Inverness 1/2 marathon 2014

Time: 2:07:36

Medal:  Yes

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Ah, Inverness.  How I forget how long it takes in a car to get to you…

Thanks to sick people being around me with their sickness and coughing sick germs all around me, I was, after finally shirking off a two week cold, struck down again with some grim plague.  I took Wednesday night off from the gym.  And then Thursday.  And on Friday I felt so rancid that I had asked to be put down and cried at my desk at morning break had a little pity party for myself.  In fact, when the bell rang at the end of the school day, it took a full 30 minutes before I could muster up the strength to leave my desk and walk to my apartment.

Thankfully, Ian and I have started (and nearly finished) watching ‘Rome’ on Netflix, so I had something to look forward to every day (other than lying in bed in a dark room).  In fact, we have become so engrossed in the show that on Saturday, feeling a bit more human, I bought some spelt flour and baked a traditional ‘Roman Loaf’ (according to the recipe on the back) for us to rip apart with our hands and feast on as we watched.  Accompanied by “traditional” Roman butter, of course.  And bottled Heineken (also 100% traditional, I’m assured).

This guy.

This guy.

Unfortunately, our ‘episode of Rome with dinner’ grew into a Rome-a-thon, and Ian and I didn’t go through to bed until a slightly unreasonable hour.  And so on Sunday I slept in.  Up not quite early enough to allow for a bit of relaxation, and not quite late enough to have to write off the possibility of going to Inverness entirely, I spent the next 20 minutes frantically scrambling around my apartment, throwing on my race kit, trying to find my Garmin/keys/wallet/mp3 player/phone (which somehow had not charged overnight)/running socks (I own like 20 pairs, so why had they all mysteriously vanished?!), and then sat down to demolish a yoghurt and catch up on a bit of work.

Just before 8, I kissed Ian goodbye and headed downstairs and to the meeting point to await my chariot, a Fiat Panda filled with Naomi, her boyfriend Stu, and Ronnie.  Naomi and Stu had both run the Paris half (comically called ‘Le Semi’) the previous weekend, and were both worried about how they would manage just 7 days after a peak performance.  Sniffling and trying not to fall asleep in the warmth of the car, I told Naomi I’d be happy to keep her company if she fancied taking it easy, an offer she may have, at times, wished she hadn’t accepted.

We arrived at Bught Park with literally hours to spare, and since we were such keen beans, found ourselves registered, relieved, and sitting on the floor of the sports hall by about 10:30.  Somehow we managed to convince Ronnie that the start had been delayed by half an hour, which he was very angry about, but eventually came clean when it seemed as though he was going to hunt for an ATM and a shop with all the fictional extra time, and would potentially miss the actual start.

As the start approached, Stu (a serious athlete) dumped his warm layers into the car and went to warm up.  The rest of us dumped our clothes in the car, and then returned to the warmth of the sports hall, meeting up with a few familiar faces along the way.  Eventually, the piper started leading runners to the start line, and we tailed onto the swarm, choosing to stay indoors as long as possible, because: weather.

Naomi, Ronnie and I made a token effort to join in the enthusiastic warm up dancing (Stu was basically at up at the front and needed no such ridiculousness), until we started moving forward, breaking into a jog, and then speeding up to cross the timing mats.

The start.  Stu is the dedicated looking one in the Fife vest.

The start. Stu is the dedicated looking one in the Fife vest.

“I guess we’re running 13 miles then.”

Ronnie stuck with us for less than a mile before Naomi and I persuaded him to go ahead – he has been working hard at losing weight and was keen to get his first sub-2 half marathon since 2012, and we both thought he was capable, unlike the two of us (dead legs and snot face).  The pair of us plodded along, and I despite my heart rate, I felt comfortable.  I thoroughly entertained Naomi with hilarious and enthralling tales (or so I would like to believe), and we kept a pretty even pace (about 9:30 minute miles) for the first half, stopping to walk through the water stations.  Naomi’s legs soon voiced their disapproval, however, and the pace dropped back a bit after this point.  At one point, at a road crossing, the marshal told us we had to stop to let a bus past, which at the time was a welcome 10 second break, but would have been a real offense if we’d been running for time!  Still, he was apologetic, and it’s not like either of us minded.

With about 5k to go, we approached Esther, someone we recognized from the local parkrun.  Her half PB is 2:10, and at the rate she was running she was on track for a PB.  Just when Naomi was really starting to struggle, the role of PB pacer seemed to give her a reason to push on to the end, and we made it our mission to bring Esther in under her goal time.  We stooped to ridiculously unnecessary tactics (trying to become windbreakers, shouting like a drill sergeant, picking up a branch from a nearby grassy area and prodding her forwards with it), but she kept with us, and even managed to outkick us with a sprint finish at the end.  I mean, yeah, Naomi and I were busy with a conversation, but still – excellent effort.

"Yeah, I think a Nando's sounds like a good idea for dinner."

I’m pretty sure I remember smiling, but instead I look pretty vacant.

100% focus.

100% focus.

Even Ronnie shouting at us with less than a mile to go, exclaiming that Claudia (someone we know) was only about a minute ahead (Ronnie knows I get competitive at the end) wasn’t enough to make me leave our little pacing group.  Especially since this half marathon was technically my ‘cut back’ for the D33 in, ohhhhhhhhhh, two days.  Which I am starting to panic a bit about.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to be so busy at work, because at least it has kept my mind off of that little gem of information.

Anyway, Ronnie managed his sub-2.  He ran just over 1:51, in fact, and he was ecstatic.  Sadly, this means Naomi and I have lost a race buddy because he will once again start leaving us in his dust.  Stu, a freak of nature, ran less than half a minute slower than his Paris PB and crossed the line in 1:17:52.  Quite frankly, disgusting.

Once we had all gathered in the sports hall and chatted with other runners for a bit, we decided to head back to Aberdeen, singing along to some quality tunes (‘We Built this City’ and ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’ come to mind).

Overall, a good, but long, day out.  Here’s hoping I’m this cheerful in 48 hours.  And that I can still walk.

Inverness Half Marathon 2013

Time: 2:01:17 (CR)

Position: 991/1566

Medal: Yes (though it’s the same design as last year)

IMG_20130319_172449The Inverness half marathon was my very first half marathon last year.  It was fairly disastrous, and I ended up getting a stitch halfway through and having to walk quite a bit.  While I wasn’t planning on racing it this year, I did want to put in a better performance than 2012, and my main goals were:

  1. Finish comfortably (after all, I have to run a marathon in less than 3 weeks)
  2. Not walk
  3. Beat last year’s time

Just like last year, it was going to be a there-and-back on the day kind of race.  Ronnie picked me up at about 8, and was subjected to my teenage tastes in music (as I had rummaged through an old cd case and found some classics), and along the way, we both remained unamused at the sleet battering the wind shield.  The forecast was not great.

We arrived at Bught Park in Inverness with loads of time to spare, and wasted no time in getting a parking space on the pebbles next to the field where the majority of people would be parking.  Or so we thought.  Because it was so wet, the field couldn’t be used for parking and everyone was told to try and make alternative arrangements.  I guess we kind of lucked out!

Ronnie's car, and some others, next to the field with NO cars.

Ronnie’s car, and some others, next to the field with NO cars.

Once parked, we braced ourselves against the cold wind and made our way to the hall, where we registered and picked up our tech shirts (which were pretty much identical to the Loch Ness marathon ones from September).  After that, we both took advantage of the small toilet queue, and bought some lunch (egg sandwich – delicious!), before sitting down with a couple of familiar faces for a chat.

The hall

The hall

While people watching (we spotted a Superman, a leprechaun, and a tin of SPAM – it was Saint Patrick’s Day), I caught sight of Paul, one of my team mates from Tough Mudder.  After a quick catch up, Ronnie and I decided we’d better ditch our warm clothes, get in the toilet queues, and head to the start line.

During the last (loooooong) toilet break, I met a fellow medal hunter, and also ran into Claudia, who was going for a PB, and asked to run with Ronnie and myself.  The three of us made our way outside as the bagpipers had already started to lead the runners to the start line.  Last year I remember a cheesy warm up, but I think we were too far back this time around, because I didn’t hear or see anything.

Eventually we were off!  I wasn’t too fussed about weaving in and out of people, and decided to just stick to everybody else’s pace until the runners became more spread out.  Claudia was not thrilled with this, and, unbeknownst to be, slipped through a gap and charged onwards.  Although Ronnie saw her, I did not, and after a few minutes realized Claudia was not longer behind us.  She had been having a lot of knee pain recently, so I tried to slow the pace a little to see if she would catch up, and kept asking Ronnie if he could see her.  I’ll admit, I was a little confused when he didn’t look behind him, but didn’t really question it, and we kept going.  Considering it was a cold and wet day, I hoped her race wasn’t going to be too miserable (which obviously it wasn’t, since she was well on her way by this point).

I had told Ronnie that we would stick together, and I would be his motivator.  There was a lot of “Keep it moving!” and “Charge up that hill!” and “Don’t be such a girl!” coming from my direction, and for the most part, he seemed thankful.  At 6 miles, he mentioned that he was now on his longest run since the Forfar Multi-terrain half marathon in February, and I urged him to push through any pain, unless it was coming from his ankle (which is recovering from injury).  Unfortunately, at about mile 8, he had a problem with his shoe, and every time I looked back, he was further and further behind.  His face told me he wanted no more motivational ribbing from me, so I kept going, at this point ploughing through the rain.

I smiled for every photographer I saw, said thank you to all of the super enthusiastic spectators, and tried to chat with anyone that was still in good humour.  Before I knew it, I was crossing the bridge again, and less than two miles from the finish.  I kept a steady pace until, roughly half a mile from the finish, I spotted Leslie (one of the familiar faces from earlier on) up ahead.  Unfortunately, this meant it was game on!  I started accelerating until I was just behind her, then coasted until right before we entered the stadium for our ‘victory lap’.  Like a complete bitch, I overtook her, and sped up conservatively for the finish (please note my St. Patrick’s Day effort):

Screenshot 2013-03-19 at 17.22.50After I finished, I waited for Leslie to come in and congratulated her, before grabbing my medal, goody bag, and some water, and moving out of the finishers’ area.  This is when I saw Claudia, and because I thought she was behind us, I assumed she had DNF’d, and braced myself for some consolation chat.  Happily, though, I was oblivious to her early surge, and she had smashed her PB by nearly 20 minutes.  We were both freezing by this point, and she went inside, while I went to wait for Ronnie to finish.

Violently shivering, I cheered Ronnie in, and instead of hanging around, headed back to his car for some heat.  Luckily, the gym chain we’re both members of has an Inverness branch, so we went there for a hot shower with no queues, indulged in a freshly squeezed orange juice, and headed back to Aberdeen.

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And of course the sun and blue skies emerged once we were on the road.  Because why wouldn’t it?

The Day Before the Marathon

Gallery

This gallery contains 16 photos.

I guess sitting in my flat, still suffering in the leg department from Loch Ness, provides me with a perfect opportunity to update the site with an account of the Saturday before the marathon. Saturday morning I was up, bright … Continue reading

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.

Berlin, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Jakarta, Bangkok, Cairo, London…

So I’m still pretty new to this whole ‘blogging’ thing, so I’m super psyched when I see people have clicked through for a snoop.  Over the last few days, however, I have noticed a worrying trend in the ‘tone’ of google searches that somehow lead to people discovering my site.  These are not the kinds of people I want to have flipping through old posts and checking out route maps to try to decipher where I live (I’m just going to save you the effort and say it’s at least a 5 minute warm-up/cool-down walk from any start).  I present to you, dear reader, exhibit A:

Now, I have named the site medal slut, and I am sure somewhere I have posted about the half marathon, or the Loch Ness Marathon in Inverness, but I did not expect to be linked with some lonely soul’s late night need for release.  For the record, I typed ‘slut in inverness’ into google and realized that my page doesn’t crop up until the seventh page of results – this dude had perseverance!  Still, I thought it must be a one off, and I had a chuckle.

Enter, January 10th!  Without further comment, I present to you exhibit B:

Amazing.

Now I’m not going to get all ‘Oh my god, groooooooss’ with this.  I’m going to milk it.  I am a slut for the medals, but I’ll tell you now, I am also a slut for the views.  Let’s work it google.  ‘Slut’ is always going to be there, so to capitalize on lonely perverts all I need to to is name drop different cities!  Kaboom!

In other, more relevant news, a punishing 3 days, being back at work and jet-lag have caught up and bitten me in the ass – hard.  A few years ago I would have hauled my bad-ass self to the gym and worked out until I puked instead of resting, but age and wisdom have been bestowed upon me (thanks to an injury that informed me in a loud, booming voice that I was not, as I had previously believed, immortal) a sensible inner voice, and I am taking what I believe people refer to as a ‘rest’ day.  I will, obviously, be hittin’ it hard tomorrow!