Another long run bites the dust! After getting over my sickness of the last week I did three fast miles on the ‘mill last night to see how my chest felt. It was a bit tight but nothing devastating so I felt ready to do the long run at the weekend I had to skip because of being sick. This week I was planning to hit 8.5 miles and I’m delighted to say I smashed it!
Today the weather was glorious – one of those days in deepest February that just gives you a little hope that Spring might just be around the corner. It wasn’t warm by any stretch of the imagination but the sun was out; and when you live in the darkness of the North of Scotland, getting any kind of sunshine and vitamin E is a rarity in the Winter months. I had been in work rather early this morning so when I saw how lovely it was I decided to leave work half an hour early to maximise the daylight running time.
When I left at 4pm it was 5C/41F and the sun was still above the horizon which was a good start so I decided to get my legs out. I went for my Nike tempo shorts and a long sleeve top/sleeveless combo on top but with knee length socks that I could roll down when I warmed up. In retrospect this was a smart mood as in the last few miles after it got dark I was terribly cold – in fact an hour after I got back into the house my muscles still haven’t warmed up and I’m sitting with a blanket over my lap!
So I managed to get home and changed and ready to hit the road just before 4.30pm. The perk was strong with me – I snacked on some quorn chunks and a spoonful of peanut butter before getting going.
I had planned a new route on MapMyRun.com to include a loop in an area I’ve never run before in an area of the city called Grandholm. It’s a former industrial area next to the river Don which used to be full of mills and factories; now there is a lot of sympathetically designed housing and a lot of forest trails along the river banks. I headed out of Froghall and down Bedford road past the back end of the University Campus, hoping desperately that I wouldn’t pass any of my students on their way home! The route took me past Seaton Park and around the edges of Tillydrone – a fairly dodgy area of town. I didn’t see any sketchy characters but I was glad it was still light. It made me remember how much of a walking (running) paycheck I would be for any potential muggers – an iPod, a smart phone, a camera, a Garmin… Oh the random thoughts that cross my mind whilst running.
Two and a bit miles in I got down to the river and the Grandholm Bridge. I was just maintaining a nice, easy pace…not trying to break any records as I knew it wouldn’t be too long before I was in uncharted territory.
So as I said before; this is an area of ‘town’ that I’ve never been in, I’ve no reason to ever go there but I’ll definitely be including it in my regular running routes from now on! It doesn’t feel like you’re in the middle of a city at all
As you can see we don’t get a lot of colour in Aberdeen in the winter months, any form of green falls off the trees by October and the grass becomes brown from being covered by snow and ice for months.
Not a lot of colour but beautiful none the less. You can imagine how glorious it is in the summer! So I crossed the bridge and headed downstream of the river towards the mouth along a nice, soft trail. There was a lady dog walker being pulled along towards me by about 8 dogs of different sizes; it was all I could do to stop myself from running up to them and squeeing over them all – they were utterly ADORABLE! I was too shy to stop and take a picture so you’ll just need to picture it.
Running through here in utter solitude listening to some good music and smelling the forest made me smile. I was actually grinning like a loon – it makes me so happy when you just hit that sweet spot in your stride and you remember why you run – for all the struggles, blood, sweat and tears there’s just nothing like it in the world.
I crossed another little bridge over a tributary and followed the path as it zig-zagged up the steep river banks. I powered up it as quickly as I could and found my hill training has done quite a good job which bodes well for this Sunday’s Cross Country race! There was a great view over the hazy city at the top.
The trail meandered in to Balgownie and I ran on the roads for a little while before heading back down to the river at the historic Brig o Balgownie. I wasn’t at the right angle to take a picture so have one from HERE:
The undulating path continues along by the river here, sometimes you can spot seals poking their head out of the water as they loll about in the river but they were elsewhere today.
SNOWDROPS! This definitely means that Spring is coming. These were the first bunch I’ve seen all year.
Here’s the view from the Bridge of Don looking out to sea. At this point I turned left and followed the Beach Esplanade alll the way along and back again. My usual stomping ground: not quite as interesting.
The sea was pretty angry today. It was very windy and as I ran along I was running into the wind which really began to hurt my thighs after a while. It was DAMN COLD and beginning to get dark.
I stopped to unwrap a chewit for a sugar boost here. Ugh, my roots need doing :/
It was kind of amusing to note that the Garmin was showing I was running an exact 10 minute mile apparently! It was more like 9m30s per mile but I guess I have to allow for a little faffing with the camera at times…
I hit 10k at 1hr1m47s this time – a bit slower than last weeks long run. At this point I was feeling a bit gash – I was so cold and so so hungry! I think I’m going to need to start taking proper fuel with me on long runs – more on that later.
Windy windy windy.
My 10k zombie face, having lost most of my earlier optimism!
Finally made it along to picturesque little Fittie which sits at the other end of the Beach Esplanade and at the mouth of the River Dee and the harbour.
Turned around and headed for home…this time with the wind behind me finally. When I hit 8 miles I was comfortably close to home so I knew I’d make it without having to resort to walking…but my legs were shot. They felt like they were made of lead! I guess hitting the marathon ‘wall’ must feel like that but 100 times worse. I mentioned fuel before; it’s obvious that if I’m going to be going out for this kind of distance and longer I’ll need a bit more fuel than a couple of chewits. I guess it’s time to start venturing into the world of gel fuels – I’ve read all about them throughout the blogosphere (the blogs I read at 99% US based) but whether the same brands are available in the UK I’m not sure yet. I tried a lucozade sport gel once before a race when I’d eaten a bit too early before the race and I had mixed feelings…the texture is pretty bokey, it didn’t really feel like something I should be putting in my mouth… It also didn’t help that it was the Santa run and I was squeezing it into my mouth through a fake beard but…y’know. So does anyone have any thoughts or opinions on sport gels they’d like to share with me? What kinds do you like? Do you ever get used to the crazy texture? Do you like a different type of mid-run fuel instead?
So I got myself home finally, and felt at my absolute limit. I could have gone further if pushed but I really didn’t want to – a different feeling from last week when I thought I still had more in me.
Bing! Achievement unlocked! A new distance PR! Awesome. I love this stage, when everything’s new…
I warmed up with some blankets and a cat after doing some major stretching. It took me a couple of hours to warm up afterwards, helped considerably by having my hot dinner on my knee.
That’s about it for now. Body Pump tomorrow night and then some more hill work on Thursday before Sunday’s race. The race is in the Bridge of Don – since it’s only 3 miles I might go out for a few more afterwards I may do a repeat of tonight’s loop afterwards depending on how my legs feel. Got to keep this new high mileage up!