7 Hills of Edinburgh

I was looking for a race in Edinburgh earlier in this year. I wanted something that would let me see a bit of the city, so EMF half was not ideal for this. The other races that would have fit this requirement landed on awkward dates. I then came across this one and was intrigued by descriptions that told of a race with no fixed route that offered stunning views of the capital city, so promptly entered and convinced Rachel to enter with me.

The plan of the day was to take it fairly easily. The race had no real distance, but was excepted to be around the 14 mile mark. I was using it a step back up to distance running and Rachel was using this run as a taper run (no, really) in preparation for a hilly Marathon next week. We also entered the challenge instead of the race, so neither of us were really clock watching. The main difference between the race and the challenge was the 30 minute head start that we got. The idea of this event also is that you run to the top of all seven hills (shown below) and get a stamp at the top of each. The route you take is entirely up to yourself, so long as you do the hills in the correct order. This led to some interesting running; through a shopping centre, private allotment, golf courses, forests, scrambling up steep embankments and on a mixture of surfaces.

  • The Castle (esplanade)
  • Corstorphine Hill
  • Craiglockhart Hill (East)
  • Braid Hill
  • Blackford Hill
  • Arthur’s Seat

The run started near the monuments on the top of Calton hill, where I met another Blogger Mockjogger for the first time. Heading down the hill, across the road and along the Royal Mile was a brilliant way to start it. Up to the castle and we got our stamps for the first hill. A nice and easy one there. After this, we went down some steps followed by a gentle down hill before running through a shopping centre (that was different).

Corstorphine hill was our first real climb, but it was not too bad. We ran most of the way up it, but chose to strategically walk the steep parts. Here we realised that stinging nettles were going to be a real problem. As was hay fever. And growling dogs (with a daft woman shouting “it’s OK, it’s OK” as her dog looks at me as though I’m dinner. It’s really not OK, get your dog away from me!)

On the way to Craiglockhart hill, I started to notice just how different the routes that people were choosing was. There were runners darting out of different streets and parks from all directions. A run over a railway crossing and a short climb to the top of this one for our third stamps.

Braid hill was the first really tough hill. On reaching the top of this I really thought for a minute that I was going to struggle the rest of the run. The heat was starting to get to me too. The views from here were stunning though and I could practically see the whole of Edinburgh, including a great view of the Forth bridges.

View from Braid Hill

View from Braid Hill

I seem to have blocked Blackford hill out of my head, but I do have the stamps to prove I was there. Hmm… Maybe it was too horrific or maybe I’ve mixed the hill names up and just described it in the previous paragraph and photo. Either way, nothing else to report here…

Now it was time for the big one. Arthur’s seat. It looked big from a distance. It looked bigger from close up. Runners were going up all routes, including vertical rocky faces, or taking the paths to the top. We chose a route that had some steps and a bit of climbing. Clearly the wrong way to go, but never mind. A lot of hard work to get up there and at the top  but the view was worth it. My energy levels were shot, I felt hot and sick and did not want to think about the final hill up to the finish line where we started. Still, for now it was a “gentle” run down the tourist path. I say “gentle” only in comparison to the way we went up. It was steep, fast and I had to watch my feet so as not to break an ankle on the way down.

View from Arthur's Seat

View from Arthur’s Seat

At the bottom of the final hill and back to the start/finish area was a lovely woman with a very large supply of homemade sugary candy. Perfect! Some of that down me and I managed the strength to climb Calton hill again.

A brilliant race, very varied and definitely one to do again. I see a few tweeks to the route that we took which I would like to make next time around.

Results:
Position: 159 out of 199 in the Challenge
Miles ran: 14.9
Time: 03:16:01

Route Chosen:Route Map

Stats:
Split Summary
===
1) 1m – 10:34
2) 1m – 8:35
3) 1m – 9:13
4) 1m – 12:22
5) 1m – 11:27
6) 1m – 10:01
7) 1m – 10:16
8) 1m – 17:30
9) 1m – 13:16
10) 1m – 14:01
11) 1m – 16:27
12) 1m – 11:09
13) 1m – 20:33
14) 1m – 17:11
15) 0.9m – 13:26(14:59/m)

Stats Generated at Fetcheveryone.com

Elevation v pace – Stats Generated at Fetcheveryone.com

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City of Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10K

The route of the Baker Hughes 10K is not the most inspiring of all the races I run, but the reason I would be running it for the third year in a row is that it is flat and far too close to home not to. In previous years I have been able to walk down to the start line, but as my friend Lucy was coming up from the Dundee direction and I now live at that side of the town I arranged to meet her at mine and drive down together. This meant leaving too early as I knew how bad the traffic and parking gets at the race. Still, would give us some time to pick up some unnecessary freebies and “enjoy” the warmup (read, flail about like an uncoordinated dance troupe on Britain’s Got Talent) where Rachel would find us and join in. Kinda.

As we made our way slowly to the start, I said buy to Lucy and Rachel and made my way to the 46-50 minute starting pen. Wow… this could be a bad idea, I argued with myself. “My last two 10Ks were just a shaving under the 1 hour” “But my parkrun times…” “That’s only 5K” “Aah, I’m here now” and settled in at the front of this corral as I did not want to get snarled up at the first sharp turning immediately after the start. They walked us over to the start and as the first wave of runners were through the start they dropped the tape and let us start. Still a wee bit away from the start line, I started jogging slowly towards it and picked up the pace as I went through the start.

There’s not really much to say about the race itself. It’s 10 KM in length, it’s flat, it’s always a bit breezy and it contains a 2 mile long straight along the each front. Scenery is industrial harbour, beach and residential. The course can be fairly congested most of the way around, and due to a lot of people who do not enter other races then race etiquette is fairly poor. People will pass you and slow down immediately, they will suddenly come to a walk in front of you and you will see the same person sprinting past you over and over again as they change pace to each extreme. Crowds are quite supportive in the beach sections of the race.

My main target for this race was to keep a steady pace, where I was working hard throughout the race. I managed this as the graph below will show you. I was hoping for between 47 and 50 minutes and I was pleased to come in with a final time of 47:19.

Post-race, it was off to Mrs Smiths Cake Shop for coffee, cake and free runner’s shortbread.

Cake Time

Cake Time

Results and stats:

Overall Position: 727/4263
Gender Position: 643/2275
Category Position: 404/1314

5K Chip Split: 23:23
Chip Time: 47:19
Gun Time: 48:26

Pace, Elevation and Heart Rate

Pace, Elevation and Heart Rate – Generated at Fetcheveryone.com 

Mile Splits:
1) 1m – 7:22(7:22/m) 162/169bpm 144cal
2) 1m – 7:27(7:27/m) 167/172bpm 150cal
3) 1m – 7:31(7:31/m) 167/170bpm 152cal
4) 1m – 7:35(7:35/m) 165/168bpm 150cal
5) 1m – 7:39(7:39/m) 166/170bpm 154cal
6) 1m – 7:56(7:56/m) 167/174bpm 159cal
7) 0.27m – 1:53(7:01/m) 171/174bpm 39cal

Ham In

For some reason, I seem to like to do a half Marathon around 2 weeks after a Marathon. This is not deliberate, merely something I have noticed in looking back. On returning from Milan, I noticed that it was a full 3 weeks without a race and we couldn’t have that, could we? Also, my first race planned was the Balmoral 15 mile trail race. I thought that a HM first would help my legs get a feel for the distance again, so I looked up the guide and found the Angus HaM (Half Marathon) on Saturday 19th April. That’ll do nicely! It was reasonably cheap (£18), reasonably local (50 miles) and one I had never done before.

In the days following Milan Marathon, I did a lot of walking around in Rome doing some sight-seeing. I returned to the UK and had my first run on the Friday – 6 days after the Marathon. This was probably too soon to go back to it, as I felt my legs still sore and tired. I  kept going regarless and would run twice more in the next few days. Still feeling heavy legs, I decided to go to Kincorth Jog Scotland on the Tuesday night where they had us doing sprints, circuits, squats and planks Duthie park. To say my legs were sore the next day would be an understatement. This forced me to have three days off before Angus HaM. Hopefully it would work in my favour. Given it was less than 2 weeks since I ran a Marathon I was not expecting anything special with this race and would certainly not be hitting any times like I did in Inverness. You see, this race was hillier than Inverness and there I ran a lot quicker than I was expecting. There’s no way I was matching it. All through 2012 I struggled to hit a sub-2 hour half Marathon, and although I am in a bit better form I still didn’t believe that was the standard I was running at.

At the last minute I got a message from indecisive Greg who would be running the race after all. He drove through from Peterhead on the Saturday morning, parked at mine and we headed down together. Arrived nice and early, got our numbers and sat in the car deciding what to wear to run in. The sun was out, but it was a little chilly. Knowing it would warm up I opted for short sleeves and long legs. I have came to the conclusion when decided what to wear during a race that it is impossible to know what to wear. Each time you change your mind just means that the probability of choosing the correct gear for the weather decreases significantly. All that you can know for sure is that whatever you finally settle on will not be the correct choice. Before we set up, I handed Greg the car key as I was expecting him to finish in the region of 20 minutes before my expected 2 hours.

Sunshine!

Sunshine!

The race started promptly at 10:30 and I immediately got swept up in amongst some faster runners. During the first mile I kept telling myself to slow down, it was far too fast. Unfortunately, I had been fiddling with my Garmin just before the race as I had on a new heart rate strap and could not see the pace we were running at. When my watch beeped after the first mile I noticed I ran a 7:38 minute mile. Far too quick for me, slow down. Brr… it’s cold and windy though. I wish I had my long sleeves on.

The next few miles, I thought I would try something new and go with heart rate rather than miles per minute, so I left my watch on that setting and ran to keep roughly a steady 160 bpm – comfortably hard work. As this was an undulating course, I figured that it would mean I would run slower on the uphill sections and faster on the down hills. As you can see by the graph at the bottom of the page, I managed to keep my heart rate steady and sure enough, my pace follows the curves of the altitude graph.

Seeing what pace I ran the previous mile consistently surprised me as each mile my watch beeped and told me somewhere between 7:45 and 8:15. I had a bit of a debate with myself on whether or not to keep this up, worrying that I would suffer in the final few miles. In the end, the deciding factor to keep going was hearing Rachel in my head saying at Loch Leven half “let’s keep this up as long as possible” when we were running a quick pace. I conveniently forgot about my struggles in the second half of that race.

The majority of the race had been down hill and had felt great. As I reached 9 miles I was starting to tire though and we now had to regain a lot of the height that we had lost. I decided just to try to keep on running. I had ran every inch of the last 9 miles, I would love be able to finish the race knowing I had ran every inch of the course. 10 mile marker came and my watch beeped 8:45. I was now really feeling tired in the legs, but my watch was reading 1 hour 21 minutes. Supposing I slowed down to 10 minute miles, I would be coming in at 1:51 – the same as I did in Inverness. It’s hot though. I wish had put shorts on. Even better than that, if I managed to get back to my  8 minute miles I would be running a PB. A half Marathon PB is kinda a big deal for me, given I have never had one. My friends say that my first one is my PB, but I don’t agree. That’s just the time of my first one. It can’t be a PB if I have nothing to beat. It’s just the benchmark that I have never managed to get to again. Also, this was set in July 2012 on the hilly Stonehaven half course. I also told myself that although I was tired, these final three miles would never be as hard as the final 3 miles two weeks ago in Milan.

During all of this counting and thinking, I lost track of myself and completely missed the 11 mile marker. By the time I saw a marker up ahead, I was over the moon to see that it said 12. Mile 12 marker was on a hill and I remember wondering if this was the infamous last mile hill that every one was talking about. It wasn’t. Well, it was. At least, it was part of it. You see, the final mile hill is the whole mile. I had to dig deep and do everything I could not to walk in this mile. I saw a runner a wee bit ahead who looked strong and was running well. I latched on to him and made sure I kept running as he would never give up. Moments later, he gave up. I passed him and carried on to the next person. I had nothing left though, I was going to have to walk. Wait, I recognise that blue Inverness half T-Shirt. That’s Greg. I’m not walking if I can catch Greg. It can’t be Greg. Oh, it must be that other guy I saw wearing an Inverness half T-shirt. Hold on it is Greg. I run past him, call him a slacker before realising that I cannot do that AND then walk. So, I kept on until the top of the hill. Into the gates of the park, I could now see the finish line up ahead. I heard footsteps behind me, I though that it would be Greg coming to pass me before the finish. It wasn’t. I certainly wasn’t letting some random pass me just before the end. I hit the acceleration and finished around 5 seconds before the guy who tried to pass me.

Over the moon with my run, Greg and I went for ice cream in the sunshine after chatting to some of the other runners. Sitting outside, in the warm sun eating ice cream and I felt for a minute I was back in Italy. Until I tasted the ice cream that is 😦 Overall a great race that I am pleased I have done. Ran on quiet country roads, four water stations (cups in one, two and four and bottles in the third water station) and police presence at junctions. Medal and goody bag with water bottle at the end.

Results:
Category Position: 66/198(?)
Overall Position: 131/257
Gun Time: 01:48:12

Red Line: Heart Rate Grey Line: Pace Green Line: Elevation - Graph generated at fetcheveryone.com

Red Line: Heart Rate Grey Line: Pace Green Line: Elevation – Graph generated at fetcheveryone.com

5k Splits:

Dist Time Per Mile HR(max) Beats/mile
5 25:50 8:19 160 (167) 1334
10 24:34 7:54 162 (167) 1283
15 25:35 8:14 163 (170) 1342
20 27:13 8:46 165 (174) 1447

Mile Splits:

Dist Time Per Mile HR(max) Beats/mile
1 7:43 7:43 156 (165) 1215
2 8:05 8:05 162 (166) 1306
3 9:04 9:04 162 (167) 1466
4 8:10 8:10 161 (166) 1315
5 7:46 7:46 162 (167) 1261
6 7:53 7:53 163 (167) 1287
7 8:00 8:00 161 (170) 1290
8 7:47 7:47 162 (166) 1257
9 8:49 8:49 165 (169) 1459
10 8:48 8:48 165 (169) 1455
11 8:18 8:18 163 (166) 1354
12 8:47 8:47 165 (171) 1445

Buongiorno

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Several months ago, Rachel convinced me to enter the Milano City Marathon. As I was considering Paris which runs on the same day, I decided that I would rather join Rachel and have some company on my travels. Besides, it’s a long time away so I don’t need to worry about it. Right?

Wrong. The time flew in and suddenly I was two weeks away. Training had gone well and long runs under my belt were a couple of 15 milers, an 18 mile and a 21 mile run. My monthly mileage was up to a great level and I had been regularly going to pump and the occasional spin class. My parkrun times were coming down and I ran a great time at Inverness Half. Having been watching my diet I dropped a bit of weight too, so confidence was high for this one.

As my first two attempts at a Marathon (both at Loch Ness) did not go exactly as planned, I wanted to do this one and do it properly. I changed nutrition tactics and basically adopted a “less is more” attitude. Now, please don’t go throwing out your gels on my advice, but it worked for me. For breakfast I had a croissant and a cereal bar, nothing more. Race nutrition was one packet of Dextrose Tabs and the oranges/bananas/energy drinks that was out on course and I took a little and often approach to this. Pleased to say it worked for me and I had no real problems on route.

I left Aberdeen on Friday morning, flying via Heathrow and landing in Linate airport near Milan. I was spending the first night there alone, as Rachel and her boyfriend Ian were spending the night in a hotel in Heathrow and flying over the next morning. This gave me the chance to get out and about and explore a little. I visited the Natural History museum in a fantastic park that was nearby the hotel. Loads of joggers out in the park and found a pop-up gym which was totally free and had classes on. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to go try this out… due to running the Marathon and stuff. While walking through the park at one point, I heard the leaves rustle beside me. Thinking it was a bird I had a look and discovered these small lizard type creatures darting about. If anyone knows what these would have been, please do comment.

Rachel and Ian arrived later on and after getting into the hostel, we made our way down to the race village to register and pick up our stuff. The goody bags that we were given were pretty fantastic. Decent Adidas technical T-shirt and loads of samples and bits and pieces. Loads of suppliers stalls to check out too. We didn’t hang about long, instead deciding to get registered and go for food. Twice. No, I tell a lie, three times. OK, four times if you count the Gelato after dinner.

On the morning of the Marathon I was quite pleased to have laid everything out the night before. My race kit would be a combination of Adidas, Ron Hill, Saucony, 2XU, Under Armour and probably a few others. We met another runner downstairs in the Hostel as we got ready to leave and decided to join her as we got the train to the start. The train journey took about 40 minutes form the hostel and arrived at a very large conference centre type place, with a long walk way which seemed to go on forever. We arrived at the start shortly after, dumped our bags and made our way to our “correct” starting corral. As I had been allocated a different corral from Rachel and we wanted to start together, it took a bit of petted lip looks to get the guy to allow us in with Rachel.

The start was a buzzing atmosphere. The helicopter was flying around taking TV pictures, there were amazing fancy dress costumes, cheer leaders and various other things going on. The MC was enthusiastic and doing a great job. I had no idea what he was saying, but I was enjoying the fact that he was saying it. The weather at the start line was sunny and warm.

Ready At The Start Line

Ready At The Start Line

The first few miles took us through a small village on the outskirts of Milan. It was very “Italian” (or at least what I would imagine Italy to be like before going for a visit). Old streets and wooden shutters on the windows of the buildings. Running was comfortable and Rachel had to keep reining me in to stop me taking off at 10k pace. The first 15 miles of the race saw us run between 9:30 and 10:30 miles. There were water stations with water, sports drinks and snacks every 5km which we chose to walk, so given this fact the pacing was fairly steady.

Just before the half way point, the course passes closely by the 24 mile part of the course. We also just happened to be running this part of the course at the same time as the race winner Francis Kiprop, so we had the helicopter above us and the TV cameras following him to our right. This was exciting until the realisation that he had just 2 miles to go and I had over 13. Lovely!

At around the 20 mile mark I started to struggle a bit. It was getting warm and I was feeling tired, sore and dehydrated. Rachel seemed to keep speeding up at this point too, and although I managed to stay close behind her for some time eventually I had to watch her sail off into the distance. It was at mile 23 where things really started to hurt though. I had a goal of 4.5 hours and with 3 miles remaining I had 30 minutes to hit that goal. Despite doing everything I could to persuade myself to suck it up and just run those miles at 10 minutes each, I didn’t have it in me. 13:06, 12:39 and 13:30 had me come home at 4:36:04

Overall though, I was happy with my performance. I ran nearly 37 minutes quicker than I ran Loch Ness just 6 months ago and I knocked 16 minutes off of my PB.

Results:

Chip Time: 04:36:04
Gun Time: 04:38:22
Overall Placing: 3013/3555
Finisher's Certificate

Stats:
Mile Splits: 10:02 9:26 9:22 9:47 9:27 9:40 10:11 9:44 9:38 10:28 9:35 9:48 10:23 9:39 9:41 10:47 9:49 9:32 11:23 10:50 11:51 11:00 12:54 12:45 14:01 11:02 3:19

Graph generated at fetcheveryone.com

Elevation v pace – Graph generated at fetcheveryone.com

Highland Halfing

After a disastrous attempt at Inverness Half Marathon in 2013, coming in at 2 hours 14 minutes with feet covered in blisters, I knew this could not go much worse this year. I was cautiously optimistic of having a good race though, as training has been going well, my parkrun times are coming down and I am feeling generally fit and healthy at the moment. This was until I stupidly ran parkrun too fast on Saturday morning and felt a muscle in my right calf tighten up and start to hurt. This was with me all of Saturday and left me hoping over night rest would help it and not see it stiffen up.

I had been planning for a wee while now to go for sub-2 hours. If I could do it, it would be the first time since 2012 that I have managed this and also the first time that I have done the same race twice and actually improved the second time. When I woke up in the morning, I dreaded getting up as that meant finding out how sore my calf was. Thankfully, when I did move I found it wasn’t too bad. A wee bit sore and stiff, but much better than the night before. I knew this meant I could run, but with Milan Marathon only 4 weeks away I was doubting my 2 hour HM.

Early doors (8am), four of us piled into Stu’s wee Panda who was not named Jim. (I mean really… who would name a car Jim? Hmm…) We headed to Inverness and arrived with loads of time to spare so proceeded to pick up our numbers and chill out for a while in the sports hall. Shortly before time, we went back to the car and I was persuaded to wear minimal clothing (basically loads of winter kit, but no jacket). I was soon to regret this, as standing in the start area the wind picked up and the rain started. Great!

Image

Still undecided about my target pace and still feeling the calf slightly tight and sore, I started with Naomi and Rachel who were not pushing for a fast time today. Rachel has the D33 ultra next week and Naomi ran a blisteringly fast PB in Paris Half Marathon last week (not to mention also completing her 100th parkrun the day before). Off we went and almost straight away as I was getting caught up with the crowd I left them. I slowed and waited a little for them and was told by Rachel to go for it. I still wasn’t sure, but picked up the pace slightly to see how it felt. Turning the corner onto the bridge I got chatting to Fiona from parkrun who is in training for the London Marathon (and can be sponsored here). After a bit I decided that this pace felt fine. We went through the 1 mile marker and I checked my split and was happy with a 9:06. Slightly faster still felt comfortable, so I headed off and left Fiona to later find herself running a pb.

The next few miles had me running just whatever was comfortable. Each mile came in at between 8:30 and 9 minute mile pace which is quite a bit quicker than a 2 hour HM. I therefore told myself that I need to slow it down a little or else I would probably crash in the second half, but the few small hills that were there were comfortable, the calf pain/tightness had gone and I was passing people without too much of a problem so I kept pushing on for a while longer. I also saw a guy dressed in normal day to day non-running trainers, jacket and short who sprinted past everyone. I thought he’s going to suffer. Sure enough, along the road he’s at the side and holding his foot going “Argh, argh.” This was fine until he sprinted past again, and then stopped once more later on. I never did see him again, but would be very surprised if he finished.

Miles 6 and 7 went really well and by this time I was playing a game of “here’s where I suffered last year.” Not the best game in the world, but it passed the time and saw me hit my two quickest miles of the race so far; 8:18 and 8:16. Just before the 8 mile marker, the route takes us down a narrow street past this super-enthusiastic family with drums, symbols and jelly babies which were tantalisingly out of reach.

As I passed the 8 mile marker I realised that my legs were now tiring. Having ran 8 miles non-stop though and well on course for my 2 hours I made a deal with myself to try for one more steady mile. Sooner than I realised, we were on to the 9 mile marker and my Garmin read that I just ran an 8:24. Very happy with this and the tired legs feeling had passed, so I pushed on to do an 8:33 and then 8:05.

Mile 11 to 12, was probably my toughest mentally in the race. I had to tell myself that in only 2 miles I will have completed the complete race without one single walk break and kept reminding myself that I was still on course for my sub-2 hour half marathon that I had dreamed about.

The final mile in this race is a particularly tough one. It feels such a long way down the length of the river, round the park and through the back with a lap of the track. There was one guy kept darting past a group of runners, realising he was too fast and couldn’t run at that speed then slowed down. He was quite annoying so I sped up a little and left him behind. As I turned the corner I heard Stu shouting for me. This gave me a huge boost and I picked up my pace. Had to dodge some people who decided the just wanted to chat and pushed up the side of the park with Stu running alongside. As I crossed the road, I realised I could not keep this up and slowed a little bit. Round the fence, in the back and onto the track I felt I had a little more to give. As the two inside lanes were full, I opted for the third lane and pushed on as hard as I could. I hear my name being shouted from the crowd (I later discovered that this was Phil from parkrun). I saw the clock at this point and although it was a little blurry I could see it was 1:52. I stopped my Garmin as I went over the line at 1:51 and could not believe it.

A fantastic race overall. Brilliant organisation, good value for money, very good medals and T-Shirts, police presence on route and road closures/partial closures. The atmosphere in the hall and the start/finish areas was brilliant. Conditions on the day were perfect after the first mile. Right temperature, dry and no dazzling sunshine. 

Results:

Chip Position: 725/1711
Gender Position: 579 of 1255
Category Position: 328 of 685
Overall Position: 750/1711

Chip Time: 01:51:14
Gun Time: 01:52:52

Splits:

1 9:05
2 8:47
3 8:34
4 8:56
5 8:24
6 8:21
7 8:15
8 8:22
9 8:34
10 8:02
11 8:27
12 8:24
13 8:09

Image

Pace (min/miles) v Elevation (Metres)

Foo Far Fae Forfar? Nae Far.

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Before The Start

Given there was no way that I was entering the Forfar Multi-Terrain Half Marathon again, it’s amazing what a little peer pressure and the stress of a quick closing but low cost race will do. The race has a nice, humane starting time of 11am so I left at 9am and headed down to Stonehaven to pick up Rhona.

Having ran this race last year, I knew what to expect. What to expect was a lot of mud, a lot of water and if it was last year then a lot of ice. Unfortunately, no ice simply meant more mud. Nice! I had two main goals this year. Firstly, not to get lost (again). Secondly to beat last year’s time. I decided early on in the race to pace myself and not to get carried away and go flying off. I just about managed that with the first two miles coming in at around the 9 minute mile mark. The first mile was around the loch and on wet/muddy but reasonably good condition tracks. Having been debating whether or not to wear my Sealskinz waterproof socks (through fear of them filling with water at the deeper parts of the course), I was glad at this point that I did. Wet feet in the first mile of 13 is not my idea of fun.

Mile 3 started off back on the road, but then continued along a very muddy and flooded land rover track. Here, I was really glad for the waterproof socks but wished I had worn trail shoes as I slid all over the place. It was at this point I lost sight of Rhona, as I girlied about on the 1.5 mile stretch of mud and water. Still managing to get some running done here though as I finished the next two miles at around the 9:20 minute mile pace.

Mile 4 was a treat as it was back on road, but unfortunately this pleasure was to be short lived as we turned off of the road and onto a thin strip of very muddy and slippery land going uphill. The only real option here was to walk up and try not to fall, so saw me with my slowest mile of the race so far with mile 5 coming in at 11:22.

The rest of the race would be quite similar. Short road sections, followed by wet/muddy sections. At around 7 miles in I approached the water section. About 100 metres of very cold, knee deep water. Yes – my socks filled up with water. No – there was no way for the water to drain out. As I continued to run, the water would slowly stop splashing about inside my socks and sock in. Lovely!

A couple of miles later and we were treated to a lovely steep climb. Everyone at this point was walking, so I took no shame in joining them. Up to the top of the hill by the monument/radio tower for some amazing views of Forfar and the loch that we started beside before a fast downhill section. Just as I thought the worst was passed though, we were back onto muddy farm tracks and then the delight that was a ploughed field. Heading down into the industrial estate, I was on new territory as this is where I went wrong last year. It reminds me of the Doctor Who episode ‘Turn Left’. Round the industrial estate, through a final forest track (more mud) and in to the finish.

Given this was the first half marathon distance I have ran since Fraserburgh Half in November, I was pleased to finish it without a struggle in any of the final miles. I managed not to get lost, but did I beat last year’s time of 2:12:23? Not quite, but not far off it (and give I went the slightly longer, but correct way then I am taking that as a win too).

Results:
Time: 2:12:45
Position: 142/164

Splits:
1) 9:05
2) 8:53
3) 9:20
4) 9:25
5) 11:22
6) 11:00
7) 9:53
8) 12:23
9) 12:25
10) 13:07
11) 9:07
12) 10:46
13) 10:35

You’re In! Nah… Only Kidding ;)

What an infuriating email!

Wow, exciting!

Wow, exciting!

Successful entry into the Bupa Great North Run 2014. Yay!

Capture2

Haha, nah, not really.

Ah well… fingers crossed for the real thing. I wonder though if it was just me that was caught out by the email subject line shortly after applying for the ballot? Probably.

In other news, Forfar Multi Terrain HM on Sunday. More about that next week 🙂