City of Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k
Official Time: 52m 36s
1366th out of 3341
“I am building a fire, and every day I train I add more fuel. At just the right moment; I light the match…” Mia Hamm
Sunday saw the 25th running of Aberdeen’s largest race, the City of Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k. My day dawned bright and early when a cat landed on me at 05.50am and I shot out of bed thinking I’d overslept. As it turned out of course I still had an hour to enjoy in bed, so I tucked myself back in and tried to relax.
When I got up, there were already butterflies in my tummy; I was almost scared to look out of the window to see what the weather was like. Since we live under a mile from the start, whatever was out there was what I was going to run in. I peeked in between the curtains and saw what looked like sun and bold, blue skies. On closer examination there were some clouds and it was a bit blustery but either way things were looking good.
I made a classic pre-race breakfast – cashew butter and sliced banana on toast with a triple espresso, and got online to see how everyone else was getting on so far. I knew a lot of people running this race and some of them were first timers, so I stopped by some facebook pages to give final good luck wishes before I realised I needed to get a move on.
I had layed all of my gear out the night before, but I needed to make two final preparations: to write the cumulative mile splits on my hand for the minimum time needed to beat my personal best…
…and one more affirmation on the back of my bib that today was going to be my day…
Once dressed and with race-face applied, at 8.30am Badger and I set out on the brief walk down towards the starting area by the beach where I immediately got in line for a portaloo and Badger set out to find some of our friends.
There was small tented village with local running shops, sports physio, health clubs etc all having stalls.
We found Jo, whose girlfriend Emma was running her first 10k.
She actually works for Baker Hughes, so was running as part of their team with their highly noticeable orange race tees!
It was bit chilly so I kept my sweatshirt on as long as possible.
By this point I was working hard to keep my nerves in check – I felt a little silly; I’ve ran the distance and more hundreds of times, I knew I had finishing it in the bag but with the pressure I was putting on myself to run fast there were so many things which (in my head) could go wrong. What if it’s really windy and I can’t keep up my speed? What if my knee goes again? What if it’s too crowded to break away…? What if, what if, what if…
At the end of the day I just had to shut my head up and trust in my training.
A couple of last snaps and it was time to get on with it.
At 9.10am it was time to get in our corralls. I went for the 51-55minute predicted finish and Emma headed off to the 60+ minute finish. It felt like we were waiting in those corralls for ages…thousands of people standing so close to one another with a shared goal – you could practically taste the anticipation in the air. Keeping warm wasn’t a problem since we were packed in so close that body heat was being easily transferred and I was sheltered from the wind. Whilst we were waiting I tried to warm up my calves by rising up and down on my toes repeatedly. I’ve been having problems with very stiff calf muscles after a few miles recently so I wanted to make them adequately prepared for the beating they were about to take.
Whilst we were all corralled up, Badger and Jo had made it to a good place at the start line to view the proceedings, and had also met up with Ian and Donna and the dogs!
They are running a half marathon next weekend so didn’t think it wise to run this race. Instead they came in to town to do a training run and then support the runners once the race had started. Bob (on the left) is looking smart in his new doggy panniers – the dogs come with them all the time on long runs so Bob is being trained up as a fuel carrying dog! Utter genius if you ask me!
The first race to start was the wheelchair race – there was only one entrant.
Then second to start was this blind runner and his guide. I think this is absolutely amazing – I saw them at the Run Garioch 10k and I felt so stupid for never realising that you could be blind and run. They have a very short rope looped around their wrists and the chap in black is just ahead of the blind chap in yellow. the amount of trust between them must be phenomenal – what a bond to have with someone. I passed them later on in the course and on the back of his vest it says “I support sport for everyone”. What an inspiration; I looked up his race number in the results and they finished in 58 minutes 16s.
Then of course, the main event started. The guy who won the race was the third from the left in the white vest with red stripes; Ben Hukins. He is a local legend and won many of the races I’ve taken part in, including last year’s Baker Hughes.
It took me about 6 minutes to cross the start line.
Unfortunately I didn’t see the support team; I was far too deep in the zone anyway.
A few minutes later Emma passed by as well
As well as some other amazing people – this guy was running in full fire fighting gear with a life sized human weight doll (the kind firefighters use for training).
And this guy/gal was just too cute not to include!
The first half of the race went pretty smoothly for me. It wasn’t too crowded, but unfortunately in some places the course was inexplicably narrowed to one lane in a two lane road that was fully closed. I can only imagine that must have been to do with emergency access to the harbour perhaps? Anyway at points I felt a bit constrained and worried about keeping my pace up, but I really needn’t have. I was just concentrating on running as smoothly as possible and keeping my upper body as relaxed as I could so I could just chill out and enjoy my music. There were hundreds of harbour workers that had came out of their warehouses to cheer us on – and sailors on their boats too!
I found it relatively easy to maintain a good sub 8:40 pace – easier than I thought in fact and I found myself running a lot faster which was giving me a good head start on my minimum cumulative time to get a PB. I ran mile 1 in 8:20 and mile 2 in 8:39.
Once everyone had got over the start line, Team Redwinerunner had headed up to the 4km point to continue their support and caught the leaders pack streak past.
The speed these guys run at is just unfathomable to me.
But not long after them, came DAVE! Dave was out to try and get a sub 40 and at this point was totally cruising.
He’s number 113
A wee while later I showed up – but I didn’t see Badger at all!
And I thought MY orange headwear was an offensive hue…
I did however see Ian and Donna here who snapped a couple of shots…I look awfully smiley, I didn’t feel smiley though.
Incidentally, I think I’m going to revise ever wearing that top again to race. I love it – it’s so soft and fits really well over my sports bra; but like so many things it’s just a couple of inches too short due to my extra height and extra bust…I’m not a fan of how much of my tummy is exposed in all of these photos. Hmm.
Emma was doing well a little while behind me – and even had a smile!
So I’m careering down towards the first water station at 3 miles and grab a bottle on the run and keep going. Unfortunately the same stitch in my tummy which bothered me at RunBalmoral started niggling again so I decided not to drink too much. I wasn’t really thirsty anyway but I wanted to swill my mouth out and just take a few sips. At this point I was past the initial high that I’d coasted around on so far and was having to work to keep my pace up, and it was starting to hurt. I realised how tense I was and concentrated on loosening my arms and letting them fall lower to my sides, and keeping my chest and head up and pushing my shoulder blades further down my back. This position really relaxes me as it forces me to keep my core and spine stable and just let my legs hang from my body and do their job going round and round. It opens my chest up and makes me breathe more easily as well. I ran mile 3 in 8:17 and mile 4 in 8:26.
When I completed mile four I began to have to get tough with myself, it was tiring to keep pushing and my lazy side I kept on starting to think “I’m ahead of myself, maybe I could just ease off a little…”, “NO DAMMIT NO! There’s no room for walking in this race Mitchell, every second you slow down is a second off your goal. Keep pushing, you’ve earned this! Now fight for it! Fight! You’re a fighter, come on!”. The crap I shouted at myself during that race was quite remarkable! Never the less it kept me going – the end was within my grasp and I knew if I maintained this speed I would crush my personal best. No room for slacking here.
Mile 5 – 8:45, mile 6 – 8:23.
To my surprise and delight close to the end of mile 6 I spotted Ian and Donna again! (and there’s my tummy again dammit)
I think this is the greatest race picture ever taken of me (minus tummy) – I was trying to convey to them that I was doing great and that I was beating my target. I look so delighted!
This photo is a little out of sync – but they also caught a snap of Dave continuing to utterly hammer the course. After this you have to climb a horrible hill and then sprint down the other side and along the final quarter of a mile to the finish. In the end he finished in a whopping 38m 53s which is a new PB for him. WELL DONE DAVE!
(Also, do you recognise the stadium? That’s Pittodrie, where the Aberdeen Santa Run was held last year)
Badger was standing a little way up the hill and looking out for me amongst the sea of struggling faces. Look at the emotions in all of those guys; they are all working so hard.
I was really starting to struggle here – my stitch was bugging really bad and it was making me feel quite nauseated. Just knowing I was within spitting distance of the finish was all that was keeping me going as my chest ached, my legs screamed and my stomach contents grumbled ominously.
God damn tummy! This is why I don’t run in just a sports bra – I can’t hold my tummy in when I run!
And another surprise that kept me going up that hill were the people on the left – that’s my best pal Erin and her parents! Erin is a runner too, but she’s on hiatus right now as she’s going to have a baby in a few months! It was great to see them – Erin’s husband and sister were running too.
And up the hill I went. Ugh, it hurt. By now I was just repeating the word ‘fighter’ and ‘finish’ in my head every few steps as I pushed with the last of my reserves. When I got to the top I felt so awful and my legs were wrecked – it was so hard to try and accelerate down hill! But I must have done something right as the last 0.2 was finished in 1m 53s, which is a 7:29p/m pace.
When I placed my foot over the finish line and hit stop on my Garmin I felt like I’d been hit by a bus. I could hardly put one foot in front of the other in a straight line and had to reach for the barriers to steady myself.
I dared to sneak a look at the Garmin which confirmed what I’d been fighting for all along – 52 minutes and 36 seconds. I was overwhelmed with emotion and burst in to tears as I made my way up the finishing chute!
Then I spotted Badger on the other side of the barriers and I was hopeless – I wanted to find him, show him, tell him how well I’d done – but there were thousands of people and barriers in the way. I collected my medal and water, deposited my timing chip and wobbled out on my exhausted legs to try and find him.
I actually found Ian and Donna first and got big congratulations from them and the dogs. Bob and Rosa were a bit narked that everyone else was getting to run and they had to stay on the leash! Hopefully Canicross will come to Aberdeen soon – I bet they’d all love it!
It didn’t take long to track down Badger and I got plenty more congratulatory hugs. He told me how proud of me he was and there might have been a couple more overly emotional tears 😛
I also got hugs from this big soft cheetah! There were two of them but I’m not sure which charity they were supporting – they ran the 1k fun run.
Not long after this, Hulk Hogan got in on the action and a bit of spontaneous live WWF was staged much to everyone’s amusement – he clothes-lined the poor bears!
Strike ONE! Strike TWO!….
Anyway, we caught up with Emma who had finished in a very commendable 1hr 06m and made our way to the food tents. I was so hungry and inhaled a bag of crisps, an egg roll, a tracker bar and a milky way within 10 minutes, all washed down with isotonic juice. As it was getting cold we decided to head into town for some decent food and some well earned BOOZE!
Cider for me. I then ate a huge Sunday Roast – pumpkin, sweet potato, mushroom and herb roast with yorkshire puddings, dumplings, carrots, peas, broccoli, roast tatties and loads of gravy. I was too hungry to pause to take a picture but I can assure you it was as good as it looked!
We then parted ways with Jo and Emma and headed to our beloved Brewdog for some more beer and board games.
Sidenote: now’s not the time to preach the gospel of Brewdog, but if you have the slightest interest in craft beer then check them out. Born and bred in the North East of Scotland, they are taking over the world one city of the time spreading their message of top quality beer. And their very first bar opened last year half a mile from our house!
Of course – I wore my medal all day. It’s pretty sweet actually 🙂
So two days later I’m still delighted that I exceeded my goal and am happy with my performance. I felt that I gave it my absolutely best and wouldn’t have changed a thing about my run. That’s all I could have ask for really – that, and not injuring myself. I’m glad that I can give the speed training a rest now and focus on bigger goals in the future and my first half marathon in 6 weeks time. In all honesty 10ks are a bit on the fast side for me; I much prefer running at my ‘happy pace’ of 9m30s per mile rather than pushing to go faster for an hour. I look forward to exploring this new challenge in the next few weeks – my next race is a local 5 miler on the 18th June at the Oldmeldrum Highland Games just for fun, and then it’s the legendary off road, multi-terrain Ythan Challenge on the 26th of June with all the gang – Mike, Annette, Ian, Donna, and another good friend Graeme who is yet to make his RedWineRunner debut!
In other news – it wasn’t just me who kicked ass this weekend – check out what my other running pals got up to around Scotland:
At the Cateran Trail 55 mile Ultra; Pyllon came in first place and UltraMikeR came in third place!
At the Edinburgh Marathon Festival; RunWithMark completed the amazing challenge of running all four races over the weekend – the 5k and 10k on Saturday and the half and full marathon on the Sunday. Not only was he the only person to ever have attempted this, but he came 5th in the 5k, 12th in the 10k, completed the half in 1hr 30m and the full in 4hr 08m – what an achievement! He did this, along with all of his challenges this year, to raise money for Funding Neuro. If you think this is ace why not stop by his blog and follow the links to donate a few quid. Also at the EMF, my pal the inky genius Johanna Basford completed the half in 2hrs 18mins even though her knee gave up on her after 5 miles.
Great achievements all around 🙂