Posts filed under 'Race Recap'

Race Recap: Baker Hughes 10K

My Jog Scotland Thursday running group

My Jog Scotland Thursday running group

On Sunday I took part in what I think is really the only race actually in Aberdeen: the Baker Hughes 10K. A description of the race:

The course is based around Aberdeen beach and harbour area and has some spectacular views of the North Sea and the famous Beach Ballroom on the route. The race started as a marathon and in 1987 changed to a 10K which it has been ever since with a number of different courses.

It’s kind of funny because Aberdeen was trying to get a marathon this summer, that got pushed back to next summer, which got shot down. But now that I’ve run the 10K, there’s a lot left to be desired in a marathon or half marathon. I can definitely say I wouldn’t be signing up had it gone through…

On to the recap!

Cost

£22 pounds for me, £24 for E. I got a £2 discount for being a Jog Scotland member. In Conversion, this is pretty close to a standard “big” race in Chicago…but for that price in Chicago you generally get a pretty good t-shirt, a beer, and some carbs. But I’ll get into all those specifics later….that being said I felt it was a little steep. The Aviemore Half Marathon and 10k for a few quid more and the Fare Challenge 10K for a quid less….and those are all much more scenic, and I know at least the latter has better swag and goodies. C

Registration

I’m not sure what they’ve done in the past…but I know this year was new for them. They were shipping everyone their race tshirt and bib #. I’m not totally sure if they did that before and this year they just used a different carrier this system? Or if the whole thing was new. I LOVE the idea. I hate taking a trip and paying for parking just for packet pickup. Unfortunately- there was an issue. I never received my packet. It was kinda strange since E got his and I registered us both under the same ticket. They sent out an email saying there were issues, but assuring everyone would get their bibs by Saturday, but just in case…you could get a new # the day of. Well of course mine never came. Besides that, it seems a lot of people got crumbled balls for bibs…hope their chip still worked.

So on race day we headed down extra early to deal with whatever incompetence await to get a new bib. It was actually very seamless, and they updated my info ASAP because I still got a text after the race with time result of my new bib number. So a slight fumble, but overall it worked out just fine. And I was the only person I knew (out of about 20 running) that didn’t get their bib. I’ll let this one slide. A-

Parking

Because of aforementioned missing bib, we arrived super early and got to park on a street (free on Sunday) before the roads were closed. If you didn’t get there super early before the roads were closed, you were pretty much screwed. I mean, if you know parking in Aberdeen, you know it sucks. This is no exception. We actually drove our friends and their kids back to their car that was parked all the way across town….good for them as it started pouring and they would have had a miserable 30 min walk with wee ones. C

Bathrooms

I thought there were plenty of port-o-potties when I needed em. Again, I was really early and got in two nervous poos without anyone even in a port-o-pottie near me. Then I had to wee right before the race…and there was this epically long line for the bathrooms. It was huge. And it seems everyone was just standing there waiting in one line for the 2-3 potties in front of them?! What was that? Normal protocol is a new line every 2-3 potties. I just walked through this line and went to the far end and went wee. It sounds like I’m a jerk…but I’m telling you there people at the front of the line couldn’t even see those potties because they were in a L shape. But that massive line was so weird….I imagine if everyone lined up like normal runners I might have had to wait 2-3 minutes. But not really my problem. I guess maybe they need some potty marshals? But I can only say my personal experience was A+ no wait.

Timing

On the bib, just how I like it. I’m really confused because I know at the 5K mark I ran over a timer…and yet they are not posting your 5K times….odd. A-

Course

Only picture I grabbed of the course.  Big sky, eh?

Only picture I grabbed of the course. Big sky, eh?

Ehhhh. Aberdeen is not a gorgeous city. No offense, but you’re not going to walk downtown and fall in love with Aberdeen. Fall in love in Scotland- yes. Not so much actual Aberdeen. So they made a race trying to utilize a pretty bit- the long stretch along the beach. Unfortunately you have to add on at the front and end running around what seems to be Section 8 housing and seedy harbor businesses. And even when you’re running along the beach…on your other side is Pizza Hut and ASDA (Walmart for those not in the know). I mean, I can’t really fault them. It’s the only race in actual Aberdeen and they worked with what they had. Oh but that hill at the end blows. B

Goodiebag

Well there was a tech shirt. But they only offered men’s sizes and the front is completely white (weirdest thing ever). From the ones of the past I’ve seen, it seems every year is white. They need to shake it up. And really- too cheap to have something printed on the front? Now I understand why everyone at run club on Thursday was gushing over my Chicago Spring Half Marathon shirt. When you crossed the finish line you got a bag with some pantene shampoo samples, some paper, and a tea bag. You could grab a water bottle and a thing of concentrated water flavorer. No bananas. No bagles. No dry toast even. CIMG_2169

Competitors

It was my {new} hometown so I knew quite a few people there. Only one situation wasn’t great when turning a corner and a man was pretty aggressive with his arm up and shoving me over. Seemed a little unnecessary at 1K in buddy. A-

Medals

You got one! People wear them! Again, if it’s your thing- it’s there. I did like the pop of color and the date engraved on the back though.

Time

57:47 – a personal best I think? And again, I’m so damn fat. Must lose this weight. And further more- great considering my hip is still buggered up and I have only run 4x (most 5 miles) since the marathon.

Would I run it again? Um, maybe. I guess probably. I do like big races and this is the biggest I’ve experienced in Scotland with 3,900 runners (I know Edinburgh and Glasgow have large races- just saying.) But it’s really nothing to write home about – it’s a race. It forced me to lace up my trainers probably much sooner than I would have post marathon so for that, I am thankful.

Me and E pre-race

Me and E pre-race

Race Recap: Paris Marathon

I AM A MARATHONER!!!!

I did it!

I did it!

So most Paris Marathon recaps that I’ve read include all kinds of selfies and photos. This is not one of those recaps because I couldn’t be bothered to fish my phone out of my spibelt for pictures. So you want to see pictures of the Paris Marathon course or LB running selfies- you’ll have look elsewhere.

Here is my marathon recap and experience. I’ll try and include the points I normally cover in race recaps.

Cost

€99 which is almost exactly $99 right now. I paid an additional €12 for cancellation insurance (that as I said I did not do for flights and accommodation). Really not a bad price since I got charged $347 for the NYC Marathon, Chicago is going at $185.

Registration

I woke up early on registration day and kept trying to register and kept getting booted out of the page and it wouldn’t load until finally my husband got through and registered me- this was unnecessary. It was quite a few weeks before they closed off registration at capacity. Not sure if it will the same case in 5 year, but next year, no need to set the alarm early.

The expo was open on Thursday from 3-8pm and pretty much all day Saturday and Sunday.  We headed there on Thursday and it was a real easy train ride and the expo was steps away from a stop.  You MUST have your medical certificate and convocation (has your name, bib number, and corral on it).  Right away they look at your medical certificate and then stamp your convocation (no wait at all) and then you head on over with the paper to get your actual race bib (short wait).  Then you got your bag (see Goodie bag) and the rest was just expo. Asics was the apparel sponsor so they had a huge section of Paris Marathon branded stuff. I would have gotten a few things actually but limited myself to this long sleeve than I’m obsessed with.IMG_1886

The rest of the expo had about 200 vendors. Everything from Brooks, Puma, Mizuno, Gore, Skins, Hoka, Sketchers, and New Balance- to UK brands I was unfamiliar with: Odio, Kalenjii, Zsport, Dix40 and Anita Active. Loads of different races were there from around the world. Tons of nutritional stuff, most I have never heard of but there was Cliff Bar, Gu (WHERE THEY HAD MY PRECIOUS SUPER HIGH CAFFEINE RASPBERRY CHOMPS!), Power Bar, and Vita Coco. The odd thing was that there were barely any free samples or coupons being handed out. Every expo in America seems to have free swag everywhere and people lined up around the block for it. Unfortunately, I’ve had the joy of working expos with free samples…

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Wall with all the runners names.

it's me!

it’s me!

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The downside was a lot of people didn’t speak English. And ya know, no free stuff.

Overall though, I thought the expo was good- although huge!   But it was really easy to get there and get my bib etc….and there were bathrooms!

Goodie Bag

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Pretty good bag. Only one or two coupons/slips of paper. Some gummies (Haribo was a sponsor – see these people love their gummies), Pistachio, your sleeveless plastic bag for waiting in corrals, a Tag Heuer water bottle, a Dr. Scholl’s sample, Tiger Balm sample, luggage tag, and little running waist pack. I wasn’t about to change up my routine and stuck with my spibelt but I did see quite a few runners running with it. I already have one walking pack, but otherwise this would be great to use while walking the dog, etc.

We didn’t do a whole lot in the days leading up to the marathon, other than eating carbs. I’ve been to Paris 3x prior (lucky girl) so we didn’t need to run around looking at things- just enjoy the season.  Even still, I was getting about 17K steps in on Thursday and Friday, but managed to stay off my legs more on Saturday with only about 12K steps. On Saturday we had a great carb-o-licious brunch at Laduree. Touristy? Yes. But amazing brunch. We of course opted for the full €60 package that included champs, French toast, fruit, juice, 2 sandwiches, croissants, macaroons, pain au chocolat. The works. Worth every penny. I’d do it again. Make sure you make a reservation. Every other night we ate at Italian joints to carb it up.

carb loading at laduree

carb loading at laduree

Carb loading Laduree

Carb loading Laduree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite not sleeping fantastic for months leading up to this marathon, the night before I slept better than I have EVER slept before a race. Had some Pukka nighttime tea and a xanex and didn’t stir until the alarm went off at 7am. That’s the thing about euro-races- they start late. I mean, I was in the last corral and my start time was 10:05! How fantastic. I ate my porridge, stretched for 30 mins, watched my motivational movies, applied run guard and sun screen. Sat around anxiously… By the time we left the flat it almost felt as though I slept through the race, as the streets were eerily quiet. We stayed down Kleber Ave, about 1K from the Arch de Triomphe. The start line is down the Champs my corral entrance was pretty far back by the arch.

The day was warm. No clouds and almost 70 degrees. The warmest it had been for training was about 50- so a huge difference. And I hate the heat! The sole reason I never signed up for the Chicago Marathon was summer training!  The £5 ASDA (UK Wal-Mart) sweats I bought to wear before the start were completely unnecessary. Luckily, I had always planned on wearing a tank and crops for the race and I remembered my Oakleys.   I did wear my little plastic bag for the initial walk, but took it off when I entered the corral- too many bodies.

Resistance band around my knees

Resistance band around my knees

Walking up to the Arc and in the circle around it- that’s where you’ll find the most port-o-loos. I brought toilet paper because I don’t like to drip dry (and heaven forbid I poo) and was glad I did because they of course had none. I even shared with the next 2 gals in line but kept the roll and put in back in E’s “Lauren Emergency Supplies” backpack (extra socks, a shirt, sunscreen, gum, gu chomps). This is critical.

I then walked down to the corrals. I waited until 9:35 and entered the corral. The whole time I wore my resistance band around my knees and did my physio exercises to hopefully keep my glutes engaged. Then we started moving forward. I drank my Gatorade Prime I had brought with me. We passed a port-o-loo every 500 feet or so as we walked towards the start and there were ladies lined up about 5-10 deep. There were quite a bit of men peeing everywhere- but to be honest, E & I have peed on the street in Paris before and not before a race….I mean, Paris always kinda smells like pee, that’s part of the charm(ha!). I’ve read so many other American recaps that really play up this peeing everywhere….I don’t think it was that dramatic. Men in corrals also had these little 4-man stand up port-o-loos where they are totally outside and if all 4 cells were full would be touching noses (practically) peeing. It’s a damn good invention America should get on at sporting events, festivals, etc.

E walked along with me on the other side of the fence. And then we stopped for another little bit. And that’s when I realized, “Oh no….I think I maybe, kinda have to wee.” That was followed up by 5 minutes or so hemming and hawing over if I should get in a loo line. I told E my dilemma. He ran ahead to see if there were any loos with no line but told me to get in the line closest to me. I stood there waiting for what felt like an eternity. E had given me some more TP (ALWAYS BRING TP TO A RACE) and I was half about to pull my pants down right next to the loo. But I held my dignity, while barely managing my anxiety, as it seemed like every single person walked past and went to start the race. Finally got to go- made it to the start and weaseled my way up. I was still pretty much the back of all 50 thousand people, but not dead last. But really, looking back…that pee was 100% necessary and I am so glad not only for my own TP, but for stopping and going one last time before the start. I didn’t have to go again until about 3 hours post marathon. Thanks dehydration!

Okay and we’re off. About 1K in I see a little old man running and it just say “RAY” in huge letters on his back and I thought, well I’m going to make it. I felt I was going a bit fast initially so then I picked one guy and paced with him for a while. When all of a sudden the 5:30 pace group was right behind me?!?! I totally freaked out. I wasn’t supposed to make a goal time (being as it was my first marathon) but I had made a sub 5 hour goal that seemed to me, totally, 100% doable. But when I got injured, I really started to doubt the goal and worry that I would even finish. And I tried to say I would be happy regardless of my time, but in my heart of hearts, I wanted sub 5. So somehow I was by 5:30 pace and that wasn’t going to cut it…so I picked it up.  I kept thinking I was on pace throughout the race but at random points I would be by the 5:30 or the 5 hour pace group and they’d pass me and I was just so confused.  It took a lot but I had to just let it go and trust my own math (and pace)…as it turns out E later told me that the 5:30 pace somehow finished before the 5 and they must have just started way earlier than I had….whatever, the pee was worth it.  So lesson learned- unless you start with a pacer, don’t let them freak you out.

I had trained with my hydration backpack, but knew I wouldn’t run with it. I didn’t want to really carry anything. But I started with a small, plastic, water bottle so that I didn’t have to stop at the first water stop. Water stops were every 5K I think without fail. And you needed the hydration since the entire run was pretty much in the sun. At every water stop they were giving small Vittel bottles. Sometimes the caps were off, but they couldn’t really keep up with that so most times the caps were on. I didn’t think this was a problem and I actually carried the small water bottles most of the time running, I liked having water but I liked knowing I could throw it away at any time. Overall, I really liked the small Vittel water bottles- way better than cups!  Bravo Paris!

Also at every water stop was sugar cubes (no way), raisins (and maybe other dried fruit but I never looked), orange quarters, and half bananas. The banana peels and orange peels…it was pretty damn slippery. Again, not as traumatic as every 2013 & 2014 review would lead me to believe…but it was a little dangerous. Only at about 25K did I have half a banana. Otherwise I just stuck to water. There was supposed to be a couple stops with some sort of goo (a brand I didn’t know) but I never saw it…only at 30K was there a sports drink (same brand I didn’t know) and I didn’t take that either.

My plan was fuel every 5 miles or so. And I actually ate too much on the run. I mean, your brain kinda doesn’t work to its full capability. And I can’t even really remember what I had and when, but here’s my best guess.

  • 5 miles: Gu chomps
  • 12K: E handed me a very small container of Gatorade and I had that – had carbs as well as electrolytes since it was hot.
  • 10 miles: SIS gel
  • 25K: Half a banana
  • 28K – Gatorade from E
  • 20 miles: Gu chomps
  • 23 miles – 2 paracetemol (pain pills) with caffeine , half an SIS power snack bar

At one point, after 28k (when E joined me), I pulled out my iPod to skip a song and realized it was all sticky and covered in goo. I handed it to E who proceeded to lick my iPod clean. Turns out the iPod corner had punctured the extra gel in my pocket. Whoops. Thanks E for licking all the sticky goo off my iPod- best spectator award!

I saw E at 5K, 12K, 17K, and 28K. He wore his massive Beaker head to make sure I could find him- which worked brilliantly. He also knew at 28K he was to hop in and run with me. At 28K I was feeling great. I hadn’t stopped but once to tie my shoe and I really was feeling great. But I told him he might as well run with me.   He held the Beaker head as we ran and chatted, and people kept coming up to him to high five him and say “hi!” because they had seen him at all the other places as well- he had his own fan club! I told him to hang on until 20 miles where I was anticipating “the wall”…but I hit no wall at 20 miles and kept on moving. At mile 21 I was getting a little tired, so I told E to hang out until 23 miles. At 22 miles I really tuned into my iPod and had stopped chatting. E also took over carrying my water. At mile 23 I thought I would dismiss him, but were in the middle of some park and he really couldn’t go anywhere but down the course so he stayed with until almost the very end. I really felt like crap starting at mile 23. It wasn’t a “wall” as I had originally imagined it. But I was over the running thing. The last 3 miles were awful, the last 2K a death march. I went to stop and walk twice but each time I took one slowed down step and my legs nearly collapsed. I knew if I stopped running I would never start. So I just kept (slowly) trucking on. But it was hard. This is where the audio files I had made of my motivational movies really came in handy. “Stop running from your pain. Embrace your pain. Your pain is going to be a part of your pride. A part of your product. I challenge you to push yourself!” I think it was extra hard because you could NEVER see the finish line until you were pretty much crossing it. I needed to see it in the distance, but there were twists and turns…and the French are quiet cheerers…it felt as if I would never see the end.

But I did. And it wasn’t as emotional as I thought but I was oh so happy to be done running. Joyous people were all around me. It was a bit sad because I was quarantined with other runners and I didn’t know any other runners…so it was a bit lonely I had no one to celebrate. I got my t-shirt and bling and got out of there ASAP to rejoice with E.

So some other notes:

Bathrooms

I saw 3-4 banks of port-o-loos throughout the course. When you run past the zoo at the first big park, there are zoo bathrooms on your right hand side (you don’t need to go in the zoo) but if the line is long, there are port-o-loos at about 15k.

Course/Crowd Support

It’s almost entirely in the sun. But very flat. I mean, I guess not Chicago flat, but I thought it was pretty much that flat although many people talk about how its not pancake flat LIKE chicago.  Maybe it’s just the training on bloody hilly Scotland trails? The Bois de Vincennes (first large park) doesn’t have many people cheering at all. Same with the park at the end. When there are people, they don’t really say much. No cowbells, not many signs, a lot of standing in silence. Also, a lot of dodging people clutching baguettes under their arms crossing the road. The firemen did pull out their trucks and sit on the extensions over the course cheering- that was nice. They also brought out firehouses to create a mister in about 4 different places on the course. I tried to look around and take it all in, but most often when I did that I would drift in to someone. Whoops. The course does go all around Paris, but I didn’t think you could really see a whole lot of Paris. There was the big tunnel (that so many people complain about) that I thought was well lit with 2 video spots set up showing some of the marathon and some of Paris. It was perfectly fine.  When I ran through the first set up, there were just the Mona Lisa’s eyes starring down at me which is kind of neat.

Medals

The bling is fantastic.IMG_1887

Time

4:54:38 – Really slipped the last 3 miles. The last 2k took me 16 minutes! And right around the half-marathon point I know I stopped to look at the time and that it was a lot more congested- hence my slow pace for that 1 KM.  But hey, it was my first marathon, it was hot, and I hadn’t run more than 16 miles due to the fact I took a complete 2 weeks off being super injured and barely walking.  I think it’s pretty damn good.Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 8.19.07 PM

Overall

It was fine for me because I know and have seen Paris before and will do so again. But if you’re coming to the Paris Marathon and you’ve never been and might never go again- I think it would kind of suck unless you get there way in advance or stay much later. The course was fine, but I don’t necessarily think it was the best course ever (at least for me) or the most beautiful. But not a ton of spectator support and lots of miles on end with pretty much no one.  And you didn’t get to see all of the landmarks or get a huge taste of what Paris has to offer. Would I do it again? Definitely would do another marathon, but not Paris. Although I think it worked out well for my first marathon.  I prefer my Paris to have a lot more wine and lounging on the various lawns and parks across the city, getting tipsy sitting along the Seine, and maybe peeing under a bridge.  Until next time Paris…au revoir!

Paris Marathon 2015 Finisher and Beaker

Paris Marathon 2015 Finisher and Beaker

Race Recap: Kinloss to Lossiemouth Half Marathon

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I ran a half-marathon (I refuse to use the term ‘mini’ marathon. I think it’s diminishing and insulting for some reason. Which is probably why I refused to run the Indy Mini in Indianapolis…that and the fact that I hate Indianapolis….) last weekend as part of my training for the Paris Marathon. It was my halfway point of #marathontraining. And what a mind trip that was. Well, first, technically (according to my Hal Higdon training plan) I should have run the half the week before. But I couldn’t find any races anywhere near me and I wanted to do an actual race. So I switched and ran a 10-miler the week before and my half this past weekend.

The race was about an hour and 40 minutes away. It didn’t start until 11am so that sounds pretty good. But the registration, which is at Lossiemouth Community Center, closes at 9:45 sharply. Because, duh, at 10am the busses leave to carry you to the start of the race at Kinloss. Which is 13.1 miles away. So, that means we had to leave at 7:45 to play it safe and make sure we make it to the race and also allow time for a hydrated runner stop en route. I woke up at 6:15 which isn’t bad really compared to the times I’ve woken up for races stateside….but considering I was still up at 3am, tossing and turning, until I finally got up and took a swig of Nyquil for a few hours sleep…it was almost unbearable getting out of bed. I was happy I wasn’t driving though- I went with two lassies from my Jog Scotland group. One girl, is training for her first full marathon that’s on the same date as mine (but not Paris).

I’m not sure why I couldn’t sleep. I guess nerves. The excitement of a race, the unknowing what this course is like, and mostly the utter self-doubt, it was all there. This is the mind trip. Half-marathons have been my furthest race distance. I normally would train for 3 months for a half and have my longest run be 14 miles. I am running a half and I hadn’t run more than 12 miles at this point. And I haven’t been training a full 3 months for this. And I haven’t been running at tempo on those 10 milers. And I took a full week off. And. And. And it was just a head-trip. I loaded up my brain on my marathon psychology books. I had mantras and affirmations and visualizations. But I couldn’t shake the doubt.

But we get there with 15 minutes to spare. Easy peasy to pick up our bibs. Able to go to the bathroom. And then onto the bus. I will share my bus encounter on a later post about Scottish running culture…. But everyone was super nice and it was fine. We went over this big hump of a man-made hill and someone complained about it and then the big, burly Scotsman behind me laughed and said, that wasn’t a hill! That was a speedbump. And I thought, shit.

So we then had 45 minutes to kill at the Kinloss Community Center. I guess the background of this race is that Kincloss and Lossiemouth were both air force stations, turned into army stations, and the run used to be an exercise for those soldier-people. Now I think Lossiemouth is no longer an active base…but I could be wrong.

Anyway, I was able to pee (yes, again) there and do my ass-activation exercises with a resistance band. And then we went outside for the start. Where we were told the roads weren’t closed, we have no precedence over automobiles, and the marshalls have no authority over any one. This was all while standing next to this sign:

Uplifting way to start a road race with open roads.

Uplifting way to start a road race with open roads.

So that seemed like a great omen…only 4 deaths!

And then they said 1, 2, 3 go….and we went. There wasn’t really a line in the road or anything. Just start next to the automobile death sign. Alrighty.

I stayed with my friends the first 2 miles, but I knew they were pushing me at a pace I couldn’t maintain. I started dropping back a couple yards, and right at 3 miles my shoe was untied and knew I would never catch them. So off I set through 13 stinky, hilly miles. There were the long, slight, endless inclines. There were the straight up inclines (I think 3 of those). There were pig farms to run through. And horse pastures. And cow farms. And it’s Scotland so you know there were sheep. And no, we weren’t running on farm paths, just roads that had farm on each side of them. This might be renamed to the Smelliest Half-Marathon. I can handle horse shit. Or even cow shit if it’s JUST cow shit. But pig shit?! Come on. Pig shit after sheep shit, before and after horse shit, followed by cow shit. Blergh! And at the first of the 3 water stops that army dudes that were staffing the water stops (thanks guys! Although, definitely British armed forces as they politely golf clapped and said a monotone “well done.”   I was waiting to hear “cheerio and run along now.”) there was this stank. I don’t know what it was. It was worse than all the shit combined though. It wasn’t the army dudes. But…I just have no idea what smells that bad.

Anyway. So I was by myself. Literally. Could see people ahead. And could see people behind.   But totally alone. I think it was between mile 4 and 5 there was a pretty curvy hill. And I walked. And I was like damn it. Oh this was after we ran over that “speed bump” already.   And a guy I had passed in the beginning caught up to me. He said (more or less) that he was trying to pace with me and was trying to tell me to will me to keep going as he was closing the gap. Well, I started running with him. Then another half a mile there was this collelsooul hill and I had to walk again. But I caught up to him and decided to okay, let’s just press forward with him. Don’t quit. Because I really can’t because I’m in the middle of freaking nowhere. So I slog on through with him for 3-4 miles. We talked a bit for the first few miles. He was from Glasgow. This was his first half. He is training to be part of a team running from Glasgow to Edinburgh. He was raising money for…I think it was Hope for Heros. There was a lot more said that I couldn’t understand. And eventually I put my headphones back in and slogged some more.

And then I just stopped again. On another one of these endless, gradual inclines. And I was so frustrated. And I thought, I have no freaking business running this race or training for a marathon. And I wanted to stop and I really hit a low point. And then I looked up and saw the incline ahead and started a mantra, “I love hills. My ass is made for hills. I dominiate hills.” And I did. And I passed my Glasgow friend. And I passed a couple other people. And eventually I saw the mile 13 sign ahead….and after a turn into solid wind coming at me- I pushed hard to finish. And I looked at the clock (not the race clock…there wasn’t one) and saw that wow, I had PR’d. How the hell did that happen with all those hills, all that walking, all that self doubt. Whaaaat.

I waited a few minutes for my Glasgow friend to finish. My friends had waited for me and we all cheered him in. He gave me a hug and a kiss and turned back around out on the course to find his older, and in poorer health uncle to run it in with him. What a guy.

Cost – Great

£15 is just fine.

Parking – Good

I didn’t have to drive or park, but even though we were one of the later people to arrive, we got a parking spot easy peasy.

Bathrooms – good

No complaints. I mean, they weren’t like Penninsula bathrooms, but I never had to wait long….and if you haven’t noticed, I pee a lot.

Registration – Fine

You had to know your number, which no one did. So you had to look up your number, and then go get your bib. I feel it would be easier if it’s just alphabetical. But really, it wasn’t a big deal.

Timing – AWFUL

This wasn’t chip timed! What?! I haven’t been to a non-chip timed race in…ever? So there was a start time and a person at the end with a pen and paper writing down your end time. Old school to say the least. But I guess it worked out alright?

Course – BLERG

I mean for this Midwest chica who has only ran in Chicago, it was hilly as hell. For the Scotsman…I mean, maybe they didn’t think it was that bad. My friends didn’t think it was as awful as I did. But they did admit it was rough and that they lost a lot of steam around mile 10. And then there’s the fact that is seems the course was short. The word is even the race officials admit it to be 13.08…but everyone around us clocked 13 even. Hmmmmm.

Goodiebag – Eh?

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We got a t-shirt. But not a really great t-shirt and there was only men’s sizes. No goodie bag when you finish. Some cups of water and bananas. But then you went into the community center and there was sammiches and cookies, and to drink….tea! No bottles (or even cups) of water once you were away from the finish line. That was bizarre. I just wanted something cool to drink. Not tea. Not now. #culturaldifferences

Finger Sammiches

Finger Sammiches

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Post-race Tea!  Who needs Gatorade?

Post-race Tea! Who needs Gatorade?

Competitors – Great!

Everyone was super friendly. Most people were really fast and badass. But still friendly. Love it!

Medals

Nope. But that’s fine with me. I do wish they would invest in a little better bibs here. I like to hang my bibs on the wall- and race bibs here are basically a sharpied number on a piece of computer paper.

Time– PR’D!

2 hours, 6 minutes, 19 seconds. With walking?! Whaaat?! Happy girl. Especially because my last half I was much lighter (like 15 lbs)…and now I’m fat and still improving. I should really get on the weight loss train for speed…. And even if I need to add another minute for that tenth of a mile….still happy.

So yeah after a total mental breakdown….I PR’d. Which made the ride home much more pleasant and I can confidently say I am continuing marathon training and expect to crush Paris.

Race Recap: Detox 10K

Who doesn’t want to start of the New Year with a brisk 10K race? Especially one that starts with a solid 2K uphill? Right…

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Detox 10K official logo- how appropriate

 

Our friend sent out the info on the Detox 10K, as he was doing it, and invited E & I to come along. Pretty sure we wouldn’t have done it if not for being invited by friends. To be far, it was January 2nd…not the 1st. Which I liked because who wants to wake up early on the 1st day of 2015? Not me. Also, it was on a Friday. Which is a holiday in Scotland as part of Hogmanay. Technically, E was supposed to work as they observe UK holidays, not Scotland’s but he sorted it out with work. And this got me out on an extra run before my long run of the week (9 miler) on Sunday.

Cost – fine

The race cost was £17, which is alright without converting. Just alright because of coming up short in the goodie bag and t-shirt (see below).

Parking – fine

We pulled into the first parking we saw- a small lot about 1.5K away from the start. While we had an easy out and all that…we had to walk to the start. 1.5k isn’t far by any means, but when you’re freezing cold and trying not to slip and face-plant before a race- it sucks. So don’t park at that first place in the future. Apparently there was parking much closer. Also, since there was no bag check- we were faced with walk in our sweats and stuff all the way back to the car, then coming back to the start freezing (I guess it could have been a warm up) and having to walk freezing all the way back to get warm clothes post race…. But what we did was just throw our bag under a table in the town hall building and hope the honest Scots wouldn’t steal our wallet or sweats. Spoiler alert: they didn’t. Honest Scots prevail!

Bathrooms – doable

The town hall building where you got checked in and your bib etc had a 2-person stall. Otherwise, there were 2-3 Porto potties outside. E opted for the latter and was the first person to use them and beat the rush. So he said that was good. I stood in a bit of a queue to use the indoor bathroom (because I was cold and knew I’d have the longest pee ever), which wasn’t too bad. And I like to be warm when I’m peeing so, whatever.

Registration – fine

I was in the bathroom when E went to get our bibs and t-shirts. Check in was quick he said, they had our numbers and safety pins (although the bibs were strangely large). The t-shirts were very cheap white cotton T’s and they only had large and XL left. Not that I need another crappy t-shirt, but it was kind of annoying to not have my size despite that we were there early and had pre-registered. I never understand how some races miscalculate that so severely.  But the registration was inside- so that was nice.

Timing – good

It was a device I had never used before. It was a bracelet that went around your ankle and had an adhesive strip to fasten it. Kind of like a festival bracelet. It worked just fine but in general I prefer a device that doesn’t have to be removed (specifically cut off me) right after crossing the finish line. Kinda makes things messy.

Course – blergh

Every review you read about this course is true. It’s a solid 2k uphill to start. It’s hard. And I like hills, but I could have used some flat ground somewhere in there and there’s none. But worse, is that much of the rest of the course is downhill. I am not a downhill runner. It hurts my knees tremendously. (And for the next I from being sore to excruciating IT band pain from said downhill).

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For the most part, you’re on country roads…so it’s not like there was tons of traffic to battle…but the roads were open and so you did have to deal with cars. I forget the measurement but I think about 7-8k you’re on a farmer’s path. Which means frozen mud and poop and super uneven ground from tractors and carts and things going through the mud/poo pre-freeze. It’s also a very narrow frozen mud/poo path so at times you’re forced to stop or walk to get around someone or to use the only trekable part of the path. Lot of stop and go.

Then right when you got off the farmer’s path, you were on a small paved road, that was downhill (who would’ve guessed) and a solid sheet of ice. So I had to walk that part because I wasn’t about to risk slipping and getting injured for marathon training.

Then you’re on a bigger country road through the small downtown for the rest. Most of the ice was gone, so that was okay. But then you had to run past the offshoot where the finish line is and do an additional loop past it. I hate having to run past finish lines on race courses. It’s such a mind trip. Here I was hauling ass to beat pink shorts in front of me because I thought I was turning into the finish line- and I still had the big loop to do. Needless to say I blew my energy too early and pink shorts won this round.

But the sun was shining, you’re in the country.  If I wasn’t half trying to push it/concentrate on my knees I would have taken pictures.  Everyone knows how much I appreciate herds of sheep and cows as my spectators during a race.  But really, it was pretty.

Still, the course left room for lots of complaining. But for most of it – it is what it is. They’re not going to go through the trouble of shutting down roads for all 10 cars that pass through in few hours of the race. It is an uphill start and downhill the rest of the time. And ya never know what’s going to happen with the weather and the farmer traffic on the weeks leading up to the race- and hey, the farmer let’s us run on his path so we can’t complain.   I do think they have the power to change the end of the route so you don’t have to do that loop past the finish line.  Or maybe after doing it once, it’s not so bad knowing about it in advance for the next time.   But because of the fierce downhills and the pain that followed- it’s really just a blergh.  I totally understand a lot of runners love downhill and will totally disagree with me on this.

Goodie Bag – Needs improvement

You got a plastic bag at the end. It had a juice box, bottle of water, stale granola bar, and a pack of gum. Enough said.

I should say that they also had soup afterward- but I didn’t have any. Maybe if I had some I’d let the crappy goodie bag go…because amazing soup is better than more goodie bag items.

Competitors

More serious competitors than my last (and first) Scotland Race. But you’re looking at a rough 10k course in freezing temps…something that the faint of heart runners are more likely to pass on. That being said, everyone’s super nice per usual.

Medals

No medal. I’m perfectly fine with that.

Time

59:15, a 9:32 pace. With the walking on the ice, my slow down-hilling, and the stop and go of the farmer’s path- I was pretty happy with that.

Leaving the race I thought I’d for sure do it again. But the knee pain I dealt with the next week really made me rethink that. I’m not really sure. I guess I would consider it. But not if marathon training. Or not if my knees grow worse with age. But maybe if my knees rebound to be the knees of 12-year-old Lauren…then I’d be all in.  The course while having it’s challenges, was pretty and diverse.  And who doesn’t want to start off a new year with a race?

Race Recap: Bibby Offshore 5k

1549536_287540754741880_5383451421730270560_nThis was my first race in over 2 years and my first ever trail race.  Actually, this was only my 2nd or 3rd 5k because I generally like a 8-10k distance.  It was also the first year for this series, The Fare Challenge.  I don’t have a lot of back story on the creators of the race, but I can tell you: They put on a great race, even greater when you realize it was the first year for it AND they are super nice and have great communication.  And I should say trusting, because I still have to pay. (Dang UK banking).

The Fare Challenge has a 5k (started at noon), and a 10k and half-marathon that start shortly after, all on the same day.  The 5k started at a different location, but we all ended in the same spot (which is where the 10k and half marathon started.)

I so wish I had my camera because there were some incredible pictures.  To start with, we were “piped up” to the 5k start-line by a bag piper in full costume.  Then there was the castle ruins (Cluny Crichton Castle ruins) where we started the run.  The beautiful woods.  The cow stampede caused by us running past the field.   And just all that is beautiful Scotland, specifically the Hill of Fare by Banchory.  These pictures are borrowed from The Fare Challenge’s Facebook page.

Cluny Crichton Castle ruins

Cluny Crichton Castle ruins

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I will say that even though I was under-prepared for this race, it was a perfect course for my first trail race.  While difficult enough to make me walk (haven’t walked in a race since my first half marathon), it wasn’t totally balls to the wall and you can get through anything for 5k.

I think I’ll just break down races in the following way for recaps.

Cost

£16 per person for the 5k.  Not bad (when not converting).

Parking – good

Just provided a little reminder to us not to get a white car or a little coupe.  Definitely muddy and poopy, but it was a big field so certainly parking was ample.

Bathrooms – needs improvement  

They had the nice trailer bathrooms (not porta potties) with running water.  But I think the water was from the sea (or worse) and when I flushed it was all brown and smelled salty/dirty.  Oh and no TP in either stall an hour before start time.  Only 2 stalls, but for fewer than 500 people it was alright.

Registration – good

There was a short queue but I was happy with the process.  Everyone was friendly and knowledgeable, and it beat having to drive out there for packet pick up before the race!

Timing – good

Not my favorite device for timing, but it was easy enough to attach to our shoes with zip-ties and stayed put without bother on the run.  I will say I generally dislike chip-timers where I have to have them cut off and collected immediately upon crossing the finish line, which is the case here.

Course – Great?

I mean, I don’t know what to compare this to in terms of trail courses?  I found it challenging without being god-awful.  I got a little muddy, but wasn’t running through a swamp.  I think it’s great for anyone, but especially as a first trail race.  The only bad part was running past one farm, which I can only assume was a dairy farm and it smelled like spoiled milk.  E started gagging.  Otherwise, the other farms just smelled like your typical cow shite.

Goodie Bag – good

I liked that this was given to us after we finished.  It was a small bag with no t-shirt (who needs more ill-fitting t-shirts).

Competitors

Everyone was really nice and welcoming and there was a good mix of abilities.  Thank god,

Medal

Yes, if you’re into medals you definitely get one crossing the finish line.

My Time

32:42 – 77th place

I will say that even though I was under-prepared for this race, it was a perfect course for my first trail race.  While difficult enough to make me walk (haven’t walked in a race since my first half marathon), it wasn’t totally balls to the wall and definitely something anyone can get through without fear of death.  I can’t wait for this race to come around in a year and I’ll be more experienced and accomplished in trail runs!

Did you run the race- what did you think?  Do I need to add any other criteria when reviewing a future race?