Race #10 of the year is in the books! This was supposed to be a fun race, something that I wasn’t going to take seriously, especially after just having run the Templeton 10 mile road race last weekend. I hadn’t thought about this race at all until the night before, and to be honest, did so on purpose because I’ve come to dislike 10km’s lately. Until this weekend, I’d run five10km’s altogether this year, all of which brought many feelings of extreme pressure, failed race plans and dismal results. Until half marathon training, I would always start out too fast then didn’t have enough fuel in the tank to finish strong, and because of that, I was disappointed with my not-a-PR time. Things changed with half marathon training though, and I learned to begin to properly pace myself, and I saw how pacing myself by starting slow and finishing fast actually worked. I ran a negative split race for the Arbroath 10km, and learned through experience that the fast miles are better at the end, that I can run faster paces for as long as 6 miles, and that I have to work hard to get the results I wanted. I had learned to become a smart runner.
Carry over these thoughts to Friday night as I fell asleep, thinking of the race. My plan was to start slow and finish fast, naturally, but I had a distinct advantage with this race: I knew the route well. Having run this race twice before, in 2010 and 2011, I’m well versed with the route around Glamis Castle: a two-lap circuit up a small hill, over Landrover tracks, through the walled garden, through the arboretum and on forest tracks, back to tarmac in front of the castle, then up the looooooong gradual hill of the main drive, and back down again. I knew when I could run hard and when I needed to run smart and pace myself. I also had a shedload of hill running/sprints in my legs from half marathon training, and hoped this endurance and strength would still be there. Basically, I was ready for this race without having to put much thought into it at all.
|Glamis Castle in all its glory – source|
Saturday morning came early, and I had my ritual pre-race smoothie and coffee. Pat was also running this race, and upon getting dressed and getting our stuff together, we were off down to Laurencekirk to meet up with the rest of the running group. Altogether, there would be eight of us running the race, the most we’d had from our group all year. It was great! We headed down the A90 to Glamis (pronounced ‘Glams’), arrived at the castle (birthplace and childhood home of the now-deceased Queen Mum by the way), then picked up our bibs and race treats. This was called the Reindeer Run, so it was only fitting that we all receive reindeer antlers and flashing red noses (along with a nice, light blue cotton t-shirt):
|And yes, it was cold that morning!|
After I downed a pack of Jelly Belly Sport Beans, and jumping around to stay warm, we disrobed to our running outfits, went for a performance-enhancing toilet break, and made our way to the start for 10:30 am. I had to check my watch to make sure it was close to race time, because there was barely anyone there! Although it was less than five minutes before the race began, it seemed as though the race was far from starting judging by how few people were lining up. We all commented on this and wondered why there was such a small turnout: perhaps the race lost some followers as a result of not holding it in 2012, or perhaps all the runners were out doing the Glen Clova half marathon that day instead, who knows?
We all wished each other luck just as the race began. My goal was for my first mile to be around the 9:30 mark, then to quicken the pace to 9:20, 9:15, 9:10, and hover around the 9:00 mark if I could. I made my way through the crowd and started my ascent up the small hill. Fairly uneventful and quick. This flattened out for a bit before taking a dip in the Landrover track past a house (the estate manager’s? Gamekeeper’s?), then continuing on past a field. We then came through the rear gate of the walled garden and ran right through the garden itself, running around the large fountain on display in the middle.
Mile 1: 9:08. Faster than I had wanted, but it felt effortless and I know I was holding myself back a bit still. Once leaving the walled garden, we ran down a small hill, over a bridge and through the arboretum, a collection of massive, centuries-old trees, all brought back from travels around the world. The Border Agency would have a field day with that! As we made our way through the woods, we passed a very kind and considerate race marshal dressed as Santa, warning us of mucky trails ahead. The route turned right back onto a tarmac road which took us in front of the castle and towards that looming climb up the main drive. Did I mention the main drive to Glamis Castle, apart from being a hill, is also a mile long? At this point, I glanced down at my Garmin to see that we hadn’t even run two miles yet. Way to make a race out of a driveway!
Mile 2: 9:39, up that gradual hill of a drive which levelled out after the two mile mark. We ran all the way to the end gate, something that past races never did, then turned around and began the gradual descent back to the castle and also to begin lap two.
Mile 3: 8:53. I made it downhill rather easily, then turned left to begin my second lap of the course. We were joined, and passed by the faster 5km runners. I was starting to feel a wee bit tired, and it was at this point that the mental talk started: You’ve worked hard for this; if you can run up all those hills at the Templeton 10, you can easily do this; block out the uncomfortable feelings. No negativity, just coping and encouragement, way to go mind! It was also at this point that, once I ran up the small hill for the second time, I saw I had a real race on my hands. There was a guy built like a rugby player, wearing a blue singlet, who was running with me. He was also running the 10km and we stayed together for the next two miles, running neck and neck, switching between leaders. It was fun.
Mile 4: 9:19
I was greeted with a breathless ‘Hi D’ from Kelly, one of my Laurencekirk ladies. We stuck together, along with rugby guy, through the woods. Once we hit the uphill drive for the second time, my pace dropped and rugby guy pulled ahead. Kelly and I approached some ladies ahead of us, and I noticed there was a gap between one of the ladies and the side of the road. It was as though she was leaving me that space to take advantage of it and surge ahead. And surge ahead I did, passing Mr. Rugby for good and beginning my final push up the hill, to the finish.
|All drive, nothing else|
Mile 5: 9:27. I glanced at my watch to see that even if I ran 10 minute miles from then on, I’d still finish with a PR. It was just a matter of how fast that would be. I knew I had to work hard and just kept repeating to myself You need to work for every second of 56:xx! I made it to the front gate of the castle, turned around, and began my descent. I also passed my friend Jenna, who was running the 5km, as she was making her way up the drive, and we high-fived each other. I increased my pace as I ran down the hill, only to have my watch beep Mile 6 (9:32), but see that there was still some much race still to run! I had only made it half way down the hill; this meant that there was at least another 1/2 mile to go. I soon realised that this, like the Montrose and Forfar 10km’s, was another inaccurate race. I made a mental note of my time when my watch hit 6.2 miles, then continued on down the hill to the finish, all at a 7:30 pace. As I turned towards the final stretch, I had caught up to a little girl running the 5km. She must’ve heard me approaching and moved to the right to let me pass. I breathlessly thanked her, and she breathlessly replied ‘You’re welcome,’ then it was the sprint to the finish.
The race was over, I had a new (unofficial) PR and I had just run 6.5 miles in under an hour. My 10km time was 57:37, the fastest this year and a course record for me, and my total race time was 59:46. Not bad for a race I wasn’t going to take seriously! Pat finished his first 10km under 50 minutes, amazing!
The Laurencekirk peeps all convened for a post-race photo:
Then we headed to the refreshments tent for some bananas, water, granola bars and a mince pie! Back at the car, I was asked to take photos for a group of ladies. As I was snapping away, one asked me ‘Are you Danielle?’
‘Yes….’ I replied wearily, but it was Allison, a reader of my blog and fellow blogger at the Running Princess! My first race encounter with a reader, awesome! I actually remember seeing her at the Aviemore half marathon, wearing her 2XU compression tights (awesome!) and green running singlet. It’s always nice to see the same people at different events, and even better to have a chat with them. That’s one thing I really enjoy about the running community in general. I’m sure I will see Allison at another race soon.
The rest of the day was spent with Pat’s sister Annabel, her husband Rob and their sweet baby girl, (my niece), Quinn, eating lunch and walking dogs. Pat and I then headed home for some much needed rest, and to watch the Wales vs. South Africa game, one of many autumn international tests for Rugby Union! Ideal!
It’s now time for a much needed race hiatus. Ten races since the end of April is enough, right? I don’t have anything entered until next March, the Arbroath Footers Smokies 10 mile women’s race, and I’m looking forward to free weekends. This week, I’ll take it easy with running, and once I can get a physio appointment for a tune up, I’m going to take a well-earned week off of running. Then, I think a few of us from running are going to start speed training for the spring. And in that time, hopefully this blog will fill up with more posts about running in general and recipes/food, rather than just race reports and training.
Happy Monday everyone!