I stayed the night near Glenlivet at the Delnashaugh Hotel because I wasn't too keen on getting up at silly o'clock to drive two hours on race day. It proved to be a good decision. My room was lovely and spacious and had a fabulous view over the river to the hills beyond. Even better, I discovered at the last minute that my friend Lizzie and her friend Morag were going to be staying in Aberlour in preparation for Morag doing her first ever 10k (Lizzie was there for moral support and to carry Morag's bags).
We arranged to have dinner together at The Mash Tun in Aberlour where I was disconcerted to find even fewer veggie options on the menu than I have come to expect from pubs. I ended up having a brie and beetroot tart that was very tasty, but the massive cheese overload made for restless sleep later that night. If I'm being honest, the sticky toffee pudding might have played a role too. As did the child in the room next door who cried from 4am to 4.45am. However, that's not much different than having cats whingeing for their breakfast while it's still dark so my tiredness level was normal when I finally got up.
Breakfast was a disappointment as I had optimistically - and foolishly - expected that porridge would be an option. It wasn't. The idea of running 10k with eggs stodging up my stomach was not an appealing one so I settled for cereal and a slice of toast and a banana. Meh.
I met up with Lizzie and Morag at Race Reception HQ at the Glenlivet Distillery. We huddled indoors until the very last minute so as to avoid the biting, bitterly cold wind and to make frequent use of the luxurious loos. I didn't have enough time to do my usual warm-up - too busy huddling in the warmth - but hey ho, that's what the first kilometre is for! And off we went, downhill (yay!), uphill, downhill again (more yay!), and then more or less on the flat until a sharp left turn to the start of a 2k hill.
|The view from the start line. |
No running occurred on this mountain. Phew.
Anyway, after about 4k, the uphill ended and a fairly steady downhill started (with a couple of surprise steep uphills, one of which had the guy who was sticking close by my shoulder loudly exclaim, 'What the fuck???'). I felt relaxed on the downhills and reverted to slow and steady on the uphills, which meant that I easily ran up all of them. At 5k, I snuck a look at my Garmin and the time was 32:30ish. I knew before I started that a sub-60min time was not going to be possible with all of these hills but I still felt a bit disappointed and I had to give myself a bit of a talking to to keep my motivation up.
When we finally reached the bottom, we were at 6.5k and the 'undulating' section to the finish was, true to all previous uses of this descriptor in races, pretty much a steady incline to almost 9k. The wind was fiercer on parts of this section too (blowing my hat off at one point so that I had to retrace my steps to fetch it, and blowing me into another runner at another point), but I kept up a fairly steady pace until the top of the incline. And then it was all downhill for the last kilometre. I snuck another look at my Garmin at the 9k marker and the time was 55 minutes. What???? How did that happen? All of sudden, I felt a hell of lot perkier!
I didn't look at the Garmin again until I crossed the finish line, trying instead to focus on finishing strong and with good form and with a smile on my face. Which I did. My final time? 1:00:33. Arrrggghhh! Sooooo close. If only I had run even one of those walking stretches...if only my hat hadn't blown off...if only I had done some hill repeats in training...
However. This is the fastest 10k that I've done in seven years. On my first ever hilly course. My knee and ankle felt fine. My legs had tons of energy. And I had a blast. So, I choose to be well pleased with this time and I'll take what I've learned and put it towards the Balmoral 10k in two weeks.
And I already know that next year, I'll do this one all over again.