Dundee half DRAM 2013

Gun time: 2:01:24

Garmin time: 2:00:51

Medal: Yes

IMG_20130721_173001This is the first race where not only have I seriously considered DNS’ing, but I have also legitimately feared I would DNF.  Regular readers may now be used to the fact that I don’t take rest and relaxation before a race seriously, but Sunday’s half marathon was something else.  But hey, at least I learnt something, as I’m fairly sure I could cope with a half Iron Man without any further training.  It just wouldn’t be pretty.

I started off my week with a 6.5 mile run on Monday, followed by an 8 mile run on Tuesday.  Wednesday was a punishing spin and abs class, with a 30 minute warm up on the elliptical, and Thursday was my long run, 17.5 punishing miles.  Considering I’m a city dweller, most of my runs are relatively flat, so Thursday was noteworthy:

Screenshot 2013-07-21 at 17.28.31

 

Friday was a quick almost-four mile run up a hill and back down, and Saturday was a 60 mile cycle with Ian and our friend Dylan through Aberdeenshire hills.  My quads were not impressed by this:

Screenshot 2013-07-21 at 17.22.53

 

Yet we remained in good spirits, posing by a stone circle next to a farm:

Dylan and myself perfecting our catalogue poses.

Dylan and myself perfecting our catalogue poses.

Ian being the alpha male

Ian being the alpha male

After our cycle, Ian and I had an enormous dinner and felt hungover for the rest of the evening.  Obviously we need to tweak how much water/fuel we take in during these longer rides.  I reluctantly set my alarm for 6:30 am on Saturday night, and resigned myself to the fact that tomorrow was going to be unpleasant.  I have only myself to blame.

Despite feeling like I got precisely 3.7 minutes sleep, several time keeping devices assured me that Sunday morning had arrived, and I needed to get dressed and make my way to Ronnie’s for a lift to Dundee.  Sidenote: Ronnie has started his own running blog, and you could do worse things than click through on the link and have a read.  I was first to arrive, followed shortly by Susan, and finally Lauren, and her mountain bike.  You see, our lift was only one-way this time, as Lauren and Ronnie were heading off for mini-adventure straight after the race, so Susan and I were getting the train back to Aberdeen.  After using my master Tetris skills to slot Lauren’s bike into the car, we were off.

An hour later, we had arrived at Camperdown Park, and we quickly got registered.  The fact that it was a real effort to walk uphill to registration was not a good sign.  Neither was the fact that Susan was suffering pretty badly from car-sickness.  Ronnie was gunning for a good time, and while the half DRAM is ‘chip timed’, there are only timing mats at the end, so you essentially get a gun time.  Susan and I were feeling like crap, so we eventually persuaded Ronnie that he would be better off leaving us behind.  Turns out he was, because that’s the last we saw of him until the finish!  We were, however, joined by Teri at the start, who was up for an ‘easy run’, which is why she obviously decided to run with me and Susan.  Way to boost our ego.  I jest.  Kind of.

Before we had a chance to kill any last shred of enthusiasm, we were off.  The first couple of miles are kind of uphill through trails, and, like last year, it was pretty congested.  I knew this would be the case, but I also knew I would be hurting, so I actually didn’t mind the hold up (at one point we came to a complete stop).  I was seemingly in decent enough spirits at this point, if photographs are anything to go by:

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Teri and Susan are on either side of me in this photo, but obscured by people.  How inconsiderate of them.

We eventually came out of the trails, and then started going downhill on what seemed like a cycle path.  By this point the sun had come out, and I was feeling better.  My companions seemed to appreciate this heat a lot less than I did, but we kept a remarkably alright pace.  Strangely, it was even feeling effortless, and every time I glanced down at my watch, I was amazed to see that we were at least a mile further than I thought.  I guess delirium will do that to you.

Around mile 7, Susan was beginning to struggle, and told us she was going to take a walk break, but urged us to go on.  We decided we would take an extended walk break through the next water station to allow her to catch up, but she’d had a pretty shitty week that had caught up to her, and her race kind of fell apart here, we later found out.  Teri and I went on together, and nothing noteworthy happened.  At about mile 11, Teri decided she quite fancied a sub 2 finishing time, and tried to convince me to speed up.  Her words of motivation fell of stubborn ears, and I told her the only way she would get sub 2 is if she left me behind.  Which she did.  At remarkable speed.  She even caught Ronnie!

Just over two hours after I had started, I crossed the line feeling strong, and not sweating.  Unlike my friends, which I found out, to my horror, when I had to touch them during our group photo at the finish:

1073053_185320574978038_1389547861_oAfter the race, we got on the next bus back to the start, and began the mad rush to transport me and Susan to the train station.  We made our train with about four minutes to spare, and then finally had a chance to relax as we made our way back to Aberdeen.

15 half marathons, complete!

 

Dundee Half Marathon 2012 (half DRAM)

“Chip” time (only the finish line was chipped, so more like gun time): 2:01:08

Garmin time: 2:00:31

Medal:  Yes

I had decided to try and stick to somewhere between 9:15 and 9:30 minute miles for this race, as practice for the Loch Ness Marathon, and while I managed to ease back on the pace a bit, it is obvious looking at my time that I am still starting off a bit fast.  Admittedly, though, at mile 12 I thought I had a shot at getting in under 2 hours so I sped up a bit, but too little, too late.  Still, this race wasn’t about getting a personal best, it was about self-control, and I’m happy enough as I finished feeling fresher than I have finished any of my previous half marathons, and as though I could go on for miles.  This is promising, because in September I’m going to have to run twice the distance.

The day began with a cruel alarm at 6am, prompting me to get into the shower (I like to race fresh, I don’t care if some people find this unnecessary).  At 7, Ronnie picked me up, and we picked up his friend Jane, before heading onwards to Dundee.  The forecast had been cloudy with showers.  The forecast, thankfully, was not accurate.  We were greeted with gorgeous sunshine and a nice breeze – perfect!  We picked up our registration packs (our race number and timing chip), and then realized we had over an hour to enjoy the rare Scottish sunshine.

And of course I will be talking about my toilet moments.  There were four portaloos visible from where we registered, so I jumped in line for a slash.  After a few minutes (and minimal movement), a guy on a megaphone declared there were more toilets hidden around a corner.  Cue a mass sprint to the new destination!  Once we had arrived, we realized that there were male and female public toilets, so we got into new, slightly shorter lines and all avoided making any comments about how much the toilets stunk.  What I remember from the moments waiting for the toilet was a man (in the men’s queue, clearly) who declared that there were several, “urinals, if you’re not needing a cubicle.”  About two thirds of the men removed themselves from the line and went into the men’s room, leaving three men that we then ALL knew had to launch a brown submarine into the U-bend trying to look casual.  I have no idea why I found this so amusing, I guess working with kids lowers my mental age occasionally.  Anyway, I think I deserve a medal just for maintaining the illusion of calm maturity while inside I was laughing uncontrollably – the kind where you snort out of desperation to breathe.

Moving swiftly along, after the toilet stop, I demolished a chocolate chip Cliff bar that I purchased at the Run4it tent (I had eaten all of my ‘morning fuel’ the day before whilst watching the Olympic coverage).  Ronnie was busy decorating himself with nipple guards (that ended up migrating during his run, but did, he confirms, prevent any chaffage) as well as a birthday badge.  Ultimately, he made the wise decision to omit this particular piece from his race gear.

Stylish to the max

Just before 9:30, everyone made their way to the start.  I had noticed that there didn’t appear to be a timing mat at the start line, and confirmed with other runners that there would only be a timing mat at the end, so we would only get an official gun time.  Had I known this earlier, I might have tried to get ahead, especially considering the first 2 miles, but then again, I was actively trying to pace myself, which I have previously been shit at.

The race started just after the scheduled start time, and we were greeted with an uphill climb from the start.  The course stayed within the park and took us along some muddy (especially muddy considering the recent rain) trails, and I remember thinking trail shoes would have been more appropriate!  Someone pulled up beside me and seemed to know my name – another reader!  This was his first half marathon and he was aiming for 2:10:00.  I think I saw him come over the finish line before 2:15:00, and if I’m right it was a very good effort for his first go.  Anyway, during the uphill trails there was quite a lot of bunching as it was practically impossible to weave through people or overtake.  This is reflected in my first two mile splits: 10:25, 9:38.

Almost exactly after the 2 mile marker, we left the trails and ended up on the road – and downhill!  It was around here that the sun really began blaring down, and the heat was rising from the asphalt, that a girl in a light blue top (that I had picked out as a pacer at the start) made a comment to me about how she wished the forecast for cloud and rain had been accurate!  We started chatting and, realizing that we were pretty well matched for pace, ended up running together until about mile 11.  It was great having company through those early miles, and one thing I learned is that if your name is on your shirt, everyone shouts encouragement at you!  We must have heard ‘Come on Sally!’ every time we passed a crowd of supporters, so this is definitely something I want to have during Loch Ness.

Just before mile 11, our pace was beginning to lag, and we had both said it was OK to go ahead if the other was getting tired – she was aiming for sub 2 hours after a near miss last year.  I was still feeling strong, so I slowly started pulling away, but I thought I could still hear her feet hitting the ground behind me.  When I started to try to talk to her, I turned around to realize I was having a conversation with a very confused looking gentleman.

The water stop just after mile 11 could not have been more encouraging.  There was a long downhill stretch ahead of us, and the marshals assured us that it was all downhill or flat until the end!  This kind of news is pretty much akin to being starving and hearing the Dominos Pizza delivery guy ring your buzzer.  I was stoked.  I also, remarkably, still felt really strong.  I didn’t go wild, but I did start putting the pedal down (and enjoying the sea breeze that was making love to my face).

As my Garmin beeped for 12 miles, I looked down to realize that if the GPS wasn’t too far out, it was possible to get across the line in under two hours if I stuck to 8:30 minute miles, which I did.  The stretch along the water had a bit of a headwind, but as it was the final stretch, I found it quite refreshing. There was a bit of a sticky moment running across a rickety wooden bridge (with more than one runner pounding on it, there was quite a lot of disconcerting bouncing, and I do believe I let out an f-bomb), and then the finish was in

Feeling fresh, but not looking it.

sight!  I looked at my Garmin to see the time tick over from 1:59:59 to 2:00:00, swore under my breath, and steadily cruised over the line in 2:00:31.  I collected my goody bag (containing medal, discount vouchers, Haribo sweets, a High5 gel, and a cereal bar), as well as a bottle of water and a High5 plastic sports bottle, and made my way to where I had seen Ronnie shout my name as I came through.

We hung around for everyone else we knew doing the race to finish, and enjoyed relaxing in yet more sunshine.  We also watched as the full marathon runners continued on their journey beyond the half finish line and cheered them on.  Then we collected our bags and headed for the shuttle bus, which was meant to leave every 15 minutes (lies!).

The bus journey back was warm and cozy, and the smell of a large group of sweaty runners wasn’t as bad as I had expected, though one guy did have to get off the bus early and we drove off leaving him looking a bit green, but glad to be in the fresh air.  Once back, we watched some of the marathon runners come across the line (their return journey saw them finish at the start line) before heading to the car.

As we drove away from Dundee, we drove into the dark clouds and heavy rain that had obviously been plaguing Aberdeen for most of the day, and realized how close we were to miserable race conditions.  The rest of the journey, however, is less than a blur, as I had fallen asleep, probably with my mouth hanging open in a ridiculously becoming style, so I can only thank Ronnie for not looking over and bursting into hysterics so severe that we veered out of control and crashed.

I have spent the remainder of the day sleeping on and off, eating, and watching Olympic coverage.  I also managed to pop an enormous blister that I picked up during the race.  I shit you not, it was the size of a jelly bean, thus doubling the size of my second-to-littlest toe.  I would have taken a photo, but I was just too excited to pop that bad boy! Yes, I am a popper – I am too impatient to let them heal naturally, and at that size on the bottom of a toe, it is pretty sore.

Overall I really enjoyed this race.  A lot of that could have been down to the excellent weather or the good company I had, but the course was quite pretty and varied as well.  In fact, this was the second race I have ever done in which I didn’t listen to any music – even though my mp3 player was in it’s regular tucked-into-bra spot, ready for action.  AND I had downloaded some fresh music that I was really looking forward to using to push me to the end. The first race, by the way, in which I raced sans tunes, I woke up wildly hungover and with just enough time to get dressed and cycle to the start line.  I PB’ed on that occasion.  Sick.

Although this isn’t anywhere near the best medal I have received for a run (in fact, I was kind of disappointed with it), it was inscribed on the back, which gives it extra points.  If I don’t hate running with every atom of my being by next year, I might be back!

Half DRAM 2012

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.