seemed to be struggling, and slowed to a walk. I called back and asked if he wanted me to wait for him, and I honestly can’t decide if I was happy that he said, “No, go on.” I was hurting, and would have welcomed the break, but at the same time, it was freezing, and I quite fancied not having to amputate frostbitten limbs at the finish.
Sally and I grunted up the second long incline together, and although my heart felt like it would vault out of my chest, I was pretty impressed with myself for not giving up. We were rewarded with a bit of a flat section, but this was to be short-lived. After a couple of twists and turns around farm land, we saw the third ‘step’ on the course profile.
This particular hill turned left and right, so we couldn’t see what was coming next. I tried my best to stick with Sally, and when we hit what I thought was the top (it had started flattening out a bit), we turned a corner to face another steep stretch. Sally still felt strong, so she went ahead while I opted to power walk uphill. As she left, she told me she’d probably see me soon, but I wasn’t so sure!
Annoyingly, the short, sharp part of this hill didn’t go on for too long, and at the top a seasoned Templeton runner assured my that, apart from the end, this was the worst of the hills done with, and we were about to be treated to a nice stretch of downhill. Angels sang, I kid you not.
Shortly after the downhill began was the course’s only water stop, and despite seeing Sally’s bright pink shirt up ahead, I walked through it to drink and catch my breath. After another couple of miles I caught up to her and another woman chatting, and stuck with them until we turned into a vicious headwind and started our final few uphill miles. Here, Sally and I pulled away as we made our way through a more residential part of the course.
Look how much we are enjoying ourselves!
At about 8 miles, I could see Claudia up ahead, and while Sally was happy to chug on, I was wrecked, so told her I’d be slowing down a bit. I was in that desperate place where you count down every .05 mile you have left, and when I saw the 9 mile marker (in the middle of the hill we were climbing) I kept telling myself to just not stop, because it would be over in ten minutes.
The final section took us through a section of the forest on trails (uphill, because that seems to be the theme here), until we burst out onto the road with a steep downhill on the grass to the finishing chute, a few places behind Sally. I grabbed some of the water on offer, watched Claudia come in, and then saw Danielle coming down the hill in luminescent orange. With no sign of Ronnie just yet, I knew his calf must still be giving him hassle, so I raided the home baking in the tent on his behalf and took a (highly unflattering) photo with Sally.
Me and my quarterback neck – so alluring.
Ronnie did come in after another 5 minutes or so, and looked in pain. His calf was swollen and obviously sore, so he stretched and gave himself a once over before we all decided that despite the sunshine, it was way too cold to be standing around, and we should probably all go home.
After the race and in the car, I was feeling smug that my ankle and hip had behaved, and that I seemed to be suffering no ill effects from such a heavy training week. Unfortunately, after a shower at home, Ian and I went for a walk, only for it to end with me limping home.
Although there’s no obvious swelling or bruising, it hurts to walk on my right foot, and there is clearly something wrong with it, but I’m hoping that it’s just inflammation that will go down after a couple of days. Nevertheless, this means I’m not doing spin or the HIIT class tonight, opting instead to just do my hour of pilates, and hope there’s an improvement tomorrow.