Having set the bar at parkrun at the end of May, I fell off the pace in June. Half marathon training should have started (and in theory has), but the tall task of getting back to speed leaves me a little lacking in enthusiasm. June has also seen me away for work related things a few of times and overall it’s just been a very busy month.
I felt like I’d lost my mojo a little, but have been pleased to rediscover it on the trails. Thursday saw me dropped off on the back road as husband headed north. This allowed me to enjoy a loop of my favourite forest before making my way home, barely touching tar until the final mile.
Then today saw the social Sunday group hit our usual loop of Hazlehead and Countesswells. After yesterday’s hot parkrun at the beach, the damp, cool air among the trees was a true blessing!
The run started with a warm up loop with Alan before meeting the others. We then headed up the trail at Hazlehead, through the gates and over to Countesswells Forest.
Stopped at our usual spot for the group photo, minus Ali, our usual photographer, so a couple of people are missing from shot!
Onwards along the beautiful trails, great in all weathers but especially pleasurable on such a lovely summer’s day!
Kingshill, the big hill of the run, is tough on the legs, but definitely helps with overall strength. First time around …
And around again …
I have no idea how I ever managed to do this 5 times! That was probably around this time last year when peaking for the Fort William Marathon.
Crossing over to the other side of the Forest we run up what I consider to be the last hill – in actual fact there are two more but I find them comparatively easy.
No sprint back through Hazlehead this week as my legs were more than happy (or fatigued) by what we’d done. Finished with a run up and down the reps lane to round the day off with 14 miles.
Goal for the week ahead is to try to get some regular running in, whatever the weather.
This is where I’m at. What keeps you motivated? Feel free to share any tips by commenting.
This week the weather has been somewhat irritating. Being Winter ‘bad’ weather is to be expected; sadly it does not assist in the enjoyment of winter training. Making it through our long run last weekend, only having a short section of icy ground that was avoided by running along the verge, I felt positive about the week ahead.
However, by the time Monday came, the thaw and subsequent freeze saw pavements becoming a little more treacherous. I opted to run around the local playing fields in the early morning, a joy as the snow was crisp, and I had the pleasure of seeing two foxes and a deer. The day was rounded off with a sports massage and positive comments from my therapist about the healthy state of my legs!
Tuesday saw me head indoors to endure the treadmill. Another early morning run, surprisingly I got into my stride and enjoyed the session of reps by the end. Just as well! The icy thaw and freeze continued meaning Thursday’s tempo was also safer on the treadmill. I don’t think I’ll ever love it, but am growing fond enough of the ‘dreadmill’ to accept that if needs must I can in fact bang out the miles without dying of boredom.
Friday saw a significant thaw, albeit still cold, allowing me to run my easy miles around the park after work. I must have looked a real site. Having forgotten my gloves, I wore my leather driving gloves to keep my hands toasty. I’ve managed to lose one hand, thankfully opposites, from two pairs, so had one black and one brown. They did the job!
This morning I woke up with the intention of getting a long run done, hopefully permitting me to walk tomorrow. I was amazed to see the snow dinging down outside my window, a fair bit having fallen overnight. Snow is far more pleasurable for running; I’d even go so far as to say it’s fun! Yaktrax on, I opted for the beach promenade, running the Aberdeen parkrun route and chatting with friends along the way – thanks Bryan, Graham, Colin & Alan for helping me to pass the time!
Opting to continue running in order to get all my miles done before the end of parkrun, I continued to Footdee, then running a little further, back and forth along the lower prom to ensure I didn’t run into the onslaught of parkrunners at 9:30 am. Shockingly bad at maths on the run, I then ended up significantly behind them, even the Tail Walker having passed the stones by the time I reached them!
Running back to the start, I exchanged pleasantries with Nik as I turned and began my ‘official run’, advising that I’d probably just be on a freedom run due to by bad timekeeping! A little injection of pace saw me pleasantly surprised on two fronts – one that I was able to do it, and two, the tail walker was in sight! I managed to catch up by the Beach Ballroom and was then able to relax a little on the lower prom.
14 miles banked, another parkrun logged, what’s not to like?
So, you can imagine my delight when my Aberdeen Parkrun buddy, Cynthia, asked if I’d be willing to be a Teletubby for the 1st birthday celebration. I was even more delighted when I found out that I could be Po, red being my favourite colour. Alongside Cynthia as Tinky Winky, we had Alison as Dipsy, and Carolyn, also celebrating her own birthday, as Lala. I won’t tell you how old she is as that would be wrong, but let’s just say she doesn’t look it!
Our mission was top secret, a surprise for the youngsters and Cynthia had plotted a cunning plan. After a rendezvous with the other volunteers we’d head up and around the flag pole hill to change before running down for the warm up. We weren’t sure of the reception we’d get as none of us were sure if modern day children would know who the Teletubbies were! This fear was swiftly allayed as a young ‘man’ appeared quietly stating, ‘Over the hills and far away, the Teletubbies come to play!’ as he made his way up to the flagpole.
There followed a little debate as to who should lead the charge before we headed down, waving to the gathering throng of children as we went. High fives and lots of ‘eh ohs’, Carolyn in particular excelling in this. Then it was into the warm up, led by Tammy. There’s a reason why she’s fast, and she led a warm up with great gusto that certainly got our heart rates up and the sweat pouring off us! By the end of our run we all had new found respect for anyone that runs a marathon in fancy dress!
We agreed on our strategy for the run – we’d do one lap, then cheer everyone home. The youngsters set off, many at a very swift pace, and we bimbled around the park, high fiving the marshals and kids, and waving at everyone we met. This was lots of fun! By the time we were finishing our lap and drawing breath the front runners were coming in!
We clapped and cheered the junior runners home. Spider-Man had some impressive moves in the funnel, and quite a few others were in fancy dress for the birthday party. I decided to head back out, running the course in reverse, and had the pleasure of joining someone on her very first parkrun (accompanied by Dad, I hasten to add) as she’d just come of age for running.
There was then an opportunity for the adults to run. This was a one-off and not endorsed by parkrun in any way. Tinky Winky and I lasted the two laps (and didn’t come last!) while Dipsy and Lala copped out after one. In her defence, Dipsy does have a gammy knee and probably shouldn’t be running at all at present. What amused us most was that Kyle Grieg was making a guest appearance in his Team GB kit as part of the #teamparkrun event. Having completed the run with the kids it appeared he was no match for Tinky Winky, dropping out near the bottom car park. Go Tinky Winky!! (Let’s not tell her I saw Kyle FLYING on the Deeside Line later in the morning; I honestly don’t think he’d have managed that pace had we not helped him warm up).
More photos, some lovely nibbles (Tinky Winky it seems is rather partial to fruit, while Po can’t resist a bit of cake), we finally had to part with our (sweaty) costumes. Huge thanks to Nik for lending them for the occasion.
In true parkrun style the day finished in the cafe. Happy Birthday Duthie Juniors! What a great event and so lovely to see you reach the milestone in style! Happy Birthday to Carolyn too – enjoy the celebrations!!
It’s a run, not a race! However, it’s also a time trial if you want it to be. About to embark on a 12 week training plan to try and pick up some speed again I decided I’d run parkrun hard today. I’ll be honest – I’d hoped I would manage to run 21 minutes (or even 20:59); the reality is that I’m not in shape for that at present, finishing in 21:59 instead.
Despite that it was a good morning out (as always)! Meeting the 8:30 crew, on this occasion that was Alan only as I was a few minutes late and he waited for me, we caught up with the others on the lower prom. This is a fine wee recce to get the legs warmed up and assess the conditions on the course. Today it was very mild but there was quite a breeze to run into on the first half. Turning onto the lower prom at the halfway point it was still, sadly lacking a tailwind though.
No excuses today – just lacking the speedwork to run a fast (for me) 5k at present. It did amuse me somewhat how hard it felt to try and sustain the pace, particularly as people stormed past me on the last few hundred metres (Graham, Craig and Alastair to name but a few – look out guys; you’ve now got targets on your backs!)
Malcolm, one of our regular runners celebrated 150 runs today and kindly bought the post-run coffees at Satrosphere Cafe. Much appreciated and very generous indeed!
So, the goals have now been updated. I need motivation beyond the love of running to get out:
Pick up speed and aim to get under 21 mins again;
Run some faster times to half marathon distance by the end of the year.
And the long term:
Get to the starting line of the London Marathon next year;
Run Fort William Marathon for the third time next July.
I had fond memories of last year’s Stonehaven Half Marathon and had even been heard to say that I found it easier than Peterhead Half Marathon (see recent blog). The jury’s out today though and I’ll be interested to hear the thoughts on this from anyone else that’s run both.
It’s been hot! We’re all very aware of this, and training has been hard as a result. I long for some rain! Going into the run today I had 37 miles in my legs this week, including today’s warm up of just over 3 miles. I had planned to do 4 miles but my time keeping truly is exceptional and I’d have been pushed for to get it done! Up early, I’d had porridge with banana and toast with peanut butter, practising the pre-marathon fuelling strategy. I got a little confused by timings (no great surprise there!) and suddenly realised I should be leaving the house in 5 minutes while not yet showered or clarted in suncream! Thus, I was somewhat later arriving in Stonehaven than planned!
On arrival it appeared that I had been blessed by the running Gods! There was no queue for numbers up to 100 (I was number 98) while others had quite a few folks waiting, including my regular running buddies, Ali, Alan and George, who were somewhat surprised to see me knowing that I should be out warming up. Pleasantries exchanged and suncream caked on, I headed off on my warm up, running up to the War Memorial that overlooks Dunnotar Castle. Stonehaven truly was beautiful from up high today, basking in sunshine with beautiful blue skies and lovely views to the harbour.
No time to linger, I about turned and headed back to the starting area at Mineralwell Park for a quick comfort stop before joining everyone getting lined up at the start. As is the norm now for local races there was plenty of Metro colours in the line up. This is always good to see. In no time at all we were off, enjoying a little bit of flat running before the ascent began.
Coming out of the park we met our first marshals, one of whom is a regular parkrunner in Aberdeen (thanks Lee-Ann) and they set the tone for the upbeat, friendly folks that we were to encounter along the way. A short sharp up took us away from the busy road and then after a brief respite it was up, up, up, for several miles. There were brief sections of flat or even slightly downhill, but remembering the long pull that inevitably takes you to the turning point in Fetteresso Forest, I tried to take it fairly easy and run within comfortable limits. I was joined for much of this by clubmate Grant, although at times one or the other or us drifted ahead, or behind depending on your perspective.
Reaching the forest, I advised Grant that this was the last uphill section and that we’d soon turn and head back downhill. I like this section of the course as it’s good to see the folks ahead of you passing on their way back, and as usual I saw quite a few running friends and clubmates, happy to cheer them on. This was reciprocated by those behind me and as I headed back down I received encouragement from others. As I overtook another runner she turned and said to me, “you must be Clare! Well done!”
This is one of the great things about the running community in Aberdeen – being a member of Metro Aberdeen and involved in Aberdeen parkrun you really do get to know so many lovely people!
It turns out my mind was playing tricks on me, and while we did indeed turn, it wasn’t long before we turned and went up yet again! I’d like to formally apologise for my error – sorry Grant! I think perhaps I’d blacked out the parts I didn’t like from last year.
This final up was around 7 miles, and it was the hardest slog of the run. A few folks around me had slowed to an occasional walk. I determined to keep ‘running’ in some form, however slowly, as I knew that walking would mean my race was over. I’d never get going again! I plodded onwards and upwards, and finally the route did start to descend allowing me to pick the pace up again.
Stonehaven Half Elevation Profile 2018
Stonehaven Half Marathon 2018 – Strava splits
It wasn’t as fast as last year as the heat had taken it’s toll. I did manage to pick it up for a couple of miles and successfully passed a few runners. By the final mile the runners had really thinned out and there was nobody in sight to target. The spectator support around this point was very much appreciated! Any encouragement was welcomed, even if I only acknowledged it with a grimace!
Running alone felt tough and I was very glad indeed on realising that the short wooded section dropped me into Mineralwell Park again. This is familiar territory as it’s the home of Stonehaven parkrun. It’s also where I saw (and heard) Leeann again – thanks Leeann, don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see you! A quick loop of the field saw me hit the finishing mats, delighted that it was over! Finishing in 1:45:09 it was slower than last year, however, given the conditions and the sustained training I’ve done of late I’m happy to take that.
Seeing friends and clubmates who’d finished ahead, or were coming in after me, I think we all agreed that it had been a tough day out. Great to see so many amazing performances – Kyle Grieg deserves a special mention for setting a new course record (awesome!) while his wife Debbie won the ladies race. Great also to see Ali Matthews (newly returned to Aberdeen) finishing in 2nd place, while George McPherson came up trumps for the over 60s again. I also loved the fact that the oldest runner got a prize – if my memory serves me correctly he was 77! What an amazing athlete to be running at that age. I hope to be like him when I grow up!
In the meantime there’s only one week of ‘proper’ marathon training left and the taper begins … Wish me luck!
My second, Lochaber in April 2010, complete with vest.
Heading out from Fort William: Lochaber Marathon (2010)
Finishing Lochaber Marathon (2010)
Anyway, that aside, I’ve very much enjoyed being a member of the club. Although I rarely go to training sessions now I do enjoy the informal Sunday runs, and love the camaraderie at races. Local races especially are amazing with so many runners in club colours and great support along the route.
On Saturday I had the pleasure of being Run Director at Aberdeen parkrun for the Metro volunteering day. As usual, the club turned out en masse to fill the roster and we had a sea of pacers from 18 – 34 minutes supporting others to achieve their goals.
This evening I joined my clubmates for a recce of our leg on the Coast 2 Coast relay. Running from Aberdeen beach all the way to Fort William, we’re taking on legs of various lengths. I have the pleasure of an easy leg: 11 miles from the outskirts of Aberdeen to Banchory during the evening. A far more appealing prospect than through the night and over tough terrain as some hardy souls will be doing!
It was a lovely evening, although somewhat hot and sunny for most of us. However, the chat passed the miles and before long we were on the outskirts of Banchory saying goodbye to Kirsty who had run from home and made up the distance, and then refuelling courtesy of Alan and his well stocked boot!
This is all being done to raise money for charity. The chosen charities between which the funds will be split are:
When you awake to the sound of the slates rattling on the roof you know you’re in for a treat at Aberdeen parkrun!
Meeting Alan for my warm up run at 8:30 I was impressed to find he’d already done two miles – easily seen he’s out tonight. We did our usually warm up / course recce and found that the wind was as ‘pleasant’ as I’d anticipated. Any concern I had about being overdressed (base layer, long sleeved top AND a jacket) dissipated quickly as my ears made themselves known – freezing! Alan being both a gentleman and a kind hearted soul very kindly gave me the Buff he’d been sporting round his neck. Thanks Alan! It truly was appreciated!
Running along the upper prom there were times, particularly approaching the Beach Ballroom, when the wind almost stopped us in our tracks. In true Aberdeen style though, as soon as we hit the lower prom the wind was at our backs giving strong encouragement. With this came the awareness that yes, I was overdressed!
Arriving back at the start / finish area, the intrepid volunteers were already underway with the setup. It’s on days like these that you really appreciate them. It’s one thing running but quite another waiting for the 200 odd people to complete the course. Thank you each and every one of you!
A short time later the main event was underway. My lazy streak has continued and as mothis was my first run since Tuesday so I’d decided to run hard. I’d also decided to try and stick with a pack, something I often fail to do, instead finding myself alone, in the hope that I might gain some relief from the wind. I tucked in behind a wee posse at the top of the slope and ran with them for a bit. Feeling a little guilty about not pulling my weight I moved in front, only to have very the realisation that it was feasible to catch the awesome duo of Tony and Andrew. Both good runners, they were chatting companionably and very much running within their comfort zones. I therefore dropped the guilt and settled in behind them until the midpoint turn at the bus stop.
Glad to have ditched the jacket before the hard work started it felt good to pick up the pace and ‘enjoy’ the run back. I was working hard and to beginning to flag towards the end of the lower prom, young Omar having motored past me effortlessly (great running!) when James passed. James, you have no idea how much those three words, ‘Come on Clare!’ spurred me on at this point. I tried at first to hang onto his coat tails but didn’t quite manage. I did however find a new strength and motivation to keep pushing until the end.
Delighted to finish in a decent time, faster than I’d hoped for today, it’s onwards and upwards now. The marathon training starts next month and I’m starting to look forward to it.
Finishing today’s tale, a shout out to Alison who completed her 100th parkrun today. A stalwart volunteer this is a truly well earned t-shirt (when you finally get your hands on it)! Kudos to you Alison! 👏