Running

Scottish Half Marathon

So my running app says 13.20 miles was run today, which means a whole 10th of a mile of extra pain! I made it to the end though and it wasn’t all bad by any stretch. Just that last stretch. Never has a 5k felt so hard as when it is tacked on to the end of 10 miles.

Running app map and stats for race
My route along the Scottish waterfront

However everything seems better after a hot bath and fish finger butty so I can now put this day into context.

If you want a good time, this run is definitely one to consider. Mainly flat or downhill, with only a few gentle inclines. We did get some headwind along the water front but I’ve had stronger winds in Liverpool. Plus the organisation is really good with wide roads pretty much all the way and some gorgeous scenery to boot.

I didn’t quite realise when we booked our hotel in Leith, that it was on the right side of Edinburgh to get me to the starting line. They have a park and ride system where you can pre-purchase the bus ticket or buy it (slightly more expensive) on the day.

If you need your own personal support team then it’s a bit trickier as so many roads are closed for the race. Anne tried to catch me just before the 5 mile mark but she couldn’t get there in time because of this. So you either have to know the nook and cranny roads or camp out at a spot a lot earlier. I’m not bothered by having an entourage though as I just like to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.

The start ‘village’ was very roomy and well organised, and I didn’t have to wait too long for the toilet  (the loo queue is obligatory pre-race however many times you’ve been before!). It was quite a bright and sometimes sunny morning which was very nice while we were standing around.

Lots of runners assembling for the start
Pre race assembly

The race starts at 11 am so there was quite a bit of standing around and as I was placed in blue band (it depends on your previous or guesstimate time) which was right at the back. But we shuffled forward quite quickly and set off at just after ten past. The sun kindly hid behind some clouds for the vast majority of the race which was perfect timing and there were only a few drops of rain at the end.

I wish I had taken more pics along the route as when we turned back towards Musselburgh the water front was gorgeous. I had managed a selfie along with this one, but my teeth were still covered in beetroot juice from the gel I’d just taken so that one had to be deleted!

Boats on the water side
Boats lolling around while we do our hard work!

I started to get a little tired around 8 miles but had another gel which they provided and that got me into double figures. At this point everything started to hurt all at once and although I had another gel in my pocket, I didn’t think more energy was what I needed. A hip replacement was more like it. There was now a bit of walking involved but I was not bothered, so long as I got to the end somehow.

Lots of people were cheering us on towards the end, and that final mile or so was run on pure adrenalin but I managed it and was very relieved to see that Finish line.

Plus points were that I didn’t get picked up by the sweeper bus and actually my average miles per minute were pretty spot on to what I hoped – just under 11 minute miles. So although that last part was really tough it was a pretty good day all in all and it will serve as a good base time for the next run!

Life, Running

Pre-race Jitters

This bib coming through the post this week makes it official. Sunday (tomorrow!) is my first half marathon in over two years.

No more pretending it isn’t going to happen!

I don’t know if climbing ladders is good preparation for a race, but that is what I was doing all day yesterday. And although I knocked my knees a couple of times coming down ( oh my goodness, why does that hurt so much!), no lasting injuries were sustained. I’m building a wooden gazebo in the back garden, with the very kind (and honestly I couldn’t do it without him) help of my mate Gary. So far we have spent two and half days in total. But getting the days back to back has been problematic over the summer with both of us busy at different times. It is coming together as you can see, and I think one more day will sort this bad boy out and we have ourselves a nice, if somewhat airy, room on the outside.

Wooden gazebo with roof tiling half done
Nearly done but not quite yet!

At least I did something physical as I’ve barely run all this week or last. It makes me a little nervous as I find that doing a gentle 5k or so a day or two before the race ‘wakes’ (technical term) my legs up.

It is what it is though. I could have gone this morning but I still need to pack and do a quick tidy up before we get going, and, of course, knock out a quick pre-run blog. This doesn’t count though, as we always try and have a couple of cups of tea in bed and have a bit of reading time, so I’m focused on this for a concentrated hour.

I am looking forward to the big day though, even though the butterflies are setting in already. The course is apparently very scenic as we will run along the estuary. I have to think of it as a nice day out and not worry about the time. I have reconciled myself to the fact that I’ll take about 2 and a half hours but at least I’ll be well ahead of the sweeper bus, that will pick up people taking longer that 3 hours 15.

Plus Anne and I will have a lovely weekend in Edinburgh. We’ll be meeting up with family and have tickets to explore Holyrood Palace, erstwhile residence of Mary Queen of Scots, amongst other Scottish royals.

So, there is fun to be had this weekend. I will do okay on the day, and it can be my new baseline from which hopefully I will improve. Watch this space!

Life

A Send Off to the Sea

Our staghorn tree suddenly looks like its leaves have been dipped into crimson paint.

Staghorn tree in our garden with partially red leaves

Autumn is definitely upon us.

I think, alongside Spring, it is a favourite season of mine. By the end of Summer, the deciduous trees look a little tired and droopy, but then, as a last hurrah before Winter, they put on their firey display.

There will be nothing firey about my display when I do my run in Scotland this weekend coming, as I’ve slacked right off after August’s burst of energy. This is why I will never progress much with my running, as I’ll always find an excuse to scupper my flow. Be it weekends away or torrential rain. But still, I’m looking forward to a few days  in Edinburgh.

We had a long weekend away at the beginning of September, as first we had to drop off the cat to his rightful home in London. He never wants anything more to do with me as I was the one who shoved him into his little cage for the trip, but he loved being back home. From there we went up east to just near Skegness for a weekend with my siblings.

I have always denigrated ‘Skeggie’ without really knowing the place but I take it all back, because if you just go a mile or two away from the main drag of chip shops and amusement arcades, there are some pristine and nearly empty sandy beaches. To be fair, even the centre was clean and well stocked for the kids, with crazy golf, a little boating lake and buckets of Mr Whippy ice cream.

We weren’t there for this though; we wanted a nice quiet stretch of coastline to send our dad’s ashes to the sea.

Traditionally, in Hindu culture, the ashes would be given to a river. It can be any river, but the Ganges in India is seen as the most holy. Our mum’s ashes were taken to the river Avon, in Stratford, and originally we thought to do the same for our dad. However, all rivers flow into the sea and Dad, being a practical man, would have appreciated the more direct route!

It was a mild afternoon and the sun shined, unexpectedly, for the occasion. We carved out ‘DAD’ in the sand, and added an extra ‘A’, as most of his grandkids called him ‘Dada’. We sprinkled his ashes into the letters and added rose petals to lay amongst them. Then we all waited for the tide to come in.

This was another reason why we chose the sea instead of a river. Here, we had the space to wait, and contemplate, while the tide crept closer, and eventually gathered in the remains of our dad.

It was beautiful and emotional and we were able to raise a glass later with lighter hearts.


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Running

Sweetness and Light

No word of a lie: Adriene’s yoga theme for this month is called ‘RESET”!

What??!!

I didn’t know that when I wrote my last piece and of course, she knows diddly squat about me…or does she?!!!

Errr, no. But the synchronicity of the intentions has fired me up to be a little more resolute and follow her classes every day, for at least this month.

Also hit a little milestone on my running app last night. I completed the Chairman’s Challenge with the running club, which is 7.5 miles of hardcore Heswall hills as described in the blog I wrote when I ran it the first time. Despite still bringing up the rear with Sue and Janine, I actually did feel a tiny bit stronger than last time, taking just over 3 minutes off my PB.

But that 7.5 miles took me to just over a century of mileage for the month of August which is very pleasing. Plus, it took me just over the mileage that I managed in the whole of last year which is somewhat marvellous and makes me feel all super motivated to keep going, as I sit on my bed here typing this. This is the place that the motivation is at its highest!

My Year stats for running

During my run last night I tried out a new gel. I have always used SIS gels before but have always disliked taking artificial sweeteners.

The new gels compared to the old
Size matters, especially when you’re carrying these babies on your run!

The one I tried last night was Velaforte ‘Tempo’. It’s the one with a date on the front. All the recipes for this brand use natural sugars, so your sugar content is much higher than one with sweeteners. I don’t mind that at all as I need all the extra energy I can get when running. Plus, these little packets are so much smaller than my old SIS one, with the same amount of carbohydrates.

This is very different from the usual sugary sweetness I was used to. It does actually taste of date, predominantly, and is less sweeter than the SIS, ironically. But, once I’d got my head around that, it was nice, and it went down easily.

I would normally have felt a dip in energy, often just after the hour mark, if I didn’t take a gel. I didn’t experience that and I felt pretty good all the way around.

It is more expensive than the SIS; each gel in this pack works out to £1.60. I don’t mind that to get something a little more natural. I have to try out the other flavours of course, but it looks like I will be making the switch based on this first one.

And finally, the cat is being sent packing tomorrow to its real family down in London, so I thought I’d give you some final shots.