The first race of the year is in the books! And with a new personal best…. yesss! I entered this race way back in November, while still basking in the glory of the Templeton 10 and Glamis 10km. This race is what kept me running through the holidays and into 2014, not missing a Sunday long(er) run to maintain my fitness. I think entering this race was a great way to keep up my motivation during the winter.
Race day started yesterday with choosing my outfit:
I went for my winter Brooks tights (with pink waist band) and my blue Gore half zip. I should’ve worn my compression tights and Adidas top instead because *spoiler alert* the weather was ideal for running: warm and sunny, with a slight breeze. Much better than all the Sunday’s this year has given us so far, and much better than the weather I’ve heard about from previous year’s races.
I woke up this morning, not to my alarm, but to what sounded like ducks laughing and talking. It’s moments like this that make me happy to live so close to a stream. I had my ritual smoothie and vanilla latte, browsed the Ikea website, made a raspberry-oatmeal recovery shake, and was out the door to my friend Wendy’s. We headed down to Arbroath and to a very busy sports centre, just in time for registration.
If you can’t tell by the photo, Smokies 10 is a women’s only race, so the men above were there only for moral support. It’s presumably called ‘Smokies’ because Arbroath is famous for their smoked haddock, also known as a smokie. Wendy and I picked up our race numbers and had just enough time for a performance enhancing toilet break (and for me to down my pack of Jelly Belly Sport Beans) before making our way to the start. My only goal for this race, despite also doing speed and hill training for it, was to better my time from the Dundee Templeton 10. The race organisers, as well as a colleague from work, informed me of hills from miles 2 to 4.5; I just hoped they wouldn’t be as steep and frequent as Templeton. The gun went off at the non-existent start line and we were off!
My race plan was to run easy for the first half, especially for the hills, then to pick up the pace at mile 5, then again at mile 8. I also planned to eat my second pack of beans at mile 5. The race took us away from the sports centre turning left from Keptie Road onto a road that would take us into the countryside Arbroath. I maintained a slower pace of around 9:45 to 10 minute miles, but this took some discipline to keep me from charging ahead.
Mile 1: 9:44
Mile 2: 9:59
At Mile 2 we had our first water station on a picturesque stone bridge before beginning our climb of the hilly section. That first hill was steep! But short, and luckily it leveled off again to allow us to recover. I managed to pass quite a few ladies who decided to walk up the hill, only to have them speed past me in the downhill sections. The so-called ‘hilly’ 2.5 miles were undulating, with another steep hill later on, but nothing horrible and long like Templeton. This section actually felt like the routes we do for our Sunday runs, so I felt quite at home.
Mile 3: 10:59
Mile 4: 10:31
Mile 5: 10:15
We hit 4.5 miles with a race marshal yelling to us “It’s all downhill from just after this last [small] hill!” I love it when race marshals yell that. The hilly section was over, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as my mind and others made it out to be. I played a game of cat and mouse with a few women who would walk up the hills then bomb it down them; I maintained an easy pace on the downhill sections to save my legs. I also met a race friend named June and we stayed together for the majority of the race.
At mile 5, I took my second batch of Sport Beans and picked up the pace. So much so that by mile 6, I looked at my Garmin and said “Shit, I’m running too fast:” sub-9 minute pace with 4 miles left was not a good idea. I still needed to pace myself until mile 8. The heat and light wind was also taking its toll as I had to take off my buff and top layer, and run in my thermal top instead, with my fleece gloves sticking out of the wasteband of my tights.
Mile 6: 9:15
Mile 7: 9:33
We made our way back to that picturesque stone bridge and our last water station, then headed back along the road that took us out of town. Mile 8 came and I picked up the pace. I was feeling a bit weird though and tired in the head. I was glancing at my Garmin frequently to make sure my pace was below 10 minute miles; I knew that a PR was within reach. I was averaging about 9:15 pace but it felt hard. I was telling myself that the race was over in less than 20 minutes and to make space between I can and I can’t. Over and over again. At this point, with my hair all over the place, top layer tied around my waist, and having just spit on my hand, a photographer took my photo. That will be a great #keepingitreal shot!
June was in my sight all the way back to the sports centre and the finish, and I managed to pass her just as we entered the parking lot. We ran through the field towards the non-existent finish, and my watched beeped 10 miles. I wasn’t actually sure where the actual finish line was, so I ran through the finisher’s chute and stopped my watch. The time was 1:39:05, a new personal record (or best). I beat my Templeton time by two minutes!
Mile 8: 9:56
Mile 9: 9:17
Mile 10: 9:07
Because the finish was kind undetermined, I’ll take 1:39:05; looking at my Garmin time, 10 miles beeped at 1:38:40, but I’m not going to get pedantic about it. Wendy and Nanette,who we’ve run with in the past, were waiting for me at the finish. Wendy smashed her Templeton time by 13 minutes! I opened my goodie bag to find a cool race t-shirt and hat, and promptly downed my water.
We went into the sports centre for the treats we were promised post-race: sandwiches, rolls, sausage rolls and plenty of baked delights from Pie Bob’s in Arbroath. I managed to eat a small egg salad sandwich, but couldn’t eat the red velvet cupcake and chocolate fondant fancy I took, I just didn’t have the appetite. I chatted with Kirsty, our host when we ran the Aviemore half, and with Rachel, whose story of a lost toenail during her beauty appointment last week entertained Wendy on the race course. We then headed back to the car to make our way home.
But first we snapped some photos!
Including a #keepingitreal first attempt at the photo above:
I’m so happy with my result and my start to the 2014 racing season. I ran the majority of my miles faster than 10 minutes, which is really encouraging going into half marathon training this Tuesday. Yes, Half Mary Musings is making a comeback! 2014 only gets better from here!
Have you run Smokies?
Did you race this weekend?
What’s the best post-race treats you’ve ever had?