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

Stonehaven Half Marathon 2012

Gun Time: 1:56:33

Chip Time: 1:56:00

Position: 180/266

Gender Position: 26/75 (Category Position: 19/46)

Medal:  Yes (+ goody bag!)

It’s all about the …. buh-bling, buh-bling..

I was not looking forward to this race, which means it is exactly the kind of race I should be doing more of.  After foolishly entering without even glancing at the elevation profile, I discovered that this course was rather unpleasant, hill-wise.  Oh, and I suck hard at hills.

On a brighter note, my friend Ronnie (from the gym, where I spent roughly 83% of my free time, much to my boyfriend’s irritation, as he would prefer I spent 83% of my free time dressed in a maid’s outfit ‘servicing his room’) had entered the Stoney half on Friday night, just shy of entries closing.  On a whim.  His longest ever run, before today, was just over 8 miles.  He’s sensible that way.  Anyway, this meant I had a lift there and back, which is always good news for me!

I was picked up at 9:45 and we headed to Stonehaven.  Once there, we ran into Caroline (a spin instructor at the gym) +1, Rhona and Kynon, a few runners from Twitter, and I was introduced to some of the Aberdeen(shire) Fetch crew, which was nice as it’s always good to be able to put a face to a name (even if that name is merely a screen name).  After registering, Ronnie and I had to trek back to the car park to dump any unnecessary belongings, I shoved my mp3 player and 2 gels into my bra (because I’m classy like that), and then we headed back for pre-race mulling.  Just after 11, the runners began to assemble at the start line, and we were (I believe) briefed on the race, but the only thing I could make out was ‘Keep to the left!’

Me and Ronnie at the start line, gels and mp3 player giving the illusion of weird growths on my chest.

When the horn sounded, I was not totally prepared to run a half marathon, but off we went!  My goal, other than ‘finish it’, was to try to maintain the pace I’d love to run my debut marathon at.  I was actively slowing myself down during the first mile, and it was annoying.  Thankfully (ha!) the ENORMOUSLY DICKISH HILLS did a fine job of keeping my pace way down for the first 4 miles.  Thank you hills, you had my back.  As I kept my music off until mile 8, I was able to have little chats with a few of the people struggling alongside me as we trudged forth.  This was particularly useful during a walking break (I know), when I spotted a photographer up ahead.  I instructed my companion to ‘look alive’, and we bounded past the snapper, before breathlessly continuing up Cheyne Hill (at least that’s what my new BFF said it was called).  FYI: Cheyne Hill is a strict mistress.  And I don’t like her.

Me + BFF (Photo: Stonehaven Half Marathon website)

Once the downhill bits began (and after angels sang Hallelujah in my mind), I left my buddy in my wake, chugging along at a respectable pace.  The downhill bits were sweet.   I don’t really know how I can put into words how much I appreciated them, but know that if they were a person, I’d consider naming my firstborn after them.  It was around mile 6 when Rhona came zooming past me.  She had spotted Kynon up ahead and was determined to catch him.  After all, she couldn’t let her boyfriend beat her during his first half marathon, right?  I considered following her, but looked down at my pace and thought ‘fuck that.’  She was making some good progress when another ma-hoo-sive hill decided to just turn up out of nowhere and shit on everyone’s parade.

Gross

Thankfully, near the top of the hill (I thought these were meant to be over and done with!) there was a water station, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I walked a bit more.  It was the nicest 30 seconds of the race up until that point.  Hands down.  After sucking down a gel (and getting sticky gel crap all over my hands, which annoyed me for the rest of the race) I picked up the pace again, and started to enjoy some more downhill sections.

After another mile or so I passed Rhona again.  She had her earphones in (and I might have as well) so didn’t bother with any chit chat (which would have consisted of me panting and repeating ‘I hate hills’), and I also spotted Caroline +1 up ahead.  I caught up to them, and they both seemed to be struggling a little.  I mentioned that they were over halfway there and it was all downhill from there (I didn’t know if that was the truth or not, but that’s what I would have wanted to hear).  Then I took my second gel and marched onwards.

The next 4 miles or so were along a busy-ish road, and I felt pretty strong as I slowly picked off runners.  I caught up to Kynon and gave him the heads up that Rhona was coming for him, and then continued on my sweaty way.  It was about here that my heart rate monitor strap starting really digging in under my bra (this always happens when I run over 10 miles), and I knew that I’d be stinging badly in the shower later on.  Up until this point, I was pretty sure I was putting in a dismal performance, but my pace was good, and I realized that as long as I kept it up, I’d manage to finish in under 2 hours, something that seemed near impossible during the first 6 miles.  Awesome.

More uphill before the final stretch (Photo from SHM website)

The last couple of miles flew by, and I was amazed I wasn’t feeling more worn out.  I kept picking off a couple of runners here and there, and before I knew it I was back on the field staring ahead at the finish!  For maybe the first time in my life, I held back and did not sprint the last 400 meters like a douche.  This meant that when I crossed the finish line, I didn’t feel like I needed to blow chunks; result!

Don’t be fooled by the placement of this photo – I only look this fresh BEFORE a race!

I fully took advantage of the drinks section in the finishers’ area, and re-hydrated like a beast.  I got my medal and my goody bag, then went to meet Ronnie, who sickeningly managed to run his first ever half marathon in 1:46:35.  I was also approached by a guy who asked ‘Are you medal slut?’  A fan!  Hello, reader!  Rhona came in soon afterwards, smashing her PB and managing her first half in under 2 hours (and her 7th half marathon ever), followed by Kynon, who she had clearly managed to hunt down!

Pre-race nerves (unfounded, it turned out)

After the race, there was a selection of sandwiches and cakes on offer, which looked delicious, but I couldn’t stomach.  I had a couple of bananas, and all the high5 fluid I could get my hands on.  Originally, the pub had been planned, but the rain had started coming down and I really wanted a shower and my sofa, so Ronnie and I said our goodbyes and headed back to the car.

The finish! (Photos, again, from SHM website)

So that’s half marathon number 3 in the bag.  Next up?  Tough Mudder Scotland (unless I have another impulsive moment) in two weeks time.  And now, time to get intimate with my foam roller, because I’m really into self-harm today.

‘Daily Mail Reporter’ is a lazy journalist.

I got home after the Perth Kilt Run to find I had two pending comments on my blog.  One from a fellow runner saying nice things about what I write, the other from somebody telling me my blog was ‘sadly’ on Serbian news.  I had pretty much dismissed the comment as spam until I clicked through to check my stats for the day.  I was confronted with this:

Wtf?!

To put things into perspective, in the nearly 6 months in which I have been writing this blog, my busiest day barely had 200 hits, and that was mainly people looking for results and photos for the Balmoral 10k earlier this year.  I guess the random commenter was right!

This led to an investigation with my trusty friend Detective Google.  While I found the website (in Croatian) that linked to my blog, and got the gist of what was being said thanks to various online translation bots (it was about the unfortunate design of the emf finishers’ medal), that was not the weirdest moment of the evening.  For during my online searching, I came across an article on the Daily Mail website.  It appears they have used several quotes from my post in their article:

So while I’m glad ‘Daily Mail Reporter’ found my article amusing/useful, I am also kind of annoyed that all they had to do was cruise Twitter and liase with Detective Google to mash together an article.  For a paycheck.

Considering I did the legwork (literally and figuratively) for my original post, I feel a bit cheated.  Since what I wrote comprises nearly 20% of the Daily Mail article, I am surely entitled to nearly 20% of Daily Mail Reporter’s paycheck.  Am I right?

Oh, and because I could help looking at the comments, here is the utterly charming ‘highest rated’ comment from the article:

No problemo, classy commenter.  Knock yourself out:

Shlong medal and Rachel’s rack.

PS: To any magazines, newspapers, etc. out there, if you’re looking for a columnist, I’m cheap.

EMF Edinburgh Half Marathon 2012

Chip time: 1:53:28  PB!

Position: 2,055/?

Medal: Yes

This thing weighs a ton!

It had completely slipped my mind how early this race started (8 am), and what implications that had on the time I could sleep in until (before 6 am).  After a Saturday of lazing in the very un-Scottish heat and sunshine, complete with ice-cream, barbeque, and frisbee, I was ready for a loooooong sleep.  When my (super irritating) phone alarm went off at 5:32 (I don’t like rounded times for an alarm), a happy camper I was not.

Still full of the cold, I went through to the bathroom and blew what felt to be roughly 17 kilos of snot from my head into about half a roll of toilet paper.  I then ventured into the kitchen to make my porridge, which I enjoyed with a vanilla Power Bar and some Gatorade.  Glancing out of the window, I remember thinking I had never been happier to see clouds!

At about 6:15, I set off for the start, which was about a mile and a half from where I was staying – a perfect warm-up walk.  It was actually a bit chilly, and I hoped the cool air would hang around.

London Road, Edinburgh. 6:30 am. Blissfully cool.

Enjoying the less-than-scorching, but sadly, short-lived breeze.

After dumping my bag and taking part in the toilet queue waiting game, twice (in a very timely fashion to the supremely efficient toilet ushers), I headed to the start, and to the ‘black’ pen, full of finishers hoping to clock in at about 2 hours.  After a few minutes chatting to a fellow American, the crowd starting creeping forwards, and the race started pretty much bang on time.

I had decided to try to run the first mile or two without music, after reading on other blogs that the motivation of music only lasts for so long.  I was counting on the initial excitement to carry me through the start, and it did – and then some!  There was a real sense of camaraderie amongst the runners, and since there were so many of us, the route never really cleared out, so we were all pretty cozy, especially after the sun (and pounding heat) broke through the cloud and opened into bright blue skies.  It was also nice to hear the supporters along the way.  And to eavesdrop on people’s conversations that had decided to run together.

In fact, I didn’t really mind not having music in the first half, and didn’t pull my mp3 player out from between my two bras (very handy storage area), until after 8 miles!  After that, the heat was really starting to weigh people down, and I felt I could use the extra boost.  Thanks go out to Elton John (I’m Still Standing), Adam and the Ants (Stand and Deliver), David Bowie (Golden Years), Right Said Fred (I’m Too Sexy), and Brittany Murphy singing ‘Faster Kill Pussycat’.

At around 10 miles, the ‘elite’ runners passed us on the other side of the road, and the hot tarmac seemed to go on forever before it was our turn to turn around.  It was good as I managed to spot someone I knew that was running, and we did that retarded ‘smile-like-a-goon-and-wave-fanatically’ thing.  It was also a pretty good feeling when the turn eventually happened, somewhere after mile 11.  To the person who decided to hook up their hose to a shower feature and attach it to a ladder just after mile 12: you are my hero.  Nothing in my immediate past has felt as good as running through that cool mist felt.  Thank you.

As the mile 13 marker came into sight, I know I was sporting a full-beam grin because it was nearly over.  I dread to look at the photos – in fact I might just avoid it.  When the finish line came into view, I think I overdosed on joy.  I didn’t beast out a sprint like I would normally do because we were running on plastic sheets, and I didn’t really feel like my shoes were getting decent grip, but I kept it fast and steady until I crossed the line, REMEMBERING TO STOP MY GARMIN (!!!!), and immediately felt like puking, which thankfully, I did not.

I got the medal, the water, the goody bag, and my breath back, and then wandered into the battlefield of spent, hot, but elated runners.  It wasn’t long before I ran into Allan (the waving runner), and we took some obligatory finishers photos before starting the trek (seriously, it was like a 25 minute walk in steaming heat) to the shuttle bus back to Edinburgh.

At least 99.9% sexually enticing.

Solo pose

It didn’t take us very long to establish that the finishers medal was:

  1. Really, really heavy; and
  2. Shaped like a penis

The 14 year old boy trapped inside me laughs at this.

All in all, a well-organized race.  I had a great time, scored a PB, and received my first cock-shaped medal.  Not bad for a Sunday morning!

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…

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!

Inverness Half Marathon 11.3.12

Official Time:  2:04:46 (PB)

1118th finisher (That sounds pretty rubbish!)

Medal: Yes

Pinky was not intentionally positioned to hide ‘1/2’, honest!

First half marathon, and I was gunning for a time under 2 hours, since I know I’m capable of it.  Unfortunately, everything seemed to go wrong.

I woke up with a pretty ropey belly, and to avoid totally grossing anyone out, I’ll avoid any graphic description and simply say that what my body was churning out at 6 am in the bathroom did not set my spirits high, as hydration is pretty important for a race.

The drive to Inverness was stressful.  I wasn’t driving, but Ian was becoming more and more pissed off with shit drivers along the way.  We also got stuck behind a ridiculously slow caravan, and then a tractor.  Stress mounted as it became clear that we would be cutting it close to make it to registration on time.  To rehydrate, I was guzzling water and realized very suddenly that if I didn’t get to a toilet, STAT, there was going to be a Paula Radcliffe moment in the passenger seat.  This did not help stress levels.  Luckily we found a gas station with a toilet, and normal (ish) activity could resume.

Once we had made it to the sports centre in Inverness, there wasn’t much time left, and I still had to get changed and find somewhere to put my stuff.  The parking looked crazy, so I ran out, leaving Ian to it.

Much stress ensued, but I eventually registered, got changed, sorted out a locker and met Ian.  It was around this point I realized I had eaten nothing since breakfast (it was about 12:15), and thought I should maybe try and fuel up.  This did not happen because I felt sick just thinking about food.  At this point, Ian left, and I realized that I was exhausted from the stress of getting there on time.  Shortly after, the bagpipes started up, indicating the walk to the start line.  I felt so rotten I wanted to cry.  You know those days were you feel like even walking is an effort?  This was one of those days, and I knew this run was going to hurt.

When the horn went, everyone slowly made their way to the start line.  Once I passed, I hit ‘start’ on the Garmin and set off, aiming to keep a pace between 8:30 and 9:00.  Even dodging the slower runners, this was going well.  The first 3-4 miles steadily climbed uphill, and I maintained a good pace.  I was hungry, and it was tough, but I started feeling more positive.  This positive feeling skyrocketed when I ran past my ex-boyfriend’s parent’s house, because where there was once a grassy meadow next to the small country path that led to their riverside home there was a GIANT FUCK OFF TESCO.  I remember his mother (who I thought was a patronizing bitch) used to complain that ‘they’ wanted to build a Tesco in the meadow and that it would ruin their views/be horrible/etc.  Man, that Tesco made me smile.

Of course, karma is more of a bitch than my ex-boyfriend’s mother, and for all of my nasty thoughts, I received payback in mile 6 when the mother of all stitches decided to bestow itself upon my person.  Right after the uphill struggle, and right before the sweet, sweet downhill section.  I was super pissed off.  I had to ‘evolve’ several times.  To illustrate:

hunched over walking – upright walking – slow jog – regular jog – attempt to run – EXCRUCIATING PAIN! – repeat

This went on for the next few miles, and checking my Garmin only confirmed that a sub 2 hour half was not on the cards this time.  I was even more pissed off.  I experienced the weirdest emotion-struggle when a woman ran past and shouted back, “Come on, you’re halfway there!”  Half of me was grateful for her encouragement and wanted to smile and say ‘thanks’, and the other half wanted to punch her in the face and scream.  That’s a strange internal struggle to experience, and I’ll be honest and say it’s the first time I’ve felt anything like it.

By mile 10, the pain had finally subsided, and I finished the last 3 miles at a 9:00/mile pace.

At the finish line

I was never happier to see a finish line and I have never run a more painful race.  I felt pretty deflated afterwards, and even getting a sub 2:05 time wasn’t enough to lift my spirits – I actually wanted to cry.  I took my medal (one of the only things that encouraged me to keep on truckin’ during the pain), found Ian, and headed to the car.  It was time to go home and refuel in style: with beer and curry.

There’s nothing quite like running 13.1 miles on a near-empty stomach, and a 2 1/2 hour drive home to build up an appetite.  After a shower at the flat, we headed to the restaurant.  I got shat on by a bird within 5 minutes of heading out the front door, but I was so exhausted, and so hungry, I didn’t care, and I dined out with a crusty patch of bird shit in my hair.

Not a smile, but a grimace that I was too exhausted to execute properly.

On a positive note, the race was well organized, the views were beautiful, and the atmosphere was great.  I’m just bummed I didn’t really get into the spirit, but whatever, medal numero uno in the bank – Boom!

Curry bound!

Putting my feet up after my THIRD shower of the day – thank you anonymous bird.

I look like ass when I run

I came across some photos of the 10 miler on Sunday, and managed to find a couple featuring my sweaty, washed out face.  OF COURSE the photos of me had to be taken after mile 9.  Every other time I saw a camera along the way, I smiled for the photos (of which I am certain 98% portray me as at least slightly demented), but after the 9 mile marker I was oblivious to anything except my desire for it all to end.  Hence, no smile, even though I am looking DIRECTLY at the camera.  I can almost hear myself thinking ‘I don’t even care if a trail of drool is cascading down my face, take your damn photo’.  I’m number 321.  Enjoy:

Photo courtesy of roadrunpics.com - Thanks!

Anyway, in preparation for the abuse I’ll be giving my body this weekend, I am taking Saturday as a rest day.  Those who know me will understand how much of a sacrifice this is, as Saturday is awesome for both parkrun and gym classes, but I have worked out non-stop since last Thursday, so screw it.  I’m going to clean my flat, which would, at this point, make bachelor pads look pristine.  I’m actually ashamed of the state of it.  I am also going to pamper myself.  Brows are being tinted so my face has a slight chance of looking decent in any photos on Sunday, and I’m getting a ‘Rescue Pedicure’, which my poor feet are looking forward to.  Judge for yourself, but I would say they have only become more gross-looking since the last foot-fetishist-boner-killer photo I posted:

I'm sorry for posting this*

Anyway – managed an easy 5 mile run this evening, mainly because it was mild and sunny when I finished work, but also because I had planned on trying out my first ‘carb loading’ session tonight.  I’ve never bothered before, but since it’s a half marathon, might as well fuel up, right?  So what wholesome food choices do I make?

  • KFC boneless chicken 3 piece meal (with chips)
  • pan au chocolat
  • approx half a large loaf of bread with nutella
  • an entire pack of MAOAM sweets

I’m sure that is EXACTLY what I should be filling my body with for Sunday’s race.  At least I managed to resist beer…

*I’m lying.

 

Getting excited!

After a performance I’m pretty proud of on Sunday at the Arbroath 10 miler, I’m feeling a lot more confident about my first half marathon this Sunday.  Realistically, I’ll be happy to finish under 2:30:00, but if I can smash 2 hours I will be happier than a fly on shit.  Reasons I know I’m getting excited about something:

  • I paint my nails black (badly. If there was a high school class called ‘How to be a successful girl’ I’d have failed it – hard)
  • I plan a meal out (signs point to curry once we get back to Aberdeen)
  • I get my brows dyed (having wispy blonde hair means I can get away with not shaving my legs for weeks, but it also means my natural eyebrows are invisible, and this annoys me)
  • I book a random beauty appointment (pedicure, perhaps foolishly the day before my half, but my poor feet deserve some love.  I also know that the beautician has seen my feet before and it is unlikely she’ll recoil in horror)
  • I crave ice cold beer and slutty dancing (unfortunately not going to happen for a few weeks, but there’s a gym night out on the cards)

I also start planning my outfit.  Now, my running gear isn’t particularly fancy (in fact, it’s pretty much just gym kit), so I’m currently gunning for some wicked war paint on my face.  Because, you know, I’m going to ‘defeat the race’.  Totally lame, I know, but backed by my bitchin’ tunes, I’ll feel like a warrior.

Does anyone else have running plans for the weekend?

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…

Well, my training went a bit off the rails this weekend, but who can blame someone for wanting a couple of beers with friends once in a while, huh?  Saturday is usually my pakrun/pump day, but I didn’t make either.  Why, you ask, narrowing your eyes and throwing a side-eye my way?  Simple.  I was hungover.

Friday night was the one year anniversary of a writing group I’m a part of.  Anniversaries are for one thing: drinking.  Now, it was a themed night, and the theme was ‘moral decay’.  I took that to mean ‘dress like a ho’ and I gave it my all.

Total number of party guests that decided to follow the theme: 2

Far left: me. Far right: the ONLY OTHER PERSON TO MAKE AN EFFORT TO DRESS UP!

So I spent the night teetering about in trashy 6-inch heeled boots and a rubber dress whilst everyone else lounged comfortably in sensible, non-ho clothes.  Awesome.

Anyway, I didn’t get home until just before three, so I decided after 8 straight days of working out I had earned a rest day.  And it was great.  I slept in, ate loads and topped it off with a play at His Majesty’s Theatre.

Roll around Sunday.  I also slept in today.  Until the afternoon, which is unheard of for me.  I told myself I would do some form of exercise today, but the longer I languished in bed, the less likely that idea seemed.  After lunch, however, with the sun out and the energy of instant noodles soaring through my body, I thought ‘Ugh, screw it, I’ll go’.

I set off not knowing how far I would run.  Initially I was thinking 5 miles, but it was such a nice day I just kept going.  My hip was giving me a bit of bother and the knee still isn’t 100%, but I just felt happy on the go.  When I eventually checked my Garmin and noticed I’d gone 5.5 miles, I decided it was time to turn back.  And who wouldn’t be in the mood for running here?

Pure stunnin', ken?

Turning onto my street I saw I’d run over 11 miles, my longest run at 28 so far!  Having not planned for a long run, I was glad I’d tucked a cheeky tenner into my phone-carrier arm-strap thing, and ran past my front door, round the corner, and straight to the Tesco Local that I know has good fridges (because poorly chilled beverages piss me off).  The sight of pure heaven?  Witness:

Excessive?

So that’ll be my longest run before my first half marathon, which is exactly two weeks away now.  Feeling confident I’ll manage the distance as I felt strong (but thirsty) after my run today, and have a realistic goal of coming in under 2:15, although sub 2:00 is like my holy grail!  I guess I’m starting what is known in the biz as ‘taper time’, apart from my 10 mile race next Sunday.

Hope everyone else’s training is going well, and that you’ve been balancing all of your hard work with some hard play!  😉

Hasta luego.