Saturday, 25 June 2011


Kind of wishing I'd signed up for Loch Ness Marathon this year, though it's too late now. I loved it last year and I keep getting little pangs when I hear about other people doing it, like, "that's MY race!". Next year, for sure. Running Edinburgh in May kind of reinforced for me the things I liked about Loch Ness, because it was a... DIFFERENT experience. Not an entirely bad one, and many of the things that were bad were not the fault of the organisers, but Loch Ness was just - better. It was smaller, the route was nicer, the finish was much better. My husband and daughter were there to cheer me on a few hundred metres from the end, and I was able to find them straight away afterwards. People handed you things/said well done/hung your medal round your neck, as opposed to the whole mill around aimlessly/rummage in boxes/not know what the hell was going on experience which is what I mainly remember from the finish area at Embra.

Admittedly, LNM does have that whacking great hill just exactly where you don't want a whacking great hill, and I'm sure if I do do it again I'll be swearing at (a) the hill and (b) myself for having conveniently forgotten how bad it was, but hey, a hill's a hill, get over it. There were compensations. Going downhill, for instance.

I suppose you could argue that going back to the same event denotes a lack of adventure and that would probably be true, because the other big thing I have my eye on next year is D33 :-O a race which practically runs through my backyard. The route may be (is) familiar - I've run it, or sections of it anyway, many times, yesterday for instance - but the distance, 33 miles, certainly isn't. Familiarity may breed contempt in some cases but there's also a sense of reassurance, for me, in knowing what lies ahead - in terms of terrain, if not how I may be feeling at 26+ miles. I guess I was at the back of the queue when senses of adventure were being handed out. Admittedly, the temptation to take a detour to my house and a nice cup of tea on the sofa at around 29/30 miles when my legs will doubtless be in bits may be strong... can only hope the lure of the finish line/medal/beer/ability to say "I've done an ultra" will be stronger.

But when a race you really want to do is right on your doorstep, it would be rude not to. Wouldn't it?

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Blowin' in the wind: The Running Shop Aberdeen Beach 10k Race Report

It’s always, always windy down at the beach. Or “Es ist windig”, as we would say in our house, since for some mysterious reason ever since son did his German Higher, we always have to converse about the weather in German. Es regnet. Es schneit. Es ist neblig. Etc.

Anyway, last night was, as ever, a windy night down at the beach, though a warm and sunny day in general. (Es ist sonnig. We don’t get to use that one much.) And I was running a 10k, and I was determined to get a PB, not least because a whole load of points had been bet on me to do so :-O My PB was 56:55, but I was aiming for sub-55 – a 25:02 5k last week indicated that this should hopefully not be beyond my powers. I think this is the fourth time I have run a 10k along the prom and the weather has been uniformly horrible every time, but last night was actually pretty nice apart from the aforementioned wind, which I’m sure I shall be mentioning a few more times before the blog ends.

These 10k along-the-prom races are fairly low key affairs with the start and finish lines being slightly nebulous concepts. None of your fancy timing chips or anything like that. However, it was the fullest I’ve ever seen it (the first one I did, in Dec 2009, only had about 80 people, probably because the ground was covered in snow and ice...). I’m very bad about estimating numbers but there seemed to be a few hundred people all milling about last night with loads of people I knew running – lots of people from Fetch, two of the mums from nursery, etc.

I positioned myself near the back and the race unexpectedly started before anyone was ready. Oops! Off we went along the upper level of the prom. Very congested for the first 100m or so but it quickly thinned out and I settled into a slightly-too-quick-probably 8:10-ish pace. The two mums from nursery were just ahead of me – one, Nicola, I knew to be slightly faster than me (sub-2 half marathon, and she ran 54 mins at Balmoral 10k when I only managed 59 thanks to That Hill). I figured I would try and keep them in sight for as long as possible.

The route consists of a lap and a half of the upper and lower prom, so obviously it’s very flat. The first 2k felt fine and I went through the first mile in 8:11. I thought this might be a bit quick, but actually I was quite glad to have gained a bit of time as when we ran down the ramp and turned onto the lower level, the wind hit me full in the face and running suddenly became much harder work. Second mile was 8:33 and third, which was all on the lower level, a lot slower in 8:50. It was a relief to turn onto the upper level again (and out of the wind) at the 5k mark. I’d got to 5k in 26:31, though, so was well on target for my sub-55 goal.

As I ran up the ramp to the upper level I passed one of the nursery mums who had slowed to a walk, having probably gone off a bit too quick. I gave a few encouraging (I hope) words and managed to pick up my pace a bit now the wind was behind me. I could still see Nicola up ahead. I went through the 4th mile in 8:34, passed TQ and Corrah who were cheerleading opposite the Leisure Centre, got a bit of a second wind and ran the 5th mile in 8:11. I passed a few people at this point and caught Nicola up at around the 8k mark, and had a wee chat. She later said I had spurred her on as she had been tiring at that point! I was feeling quite good at around 8k but I knew we were doomed to turn back onto the windy lower prom for the last 2k and sure enough, down the ramp we went and into the gale again. I really struggled in the last mile, and it was my slowest in 8:54. Nicola was coping with it a bit better and had gone ahead. However having got to 8k in 42:04 and to 9k in 47:32, I knew that short of a complete disaster I was definitely going to get a PB and be well under 55 minutes.

The last bit always seems really interminably long, when you can see the people at the finish but it seems a long long way to get there (even when it’s only a couple of hundred metres). I was going pretty slowly, but could hear shouts of encouragement as I got nearer and one of my speedy Fetch friends then ran alongside me for the very last bit, shouting at me to get a move on as everybody was waiting! This gave me just the kick up the backside I was needing to get to the finish! I didn’t notice the official time on the clock but I had 53:16 on my watch :-):-):-) so not a bad PB, three and a half minutes off my last one (set on the same route in January!). Think official time will be a bit higher as I started near the back and started my watch when I crossed what I thought was roughly the start line rather than when the gun went off.

I was happy with my time, a bit disappointed that I faded badly in the last km – the wind certainly didn’t help, but I was tiring by then also. However I don’t think my pacing was too bad all in all. I had initially thought I would aim for around 8:45 miles but now think that was unambitious as without the wind factor (sorry to keep going on about the wind factor) I would have been below that the whole way. My overall pace was 8:33. Conditions are very rarely ideal though, this is a flat but windy course, other times the weather might be perfect but the route hillier, it’s not often everything comes together to provide dream PB conditions. I’m happy to be steadily reducing my 10k time! (And to have achieved another WAVA of over 60%.) Maybe one day I will run a 10k time beginning with a 4, you never know…

There were lots of PBs last night, wind notwithstanding, but good running (and supporting) all round, well done folks :)

Monday, 6 June 2011

Getting technical

Well – by my standards, i.e. Not Very :-) However I had bought the Pfitzinger & Douglas (henceforth to be known as P&D) Advanced Marathoning book, which is a bit of a joke really as I am far from an Advanced Marathoner, but since everyone on the Edinburgh Marathon (Fetch) thread was raving about it and I am never one to eschew a bandwagon, off I trotted to Amazon. It duly arrived and turned out to be a very good read, even if some of the higher-mileage training schedules are downright scary. I don’t think I’ll be running 100 mile weeks any time soon, but the up-to-55 miles-a-week schedule looks distinctly more achievable when I do decide to bite the bullet and enter another marathon.

Since I'm not planning another marathon this year, the book purchase could be seen as being a bit redundant really, but what it did do was get me thinking about the pace I'm doing my runs and the reason I'm doing them and that if I want to improve, which I DO (two half marathons and a 10k coming up and I really want to knock spots off my previous PBs) maybe I should be a bit stricter with myself about what I'm doing and how fast, rather than just going out and doing whatever I damn well feel like.

So what I have done is to put my recent 5k time of 25:02 (my most recent, and so far best in WAVA terms, race time) into the McMillan Running Calculator, and this is what it came up with -

Endurance Workouts Pace/Mile

Recovery Jogs 10:49 to 11:19
Long Runs 9:49 to 10:49
Easy Runs 9:49 to 10:19

Stamina Workouts

Steady-State Runs 8:50 to 9:06
Tempo Runs 8:28 to 8:50
Tempo Intervals 8:21 to 8:39

Speed Workouts

Middle Distance Runners Long Distance Runners
400m 1:47.8 to 1:52.4 1:49.9 to 1:56.3
800m 3:39.9 to 3:50.0 3:49.7 to 4:00.3
1000m 4:47.1 to 5:00.4 4:54.2 to 5:05.5
1200m 5:44.9 to 6:00.5 5:53.0 to 6:10.9
1600m 7:50.7 to 8:08.8 8:00.7 to 8:18.4
2000m 10:00.9 to 10:18.2 10:11.0 to 10:23.0
(sorry about spacing, I can't seem to figure out how to do it in blog)

which once I had recovered from my head exploding, looked about right to me. Assuming that my HM pace is 9m/m (I haven't actually run this pace in a HM but it's my goal pace for a sub-2 and should be achievable), that means doing long runs at what works out as very close to that pace plus 10-20% which - hurrah! - is what P&D say you should be doing. Admittedly with marathon pace rather than half, but I figured it would still work.

So yesterday I headed off for a 9 mile run (my longest since Embra a fortnight ago) with the intention of sticking to the suggested range, i.e. 9:49-10:49, and aiming to do what P&D suggest and make the last few miles closer to 10% than 20%. And it worked :-)

10:28 10:03 10:02 9:50 9:51 9:58 9:56 9:56 9:41

Fairly flat route except the first half mile is uphill and the last 3 miles a very gradual uphill, a few other inclines along the way but nothing drastic.

This felt like a comfortable pace and I wasn't too knackered by the end. OK, it's *only* 9 miles so hardly qualifies as a P&D style long run, but gets my HM training off the mark.

Planning some 1000m intervals on Tuesday at 8m/m pace, ahead of the Beach 10k on the 14th June.


Friday, 3 June 2011

A plod along the prom: Aberdeen Disability Sport 5k Race Report

In retrospect I'm actually quite pleased with last night's 5k performance down at the beach. I was gutted at the time to see 25:02 on my watch at the finish (no official times yet, but it wasn't chip timed or any fancy stuff like that). If the official time comes up lower I will definitely be claiming that one, since I started at the back, and as ever with these races, both start and finish lines seemed fairly nebulous concepts. (And I clocked 5.05km on my Garmin too.)

Anyway sub-25 or no, it's over 30 seconds off my previous 5k PB which was set less than a month ago at the Dunecht Dash, and given that it's only 11 days since the Edinburgh Marathon (about which the less said the better) and yesterday was one of the hottest days I can ever remember round here (a bit cooler by 7.30 in the evening, admittedly, but still very warm), I don't think it was too bad a result. And it has boosted my WAVA up to over 62% Geeky, moi?

Most importantly, I did manage to salvage some pride by finishing ahead of the wee girl in the club vest who kept coming past me for about the first 2.5k. (And I do mean a wee girl. She was about 9.) And yes, there was a point when I thought, here I am, struggling to get past a 9 year old, maybe my running is not quite as fabulous as I would like to pretend. But mainly, good for her, I wish I'd been doing that when I was that age instead of waiting till I was over 40!

A nice race on a lovely evening, which (unlike some despite their claims), really did cater for all abilities with several people still coming in around or after the 40 minute mark.