Glenlivet 10k 2014

Time: 55:07 [Results]

Medal: Yes, and a miniature of whisky!

IMG_20140413_183019 Sometimes I wish Scotland was famous for something other than whisky and shortbread, because they seem to be popular goody bag items at local races, and I hate both.  It does mean my friend Grant, a whisky drinker, is going to luck out when I see him in a couple of weeks, as he did after I ran the Isle of Skye half marathon last year.

However, I suppose that Scotland is also famous for some beautiful scenery, and the Glenlivet 10k boasts proudly that it is the “most beautiful run in Scotland”.  Today, apart from seemingly hurricane-force winds, the weather played ball, and we were greeted with sunshine and blue skies, which allowed all of the runners to appreciate just how stunning the race is.

The race is set in the Cairngorms National Park, on the Glenlivet Estate, home of the Glenlivet distillery.  It’s a bit of a drive, so although the race started at 11, Elaine picked me up at 8am to head out from Aberdeen.

We arrived shortly before 10, and made prompt use of the swanky toilets (not a porta loo in sight!), before collecting our numbers and timing chips.  We had something to eat, and then dumped our clothes in the car, being battered by the winds as we did so.  Still, this was our view (it’s hillier than it looks):

IMG_20140413_183259 I had DNS’d this race in 2012 after falling ill (and yes, I was avenging my loss), but Elaine had run it last year.  She let me know that the first couple of miles are a steady incline, and then you get to enjoy the view and cruise through a few undulations, and a mainly downhill final few miles.  She also helpfully told me that the race finished short of the start, and not to panic when I saw neon specks climbing the hill back to the distillery, because they would have already finished and started walking back to collect their goody bags.

At 10:30 we had the humorous race briefing, and at 10:45 we headed outside and huddled with other runners at the start, which was prompt.  I had decided that I would listen to music for a change, and had downloaded Hole’s ‘Live Through This’ to revisit my angry teenage years after I was reminded about the album’s existence after a friend had mentioned it was the 20th anniversary of its release a few days ago.

The race starts with a short, gentle uphill, before a longer, less gentle downhill.  What a tease that section is!  I was full of energy, blasting classic tunes, and flying downhill in the sunshine with a smile on my face.  And then you get to 1k, and the ‘steady incline’ begins.  This isn’t so bad I thought to myself, keeping steady and following a  girl in a green top in front of me.  OK, this is starting to feel quite horrendous I thought, after 5 minutes of slog.  Yep, I’m having a heart attack I thought, as I resigned myself to a power walk.

Once my heart rate had come down again, I picked up to a jog, and refused to walk again (apart from the two water stops) for the rest of the race.  Thankfully, I only had one more hill of any great importance to crest before a sign informed us all that we had conquered the worst of the uphill sections.  This is where water stop one was located, and after a few sips, I was flying downhill again.  This is also where the best vistas of the race were, and I threw caution to the substantial wind as I craned my neck to admire the scenery floating by, trusting my feet not to land in a pothole.  I remember smiling here as well.

Before I knew it, we were taking a left turn back towards the distillery, and I noticed, as Elaine had warned, those neon specks cresting a hill in the distance.  If I hadn’t been warned, I probably would have felt pretty defeated, but knowing the finish line was close, I pushed on, even managing a cheeky sprint finish.

I waited for Elaine to finish, and then we began the walk back, picking up some water and our medals on the way.  Back at the hall, we collected our goody bags, and then took advantage of the free distillery tour.

Me + Elaine at after the race.

Me + Elaine at after the race.

I learned that whisky making is a fairly simple process (if you have all the expensive machinery) thanks to our knowledgable and amusing guide, Sandy.  You need barley, yeast, and pure spring water, which is in abundance on the estate.  I also learned that whickey is clear, just like vodka and gin, but that it gets it’s colour from the wooden barrels it is stored in, as well as remains of sherry or bourbon that the barrels were used for before.  Oh, and apparently whisky loses .5% alcohol each year it matures.  Obviously there was more that we were told during the tour, but it’s worth a visit if you get the chance.  I mean, I don’t even like the stuff, but I still found it pretty interesting.

Inside one of the 'small' warehouses...

Inside one of the ‘small’ warehouses…

Different sizes of barrels

Different sizes of barrels

After the tour, you are invited to try a dram of either 12, 15, or 18 year old Glenlivet whisky.  I had hoped that my newfound appreciation of how it is made would help me enjoy the tast of some of Scotland’s finest, but tasting it had the same effect any other whisky has had on me: it made my tongue and lips burn, and tasted far too similar to what I imagine paint stripper to taste like, tickling my gag reflex.  I couldn’t finish my measure.

Tasting time.

Tasting time.

Elaine tasting her 18 year old Glenlivet.

Elaine tasting her 18 year old Glenlivet.

Elaine and I both stopped at the guest centre for a baked potato before we left, partly to get the taste of whisky out of my mouth, and then we drove home along the winding roads, admiring a bit more of the scenery.

I’m glad I finally got to tick this race of my list, and it is certainly a contender for one of the prettiest races I’ve taken part in.  I also wasn’t expecting a medal, so that was a nice suprise.  I woud like to give a couple of shorter races a go after the Fling to try and gauge how terrible my ‘speed’ has become, and maybe do something about it.  But’s that’s on the other side of a very big obstacle…

Race for Life 10k Aberdeen, 2013

Time: 57-ish minutes

Medal: Yes


The Race for Life is an annual 5k for women with the aim of raising money for cancer research.  I have run the 5k a handful of times, but this year was the first year that Aberdeen also had the option of a 10k (a few of the bigger cities have had a 10k option for a year or two now).  It didn’t clash with any other races (unlike last year), and it’s for a good cause, so I signed up for the 10k a couple of months ago and kind of forgot about it until last week.

After Saturday’s less-than-pleasant 10 miler, I was feeling optimistic about Sunday’s Race for Life.  Why?  Well:

  1. It was ‘only’ a 10k, so if I can get through 10 painful miles, 6 should be easier than criticizing the acting in ‘Lost in Space’ (it was on last night, and it was not good).

  2. Even though the word ‘race’ appears in the name, it’s an untimed charity run, so my general game plan was to turn up, and run it casually.  In fancy dress.  Then go home.

Simple, right?

I went to bed a bit later than I had hoped to on the Saturday night, as I met a friend for sushi, and to catch up.  Apparently it has been a while since we last saw each other, because we had so much catching up to do that we were essentially kicked out of the restaurant because they had to close (they were very tactful about it).  By the time I got home, I was drained, and went straight to bed, setting about 12 alarms (as usual) for the next morning.

You may think 12 alarms is excessive.  Ian certainly does, and is usually pretty vocal about his feelings after being woken up several times early on his weekend morning unnecessarily.  He is especially annoyed because I seem to be immune to pretty much any noise when I am asleep.  Like alarms.  And Sea King helicopter.  Perhaps you see where this is going: I slept in.

Instead of fancy dress, I scoured my cupboard for something pink, but not being a very girly girl, this soon changed to ‘something cheerful’, which ended up being a floaty blouse that would be more at home at a gay pride march, but cheerful it was, so it went on.  I then kissed Ian goodbye, left the apartment, and jogged down to the beach.  The fact that I achieved my maximum heart rate JOGGING DOWNHILL was not a harbinger of joy and optimism.

At the predetermined meeting place, I ran into Susan, and slowly more and more familiar faces arrived.  Susan had also jogged down to the start, and was going to add a little extra onto the end as a long run in preparation for Loch Ness in September.  Since we were both in no hurry, we decided to run together.  We had plenty of for some group photos, and then we enthusiastically took part in the group warm up, before packing ourselves into the start chute with 5,000 other runners, jogger, and walkers.

L-R: Nishat, Nava, me, Jeananne, Naomi, Suzy, June

L-R: Nishat, Nava, me, Jeananne, Naomi, Suzy, June

Beautiful sunny day for a grumpy medal slut.

Beautiful sunny day for a grumpy medal slut.

Now, as this was the first time Aberdeen had put on a 10k race as well, we were all curious about how they would arrange the course.  We had been told by the organizers, however, that it would not be ‘just two loops of the 5k’.  This was a relief, as the beach is a pretty dull (and exposed) place to run, and doing laps is soul destroying, so when we realized that we had been lied to, and that the 10k WAS going to be two laps of the 5k route, we were all a bit deflated.

I really feel this photo (Ian Sharp) captures my enthusiasm.

I really feel this photo (Ian Sharp) captures my enthusiasm.

Every other time I have participated in the Race for Life, I have sardined myself at the very front at the start.  This year, joined by friends, I jumped into the crowd, a fair distance behind the start.  The guy on the tannoy had mentioned (several times) that runners should go to the front, and walkers should position themselves at the back, but this advice clearly fell on deaf ears, as within about 100m we found ourselves trapped behind walkers, sometimes 7-8 abreast (and holding hands), leaving us to either stop behind them, or barge through rudely.  By the time we had covered half a kilometre, we had probably dodged over a hundred walkers.  The thought of our second loop elicited a heavy sigh from a few of us, as we realized it would probably take about half an hour for all 5,000 participants to funnel through the starting area and get onto the course.

After about 2k, the course thinned out into people who were not walking, but it was a hot day, and, again, my heart rate was soaring, so I was glad to see there was a water stop at the half way point.  Unfortunately, by the time we reached it, we had to join a huge, chaotic ‘queue’, and wait for a couple of minutes as a group of about 5 people poured water into plastic cups.  5,000 participants.  The hottest day of the year so far.  No cups of water prepared.  I’ll let that just sink in for a while, while I take a couple of deep breaths and imagine something calming.

After the water, we were heading back to the start on the other side of the road.  The side of the road we were supposed to be on.   Also on this side of the road, a bunch of people walking, people with dogs on leads, small children wandering about in pink fairy wings, wheelchairs, pushchairs, crutches – all going in the opposite direction.  They had been squeezed onto our side of the road because of the sheer volume of people taking part, and the pink mass showed no sign of thinning as we got to 3k, 3.5k, and 4k.  Susan and I had seen a few of the 10k runners weaving in and out of bodies on their second lap of the course, looking annoyed.  Finally, at 4.5k, the last of the walkers went past, and then we hit the turnaround point for the 10k.

Within a few minutes, we were in the same position as the fastest 10k runners, navigating our way through large groups of women, as well as having to be aware of people who stopped for no apparent reason.  Susan and I also experienced the strangest thing to fall in front of us during a race, I think, so far.

We both saw a seagull flying dangerously close overhead.  It is important to mention here that seagulls in Aberdeen are a mutant species.  They’re like normal seagulls on steroids.  They have regularly been seen eating pigeons, other seagulls, and are notorious for thieving whole sandwiches from innocent pedestrians trying to have lunch on the go.  They are loathsome.  They also have an uncanny skill of being able to land a splodge of bird crap on a person with frightening accuracy, and when Susan and I looked up, to our horror, we saw a mass heading straight for us.  We both slowed, and a mere 2-3 feet in front of us we heard an almighty ‘splat’.  We paused, probably from shock at the size of what had been dropped before us, and realized that we were looking at a partly eaten fish.  All of my complaints about how I was feeling and how much I didn’t like this event were washed away as I thought how grateful I was that we hadn’t been that little bit faster, but stinking of fish.

The remainder of the second lap is a blur of discomfort.  My heart rate continued to alarm me, and I continued to ignore it most of the time.  Finally, we approached the finish, and Naomi’s dad managed to capture the two of us in the home straight, mid-chat.  I don’t even want to know what I’m saying, but if I were a betting woman, I’d wager that I am not saying, “Wow, I can’t believe this race is over so quickly, I feel so fresh!”

At least Susan seems amused.

At least Susan seems amused.

Hopefully whatever bug I’ve managed to pick up will go away soon, because I’m kind of over feeling like walking up a flight of stairs requires a 10 minute recovery nap.  Still, in the grand scheme of things, I can’t really complain.  The Race for Life aims to raise money for cancer research, and while I didn’t fund raise for it (because people would raise an eyebrow if I asked for sponsorship for a 10k), I have decided to fund raise for Macmillan Cancer Support, aimed at providing care and support to those affected by cancer, in memory of my grandad.  If you’re feeling flush, you could always drop by the online fundraising page.  If you’re where I was a few years ago, and paying for your entry into clubs with an old sock full of pennies that add up EXACTLY to the entry fee, I won’t be offended if you ignore this.

Anyway, I am genuinely uncomfortable with the idea of asking people for money, but it’s for an excellent cause, and I promise not to bring it up again.  And I don’t really know how to end this post, because everything I think of writing sounds awkward.  So, yeah. Happy 4th of July.

Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k 2013

Time: 53:51 [Results]

Category Position: 199/970

Gender Position: 381/1836

Medal: Yes


I can’t really say I was looking forward to this race.  My speed has taken a back seat during my ‘training’ for the Paris marathon, and this has been a pretty crappy week.

My grandfather was diagnosed with stomach cancer in October, 2011, and told he had 3-6 months to live.  Our entire family went to visit him and my grandmother for two weeks over Christmas, when I started this blog.  He wanted to make it to his birthday in February, 2012, which he did, as well as his next one earlier this year.

About 2 months ago, his health began deteriorating, and he was given weeks.  My mother flew out to be with her parents, and kept us all informed about his condition.  He went from being able to eat a few bites of food during mealtimes, to unable to eat, and finally, at the end of last week, to unresponsive.  We knew that it was just a matter of waiting by this point.  Early on Monday morning, however, my grandmother was hit by the news of her brother’s unexpected death.  Just hours afterwards, my grandfather passed away.  My great uncle’s funeral was on Thursday, and my grandad’s on Friday.

Obviously this has been a rough time for my family, and, naturally, nature loves to hit you when you’re down, because for the first time since pretty much this time last year, I’ve been sick.  All of this has been a recipe for sleepless nights, and living on toast – absolutely not ideal preparation for a race that I had considered using as an attempt to break 50 minutes for the first time in years.

Unfortunately, the Baker Hughes 10k is not a cheap race to enter, despite it being just a 10k, and, since last year, offering no goody bag.  It’s also literally a 25 minute walk from my front door, and just across the road from my gym, which makes it far too convenient to NOT run.  Despite every fibre of my being wanting to stay in bed, I begrudgingly got dressed, drank a smoothie, and headed for the ‘event village’, where I met up with some friends:

Before the race

Photo: Susan (always in purple)

We all took advantage of the nearby hotel’s bathrooms, and about 15 minutes before the start, headed towards the pens.  I was not feeling confident, but Ronnie and Teri both dragged me into the 51-55 minute pen, while the others went to the 55-60 minute pen.  We weren’t waiting long before we started moving forwards and then we were off on what I have got to say is one of the least interesting courses I have been on in Scotland.  The fact that I run along parts of the route regularly may have skewed my opinion, as might the fact that this was the 5th time I was running the race, but there are just so many nicer parts of Aberdeen that could have been used instead.

Anyway, Teri, Ronnie, and I all set off together, but Ronnie, obviously regaining his fitness and speed, slowly pulled ahead.  Although I was trying to ignore my Garmin, I caught a peek at my heart rate which was in the 180’s.  It is usually not in the 180’s unless I am pushing myself to the limit, but I was just keeping it under 9 minute miles.  I probably should not have been running.

Teri stuck with me until about 6k, but she was feeling good (probably as a result of the six – let me repeat for effect, SIX – coffees she had consumed before the start) and she sped ahead (eventually overtaking Ronnie).  Meanwhile, I tried to ignore my heart rate, the three people I passed at the side of the road in a bad state, and a very persistent urge to sob, and trudged onwards.

At the 400m sign, I felt like I would struggle to reach the end.  At the 200m, I sprinted to the finish line, overtaking around 20 people, and dodging some woman’s projectile vomit as I came over the timing mat. She looked how I felt, and I collected some water and my medal, found Ronnie, and had a bit of an emotional episode, which I can only apologize to him for.

Once I’d sorted myself out, we went back to the finish to cheer on people we knew, watched Carolyn win her age category prize (again – she’s very fast), and then collected our stuff before walking home.

I’m glad to see the back of this week.  Dormire bene, Nonno. x

154290_10150304270685234_4568151_n (1)

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.


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:


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:


Race one of 2013 – done!

Great Scottish Run 2012

Time: 1:59:40

Position: 4357/8724

Medal: Yes!

Today I completed my 5th half marathon, after completing my very first half marathon in March.  I have my sixth half marathon in two weeks time, and my marathon debut is four weeks today.  That is terrifying.

Today started early.  I was staying with my friend Anna, who is an old school chum.  She had entered the 10k with some or her workmates to raise money for charity, so even though she is moving to China on Wednesday and in the middle of packing up her life and everything, she couldn’t shrug off her charitable duties – very noble!

I got the train to Glasgow on Saturday afternoon and met her during the awkward phase of saying goodbye to people she works with (apart from those doing the 10k in the morning).  Once the emotion, hugging, card giving, and speech was over, we headed out for pizza and beer, and about 6 years worth of catching up on gossip.  Being sensible, however, we were back at hers and heading to bed at a reasonable hour.

When we were up, we got everything together, and headed towards the Subway to get to the start line, via the meeting point for her coworkers.  Unfortunately, the subway opens later on a Sunday (in this day and age?), so we got a taxi into town.  By the time everyone had made it to the meeting point, there was just enough time to say ‘Good Luck!’ before the 10k runners were lining up.  I wont lie, I totally wished at this point that I hadn’t switched to the half.  I was tired after three consecutive 8+ mile runs on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings.

Anna looking stoked about the fact that she was about to embark on a 10k on a Sunday morning.

George Square, where both races were starting off, was packed with runners and spectators.  Just as I found a decent vantage point, the elite runners were off!  Despite a very uphill start, they were tearing up the road:

The first 10k runners set off!

The original plan was to meet Anna at the finish of the 10k, then make my way to the start of the half marathon.  Unfortunately, the finish line was further away from the George Square start line than I had anticipated.  I dumped my stuff at the bag drop and luckily ran into one of the guys who I had met earlier that was running the 10k with Anna’s crew, as I was holding onto a pink hoodie for one of them!  Then I started following the other straggler half participants who were making their way to the start.

Despite being about 78% desperate for a pre-race port-a-loo pit stop, there wasn’t enough time to queue for one and make it back to my muster, so I figured I’d just have to deal with it and use one of the toilet stations along the way if I got desperate (I didn’t).  I had a brief chit-chat with a few people around me, because there was no shortage of people to talk to and did a last minute check that I had everything I needed in my waist pack (Yes, plus about a kilo of crap I didn’t).

At the start line, looking ahead.

Before I knew it, we were off!  There were cameras everywhere, and a chopper flying overhead.  There was a red double decker bus to the ride of the start, and as I passed it I looked up to see Freya Murray waving down at the runners smiling (I smiled and waved back).  Thousands of runners hoofed up the first big hill and everyone started finding a rhythm.

The course was varied, as we went through residential areas, public parks, the city center, and even part of the motorway, so there wasn’t really any danger of getting bored of your surroundings.  As someone who has rarely visited Glasgow, it was fun to come across places I actually recognized, like Pollock Park.  I even ran past one part of the park that I vividly remember being at with Ian about a year ago, where we had been looking at Highland Cows and noticed that one of the several trees lining the fence had actually grown around the fence!  I smiled as I ran past it, and then grimaced when I noticed I was rapidly approaching another incline.

Although not racing for time, I couldn’t help (as always) noticing that with just over 3 miles to go, if I belted out the last 5k I had a shot of coming in under two hours.  I debated what to do for maybe 4 milliseconds before rolling my own eyes, calling myself an idiot, and speeding up.  I must have easily overtaken over a hundred people in the last stretch.  Easily as in, ‘no less than’, not easily as in ‘with no effort whatsoever’.  Because I fully admit I was breathing out of my ass when I crossed the finish line. My finishers’ photo will yield gritted teeth and a scowl, but, thankfully, no projectile vomit, which for moments was a very real possibility.

After crossing the line, grabbing my medal, goody bag, water, and banana, and doing some stretching, I headed to the bag drop for my stuff, and then began the unnecessarily complicated task of using public transport to get back to Anna’s, where she was doing ‘packing and moving stuff’.

In reality, she was doing ‘drinking champagne and eating stuff’ with a friend, which I was obviously keen to contribute to.  I must say, this was a delightful post-race snack:

Meal of champions.

In fairness, she was preparing for a pretty strenuous afternoon of labour, whereas I was preparing for a less strenuous snooze on the train home.  After a shower (heavenly) and realizing that the train I needed to catch required me to leave quickly, we hugged, said goodbye, and agreed that less than half a decade should go by before we meet up again for more old school gossip.

In moderate pain, but exhausted, I settled into my train seat before starting to doze, waking up here and there with the knowledge that my posture was ridiculous and my mouth was wide open, but not caring.  And now, from the comfort of my sofa, I bid everyone goodnight!

Happy Monday everyone!  The photos are already out for the half marathon, so I did a tactical print-screen-paste-in-paint-crop job to a couple of my less horrendous shots.  I have included an arrow in the first photo to be helpful, but also to highlight that, for maybe the first time ever, I actually remembered to stop my Garmin.  Unfortunately, it means I kind of look like a douche.

The second (and final) photo I’m including was taken during the lung-collapsing final 3 miles, when I was busting a gut to finish in under two hours.  My facial features appear to have melted into my pasty skin, but what’s left of muscle tone in my face shows true determination, at least in my opinion.  I even took my headphones out to listen to the crowd as though it was the final lap in the Olympic stadium.  Let it be known that I was in pain:

VINTAGE: Baker Hughes 10k 2009

Time: 47:58

Position: 671/2537 (Gender position 82)

Medal: Yes

This was to be my second time running the Baker Hughes 10k, and the weather was glorious.  A friend from the gym, Will, had recently got into running (not my fault, entirely), and we had decided to meet at the gym beforehand for a warm-up.  I remember we had both discovered power yoga, and we did some vinyasas in one of the studios.  He’s gay, but I have no real excuse for that.  I should have just turned up drunk, like I did the year before (where I PB’ed, by the way, and have never managed to run a timed 10k faster, disgustingly!).

Anyway, after the warm-up, we headed to the start area where we basked in the sunshine, an Aberdeen rarity, and tried to pretend like we had no pre-race nerves:

It was just before this photo was taken that Will decided to inform me he had chosen not to wear pants, and that he could see his pubes poking through the lycra.

Soon after a bit of photo posing, we made our way to the start line, and before we knew it, we were off!  I remember starting behind Will and trying to keep up, but slowly and steadily his red shirt bounded further and further into the distance until I couldn’t see it anymore.  This obviously annoyed me, and I have never listened to the System of a Down album I had playing without feeling a tinge of bitterness since that day.

The course is pretty uneventful, and I just focused on getting it done and not stopping, a technique that seemed fairly effective for me.  As this was a PG moment (pre-Garmin), I had to rely on the kilometer markers to inform me of how much torture I had left to endure, and when I saw the 9km sign, I hit the gas, knowing from my treadmill tendencies that I had less than 6 minutes left to blast out.

Turning that final corner before spotting the finish line was fantastic.  I broke into a sprint and in my head I felt like spectators were getting a real treat watching my rippling leg muscle glimmer in the sunshine, illuminated by my healthy, glistening sweat.  In reality, they may have glanced in my direction when they heard me grunting my way past some dude who happened to be ‘the chosen one’, the person I had decided at that point I HAD TO BEAT.  I crossed the line, felt like puking for a while, and had my medal placed around my neck as I tried to get back to a normal breathing pattern and find Will, who I knew would be ready to subtly drop into conversation in any way possible that he had beat me (I was right).


Please excuse my lack of eyebrows – these were the days before I had discovered blondes need to tint.

I hadn’t beat last year’s time, and I hadn’t beat Will, but overall I had a good race, and who is going to complain about getting another medal to display, right?

More Ultra Flattering Running Photos

As if I needed to even say it, but the title of this post is laced with sarcasm, because I look like ass in these photos.  But there was a totally buff chick running the Fraserburgh 10k on Sunday, and she too looks like ass in her running photos (not included), so I have hope that I may actually be classed as ‘attractive’ in some circles.  Behold!

Fraserburgh 10k photos: Graeme Clark

Ythan Challenge Photos: source

Fraserburgh 10k. I’m 215, and Grant is behind Mister 130.

Attempting, and failing, a photogenic ‘wave’.  Please note the weird bulge on my right (your left) tit is actually my mp3 player, not a strange growth.

Running up that hill…. no problems.

failed wave #2


Also for your viewing plesure, a few photos from the Ythan Challenge on the 17th of June.  First up, a shot of me conquering the rope netting and making it my bitch.  Seriously, I had to wait in line for ages waiting for people to pathetically scramble over this thing, even going two at a time.  I felt I was particularly skilled at maneuvering over this particular obstacle.

I’m the chick on the right, showing the rope who’s boss and getting all the admiration from the crowds.

And at the end, I obviously had to show the woman ahead of me who the real champion was, by sprinting past her like an enraged hippo.  Here she is congratulating me while I attempt not to puke from the exertion.

Glad not to be experiencing a heart attack.

And one final photo.  Kynon handing me water as I’m sure I gasped something about needing something to wash down ibuprofin with because my shin was dying.

Almost drugged.

Anyway, my shins are still pretty sore during any real exertion, so I’m obviously stoked about the Stonehaven Half Marathon this Sunday.  I think I’m going to treat it as a long run, as I’m scheduled for 13 on that day anyway, and I’m going to unburden myself with the pressure of racing for time by trying to stick to my ‘marathon pace’, which is anywhere between 9:15/mile and 9:30/mile (I’m guessing).  The medal at the end will just be an added bonus for finishing a very social training run.  And the beer will just be me celebrating the fact that I have 7 weeks off work for the summer holidays!

Yeehaw, bitches!

Fraserburgh 10k (24.6.12)

Gun Time: 52:16

Position: 86/146 (Gender Pos: 18/60)

Medal: No. (But we all received a race memento and goody bag)


I hadn’t planned on doing this race.  At all.  But I knew a few people who had entered (Ronnie and Dawn) and they had both encouraged me to join them for the morning.  Because of my shin splints, however, I didn’t commit, and really, I was kind of glad I had a race free weekend as they seem to be few and far between at the moment.  However, after my ‘test’ run on the treadmill on Friday, I was convinced that I could manage a 10k in a reasonable time if I stuck to my half marathon pace, and the lure of a possible medal for a measly 6 miles was playing with my rational thinking.  And then, pissing about on Facebook last night, I see this:

So decisive…

An hour later, I had caved:

Even after witnessing the forecast:

Rain. Heavy rain.

Later in the day, my friend Grant came over to watch Apocalypto (which I thoroughly enjoyed, and didn’t even notice that it was nearly 2 hours long).  I mentioned the possibility of the 10K, with perhaps more than a hint of a persuasive tone, and by the time he had left, we had agreed to just go ahead and do it.  I braced myself for an 8:30 pick-up.  And rain.

Getting into the car, I could sense Grant’s enthusiasm.  He was clearly just joking around when he looked over and greeted me good morning by uttering, ‘I hate you.’  Just looking at him, I could sense he was majorly pumped for the morning’s adventure!

Can’t you see it?!  Anyway, I could kind of see why he was perhaps a bit put off:

The forecast was accurate.

We arrived in Fraserburgh, given the title in 1998 of being the heroin capital of Scotland, with ample time.  We registered and collected our safety pins and bibs, and then decided to take a driving tour of the town.  Five minutes later, we decided to grab some fuel from the giant Tesco that was on the way in.  We treated ourselves to a salted pretzel each.  Bad idea, it turns out.

At 10:30, we headed back to the sports center, where there were more runners gathering together, trying to ignore the rain.  We found Dawn, and then Ronnie (and his mum), who we chatted with until we got called up to the ‘start line’.  After a countdown, we were off!  Starting at a sub 8 minute mile was unwise, and almost immediately I felt a burning in my chest (good morning heart burn) and was overwhelmed by the taste of salt, which was to remain with me for the duration of the race.  Lovely.

Two kilometers in, I had settled into a more reasonable pace, but the rain had become so strong I was forced to abandon my mp3 player.  This turned out to be OK, as Grant was only just behind me, so we both settled into what we called a Tough Mudder team building run.  This involved complaining about the rain, and chatting:

I’m being partially blocked out by the guy in orange, Grant is next to me in white. Photo: Fiona Paterson

We ran through a few residential streets, before turning onto one of the main roads.  We then turned onto what seemed to be a long private driveway, at the end of which was the water station.  After this, all we had to do was go back the way we came!

Our camaraderie lasted until approximately 250 meters from the finish, when Grant remarked, ‘I guess it’s just down to the two of us,’ sparking an irrational competitive rage within me.

Sprint finish.  Photo: Fiona Paterson

And then it was over, and the rain kind of stopped, which is typical.  We waited for Dawn to come in, and then we all headed our separate ways. But not before some post race photos by/in the car.  Here I am trying to take out the memento to pose with, while Grant took some ‘candid’ photos, which he felt were necessary:

As you can see, Grant is just as thrilled about having run a 10k as he was merely anticipating it:


I tried to lighten the mood to avoid being left for dead at the side of the road somewhere between Fraserburgh and Aberdeen:


Something tells me, however, that he didn’t appreciate my rendition of ‘Never Ever’ by All Saints on the way back….

The Aftermath

When you find yourself on the phone to your mother at 2 am searching for the soothing voice of sympathy, you’ve done something stupid.  I have been battling this cold for nearly a week now, and although yesterday morning I was chipper and enthusiastic, I was not 100% fit to run.  But the sun was out, and that’s kind of like my kryptonite, people.  Not so much that is destroys me, but it has an overpowering effect on me, leaving me unable to resist it’s seductive lure of sexy warmth.

So I ran the 10k, and it hurt to breathe, and I was in a substantial amount of discomfort throughout, and I intentionally avoided looking at my heart rate because I wanted to avoid a freak out.  And then it was over, and I entered a delusional stage that made me feel like I had the power of the HULK (and the overall sex appeal – ie. none).  Witness:

Momentary lapse of dignity – In my mind I’m probably thinking: ‘I’m so bad ass!!!!!’

And then I felt progressively worse as the day wore on.  Here is a visual representation of the remainder of my afternoon (remembering that I have a sunshine fetish and it was BEAUTIFUL outside):

Front row ticket to the Pity Party

Fast forward nearly 12 hours, and I was shivering on my sofa, speaking to my mom in Houston about how crap I felt and getting reassurances like ‘Your throat wont close off and suffocate you in your sleep’, and ‘I promise you don’t have Meningitis, you’d be too sick to phone me if you did’ (I tend to become a bit a total freak-out hypochondriac when I get really ill, especially at night).

I can’t remember when I eventually got to sleep, but I woke up at 6:30 to get ready for work.  By 10 am I was headed right back to my bed, via the pharmacy for some pain relief drugs and Vicks Vapour Rub (amazing stuff).  One power nap and a bit of planning for next week done, I feel no better and no worse.

Knowing that I’ll miss spin class tonight is a bit of a bummer, so in an attempt to cheer myself up, I have registered myself and my unsuspecting mother (a lithe and spirited 55 year old) for a fancy dress 5k in Houston during my planned visit in October.

She said in a recent conversation: “I’ll make sure to read your blog sometime soon.”

We’ll just wait and see how much truth there is in that statement, shall we?


***EDIT***  Costume suggestions welcome (and encouraged) in the comments section!

Baker Hughes 10k 2012

Gun Time: 52:56

Chip Time:  51:08

*EDIT (21/5/12): Chip time updated to 50:52

If you were unhappy w/ your chip time, check again – it’s likely to have been updated!

Position: 1111/3774

Medal: Yes

Medal, obviously

My opinion is that parts of this race were a bit of a shambles from the word go.  For those new to the blog, the original race bibs had to be replaced because there was a spelling error on them.  They said ‘Abeerdeen’ instead of ‘Aberdeen’.  Misspelling your own name…. That takes some skill.

In addition to this, and likely because of this, many race packs were arriving very late, and some of them were incomplete (my friend was missing his race shirt, a somewhat obvious thing to miss out of an otherwise non-bulky packet).

But the thing that I have an actual problem with are the chip times.  Not once have I had a chip time SLOWER than my watch time.  I always start timing from just before the start until I have definitely crossed the finish line (I usually forgot the stop the thing).  This is good, because it means I am never disappointed.  Today, after sprinting like a beast over the finish line, I forgot to stop my Garmin.  When I eventually did hit ‘stop’, the time displayed was 51:01.  This meant I was safely under 51 minutes for my chip time.  So imagine my confusion when I checked the results page to read my chip time as 51:08!

After some careful investigation (joining in twitter/Facebook rants about time), I came to the conclusion that there were a lot (and I mean A LOT) of people who had chip times that were 10-15 seconds or more off their Garmin times.  So it wasn’t just me, which was a relief, but something had obviously not worked correctly, which was really annoying.

Anyway, I’m counting my Garmin time of 50:53, which, although is nowhere near my PB, is still the fastest 10k this year, and since I have become able to run again after nearly 2 years off, so I’m happy that things are progressing.

Notice the time at the end before my speed drops off (ie: I cross the line and slow down, trying not to barf)

I’m especially happy with my time as I spent the majority of yesterday shivering with cold sweats, mopping snot off my face and sleeping on the couch.  I felt equally gross this morning, but could not skip out on an event that was a mile’s walk from my flat (and a bit).  There was coughing.  There was spluttering.  There was shortness of breath.  There was feeling like I could happily lay on the road and cry, as long as it meant not running.  And then there was my body’s ‘fuck you for making me do this’, also known as ‘being curled up in bed, in pain, on a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon.  I am already starting to feel some of these after effects in my post-run photo:

The alka-seltzer breakfast had worn off.

At least my friend Grant was in a fitter state to run a 10k today, and managed a new PB!  It’s just a shame that it might actually be 10-15 seconds faster than he currently thinks it is:

Posing like it’s going out of fashion

This is the fourth time I’ve done the Baker Hughes, the first time being in 2008, and this is the only time I’ve ever experienced anything negative.  Hopefully the results can be sorted out, especially for those out there that PB’d and fancy an accurate recording of their time, otherwise I’m sticking with my Garmin time, thank you very much!