Red Wine Runner

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Tag: sub-50 minute 10k

Peterhead 10k 2014 – RACE REPORT

Peterhead 10k

9th November 2014

Peterhead 10k medal

Time: 49m 01s – NEW PB!
Place: 86th / 185 Finishers
Gender: 18th / 82 Females
Category: 10th / 37 FSenior

 I’m very pleased to be finally writing a race report for a 10k where I can say I have cracked the 50 minute barrier which has seemed out of reach for me for so long. It’s silly; a sub 50 minute 10k isn’t even that fast, and it seems most people either achieve it in their first attempt without any specific effort at all or fairly swiftly afterwards. However I have really struggled to see any reasonable improvement at the 10k distance in the 4 years I’ve been running, and it remains my least improved upon personal best.

I completed my first 10k (Baker Hughes 2010) in 54:07 and went on to complete subsequent 10ks in 2011 in 56:17 (Garioch), 57:07 (Balmoral), and 52:36 (Baker Hughes). In 2012 I completed Baker Hughes again in 51:33, and in 2013 I completed the Running Shop 10k in 50:44 and Loch Kinord in 56:32. I don’t think my lack of improvement has been down to lack of ability, just mainly laziness and the constant pursuit of the easiest way to do the most exciting things. Why bother with training to burst yourself for ~49 minutes when you can train yourself to run for 72 miles? I look for a high ROI on my training and distances shorter than marathons have been overlooked for goal targeting since I went ultra 2.5 years ago.

Recently after a short period of less long-distance training, increased resistance training and a little bit of weight-loss, I found myself in the condition to have a reasonable attempt at running a bit faster over shorter distances. As previously explained I’ve been chasing a silver club standard, one of the requirements of which is three 60% WAVA finishes in 2014, and for me that meant a 49:49 or better at the Peterhead 10k was my best bet to get the third 60% before the year ended.

With this extra bit of pressure upon me (the alternative was sub 1hr 50m at the Fraserburgh Half Marathon, or a Proms 3k sprint – blerch) I did some club speed sessions and hill work by myself and as usual hoped I could ride off the pain endurance the ultra season would give me. If I can complete 52 miles of a 72 mile race with intense ITB pain, surely I can ride out 49 minutes whilst feeling like I’m going to die – put in context, it really seemed achievable this time.

I decided to target 8 minute miles as my initial pace ( for a finish time of 49:59), and take advantage of the downhill finish that Vikki had described to me in order to cut off more time with a fast last mile. In an attempt to take it as seriously as possible, I cut myself off the booze at the pub after Scotland’s excellent win against Argentina in the rugby the night before despite wanting to neck another few beers in celebration, and went home and ate a modest meal with lots of water to rehydrate. The luxuriously late start of 1pm allowed for plenty of rest, and Kynon drove me up so to avoid another race blighted by my tendency for car-sickness. The weather was perfectly chilled, sunny and calm, and for once absolutely everything seemed to be in my favour.

Carolann main - Metro Running CLub

Picture – Carolann Main – Metro Aberdeen Running Club

The first mile came easily in 7:43, which gave me a little padding for later miles. A steady incline rose, rose and fell, then rose, rose, and fell – we seemed to be going up, up, up which wasn’t part of the plan! Vikki had said this was flat, hadn’t she? Or was it “flat, kind of”? If there was a downhill finish then that probably meant we had to go up a hill to get there. Curses. Did not think that one through. Mile 2: 8:07.

Mile 3 and we’re still going up hill and I’m finding it harder to keep the pace as close to 8 as possible without working far too hard. A muscle in my stomach is twitching and threatening to cramp if I push too hard, so I keep a lid on it and lock into the pace of the man in front, telling myself I will be able to make up time on the mythical downhill shortly. When my watch beeps to tell me mile 3 was completed in 8:21 my heart sinks as my ‘padding’ is all gone and now I have to run faster than ever to hit the required time, and the road is still going up.

 peterhead 10k course profile

Between three and four miles my inner monologue can’t decide whether to scream positive encouragement to my legs or curse myself for daring to set out to achieve this audacious goal in the first place. Who cares about the silver standard  anyway? Not longer after 5k however I realised that it was over half way done; this shouldn’t have been such a revelation, but between that and the glimpse of Peterhead in the distance I remembered how temporary this uncomfort was and that if I could just get myself through another 2.5 miles I could forget about 10ks for as long as I wanted. Mile 4: 8:20

As illustrated above, the last two miles are gloriously downhill. I started to feel great! I had my watch set to show the estimated finish time for each mile and every time I glanced it said 7:XX, so the belief came back and I was ready to leave it all out on the course to get that sub-50. Mile 5: 7:39.

The temptation was strong to run as hard as I could in the last mile but the twitchy stomach muscle was still giving warning twangs. Running quickly downhill when I’m tired is almost guaranteed to give me a stitch, so I had to be careful with my efforts as a cramping muscle now would ruin everything. Mile 6: 7:25.

Picture - Carolann Main, Metro Running Club

Picture – Carolann Main, Metro Running Club

On the approach to the last 0.2 I turned my watch over to see the overall time of 47:39 and knew I had it in the bag. I was able to hammer it down the last 400 meters in the hope of achieving a time that started with 48:XX – previously unfathomable! Kynon’s trademark stadium roar encouraged me over the finish line, and I concluded my run as is becoming tradition in faster events, by taking a few more steps and bending over and retching into the hedgerow.

49:00 was the time on my watch, and 49:01  my official time, giving me a WAVA comfortably into the 60s of 61.90% and an average pace of 7:53. Not quite the fastest race I’ve ever run (my 5k PB average pace is 7:49) but I’m very pleased with the outcome. The race also gave an excellent medal, had an utterly superb post-race spread and to add to the occasion I was even awarded a spot prize!

Running socks, SIS gels, running hat

 Not bad for a £10 entry fee, all things considered.

Next up is the Fraserburgh Half Marathon on Sunday. Will I go out for another PB? Why not, it can’t hurt. Unfortunately the course has changed a bit and the long downhill back into town to the finish now has an extra mile loop of the town before you cross the line, but it still retains its flat profile. If I can hang on to 8:30 pace for as long as possible then I should be able to knock a couple of minutes off my PB of 1:55:18 set in July 2013. This is my first road half marathon since I set my PB last year so it will be good to see some improvement on tarmac.


‘Til next time…


Baker Hughes Battle Plan

“No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy” Sun Tzu

The 2012 Baker Hughes 10k will mark my 2nd anniversary of road racing and will be my 21st race! As documented earlier in the year this race was to be a goal race and my plan as I set it out a few weeks ago was to crack the 50 minute mark at the 10k distance. For me this is not an unsubstantial goal, especially coming off the back of an Ultramarathon where I was training happily at an ultra-pace of 10:30 minute miles. To finish a 10k in under 50 minutes meant shaving that pace right down to a minimum of 8:01 minute miles and applying the mental stamina built at the start of the year to conquer 33 miles, into transcending the pains of running fast. I used to laugh in disbelief when friends like Dave and Mike would say that racing a 10k was harder work than completing an ultra, but believe me my friends; it really is.

These days I would happily take a 6 hour running journey over a 50 minute suffer-fest. What I grew to love about ultradistance running was the time that you have alone to think over, strategise, travel, and transcend the distance. In a 10k race you don’t have a second to dawdle; if you’re going into it well-trained then you should be running purely on muscle memory from the moment the gun goes off ’til the second you cross the finish line. No day-dreaming, no appreciating your surroundings and certainly no mid-race cake. Shame!

As recently documented, my body hasn’t taken too kindly to my requests that all my miles be quick ones. Initially I found my pace creeping down easily and my interval sessions and attempts at tempo runs seemed to be making a difference. Unfortunately I hit a glass ceiling towards the end of April when ITB problems reared their ugly head and I found myself in a lot of pain. Perhaps this is my body saying it’s not ready to run so fast – when I pick my speed up one of the first things to go is my form; I feel like a bag of spanners when I run and I probably look like one too; with a marvellous heel-strike to complete the image! I’ve had two session of sports massage with a great therapist at the SPEAR clinic at Aberdeen Sports Village, but I continue to get pain after 3 miles of running and the day after a run it hurts a lot even to walk.

I didn’t mention this at the time but I also caught a cold at the end of April which went straight to my chest; I missed about a week of runs when the weather was cold and I was coughing up green sludge. I followed the rule that if your sickness is above the neck then you’re ok to run, but when it goes below…you stay on the couch. The cold has long since gone but for a week or two afterwards my chest felt so tight whilst running – perhaps I was sicker than I thought.

So when considering my plan for Sunday’s race, the above quote by Sun Tzu is painfully appropriate. In my case, the enemy is injury. I find it very doubtful that I am going to achieve my sub-50 minute goal on Sunday, but do you know what? I am ok with that.

On Monday night I ended up squeezing in a run between 9pm and 10pm after a work commitment and enjoyed 3 fast miles before the tightening in my ITB started to give way to pain; not enough pain to stop me running but enough to keep my pace down and make my heart sink. I completed 6.5 miles in about 56 minutes and came home and sulked. I sulked most of the morning the next day until I told myself to man up and figure out exactly how I felt about my troubles and how I was going to deal with them as by this point I was even pissing myself off.

Running is too important to me to spend half my time on the bench injured whilst trying to hit an arbitrary speed goal. In the last year I’ve developed my endurance and skills at distance running and found what I love most about running. It only occurred to me this morning that the last 10k I did…was actually last year’s Baker Hughes! I am not a particularly fast runner and I don’t even like running fast that much; there is no need for me to push myself to meet certain goals just for the sake of them. Sure, I’d feel like a bit of a bad-ass if my 10k PB started with a 4 …but I’d get far more satisfaction from training for and completing another ultra.

So that is why I’m setting the bar lower for Sunday’s race. I’ve got lots of fun running things coming up this summer such as the Ythan Challenge and being a support runner for my friend Vicki at the West Highland Way race so I need to keep myself in good shape. I’m sure I’m capable of a small PB so I’ll be happy with anything under 52:30 which will mean a rather chilled 8:26 minute per mile pace:

My ‘Happy Pace’ currently is about 8:30 minute miles which feels great – that is until my knee starts hurting after three miles. So I’m just going to play it by ear (knee?), run as hard as I can and take the pressure off by ditching the big sub-50 goal. Speedy Kynon will be starting with me and we may well run together for a while, but as far as I’m concerned it’s every man for himself once we’re over the starting line. Hopefully my competitive side will be engaged if he pulls ahead though, and I’ll be hot on his heels.

Whatever happens it looks to be a huge race and a great day out with so many of my friends joining me including several first-timers. Best of luck to: Kynon, Scott, Niall, Fiona, Morven, Emma, Claire, Adam, Ryan, Mcaulay, Rachel; and of course the Fetch massive: Corrah, Hamster, Mother Duck, Dawdles, Lesley C, Lou C…and all the rest. See you on the start line!


Sub-50 minute 10k Plan

After a fair bit of thought and time spent mulling over my options, I think I finally have my training plan sorted out for my sub-50 minute attempt at the Baker Hughes 10k in May. For me this is a tricky time to try and push myself into targeted training as I’m terribly busy both at work and socially. One glimpse of my calendar for the next month proves this!

I’ve been concentrating on how to train efficiently and effectively around various engagements; thankfully a key ingredient in building speed are interval sessions which for someone at my level, don’t need to be any more than 4 miles. This means I can squeeze in workouts where previously in ultra training I’d be struggling to find time to do so.

I’m working on the basis of three speed-based sessions a week, one easy run and one ‘long’ run, and one day cross training. I still have a great fitness base from the Ultra so I’m forgoing hill training for now and just focussing on getting my legs moving faster. I don’t have a great deal of time at all so I’m hoping for the best; if I don’t reach my goal at this race there are a couple of other options later in the year to have another go – further afield either the Crieff 10k or perhaps the Forth Road Bridge 10k, or closer to home the no-frills and flat Beach 10k in June which takes place along the oh-so-familiar Beach Promenade.

My planned sessions are as follows:

MONDAY: Cross Training – fitness yoga/core/weights
TUESDAY: Intervals* – either at the ASV track or in Stonehaven with Kynon (who is FAST)
WEDNESDAY: Easy run – a short 45 – 60 min run to shake out
THURSDAY: Tempo* – 1 mile warm up, X miles at tempo pace, 1 mile cool down
FRIDAY: Rest – probably with beer
SATURDAY: Progression – Early miles getting faster and finishing up at Aberdeen Parkrun.
SUNDAY: ‘Long’ Run – 1.5 – 2 hours depending on feel. Mainly indulging my enjoyment of long runs.

*: – These sessions are interchangeable depending on work commitments.

The training plan itself looks like this:

I feel somewhat uneasy looking at this – it’s a bit alien to me and I’m really not looking forward to the tempo runs. Tempo Pace for me will be at, or as near as I can get, to 8 minute miles. I need to run 6 x 8 minute miles to get a sub – 50 10k so on race day ideally I should be knocking out 7:5X miles. At the moment my easy pace is 8:30 – 9ish. Makes me feel a little sick just thinking about it…!

I wish I could say that the plan got off to a good start but last week was somewhat patchy. I had a great interval session on Tuesday in Stonehaven with Kynon, who quite frankly kicked my ass with his speed. We ran up and down the beach front in Stonehaven doing 0.25m sprint / 0.25 recovery; I think I need to be more controlled at my Sprint sections though as towards the end I just could not maintain a decent speed for the full 0.25. It was a good workout though and puke threshold was definitely reached at times!

On Wednesday I had an hour to squeeze in a run between my day at work and a work commitment in the evening, so I rushed home and was out of the door within 10 minutes to try a new trail by the river I’d scoped out on Google maps. It was a sunny evening and I was really enjoying myself – the trail was interesting and new to me and I was very reluctant to turn back at 2.5 miles. I completed my 5 miles in 46 minutes and somehow got myself to the Town House for a civic reception, dressed smartly and looking appropriately glamourous (through probably with mud still between my toes!) by 7pm.

Due to work I had to shift my Thursday tempo session to Friday, and then when the time came we were experiencing monsoon-style Spring rains – the weather was absolutely atrocious. I took the opportunity to use this time to write my training plan before heading out for the evening, trying to convince myself that it was a worthy substitute for running. Close, but not quite…writing training plans for a sub-50 10k does not actually get you a sub-50 10k!

On Saturday I was all set to return to my new trail for a longer recce run and wanted to go for about 2.5 hours, or around an estimated 14 miles. Again there were more monsoon-style rains but I forced myself to man up and get out of the door for my run.

So close to the city yet five minutes in and you could be miles away.

Spring has not quite sprung here – I expect that this could be quite overgrown in Summer.

About 2 miles in I began to encounter some problems – all the rain did not come without consequences…

I sucked it up and got wading. If anything it washed all the itchy mud off and the icy water rinsed out the scratches and nettle stings that were accumulating around my ankles. The trail ends at the border of Cults/Bieldside but you can continue on to circumnavigate the Deeside Golf Course which I did. I don’t think this route would be possible in summer at all – it will be far too overgrown. The trail is pretty technical with a lot of rocks, dips, climbs, low hanging trees, and muddy embankments. It was on one of these muddy embankments that I felt a painful wrench in my left quad as I swung it forward to take a big step… My quads have been quite tight the last few weeks and I’ve been attempting to foam roll this tension out but I still feel it on each run.

I decided to walk for a bit and try and loosen the muscle out. At this point I really wasn’t feeling the run – I was tired, soaking wet from top to toe, sore, and grumpy. I just wanted to go home! I even toyed with the idea of phoning a friend to come and get me – I’d been out for an hour and had only covered 5 miles out of my planned 14 and had that horrible helpless feeling of ‘How am I ever going to survive another 9 miles of this?!’ that you can only truly understand when in the middle of a bad run. The trail had pretty much come to an end and I actually didn’t know where I was. I figured I was somewhere near Bieldside/Milltimber and if I ran up perpendicular to the river then I would eventually hit the Deeside railway line. I really didn’t want to double back and go back over the flooded muddy path again…

I had a jaffa cake and looked at some cows. They seemed happier in the rain than I was! I headed North to try and find civilisation again and eventually found myself in the Newton Dee Special Needs community and located the railway line. My quad was aching and I had had enough – time to head for home.

I made it 8.5 miles in 1hr 36 minutes… not exactly what I had planned, nor anything like the speed I wanted to be running at but these tough runs are the making of us. This weekend’s long run will be the Petrofac Challenge 15 mile trail race which I’m looking forward to. It is taking place out at Balmoral Castle as part of the RunBalmoral events (I did the 10k last year) so it should be a very scenic run. In terms of time I have no idea what to expect – probably somewhere around the 2.5 hour mark perhaps but I won’t be racing hard.

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