Red Wine Runner

A Scottish Running Blog

Tag: races (page 1 of 16)

Shopping For Races!

It’s the time of year when runners everywhere are looking beyond the Festive season and well into 2017 in order to plan their racing year ahead. After an unstructured year in 2016 (in more ways than one!) I have embraced forward planning once more, and thrown myself and my credit card full-heartedly into ‘ballot season’ this year. Here’s what I’ve got planned so far:

The D33 Ultramarathon – March 11th

d33 ultra
Surprise, surprise; I’ll be kicking off my 2017 season with my first and favourite festival of flat racing, the D33. This will be my 5th (whaaat?!) crack at this race and I have an early, flexible goal of getting under 5 hours. It’s not open yet, but when it does I’ll be ready to commit.

The John Muir 50k – April 1st

john muir ultra

A new-to-me race which is a mere 20 minute train-hop away from Central Edinburgh. I’m looking forward to trying a new route and will enjoy a gentle jog around this one.

The Cateran Trail Ultramarathon 55 Miler – May 13th

cateran trail ultra

I am so excited to run this race for the second time. When I ran it in 2014 I had the toughest ultra experience I had ever endured at the time, and had to push through a challenging amount of pain and mental difficulties. I’m very hopeful that I’ll be in much better shape and will cruise to a massive PB.

The Strathearn Marathon – June 11th

strathearn marathon

I was getting a bit click-happy on Entry Central and saw this one was open, so I thought ‘why not?’. I had a great time this year, and now I know the course I will be able to execute a strong race as my last long run before the…

Great Glen Ultramarathon – 30th June/1st July

Glreat Glen Ultra logo

I haven’t entered this one yet, as I’m not made of money and between Christmas and these race entries I am haemorraging my pay check. Thankfully it fills up slowly, so this one will be on my entry list come January. Much like with the Cateran, I’ll be looking to improve on my 2014 time. That year I struggled with an ITB injury from 20 miles in and eventually made it home in 17 hours 40mins. I can do a lot better.

Devil o’the Highlands – August probably, not open yet.

Devil o the Highlands Footrace

This is another race which I feel I have unfinished business with. I’d like to race it rather than run it, and see how I perform on the top half of the West Highland Way. My instinct is twitching at me saying that this is maybe too much and that I should leave it ’til another year, but I’ll make that decision when entry opens next year. Unfortunately it looks very likely that entry will be via a ballot system, which is the fairest way to do things, but makes planning that little bit harder when the decision on whether you get to run or not is taken out of your hands.

Glenmore 24 – 2nd September

g24header

Both Kynon and I are signed up for our second crack at the 12 hour event. I was briefly tempted by the new challenge of the 24, but I remember how utterly glad I was to finish after 12 hours in 2014 and can’t see that changing this year. I’d like to reach 60 miles – I came close-ish in 2014, but I lost the will to live in the last 2 hours and stopped pushing for speed as it was cold and wet and I basically had trenchfoot.

Chicago Marathon – 8th October

bank_of_america_chicago_marathon_logo-svg

Yet another World Marathon Major ballot to be rejected from… what can I say? I’m just going to keep trying and sooner or later I will be allocated a place or will get fast enough for a Good For Age place. At the rate I’m going at, I think I have more chance of casually bashing out a 3:45 than getting a General Ballot place for any World Major… (this is me attempting to tempt fate one way or the other)


That’s about as far ahead into the future that I can see right now. If, as I predict, I am unsuccessful in the Chicago ballot, then I am quite interested in taking a little trip to Hamburg for their marathon in April. It’s flat, and if I hit it healthy and hard, then a PB might be in order. If it’s enough to score a London Good For Age time, then you’ll finally hear the end of my griping about the London Ballot!

In all seriousness though, I do need to address my soft marathon PB which at 3:58:30 is now over three years old. I have progressed so much as a runner in the intervening years and I haven’t trained ‘properly’ for a long road race since then, due to my desire for distance being greater than speed. I know the endurance work I’ve done since 2013 can translate into a great marathon time if I apply the correct targeted training, so I’m keeping everything crossed that the ballot fairies say yes to RedWineRunner in Chicago. If not, then race shopping in Europe shall commence!

Fingers crossed!

What have you got planned for 2017?
Are you waiting on any ballot results?
Where should I go in Europe to run?

 

Past, Present, and Future

Where I’ve Been

  • I ran the Speyside Way Ultra at the end of August and I finished in 7th Senior Female in 7hr 14m 6s. It was really, really hot, and I was kind of under-trained. It should not have been as hard as it was, but I was really pleased with how I paced it. I had a major wobble at about 25 miles, but then I got angry at myself and passed around 20 people in the last 10 miles. Still got it.

speyside way ultra 2016

  • I went to Ibiza for two weeks with Kynon. I sat on a beach and read for two weeks straight which was magnificent. We went to see Faithless one night which was the most expensive fun I’ve ever had; £36 for two rum and cokes in the club was ludicrous, but £30 for two cocktails at Cafe Del Mar earlier on as the sun went down was worth every penny.

cafe del mar

  • I did some stat crunching the other day and I realised I’ve now ran 23 marathons or ultramarathons, and 93 races in total. This blows my mind a little. I don’t feel like I’ve ever run over 10k right now.

Where I am

  • I’m still failing hard  every time I try and get back into training consistently. My peripatetic lifestyle between Edinburgh and Stonehaven throws constant challenges at me, and to a certain extent, I’ve let myself become a victim of my own circumstances. It is a seemingly endless battle which saps a lot of my strength.
  • I’ve only ran 731 miles this year. I have no races booked and this is a huge contributer to my current feelings of a loss of sense of self. Running used to be a huge part of my life, and now it’s just…not.
  • I’ve got kind of…fat. My body shape has changed a lot since I basically stopped being a runner, and it’s pretty distressing. A lot of my clothes aren’t fitting comfortably, including my active wear, and running feels different when you’re heavier. Things rub, shake, and jiggle, and it feels like you’re swimming through treacle. I’m trying to train using someone else’s body.
  • I get to live with this beast during the week though – have a picture of Central Scotland’s fluffiest cat to break up the self loathing a bit:

gracie

  • I still love my new job, and embrace the challenges it offers. They’ve recently introduced a flexible working policy, which has allowed me to start running at lunchtime. This works well for me, because when I get home, I am devoid of energy or motivation to do anything other than flop…like tonight. I work within a mile of this lovely canal though:

union-canal

  • I still haven’t joined a running club. I know I should, but I’m actually questioning whether I’m fit enough to survive a training session at the moment. I miss running with other people. I try and run with my friends in Stonehaven when I’m up at the weekends, but I always end up drinking too much to be out running early with them, or indeed, at all. Since Kynon and I only see each other at the weekends and I only see Stonehaven every other week, the pressure to burn brighter for shorter is real. Work hard, party hard…but where has train hard gone?

Where I’m Going

  • I know where I’m not going – I’ve received rejections from both the Tokyo and London Marathon ballots, so that clears up some decisions about Spring 2017. Kynon and I are going to enter the Chicago ballot as well when it opens soon though – sooner or later I have to get a place for something…
  • I know I have to bring some kind of structure into my running life if I’m to salvage anything from the last few years of running. Goals need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-specific.
  • I’m starting with micro-goals: I live near Blackford Hill and use the steep steps on the West side to train. I want to be able to run all the way from the bonfire pit at the bottom to the bench at the top by Christmas. At the moment I can run about half – right up until the point where the stairs get really steep.
  • I have to enter some races and I have to fully commit to them. In the first half of 2017 I want to run the D33 and the Glasgow to Edinburgh Ultra, in preparation for a new race, the Tyne Trail Ultra – a 93 mile run from the source of the Tyne to Tynemouth. I went to University in Newcastle, so this race will great for me, but I’m hesitant to enter just yet. One step at a time for now is perhaps wise.
  • In the second half of 2017, I want to run the Devil o’ the Highlands again, and the Glenmore 12 hour again. I must mark the opening dates in my diary, if only to ‘unfollow’ the Facebook groups after entering, in order to get away from the circus of daft questions and poor grammar…
  • I have to find a way to lose this extra weight, and I’m hoping that regular training will shift it. I’ve been ‘hoping’ that for the last year though and it’s not enough. I turned 32 the other day and never have I been more aware of how quickly middle-aged spread sets in as soon as you eat anything nice. I had birthday cake three times last week and a pizza on my birthday, and I feel like I need to start wearing scrubs to work as my jeans are cutting me in half.

That’s all I’ve got for now; just some small nuggets of insight into my current life. It’s always hard to post a blog after a big break;  I never know where to start or what to say. It’s been over two months since my last post and I rarely have the time nor the inclination to write much these days, but since I’m still paying for my hosting and I’ve just renewed my domains, I should really make it more of a priority. It’s unfortunate that much of my new job is creating, strategising, and analysing content, so coming home at night to do it all again makes this bit of fun into a bus-man’s holiday.

I’ve also fallen out of love with blogging in general… I’ve given up reading most of the blogs I’ve been following for the last few years as they have all swung largely in the same direction of courting brands to gain the coveted crown of the word ‘Influencer’ in their social media biographies. There are a handful of blogs out there who I still enjoy reading regularly and who consistently produce high quality visual and written content, either with brand partnership or otherwise, but in general I am exhausted with the saturation of partnerships, sponsorships, and ambassadorships, and the general need to stop and document every single training run with a selection of self-timered pictures of you looking like a very serious runner. I just don’t really want to to read about that any more.

However, I don’t want to stop writing Red Wine Runner as I like to have a record of my own experiences at races, and it’s nice to share that with others sometimes. On the other hand, it’s beginning to make me rather uncomfortable the amount of times people come up to me in public and want to talk to me about this blog. I can vaguely handle it at races, but in the last couple of months I’ve had some particularly odd encounters in non-running situations, and a couple of my SRC clubmates got asked if they were me whilst they were at races recently. I guess it may be too late to get that particular genie back in the bottle, but for the record; I can be a rather awkward penguin at times offline, and I can find dealing with strangers without context pretty challenging. Also, I am nearly 6ft tall with neon red hair – I’m not short with dark hair, or Canadian. So there’s that too. Finally, don’t ever pull your car over next to a runner out by themselves and ask if they’re Red Wine Runner, regardless of how much you think they are or not. Because that’s creepy as hell, and you’re an asshole if you do that.

a-very-angry-penguin source

I wanted to finish with a Socially Awkward Penguin meme, but I’m not in the mood for a lawsuit with Getty. Please enjoy this Very Angry Penguin instead, and consider it my reaction if I get kerb crawled again.

Stonehaven Half Marathon 2016 – Race Report

Stonehaven Half Marathon 2016

Stonehaven Half Marathon 2016

3rd July 2016
1hr 56m 28s
236th of 372 Finishers
65th of 137 Females
44th of 80 Female Seniors

Stonehaven Half Marathon was  my very first Half Marathon back in 2011, which I completed in 2 hours and 15 minutes. With the notoriously hilly course it was a baptism of fire for my first race at that distance, but I came back again in 2012 to knock over 15 minutes off my time and achieve my first sub-2 half marathon time. Due to other commitments I haven’t been back since, despite it being my home half marathon which is organised by my own running club. This year was the first running of the brand new, even more challenging course, and with the weekend being free for the first time in four years, I couldn’t resist.

When we woke up on Sunday the weather was deliciously cool and cloudy. I breathed a sigh of relief as running a race in July always carries a risk of heat. Even with Stonehaven being next to the sea, as soon as you go inland a couple of miles it can get very hot out on the sheltered roads. Of more concern was my tummy – I had prepared for the race by attending a Mexican themed birthday party the day before, and whilst I had managed to stay off the tequila, I could not resist enjoying extra helpings of spicy food. Living only half a mile from the start made this a minor issue however, as I was able to enjoy the comfort of my own bathroom right up until 9am.

Kynon and I made our way to the start at Mineralwell Park where a healthy crowd was gathering. We quickly registered and went for a warm-up mile jog. I don’t usually bother with warm-ups unless I am seriously PB hunting, but the Stonehaven Half Marathon course starts its 7 mile uphill climb almost immediately after the start, so beginning the race with muscles which are ready to rock is a must. We had also ran 12 miles the day before to make for a nice back-to-back weekend of training, so we needed to shake out the legs a bit before getting started anyway.

When the hooter went we trundled off down the narrow road, restraining ourselves so not to clip the heels of those in front. We waved hello to our friend Mary who had somehow defied the odds of homemade cocktail consumption to come along to cheer us on, and turned the corner to begin the first steep climb.

Stonehaven Half Marathon 2016

Picture: Mark McGillivary / Facebook.

My goals for this race were to finish well under two hours, blast the downhills hard, finish with nothing left in the tank, and not look crap in my club vest running in my club’s race in my club town. People down the pub sometimes labour under the misinformation that running lots of miles and long races makes means you are a good (i.e ‘fast’) runner…we all know this is not the case for 99% of us, but at least I could try my hardest on this one to prove them right.

Obviously the long, long drag uphill to Swanley burned like hell like it always does, but I just kept reminding myself that this was my back yard and my bread and butter; every long run every weekend in Fetteresso forest starts with the long drag up from my house at sea level, so I knew every twist and turn.

Stonehaven Half Marathon 2016

Picture: Ali Robertson

That didn’t mean I had to like it, though. That hill never gets easier, and this perfect picture captures how I felt at mile 4. At mile 5ish the course changes from the past route and pulls off road into the forest for even more climbing, with a short out-and-back just for LOLs to make up some extra distance. I enjoyed this section as I do all out-and-backs, where I get to cheer on and high-five my faster mates on the way out, and do the same for those behind me on the way back.

I power-walked much of the final climb as I knew this way I could climb with just as much speed but less effort, and it let me use some different muscles for a bit. After some high-fives and water pistol skooshes from the gals at the Fetchpoint on the highest point of the course, I was ready to switch on my fast legs and take advantage of gravity to get me home quickly.

Stonehaven Half Marathon 2016

Picture: Michael Levack/ Facebook

My next miles were super speedy and I was feeling really strong. I was wary of keeping a consistent speed and trying to stay as loose in my torso as possible in order to avoid getting a stitch. I began passing people one by one which kept me happy, and kept my focus on pushing hard. I knew that mile 12 once we re-entered the town would be flat and a bit of a shock after the downhill, so I eased off a little to save the last of my energy for a really fast finish. It turns out that ‘easing off’ come out at an 8:17 mile, which is a refreshing change!

In the final mile I gave it everything I had as I knew exactly what I had left to cover on the route. The last mile goes on to a forest path and has a few sneaky hills before you re-enter Mineralwell park, which I much prefer to the old road road which takes you back down the steep Belmont Brae road where the race starts. With about 500m to go I saw three ladies in front of me and decided I was passing them all before the finish. I attacked on a short hill and flew down the other side straight towards the line, holding on to my churning guts as I red-lined it to out-sprint the counter-attack from the club runner I had just passed.

And then it was done; there was the usual finish line staggering and dry heaving which will have traumatised a few under-fives, but at least I didn’t actually vomit this time. I felt the great satisfaction of feeling a bit wibbly and totally gubbed; the sensation of having truly left everything out on the course.

Stonehaven Half Marathon

Splits: 8:57 / 8:49 / 9:41 / 10:16 / 8:50 / 10:07 / 9:48 / 10:01 / 7:49 / 7:44 / 8:09 / 8:17 / 7:40 

I was, and am still, really pleased with this run – another strong race with a massive negative split and powerful finish. All that as well as having ran 12 miles the previous morning (and having had a fair skelp of  booze in the afternoon too). It gives me confidence that my running form is coming back slowly, and my strength and speed is returning.

This is all in aid of Autumn races though, so this summer I need to keep building and building the fire, and at just the right moment…I will light the match 🙂

 

 

Summer Running

It’s been a busy few weeks at Red Wine Towers and there are a lot of changes afoot. In the midst of it all I’ve been continuing to train as I’ve set myself some goals for the summer.  Let’s take a look at what I’ve got planned!

12th of June – Strathearn Marathon

strathearn marathon

After helping out and marshalling at the Cateran Trail races a couple of weeks ago, I came home with a lingering case of race envy. With nothing in my calendar until July and some itchy racing feet, I sneaked a little entry into this small but beautiful marathon. Renowned for its friendliness, the Strathearn Harriers put on a great show every year and the race has a super reputation. Naomi and I are heading down together and are very excited about the Squirrel medal we will be earning. I’ll be using this race as a gauging point for how I’m feeling and how much work needs to be done over the summer, with a goal of cruising around in 4hr 30ish.

3rd of July – Stonehaven Half Marathon

stonehaven half marathon

A return to my very first half marathon, except this year the course has totally changed! The course is now multi-terrain and takes runners from sea level all the way up 1000ft of elevation to Fetteresso Forest for a bit of a run around, before coming back down to the sea. The race has only grown its reputation for being the toughest half in Scotland, as now instead of the first 4.5 miles being up hill, it’s 7 miles of straight up hill. There’s no denying it; it’s going to hurt, but as long as I can get to the top then it’s a fun cruise back to town.

31st July – Fort William Marathon

fort william marathon

I won a place in this race a few months ago when I entered a competition on Twitter. The race starts and finishes at the Nevis Range mountain resort and takes in a circular route via Inverlochy, Gairlochy, and Spean Bridge. With 1200ft of elevation it’s a little bumpy, but I will be using this race as my last long training run for my final race of the summer.

20th August – Speyside Way Ultramarathon

speyside way ultra race

After enjoying the race so much last year, I really wanted to come back and give it another go. This year I am not attempting a half marathon the next day, so I am planning on target-training for this race specifically and going as fast as I can. Last year I ran over 7 hours, so I’d like to get a lot closer to 6 or maybe even under. Kynon is also doing the race so it will be a fun day out 🙂

As for the rest of the year, well I’ll figure that out when I get there. The changes I mentioned above will have quite an affect on what I get up to, because I won’t be living in Stonehaven any more! In fact, this time next week I’ll be packing the last of my bags and shipping off down to Edinburgh to start a new job. It’s all very exciting and I’m really pleased to be taking the next step in my career. This means that I’m on the look out for a new running club to train with and will sadly be hanging up my black and purple Stonehaven Kit. Ironically I’ve just renewed my membership and ordered a new hoodie, but I’ll always keep SRC as my second claim club whilst I’m in Scotland.

I’m really excited to be moving back to a big city again, but it will mean a lot less easy access to mountains to run up and forests to round around. We are truly spoiled in Aberdeenshire, but then which other city can claim to have a volcano in the centre of it? Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags will shortly become my new back garden so there will be no excuses for getting my legs primed for hills.

What’s on your calendar this summer?
What’s your favourite thing to do in Edinburgh?

 

 

 

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