Monthly Archive: November 2010

In the bleak mid-winter

No hawk hangs over in this air:
The urgent snow is everywhere.
The wing adroiter than a sail
Must lean away from such a gale,
Abandoning its straight intent,
Or else expose tough ligament
And tender flesh to what before
Meant dampened feathers, nothing more.
Forceless upon our backs there fall
Infrequent flakes hexagonal,
Devised in many a curious style
To charm our safety for a while,
Where close to earth like mice we go
Under the horizontal snow.

The Snow Storm by Edna St. Vincent Millay

The first snow of Winter in 2010 has been a hard one. Aberdeen and most of the country has been under a huge amount of snow in the last few days, which began pelting down in earnest last Tuesday and hasn’t really stopped since. Heavy snow up here is not usual, but it usually holds off until late December and the New Year before making a nuisance of itself.

I enjoyed a couple of runs at the gym after work last week and the closest I got to running outside was the clumsy battle from the gym to my car through the horizontal snow.  I noticed that the die-hard members of the Aberdeen Metro Running club were still meeting at 6pm for their run as I was leaving – I looked on in admiration as the smiling gazelle-legged women and men headed out into the blizzarding darkness at great speed, promising myself that I would give it a go come the weekend.

On Friday night it was my pleasure to host a successful second meeting of the Granite Literary Society, a slightly tongue-in-cheek book group set up by a few of my friends. This month we’d been reading “This Is Paradise: My Childhood in North Korea” by Hyok Kang which prompted lively discussion interspersed with Nepalese food and cats.

When I woke up on Saturday and looked out of the window and saw this:

I knew that it was a good day to give running in the snow a try. After some initial trepidation I weighed up the pros and cons and then made the decision to go for it as it was too nice a day to be stuck inside on the “dreadmill”!

After wrapping up in plenty of layers, I dug out the car and headed down to the beach. I wore a pair of thick opaque tights under my Nike capri pants, a long sleeve top with a tshirt over the top and my windproof gilet on top of that as well. My forearms were feeling a little exposed so I fashioned some arm-warmers out of a pair of knee high 40-denier socks and slipped them up under my sleeves. With my gloves on over the top there was no exposed skin and I had just the right amount of warmth in my arms. Who needs expensive Under Armour armlets when you can butcher an old pair of socks!?

As you can see from the pictures, my glorious morning was rapidly slipping away from me as that huge snow storm was rolling in from the North East. I got going quickly and ran a speedy 3 miles along the beach front in 23 minutes and finished just as the snow started pelting down again. Grim!

It passed soon enough though, and the sun came out again.

As I expected I truly enjoyed myself; the hardest bit was getting myself out of the house in the first place. The temperature never got above 0C but thankfully there was only a light wind. The beach front was still very snowy which made the terrain surprisingly easy to traverse as it had not yet been compacted into ice. I didn’t feel like I was going to slip, but it definitely required more concentration than usual to make sure I wasn’t going to trip over something and damage myself!

So snow running? Verdict: Win. I just wish there were more daylight hours during my working week in which to enjoy it safely, however like most people in the North I leave for work in the the dark and it’s dark when I leave.

Winter X-Country Running – Really!?

Last week I was surfing around the ever reliable Scottish Running Guide looking for some mid-winter inspiration. I’m signed up and ready for the Wildhearts Aberdeen Santa Run on the 12th of December, but I was looking for something to aim for in January and/or February. Basically a short distance race to keep myself motivated throughout the cold months when all I really want to do is sit in by the fire with the cats, a bottle of wine and a Bond film.

I was delighted to find exactly what I was looking for – a three 3-mile race series around Aberdeenshire that was run by local running shop The Running Shop, and the first race took place on Sunday the 21st of November. Further races take place in January and February and if you complete all three you are awarded with a medal! A quick call to the Running Shop confirmed that I could enter on the day, so I excitedly began planning how I would tackle the race.

Many moons ago I ran 1 mile X-country races as part of school sports, but since then I have only ever run on solid ground or a treadmill. I always enjoyed the excuse to run around in forests and get muddy, so the chance to do this again as an adult seemed like an excellent opportunity! And then I saw the weather forecast… Of course, in my excitement I had forgotten that it is the middle of Winter in the North of Scotland. “Arctic blast!” the papers screamed, “Earliest snow for 20 years!” yelped the weather man. “You’re utterly insane” snorked my boyfriend. “Onwards!” hailed the Red Wine Runner!

Race Re-cap – Winter X-Country Series race 1 – 21/11/10 – Knockburn, Banchory

I started the day with some power porridge (golden syrup topped with dried fruit, berries and seeds) and a cup of joe as per. Whilst Badger got as much sleep as possible I wrapped up as warmly as possible whilst looking nervously out of the window at the frost outside.

In my bag I packed: Ear warmer, gloves, thick jumper, water, directions, phone, energy drink. On the way I bought some bananas and an electrolyte drink to have afterwards. Azul supervised!

When we arrived we got bundled up and decided to walk the course after I got registered and paid my entry fee (£12). It was a gorgeous course, and whilst it was very chilly it wasn’t windy or rainy. The ground was VERY wet under foot though.

After considerable amounts of hanging about whilst trying to keep warm, I had my pre-race banana and red bull andbefore I knew it it was time to get to the start!

I was excited to try out my new winter running gear – I’d been given some vouchers from Run4it to buy a new jacket, but decided a gilet would suit the way my body heats itself better, so bought some proper running gloves and an ear warmer as well.

And they’re off! There was about 50 people running in my start – Senior and Veteran males and females, and also U17 and U15 males and females.

The first thing I noticed was how unsteady the terrain was. I’ve had problems with my knees in the past and I was really worried that I might twist something or do some damage. Large amounts of sand had been dumped on areas which were very muddy and this was particularly hard to run on, especially going up hill! The other thing that struck me was how hard it was to breath in deep breaths of the freezing air – it really hurts!

The course had a small loop and a large loop, so there was the frustration of completing the first loop and knowing I had to do it all again! My feet were soaked and muddied but I guess I have a great pair of shoes right now as even though everything was waterlogged they were still a dream to run in.

At this point I was feeling a little less awesome, and slightly questioning my sanity. My nose was streaming and my lungs were aching. I was about to embark on the large loop which involved zig-zagging up a hill and then down again and I had separated out from the speedy pack long ago…it was just me and this hill:I’m in there somewhere.

It got a bit lonely out there. I had decided to not listen to my iPod as I wanted to hear in case people needed to pass me on the trail. Turned out that wasn’t such a problem as they’d all passed me by the first mile, so not to worry! I think I was pacing to some emergency Britney Spears here. Go ahead, judge me. Haters gonna hate. But I have a playlist full of songs which beats are at my ideal comfort pace and are guaranteed to push me a little bit further when all I want to do is fall on the ground in tears. “Womanizer” by Britney is one of them!

At the finish Badger decided to take a video rather than snap some shots, but never mind. I made through the nasty uphill, sandy finish and crossed the line at 28m 58 seconds.

I knew I was never going to make waves with my speed but I’d kind of hoped to do a bit better – that hill utterly smoked me however and I had to walk for about 20 seconds to get my breathing to a normal rate to continue. The chip times came out yesterday and they were done by age group – as a 26 year old girl I’m a ‘Senior Woman’ according to Scottish Athletics, and out of the nine women in my class I placed…eighth. I have to admit my heart sank a little when I saw that and I felt a little embarrassed to have turned up at all. But then I realised a) Hey – I wasn’t last! b) I should be PROUD to have turned up – Looking at the breakdown I was one of very few people who weren’t registered with a running club, and the fact that I had the balls to turn up and rock my way around a cross country trail for the first time in 16 years should probably be commended.

The next race is at the end of January and I’m looking forward to beating my 3 mile PR! Bring it!

The Start Line

For more than 6 years I have kept a flocked online journal using Livejournal.  One month ago I posted the following entry:

“I have been thinking a lot about running and fitness lately; not least because I’m so much heavier that I was this time last year (like a stone and a half heavier), but because I am feeling more and more burning ambition inside me to become a good runner. I miss being ‘good’ at something; my thing in the past was music – a hobby, a talent, a way of life – but now I feel I’m kind of floundering a bit. Not uncommon for a girl in her mid 20s so I hear. I want something to focus on and do well at again, to be known amongst my friends for being good at something. I was always so CRAP at sports at school so I want to do it to prove I can be an athlete, I can be a runner; I want to push my body and find out just what exactly I am capable of.  I’ve been reading a lot of blogs by runners/athletes/triathletes recently and I find it so inspiring to read people’s stories and their race reports.  I think also being in a somewhat humdrum job has made me want to achieve more with my life for the moment – I want to make someone proud of me for what I can achieve,  I want to achieve something I never thought possible because now I realise that I CAN do it; with the right training,  motivation and diet I can do damn near anything with my body. Not just can,  but will. I’m going to run a half-marathon next year – I’ve registered for the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow on the 4th of September next year. In addition to this I’m planning on doing the Baker Hughes 10k again (end of May), and also the Tartan 10k which is at the end of April, and the Ythan Challenge (an 11k cross country/obstacle race) in the middle of June. Those are the goals I’ve set myself for the next year. The next race I’m doing is the Aberdeen Santa Run which is a 6k charity race in December and I’m looking forward to that, especially as Erin has said she’d like to join me, as well as our new friend Crystal. They are both more experienced runners than I so I look forward to running with them maybe training for other races with them in the future.
So there we go. Hold me accountable for this entry folks :)”

Livejournal is somewhat lagging behind these active social-media times and I’ve been itching to get a foot into the blogosphere that exists outside of the closed community that is Livejournal.  I read many healthy living, food and running blogs on Word Press and they’ve inspired me to get working on my own space – so welcome to Red Wine Runner!  This will be where I map my path to becoming a runner via training logs, pictures, recipes, race re-caps and anything else which might have relevance.

I’m a beginner, I have a lot to learn; but I hope to create a wonderful interactive space which is worthy of a place in the healthy living blogosphere.  This is the starting line.