Red Wine Runner

A Scottish Running Blog

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Cue BBQ Aberdeen

Cue BBQ Aberdeen

When an email landed in my inbox inviting me to try out Cue BBQ, Aberdeen’s newest BBQ joint, I was understandably hesitant. As a vegetarian for over two thirds of my life, unsurprisingly I tend not to frequent such meat-focused establishments by choice. In my past experience on the rare occasions when I’ve joined friends for dinner at BBQ restaurants, my choices are usually limited to potato salad, coleslaw, fries and perhaps a token item like a veggie burger if I’m lucky. Put simply – it’s just not my kind of thing.

Cue BBQ Aberdeen

This invitation was a little different, however; the event had been organised for a group of Aberdeen Bloggers by Just Julia, and I really wanted to meet some of the other ladies in person after tweeting with many of them for a while. A quick glance over the menu looked very encouraging, and I was reassured that vegetarians would be well catered for.

Cue BBQ Aberdeen

We were welcomed with jars of a refreshing Pimms cocktail whilst we learned a little more about the restaurant concept. Owned jointly by Aberdeen restaurant group Beetroot Restaurants Ltd and Angus & Oink sauces, Cue BBQ opened to the public on the 2nd February 2016. After a road trip, Chris, Scott, and Malissa decided they wanted to bring the diverse culture of barbecue cooking commonly found across the Southern states of the USA all the way to Aberdeen, and create a relaxed, family friendly, traditional barbecue joint.

Cue BBQ Aberdeen

Cue BBQ Aberdeen

Great attention has been paid to the decor and getting the restaurant vibe just right. Colourful murals are splashed across the walls, filament lightbulbs hang from the ceilings, and seating is either at individual tables or at the higher ‘Ledge’ pit-stop tables, designed for eaters on the move.

Cue BBQ Aberdeen

We were treated to a tour of the kitchens to see the enormous smoker; unique in Scotland and shipped all the way from America… imagine the team’s frustration when it arrived and they couldn’t fit it in through the front door?! Luckily with the quick hire of a crane and the removal of a second floor window, the behemoth was located carefully into its new home.

Cue BBQ Aberdeen

All meat is slow smoked in an authentic American ‘low and slow’ style, and is sold to the eater by weight, directly from the smoker. I’m told it’s all very, very tasty.

So; onto the good stuff! What can a vegetarian expect to feast on at Cue BBQ? Let me tell you – there’s a lot…

Cue BBQ Aberdeen

On this tray we were able to sample four dishes which are all available as both main meals and sides, and pride of place in the middle was the massive Monster Mushroom Burger. In the dishes were Big Mamma’s Mac n Cheese (deliciously rich and flavoured with pumpkin and thyme), Texas Rootin’ Tootin’ vegetable chilli (aromatic and smoky), Pit Boss Clay Pot BBQ Beans (fruity, saucy and very smoky), and Dirty Rice (a delicious addition to the beans or chilli). As for the burger; I wish I had a can of coke or similar to give perspective, but the size of the patty was absolutely huge. A ‘mushroom burger’ in a restaurant usually means a SINGLE portobello mushroom with salad in a bap, accompanied by a ridiculous price tag. This burger is an original in its field however, with the huge patty consisting of smoky cooked mushrooms and vegetables fried in panko breadcrumbs, served with pickled mushrooms, relish and salad.

Cue BBQ Aberdeen

On to another tray of delights, and here we have a selection of some of the other side dishes available to accompany your meal. Potato salad, Red House Slaw, Rainbow Unicorn House Pickles (my favourite!), Coleslaw, and Cornbread muffins. Cornbread isn’t something that you often find outside of America, and it was one of my favourite things to eat alongside a bowl of chilli back when I lived in Texas. The guys have absolutely nailed this recipe, and eating it brought back great memories.

Cue BBQ Aberdeen

There is also a range of tacos – vegetable, pork and fish – which explode everywhere with deliciousness as you enjoy them. I especially enjoyed topping these with some of the Angus and Oink sauces which were on the table as well. If you find one you particularly like, you can even buy a jar to take home with you. My favourite was the ‘Red Dawg Apache’, but the ‘Voodoo Mango’ was pretty special as well; just watch out for the kick!

Cue BBQ Aberdeen

Just when we thought we couldn’t possibly eat any more food, taster trays of desserts arrived. Anyone who knows me knows that my ‘pudding stomach’ is a very real thing, and it doesn’t matter how much I’ve eaten, I will always have room for dessert. We got to try slices of the Bannoffee pie (creamy decadence),  Pecan pie (sticky and spicy) and the Key Lime Cheesecake (refreshing and juicy).

I rolled home fit to burst and singing the praises of Cue BBQ to a very jealous husband. I’m so glad I decided to come along and visit Cue BBQ as the vegetarian offerings actually far surpass many other restaurants in Aberdeen. When you’ve eaten one beetroot and goats cheese tart you’ve eaten them all – and don’t even get me started on the omnipresent mushroom bloody risotto!  It’s safe to say we will be back very soon, and what’s more; on the weekends they even do an all day BRUNCH!

Thank you so much to Cue BBQ for having me and the Aberdeen Bloggers for the lovely company!

Cue BBQ – – 1 Alford Lane, Aberdeen – 01224 589109

Return to Aberdeen parkrun

aberdeen parkrun logo

Attending Aberdeen parkrun used to be a key part of my Saturday morning running when I lived in Aberdeen, with a couple of miles run to the start for a warm up and a couple of miles back afterwards usually making a nice 10 mile start to my weekend. Now that  I live a good 15 miles away it is far less convenient and an early morning trip up is usually only been made once or twice a year. When my friend Naomi invited me for dinner last Friday, with use of her spare room and a trip to Aberdeen parkrun in the morning, I was delighted to see that my calendar was actually free and looked forward to a return visit.

Although I was shocked to see that my last visit was actually in May 2014, I was not altogether surprised. As a dyed in the wool ultrarunner, parkruns, 5km races and anything 10k and under generally scares the crap out of me and I avoid them like the plague unless I have a temporary change of heart and fancy a change. Afterwards, I remember why I consider anything of marathon distance and shorter to be too much work and avoid them again for months on end. I wouldn’t say I’m stuck in my ways, but…if I’m going to feel *that* bad at the end of a run, I like it to be because I’ve been running for 25 hours, not 25 minutes.

However, it had clearly been long enough for me to forget the pain of an all-out 5km sprint, so going to Aberdeen parkrun on a Saturday morning in January sounded like a super idea. For those who aren’t familiar; the course is an out-and back along the beach promenade, and is mainly flat apart from a gentle 200m incline at the start and a couple of cruel dips where the esplanade lowers to allow vehicular access to the beach. A run at Aberdeen beach, parkrun or not, can either be an utterly stunning, life-affirming experience, or a hellish battle of the mind and legs as you fight against cruel sea winds and biblical precipitation.

aberdeen parkrun beach bbc

photograph – bbc   



Luckily on the 23rd of January we were blessed with views similar to the former of the above two example, albeit with a chilling wind. After a two mile jog of a warm up I was ready to go alongside nearly 300 happy parkrunners and shot off when the hooter went, wondering what I’d got myself into.

Since I’ve been working on building up speed this month, I wanted to give the 3.1 miles my absolute all and get a good benchmark for the start of the year. My 5k PB is 24:18 which was set in May 2014 one week after I had ran the 53 mile Highland Fling for the second time. Being able to run that fast after a 53 mile race made no sense to me at the time and still doesn’t; but it’s just one of these things I just shall not question. I wasn’t expecting to get anywhere near my PB, but I wanted a solid, steady effort. My trick at parkrun in the past has been to post a massive positive split with a good minute in difference between my first and third split, so I wanted to show I’d learned at least something in the last few years and commit to a strong pace at the start and maintain it.

My interval sessions have been conducted at 8 minute miles since the start of the year, so I was pleased when my watch beeped for the first mile showing an 8:03. That was my challenge then – to bash out another two of those. It felt reasonably comfortable with the exception of the first 1.5 miles being into a light wind which meant I was constantly pushing harder than I’d have liked, but I know the reward would come on the return leg.

The second mile beeped with 8:04 and I was really pleased, but now the familiar burning feeling of death was creeping into my legs and lungs. Naomi passed me at the start of the third mile and maintained a tantalising 20 meter lead; chasing her pulled me forward as I adopted the crazed, wild eyed, tongue-lolling expression of someone in the last kilometer of a 5km run.

laser eye cat

After the recent storms we’ve had up here, there was a lot of thick sand from the beach up on the esplanade which was a real energy sapper. I tried to pick out smart ways to cross the massive piles and avoid the deepest sections, but it was pretty much unavoidable. There was a photographer sneakily positioned somewhere towards the end of the Promenade who was capturing the grimaces right before the final turn and the last 400m sprint to the finish line; it’s reassuring to know I looked as good as I felt here.

aberdeen parkrun aberdeen beach

Photograph – Stuart Bell 

After crossing the line and the customary 20 seconds of will I/won’t I throw up my breakfast feelings, I got my barcode scanned and checked my watch. Much to my delight I saw the third mile clocked at 8:04 to make three almost identical splits, and I’d finished in 25:03. For someone as allergic to running fast as I have been recently, I’m very pleased with that result for the first measured effort of the year and look forward to a return visit to Aberdeen parkrun next month to hopefully see continued progress. Last year I failed to even try to make any improvement in my road distance personal bests, so in 2016 I’d like to see considerable improvement across them all!

Are you a parkrun addict?
What are your speed goals for this year?

The week everything changed


This week was a turning point for many people in my country. You would have to have been living under a rock in recent weeks to ignore the coverage and impact of the Scottish Referendum, and the impact of the decisions made on Thursday will roll forward like waves into the future. However, that is not what this post is about. There are people out there who can write more succinctly and with greater insight on that subject than I, and whilst I have strong opinions on recent events I will limit my sharing of them to sitting around a table in a pub with my friends, or perhaps shouting at the television and the newspapers.

You see, two days before Scotland’s day of reckoning, there was a day in my personal life with equal or perhaps even greater significance for me. This was the day where I left my full time job for the last time and entered the next stage of my life.


Three months ago, after a lot of thought and consideration, I put in my notice after deciding that the high-stress, long commute, long hours, desk pilot lifestyle was no longer serving my best interests. Things hadn’t been 100% right for me in my job for a little while and whilst I loved many aspects of working where I did and the people that I worked with, I couldn’t see a future there for me. Having been inspired by several friends doing something similar, I began to see that it wasn’t too late for me to quit the rat race and find a life that I was in control of and made me happy. Of course it wasn’t an easy decision to make and the next few months are by no means going to be easy either, but I’m very excited to move on and start building a different future.

MaldivesSo, what exactly am I going to be doing with myself? Well, next Wednesday I will be enrolling on a full-time taught Master’s degree at Robert Gordon University and in 12 months time I should be graduating with an MSc in Digital Marketing. This is a slight deviation from my career so far, but I see it more as a development than anything else. For those of you that don’t know, my undergraduate degree is in Music (BMus (Hons) Newcastle University, ’06) and I have spent the majority of my career so far in Concerts and Event Management/Arts Marketing, most recently in Higher Education. In the last 18 months or so, my job has veered away from that aspect and into an Administrative direction that wasn’t really part of The Plan, so this is my way of re-qualifying myself and upgrading my skills with a view to re-entering the Arts Marketing world in the future.

The course itself is taught over two days a week, with three days left free for study and research. This tremendous amount of time flexibility that I’ve been granted is going to allow me to train more effectively than ever before, with my eventual goal being the 2015 West Highland Way Race. I look forward to being able to actually have the time to take strength/conditioning classes and no longer having to head out for a couple of hours of running after a long day at work.

Postgraduate study is no joke, but I am looking forward to a less stressful existence and being able to be a better person to be around. I didn’t used to be a particularly sickly person but I’ve never been more ill more frequently in the last couple of years than in my whole life, and I credit that entirely to burning the candle at both ends and in the middle, and generally not being able to look after myself as well as I’d like. Many friends are always quick to say how ‘healthy’ running and training must make me, but health does not just translate as the ability to run 50 miles. Just because I can do that does not mean I’m a healthy person and anyone who knows me very well will know that there is a lot I can improve upon right now to be granted the title of ‘Healthy’.

vs-lochmuickSo for now in terms of training for the next couple of months, I’ll be building a strong body with which to tackle the West Highland Way and its associated training next year. As keen as I am, there is no point in bashing out the big miles now as I’ll be worn down and bored by March. I have some weight to lose, some muscle to rebuild and some strength to gain first, and I hope that this will lead to PBs at the Peterhead 10k and the Fraserburgh Half marathon in November.

I also look forward to having the time to share more about my training on this blog and moving away from the constant stream of Race Reports that it has been lately. When I started RedWineRunner several years ago I documented my weekly training as I built up to races and this is a format I’d like to return to. Hopefully with more frequent posting will come more reader engagement and the opportunity to grow this blog into something a bit more substantial, but I promise to keep it relevant and not sell out to sponsors and reviews.

Photo: Stuart Macfarlane

Photo: Stuart Macfarlane

So here’s to the next big step. It’s hard to believe that I started Red Wine Runner nearly four years ago to document my tentative embarkation upon the great sport of ‘running’. A lot has gone under the metaphorical bridge since those early posts and I don’t doubt that there’s still a lot to come! I’m excited for the future and for further change and I hope you all stick with me for it.

Thanks for reading,


The Running Shop Beach 10k 2013 – RACE REPORT

runningshop10k3The Running Shop Beach 10k 2013

Gun time: 50:44 – NEW PB!
Place: 139th/229
Category: 12th/43 Senior Females
Gender: 26th/82

The Running Shop 10k is a funny race. A no-fuss, no-frills evening race organised by a local Running Shop, funnily enough named “The Running Shop”, and held every year mid-week in the middle of June on that well-worn pathway to the North East runners’ Hell – the Beach Promenade.

For the princely sum of £7, you get a flat and fast timed 10k race with water and a chocolate bar at the end. It’s not chip timed, but the amount of entrants means that if you care about your time you can get very close to the start line if you wish.

This year the race was part of our Club Championship, which was my main reason for entering. I hadn’t done a 10k in over a year; I don’t particularly like the distance so if I was going to pick a race to do a 10k it would probably be one with plenty of course support, and a nice t-shirt and medal at the end. I can be fickle like that at times, but that’s not what this race was about. Runners come here to race their legs off away from the big crowds of the other expensive and commercial local 10k, Baker Hughes, and hammer it out as fast as they can on the flat and unchallenging route. It is essentially a time trial, with many of the local running clubs including it in their championships and some of the fastest local runners coming to give it their best.

My speedwork lately has been non-existent; I haven’t been to a club session since I started my new job (I keep getting home too late) and I’ve been concentrating on getting my running fitness back before doing anything more complicated with my pace. Essentially despite running lots of miles lately, I was completely untrained for this race and I knew it was going to hurt. To smash my PB I needed to hold an average pace of 8:18, which seemed a little ambitious to me, but I figured I could give it a good try.

After giving Kate a lift down from work we had a brisk 1.5 mile warm up to try and loosen our legs up. After both completing the Ythan Challenge on Sunday we weren’t very sure how they’d be feeling; mine felt a little unresponsive at first but soon sped up. I had a quick trip to the bathroom and found a lamp post to tie my jumper on to before hanging around for the last 10 minutes with the girls from the club. No-one was all that excited to take part after having trained for ultramarathons all year so far – the general consensus was “Too short, too fast!”

The gun went off and suddenly I’m moving forward, swept away in a fluid moving cell of legs and arms. I had decided 8 minute miles was a good pace to aim for and that I’d try to hold it as long as I could. That plan lasted about 30 seconds before I realised that the wind was behind me and that I should take advantage of this whilst I could as I’d lose time on the return journey running straight in to the wind.

By the time the first mile was over I was already not enjoying myself so I turned on my mp3 player for some distraction. Mile 2 and 3 were straight in to the wind and finished with a surprise fastest ever 5k time for me – 24:13. Despite my general discomfort this pleased me as it meant I was doing well – keep this up and I was well on course to beat my PB.

The course is a loop on the Promenade so the lead pack passed me on the upper level, followed by a stream of familiar faces. It was really nice to exchange thumbs up with faster runners from the club which gave me a much needed mental boost. I was flailing mentally and straying in to “Why do I bother” territory, so seeing people being better than me gave me the kick up the backside to remember that getting faster doesn’t just happen and that I need to work to earn it.

Miles 4 and 5 took us back past the start and onto the second lap. The wind was behind me so I tried to let it push me on but I couldn’t get my legs to move fast enough. They were fatigued and my lack of muscle strength betrayed me – this is what I need to gain for an increase in speed. More hill reps and intervals are in my future to build explosive power in my muscles.

Mile 6 was at the turn around and had us run toward the finish straight in to the wind. I was getting slower and slower and felt like a football slowly deflating. Legs, move faster! No, arms – you move faster too! Stop slouching! Lift your knees! I mentally barked instructions at myself but I still felt like I was running like the flying spaghetti monster with limbs all over the place. The stomach started tightening and my ITBs started grumbling – I want to sit down and retch like a cat throwing up a hairball please – says the body. No! Run faster! – says the mind. Can’t – say the legs. I hate 10ks, says Redwinerunner.

‘Til now I had only given my watch one or two glances to check my pace, and had been so disgusted by the falling numbers that I had given up monitoring the data. With about 400m to go I looked at the overall time and was surprised to see 48:XX – suddenly all my mental gurning disappeared and the possibility of a PB kicked me back into race mode. All of a suddent, I DIDN’T have nothing left and I wasn’t totally spent and was able to find something for a finishing sprint. Later this really annoyed me; I should have kept my eyes on the prize and I could have run better – I clearly wasn’t trying hard enough.

runningshop10k4Ronnie caught me deep in the hurt locker – I had no idea he was even there

I crossed the line in 50:44 by my watch, which is a 49 second PB. I’m pleased but I feel underwhelmed – I allowed myself to under perform in the second half which meant a big positive split. It also revealed where my weaknesses are at the moment (anerobic fitness, leg strength) so I suppose I have benefited from this race in that respect. I have no further plans to race another 10k until I have to, but now I’m slightly tempted to do the Forfar 10k in August just to see how much I can improve with some proper training. By then I’ll be in peak marathon training and should be in excellent shape so perhaps I could FINALLY dip under 50 minutes? My 10k time is the area that has improved the least in my 3 years of running – the very first race I ran I finished in 54:47 so I’ve only managed to knock 4 minutes off in 3 years. That is in comparison to 7 minutes off my 5k, 19 minutes off my Half Marathon and a stonking 1hr 7minutes off my marathon time. There is little room for error in a 10k though; every second counts, so I guess I’m glad to still be chipping away at it. I can do better though.



7:30 / 8:01 / 8:13 / 8:14 / 8:25 / 8:40 // 1:39

Afterwards, I took myself home via the Carron for some chips and curry sauce. Dirty, but well deserved. This weekend brings a whole new challenge – sweeping the West Highland Way race. As part of a team of 6 from Stonehaven Running Club I will be taking shifts in bringing up the rear of the race and making sure all stragglers and sufferers are well looked after.  I know I’ll be going over Conic Hill in first light on Saturday morning and over the Devil’s Staircase as day breaks on Sunday, so if the weather holds clear I could be in for some fantastic sights. The forecast is diabolical of course, but let’s not dwell on that. It’s going to be another epic adventure – I should clock up around 35 miles over the 35 hours and we will be out on the course the longest of all. Another step forward in my own journey to completing the West Highland Way race and what an exciting one to take!

See you in Milngavie!

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