Metro Aberdeen Running Club

I’m struggling to recall when I joined Metro Aberdeen Running Club, but looking through the old race photos it appears it was in 2009. My first marathon was Amsterdam in October 2008 – no Metro vest.

My second, Lochaber in April 2010, complete with vest.

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!

Sunny evening on the old Deeside LineA wee stop to regroupAnother regroupFinal stop at ‘Sugar Daddy’ Brown’s car

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:

Braemar Mountain Rescue http://www.braemarmountainrescue.org.uk

and

Gathimba Edwards Foundation http://gathimbaedwardsfoundation.org

Here’s to a fine weather window across Scotland on 15th/16th June (although if we can be really cheeky, overcast would be good on our leg)!

https://www.totalgiving.co.uk/mypage/metrocoast2coast

Aberdeen parkrun: The Windy One

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! 👏

parkrun and Pittodrie: The Abridged Version!

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!

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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…

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Fans queuing for the coveted Pittodrie pie
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Players coming on to start the match

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! )

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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!

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Boy, was it fine though! Fourteen miles tomorrow should run off the garlic bread! 🤣

My 135th parkrun and my motivation to keep going

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 …

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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!

Volunteering (and a lack of motivation!)

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.

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An impressive amount of first timers showed up for the Briefing 👍 Stonehaven are keen to encourage both walkers and runners to join them on Saturday mornings.

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.

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One of the lovely thing about a multi-lap course is the opportunity to cheer the runners as they pass 👏

Onwards, Terryanne’s Cafe at the Bowling Club saw us warmed up with coffee and chat, always a great finish to parkrun.

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The finish line gathering

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.

 

Stonehaven parkrun

Most readers will be aware of parkrun I suspect. For anyone that’s not, it’s a free weekly timed 5k – run fast, run slow, walk … your choice!

I came late to the parkrun party, my ‘home’ run in Aberdeen being well established by the time I started going. Stonehaven is a more recent addition to the parkrun family (albeit they’ve already celebrated their 1st birthday) and I have to say, I love it! It truly is a favourite of the  courses I’ve had the pleasure to run.

As with all parkrun events, it’s run by volunteers and a lovely, friendly bunch of people they are, rising early to set up and organise the event for others to enjoy – thank you!

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Numbers at Stonehaven are small. Why this is, I’m unsure. It could be the proximity of other runs (Montrose, Hazlehead, Aberdeen and Ellon all have parkrun events), or it could be that people are put off by ‘the slope’ as Event Director Annie described it today. It’s somewhere up here. It’s not long, it’s just short and a wee bit steep:

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Given that it’s a 5k run (or walk) you must keep in mind that the slope can’t be that big a part of it, particularly given that you do 3 loops of the course, and of course the absolute bonus of any slope? What goes up must come down!! And it does, a rather splendid 3 times!

So, back to the run report …

I headed out today with Alan and have to say I was less than impressed as the temperature dropped to 1C 😮 and the skies darkened over on our arrival in Mineralwell Park. Looking out either side of the car, the beach facing side showed lovely blue skies and a rising sun, while sadly the other direction (from which Alan advised the weather was coming) was somewhat driech and there appeared to be hail or sleety stuff falling from the sky. Thankfully this was very short-lived as Stonehaven have an agreement with the clouds that they’ll cease dropping their contents for an hour or so each week, honest!

So out of the car and around the park for a wee warm up. At this point we were joined by the lovely Diane, another Aberdeen parkrunner.

Before long it was time for the off but only after Annie had given the Briefing and an excellent Doric poem all about the coffee shops in Stonehaven as the usual cafe (Terry Anne’s) was closed. Her advice on giving the door a dunt proved useful later!

As usual, the racing snakes blasted off ahead of the field. On this course I prefer to ease into it a little more gently, knowing that the third asking of the slope requires a little something left in the tank! I gave this advice to Young Jordan, another visitor from Aberdeen, and was delighted to find that he managed to hold his form and finish ahead of me. Despite trying I couldn’t reel him in.

The course is run predominantly on grass and trail with only a little tarmac which can be avoided by running alongside the path of you prefer. Around the playing field to warm up, up the slope, continue up, spot the friendly marshal at the top (always a welcome sight), then belt back down and run round the park again, cheered on by the fabulous volunteers who await the finishers.

Repeat this pattern twice further, then on the third passing of the smiley marshal at the top of the hill you can storm back down, smug in the knowledge that unless disaster strikes you have done it! The best way to start a Saturday in my opinion.

Reaching the finish, a cheery wee gathering of fellow runners and volunteers await.

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Coffee for us was at Molly’s today. Thanks to Vicky and Kate (Stonehaven regulars), and Paul (Kirkcaldy), for keeping Alan and the company and chat.

If anyone would like to visit Stonehaven parkrun please come down next weekend where I’ll be volunteering as Timekeeper and there to cheer you on! Other weekends are also available so if you’ve not tried it please do – I’m sure you’ll love it too!