Sunday, 29 September 2013

River Ness 10k Race Report

What a brilliant day!  I laid some ghosts to rest, had an amazing time while doing so, and even finished in a time that I'm not embarrassed to share.  Here's how the day played out...

Bassman drove me to the start line at the Inverness Royal Academy so that I didn't have to faff about trying to find a place to park my car.  I got impatient waiting for the queue of traffic to inch its way to the drop-off point so I leaped out of the car to walk the last 10 minutes under my own steam.  Once I got to the IRA grounds, I jogged to the portaloos, ostensibly as a warm-up but really because I was desperate for a pee.  I did my mobilising stretches whilst waiting my turn and then, on the back of some discussion on the Facebook Chi Running forum about what constitutes a proper warm-up, jogged slowly up and down the lanes of the car park for 5 minutes and then did a couple of strides to further wake up my legs.  And then I queued for the loos again.

I made it to the starting area with five minutes to spare, plugged myself into my iPod, and switched on the Garmin.  While we were waiting to start, one of the super-whizzy runners came tearing through the ranks (perhaps from his own last-minute toilet stop), hurdled over the fence keeping us all corralled, and kicked the runner beside me square in the face.  He didn't stop and she was more stunned than hurt, but his behaviour was a stark contrast to the banter and support going on amongst the mid-pack runners.

But I digress...I crossed the start line almost 8 1/2 minutes after the starting horn, at the usual mid-pack too-fast-to-be-sustained pace.  The first quarter-mile or so is up a steepish hill and there was much stopping and walking by overly-enthusiastic participants.  But not by me!  I settled into a very comfortable pace and made it to the top of the hill feeling fine.

I should perhaps point out that I did not have any kind of plan for this race and no particular finishing time in mind (although I did hope that I would finish faster than the 66 minute 6-mile run that I did in training).  The point of this race was to get an idea of my level of fitness in preparation for training for the 10k at the end of October, but I also just wanted to enjoy myself.  So, even though I had the Garmin switched on, I didn't really look at it.  I wanted to allow myself to run at whatever pace felt comfortable without holding myself back or forcing myself to speed up.  This was my 'Woo hoo, I'm running again!' race, and that was all that was important to me.

I had the race that I wanted.  The sun was shining, there was a slight breeze, and I allowed myself plenty of time to notice the gorgeous hills across the river.  I had small chats with various people - the guy running with his black lab, who wondered where the next water station was (the guy, not the dog, although I'm sure that the dog was wondering as well); the woman wearing amazing purple & green patterned tights that I had to express my appreciation of; the two women who ran the same pace as me for over a mile (until I pulled away - no, I'm not competitive at all!).  My legs were filled with Chi Running happiness; for the first time in a while, I knew that I was landing on my mid-foot and, for the first time ever, I really felt that I was floating my heels up behind me.  No twinges, no pain, not even any tiredness.  Wowzer.

The only small hitch was that I struggled a bit cardio-wise from mile 4.5 to mile 5.5 but, with hindsight, this needn't have been an issue at all.  I think that what happened was that I moved from the 4:3 breathing that I had been doing in my easy training runs (and, let's be honest, they all were run at an easy pace) to 3:2/pushing-myself-a-bit breathing but I interpreted this as 'Oh no, I'm going too fast, I can't make it, my hip/calf/achilles are going to get injured, I'd better slow down.'  Sheesh.'s all in your head.

I perked up for the last 1/2 mile and crossed the finish line with a total distance of 6.22 miles and a chip time of 63:07.  This puts me almost exactly half-way in the rankings for women in my age group, which I feel is a reasonable position to be in.  If I could figure out how to import the table of my splits from the Garmin, I'd put that here too, but that's a technological step too far.  So, in  a slightly less official format, here they are:

Mile    Average Pace

1             10.14
2             10.17
3             10.02
4             10.06
5             10.11
6             10.17
(0.22)       9.23

I have to say, I'm pretty impressed with my consistency as well as with my burst of speed for the last quarter-mile.  

So that's it.  I ran a race and didn't get injured (although, as Adam is fond of pointing out, what counts is how you feel the day after).  More importantly, though, I ran a race and had fun doing it.  I think that I had forgotten how much fun running can - and should - be. 

Friday, 27 September 2013

Curbing my enthusiasm

Did you know that there's a 10k race that runs alongside the Aviemore Half Marathon?  No, neither did I.  I don't know why I didn't know - the web page clearly states that it's the Aviemore Half Marathon and 10k - but I obviously only saw what I wanted to see.  Now that I'm 10k-oriented, though, I'm noticing them everywhere (including last night, when a perusal of a local What's On magazine confronted me with the news).

I had a huge burst of excitement - the Aviemore 10k is two weeks after the Inverness 10k and two weeks before the Culloden 10k.  I'm feeling great, the running is going well, so I could do this race too!!!  And then I'd be able to (sort of) run with Cathy and Paul at Aviemore rather than being merely a spectator!!!

Before I registered for it, though, I did the SENSIBLE thing and texted Adam to get his opinion.  And he texted back with what I expected him to say - doing three races in short succession might be more than my recovering body could cope with.  Two races, fine.  Three races, NOT FINE.  After a brief episode of pouty face and stompy feet, I reluctantly acknowledged that he was right.

Too much, too soon.  Sigh.

So, it's back to the original plan of the Inverness 10k on Sunday, the Culloden 10k a month after that and, in between, cheering madly for Cathy and Paul as they whizz across the finish line in Aviemore.  Not a bad default plan at all.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Just like old times

Yesterday's 6 mile run saw me leap (or rather, sensibly climb) over some psychological hurdles.  These consisted of:

Length of run:  Six miles is the point at which I think that proper long runs start, and I worried that maybe my hip wasn't quite ready for a Long Run.  Phew.  I managed the distance easily so now I know that I can at least make it to the end of the Inverness 10k in two weeks.

Location:  I have deliberately done all of my runs since The Injury on flat roads, avoiding even slight inclines for fear of stressing out my hip flexors.  But for yesterday's run, I ran entirely on the Cromarty Road.  It's not exactly hilly, but it is undulating in parts.  My legs were fine with this, and they're still fine today.  Again, phew.

Wind:  Because I lay part of the blame for The Injury on running 21 miles on the Cromarty Road in gale force winds, I've been a bit nervous about venturing out in windy conditions, especially on such an exposed road.  My six miles were pretty much into the wind the whole way, but I was so happy to be doing Proper Running again that I barely noticed. 

Getting wet and cold:  Another segment of blame for The Injury involves how cold I was during and after the Inverness HM, so I've been careful in this return to running to keep my legs warm while out, which includes avoiding running in the rain.  I thought that I was going to avoid being cold and wet yesterday too, but a surprise rain shower and running into a biting wind the last mile made me more than a bit shivery.  When I stopped, I definitely was aware of my hip flexor, quad, and adductor feeling tight - cue a brief panic.  However, the 20 minute cool-down walk back home helped to loosen everything up and, as above, phew.

Wind, rain, and long runs.  Just like old times.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The corner has been turned.

Those are Adam's words, not mine, although I certainly don't disagree.

'I don't want to jinx things,' he said yesterday (at which point I shouted 'THEN DON'T SAY ANYTHING!!!' but he ignored this as he ignores so many of my over-reactions), 'but I think that you've turned the corner.'  I had run five miles that morning before seeing him and all that he could find to work on in my legs were some slightly tired calves.  Even the little tendons on the top of my foot that usually make me arch my back and shriek as though I'm being tasered were only a bit sore. I even have his blessing now to start SENSIBLY adding in a bit of speed work.

How far I've come in just over a month.  All of that stretching, strengthening, mobilising, run/walking, worrying, and bucket loads of patience have paid off.  I'm still so grateful that I am running without pain that it almost doesn't matter to me how far or how fast I'm going.  I honestly thought that my running days were over so anything that I'm able to do now feels like a bonus.  And what am I able to do, I hear you ask?  Well...

I'm not doing the Aviemore Half Marathon.  I officially withdrew last week.  Although I could have pushed myself and gotten up to 9 or 10 miles before the race and then trusted to adrenaline to carry me the extra 3 miles on race day, I chose to relax about it and do something else instead.  So, I've signed up for the River Ness 10k at the end of September and for the Culloden 10k at the end of October. Now, just like a proper runner, I have an A race (Culloden) and a B race (Inverness).  I haven't done a 10k race in a couple of years so, with no pressure and no expectation of any finishing time in particular, I'm quite looking forward to them.

It's so lovely to be back!