RACE REPORT – Stirling 10k 2014


Official time: 45:50 – NEW PB!!

Overall: 364th/803

Gender: 52nd/165 senior females

Medal : No – instead we got a super bright technical t-shirt, caramel wafer, banana, milk and gatorade.

Last year this race was one that I was not particularly looking forward to. The weather on the day was horrific, my legs were pretty sore and it was exactly 2 weeks before I was going to run my first ever marathon so training had mainly consisted of high mileage and back to back runs. This year it also fell 2 weeks before Loch Ness (I should notice the pattern here!) and one week after having already ran a marathon, so needless to say speed work has been somewhat minimal and my legs were even more worn out that the previous year. But as it’s a local race and I can run it and get back to my weekend by lunchtime, I thought I might as well give it another go.

I had a bit of a lie in seeing as the race was only 15 minutes down the road and by 9:45am I was outside the Peak Sports Center in Stirling with my fellow Wee County Harriers, enjoying the atmosphere and cheering on the kids in the 2k run. The race also doubles up as the Scottish championship race for that distance and was packed to the rafters with tall, lean very fast looking runners who would fly around the course in times that take my breath away just thinking about, as well as the usual familiar faces I regularly see at events like this.

Wee County Harriers ready for the start of another fantastic race. (Stirling 10k)
Wee County Harriers ready for the start of another fantastic race.

At 10:10am we made our way to the starting pen and bang on 10:15am, we were off! This is probably the flattest 10k race I have ever taken part in so I knew I could get a good strong start and then my plan was to keep it up for as long as I could. The only short race I have taken part in this year was the Brig Bash 5 back in July where I managed my first mile under 7 minutes and then sat between 7:10 and 7:40ish for the following miles. I knew if I could do that again a slight PB might be on the cards as during this race last year my last few miles were around about 8 minutes and I struggled in the last mile or so. Were my tired, achy legs up to the challenge? I was about to find out!

I remembered to get nearer to the front of the pack as last year I got really held back in the first half a mile as the field spread out. Straight away I could see the front runners away ahead and disappearing around the first bend in the road and I got into my own steady rhythm and switched off to what was going on around me. Before I knew it my watch beeped and the first mile was over. The road dipped and then turned to follow the river around to Cambuskenneth, again all totally flat, and I was still managing to keep my pace up. Over the bridge, up a slight incline and onto the out and back road where the front runners began to pass us. Pushing on I concentrated on my breathing and maintaining a steady pace as I rounded the cone and started on the return leg. I passed a few of my club mates, exchanging high fives and well-dones and noticed that there wasn’t much between me and a few of my WCH friends, so again I dug deep and pushed on back to the main road. Coming up to 4 miles my legs began to burn a bit and I felt like I had slowed down considerably, but a brief glance at my watch told me that in fact I’d only slowed my pace to 7:29. This was possibly the fastest I had ever ran! All I had to do now was keep it up for another and a bit miles and it would be over…

The last mile. Things hurt so bad...(Stirling 10k)
The last mile. Things hurt so bad…

We flew back over the narrow bridge, back through Riverside and onto the second very slight hill in the race and this just about ruined my legs. I checked my watch again and the suddenly realised that even if I ran a 10 minute mile I’d still get a PB, but I had no idea how close behind me the next WCH runner was, so my competitive nature kicked in full force again and I flew round the last mile of the course giving it everything I had left. A large sign on a lamppost saying “400m to go!” was the final push I needed as I powered up to the finishing line and yelled with delight as I saw my final time. 45:50, which is 2 and a half minutes faster than my previous personal best. I was absolutely ecstatic! I wobbled up to the marshals to get my timing chip cut off and trying to stop my legs shaking once again.

Mile splits: 6:53, 7:08, 7:23, 7:29, 7:41, 7:40, (1:34)

No time for posing and smiles during this race... what a gorgeous look that is!! (Stirling 10k)
No time for posing and smiles during this race… what a gorgeous look that is!!

After congratulating everyone I decided to celebrate in the only way possible after the Stirling 10k. By running 8 miles home!

I think fast races may have to take a back seat for a while now. My legs were sorer on Monday than they were after my last 2 marathons!!! And now for marathon number 4….

Photos – Bob Marshall and Gordon Donnachie

2013 – The year I did ALL the running…

And so another year draws to a close. For me it really has been the year of running so far. I hadn’t really thought about it until I started to think of ideas for this blog and then it dawned on me that this year I have:
– Smashed my half marathon time by 5 minutes
– Taken nearly 2 minutes off my 10k time
– Completed my first marathon
– Completed my first ultra marathon
– Finally got round to joining a running club
– Clocked up nearly 1150 miles in a year
– Met some of the most amazing and inspirational new friends

The list goes on and on. But if I listed everything there wouldn’t really be much point in the rest of this blog post!

I started the month with high hopes of completing my first Marcothon. All was going really well for the first 2 weeks with me managing to fit in lunchtime runs here and there, taking the dog out at the crack of dawn and even slipping in my daily 3 miles at 11pm after a trip to the cinema. But sods law had it that as soon as my last lesson had finished on the last day of term, I started burning up and was struck down with the dreaded winter lurgy. So that was me out of the game. I even attempted to get back into it after 2 days of bed rest, but my body quite firmly refused and I had to hang up my trainers for the next week. Once I felt better I got back out there, and I have clocked up my daily miles every day since, but I’ll need to wait until next year to give it another go. It’s a tough challenge and even though it’s only 3 miles (or 25 minutes of running, whichever comes first), it really takes its toll on your body. Some days I’ve really struggled and it has felt like such a chore to run the minimum of 3 miles, even though just a bit over a month ago I ran 33 miles! I think my body is trying to tell me it has clocked up enough miles for the year….

Marcothon aside, it has been a pretty quiet December. Term ended, Christmas came and went and now we’re a few days away from 2014. When I think back over the past 12 months, it amazes me to think how fast the year has passed. I’m looking at the race calender for next year and can’t believe entries are open for the 2014 version already. But what a year of running it was. One of the best things I could have done for my running happened this year – I finally joined a running club and what a difference it has made to both my running, my fitness and also my motivation. My new friends have both inspired and pushed me towards my goals and I don’t think you could find a nicer and more driven bunch of people, who not only want to improve their performances but want to push you along on the way as well. A few of my friends have now accompanied the WCH on our weekend adventures and they’ve all said the same thing – what a fantastic wee club!

I’ve already started entering some of my planned races for 2014 and so far my goals are as follows:

  •   A 45min 10k.  – Very achievable if I focus on my speed work and bring my distances back down. Hopefully by the summer I’ll achieve this one.
  • A 1 hour 45 minute half marathon. Also (possibly!) very achievable. This comes down to more mental rather than physical work. I know I can do it, I’m just scared of burning out so I pull back too early in the race. Hopefully achievable at the Alloa half in March which is where I knocked 5 minutes off my time this year.
  • To start going to Park runs on Saturdays. Now that I’m not working on Saturday mornings! I feel this will really benefit my speed work.
  • Run a sub 4 marathon. My ‘A’ goal for the year. If I can do this I will feel invincible. For a while.
  • Become a stronger Ultra runner. I’m hoping to run both the Clyde Stride and Glen Ogle this year as well and sweeping for the Highland Fling. Hopefully running all races very comfortably and not getting injured!
  • Get stronger. I get gym classes for free. I really have no excuse for not trying everything!!

My first race of 2014 will be the Devilla 15k  at the end of February. This is also the first event of my club Grand Prix which I have high hopes to make my mark in next year. Got to be positive!!

So that leaves me just to round-up this years races and events. It’s been an awesome year of training and racing and I go into 2014 with high hopes and big plans.

First high of the year - a good 5 minutes off my half marathon time in Alloa.
March – First high of the year – a good 5 minutes off my half marathon time in Alloa.
Next high - a minute and a bit off my 10k time. Woooo!
March – Next high – a minute and a bit off my 10k time. Woooo!
The beautiful bling of the Edinburgh rock 'n' roll half. Only good thing about this wet and windy race!
April – The beautiful bling of the Edinburgh rock ‘n’ roll half. Only good thing about this wet and windy race!
Meeting Rhona, Ali and Kate at the race the train event in Aviemore. Fabby people who I hope to run with again in the near future!
May – Meeting Rhona, Ali and Kate at the race the train event in Aviemore. Fabby people who I hope to run with again in the near future!
Running up and down mountains!
May – Running up and down mountains!
Black rock 5 - my first club event after meeting these awesome and inspiring people. Fantastic night!
June -Black rock 5 – my first club event after meeting these awesome and inspiring people. Fantastic night!
September - 2nd 10k pb of the year coming in at 48:17
September – 2nd 10k pb of the year coming in at 48:17
September - completing my first marathon with my friend Catriona and a couple of huge smiles!
September – completing my first marathon with my friend Catriona and a couple of huge smiles!
October - Neil McCover half marathon a week after Loch Ness, again with my awesome running club.
October – Neil McCover half marathon a week after Loch Ness, again with my awesome running club.
October - My first attempt at cross country in over 15 years. Fun but drenched!
October – My first attempt at cross country in over 15 years. Fun but drenched!
October - training in the rain with these dafties!
October – training in the rain with these dafties!
November - my first ultra marathon. Glen Ogle 33 in the POURING rain.
November – my first ultra marathon. Glen Ogle 33 in the POURING rain.
November - Glen Ogle 33 with a smile!
November – Glen Ogle 33 with a smile!
November - Last race of the year - the Hartley Cup relays.
November – Last race of the year – the Hartley Cup relays.
The reason I got faster this year!
The reason I got faster this year!


Here’s to getting faster and loving running in 2014.

Stirling 10k – RACE REPORT


Official time: 48:17 – NEW PB!!

Overall: 410th out of 750 (plus a few more whose chips fell off!)

Division: 42nd out of 94

Gender: 94th out of 290

Medal : No, but we did get a technical t-shirt and goody bag with jelly beans, caramel wafer and water

The way in which I have come to view a 10k has changed so much in little over a year. This time last year it was my favourite distance and one that was comfortable and enjoyable. This time last year Jemma and I were gearing up for a nice run, maybe a PB, but more than anything a fun run in my neighbouring city. This time round it was all change. This time I have been training all year long, working on my strength, focusing on a fast time, scrutinising my mile split times and feeling a lot of pressure (only from myself of course!). 10k is no longer a stroll in the park, it’s pretty much a 6 mile sprint!!

This is exactly what I didn't want to see...
This is exactly what I didn’t want to see…

I woke up early when Craig’s alarm went off and 2 things were on my mind straight away. 1) It’s 6am, why is it still dark outside? and 2) is that rain I can hear battering off the window? And yes it was. Horrible, thick, heavy blobs of rain were being driven in all directions and at that exact moment all I wanted to do was go back to bed and curl up under my lovely thick winter duvet, which has just been brought back out of hiding. So that’s what I did, until 7.15am when I rolled out of bed and had another look at what I was about throw myself out into. It didn’t put my already anxious mind at ease at all. I’ve piled the pressure on myself for weeks about this race as it’s flat and fast and I hadn’t run anywhere close to my pb time of 48:55, which I set at the Jack Crawford 10k back in March, since. I knew I had a chance of a good time as the last flat race I ran was the Bring Bash 5 race in July and every mile was under 8 minutes, so I knew there was a possible chance, but with it being a much bigger race (dogging and weaving past people has never been a strong point of mine) and also the weather was putting a downer on things, I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much, only to be disappointed. Rain I don’t mind in the slightest, but wind and rain together are a foul combination. Previous thoughts of said weather can be found here. But with that being said, I also gave myself a shake, told myself to man up and just get on with it. Plus it would be a good chance to try out my new running jacket on the trek up to meet my team mates, and it’s awesome. No leaks at all!

Half 8 arrived and I left the house to walk up to the sports centre to meet my team mates, and we all travelled through to Stirling together. The plan was to run the race and then a few of us who are doing the Loch Ness Marathon in 2 weeks would run back to Alloa afterwards, but the weather was seriously putting me off this idea. I needed to put in the miles though, so I told my coach not to let me talk myself out of it! By just after 9am we were through in Stirling, sitting in the car and not wanting to venture anywhere away from out warm and dry sanctuary. The race was organised and hosted by Central Athletics and started outside The Peak sports centre, who kindly offered us the use of their facilities, hall to warm up and foyer to stand in until we were called to the start line. The time finally came to ditch our outer layers and dash over from the car to The Peak and wait with the other runners until we were called to the start line. At 10:10am we were ushered across and before I knew it the race had started. I thought I was a lot further forward than I actually was so once over the mat I spent the first half a mile or so dogging and weaving through the crowds, trying not to get in the way of people also doing the same. By this time the wind had really eased off, but the rain was coming down in sheets. The route in on roads the whole way around, apart from a very short section where you have to cross the river on a very narrow bridge. However this is nearly 3 miles into the race so the crowd had thinned out a lot by this point, so it’s never an issue. For the first few miles I chose to stick by another club member and get her to set the pace. I have a habit of going out too hard and too fast and not being able to keep the pace up the entire way around, so I thought if I managed to stick to just under 8 minute miles to begin with I might be able to bring it back in the last mile or so. Well, that plan went out the window!

Mile 1 – 7:50
Mile 2 – 7:19

At this point in the race I compared it to how I felt at this point in my race last year and realised it’s amazing what a year of proper training can do. I was breathing easily, my legs felt great and I was passing a lot of people on the way round. Just before you run across the river there’s a sharp bend in the road and at this point I lost Fiona in the crowds but I managed to spot another lady who I have seen at races before I knew was pretty speedy, so I chose to use her as my new pace maker. Once across the river you meet one of the 2 hills in the race and then its a very flat out and back road through Cambuskenneth, at which point you start to see all the super fast runners already on their way back, when I’m not even in sight of the turn around point!!

Mile 3 – 7:42
Mile 4 – 7:52

I was managing to stay under 8 minute miles, but my legs were now staring to feel it. However, the route out to the turn point and back is on a narrow farm track which gives you a good chance to see what position everyone else is in on the way back, get cheered on, shout on others and push to catch up with the ones you though you might have fallen too far behind. I finally clocked Jemma, having had left my phone in the car this morning before I was able to get in touch with her and noting she wasn’t too far behind me also gave me another mental boost. We were now over half way, my legs were starting to ache more but the race was still on. I looked at my watch and realised I could still gain a pb even if I pulled it back a bit. Come one legs, less than 2 miles to go, we’ve got this!!

Mile 5 – 8:01

Oh no, it’s got an 8 in it.. that’s not what I wanted to see. But wait… I’ve got just over a mile to go and plenty of time to do it in. PB, we’re on!
On the way back into Stirling there is a horrible dip in the road. I can’t even call it a hill, but on a race this flat and fast you really feel it, but I knew I was now on for a good time so with arms and legs doing all they could, I flew up and around it and back towards the finish line with the seconds ticking away on my watch.
4 minutes to gain a pb – it’s on, I’ve got this…
3 minutes to gain a pb – oh crap, it’s further than I thought…
2 minutes to gain a pb – Legs, why won’t you go faster?!? Come on!!

Mile 6 – 8:00

Ahhhh, the finish line was in sight. My team mates and in-laws were shouting me on, I still had something left in the tank and a smile to give coming over the line

0.2 – 1:30

Finish line a few metres away... time to find a smile. Or not...
Finish line a few metres away… time to find a smile. Or not…

38 SECOND PB…. FINALLY!!! And feeling surprisingly awesome! At the finish line I met up with friends and we all celebrated our times and personal bests. It hadn’t been the nicest day for running, but it hadn’t held me back too much. I definitely need to make friends with hills reps again soon and get my strength up to its maximum, but for now I have a new pb which I will bask in the glory of for a while. My next 10k will be when I’m feeling strong and fast and know that I can smash past the 48 minute barrier.

It’s not as impossible as I once thought it was…

Some wet but elated Wee County Harriers. Well done everyone!
Some wet but elated Wee County Harriers. Well done everyone!

I even managed the run back to Alloa after the race. Another 6 miles, all of which were under 9 minutes! Legs are hurting, body is fatigued and ready to switch of, but adrenaline is still in charge of my body for now. And it feels great!

Marathon training – 3 weeks to go!

Training schedule with 3 weeks to go until the biggest race of my life so far –
Sunday – 14 miles of trails
Monday – 6000m rowed plus chest and back weight session (been told I have weak rhomboids – must improve this!) & core work.
Tuesday – fast paced 10k
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 20×1 minute sprints at club training
Friday – swim
Saturday – planned 20-22 mile good paced run.

At this point in my training schedule I’m feeling both apprehensive and excited. I had a good run on Sunday right at this moment in time I still hadn’t felt 100% since I got back from my holidays. Not really a good thing seeing as my first marathon is in 3 weeks! To be honest, I’m not really sure how I’m meant to be feeling at this stage – more nervous than excited? Scared? Terrified?! I read somewhere that most runners will pick up an injury or two in the course of their training, and I know I’m clumsier than your average person, but I just seem to be beating myself self up week in, week out! I know it doesn’t help that I spend the majority of my day crouching or walking about on my knees in the baby pool at work, or if not that then lifting small children out of the pool who can’t manage it themselves, which always results in a kick in the leg/stomach/face. During my last few long runs my shoulders and upper back have been in absolute agony, so I eventually got myself booked in for a sports massage where I was poked and prodded for a good half hour where knots were squished out of me and muscles were pulled back into position. I was told at the end that due to my years of swim training and concentrating mostly on butterfly and front crawl that my pecs and lats were over developed whereas my rhomboids were under developed, which is most likely why I hunch forward when I run and what’s causing the pain. Looking back at race photos of myself I can see the further into a race I am, the more hunched I am, and several times I have crossed the line staring at my feet. This will be worked on! I started the process of rectification by rowing 6000m on my lunch break on Monday, and by home time on Monday I had lovely fluid filled blisters on my hands. Nice. I take it these things don’t come easily then!

BBC image
Eeeek, this will be me in a few weeks!! BBC image

On Tuesday morning I was a bit stiff, (good sign these muscles don’t get worked so often then!) and ready to rejoin my club mates at training that evening. But once again, getting held up speaking to parents on my way out of work meant getting home late again and missing training. So I took it upon myself to beat the sunset and try and run my 10k loop before it got dark. My legs felt a bit stiff for the first few miles, but a nice downhill section got me back on track and I felt refreshed when I got home. I’m definitely going to push for a PB in the Stirling 10k next weekend. If it doesn’t begin with 47:xx it’s not worth knowing. The Stirling 10k is an out and back route, very flat (except for a little dip in the last mile) and very fast. I didn’t feel too great running it last year and came home with a very disappointing 53:xx time, so a course PB is expected, but an overall PB would really give me the push I need just now.

Wednesday saw a much appreciated rest day. I watched rubbish tv and caught up with my blog reading.

On Thursday I finally made my return to club training after weeks of missing it due to work. And I was met with a wonderful set of 20x 1 minute sprints with 1 minute recovery in between each. And it was awesome. I felt strong and pushed with everything I had for the first 30-40 seconds of each minute and then pulled back slightly so as not to burn out. Every time the whistle blew for the next sprint I had power in my legs to push me off quickly and I was out in front for the majority of the session. This gave me exactly the boost I needed to know I still had it. It has been missed and I was getting fed up of feeling awful pre, during and post run, which is exactly how I had felt about most of my running since I got back from holiday. Before we went away my coach said it was probably exactly what I needed – I feel completely the opposite. I think it sucked all my training out of me and all my accumulated miles had been for nothing. However I feel back on track now. Just in time.

Friday – I had a quick swim after work as I was in teaching pre schools up until I finished anyway so added in a few lengths to stretch out.

Saturday – tomorrow will be my last big run before Loch Ness. I had scheduled in one more for next weekend, but it clashes with the Stirling 10k, so it will need to be a 3 week taper instead of 2. Oh well….

I think I’ll need to do quite a bit of psyching myself up before the marathon. I know I am capable of it. I know my fitness and strength are the best they have been in a long time but I still don’t feel like a runner. I know that a silly thing to say when I spend a huge chunk of my life running (or moving faster than a walk anyway!) but when I compare myself to others, I feel like I have a lot more to do before I can call myself that. I guess that may change after I push myself to my limit for 26.2 miles….

Oh yeah, and I treated myself to these. Just cause….

These will hopefully help me fly to the finish line!
These will hopefully help me fly to the finish line!

er.. and these too…

You know.. just in case...
You know.. just in case…