2019 Kinloss to Lossiemouth Half Marathon

I love this race. It’s my PB course. This year had to be different though. Training for a marathon, the training plan advised I run this at the sharp end of long run pace rather than as a race. Had I known I wouldn’t be racing in all honesty I’d probably not have entered as I’ve never believed you can put a number on and not get caught up in racing, especially when that number is 1!

Number 1: Metro Aberdeen do Kinloss to Lossiemouth Half Marathon

On the upside, running in Moray always means a visit ‘home’, and I thoroughly enjoyed my evening with Mum and Dad, as always being well fed, before a good night’s sleep alleviating the need for an early drive through.

Heading for registration, I met lots of familiar faces! Friends from Metro, Hazlehead Jog Scotland, Sunday running buddies, and even Orcadians. Fantastic seeing you all out in force!

I then headed back ‘home’ while the others waited to be bussed along to Kinloss, later chauffeured to the start by my folks, just in time to join the massive toilet queue and make it to the start.

More friendly faces were seen, both in the toilet queue and on the start line, and I enjoyed chatting to people along the way to Lossiemouth. I resisted the urge to get carried away at the beginning, good practice for the GFA start at London, I’m sure, as with lots of much faster people there I’m certain I’ll need to be at the back!

I enjoyed a chat with Elspeth and Peter – hope you made it onto the boat! These early miles felt like I was going quite slowly and I did have to use my watch to settle into the pace. However, settle I did, and the miles passed smoothly. Before I knew it we’d passed the maltings; the smell here always reminds me of childhood (not because my parents were partial to a drink, but because Dad was a Stillman)!

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On through the wooded section, the climb up from Burghead felt far more comfortable when running within my limits.

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Miles were ticking away nicely and I began to look forward to seeing my parents in Hopeman. Soon enough I spotted their car; as I approached they hopped out to greet me; many thanks to you both!

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A friendly toot as they diverted off the main road to get away from the runners, I chatted to others I met along the top road. This greatly assisted in whiling away the miles again. A small world, one of the ladies I chatted to recognised me from Fort William last year where we’d talked before the marathon. It was good to learn more about the world of ultra running – maybe one day.

After the final water station my competitive urge kicked in with a mile to go, and I enjoyed picking off a few runners on the last leg. The wind that had been slight seemed to pick up around the golf course. The final turn saw a tough finish into the headwind. Hats off to anyone who managed a PB! Not the easiest of days for it.

Tough finish into the wind at the 2019 Kinloss to Lossiemouth Half Marathon

Post run I was deposited at the community centre where, as always, the Moray Road Runners had laid on a great spread. Refuelled and refreshed, having caught up with a few friends, I stayed for the prize giving (congratulations Metro ladies & George), before heading ‘home’ for yet another feed!

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Overall time – 1:51:08, slower than usual for this course, but steady pacing and a strong run. A great day out again. Despite the wind, good conditions overall – sunshine and warmth in February. It doesn’t get much better than this!

Kinloss to Lossiemouth Half Marathon: Running on ‘Home’ Turf

I love races in Moray as that’s the area that I still consider home, despite having now lived more than half my life in Aberdeen. Racing here also has the advantage of an easy start with the great hospitality provided by my Mum & Dad!

Arriving in Elgin late on Saturday afternoon the pampering started: cup of tea and a fine piece. This continued throughout the evening with dinner provided (a great pre-race fuelling meal of steak pie followed by sticky toffee pudding) and an evening cuppa. I then enjoyed an early night, in bed by 9:30 pm (awesome!) and a long sleep, rising at 7:30 am. Bliss!

Usual breakfast of porridge (today with dates) and a peppermint tea, I was fuelled and ready to go. Headed off to Lossiemouth (or Lossie as us locals know it) to collect my race number and exchange pleasantries with running friends before heading back home to be driven to the race by my ‘support crew’.

We arrived just behind the buses and I headed off for a short warm up before joining the toilet queue. Having misunderstood the location of the toilets I thought there was no queue so did my dynamic stretching routine as per Physio Helen’s instructions. I was then somewhat alarmed when I did find the loos as the queue was longer than anticipated! Apologies to Mum & Dad who essentially had the last of my clothes thrown at them as I shouted ‘Thanks’, they called ‘Good Luck and I ran for the start line.

The upside of this was that I had no time to have pre-race doubts creep in, although to be honest I was out for fun and really quite mindful of that. Training has been somewhat lax of late and I’ve not done a great deal of mileage with only the odd quality session thrown in. The plan was therefore to run a decent pace, hopefully not blow up, and establish a baseline for when marathon training starts.

With this in mind I wished the Metro folks around me a good run and we were off! The weather was kind to us – shorts and vest with gloves was more than adequate – and the only disappointment was the absence of last year’s tailwind.

A lovely course, the route follows the road along from Kinloss to the Maltings where a homely smell greeted me. Dad worked in Glenmoray as a stillman for many years so this smell reminds me of him, although I seem to recall being less fond of it when the car was stinking after a night shift. These early miles felt comfortable and my aim was to hold the pace throughout if possible, conscious that this may not work!

Before long we came to the first water station and the pace was knocked off briefly as I’m not a fan of water in cups. I find it hard to drink and often end up wearing it instead. I was not disappointed.

Coming up to Burghead the main ‘hill’ (it doesn’t really merit the term ‘hill’ but is steep in comparison with the rest of the course) put the legs to the test. I opted just to slow the pace down with a view to picking up on the flat again and this served me well. Along towards Hopeman the pavement was up and down with dropped kerbs which was a little frustrating. I therefore took my chances and ran on the road. Thankfully most drivers on the route were very courteous.

Leaving Hopeman, I was pleased to see Mum & Dad’s car. As I approached they rushed out to meet me, Dad timing his run perfectly to catch the gloves that I threw in his direction, shouting that they’d see me in Lossie.

The next part of the route sees a flat stretch and then the final wee drag before the 10 mile mark is reached, after which it’s all downhill or flat, and I had the happy thought of ‘its only a parkrun!’

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This thinking proved positive indeed and allowed me to push on, passing a few people along the way. Before I knew it I was heading towards the final turn in towards the end where I saw Mum & Dad again and received their cheers of support.

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I was absolutely delighted to finish in a time of 1:36:10! Not a PB, but knowing I’m not in PB shape, this really is a time that I’m happy with.

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As usual, a great post race feed, one of the joys of club races! Then ‘home’ for a relaxing bath followed by a great Sunday dinner! I may just move back!!

Huge thanks to the organisers, Moray Road Runners, for another great event and to all the volunteers who helped things run so smoothly.

Congratulations also to all the runners, especially my Metro teammates who did so well with prizes in various categories and quite a few PBs! Great to be part of such a club. Here’s to continued success this year!

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!