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!
Amsterdam Marathon (2008) – a few miles into the run
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! 👏
The day started with a great parkrun at Aberdeen this morning, running with my big sister and (briefly) my niece. Always a pleasure, we chatted our way round the course which took our minds off the somewhat unpleasant wind on the way out, and in true Aberdeen style we enjoyed a balmy, warm day on the return leg.
Afternoon saw me walking back in the same direction, this time to Pittodrie, home of The Dons, to watch the football with Bruce. I really should take a little more interest (or listen more), having no idea who was playing until yesterday!
For me though, the football’s more about the crowd and the people watching. That’s the bit that fascinates me and possibly explains why I’ll go to a live match but am not that interested when it’s on the TV.
Arrived at Pittodrie after a wee stop off at the Kirkgate Bar. If you like a bargain it’s worth a visit – £2-50 for all pints in January! Bargain! Had a pie for lunch and a brief chance to enjoy the pre-match atmosphere…
Then up to the stand for the match. Not the most inspirational start, Aberdeen seemed to sit back a bit and although they were allegedly in control it wasn’t long before Kilmarnock went 1-0 up (thanks to the ball bouncing off Boyd’s bum from what I saw)!
The game picked up in the second half and saw Aberdeen score three goals, the second of which was a cracking shot! Final score of 3-1. Edit: McKenna scored 2 including the aforementioned stunning second goal; McGinn scored the third and final goal of the match. (Bruce suggested I add this bit as you can’t mention the opposition without naming the home side. You also shouldn’t use the word ‘bum’ in a football commentary, and the next part doesn’t really describe what the friendly wee chap from Kilmarnock was doing. However, I have to maintain my professional persona in the public domain, I’m assuming most of you reading this are adults, and as such I refuse to change it; you can use your imagination / experience and read between the lines! )
I have to say that overall I was disappointed by the Dons fans. It would be good to see some more atmosphere and hear a lot more singing! Kilmarnock however, did add to my enjoyment. Their fans were very entertaining in their attempts to goad the home fans, to the point that one poor chap must have missed even more of the game than I!
After the final whistle we hoofed it back towards home, the one bus of fans ‘waving’ as they departed the car park. A quick march saw us reach the Great Western Hotel pretty swiftly where we settled in for some food – not the healthiest option ever!
Boy, was it fine though! Fourteen miles tomorrow should run off the garlic bread! 🤣
The yoga’s been going well – my yoga streak continues with daily practice ongoing. However, I am still struggling with the darkness and the cold, and the resulting lack of motivation for running. It is what it is and I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I have two races coming up: Kinloss to Lossiemouth Half Marathon in February and Smokies 10 miler in March. Smokies is the one that I’m trying to focus my energy on as I think the boat has already sailed as far as Kinloss is concerned.
With that in mind, and the longer term goal of the summer marathon (Fort William again), I’m trying to refocus my energies and pick up the pace again. Today’s goal for parkrun was due to be a long run with a fast 5k at the end of it, but the reality of work and life meant that I was shattered last night, decided against setting an early alarm, and only managed to squeeze in a couple of miles this morning resulting in just over 5 miles in total.
Warming up, I’d missed my 8:30 chum, Colin, so headed out along the bottom prom knowing I’d meet him on the way back. That made for a fine start to the day. One of the best things about Aberdeen parkrun is the wonderful community and all the people I now consider friends.
My earlier intention of meeting Colin and then doing another loop disappeared in favour of a run in company so I found myself at the start with time to kill. That time passes easily as people slowly begin to emerge from the warmth of their cars. It’s amazing how some days it can look like there’s nobody around and then suddenly a couple of hundred people assemble at the briefing. I look forward to the day when a couple of hundred people also come with their listening ears turned on!!
Although below freezing, it was a perfect morning for running in so many respects. Very little wind and clear skies. Off we went, my intention being to push myself and try to run a little harder run than I’ve done of late. Not quite my intention, I also found myself tailing a wee group with Metro team mates Tony and Dino amongst it. Thinking Dino was perhaps pacing Tony (another one of the great things about our parkrun in Aberdeen – got a goal? Just ask, someone will help you achieve it), I tagged on to them, and as I felt strong pushed on a bit further. Dino then appeared to come with me.
We pushed on, running side by side with no exchange of chat (for once), until the turn. By this point I could feel that I was working hard but breathing okay. Onto the bottom prom I did utter a few words, and was told to stop talking – something to the effect that talking was wasting energy. Thanks Dino!
From this point onwards I received words of encouragement (or bullying) to keep going. I could happily have seen Dino far enough – somewhere out on the horizon in the North Sea would have been perfect – but I pushed on, trying to follow his encouragement and pick off runners as suggested. I’m not sure I was particularly successful in this, maybe managing one or two.
The lower prom seemed never ending, but thankfully did finally finish, and I was glad to get up the last tiny slope and onto the curve back to the finish line. At this point Dino informed me that my body was playing tricks on me knowing it was nearly done. Tricks or not, it hurt.
I held on as long as I could, but sadly don’t have the sprint finish of my fellow competitors, and conceded defeat as Alastair flew past, Dino left me in his wake, and Colin managed to stay ahead of me again. Very well done to each of them on their amazing sprint finishes!
Crossing the line in 21:15 (2nd female today, well done Hannah!) I was quite delighted, no longer wished to see Dino floating off towards Norway, and was actually very grateful for his encouragement. Onwards and upwards, the best time I’ve logged in a while. Here’s hoping if I can actually get myself out the door more often there will be more to come!
Sadly no photos today, so instead a wee motivational shot from last year’s Fort William. I’ve got this …
Having now clocked the full results I’d also like to add a huge congratulations to my niece, Ellen, who ran a PB today and broke the 30 minute barrier! A great effort!
Happiest outdoors or not, having volunteered at Stonehaven parkrun this morning I was somewhat frozen and lacking any motivation to go running outdoors this afternoon so headed inside for the ‘dreadmill’ instead.
I’ve been struggling to find the motivation to run of late. Darkness and cold are not great motivators and today’s session has been hanging over me like a dark cloud of dread, knowing my fitness is not where it once was, and having a lactate threshold session to address. In the end I was pleasantly surprised to find that although the session was hard it was doable having re-evaluated my training paces. There may be hope for me yet!
Yoga has been going well and I’ve succeeded in keeping my daily practice going for 13 days so far. Give me daily yoga over a run streak any day!
Back to the volunteering …
Having enjoyed my run at Stonehaven last week I had offered my services to volunteer this week and was given the role of Timekeeper. In my experience timekeeping is one of the more challenging roles to fill at parkrun. People are scared they may mess it up and this is why most parkruns have two timekeepers. Ultimately it’s a free run and there are far worse things that can happen in life – there’s always next week! Oh, and the timers are very visual and remarkably easy to operate.
All went smoothly today and I was fortunate in having the joy of chatting to fellow volunteers, Alison and Alex, throughout. It’s amazing how time passes when you’re having a good blether. Alison was the smiley marshal from the top of the hill last week and is frustratingly injured at present, so I wish her a speedy recovery back to full strength.
Onwards, Terryanne’s Cafe at the Bowling Club saw us warmed up with coffee and chat, always a great finish to parkrun.
If you’ve ever fancied trying parkrun please give it a go! The sense of community and friendliness has been evident at each of the runs I’ve done and it’s something special to be part of this truly amazing community.