Cut-back month

After the Baker Hughes 10k on Sunday, I did some tidying, watched a couple of crappy movies on TV with Ian, and packed for my week away with 44 teenagers in London.  After midnight, I decided I should probably get some sleep for the long day ahead.  The day that started with getting on a coach at 4:30. In.  The.  Morning.

After a 90 minute power nap, I dragged myself into the shower, before packing last minute things and remembering a pillow for the 74 month (OK, 14 hour) journey ahead.  On a bus, in case I had neglected to mention that charming detail.  With teenagers that still think farting is hilarious.

Roughly 17 years later, we were all shuffling off of the bus and breathing in slightly warmer air in front of the London Eye, which we took a ride on before heading to the hotel for dinner and room checks.  At 11:13 I crawled into bed.  At 11:13:05, I was asleep.

The week was pretty similar to last year, with a morning shopping in Camden (at least the parts not affected by the fire the night before), the London Dungeons, a few musicals (Billy Elliot, Jersey Boys, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Covent Garden, Thorpe Park, the London Zoo….

Giraffe, clearly.

Giraffe, clearly.

It also involved getting up before 6:00 am every morning for a run.  I managed a single run on last year’s trip, and while May was supposed to be my month off running to give myself a break after the Fling, the weather was nice, and I managed to crack out at least a 5k every morning we were there.

Morning 1 - 8.5 miles

Morning 1 – 8.5 miles along the Thames


Morning 4 - 5k to Trafalgar Square and  back

Morning 4 – 5k to Trafalgar Square and back

Friday was the long coach trip back to Aberdeen, Saturday was weights and a 4 mile run, and Sunday, today, was meant to be my first ‘long run’ to get me back into gear before the Giants Head marathon at the end of June.  I set off expecting about 14 miles, but arrived home 20 miles later thanks to the mid-run company of some friends: Maz, Elaine (who is running Dundee and Glenmore 12 as well), and Carol (who is training for her first marathon).  And possibly fueled by the sheer happiness I got from looking down at my colourful new tights (thank you free time in London to shop).  Even the rain wasn’t enough to dampen (I crack myself up) my mood.

10 miles in

10 miles in

Last night was also the much-anticipated opening of entries for the Glen Ogle 33 mile ultra held on November 1st.  Knowing a few people who planned on entering, I booked my hotel room in the 15 minutes before entries opened (after insider information pointing me in the direction of one of the last rooms at the inn where the after party is), and spent the next 20 minutes anxiously brushing off any of Ian’s attempts to speak to me, explaining I was dealing with some time-sensitive stuff and must not be disturbed.  Oh, and entering the race.  Which means I might as well try to make the most of my ‘cut back month’, since the second half of 2014 seems to be planned and packed!

  • June: Seven Hills of Edinburgh Challenge, Giants Head marathon
  • July: Heart of the Park Challenge, Dundee marathon
  • August: Speyside Way Ultra
  • September: Glenmore 12, Loch Ness marathon
  • October: Amsterdam marathon
  • November: Glen Ogle 33
  • December: Pisa marathon

I’m also in the middle of selling my apartment, so somewhere in there will be moving out (and staying with Ian’s mum), and flat/house-hunting with Ian!  And hopefully, you know, moving into a new, slightly bigger place.  Goodbye free time…

2014-05-15 13.21.35

Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k 2014

Time: 52:35 [Results]

Medal: Yes

IMG_20140518_200922This was the 6th time I have run the Baker Hughes 10k, and there isn’t an awful lot I can say about it, other than:

  • It is flat
  • It is fast
  • It is one of the most uninspiring routes I have had the pleasure of running

Aberdeen has some lovely areas, but sadly, along the beach and through some of the industrial areas are not them.  However, is is apparently easier and cheaper to close the roads down by the beach than the city centre, and the event attracts thousands of runners every year, so why change, right?  I mean, it’s not like I can really complain since I sign up every year, knowing that I’ll wake up on race morning dreading the long stretch along the beach, exposed to the North Sea winds.  How can I resist a race on my doorstep?  Hint: I can’t.

The race has had some particular low points: Race Timing System a couple of year’s ago made a shit hot mess of timing, the aforementioned dull course, the introduction of an ‘e-goody bag’ with offers nobody cared about.  This year, I’m glad to say the timing issue had been resolved, and I had received a text message telling me my chip result before I had managed to retrieve my belongings.  All results were also online within a few hours of the last finisher crossing the line.  And despite a pretty breezy second half, for yet another year, it DID NOT RAIN during the Baker Hughes.  Next year, plan a barbeque on race day – it really is uncanny.  Oh, and we were handed physical goody bags after we crossed the line, with stuff I might actually use (or eat):

IMG_20140518_201034On a personal level, I did not expect much from this race this year, being 3 weeks after the Highland Fling (which has left me with a lot of sore/tight bits in my left leg – like everywhere).  In fact, I hadn’t intended running any races all month, instead slotting in a bit of a running break so I could enjoy some time on my bike and check out the shiny new aquatics centre with a 50m pool (it is fabulous; I am already a dedicated fan).  But seeing advertizing for the ‘big’ local race is basically like cracking open an ice-cold beer, seductively pouring it into a tall glass, and letting the outside of the glass crystalize with sexy, sexy condensation, and then putting the glass in front of a recovering alcoholic and whispering, sensually, “Drink it.”  So I entered, knowing if I was still crippled, I could at least walk the course.

I turned up with just enough time to dump my belongings and extra layers in a locker at my gym (handily close to the start), and find Ronnie and his friend enthusiastically taking part in the warm up.  We were called to our pens, and I shuffled into the 55-60 minute corral.  I had low expectation, and planned to just jog the thing.

Crossing the start line, I realized my Garmin had switched off (thanks a bunch power save), so I had to wait about 30 seconds for it to locate satellites and get started, eventually reading that I was running a 9:30/mile pace.  Good enough I thought, shuffling up to someone else wearing a Highland Fling shirt for a quick hello.  After the first km, I felt OK, and looked down to read an 8:30/mile pace, which was a bit of a shock, as I felt pretty comfortable.  I put it down to my Garmin acting up, and ignored it for the next couple of miles.  At 5k, I looked down again.  8:22/mile.  I kept picking off runners ahead at a steady pace, but wasn’t trying to push myself, because I could still feel my hamstring and calf complaining, and I have a week of chaperoning teenagers around London ahead of me.

It wasn’t until I passed the sign for 9km that my competitive rage was unearthed when I zoned in on a familiar, silver ponytail, bobbing in the distance.  This ponytail belonged to a woman who drafted me during the Christmas Canter 10k (my first ever race report on this blog which I am intentionally not linking to, because I’ll probably cringe if I re-read something I wrote that long ago).  This woman has become known amongst a number of different running groups as a bit of a poor sports-woman.  This woman was going to finish behind me.

I turned the corner at the ‘400m’ sign and floored it.  I looked down once at my pace and read 6:xx.  I kicked silver ponytail’s ass.

Though crowded, I couldn’t spot anyone I knew after I had collected my medal, so I went to get my stuff, and then walked home.  Because of my impending 14 hour coach trip (with 40 teenagers, in case I hadn’t mentioned that yet), I thought I would try and wear myself out a bit in the hope that I’ll manage to sleep for a couple of hours on the bus tomorrow to help break up the journey, so Ian and I set off for Mill Stone hill a few hours later.

Though only about a 3 mile loop, it’s a relatively steep climb, and because the wind had died down, it was sweaty work.

Ian heading up.  Jacket off.

Ian heading up. Jacket off.

At the top, with Mither Tap in the background.

At the top, with Mither Tap in the background.

And now to sit back, relax, and enjoy a beer with some peri-peri chicken, sweet potato wedges, and later, something sweet.  And then packing.  And then a 3am alarm call (I know – gross).