Sunday, 12 April 2015

So close and yet so far...Glenlivet 10k race report

Oops, it's been two months since my last post.  How time flies when nothing is going wrong.  My niggly ankle has sorted itself out and my knee is cooperating with everything that I throw at it.  I'm up to consistent 20-22 mile weeks, with my most recent long run coming in at 11 miles, and enjoying myself immensely. What a good place to be in, then, for today's Glenlivet 10k.  It's the hilliest race that I've ever attempted and I had no idea what to expect in terms of finishing time, especially as I haven't exactly been pushing myself on the speed front, but I was more excited than nervous.

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.

Now, I have been running lots on hills and inclines recently.  On trails and on the road, including a 5k uphill only a couple of weeks ago.  I'm not fast but I get there in the end.  My head was saying, 'You know that you can do this; slow and steady, just like the Mount High road,' and I wanted to listen to that voice, I really did.  Unfortunately, my legs were shouting, 'Woo hoo, we feel great, gogogogogogogo!' and not listening to the words of warning from my lungs.  Reader, I had to walk.  Several times.  I wasn't the only one by any means but that doesn't matter - I COULD have run up the whole bloody hill if I only had stuck to my game plan.  Sigh.

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.


  1. Sub-60 mins at Balmoral, I'm sure of it. Maybe the Queen will pop out to say well done at the end. You deserve it. xx

    1. Thanks! And even better than a Queenly 'well done' at the end would be if the Queen & Prince Philip were manning one of the water stops! That would be fab! X

  2. Wow, so many positives! No pain, no injuries, great fitness, lovely relaxed running, and fantastic hill technique. You should indeed be extremely pleased! Well done!!!!!

    1. Mmmm, if I had fantastic hill technique, I wouldn't have needed to walk. Still, it's a lot better than it was! Will get the chance to practice it all over again in 2 weeks! But yes, today felt very positive and I was pleased that all of my naked running & running to perceived effort rather than a particular pace is paying off. Roll on Grasmere!

  3. You'll be leaving me behind on those Grasmere hills. Interested that your naked and perceived effort training is paying off - I'm still frustrated by HR training and my legs have forgotton what speed feels like.

  4. Ha! I'm already practicing my 'no, I don't mind being last at all' face in preparation for Grasmere...will email you my thoughts about why this perceived effort training suits me - a lot of it is psychological. I think that different ways of training suit different people but it's a complete fluke that I ended up experimenting with this. That knee injury has been good for something!

  5. Hey MG, that's stupendously brilliant!
    I recently read an article about Mike Brailsford, who coached the GB cycling squad to mammoth victory in the 2012 Olympics and he said that all he did was improve everything the athletes did by 1%. So there you have it, all you really need to do is find better food at night, make sure you don't have a screaming kid in the next room, eat a better breakfast, make sure your hat fits better and there you have it, sub 1hr no problemo!
    Enjoy Grasmere!

  6. Not sure that I can improve my physical ability by any more percents, but in Grasmere we're self-catering (so better food and porridge for breakfast) and staying in a house (so better sound-proofing) so that should count for something! And as long as I'm not running headlong into a gale, the hat will stay on. Thanks, Vee, I feel better already! (Have been following your Thai adventures - sounds like you're having an amazing time! Loved the photo of you 'soaked but still dancing' - very joyous!) x

    1. Yes, work takes on a different meaning when no-one books to see you but you still have to hang around and it's sunny and warm out there! Still, (I think) they've intimated they actually want me back, which was a bit of a shock, but I just might get over it in time to do it all again next year... tho I'm a touch worried I mistook what they were saying and actually I'm not being invited back at all, whereupon I'll just have to book myself a holiday instead. Hard work but someone has to do it!