Extreme Sensuality

Or not, as the case may be.  Balmoral 10k photos are up, and I did the usual ‘cringe before the photo loads’ thing.  Now I’ve posted about looking terrible in race photos before, but recently I’ve been trying to up my game.  Whenever I spot a camera, I try to take long, strong strides and wipe the grimace off my face.  Sometimes I opt for the ‘serious’ look, other times I attempt a smile.  I say attempt, because clearly there is a missing link between my brain and my face, because on Saturday, my smile mutated to this:

13% flattering

Amazing!  And after I went through the trouble to coordinate my top and my head scarf, THIS is what I look like.

At least in the other photo they managed to take, I look somewhat ‘dynamic’…

I’m the chick in blue – there were no quick outfit changes during the race.

Anyway.  ONE DAY I will look good in a race photo.  One day…

Balmoral 10k 2012

Chip Time: 52:40

Position: 596 (out of 1915)

121st female, 63rd in category

Medal: Yes

Finally, back on track!

Today started early.  The Balmoral 10k starts at a super awkward time of 2pm, which means your entire day is eaten up by this event.  Even more so, as today I was getting a lift from a woman I go to the gym with (we’ll call her IB) who is also a runner (and a fairly swift one).  We had both heard horror stories from previous years about the traffic, and had been advised to set off early.  The original plan was 10am, but it was closer to 9:25.

The journey there?  Smooth and quick.  We arrived, despite a sunny forecast, at an overcast and at times hailing backdrop at Balmoral Estate just before 11am. H-O-U-R-S to go.  We visited the cafe and I had a hot chocolate (and my banana, and bag of pretzels, and some jelly babies), and then decided to check out the 5k race before heading back to the car and dumping our bags.  We made this last 2 hours.  Those are some skills, right there.

Once we’d shed our warm jumpers and tracksuit bottoms and left the car, it was was goosebump city.  Freezing.  We power walked back to the main event and then alternated between walking and shivering for the remaining 40 minutes before the start.

Once the runners were eventually asked to assemble, we crammed ourselves into the starting pens.  We were told to assemble by the placards with our estimated finishing time, but they only appeared a while later, and weren’t spaced very evenly.  We settled somewhere near the middle, plugged the earphones in, and waited for the slow push forward.  After a few start-stop moments, we were off!

The first 2 miles are on tarmac, but the path isn’t very wide so I got stuck behind quite a few runners and wedged off to one side.  There was a lot of side-stepping and ‘Sorry!’ shouts over my shoulder for accidentally elbowing someone in the ribs.  Mile 3 involved a sharp left turn and KABOOM!  A hill.  Before I’d started I had told myself I’d run the whole thing.  I even switched off the heart rate monitor on my Garmin so I wouldn’t look down and freak out (FYI my max HR for today was 191).  Still, it took it out of you, and I didn’t want to tire myself out for the second half, so I scampered to the left for a bit to power walk.  When a dude in a pink tutu overtook me, though, it was game on until the bagpipers at the top that enticed a grin out of me – I knew that was it!  Just after the descent, I spotted the ambulance crew and threw them a wave as I began to fly downhill – bliss after the last mile.

The next couple of miles were mainly downhill, and fairly uneventful.  At one point I was going so fast I realized I couldn’t have stopped if I had wanted to, and with the wet ground there were a few moments of panic as I did not want to end up tits-to-the-floor after slipping.  I managed to remain on my feet, thankfully.

The last mile and a bit flattened out, and there was one last cheeky undulation (uncalled for!), before the final stretch.  I stuck to the pace that I was at, but couldn’t help sprinting the last 200 metres (because some chick was trying to overtake me – not happening).  After crossing the finish line I had to keep moving because I was at the ‘faint/puke’ stage that I usually inflict on myself when I push at the end.  I also, as per usual, forgot to hit STOP on my Garmin like a tool.

Once I had my breath back, I grabbed my medal and a medium t-shirt (HUGE!) and had a bottle of water thrust into my hands (but no goody bag).  I went to meet IB (who finished in something like 49:xx), and immediately told her I felt rancid.  She looked at me, agreed I looked like all the colour had drained from my face, and I headed for the first aid tent like an amateur (totally lame).  A few minutes of lying down and having some friendly banter with the paramedic was enough to help me stop feeling queasy, and after a handful of jelly babies, IB and I set off for the car, where we made it back to Aberdeen for about 5:30pm.  8 hours for a run that lasts less than an hour.  Mental.

All in all, the event was well-organized, but I could have done with more than one water stop (at the top of the hill).

For anyone that wants to guess which mile had the notorious hill, I present to you my splits (in miles):

  1. 8:08
  2. 8:22
  3. 10:49
  4. 7:50
  5. 7:48
  6. 7:55
  7. ? (forgot to stop Garmin)

Balmoral 10k elevation map

A slight improvement

The pain caused by the return to work, and the arrival of ‘flu of extreme pain’ has come and gone, thankfully.  The rain that arrived on day 2 of my 2 week holidays, however, has not.  I am beginning to forget what sunshine looks like, and I have a sneaking suspicion this is why I sounded like I was holding back some fairly impressive projectile vomit to some pupil this week, when, in fact, I was stopping myself from screaming things that would probably get me a disciplinary.  Essentially, I am feeling physically better, but the weather and being ridiculously busy at work have ensured I remain in a balanced ‘on edge’ state.

Missing the Glenlivet seems ages ago now.  I know, based on how rough I felt in the days after, that I made the right decision, so there’s no point in dwelling on it (I am mostly trying to convince myself here). Just to show how ‘hard’ I am, and fueled by anger, I managed to push out 4 painful miles the following day to hit 300 for the year.  I briefly thought I was going to have a heart attack afterwards, and had splash cold water on my face and lie on the floor until my heart rate came back down, but I did it (FYI, I’m now sitting at 336, so still on track for 1,000 in 2012!).

Anyway, it’s not long now until my next race: The Balmoral 10k, affectionately known as ‘the one with the hill’, or as a friend put it, ‘ugh… hill.’  What a motivator she is!  Apart from a hamstring niggle (no idea what caused it, but it doesn’t hurt when I’m running, so I’ll deal with it), and a bit of a sniffle, I’m good to go!  I just need to keep all the bunged up children who are allergic to hand washing out of my personal space for one more day!

My strategy?  Finish it, get the medal, go home, eat.  I’m not going for time here, the next race I’m going to really go for is the Edinburgh half marathon next month.  As long as the hamstring holds up, Saturday’s 10k will be a ‘tempo run’ followed by my long run on Sunday.  In crap weather.  Still.

In other news, I have booked my flights for Houston in October and I am ridiculously excited!  One of my runner friends has agreed to sign up to the Huntsville half marathon on the second to last day I’m there, and we are going to follow it up with IHOP and beer.  I am more excited than a 10 year old getting ready for a sleepover where pizza and soda is a definite yes.  It will be amazing.  Do you know what else will be amazing?  Sunshine.  (You guys might be noticing a trend – I love sunshine)

Anyway, I just thought I’d take a few minutes to update here, since it has been a while.  I’m just back from a quiz night with people from work and for the first time, like, ever, I won something!  Not in the raffle, and our team came 6th out of 17, so not for that either.  I won, out of a whole room full of people, a game of Heads or Tails.  A proud achievement, and something that earned my a bottle of bubbly.  The fact that the cost of my ticket and the amount I spent on raffle tickets could have allowed me to purchase TWO of said bottles of bubbly does not detract from the excitement I felt after actually winning something!  And I don’t even really drink that much!

I am a winner!

Hopefully the next time I’m sharing, I’ll have a picture of a shiny new medal to show you as well!