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).

Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k 2013

Time: 53:51 [Results]

Category Position: 199/970

Gender Position: 381/1836

Medal: Yes

IMG_20130519_140730

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

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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).

Finished!

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?

Of course my calf hurts.

So, two race weekends in a row are coming up, and ever since that last parkrun, my calf has been hurting.  I did 2 miles on the treadmill on Monday, and it was sore. It was meant to be 4, so I’m guessing that if I’m going to be running this weekend, I wont be running this week.  And if I’m going to be running NEXT weekend, at the Edinburgh half, I’m going to be taking it a bit easy on Sunday at the 10k.

Fab-u-lous.

At least it doesn’t seem to hurt when I’m doing other exercise, so that’s alright.

Speaking of the Baker Hughes 10k, although I got my race pack on Saturday, I have friends who are taking part that STILL haven’t received theirs, though an e-mail went out saying they should be there by Thursday at the latest.  So anyone out there still waiting, you have another day to wait before complaint e-mails!  Apparently there was an extra ‘e’ in Aberdeen or something – I’d quite like to see a photo of one of the blooper bibs though.

In other news, my ridiculously shit, less-than-a-year-old boiler decided to up and quit working, again, yesterday.  It’s great how it always waits until a dip in the temperature to give up on me.  Plumbers are upstairs beavering away as I type.

And off to work I go!

I gave my bank card a thorough fingering today.

Those of you sniggering – very mature.
So today entries opened for the Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k in May, and the Xodus Ythan Challenge in June. No guesses as to what I was doing on my lunch break then. I got the ladies I work with excited when I declared, after my Uncle Ben’s Mexican Rice (delicious, I highly recommend), that “I must go. I have shopping to do.” When I explained what I was off to buy they were noticeable uninterested. I get that a lot.
Anyway, I managed to enter both with no hitches, though it looks like a high volume of people trying to enter the Ythan Challenge managed to crash the site temporarily. The only problem I faced once I’d entered both races was that I had 15 minutes left of my lunch break. So what did I do? Moseyed on over to the Scottish Running Guide website for a ‘wee browse’. Dangerous.
Looks like I’m doing the Half Dram (Dundee’s Half Marathon) in July.

Hello 2012!

Happy New Year to everyone (even if you’re not quite here yet)!  As I don’t have any resolutions, I wanted to take a couple of minutes to focus on important happenings in January (apart from spending time with my family until the 5th)!

Me, gran and Julian

During my weekends I’ll be taking an Exercise Theory course (the final exam will be in February).  This is a necessary course before I apply to do my ETM (exercise to music) course, which will enable me to teach fitness classes.  This is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while, but unfortunately I haven’t really had the spare cash until now (and even now, I’d be lying if I said I had money to burn).

In addition, January holds a couple of mention-worthy dates.  Firstly, the Cancer Research UK Race for Life will be announcing their race dates for 2012 in the New Year, so it would be a good idea to get in early.  Another important running date is January 16th, when entries open for 2 of the races I hope to do this year.  These are the Baker Hughes 10k in Aberdeen and the Xodus Ythan Challenge.  I’ve done the 10k 3 times before, but I’ve always managed to miss out on the Ythan Challenge.  I’m told entries are filled within a couple of weeks, so I’ll be ready to enter on the 16th!

I will also be celebrating my 4th anniversary with my boyfriend in January – isn’t he a lucky boy!