2019 Smokies 10

I really enjoy the Smokies 10 ladies race and try to fit it into my race calendar. Last year it had to be rescheduled due to snow, thus I missed it due to a clash with another race and deferred to this year instead. A very different day, the temperature was mild (8C), but the wind was strong, gusting 45 mph if the Met Office are to be believed. Having felt at times like I was running into a wall I have no reason to doubt!

Registration was smooth, thankfully, as despite my best intentions I was cutting it fine for getting my two mile warm up in (alongside a toilet stop).

2019 Smokies 10

The real positive in the warm up was realising that it really wasn’t that cold. I was swithering as usual about clothing. I was definite on the shorts and vest. The decision was whether or not to wear arm warmers as well as gloves. Warming up made me realise the only risk of the wind was my vest blowing up and exposing more of me than I’d care to! No arm warmers, just gloves, decision made.

Lining up for the briefing was a strange experience. Usually you have to find your space and try to move forward a bit through the throngs of runners. Here, there was a big space in front of the line and nobody wanted to get too close. Chatting to a lady beside me we agreed that we should just move towards the line and others could get past us if needed. A short briefing and off we went.

2019 Smokies 10
Not loving the wind!

Rounding the first corner the wind hit! The runners had spread out a little, the leaders heading off and opening a gap, while a couple of groups gathered. I latched onto a group as I realised after being on my own that the gusts were too tough to battle alone. I did try to work with others here, at times moving towards the front and taking the lead before dropping back into the group again. It was amazing how tough it was; a gust could really slow you in your tracks! As a result, the pace was slower than I would have liked and I got the impression that was the case for others too.

Strava splits: Smokies 10

The first half of the run is slightly uphill with a couple of steeper inclines. I felt quite strong on the ups but was delighted to reach the point in the run where it starts to go down.

Smokies 10 Route

Obviously not as happy as the other ladies in the pack, as they all took off at some pace! It took me a moment to gather myself, get the legs into gear, and get going. When I did manage I felt strong and then enjoyed slowing picking people off one by one, targeting the runner in front of me until I caught them. I hope this is a sign of the marathon training going well as with an average of 50 miles a week for the last few weeks, and a solid week of training ahead of today, I’m happy with the paces I hit in this second half. There was definitely some wind assistance here too I think, at times a gust giving a push in the right direction.

Before long I could see the houses as we approached Arbroath again. This, and the 9 mile marker, gave me the impetus to dig deep again, picking up the pace for the final mile.

2019 Smokies 10

Having anticipated continuing along to the main entrance gate for the finish, I was pleasantly surprised to be pointed left at the near end of the campus. This proved a better finish, running down onto the playing field and along the grass, then up a steep little bank (only three steps, but I made a silent request to not be the one to slip and face plant) to the finish line. Thanks to Shona for the cheers! Much appreciated.

I was very happy with my finishing time. Having said yesterday I’d be disappointed if not sub-80, I did wonder if I’d manage given the wind on the way out. However, the end result was pleasing …

Smokies 10 Result

Goodie bag and t-shirt collected, and a brief chat with those who’d finished around me, I dutifully headed off to complete my prescribed cool down (another two miles). This did garner some odd looks as I ran on the opposite side of the road to avoid getting in the way.

Following a lovely hot shower I was rewarded with a long queue for refreshments but as always, the Arbroath Footers did us proud, and the baker’s sandwiches and cakes were second to none. Tesco did the healthy bit, providing some fruit. I’m saving my banana for my porridge in the morning!

Lovely to share the post run celebrations with friends from Jog Scotland Hazlehead and parkrun. Huge congratulations to Marion (Maz) for scoring a PB on her birthday! Way to go!

The upshot … this race never gets easier but is definitely worth attending. Always sells out and there’s good reason for that. I’ll definitely return (provided I get my entry in before it sells out!)

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 …

FWM17-1002

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!