Yesterday saw my last run before Christmas. I realise that Christmas is still almost a week away, but tomorrow I have to go into hospital for a small operation and I’ve been advised not to run for a few days afterwards. It will be nice to save my next run out for Christmas Day; it’s something to look forward to.
This last week saw our race packs arrive for January’s Great Winter Run around Holyrood Park in Edinburgh. Although a 5k is water off a duck’s back to me, it’s Grant’s first race and he is understandably concerned about completing the course in a respectable time. I’m not concerned; he runs a steady 11 – 12 minute mile pace and 33 – 36 minutes is a great time for a first 5k.
To stop him from worrying quite so much I’ve agreed to do some practice races with him – a series of 5ks before the big day!
Yesterday was out first road run in a while. It was a glorious day; clear skies and beautiful sunshine over frosty Dumfriesshire. We were determined to somehow fit our run into our only free day. I had warned Grant that we might run out of light, as we had so much to do, and we agreed to run in the town if that was the case. As I’ve mentioned our village is half a mile long and although it has street lights along the main road doing a 5k would involve a boring 6 ups and downs of the village. No thanks!
After finishing our chores it was obvious that we just weren’t going to have the light to run on the road. So we got our kit on and headed into Dumfries, 10 miles away.
We parked in Dock Park, alongside the river. I’d previously mapped out the circuit and knew that it was a long lap followed by a shorter one to get the full 3 miles. It was cold and frosty and although we were layered up our warm up walk didn’t really warm us up. I had Jeff Galloway’s Ultimate 5k app running, taking us through a steady 7 minute kilometre pace with music synched to our foot fall. I find it really easy to run to the beat and, oddly perhaps, inspirational as certain songs filled my ears.
Our route took us through Dock Park to the new bridge, along the other bank, under St. Michael’s Bridge, up past the old Deer Park, across the Devorgilla Bridge and down the Whitesands to Dock Park again. The second lap took us across the suspension bridge, a much shorter route.
As we set off both of us were struggling to breathe. The air was icy and neither of us were wearing face protection. I got into my breathing pattern reasonably quickly, but it was obvious that Grant was struggling to find his. Apart from a few dog walkers the route was extremely quiet. It was also delightful! Running alongside the river with the street lighting bouncing off the water was wonderful. The ground was a bit slippery in places, but not enough to slow us down and, as I pointed out to Grant, the Winter Run is never cancelled, no matter what the conditions. The more ice runs we do the better!
Our pace was steady all the way round, although as we started the second lap Grant asked if we could slow down because he felt that we were speeding up. I think he was just tiring, so I slowed down a little. Very briefly! He ran behind me for a lot of the time; whether he was struggling or just enjoying the view, I’m not sure! He wasn’t far behind me and I wanted to pull him along, so I kept the pace up as much as I could.
As we climbed the steps up onto the suspension bridge I could see dark figures at the other end. We ran on across the bridge and were greeted by screams as the folk we went bouncing past grabbed onto ropes in order to steady themselves! I shouted an apology and we listened to them laughing as we headed off the other side. There were no splashes so we hadn’t caused too much harm!
We had to stop a couple of times on both laps to cross the road on the St. Michael’s Bridge end but finished our 5k in 36:08, a very respectable time indeed! After a cool down walk we stretched out and then headed home. If we can do the Great Winter Run in that time I’ll be delighted. I suggested to Grant that we maybe do some longer runs, maybe at a slower pace, to build up his endurance and also give him the confidence that he can easily run 5k.
For all we had a 20 mile round trip, I really enjoyed this run and I can see us tootling into town again to do more routes there.