City of Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k 2012
20th May 2012
Chip time: 51 minutes 33 seconds
Place: 1117th / 3652 finishers
Category place: 101/863
I woke up at 6am on Sunday, excited for my third attempt at the Baker Hughes 10k and was delighted to be greeting with bright sunshine and cornflower blue skies upon opening my eyes. It was a beautiful clear, calm day! I leapt out of bed and busied myself making breakfast; which was cold overnight oats (porridge oats and milk, left overnight in the fridge to soak) with seeds and dried fruit, cranberry juice and coffee:
I was planning on walking/jogging down to the start as it is 3 miles from my house and I felt that would be both a suitable warm up and would avoid any car parking/public transportation problems at the race village. Everything had been laid out the night before so the morning routine would be flawless, but I still found myself running around fussing about silly little things. Nerves amplify feelings and I was feeling the usual race-morning stresses, but still excitement was the overwhelming feeling as I looked forward to meeting all of my friends and putting in a good shift on the road. It felt great to pin on a number again and know that I was going to leave nothing out on the course – I was going to run as hard as I possibly could that morning and be the fastest runner I’ve ever been.
The journey down to the beach went quickly; Kynon and I walked a mile briskly and then ran a gentle mile and then finished up with a walk alongside the many other runners making their way to the start.
Reaching the beach I was curious to see if the usual brisk winds would feature on the Esplanade; the beachfront is notorious for being windy even on what would appear to be the calmest of days, but there was only a light breeze which offered some relief from the sun already beating down strongly at 0830. Although I’m not a fan of running in great heat, it was a huge relief to have lovely weather for the race after the continuous barrage of rain wind and snow (yes!) which we’ve had for weeks.
We arrived and started looking out for familiar faces. At last count, there were SIXTEEN of my friends who running this race! I didn’t have to look far before I nearly tripped over my favourite Gin-soaked Jogger, Claire, who was running for local charity, Befriend A Child.
After speaking to Claire and her boyfriend Adam, we spotted Ryan and his enthusiastic supporter, Sheenagh, who snapped a couple of pictures:
There was an awkward mass aerobic warm-up, which we all carefully avoided whilst making last minute preparations for the race. I had a bag which I was planning on depositing in the bag drop, but Sheenagh very kindly offered to look after it (thank you!) so I didn’t have to worry about my valuables being unattended. I took a High5 gel just before it was time to get in to our corralls, we wished each other good luck and went our separate ways.
Kynon and I elected to enter the 46-50 minute corral and head towards the back. Nerves were building at this point and we both stuck on some music and just focused on visualising the race. I was planning on maintaining a minimum of 8:20 miles for as long as I could and then see how I felt in the last mile or so. My biggest concern was blowing up too soon and running out of steam. I knew my knee would be ok – I could run through any pains that occurred but the only potential problems would occur due to incorrect pace execution at the start.
As far as I’m aware the race started on time at 0930 and before I knew it I had crossed the start and was on my way. Past experience made sure I started tight on the left hand side of the crowd to avoid having to take a wide turn at the first corner; I sneaked around it deftly and then the race really began.
Kynon and I had planned to run together as long as possible and for the first mile or so we were side by side. There are a lot of tight turns in the Baker Hughes 10k course so it’s important to run the tangents so you don’t lose precious time by adding distance. I was religiously checking my watch and kept my pace on or below 8:20; I kept having to reign myself in though as the temptation to let my keen legs run off madly along with the crowd was huge. I kept on looking down and seeing 7:xx, which is great, but I knew I’d struggle to hold that for anything longer than a few miles.
The course curls around the harbour before making its way on to the South end of the Beach Esplanade; we ran past many warehouses and supply vessels with workers standing outside clapping and cheering, or just looking on in amusement. Support is always thin on the ground at this point but soon, after a short incline, you find yourself at the end of the Esplanade looking North up the coast and you can see two miles worth of runners and supporters stretching ahead of you.
Up until this point Kynon and I had been near each other, taking turns to lead the pace. At least that’s how it felt in my head – I don’t know whether it was intentional on his part! Around the 4k mark he stopped appearing in my peripheral vision – I later found out that this was when he started having problems with a hip flexor and slowed to a walk to stretch it out. Somewhere around this point Rachel passed me; ‘Keep up!’ she said! Challenge: accepted!
I kept on pushing though and glided through 5k in 25 mins 48 secs which was bang on target for a new PB. Shortly after 5k there was water which I happily poured over myself; I don’t think it can have been much warmer than 15C or so at that time in the morning, but working hard in direct sunlight felt very uncomfortable for this winter-hardened Scottish runner. I took a few sips and washed out my mouth; I didn’t NEED the water to drink and I didn’t want to give myself a stitch by gulping it down.
Mile 1 – 8:06
Mile 2 – 8:29 (???)
Mile 3 – 8:13
I don’t know why mile 2 was so slow…
The 10k race is a funny beast – it’s just over so quickly! After the 5k mark it felt strange to be thinking that I was over half way done and that the pain would be over soon. I just kept pushing on down King St, never letting myself take the foot off the gas and telling myself I had no excuses – this is only 50 minutes of your life, you are not in that much pain, stop complaining. You know how it feels to run 3 miles and know you’ve another 30 miles to race, so to only have 3 to go today is a luxury – HTFU!
I had been told that my Grandad was going to come down and try and see me on the course. This meant a lot to me as he’s never seen me race before; I was looking ahead anxiously trying to spot him at the point where he said he’d be, and I saw him! I pulled out of the crowds and took the corner wide whilst waving and smiling; he gave me a big wave and a cheer which was a huge boost at a point in the race when I was really starting to hurt – 8k.
The course made its way around the high-rise tower blocks of Seaton and along the long, flat straight of Golf Road. In all honestly I started getting tunnel vision here and I really remember nothing of note. All that mattered was getting to that finish line as soon as I possibly could, but still leaving a little in the tank to tackle the cruel and challenging hill by Pittodrie Stadium in the last kilometre. I began to get a stitch in my right side which impeded my breathing and caused me some nausea, but I was able to ignore it despite the nagging pain.
I reached the Hill and shortened my stride slightly and leaned into the incline. It always lasts slightly longer than you expect, and the extra bit at the top just when you think it’s over is a killer. I passed Rachel again on the hill and then finally reached the sign merrily proclaiming “400m To Go!”
Please don’t puke. Please don’t puke. Please don’t puke!
The stitch in my side was stabbing away and as I tried to push harder going down the other side of the hill I felt the bile rise in my throat. I just couldn’t get my legs to go any faster! My heart was thumping and I was wheezing from the exhausting of hauling up the hill; it’s a real sting in the tail of what is an otherwise flat race. Normally as this point I’d be accelerating into a full on sprint; Rachel pulled up next to me and we ran together for a few strides getting faster and faster but then I plateaued and she out-kicked me and sped off.
Mile 4 – 8:18
Mile 5 – 8:19
Mile 6 – 8:10
0.27 – 1:57
I willed myself onwards through the last few meters; the crowds were a blur and I felt like hell but I knew it would be over in mere seconds. Line crossed, garmin stopped, lean forward, stagger onwards, quell nausea. I looked at my watch which read 51:32 – a new PB; job done.
Rachel came up and we congratulated each other on a good fight as we staggered up the finish gantry. I grabbed a couple of bottles of water for us, but had I known that this would be all we’d get at the finish line I’d have taken two each. This is where my only complaint about the race this year comes in – there was absolutely nothing at the finish line for runners other than a 330ml bottle of water! No goody bag, no bananas, no lucazade/crisps/cereal bars…nothing of the usual post-race snacks that even the smallest of races manage to provide. Once you were out of the finish chute there was no more water to be had, and as far as we could see there was nowhere else to get food other than a couple of burger vans. A big problem! After a tough effort you need a pick-me-up; at the very least a banana or something sugary like an energy drink to tide you over. On a day like Sunday where runners were coming in DRENCHED in sweat; they needed more than 330ml of water. Baker Hughes is already at the expensive end of the races available in the North East and up until this point I’ve always thought the £21 reasonably justified since you get a closed road course, t-shirt, medal, water and food; however I was very disappointed to not receive any sustenance after crossing the line this year. In the end we had to crash the sponsors hospitality tent (sorry Baker Hughes…) to get something else to drink and found some fruit juice and milk.
Anyway; shortly after I crossed the line I found Sheenagh with Ryan, who had stormed home in 48:03, next up was Kynon in 52:44, Brian in 56:20 and Emma in 58:03.
Lots of smiley, happy, running friends!
Shortly we managed to finally catch up with the rest of my crew who we’d missed at the start – Niall, Scott and Fiona – who came in at 59:35, 1:05:27, and 1:05:13 respectively. Unfortunately for whatever reason we didn’t get any pictures together! Perhaps everyone was too hot and excited to stand still for long enough; never mind, we’ll just need to do another race together soon 🙂
I was really pleased with my race. I know I didn’t hit my sub-50 goal but I feel that I gave it my all on the day and ran what I was capable of on Sunday morning. There will be a sub-50 in my future at some point, but I’m not worried about it for now. I don’t intend on doing any more 10ks in the near future; I’m toying with the idea of the River Ness 10k at the end of September as so many friends are doing the Marathon that day and I’d like to come up and support them, but for me right now all roads lead to distance, not speed. I had an odd feeling of dissatisfaction after the race on Sunday; it was just too short, not challenging enough, it didn’t require enough effort. I felt like I had so much more to give, further to go, longer to run. Even despite a new PB and pushing myself to what at that moment in time for those 51 minutes felt like my limits, I was left feeling a little empty.
What I did get from the day, was the amazing warm fuzzy that comes with running with friends; the shared experience, the highs and the lows, the stories at the finish line, the sweaty smiles. Running is an individual sport but there is nothing that I love more than sharing with with my nearest and dearest. Afterwards, we all met up in a pub for a slap up lunch and drinks and enjoyed the rest of the sunny Sunday. Young, old, fast, slow, first timers, old hands; we are all runners.
Next up for me is the Dunblane Hydro 7.5 mile road race on Sunday with Kynon. This will dove-tail nicely into some more concentrated Half Marathon training for the Stonehaven Half on the 1st of July which will lead perfectly into 9 weeks of training for the Moray Marathon on the 2nd of September.