Great Scottish Run 2015

This is a pretty delayed post – sorry!! I have not been keeping up with the blog…

So last year at the Great Scottish Run I set my PB of 44.41. I had hoped to smash that even more this year but as you have all seen for one reason or another this has not happened.

This year I was going to the Scottish Run with an injury and off the back of an almost 3 week long holiday to California where my diet was perfect for a runner….

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Yes the drink is bigger than my head!!

Yes the drink is bigger than my head!!

Not ideal prep. But rather than pulling out I wanted to go ahead and just give it the best I could. This would be the race that would decide whether to take some time off running or not. I have had the injury for a while with little improvement so I was in two minds about whether to continue was wise or not. This was the decider.

GSR has turned into a family tradition of sorts. For the last 3 years my cousins and I have headed down to watch/do the race and this year was no exception. My dad decided he would also join the race which I was delighted about!!

We went to a lovely meal to Café Gandolfi the night before the race and it was DELICIOUS.  Super yummy food, go if you ever get a chance. Then Catherine and I headed to Cat’s brothers flat for the night. I slept well and when I woke up I felt rested and ready for the day. For the first time I my life though I felt nothing about the preceding race…no nerves, no excitement, just nothing…VERY odd. I got myself ready and we met up with our dads and went for a wee warm up. As soon as I started running my Achilles was bothering me. Just what I wanted. I just thought, do the best you can and that is the best you can do.

We said our goodbyes and went on our way to the starting pens. We did the group warm up and they did all the announcements – Paula Radcliffe was there. This got me excited!! Finally, some sort of emotion. (I am normally so emotional before the race – one minute excited, one minute nervous etc.) Then the klaxon started and we were off!! As we ran past the start I shouted “HEY PAULA, WOOOO” (I am such a fan girl for athletes it is ridiculous) and she actually turned and WAVED!!! Dad even said, wow, she actually just waved at you. So delighted haha. I then thought, right PRadcliffe has just waved at me lets just stop now – ha! But no, I had a race to do.

The next 9k went by in a bit of a blur. My Achilles was sore pretty much from the get go but I persevered. I managed to maintain a semi decent pace (nothing pb worthy) for the first half but as I hit the 6k mark I began to flag. It was getting harder to maintain the pace, the pain was getting stronger and I just wanted it to be over. Dad had gone on at about 4k as he was making good time. I just couldn’t stick with him. Part of this was probably down to the 50 stone I put on in Cali but I know it was mainly due to my injury.

Feeling AWESOME

Feeling AWESOME

Please let me finish already..

Please let me finish already..

I finished though, I came through Glasgow Green and managed to do my first ever non-sprint finish. I knew I was done. I had barely looked at my watch the whole way round but when I crossed it showed 49.xx – 5 minutes slower than last year. Normally when I finish a race and do less well than expected I am devastated. I cry, it is embarrassing, but I just can’t keep a grip on myself. This time I didn’t feel anything, just acceptance  that my body was in need of a rest!!

I went straight to the first aid tent and got an ice pack and reflected on the race. I enjoyed being out there with people and seeing all the crowds cheering on. But I just miss that feeling of elation of a pb, it has been SO long since I have had that and I have worked REALLY hard this year…

Dad did well though – 47.xx and Catherine managed a PB of 41.XX (SUPERSTAR!!), Catherine’s dad Kevin also did a pretty good time – a course pb I am sure!

Dad and I GSR

So, I am now off running. It has been 14 days since my last run and *touch wood* things seem to be going well. I haven’t had too many niggles and I hope that that will continue. I tried playing netball but it was quickly chopped off the list too. I miss running so much but I know it is for the greater good.

Just me that likes Hot Fuzz?

Just me that likes Hot Fuzz?

I will do a separate update on what I have been doing to maintain the fitness (tbh regain fitness after eating ALL the tacos in America).

So that was GSR this year, not what I had hoped months ago, but what I expected going in to it. I learnt a lot and I am looking forward to going back next year and SMASHING it!!!

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Ythan Challenge

On Sunday I took part in my first Ythan Challenge.

The event is described as ” multi-terrain adventure race which starts and finishes at the Meadows Sports Centre in Ellon, north of Aberdeen. The course takes runners along a largely flat off-road path beside the river Ythan and onto the beautiful Esslemont Estate. Once on the estate, the going gets tougher underfoot and you can expect a few surprises as the course includes a series of obstacles — including the now famous (or possibly infamous!) straw bales and killer hills and, of course, the river itself. We have considered providing a course map but decided not to for two reasons — first because most of the race is run on a private estate and our priority is to maintain the landowner’s security and privacy, and secondly because it’s part of the race day fun to speculate on what might lie ahead….”

I have seen several pictures of people doing it previous years and I thought it sounded good fun so I signed up. I knew there was always a team of metro runners that did it so knew I would be in good company. (or at least have people to chat to before and after the race – there is no way I would be able to keep up with them!). I arrived at the sports centre in plenty of time and met up with my fellow metroians who were all discussing what lay ahead. For once in my life I wasn’t at all anxious before a race, I just wanted to get going!

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The race is split into waves of runners based on 10k times and previous years results. Each wave is started 5 minutes after the previous so that the course doesn’t get too congested. I was in the second wave of runners which suited me perfectly and I got lined up in the start pen ready to go!

Then we were off! The first few k were out by the river and along tracks leading up to the estate. It was tougher than I expected to be perfectly honest – next year I am doing a FAR bigger warm up!! Once we got into the estate things got a bit trickier, we were then running through the woods and jumping over knocked down trees, weaving in and out. This was where I really started to enjoy myself! It was challenging but I loved not knowing what to expect next. The course changes every year so even if you have done it before one route will never be the same as the one you have done before. It also varies in length so you can’t even compare times!  I was given some pretty good advice before we started and that was to make sure you had a clean run at the hay bales as it made it easier to get over them .This certainly worked a treat! I managed to have a wee surge of speed then just launched myself at the bale and sure enough, I was right over it!

Then on it becomes a little hazy of the order that things happened in but I remember there being several more hay bales, some KILLER hills to go up and down and up and down, lots of weaving through narrow sections then came the best bit….the mud pit and river crossing!! I had heard a lot about this infamous mud pit…tie your laces tight, don’t hesitate, try not to fall, it stinks etc. So when it came I couldn’t wait to get through it. It was actually far better than expected, I couldn’t smell the horrid smell that everyone else mentioned, I didn’t fall and compared to Tough Mudder…it was just a splash! I loved it!! Straight after the mud pit we went into the river Ythan! We had several hundred meters of river to wade through then come out on the same side further down. The cold fairly takes your breath away but I found the best thing was to just keep moving as quickly as you could and it made it less cold. I over took a few people in the river as there was no way I was hanging about in there!! Once out it took a few minutes for my legs to warm up again and actually function to run properly!

I then proceeded to fall over about 5 times in the next few km – I am literally bambi on ice, with no ice!! This meant that because I was soaking wet I now resembled a swamp person…covered in mud and leaves because I have no sense of balance! Awesome. Thank you to the very kind man behind me who kept checking I was ok!

After the river there are few more trees to climb over and it is a weavey woodland run back to the edge of the estate. I felt I got into a good rhythm here but my legs were struggling to function as well as they had been prior to the river entry! I managed to pick up some speed and gradually began picking off people one by one. I had set a challenge to myself that once we were out of the river I was not going to be overtaken by any other females, there were also two Fraserburgh ladies quite a bit ahead so I made a wee challenge to myself to try and catch them!

The final stretch of running is along the same route that the course began, until you hit the river. Rather than crossing the bridge as we had done on the way out we had to cross it! This was much the same as the first river crossing but a little shallower so I tried again to power through it as best I could. When I reached the other side one of my netball friends lisa was standing watching and she managed to catch a picture of me smiling and running – this is a RARE thing so I am chuffed with the pic!!

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After this it was just run run run until we reached the park that we started in. My legs were really tierd by this point but I kept going at a steady pace as I knew there would be one or two obstacles left to challenge once we were in the park! As suspected, as I reached the park there was a climbing frame type obstacle, then a big inflatable with lots of foam and one final hay bale before the finish. Fortunately for me there was a little queue at the hay bale which meant I actually caught up with the broch lady in front of me, this meant I knew I could catch her on the final sprint to the line – and I did! Woo! (it’s the little things in races that I love). I finished 22nd female out of 260 and 180th overall! Not bad for a first go! I reckon had I been in the first wave I could’ve done it much quicker as I would’ve pushed harder in the running sections but for once I actually don’t care! I had a brilliant time and I cannot wait to sign up again next year!!

Baker Hughes 2015

Last Years’ Time: 46.17

Goal Time: sub 45

Actual Time: 46.30

So as you can see from my time above this run did not exactly go to plan…

I was looking forward to it however I was feeling anxious as Dunecht the week before had not quite gone the way I had hoped. I was running with my Dad, uncle and cousin and we arrived in plenty of time to soak up the buzz.Baker always gets a good turn out and it is amazing to see so many people in Aberdeen donning their running stuff ready to give it a go.

This was my first Baker Hughes as a part of Metro Aberdeen Running Club so I was excited to see how that would be. Running as part of a team is a totally different experience. We all met at 9am for a wee photo before we got started on the warm up.

Metro

Metro

Dad and I lined up in the sub 45 marker (being optimistic but primarily just so we got to start on the road). The first few k were a little busy on the road but it felt ok. We kept the pace nice and steady and thankfully didn’t get pulled away too quickly. As we turned onto the beach the sun was beating down and I was starting to heat up – I seem to have a tendency to overheat on runs even when everyone else is freezing! As we were passing all the crowds I wasn’t feeling quite as good as I would have liked but it was early days.

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As we came to the beach leisure centre I knew my pace was too slow to hit sub 45…I think this was a turning point for me. I started to get a little negative in my head however I knew we could still do a good time so I tried to focus on just keeping steady.

The beach seemed to go on and on and on and on until finally we turned up to king street. That’s when my injury decided to make an appearance. Between 6-7k I could feel the ache growing in my hip/bum and I willed it to bugger off. Unfortunately for me, it didn’t and my legs slowly but surely felt like they were filling with lead. My pace dropped and I told dad to push on. He has been training SO well recently and I knew he was on form for a good time so I didn’t want to slow him down.

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The next few k were pretty horrible. I wanted to stop. I wanted to never run again. But I knew I couldn’t do that, I am not that kind of person… If I kept going I would still manage a respectable time I just needed to push push push. As we came to the final hill I did struggle, my bum just HATES hills when it is sore but as soon as I reached the top I seemed to relax. It was almost over and I would never have to run again. As I came round the bend I thought about sprinting however I wasn’t sure how my leg would react to that…with 200m to go I went for it…and was happy/gutted to realise that sprinting didn’t hurt nearly as much! I should’ve tried to sprint from the top of the hill hahaha (I jest, I jest).

When I crossed the finish line my dad was waiting there, he had crossed the line 20 seconds or so before me. I was VERY disappointed. I went over to a tree away from the crowds and had a little cry…pathetic I know. My time is one that many people would LOVE to run, I know that. But I know I am capable of so much more and it frustrates me when I don’t perform the way I know I can!! I told myself to wise up and stop being a baby and went back to see dad and see how everyone else got on. I was feeling pretty down however it actually didn’t take long to forget about my time and just focus on everyone else’s. Loads of my running friends smashed their PB’s and Metro was heavily featured in the prizes! The buzz of seeing everyone else do well just made me realise that HAD to be me next time.

Dad and I

Dad and I

My Cousin and Kevin

My Cousin and Kevin

When I got home I reflected on the race. I ran a time which is within 10 seconds of 3 races I ran last year…and it felt like the slowest I have ever ran that time. That tells me that on fit, healthy, trained legs I KNOW I can do sub 45. I just need to give myself time to get back on track. I am now more determined than ever to smash my pb’s this year. I have made myself a wee training plan for the next 6 weeks and am going to train harder than ever before. I also have a meeting with my physio next week so hopefully we can make some progress with my bum so that this doesn’t happen again.

I don’t have any races lined up for a while so it is all about the training at the moment. I will race when my body is ready and when I do I will be going out to SMASH 45!!!

You can’t PB every race but you can definitely gain something from every race you do.

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Balmoral 10k

Last years time: 51.30
Goal Time: Sub 50 (readjusted after injury – originally I wanted 46-47)
Actual Time: 48.36

Saturday was my first race of the season. It was originally planned to be my 3rd of 4th but due to injury this was now by 2015 debut.

For those of you who don’t know, Balmoral is not an easy run. It is set in the beautiful grounds of Balmoral Castle and winds through the estates grounds and forests. It is lovely and scenic however it has a monster of a hill about 4k in. I did this race last year and HATED it. However I vowed to come back and give it a go again as I knew I could do better.

I was very apprehensive prior to the race. I was definitely less prepared than I had been the year before. March and April have had minimal miles and only in the last few weeks of april have I started to get back to my usual mileage after this bugger of an injury. I had done 1 hill training session and the rest had just been trying to get some sort of speed back after a few weeks off.

Pre Race Photo - first race in my Metro vest!!

Pre Race Photo – first race in my Metro vest!!

As we started the race I knew the key was to set off slow and conserve energy for the hill. I was running with my dad (who turned 60- on the day!!) and I knew he would keep me going so I wanted to stick with him as best I could.

Dad didn't get away with keeping his birthday quiet...

Dad didn’t get away with keeping his birthday quiet…

I could tell he was eager to push on in the early stages but I held myself back. I kept it steady and felt ok. I stupidly climbed a Munroe 2 days earlier so was a little worried my legs would be knackered but they seemed ok – phew!!

Almost at the top of Lochnagar...maybe not the best idea before a race.

Almost at the top of Lochnagar…maybe not the best idea before a race.

As we turned the corner on to the hill I knew it was make or break time…I ran for a bit then BAM. My legs died. I knew I couldn’t run the whole thing so I just walk/run up it. I was overtaken by so many people but my legs just didn’t have the power for it. The one plus was the hill definitely seemed shorter this year, I was delighted when I heard the bagpipes and knew I could soon make the descent.

Then a lovely stitch decided to rear its head. Goodness knows why when I ran/walked up the hill?! I had a stitch in the same place last year and walked for about a minute but this year I was determined not to walk after the hill. I wanted to push on and nail the 2nd half. I reached the 1st 5k in 26 mins…things weren’t looking great however I knew if I just pushed I could try and get sub 50. (that was the main aim as soon as injury reared its head and halted training) The stitch lasted for about 2k and was a royal pain. I felt I couldn’t push as hard on the downhill as it really was a sore one. As soon as we reached a bit of flat I really excelled though. I managed to overtake a lot of folk that had pushed past me on the hill and I went for it.

The last 2k take you on to the 5k route and I knew this was when I just had to put my head down and keep going. The crowd appears again here so I was just trying to keep going. My legs felt pretty knackered at this point but I knew I couldn’t slow down. As I came round to the castle the signs for 400m to go started to appear. At this point in the Glasgow 10k I started to push however today I wasn’t sure I had the energy so waited until 200m to go…In hingsight I wish I had just pushed that bit sooner. I probably would’ve shaved a few more seconds off the time and I am sure I would’ve managed.

Dying a tad...

Dying a tad…

I finished in 48.36 – 3 minutes faster than last year and the 2nd half of the race being around 4 minutes faster than the first…. I am happy that I have improved on last year however I wish I had had a full 2 months training before it and I know I could’ve been closer to the 45/46 mark! (Maybe next year…)  Dad finished just a wee bit behind me – a 2 minute improvement on last year!

Post run champers for Dad's 60th!

Post run champers for Dad’s 60th!

I know hills are definitely a weak point of mine so I really need to work on them however it goes to show that my half mara training must still be in there somewhere if even after an injury I have managed a faster time!

I have quite a few races lined up in May – I stupidly signed up to every race under the sun when I was fully fit and loving my half training. I am not putting myself under too much pressure for PB’s however I am back to full training so hopefully I can push myself back to my best and see what I can do.

Hazlehead Parkrun

This weekend I decided to check out the newest parkrun in my area up at Hazlehead. This is Aberdeen’s second parkrun and it makes a nice contrast to the one at the beach. The beach route is a flat out and back course but it is not particularly exciting and the wind can be a right bugger. The hazlehead route is an out and back route through a forest on trail routes. There is an incline on the way out but that makes for a nice downhill on the way back.

My Dad has been up to the hazlehead parkrun once before and said it was a really enjoyable route so he joined me too. It was a gorgeous morning for it and it really is a nice change from the beach route. As I have not been doing much speed work recently (bad Jo) I did think I would struggle. The incline makes for quite a tough start however it is a lovely route so you find yourself being distracted easily. I do sometimes struggle running downhill, especially on trail as my feet seem to get carried away so I find myself putting on the breaks a bit. This was the case on Saturday but I think now I have run the route once I could probably push a little harder on the second half of the run.

I was really happy to get 1st lady on Saturday and got a new parkrun PB of 22.37 🙂 This is not quite as fast as my second 5k of the Glasgow 10k but I given my recent training and the undulating nature of the route I am delighted.

I am off on holiday this week to Thailand for two weeks so I imagine the running shoes may be having a little break although they will be packed with me just in case I feel the urge to get out there.

When I am back I will be putting my head down and getting back to some serious training…It is going to be a tough winter! No pain, no gain!

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Great Scottish Run 10k

Well what can I say about the Great Scottish Run. A lot it would seem, so get comfy you have a fair read ahead of you.

I entered the Great Scottish Run 10k in 2013 however was unable to take part on the day due to an injury. I went along to spectate as my 3 cousins and uncle were taking part and I have never wanted to run an event more. The conditions were great and the buzz about the city was fantastic.

This year I held off entering until September as I did not want to jinx myself after last year. This was to be my last planned 10k of the year as I am away in Thailand in November when the last local race takes place. Originally I had just wanted to run it with no expectations however it was also a backup in case I didn’t perform so well in Buckie or Elgin. As it transpired I didn’t do as well as I hoped at either of those runs but rather than aiming for a pb in Glasgow I had a new aim…enjoy the run. I hadn’t enjoyed my past two runs and put far too much pressure on myself to get a PB. So this time I had absolutely no goal finish time and no target pace. I wanted to run with no pressure or expectation and soak up the atmosphere.

The weeks leading up to the race went pretty well and I felt good with my running but unfortunately 4 days before the race a cold decided to appear. Thursday and Friday I was sluggish, couldn’t breathe through my nose and just generally run down. This was not ideal AT ALL however I was determined to still do the race.

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I dosed up on Sudafed, Lemsip and all other cold medicines I could find and made my way down to Glasgow on the Saturday night. I was staying with my cousins and we went for dinner to a lovely Italian restaurant close to the flat. Everyone was looking forward to the races the next morning – two of my cousins, James and Alex were doing the 10 alongside me and my other cousin Catherine and my uncle Kevin were doing the half marathon. As I went to bed that night I just told myself to relax and what would be would be.

I woke very early the next day and was happy that I felt better than I had done in the previous days. My nose was still blocked and my chest was a little tight but I thought I would be able to finish the race no bother. We set off to George Square just before 9 and James, Alex and I did a wee 5 minute run to warm up. I could feel that my chest was a little tighter than I would like but I could definitely put up with it. Provided it didn’t get any worse. We then said our goodbyes to the rest of the family and wished Kevin and Catherine good luck before and headed to the start pen!

James had reminded me that there were pacers last year so we had a look around to see if we could see the 45 minute one as we all hoped that as long as we kept him in our sights we would all be happy. Unfortunately we couldn’t see any pacers so we just made our way to an open position to start the mass warm up. I never normally take part in these, I usually am too focused on the run ahead however today was a day of firsts and I got fully involved jumping around like an idiot and had a good laugh. It was then that I spotted the 45 pacer way way way in front of where we were and the 50min pacer just a few rows behind us. We decided to work our way a bit closer to the front but after pushing forward a few rows we decided that everything would even out once we were on the course so it wasn’t a big deal.

As the starter klaxon went off we moved slowly forward, there is a funnel just before the start so that it does not get over crowded and this worked really well. James Alex and I set off all around the same pace and headed out into the streets of Glasgow.

The start of the race heads straight up St Vincent Street which is a fairly steep hill. I wanted the first km to be slow so the hill definitely helped that happen and as we reached the top I could hear the Glasgow Rock Choir singing some Bruno Mars. This was a really nice thing to have during a race and it was definitely good to push you to the top of the hill. After this point I decided to put on my ipod shuffle for some motivating songs. I never usually listen to music when I run however after my past few runs of mental torture I thought I would rather have something upbeat in my ears to distract me. The first song to come on was ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen – excellent.

This pretty much set the tone of the rest of the race. I eased into a comfortable pace and when we crossed the first km mark at 4.46 I felt good. It was a little slow but I was more than happy with how I felt so I just kept it going. The next few k went by with crowds dispersed along the way and a couple of bands and pipers to keep you going. At around 2-3k Alex sped off in front and James started to edge away however when we hit an incline I seemed to catch James and he fell behind.

At this point it dawned on me that I was feeling good, really good. Not at all how I expected to feel. I kept my friend Alison in my head who had been messaging in the week just praying that I enjoyed the race and went with how I felt. So I plastered a grin to my face when we went past spectators and bounded along not giving a care in the world to what my garmin said. When I looked down at the my watch when I reached km markers my watch showed 4.28, 4.29 and 4.29 – steady pacing…but maybe a little fast. Who cares I thought, just go with it!

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As I got to 5k I noticed that I had completed it in roughly the same time as I had done Buckie 3 weeks ago – the difference between the two races could not have been more opposite! I felt like I was running on air in Glasgow whereas I felt ready to collapse in Buckie. A thought in my head said well this next k will be the one that will kill you. But no, I put the music a little louder and a hilariously motivational song came on and spurred me on. By the time we were at the Clyde Bridge I was absolutely buzzing. I have honestly never felt so happy on a race before. I was just really really enjoying it.

As we came along the riverside there were a lot more people around cheering all the runners on and for once in my life I was smiling back at them. I knew I was going to have to dig deep for the next 3k but I knew I could do it. There were a couple of radio people out and about and I went over and high fived one – I honestly have no idea how I was so buzzing. It just felt awesome.

As we reached 8k you cross a bridge and turn and come back over another – this bit was tricky to keep powering through but I knew the finish was so close now. When we got back to the riverside I could see the signs for the half marathon route which people would be doing later. It was showing 12 miles so I knew we had 1.1mile to go, I checked my watch and thought even if I slowed right down I would still be delighted with my time. But today was not the day for slowing down. I have been running with my dad a lot recently and I have been doing a sprint for the last km so now was the time to put that training to good use. I gradually increased the speed and pushed on.

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The final leg was tough

The final leg was tough

As we came to the ‘400m to go’ marker and turned into Glasgow Green I could see the finish. I thought just go for it, what have you got to lose? I did slightly underestimate how long 400m was but I was determined to give it all I had. As I got closer to the finish the clock was showing 45.5x and I knew I wanted to get under 46 – I pushed and pushed and as I got to the line the sub45 pacer was standing shouting “Keep going, you are all sub45 runners’. I crossed the line and stopped my Garmin and then looked down to see 44.39 – I could have cried.

I was absolutely delighted. I totally forgot that as it was such a large event we set off about a minute after the starter so the time on the big clock was not what I was doing. My official time was 44.41 and Alex did a great pb of 43.46 and James did another PB of 45.34 – we were all chuffed. Both Catherine and Kevin were also delighted with their half marathon times – 1.35 and 1.48 respectively. One of my best friends Heidi was also doing her second half marathon and she managed a huge PB too!! PB’s all round!!

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I don’t know what it was that changed in that race in comparison to the two I had earlier in September but I am so glad I can end the season on a high. The race felt just like Baker Hughes all over again – I felt light as air and running felt easy. My legs did tier around 7-8k but nothing drastic and not enough to slow me down, it just kept me pushing harder. I think having absolutely no expectations or pressure ahead of the race helped massively. I run based on how I felt and only looked at my Garmin every now and then.

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It is such a great feeling to get a PB, especially when it is unexpected. Hopefully with some solid training over the winter months 2015 will be a year of many more.

Gorgeous flowers from Ross - he knew how dissapointed I was when i thought sub 45 was gone.

Gorgeous flowers from Ross – maybe I should run quickly more often 😛

Do you find music motivational on the run?

When do you run best?

Jx

Friends of Hazlehead Dandara 5k

I entered this race earlier in the summer as I thought it would be good to do a local 5k race. I missed two races earlier this month purely down to not being in the right frame of mind so I knew I had to man up and do this one. In the run up to the race I had trained as normal and was looking to the race as more of a tempo training run. I knew the course was through the forest and would have a few hills so wasn’t expecting a pb time but was looking forward to it.

I turned up about an hour before the race was due to start and the whole place was buzzing. There were several kids races on and there was a local brass band playing. It was a light hearted fun atmosphere which was really nice. I made my way over to pick up my number and chip timing tag and looked for a place to store my car keys as I stupidly put on shorts with no pockets. Great when you are going to a race solo.

After I had registered and left my key with the centre receptionist I went to hunt down some of the other runners I knew. I chatted with a few of them and this kept any nerves at bay. I went for a very short warm up jog and then the heavens opened.

The rain was torrential and I was soaked in less than a minute. My friend from my jogscotland days, Ewan, and I took some shelter and got chatting about the race, training and everything else running.

Before we knew it the starters were calling us to the start line. I had also managed to find another jogscotlander, Kirsteen, so we stood together in the start pen. As the starting klaxon went off the rain stopped and the crowd lurched forward past the starting line.

The first 500m or so is out along a grassy field. This proved to be slightly slippy and I was pulled along quite quickly by the front runners but fortunately I knew there was an incline facing us so I decided to pull back and save my legs for that.

As we turned onto the tarmac road I saw a face pop out of the bushes, it was Rob Taylor from Metro, he gave me a wee cheer and that gave me a good boost for the run ahead. As we turned onto the inclined section I could feel a couple of people passing me however I stuck to my guns and kept the pace steady. Surely enough by the time I was at the top of the incline I had passed most of those people who had sprinted off up the hill. My hill training allowed me to keep steady and meant that I wasn’t particularly fazed by the slope. Unfortunately the conditions underfoot did mean I was dodging around puddles and muddy patches so I quickly just told myself ‘sod it’ and ran through them. I was wasting too much time and energy weaving.

dandara 2

Once we had reached the top of the ‘incline’ it flattens out and weaves through the trees. I quite enjoy this section of the forest and I knew that there was a downhill after it so I used this section to regain my breath and get into a good rhythm. A woman passed me on this point so I now had a person to keep in my sight and potentially catch. There was one other girl ahead who had stormed off up the hill but she was coming back in to sight too. I find it is always good to have people in your sight that you can think about sticking with or catching during a race, it really pushes me on.

dandara 3

As the downhill began I felt my legs freeing up and bounding down. I was a little anxious of picking up too much speed as I had gone over my ankle on this section of the woods only 4 days prior to the race. Fortunately it was all ok and I managed to close in on the other two ladies. As we reached the golf course clubhouse the marshal shouted you are 2nd 3rd and 4th lady…this was news to me. I was in 3rd at this point but the 4th placed girl decided she wanted to place so put on a spurt and pulled away. At this point I knew there was a slight incline on its way – nothing worth calling a hill but definitely enough to flummox you if you went out too quick. I decided I would now ignore what the other two ladies were doing and just go with how I was feeling (unfortunately a little tired). As we reached the corner at the top of the incline they had pulled away significantly and I began to think that I wouldn’t catch them. I wasn’t too bothered at this point however I knew my time wasn’t great so I then decided that maybe I should go for a placing…

There was then a downward stretch of tarmac before we re-entered the field the course started in. As we re-entered the field I could see them pulling further away from me and I did toy with just letting them go. However I have a competitive streak (understatement of the century) and there was no way I wasn’t going to try and at least catch them. 500m seemed a long way at this point and although I know I have a good sprint finish in me I didn’t know if 500m was too ambitious. It was going to be a gamble. I gradually increased my pace and started to reel them in. I seemed to be speeding up whereas both of them seemed to be slowing down. I might just catch them I thought. As we got to about 100m I put my foot down and went for it. The gamble paid off, I came second! Kirsteen finished about a minute after me and Ewan just after that. Everyone was happy with their performances given the conditions.

dandara 5

I was delighted to come second place and so glad I had managed a full sprint finish as if I had blown up before the finish line I would have been gutted. I did not expect to win anything going into the race so to come away with my first trophy is something I am proud of.

I would like to run the course again as I know I could get a better time and be less hesitant in my running but it was a great run and I really enjoyed it.

My km splits were 5.12
5.02
4.51
4.26
4.19

I am happy that it was a negative split and I think I definitely have room to be quicker on the first 2k which is good.

I am planning on running Elgin 10k this weekend and this will be my first 10k race since early June. I am hoping to improve upon my time set at Baker so fingers crossed!!

Jx

Baker Hughes 10k 2014

PB Prior to Race – 48.55

Target Time – 47.30

Actual Time – 46.17

After several months of training the race I had been waiting for had finally arrived. I know it is not good to pin your hopes on one race, but this was the one I knew I could do well in. The first two races I did this year were just to get the legs going (and no one seems to get PBs at Balmoral) so this was the one where I hoped my training would come to fruition.

As the day drew closer the nerves built, until my last training run on the Friday. I planned to go out and do a steady 5k with a couple of those km at target race pace. As I set off my legs seemed to just go off without me and it felt great. I was striding through the streets of Aberdeen with not a care in the world and was delighted to see I was managing just under race pace quite comfortably. As I finished off my run I felt happy and confident that although another 5k at that pace would be tough, it was hopefully achievable.

With that in mind I woke up on Sunday not to my usual flurry of nerves but with anticipation and excitement brewing. I just could not wait to get on the line. I played some motivational music to get me in an even better mood and when my dad came to pick me up I was ready to get going.

Sarah, a Jogscotland leader posted a message on Saturday evening – ImageI planned to keep this in my head throughout the run. I was not going to stop, I was not going to give in, this would be my race.

My Dad, Uncle, Cousin and I arrived in plenty time as I we were both meeting up for team pictures without respective jogscotland groups. As I met the rest of the jogscotland crew everyone was looking forward to the run but we were all slightly anxious about the wind that was brewing.

If you have ever been down to Aberdeen beach you will know that it is not the most sheltered of places. As about 5k of the 10k route is along the beach front if the wind is going the wrong direction, you are screwed. Luckily for us it seemed like we would have it on our backs for the beach section but this would mean facing it in the final few kilometres.

With that in mind we lined up for our photos then I went off to find my dad, cousin and uncle again. We all went on a small warm up jog and then set off for the start line.

This year they decided to do staggered starts to prevent overcrowding. The signs were 45<, 46-50 and so on. This proved to be a dilemma for my dad and I, neither of us expected to run sub45 however we wanted the initial pull of the fast people for the first few k. He kept spotting people and saying oh no their time is x faster or x slower – it was a chaotic few minutes while we decided what to do. We settled for the 46-50 in the hope that we would not be too far behind the first wave. We were fortunate that we started at virtually the same time so we needn’t have worried!

The first few k are fairly windey around the streets by the harbour and I was setting into a nice rhythm and felt comfortable. The nerves in my stomach subsided after the first 400m or so and that was me into the swing of it. Although we did start a little on the quick side for my liking I kept the pace up as I knew I would need the extra boost in the last few k.

As we came onto the beach the crowds of spectators began to appear. This is always nice as you can try and spot people you know and everyone is very supportive. It also breaks the long beach stretch up as without those people it can seem a very daunting (if a little boring) stretch. As my dad and I reached around 5k Dad told me to push on as he could not keep the same pace. I have never ran a race with my dad that we haven’t finished side by side or him ahead so this was a little scary. However I was feeling strong and as my garmin hit 5k I noticed it was a 5k pb by 10seconds!! (woops). My garmin and the kilometre markers were slightly out of sync but this was definitely a good boost for me going forward.

The next two k were fairly uneventful, I kept pushing on and kept a positive attitude. Picking off people in front one by one to keep myself going. As we reached the 8k marker I had a stitch brewing. I have been plagued by stitches since I began running last year and nothing I do seems to get rid of them. However this time I was determined not to stop. Nothing would get in the way of me finishing well. As I looked at my watch I was very happy to see that even if I dropped my pace to 5min kilometres I would still have a pb, maybe not as good as I had hoped but I would still have one.

I managed to power on through and as I got to the hill before the last 400m I was struggling to keep going. I put my head down and just tried to keep the feet moving, as the 400m to go sign neared I tried to pick up the pace a bit more – it was a struggle. 300m to go – even more of a struggle. However at 200m to go a man came sprinting past me and I my competitive attitude kicked in. I am delighted to say I then absolutely gunned the last 200m and had a great sprint finish.

I thought I was about to keel over and potentailly be sick,however, it was worth it. When I looked down at my Garmin my time was showing 46.15 for 10.05km – that is a massive PB for me. My previous pb was 48.55 last September so I felt I could burst with joy.
When I got the official text through it stated 46.17 for the 10km course which I was still happy with – my weaving through the crowds will have added on the extra 0.05km.

My cousin came in around 30seconds before me, my dad with a great time of 47.19 just behind then my uncle in around 49 and half after. All of my jogscotland friends did exceptionally well too – it seemed like it was a great result for all. Quite a few people were complaining about the wind however I can say my mind was more occupied with getting rid of the stitch and keep running.

I am almost back down to earth now after that PB, I can honestly say it is one of the best feelings ever. Finishing a race, knowing I gave it my all and getting a result like that. I could not be happier.

I know now that if I keep up with my training, hopefully combat these stitches, and keep the positive mental attitude that my goal of sub 45 could be achievable sooner rather than later.

So here’s to many more great runs.

Jx

My Dad and I after the Run.

My Dad and I after the Run.

I also posted this picture a day before the race for all those running to keep in their mind – One of my favouries.  Image