Crathes half marathon 2014

Time: 2:48:11 (It felt like double that)

Medal: Yes

IMG_20140920_134239OK, so you can maybe guess from my time, but basically, this whole race kind of went to shit, and I had a feeling, much like Romeo before Capulet’s party, that something was going to go very, very wrong.  My reasons for this included:

1.) I was running under someone else’s number.  The only other time I have done this is when I paid for my entry to the Garioch half in 2013, and I was one of the few entries lost when they changed their system for taking entries.  The early bird does not always catch the worm, and I ran as ‘Jon Bell’.  Anyway, I forgot to enter Crathes, but one of Ronnie’s friends could no longer run, and she offered up her entry to me.  I felt shady as hell giving a false name at registration, and convinced myself the karma gods would strike me down with a heart attack.  I pushed this to the back of my mind.

2.) A stolen fork.  The weekend prior to Crathes, I ran Glenmore 12, but in the frenzy of preparation, I forgot to pack any utensils to cook with.  Because of this, when I dined out with Elaine and Rob on Friday night, I slipped the fork I had used into my bag with the intention of returning the fork on the way back to Aberdeen after the race.  Well, I had 4 beers for breakfast on Sunday before we left, so my brain was a little foggy, and I forgot.  That fork is still burning a hole in my conscience, and I plan on sending it back with an apology note.  I’m so badass.

I’m going to keep this brief, because I’m in the middle of moving right now, and because I don’t really want to dwell on this experience for any longer than I have to, but essentially I don’t think I allowed myself enough time to rest after Glenmore.  I started running with Suzy at a comfortable pace.  I got to mile 4 and my knee was hurting quite a lot.  I stopped several times to stretch it off, massage anything around my knee, curse my faulty body, whatever – to no avail.  By mile 7, I urged Suzy to go ahead, and began the long, slow, death march to the finish line.  It hurt.  I was cold.  At the sight of a familiar face along the course I burst into tears, like a little girl.  It sucked.

You guys, looks at my new windows.  I'd be jealous too.

You guys, looks at my new windows. I’d be jealous too.

By the time I crossed the finish line, most people had left, and I could barely bend my leg.

The course hasn’t changed since previous years (2012, 2013), but the medal continues to improve.  This year’s t-shirt was green.

The End.

 

The one positive I can take away from the day is that I ran into an old workmate, Iain, who is now a firefighter.  He and one of his colleagues were running in full uniform as a practice run for November, when they will be running New York marathon for charity.  They remained in high spirits, despite the added bonus of running in a portable sauna, and if you want to donate, you can do so HERE.  They passed me and Suzy a couple of miles in, and finished somewhere around the 2:18 mark.  They will definitely earn a few cold beers after New York, that’s for sure.

I had to steal this picture from Facebook because they had left by the time I finished.

I had to steal this picture from Facebook because they had left by the time I finished.

 

Crathes 1/2 marathon 2013

Time: 1:57:01 [RESULTS HERE]

Medal: Yes

Crathes 1/2 marathon medal

Crathes 1/2 marathon medal

Crathes half marathon was earmarked in my diary as my last longish training run before Loch Ness, so I wasn’t particularly concerned about my time.  In fact, I was aiming for around 2:05 as I had coerced Ronnie into cycling from Aberdeen to the start line, running the half, and then cycling back – roughly a 35 mile round trip on the bikes.  And because some people are scum, I didn’t really fancy leaving my belongings (change of clothes, wallet, phone, keys, food, water, random crap) hanging off my bike, so opted to wear my rucksack during the run.  So basically, I have no idea how I managed to run my fastest half marathon of the year.

I woke up at about 6:30 for a shower, and noticed that walking was painful.  Having stopped doing my regular weights workouts about three months ago because I’ve been having issues with my abs (long, annoying story I won’t subject you to because I get really frustrated when I think about it), it was maybe not the wisest idea to partake in a weights class on the Thursday, opting for the weights I regularly would have because I cannot handle having less weight than somebody in a weights class (at least if it’s an after school activity, and half the class are teenage girls).  Even before I was squatting and lunging like my life depended on it, I was thinking this is dumb, Rachel.  Why do you keep doing dumb things?  I hate you.  My more competitive voice was just shouting MORE WEIGHT WEAK HUMAN!  I guess we know who won that argument.

After my shower, I confirmed with Ronnie that cycling was still on, because the forecast was good, and I felt that with winter looming we needed to take advantage of clear skies while we still could.  We met at Ian’s at about 9, and set off about 15 minutes later into a chilly headwind.  Taking the back roads from Peterculter meant no annoying traffic, but it did mean a few slight undulations to warm up the legs.  I was surprised at how fine my legs felt on the bike, and I had hoped that I would feel fabulous after my warm up.  Ha.

I mainly took this photo for the police, should someone steal our bikes.

I mainly took this photo for the police, should someone steal our bikes.

Once we arrived at Crathes, we locked up our bikes and Ian sped off back home to do some yard work and weights.  Sadly, when I stepped off my bike I still felt like a cripple, so I just tried to remind myself that I got through the Forfar 1/2 marathon, and the Dundee 1/2 marathon this year in a similar level of pain.  I was not anticipating an easy couple of hours when I registered and collected my t-shirt.

It was kind of cold, so I threw on my old favourite hoodie.  The one I used to wear practically every day.  When I looked more like this, and it was ‘fitted’:

Fat people + hot weather = unpleasant

Fat people + hot weather = unpleasant

Apparently wearing clothing that sits on you like a tent isn’t very flattering, so you’ll just have to take my word that I don’t look this fat in real life, but that my legs are indeed my worst feature.  So I’m extra excited that they are accentuated in this group shot:

Back row (l-r): Naomi, me, Shona, Susan, Ann, Maz.  Front row (l-r): Suzy, June, Lesley

Back row (l-r): Naomi, me, Shona, Susan, Ann, Maz. Front row (l-r): Suzy, June, Lesley

We had our obligatory bathroom breaks, before settling into the crowd at the start line.  The countdown happened, and we started pretty much on time, before shuffling over the starting line.  Ronnie and I were running together, and we remarked on our rather admirable pace in the first mile and a half.  Expecting to burn out early, we restrained ourself to a more conservative pace until just after 2 miles, when Ronnie started experiencing pain and cramping in his calf.  After it worsened for another minute, I told him to walk and stretch it out, which we did.  After about a minute, I asked if he was ready to run again, but he did not look happy, and told me a couple of times to just go on.  Once he said he was sure, I took off, and that’s the last time I saw him until he finished.

The course was undulating, but there are no shocker hills to attack, so it’s just a case of pushing on until you get a little downhill break.  My pack felt kind of heavy, and the sun had come out, so I had definitely warmed up.  I still looked down at my garmin to see a pace that I thought would last until maybe 7 or 8 miles before I began to struggle, but though to hell with it and kept going.  I think the fact that the route is along back roads as well as country tracks kept it interesting enough for me not to obsess over checking my pace too often, but was pleasantly surprised every time I looked down.

At about ten miles, we were directed onto a second off road track, and it’s here that I remember starting to overtake quite a few people, but I was feeling fine.  In fact, it wasn’t until just before mile 12 that I started to hurt.  My bag straps were digging into my neck, and my legs started to feel heavy, but by this point I knew that all I’d need to do to get a sub 2 time is stay under 10 minute miles.  Just to be safe, I pushed on a bit.  Exactly what I should be doing two weeks before a marathon, I’m sure.  I passed Kate (who seemed to be full of energy and encouraging a couple of club members to the finish), and made it my mission to catch up to whoever was in front of me.  Then whoever was in front of them.  Ad nauseum.

I remembered a long and punishing uphill section from about mile 12 last year, but I didn’t really notice too much of a hill this year (that’s got to be a good sign – thank you trail workouts).  Before I knew it, I was turning left onto the service entrance for Crathes Castle and knew this race was as good as done.  Elated, I sped down the grassy finish chute and across the line, stopping my Garmin (I remembered!) and hobbling over the the people cutting off the chips from our laces.  Hobbling is pretty accurate.  My legs hated me.

I waited for Ronnie to come in, and then waited for some of our other friends, most notably Suzy who was running her first half marathon and came in just over 2 and a half hours.  I also met a Claire, a girl I’ve interacted a bit with online, and who is also running Loch Ness in two weeks.  Apparently she spent the whole race using me as a pacer without knowing who I was.  I also had a very pretty lady come up and ask if I was ‘medal slut’ and I’m sure I was completely awkward, so if you’re reading then I am very flattered and felt like a rock star, but I am also kind of crap when I’m put on the spot, so I hope I didn’t come across as a creep!

After everyone had come in, Ronnie and I resigned ourselves to the fact that we now had to cycle back home, so we packed up, unlocked our bikes, and set off, passing some of the final finishers and shouting encouragement as we cycled past.  Luckily, our route home took in parts of the course, and we happened upon an unmanned water station.  Ronnie took full advantage of the already opened bottles and filled up his own stash:

Ronnie, modelling this year's fetching turquoise shirt.

Ronnie, modelling this year’s fetching turquoise shirt.

Despite a few angry moments as we came back into town – there were road works going on and a few of the drivers didn’t seem to understand the significance of a cycle lane – we made it home unscathed, and I was glad to get cleaned up and out of sweaty clothes.

I wouldn’t hesitate to run this again next year, as the course is pretty fast and varied, it’s close enough to cycle to (Ronnie will hate me again next year), and I love the t-shirt:

IMG_20130915_072217

Crathes Half Marathon 2012

Time: 2:04:57  Personal Worst! Results here.

Medal: Yes!

This was meant to be my last long run before the Loch Ness Marathon in two weeks (what?!) time.  Turns out, this is likely to be my last run before the marathon.  This is mainly due to the fact that bastard left shin/calf is hellbent on being painful, tight, and generally a pain in the ass.

Even at the Great Scottish Run a couple of weeks ago, I was hurting.  I continued to hurt, but like a tool, also continued to run, for the next week until finally, last Sunday, I ran 6 miles (out of a planned 16) in crippling pain and near tears.  Since then, I have been for physiotherapy twice, a sports massage once, and, until today, out for a run a grand total of ZERO times.  I’m not being a lazy beast, for the record, as I am still doing spin and weights regularly, but this is totally not where I wanted to be two weeks before my first marathon.

Anyway, I was in two minds about actually doing this race all week.  I was sore even just walking, and my physio had given me that nod-and-smile-and-don’t-let-her-see-me-roll-my-eyes thing when I told her I was planning on running today.  She did her best to gently loosen up my ‘grisly, knotted’ leg, gave me some tape to put on this morning, and then, in hushed tones, told me unofficially to take drugs (ibuprofen).  I smiled, told her I’d just grit my teeth, wear the tape, and ice afterwards.

Her response: ‘What colour tape would you prefer?  We have black or pink’.

My answer: ‘How bright is the pink?’

‘Extremely’ – my physio

So looking like a neon dream, I was picked up by Ronnie and driven to Crathes Castle.  Deciding to arrive at 11:15 for a 12:00 race was not the most intelligent idea, and the parking lots were full by the time we arrived, forcing us (and the other latecomers) to park on the side of the road.

We made it to registration, grabbed our technical t-shirts (which are very swanky, for the record), and then I left Ronnie to find the bag drop while I joined Rhona in her quest to find the loos.  After the toilet stop I ran into Teri (who, without any training whatsoever, completed her first two half marathons in the last few weeks in 1:48:xx and 1:38:xx – sick), and then we were spotted by Dawn, who was running her very first half.  At this point we were in the starters’ mass, but no sign of Ronnie.  We lost all sense of time as we chatted and were stunned into gear when we heard the horn go off.

And off we went!  Teri was nursing a bad cold, so she decided to run with me and aim for 2 hours.  Immediately we noticed the heat!  It was probably around 20 degrees and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky – beautiful!  But for running, tough going (to everyone suffering in the US with your heat waves – I know!  But to folk accustomed to Scottish weather, this is akin to being stranded in the Sahara). Teri and I stuck together and chatted the whole way, which was nice.  My leg hurt, and she was ill, so we soldiered on like invalids and spoke of ice cold water, then ice cold coke, and finally beer.

It kept our spirits high.  The very nice family who created a backyard water station with their kids helping fill up paper ‘Princess’ cups with beautiful cold water was possibly the highlight of the course.  There were 3 official water stops on the day, and while this would normally be fine for mid-September in Scotland, the freak heat made them seem miles apart (yes, I’m aware they were literally miles apart, but I mean like, several hundred).  I also enjoyed every person who said hello because they recognized me from the great wide internet (Pete, I’m looking at you – and I hope whatever you pulled today is easing up, because you looked like you were partying in Pain City!).

The course was described as relatively flat, and I’d have to agree with that.  The long, slight incline towards the end of the course was not very pleasant, but overall nothing nasty.  Behold the elevation profile!

Crathes Half Marathon elevation

Not too evil, I think you’ll all agree.  In the last 500 meters of so, Teri sped up but my calf/shin was killing me so I resigned myself to not sprinting at the end.  The fact that some dude totally smoked me just before the finish line was a bit of a kick in the teeth, but whatever, fuck him.  I crossed with my name being announced over the loudspeaker (always a cool rock star touch), collected my medal, grabbed some water, and then accepted a hug from Teri (who nearly strangled me with her bicep, unknowingly – I hope).

As we hung around and found more and more people we knew, we were all pretty disappointed with our times.  Today marked a personal worst for me (totally not worried about marathon time – I’m lying, I’m concerned), as well as for Teri, Ronnie, and a good few others.  At least Dawn stormed home with a PB!

I’m back home, showered, and soon to be fed, and while my leg is in pain, it doesn’t feel quite as bad as it did after my 6 miles last Sunday – so there is hope!  While I’ve been ‘strongly urged’ not to run again before Loch Ness, I might see about a wee test run next weekend if I can get through this week in less pain than last (Queue my physio exhaling dramatically and burying her head in her hands).  And as a parting gift today, here is the course map for the Crathes Half Marathon:

Crathes Half Marathon course map