2 for 1: The Canadians Visit & Half Mary Musings | Week 7

I’m currently training for my second half marathon in Edinburgh, May 25th, 2014. Half Mary Musings is my weekly reflection of how training went, what I’m doing well and things I need to improve upon.

So, I’m a week behind with Half Mary Musings. I know, I apologise. Hope you were okay without your weekly fix 😉 The busiest week on record has just finished, and I have some more time to think, therefore blog. I’ve got many posts brewing in my head that I would love to share with you, but alas I work full-time and work is intense right now, so needless to say, the job takes precedent.

You’re a lucky reader this week though: two blog posts in one! During week 7 of half marathon training, which also happened to be another cutback week – easy week on the actual program – our very good friends Alicia and André came to Bonnie Scotland for a visit. Not only do you get to read about how training went (two weeks ago), you also get to read about how we shared our neck of the woods with some great people.

Keep in mind this information as you read:

easy run: 60% effort; you can run while easily carrying a conversation, and you’re running significantly slower than normal pace.
steady run: 65% to 75% effort; at least 1 min slower than race pace.
threshold run: 80% effort; comfortably hard, also known as tempo. Conversation is simply a breathless ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’
intervals: 85% to 95%; close to all out effort, leaves you out of breath, and you can’t speak at all. Only week 10 calls for intervals.

After a jam-packed weekend in Edinburgh seeing the Scotch Whisky Experience…


St Giles Cathedral (briefly)…


Walking up Calton Hill, to see it’s unfinished Parthenon-like structure (and experience high winds!)…



And drinking cider, stout and whisky while making funny faces…

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It was time to leave the city!

Monday: I did some cross training! We stopped at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena for an afternoon of bouldering and rock climbing, aka top roping. We fully credit Alicia and André for getting us into climbing. They introduced us to the sport when we were visiting Berlin.

Tuesday: 45 mins: 15-min easy / 15-min steady / 15-min threshold -> this looked like a 15 minute warm-up, followed by another 15 minutes at slightly faster but still conversation pace, and finally 15 minutes at comfortably hard pace.

I was joined by Alicia and André for this run, and for a nice change, we ran it on the roads and farm tracks by my house rather than in Laurencekirk. Alicia usually runs for about 30 minutes, and was going to turn back once we got to a certain point, but persevered and ran the longest she’s ever run before, uphill and all! Way to go friend!

This was my first proper run back after being ill, and surprisingly, I felt really good. I love running at easy/steady pace, that’s why I like long runs so much. André and I ran ahead, and added on some more farm track because I thought we wouldn’t have enough route. This turned out to be wrong, as we finished about 0.5 mile from home, but that’s okay. It’s nice to have an easy jog home after finishing a final threshold set with “Oh thank God!” While I enjoyed the run, I finished on an uphill as it was leveling off. You know the feeling.

Once we got back, showered and ate lunch, it was off to Dunnottar Castle, an incredibly dramatic ruin on the coast, immediately south of Stonehaven.




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We then headed into town to pick up some alcohol (you may have guessed, it was a not a strict low-carb, high-fat week) at Dunnottar Wine and Spirits, including this gem of a beer.


We met an après-surf Pat, and his friend Dave, at our favourite pub in Stonehaven, known for its vast selection of Belgian beers and delicious pub food. We also love the fisherman-themed artwork on the wall.


It was a jolly evening of laughs, beer, cider and ‘fush n’ chups,’ and the end to yet another fantastic day. The week was shaping up to be a good one!


4.41 miles in 44:59, average pace: 10:12

Wednesday: rest day. And a drive through the countryside and glens to get some whisky.

I also got some unsweetened baking chocolate that André brought from Canada, a treat as I can’t seem to find any here! (I’m willing to accept donations, hint hint).


Thursday: 40 mins hilly run: attack the hills, relax rest of the run. Easy to threshold pace rest day. It was a very windy, cloudy and sporadically wet morning; the morning of the day us girls were going up to Aberdeen for some retail therapy. While you’ll know I run in any weather, Alicia is a fair weather runner, and with the conditions the way they were, lunch quickly approaching, and Friday’s forecast looking much better, we postponed the run. And shopped our little hearts out instead.

Friday: 40 mins hilly run: attack the hills, relax rest of the run. Easy to threshold pace -> this looked like running at easy pace for 40 minutes, and running up any hills I encountered at threshold pace. Alicia and André joined for this run as well, and we did the same route as Tuesday, only in reverse, which mean we were running up a longer, steep hill at threshold pace. I managed this quite well, and was very proud myself for the achievement.


Lunch was leftover slow-cooked brisket with keto blue cheese dressing and almond flour rolls.


We took our guests to the whisky distillery in Fettercairn, where Pat continued his peculiar practice of planking at distilleries.

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We spent our last night with our guests eating, drinking, laughing, eating and playing Cranium. It was ideal.

3.86 miles in 40 minutes, average pace: 10:22

Saturday: rest day. It was back down to Edinburgh to sadly drop our friends off at the airport after a fantastic visit.


At least I had a very cool Sunday run to look forward to!

Sunday: 60-min easy/steady run. 90-min easy/steady run, with last 20 mins at race pace -> this looked like running at easy, conversation pace for 70 minutes and picking up the pace to comfortably hard for the last 20 minutes.

We switched our cutback week run for the following week’s run, as we had the Balmoral 10km and figured it was best to run 60 minutes the day after a 10km rather than the 90 minute run.

We did this run on the beach at St. Cyrus!


Getting there


Brian from our running group suggested we try the beach, and what a good idea it was! It was such a beautiful morning, we felt like we were on holiday some where else. I take for granted this beach is so close to our house.

IMG_20140420_143604Some of us ran barefoot while others, like me, chose to keep their shoes on. We stayed on the hard pack sand and made our way up and down the beach, while the sun shone down upon us and the air was still. It was so warm and perfect, I jumped for joy 😉



There were some sections of the run that required us to cross a stream, so needless to say my newer running shoes had been christened and got deeply saturated in the brain-freeze cold water.


While we all seemed to enjoy the setting of our run, we resolved that our next beach run would be for less time as we were literally running up and down the beach, so time seemed to drag on. It was also tough going in some parts, where although the sand was harder packed, it still sunk in with your step, making it even more challenging. Despite the obstacles, however, we were happy with the experience overall.


I forgot my Garmin for this run, but Amy informed me we ran 8.4 miles in 90 minutes-ish. That sand clearly made a difference in pace.

Areas of Strength:

– Getting right back into things after a week off due to illness. Aside from a few tough points during our beach run, I felt very good all week and was excited to be back.

– Having guests that also run. Not really my strength, more so Alicia and André‘s, but it makes things so much easier when everyone wants to go for a run and is keen to do so. It was basically a given that we’d go out a few times during their visit.

– Nutrition. Despite being more lenient with my food choices, I never caved all the way and went for Easter chocolates or that evil Pepsi.

– Sleep. We got so much sleep this week, it was wonderful. In bed before 11 pm, usually, and up after 8 am. I slept like a rock.

Areas for Growth:

– Abs, as usual.

– Yoga too. Pat sticks to a daily yoga routine, I should try to as well.

– What else is new for areas for growth? Should I put so much pressure on myself to do them in the first place? I’ve definitely been slacking this cycle.

Week 8’s post up by Wednesday, hopefully!

If you had guests, where would you take them?

What restaurant(s) would you go to?

Have you ever run on a beach before?

What’s your favourite alcoholic beverage?


18 thoughts on “2 for 1: The Canadians Visit & Half Mary Musings | Week 7

  1. Sounds like an amazing week of friends and running! I love your picture of that castle- it’s exactly what I picture Scotland to look like 🙂
    I also love the jumping photo of you on the beach! That’s awesome you live close to such a beautiful place! I really love to run on packed sand beaches.
    My question to you- where would you take guests in Edmonton?! I’d definitely road trip to the mountains!

    • It was, thanks! Yes, Dunnottar Castle is so dramatic, location and all. Very breathtaking indeed.

      I’ve been thinking about where I would take guests in Edmonton, most revolve around food! One of the farmer’s markets (Strathcona was mine), Whyte Ave shopping, Dadeo, Julios Barrios, Red Robin (back to my U of A days), probably a shopping trip to West Ed, and just because it’s a token thing, a night at Cook County to gawk at the cowboys! I agree about the mountains too. That’s Edmonton from a student’s perspective, what about a local’s?

  2. Looks like a fun week! It has always been windy when I’ve been at the top of Calton Hill, and Dunnottar Castle is beautiful – one of my favourite ruins for sure. I think you’re being pretty consistent with your training, and I’m looking forward to seeing how you get on. Edinburgh is a fast course! 🙂

    We ran on a beach for a bit during the race on Saturday. It was covered in pebbles. Definitely not the easiest, especially on weary legs!

  3. Looks like fun!
    I haven’t run on a beach before, but we’ve signed up to the Chariots of Fire 5k beach race in St Andrews at the start of June so I guess I’m going to tick that box soon. It’s a week after the Edinburgh marathon so I think I’ll be jogging that one!

  4. Your hair looks so pretty in that photo of you and your friend! Also, how was the strawberry beer? I like the idea of it, but sometimes things like that are too sweet for me. Nice week of training and jumping right back in!

    • Thanks Hyedi! I really liked that brand of strawberry beer. It wasn’t as sweet as Fruli, which I loved in the past, but just sweet enough. I’m also partial to a raspberry draft beer at that pub I spoke about.

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