The Inaugural Chapelton of Elsick 10k

I was delighted to join my fellow Metros on the start line for the inaugural Chapelton of Elsick 10k. This feeling faded somewhat during the race, but that’s the way of running.

Chapelton village in Aberdeenshire is a lovely wee place, established in the last few years and an ongoing project, situated just off the main A90. It was hot!! On arrival it appeared that we may be blessed with a little cloud coverage and there was a slight breeze. Unfortunately, or fortunately if you were spectating, this changed just ahead of the start, bringing a beautifully sunny day.

It was great to see a good turnout for this event as a huge amount of organisation had gone into it and Metro member Campbell was part of the organising committee. Everything ran seamlessly from registration right through to the finish with refreshments available for runners and a real family feel to the event with face painting and kids races too.

Warming up with Alan and Grant it was good to see lots of familiar faces, especially my former Jog Scotland Bridge of Don friends who Campbell had rounded up for the occasion – Kay, Ashleigh, Ruth and Wendy. A personal invitation goes a long way!

All too soon the Metro team photo had been taken – we’re not all there; trying to round everyone up is reminiscent of putting puppies in a basket! There was time for one let pit stop before making our way to the start line.

I was concerned that I was too far forward but Alan assured me people would pass if they needed to. I’m struggling now to recall the finer points of detail in the route. What I can remember is that there was a mixture of surfaces. Starting and finishing on road, there were some sections of rougher tracks and trails, and also some grass as we ran through the Chapelton of Elsick Estate. There were also some undulations and a particularly nasty hill at 5 miles. Campbell had warned us about this but it didn’t look too bad on Strava – I envisaged it to be short and steep. It turned out longer than I’d imagined. The only upside was hearing the piper and knowing they must be at the top!

I wanted to walk – I didn’t. It was tough. My legs felt like they’d gone to jelly on reaching the top of the hill, but I held onto the thought that this sets the tone for the marathon. If I walk now then I’ll be tempted to walk in future. On reflection, many others were obviously feeling the same way as I did pass a few folks walking. However, there were others thriving and doing well despite the hot conditions. Grant ran well and left me standing – definitely more to come there – while Alan ran like a Kenyan and finished strong, hot on my heels.

The finish was also on an uphill incline and I managed to give it a bit of a push towards the end. Not the race I’d hoped for but my legs are tired. Having consulted with one of the club coaches the next couple of weeks will focus on recovering and a serious taper. If anyone wants to join me in wishing for a cooler day please feel free.

Glad to finish, it was time to enjoy the sunshine and bask in the glory of my clubmates who won lots of prizes! Great performances from many, but a special mention must go to Sarah Milne for her first win! Good to see that hard work does pay off in the end.

A brilliantly organised race, even if we can’t control the weather. Great medals too! Well done Chapelton!

Chapelton of Elsick 10k Medal

Stonehaven Half Marathon: Hot and hilly!

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.

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Stonehaven Half Marathon – leaving Mineralwell Park at the start of the race (Thanks to Stewart Maxwell for the photograph).

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.

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.

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Last mile – the smile hides the pain!
Thanks to Simon King for the photograph permission: https://www.facebook.com/simonkingppt

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!

Lovely medal & you can never have too many buffs! Thanks also to Specsavers for their goodies.

Masson Glennie Peterhead Half Marathon: the toughest half I’ve ever done!

I entered the Peterhead Half Marathon as the marathon plan said to race this weekend. However, the plan also advised a recovery run on Friday, race on Saturday (8 – 15k) and long run of 17 miles on Sunday. While I’m a bit of a stickler for a plan this didn’t quite fit in with my life this week, and with the Metro Coast to Coast Relay on Friday evening I had to make some adjustments. The weekend therefore took the form of 17 mile long run on Friday, recovery run on Saturday (including Aberdeen parkrun at an easy pace), and Peterhead Half Marathon today. This could be why it’s the toughest half I’ve ever done. It could also be due to the conditions today, or it could just be that it truly is an undulating course. Ask me next week if I’d consider going back again to test out these theories.

Heading out with a fellow Metro, Grant, who also did the Coast to Coast on Friday evening, I’d planned to run the Half and then go to visit the Peterhead Prison Museum as I’ve heard good things about it. I had a niggling feeling that I’d left something behind, but having had a quick kit check I knew my shorts were in my rucksack, I was wearing my vest and trainers, and I had my Garmin. Nothing to be concerned about there. On arrival in Peterhead though I realised what I’d forgotten – my purse! Thankfully I had enough fuel in the car to see us back to Aberdeen afterwards! The Prison Museum will have to wait for another day.

This was my first time running Peterhead Half. Grant has done it previously and had given me a run through of the route during the drive. It didn’t sound too horrendous – surely nobody would do it repeatedly if it was – although there was more mention of hills than I’d like. Having registered and changed, great organisation and good facilities, read minimal toilet queues, it was then down to the track for a couple of laps to warm up. We bumped into quite a few fellow Metros, most of whom were doing the 5k, with a few doing the Half. Richie gave a description of the route for Hazel and I as she’d never done it before either and I have to say that again there was lots of up and not very much down! Really selling the route well!

All too soon we were off, heading round the track and then out onto the streets of Peterhead, then quickly onto the old railway line path. I’d planned to have a conservative start, building up the pace as I went, as I wasn’t sure how much was left in my legs after the other weekend runs. I followed this plan for the first mile, running it in 7:37. My legs were feeling pretty good so I picked up the pace during miles 2 and 3 which were slightly downhill. The route took us out of Peterhead and onto smaller country roads. The field was small, less than one hundred runners, and it spread out very quickly.

Masson Glennie Peterhead Half Marathon
3 miles in – Photo credit to Craigewan Photographic Club

I’d made a decision to carry my own juice in practise for the marathon as I need to practise taking on energy and was glad of this decision. While I understand the environmental benefits of giving water in cups, I really struggle to drink from cups on the run, ending up wearing the water rather than drinking it, or else having to slow down and break my stride, so I largely avoided the water stations available.

The miles ticked away, I wasn’t feeling fantastic, but nor did I feel awful. What I did find though was that the route really was undulating. I’ve had courses described this way before but I would say that Peterhead is the true definition of this: no sooner had the legs had a wee reprieve with a short downhill section than another uphill section appeared. Probably because my legs were already tired I found this hard work and quickly found the earworms, songs in my head, becoming less upbeat than normal.

Strava Elevation Profile (Masson Glennie Peterhead Half Marathon)

I played Cat and Mouse with a couple of guys from Newburgh Dunes Running Club for quite a bit of the race before they left me in their wake during the last couple of miles. This was good as it pulled me along when they were ahead, and at the times when I was feeling stronger (they’d slowed for water) I gave them a marker. I think had it not been for these guys, as the field spread out further and the loneliness of the road kicked in during the later miles, I’d have been hard pushed to keep going strongly.

The final miles from 8 onwards were back into a headwind. I’m not sure that the windspeed was that significant, but it certainly felt tough. My ‘markers’ didn’t get that much ahead of me during the early stages of this battle so that assured me that although I felt (and was) going backwards it wasn’t any worse than others.

Strava splits (Masson Glennie Peterhead Half Marathon)

Finally I reached the point of ‘only a parkrun’ but sadly lacked the ability to pick up the pace in the way that I like to. I felt pretty done and was really just trying to keep the legs ticking over with thoughts of the finish in less than half an hour.

Masson Glennie Peterhead Half Marathon
10 mile marker at Inverugie Bridge: Only smiling as I see a camera! Photo credit to Craigewan Photographic Club.

I was so glad to see Alison and Sarah at around 11.5 miles. Having finished the 5k they were heading back out to support on the course and being told that I was currently 3rd female gave me renewed impetus to push on, or at least push to hold the pace. I had no idea where the next female was, but very aware that I couldn’t get any slower or I’d likely be caught!

Eventually the track and the finish area loomed into view. I’ve never been so happy to see the finish of a race and, despite receiving support from the marshal and a warning not to let Richie catch me, it was all I could do to keep plodding round the track at the pace I was going. Catch me he did, storming past on the finishing straight, and I trundled in behind him. The finish was excellent with runners being announced as they approached the line, and this confirmed that I was 3rd female.

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Masson Glennie Peterhead Half Marathon: the smile is one of relief to be finished!

Crossing the line I felt pretty rough! Receiving my medal and water I chatted with Metro clubmates but had a niggling feeling that I may be sick. The suggestion of water was a good one and calmed the nausea quickly – thanks for that!

Waiting for the prize giving there was time for a shower. I realised at this point that I didn’t have my Metro hoodie with me, deciding not to take it due to the warm conditions, and indeed aside from the sweaty vest didn’t have any club colours. Steve to the rescue, I was given the loan of a Metro jacket for the prize giving photos, and was delighted to receive the prize for 2nd Female Veteran.

This was a great day out for Metro Aberdeen with prizes across the 5k and Half Marathon. Great to see so many clubmates running well and ranking in their categories. Very well done folks!

As I say, the jury’s out as to whether I’d do this one again. Tough course, tough day, but it’s the tough runs that make us stronger (I hope)!

Metro Coast to Coast Relay: Leg 3, Culter to Banchory

The Metro Aberdeen Coast 2 Coast Relay is well underway as I write having started at 4:59 pm with the juniors dipping a hand or foot in the sea before setting off. They ran to Duthie Park, handing over to the Leg 2 runners who then carried the baton to Culter which is where we pick up.

I decided a couple of days ago that I’d run from home to Culter adding another 6 miles and giving me the 17 mile long run that the marathon plan has scheduled. For a fleeting moment I did contemplate meeting the Leg 2 runners on route and tagging along but they’re a bit fast, so I opted instead to run at my own leisurely pace, secure in the knowledge that I’d then be fit to make it to Banchory as planned.

As it transpired, I just made it to Culter in time! The forecast had suggested there was a risk of a rain shower and sure enough it came as I reached Milltimber. Knowing I had time on my side, I opted to shelter under a tree to allow the clouds to pass over. Unfortunately each time it appeared to be getting lighter it would then start pouring again. I finally got going and before long was approaching Culter Station.

Seeing the car park ahead I looked back to see the familiar Metro vests storming up behind me. No time to linger, it was literally a case of a quick hello to the assembled supporters before continuing on.

There were seven of us running Leg 3: Graham, Campbell, Alan, Grant, Jim, Vicki and I. We’d all been out on the recce run previously so knew what we were in for. I think we were all pleasantly surprised at how the evening panned out. Unlike last time when it was unseasonably hot, tonight we had a breeze and a lovely running temperature. We all agreed as time went on that it felt far easier than our recce – whether this was due to the cooler weather, there being a true purpose for the run or the promise of a post-run refreshment, we’ll never know!

Metro Coast 2 Coast Leg 3 on route: Culter to Banchory
Thanks to Tony McGarva for the photograph.

We took turns at carrying the baton with Campbell leading off and Graham handing over at the other end, rightfully so as they were our group leaders and a great job they did too.

We ran out along the old Deeside line with a couple of bits where you’re routed onto the pavement by the main road and it was good to see the familiar faces of Tony and Roy out with their cameras.

All went smoothly, the chat was good, and the group ran well together sticking to the planned pace for most of the way. Before we knew it we were approaching Banchory, and determined to finish together Alan suggested we all join hands on the run up to the handover point. This put a smile on all our faces and my only concern was that we might pull over someone with tired legs as enthusiasm kicked in and the pace picked up.

Handover done, we then headed to The Stag for a celebratory drink before being chauffeured in style back to Aberdeen. Many thanks to Graham, Jim and Alan for driving.

Celebratory refreshments in Banchory
Thanks to Campbell Hayden for the photograph.

Yet another of those great days where Metro Aberdeen show what a truly special club they are. Huge kudos to Tom and everyone else involved in getting this event together and safely onwards to those carrying the baton through the night and into tomorrow. A great team effort for great causes!

Huge thanks to Vicki for putting together this video montage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8Hu8skVZoo&feature=youtu.be
It’s truly epic!!

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

A weekend of running and the Metro Beach 10k

The marathon training’s going pretty well so I was looking forward to the Metro Beach 10k – it’s fast, flat, and usually by the time evening comes the wind along the prom has died down. This unfortunately was not the case last night …

My legs were tired from the weekend’s running. The long run has a nasty habit of hanging around in the background like a bad smell, so I opted to get it out of the way on Friday evening, heading up to Hazlehead on my own, and running solo 2 miles up the road, through Hazlehead, over to Countesswells, 4 loops of Kingshill, the hill at the other side and an extra bit on the flatter terrain before heading back home via Hazlehead once again. To say it was warm is somewhat of an understatement. On the upside though, the run was done. It was one of those character building efforts – what started off feeling easy ended up feeling rather tough.

Saturday saw me hit Aberdeen parkrun. To begin with I wasn’t sure whether my legs would be able to run at all so I opted to walk up round the bend on my warm up run. At this point I reasoned with my body and concluded that a slow shuffle may be an option, so did manage a warm up effort, then was most delighted to meet my sister which meant that we could run together, chat all the way around, and really not think about the miles that are Aberdeen parkrun. She’s getting better – the pace noticeably picked up on the home straight!

Aberdeen parkrun

Then on Sunday I’d contemplated a lie in but the body clock woke me in time to meet the Metro social gang. Once again, we hit the trails at Hazlehead and Countesswells for varying distances. I decided to opt out with Ali and do the 10 mile route (only one lap of Kingshill) as my legs were weary and didn’t fancy venturing around a second time. This also ensured that I’d have suficient time for my post run coffee at Cognito at the Cross before venturing up to Huntly to see Mum and Dad for lunch. Win win!

So, back to the 10k. I ran it last year (and have only just looked back at the diary to find I did it in 43:15). I don’t recall there being any wind then so hopefully that’s what I can attribute to the slowing this year. I went out with the intention of warming up for two miles. However, it was very windy, so I bailed and decided I’d just head out for a jolly and forget about the time. Anyone that knows me will also know that this was never truly going to be the case – the Metro vest was on so this does mean business.

The start was somewhat larger than previous years and everyone was ahead of the start line before having to move backwards. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so hemmed in during a race! I think the last time was Paris Marathon where I was surrounded by tall people and couldn’t see a thing. Suffice to say, I was relieved when we set off and the crowd started to thin out a little.

The headwind along the upper prom was tough, but the legs were fresh at this point (surprisingly so). Before long the Stones marshals were reached and it was a sheer joy to hit the lower prom with no wind! What a blast it was running freely along here, probably why it felt all the harder when we reached the Footdee turn and hit the headwind again!

The second stretch along the upper prom from Footdee all the way to the Stones was brutal! I honestly felt like I was going backwards (and in terms of time I was). However, as with elsewhere on the course it was lovely to hear shouts of support from the marshals (Bryan, the FLJs/Metros) and other friends and clubmates. By this point I think the best you got was a grimace, so please know that your support truly was appreciated!

The final stretch along the lower prom to the finish was again wind free and it was here that I was able to truly relax and enjoy the run. I was delighted to be feeling strong, both in mind and body, and very happy to complete the run in a time of 43:49. I went in with no idea of where I was at and ran faster than I have in any training session to date – so far the marathon training has focused on Endurance and Lactate Threshold. The next part is Race Preparation – wish me luck!

A little addendum: many thanks to everyone that supported our cause last night by buying fudge. Much appreciated! Alongside my work colleagues, you’ve supported me in banking £100 for our charities!

White Chocolate Fudge for Metro Coast to Coast Fundraising

Should anyone wish to donate further, please visit our Total Giving page:https://www.totalgiving.co.uk/mypage/metrocoast2coast

Loving the trails again!

For a while after the marathon last July, and over the winter, I felt like I’d lost the love of running. Maybe as I didn’t have a goal? I think I need to have a purpose and something to strive for; although at times I do enjoy running for running’s sake, I’m definitely better when I’m focused.

Today I had to run 16 miles, my longest run in some time. It was scheduled to be a 6 mile warm up followed by 10 miles at marathon pace. I decided to break the rules!

Having run a ‘hard’ 15 miles last week I figured that counts as a marathon paced run. There’s also the challenge of figuring out what marathon pace actually is for Fort William. The undulating, multi-terrain course doesn’t lend itself to the calculators in the same way as a road run. Last year I trained to a notional road pace and did these MP runs on flat pavements figuring I’d get the benefits later in the year. This year I’m open to suggestion on what’s the best approach, today opting more to run by feel.

Setting off before 8 am, the plan being to catch the Metro social Sunday crew for coffee later, I headed from Hazlehead over to Countesswells. It was slightly chilly but the sun was out and I truly loved running today! I ran with a smile on my face, enjoying the freedom, the fresh air, and even the three loops of Kings Hill. I genuinely do believe that more daylight is making me feel much better on the whole.

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It was one of those great days when everything comes together and a true feeling of flow is achieved. Having just tackled the final slope, I was on the way back towards the car park when I stumbled upon the Sunday gang. Timing couldn’t have been better!

A very enjoyable end to the run with lots of chat for the last few miles and even company up and down the reps lane to round off the miles! Perfect 👌