Dunecht Dash 2013

Time: 24:57

Position: 84/180

Category Position: 10/37

Medal: Yes


The Dunecht Dash was meant to be a shake out for my legs after the Loch Leven half marathon, and as a way of taking pressure off of myself to go for a killer time, I had decided well in advance that I was going to go in some sweet fancy dress, since there were a lot of people I know running as well.  Unfortunately, I never got round to securing my YMCA leather biker costume before the weekend, and opted to wear the tech tee I got yesterday in an attempt to excuse a poor time.  Teri, who I ran with yesterday, had offered to pick me up in the morning.  It seems we were both feeling extra stylish: IMG_20130512_154112We were even wearing the same Garmin.  Too far.

We were advised to arrive early (we did) as parking was limited (it was – though there was an overflow parking lot), so we found that we had plenty of time to kill before the start at 12:15.  Luckily, there was a kids 2k race on at 11:30, so we giggled at their enthusiasm warming up to ‘Gangham Style’, and other such pop hits, and then found a prime viewing position for the start, cheering them on as they leapt into action!  Some of the kids were TINY, so it was pretty adorable watching them, tongue’s out, pumping their arms with determination.  I had been pretty emotional during the weekend because of non-running stuff going on, so I was actually choking up a bit.  Very unlike me.

It wasn’t long at all before the leaders of the kids race came storming up the hill towards the finish, where the bagpipers had started up.  All the parents and 5k runners lined the path and cheered on the kids.  Now, I swear that I do not want my uterus invaded by the world’s most beautiful, talented, and clever baby any time soon, but I feel I must reiterate that these kids were extra cute breaking into goofy smiles when they sprinted to the finish line.  Except for the girl who was crying and being dragged along by her dad – that was just hilarious.

After all the kids had finished, it was time for our warm up.  Usually, I shun such amateur stuff (translation: my coordination is appalling), but my legs were stiff as hell (especially my quads), so I thought I might as well go for some cheesy aerobics to try and loosen up.  I’m not even being sarcastic when I say my enthusiasm was evident – I  shimmied, twirled, and bounced with all the grace of a monkey on crack, but I definitely felt looser.  And ridiculous, obviously, but as I was joined by Teri, Danielle (who was there with her husband – NOT partaking in the warm up), Susan, and a few others, it didn’t really matter.

Warm up done, we reluctantly shuffled towards the start area.  As we were being counted down, I still wasn’t sure whether I was going to go for an easy run and enjoy half an hour in the somewhat mild weather, or push myself to ‘burning lung’ stage.  As the horn sounded, I went for it.

The course weaves around the Dunecht Estate on tarmac roads, and is very gently undulating.  The start was a nice downhill stretch and I clocked my pace at 7:xx whenever I looked at my watch.  My lungs were burning by the first kilometer, so I guess I’d made my decision already, and I settled in for 20 more minutes of pain. My pace dipped a bit as the race went on, but I was determined to come in under 25 minutes.  As I turned a gentle corner to the right, I realized that I was looking uphill to the finish line, and I picked up the pace despite my very real concern that I might throw up all over myself.  I watched 23:59 tick over to 24:00 on my Garmin, and realized that I’d have to really push to make it to the finish in less than a minute.  I continued to ignore the increasingly strong urge to vomit (and my screaming quads) and grimaced my way to the end (forgetting, as always, to stop my watch or look at the time).  I got my medal (unexpected), a bottle of water, a banana, and a goody bag (also unexpected), and found Teri ‘speed demon’ Brown waiting for me.  She’d managed to finish her first 5k run in 22:39, which was good enough to secure her 1st place for her age group!

Teri (right) and Carolyn (1st female SuperVet) with their awards.

Teri (right) and Carolyn (1st female SuperVet) with their awards.

She was so shocked she actually screamed when they called out her name, and I overheard someone say, “Best reaction ever”, even over her excitement. Teri wasn’t the only one who had a successful race – Danielle managed a PB too!

Me and Danielle (rocking the luminous look) after the race

Me and Danielle (rocking the luminous look) after the race

Teri and I eventually made our way back to the car.  Our elation at how well we had both done, especially after what felt like such a punishing half marathon the day before, kept us in high spirits during the drive home.  This joy lasted until I got dropped off and had to walk to my apartment on toes that could accurately be described as tenderized beef.  I hope they forgive me for the 10k they’ll be taking me through next Sunday.

After the race

After the race

It has been a while since I’ve run any short and fast races, especially with my first two marathons within 6 months of each other, and now that I have a bit of a break, I wouldn’t mind trying to get a little bit of speed back.  Here’s hoping the next short-ish race I do will be a little bit less painful.

La Course du P’tit Dej’ (The Breakfast Run) 2013


This gallery contains 9 photos.

One of the reasons I had enough clothes to justify checking in a bag as well as taking a substantial carry on for a 4 night trip was the Breakfast Run – a 5k fun run starting at Ecole Militaire … Continue reading

Mighty Mud Dash Houston 2012

Time: 43:04

Position: 302/3193  Gender Position: 80/1757

‘Rachel’ position: 1/14

Medal: Yes! (and cotton t-shirt, and wrist band for free beer)

This was race 2 of 2 on Saturday, October 20th, and I had scheduled to run in one of the later start waves to give me time after the West U Halloween Dash earlier.  By the time I arrived, however, most of the participants were gone or drunk, and the organizers didn’t seem to give two shits about when your wave was; when you were ready, you start.  Instead of risking more bitterness that day, I opted to skip the costume contest and start straight away.

Obviously, my Garmin had issues starting, but I didn’t really care about pace, more heart rate in the mid-day Houston heat.  It got going after a few minutes, and by then I was already hyperventilating in a ditch of freezing water.  The course was definitely not congested by this time (it seemed like most people were trying to clean up by this point), and for the first mile I overtook about 5 people, and I was taking it relatively easy.  The obstacles rolled by, but nothing near as horrendous or dread-inducing as what I faced during Tough Mudder Scotland.  In fact, this was pretty much a walk in the park.

And then I reached the ropes that I was supposed to navigate over a pond of muddy water.  I got to chatting to the photographer who was telling me about a half marathon in Dallas next weekend, whilst snapping ultra-unflattering action shots:

This isn’t so bad, I expected to get muddier, I thought, stupidly, to myself, tempting fate.  And then came the mud pits.  Whilst gross, they weren’t too difficult to navigate, and I jogged along in soggy shoes that weighed approximately 50lbs. more than when I started.

Eventually I scraped some mud from my Garmin to realize that I was over 2 miles into the 5k course, and that’s when we swerved around by the spectators.  There was my brother, checking out the scantily clad girls, and my mother taking yet more unflattering photos of me hauling myself over a 6 foot wooden wall.

A couple more pits of mud, another wall, a rope web to climb over, and one final crawl through mud and I was crossing the finish line and accepting my (huge) medal.  I was disgusting, and my brother seemed to want me to clean myself up before getting into his car for the ride home, so I joined the masses in a qiant queue to get hosed down by firemen.  With big ass hoses.  I can confirm that firemen’s hoses have exceptional cleaning power.

Cleaned up (kind of) and soaking wet, I sat on a couple of trash bags and we set off home, via Taco Bell for some (un)healthy refueling.

Overall, I felt that the volunteers had had enough by the time my wave time came around.  The majority of water stations were unmanned and out of water by the time I ran, which was disappointing and would have mattered had the course been longer than just 5k.  I also the feeling we were being ushered along like cattle, but whatever, I entered early so I got cheap rates.  I doubt I would do the Mighty Mud Dash again because it didn’t really feel like much of a challenge, and I have discovered (for the second time) that it is a complete pain in the ass to clean muddy shoes and clothes thoroughly.  And mud in your ears sucks.

West U Halloween Dash 5k

Time: 26:10

Gender position: 45/135, Age Group position: 7/19

Medal: No, but we did get a t-shirt


I’d like to say straight away that I am still not acclimatized to Houston’s heat and humidity issues.  And I ran this 5k dressed as a Native American warrior chief because the website ‘encouraged’ fancy dress, and specified there would be a costume contest after the race.

I had signed myself and my unsuspecting mother up for this race as a ‘bonding’ experiencing during my visit.  Whilst not entirely impressed, especially given the 8am start, she did not outright refuse, nor did she completely hate the idea of dressing up (though recycling an old 80’s chick costume was, in my opinion, just lazy).

This was a community event, and there were several families there.  The local supermarket, H.E.B., provided fresh bananas, water, and coffee to everyone there.  Loads of parents made baked goods to sell.  There was music.  It was sunny.  A cool front had hit Houston (still skin melting temperatures for someone used to running in Scotland).  My mother and I arrived with about 10 minutes to spare, but most of that was used up by everyone moving to the revised start line (2 guys wanted to break a 15 minute 5k, and so they needed it to be an accurate distance.  Spoiler: they demolished the race).

This was a no-frills start, and a horn went off out of nowhere, signaling the start.  So we were off!  I didn’t bother taking music with me as it was just a local 5k, but I immediately regretted this decision when I realized that I would be listening to my beaded necklace smash against my chest every time a foot hit the ground until I was done. At least it was only a 5k.

The route was through residential streets, and plenty of the locals were out cheering on the runners.  I had lots of ‘Come on Chief’ and several ululations from the supporters, and that helped me soldier on even though my faux leather fringed calf guards were practically sodden with my sweat.  I managed to keep a steady, but average, pace throughout, and I had a mini-kick at the end, though nothing spectacular.

Approaching the finish line

After grabbing a bottle of water, I found a spot by the finish and cheered on fellow runners, but I was definitely more enthusiastic for the 5% of people who were also in fancy dress.  Eventually my mother came walking towards the end.  I was shouting for her to “Finish Strong, don’t walk!” but she had apparently hurt her calf and didn’t want to jeopardize her important tennis match on the Monday.  She walked to the end.

She came through in just over 30 minutes, but for some reason her chip didn’t work, so she isn’t listed in the results – which is a bit of a bummer for her first official 5k.  There was a girl dressed as a cat who she said she was in front of the whole time, so we looked up her time (after stalking her to take a note of her number) to give us a rough idea of what time my mom could have finished in.  It turns out if she kept running she’d have won the prize for the fastest female coffin dodger!

Walking to the finish

Speaking of missing out on prizes that should have been yours, the costume contest was bullshit.  I had scoped out my competition throughout the run, and during the kid’s fun run afterwards, and I knew I was pretty much the only decent female contender.  Once the contest started, I was waiting in the adult section along with Captain Underpants (a dude in tighty whities and a cape), a dude dressed as Snow White, and a dude in a full gorilla costume.  We looked at each other and all agreed that two of us were going home winners.

They had the kid’s costume contest first.  We all clapped like we cared when Princess Fiona and a whoopie cushion paraded before the judges.  Next category was ‘best couple/group’, so the four of us hung back.  But then we overheard the judge award a prize to best couple, then best female group, then best male group.  And then he moved on to the running awards.  What the actual fuck, man?  The gorilla took his mask off and looked super pissed.  The guy in his underwear looked at us and asked, “Is that it?”.  We had all run a 5k and hung about a children’s event to win a costume contest, and we were totally blown off.  Even my mother exclaimed, “What?  This is bullshit!”.  I should mention that competitiveness runs in the family.  Monopoly games can become violent.

The four of us, jaded and deflated, decided we weren’t hanging around for ‘If you’re happy and you know it’.  I still had the Mighty Mud Dash to get ready for, and I’m certain the three men had better things to do on a sunny Saturday, so off we went.

It’s Tuesday and I’m still bitter.


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!

Another parkrun PB, last minute race packs and new races.

After the success of last week’s parkrun, I was doubtful I could improve today.  To cut a long story short, I did improve, and have a new parkrun PB of 24:01.  Such a nagging itch in the crotch that I was a mere 2 seconds from coming in under 24 minutes, but ho hum, maybe next time, right?  I was also pretty happy to finish 5th female.  Single figures is always pretty sweet (and there is simply no need to investigate and find out how many women actually participated – who needs to be brought down?).

In other news, I finally got my race pack delivered for the Baker Hughes 10k here in Aberdeen next Sunday.  There was a delay because they noticed, after sending out a few batches of race packs, that there was a spelling mistake on the bibs, so had to halt production, get new ones made, and then start resending stuff.  It was a nice surprise to come home to after the gym and parkrun.  I’m pleased that the technical tee is significantly less boring than ones in the past – they’ve used lots of colour!

Nice easy number to remember!

I was kind of thinking about running the 10k at half marathon pace, because I want to rock the Edinburgh half marathon the following weekend, but I know once I’m at the starting line, I’ll find it really difficult not to just hit the gas.  I guess I’ll make my final decision when the starting gun goes!

Finally, all these long runs on the weekend make me seriously dread my full marathon training that will need to kick into gear in July-ish.  I can see myself getting really bored of them, without any atmosphere and all on my own.  Solution?  Search online for any long race that can be substituted as a ‘long run’ for motivation!  So my marathon debut will be at Loch Ness in late September (the day after a friend’s wedding in Edinburgh, so I’ll have some magic to work there).  Two weeks prior to this, I have entered the Crathes half marathon, and two weeks prior to the Crathes half marathon, I have blindly entered the BRG Challenge, a 17.5 mile hilly beast of a run up North.

In a couple of days when my updated race schedule registers in my brain, I’ll perhaps be slightly irritated with myself for depriving my body of a few weekend lie-ins, but in the end, I think it’s for the best, pre-marathon, not only as training, but to help me feel more confident about actually completing the distance in one piece…

parkrun PB

On Saturday I was up early to walk down to parkrun before Body Pump at the gym.  Within about ten seconds of leaving my flat, I wished I had brought my gloves with me, but the thought of going up ALL those flights of stairs made me think ‘whatever, I can live without them’.  The forecast was for sunshine, so I figured it was early and it would heat up. Ha ha ha, foolish girl.  Anyway, I arrived with heaps of time (I usually jog down, so had totally overestimated how long it would take to walk), so I sat in a sunny spot and admired the view while I waited for a guy from the gym, we’ll call him Connie, to show up in his car so I could ditch my stuff.  This was going to be his first 5k (timed) and it was looking like a promising day for it (despite the bitter wind).

View from Aberdeen Beach toward the North Sea

What you can’t see from this picture is the approaching cluster of dark, ominous clouds behind me.  I didn’t notice them at this point.  Call it selective viewing…

Anyway, ‘Connie’ arrived and we had a quick moan about how cold it was before I dumped my bag and all unnecessary (for running) clothes into the trunk of his car and found my parkrun barcode.  After nearly losing it, I stuffed it safely in my bra, and we went for a quick jog to warm up.  My legs were still sore from the massage yesterday, so I wasn’t really anticipating any amazing pace, but I still had it in my head that I wanted to get under 25 minutes.  After sub 8 mi miles at the Balmoral 10k last weekend, I kind of thought I should be able to manage that.

Just before 9:30, the crowd gathered and got ready to go.  After a brief speech congratulating one of the local parkrunners for finishing the first female at the Balmoral 10k, and another for being the first Aberdeen parkrunner to attend 10 events, we were off!  ‘Connie’ went steaming ahead, and I did briefly think ‘ouch, that’s going to come back and bite you in the ass near the end’.  I picked a relatively fit looking male and decided to use him as a pacer, settling comfortably into his wake.  After a minute or so, I glanced down at the Garmin and noticed 7:03/mile.  Oops.  Not wanting to totally burn out, I hit the breaks a bit, and settled closer to 7:45/mile.  Sweet, right?  That I’m casually saying I ‘slowed it down to 7:45’?!  Don’t worry, that smug feeling was wiped out of my system pretty quickly.

Around the 1k mark, the wind picked up.  Not cool, mother nature, not cool.  I managed to keep it under 8:00/mile, but I avoided peeking at my heart rate. After a couple of minutes of wind in my face, it got worse.  The dark, ominous clouds that had been off in the distance were now pretty much upon us, and as quickly as I thought ‘I wonder if this will be snow of rain?’, tiny, needle sharp hailstones came flying at us – HORIZONTALLY.  I shit you not, this was beyond ridiculous.  I could barely see ahead of me, but did notice the runners ahead as blurs, holding up their arms to shield their faces from the hail.  This continued for about 5 minutes or so, and I did have to check my arms several times for blood, because I was convinced it hurt too much to not be bleeding (no blood, I’m just weak I guess).  Once I’d turned down onto the promenade, I was shielded a bit from the hail, and checked my Garmin to read 8:xx.  Balls.

I decided to just chug on, and happily noticed the pace speeding up as I neared the end.  I saw ‘Connie’ on his way to the finish after he had turned the final corner back to the start and gave him a wave (He did very well indeed, 22:47 for his first 5k!).  As I turned the corner back into the wind, I started speeding up in an attempt to make up for lost time and for the first time ever, remembered to stop my Garmin when I crossed the finish line.

And the results?  24:22, 7th female finisher (first in my age group!), and 46 seconds of my previous parkrun PB in February.  Did I mention, through horizontal hail?

I’m pretty pleased my speed is coming back, and if I can maintain that pace for the Baker Hughes 10k later this month, I’ll be closer to my usual 47:xx finishing time than last year’s disaster!  To be honest, if I can finish in under 50, I’ll be happy.  As long as I keep seeing improvements!

Anyway, to reward myself for achieving what I’d set out to do, I enjoyed beef rendang and cider for dinner.  De-freaking-licious!  Beef rendang, for those who think I’m making up dish names, is a tasty malaysian dish that I first had when I lived in Indonesia as a kid.  I’m not normally a fan of jar sauces, but if anyone wants to try, Marks and Spencer’s beef rendang paste is amazing.  All you need to add is coconut milk.  I normally add a pack of mushrooms and an onion to the frying pan (because mushrooms and onions are like my crack).


Aberdeen parkrun 11.2.12

I was booked into step class this morning as I wanted to make sure me knees (still not 100%, but still a total improvement to 2 weeks ago – plus my physio had advised I keep going if there’s no pain) had plenty of rest for my ‘planned’ long slow run tomorrow, but ended up cancelling my booking and hitting parkrun again.  I say ‘planned’ (in regards to my long run) as it’s my birthday weekend (birthday is on Monday but doing stuff with friends tonight), so my run depends largely on my behavior tonight.  My longest run this year has been nearly 8.5 miles, so I wanted a minimum of 9 (but hopefully 10) tomorrow.  I have a friend who might come with me, but again, depends on how he feels.  Plus a 10k is the most he has run in his life, but he’s come far in the month or two that he has been taking running a bit more seriously.

Anyway, the two of us ended up at parkrun this morning before Body Pump.  It was cold, but dry and there wasn’t really any wind.  Perfection!  We both smashed our last parkrun attempts, coming in at 25:08 (me) and 25:09 (Grant).  A wee bit to go before I’m pulling in sub-23’s again, but slow improvements, so I’m pleased.  I was especially thrilled at my time as about 100 metres into the run I realized that my shoelaces had come undone on my right trainer.  But, like a champ, I willed myself to ignore it and only stop of it became totally unmanageable to run in (it very nearly did).

Three weeks to go before my first ever 10 mile race (which is why I’d like to have confidence that I can run that distance after this weekend) and four weeks until my first half marathon.  It’s right about now that I’m thinking: you total spoon, what were you thinking?  10k is your distance, woman!  But then I push those thoughts to the back of my mind and think of beer.  Thinking of beer gets me through some pretty tough situations.

Untied Laces: another foot shot for all the foot fetishists out there. x x x

Aberdeen 5k Fun Run

Wow, looks like Scottish Running Guide has been busy updating races later in the year.  In addition to the Sport Relief mile (and 3 mile, and 6 mile) in March, it looks like Aberdeen will have a 5k in September.  Saturday, the 22nd of September, to be exact.  And I checked, you get a medal.  Unfortunately I’ll probably have to miss this one as we are going to a friend’s (second) wedding ceremony (greedy bastards), and have been advised to keep that date free.

For anyone interested, visit the website here.

Aberdeen Parkrun 14.1.12

Well I’m just in from my first Aberdeen parkrun (followed by weights and power yoga), and I have to say, the turnout was more impressive than I thought it would be.  I had an easy run down, and then continued to run for a bit to keep my blood from crystallizing due to the cold, and eventually my friend Grant made it in from Ellon (I had convinced him to come along to see how it is to run in a ‘race’ environment, since he wants some practice before the Garioch 10k in March – also my fault).

View on my run down to the beach

It started pretty much on the dot, and the results were up really quickly (I checked on my phone after Body Pump -good show!).  According to the website I managed in 25:23, which is alright, but definitely not my best performance, and Grant managed in a very impressive 25:44!



And now?  Food time (as always).

If you’re interested in joining Aberdeen parkrun, click here.