Red Wine Runner

A Scottish Running Blog

Tag: city of aberdeen 10k

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.

runningshop10k2

Splits:

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!

GUEST BLOG: Gin Soaked Jogger

Whilst I’m recovering from being brutalised by the gruelling heat at the Dunblane Road Race yesterday, I’ll leave you in the capable hands of my friend Claire, the Gin-Soaked Jogger, who has written an account of her first-time experiences at last week’s Baker Hughes 10k.

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Buckfast Bolter? Tinny Trundler? Gin-Soaked Jogger – A note to a would-be-runner.

Firstly I suppose I should caveat any athleticism related to this post and freely admit I am 163cm tall, I weigh about 11st, I hit the gym enough to take care of the amount of pizza I eat and I love a bevvy.

I like to think I have a decent handle on my fitness. As long as my pizza-to-skinny jeans ratio is in order, I’m fairly content. I’ve never been a serious runner, have enjoyed playing full contact/touch rugby and cycling a bit; but have never before embarked upon a 10k race in Aberdeen.

Photographs used with kind permission from Roz Galloway
http://rozgalloway.blogspot.co.uk/

Having signed up for the 2012 Baker Hughes 10k around four months ago, I assumed I had plenty of time to get into shape and to expect to cross the finish line in a respectable time. I made the mistake of assuming a moderately fit individual like myself could expect to sail over a 10k finish line like a semi-pro, with an abundant surplus of glittering energy to spare. However, after waiting until I had around 7 weeks until race day to really start training properly, as opposed to hitting the treadmill at an easy, pedestrian pace, the creeping realisation of my ignorance started to loom.

Anyone who owns a pair of decent running trainers knows 10ks are largely regarded an “undemanding” distance; booting out 10k in an under an hour is “easily achievable”, especially for would-be athletes, marathon-chinners and all-round ass-kickers like my chum Red Wine Runner. I’d like to say to any the would-be, fair weather athletes such as myself out there; No, it’s not.

I would also like to say to any other novice joggers and weekend warriors; be prepared to awaken muscles you never knew you had. Being in pain from sports is one thing, but brand new pain is quite distracting. Who knew your ribs and clavicle muscles could get sore whilst running? Also standby for your previously pedicured toes to start moulding into garbled, bloodied stumplings, leaving you with more of a trotter than a foot. Be aware that parts of you that don’t chafe usually – might begin to chafe, when you start clocking in some miles. “Chub-rub” (upper thigh friction) is a mile-munching menace!

Bear in mind also, running outdoors on steep hills, over crumbly kerbs, dodging jakeys, dog turds and traffic is FAR more difficult than chugging out a mile or two in the comfy shelter of an air-conditioned gym, gawping at Beyonce on a plasma screen, whilst sipping a chilled energy drink and dabbing your brow with a fresh hand-towel. Speaking of shelter, rain can [and will] get you from all angles, especially when training on an Aberdonian beachfront. A decent waterproof can make a polar difference to a strong run and a “I give in” hobble. Lastly, be prepared to take firmer control of your bodily movements. As I nearly found out, your otherwise safe little toilet schedule may be subject to rapid and unexpected change. Be careful – no one likes a poopy pants.

Around about the month-to-race-day mark, I found that I would bottom-out (no pun intended) on the treadmill after around 4k, and crumble like Cadbury’s flake after about 3.5k road-running, so one Friday night I asked my seasoned runner chum Red Wine Runner for some training tips. To which she imparted this little nugget of advice, rich in its’ brevity:

“Just don’t stop.”

Easy enough for an ultra/marathon runner to quip, (whilst glugging a tin of lager I might add!), but when all my reading-up and treadmilling was officially not working, I decided to give “not stopping” a go. Would you believe it?! She was right!

Before I knew it, it was 7 days prior to the Baker Hughes 10k. In conducting a little dress-rehearsal I felt infinitely better equipped to take on a 10k race. I found that familiarising myself with the actual terrain I’d be facing on the day was irreplaceably helpful. Having the luxury of living in the same town in which I’d be racing meant I could have a few dummy-runs, as it were. Most of these I did with a chum, Lucy. Although Lucy’s pace is slower than I’d usually run I really enjoyed her consistent tempo. I would usually start running like a Special Ed kid on fire – pace all over the shop – running like Phoebe from “Friends” …but running with a comfortingly reliable pacemaker like Lucy helped me sort that right out. Cheers Luce.

So 7 days and a few staggered 5k jogs (and some leg/arse strengthening weights sessions) in between, the Baker Hughes 10k was here – and I was ready.

Trembling like a crapping terrier with nerves, I was at the starting line. Aiming to skim around the 1hour 15mins mark as I had done in practice, I waited with the thousands of others whilst the thoroughbreds down the front sprinted out of the blocks, aiming to clock in their lightning-fast finishes. Basking in the uncharacteristically warm weather, I reckoned by about the first kilometre I’d be sweating like a Geordie in a maths test. Having prepared for “washing-machine-weather” adding wet kilos onto your bodyweight and a typical Aberdeen coastal wind, on the day the sun was well and truly out and the race was on!

To be honest, I’m unable to deliver a kilometre by kilometre account of my race performance, how dull for you I’d imagine, dear reader. Maybe due to the heat, or the adrenaline rush, or my lack of rigid game plan, I don’t really recall what I was thinking all the way round other than: “Just don’t stop.”

One thing I can say however, having so many people cheering and clapping; my parents, my gorgeous training partner Lucy (sadly stricken down with illness prior to race-day), and my wonderful boyfriend cheering me on as I sprinted to the finish line; I found running the 10k a fantastic experience that I’d definitely consider doing again.

I suppose the take home message I’d share with anyone attempting their first 10k, on a base of moderate fitness is, like RWR said: “Just don’t stop.”

Although it sounds like a smug mantra, uttered by honed athletes and effortlessly muscular runners, I found this bit of advice extremely helpful. If you’re anything like me, then you may find the temptation to “just stop” when pushing yourself out of the clichéd comfort-zone is pretty high. I’m sure even those annoyingly determined, samurai-style disciplined over-achievers out there have their days where they felt more like the fly than the windshield. But I can honestly say Red Wine Runner’s brief advice holds a lot of gravity for me. I’ve definitely learnt the value of momentum over the last month:

JUST DON’T STOP!

Sweating, smiling and sprinting, I crossed the line in a not-too-glacially-slow 1 hour and 6 minutes and I was honestly thrilled with my time. I’m still beaming, actually. I had a great day, smiling with the crowd, waving to my supporters, raising money for a local charity and giggling my way round the course looking at runners in suffocating costumes. The post-race beers were also some of the best I’ve had in a while, nothing like a cold one (or five) when you’ve earned it!

It would seem that even a gin-soaked-jogger like me can cross the finish line. And if I can do it, so can you.

Baker Hughes 10k 2012 – RACE REPORT

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:

With Jim, Kynon, Brian and Ryan (pic by Sheenagh)

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.

pic by Sheenagh

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.

Pic by Sheenagh

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.

Picture by Claire

PB Prosecco!

Scott, Fiona and Niall

Adam and Claire

Kynon and I

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.

City of Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k – RACE REPORT

City of Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k

22.05.11

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!….

Entertaining 🙂

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!

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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 🙂

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