Race Nutrition; Old v New or Science v Nature

Something the Old RunningFox said about one of my earlier posts has got me thinking. I’d commented that I was using a combination of gels, dextrose tablets and isotonic drinks to fuel my long runs and he said, quite rightly, what would Ron Hill have made of that? In his day just a sip of water was enough to see him through a half marathon or even further. Quite true, I’m sure, and if I could run a half marathon in a hour or so I wouldn’t need all this extra fuel. But I can’t. Yet!

I’ve always gone by the rule that for runs up to 30 minutes I don’t need anything. Just a drink of water before I start and a drink of water when I’ve finished. Between 30 minutes and an hour, I carry water and sip it as I need it. Nothing more. Anything over an hour I take an isotonic sports drink with me and anything over two hours I take a gel half way round. I think that’s pretty standard thinking, although I’d be glad to hear if you think differently.

When I first started upping my distance I relied purely on water and jelly beans, not even fancy sport ones, just plain old jelly beans. Apart from the fact that they tend to merge into one huge jelly bean the longer I’m running, I’d probably be more inclined to take beans with me rather than gels or dextrose. What I’d really like to do though, is investigate some better, more natural, less scientific and ultimately cheaper ways of fuelling long runs.

I bought a bag of jelly beans the other day, purely for research purposes you understand. 100g (half the bag) contains 370 kcal, 0.3 g protein, 91.3g carbs (of which 52.9g are sugars), 0.1g fat (saturated), 0.1g fibre and not much else. In comparison the Dextrose tablets contain 1535 kcal, 0g protein, 88g carbs (79g sugars) and 0.3g fat per 100g. Not much difference energy wise. Costwise my bag of beans cost 89p for a 200g bag. A packet of 12 Dextro tablets cost 75p. Dextro Energy suggest popping a 3.4g tablet every 15 – 20 minutes. An equivalent amount of beans (approximately 12) would see me having to carry and consume, on a two hour run, almost 100 beans to every 8 tablets. I think I would be sick. I have no choice now but to eat my jelly beans to help fuel my search.  Yum.

The other issue, for me, is that a lot of sports fuel have nuts or gelatine in then and I can’t/won’t eat those. I hunted high and low and read the small print on many, many gels before settling on the MaxiFuel Viper Active ones. I took one at 7 miles on a half marathon distance run. Their spiel says to take 1 – 2 every hour of exercise, which would really mean me having to take four of them.  I tried the SIS gels on the Great North Run, opting to take three spaced out over 4, 7 and 11 miles as they suggested three per hour! Beforehand I thought this was excessive, but my Garmin data showed a definite boost about 10 – 15 minutes after consumption. The SIS gels are labelled as vegan. The MaxiFuel ones I will have checked as vegetarian, at least. On the run I find all gels difficult to open though; sweaty hands and wee rip off tops just don’t mix.

The problem is that gels and tablets tend to be more energy efficient per gram than anything else. That’s what they’re designed to be. So can I find something else, as compact and as nutritious?



The Post Run Blues

Ahh, this is them then, the post big race blues. I’ve not experienced this feeling before, having only done small races with very little hype. I find myself in the biggest set of doldrums I’ve been in for a very long time, not quite knowing how to get out.

I was so full of emotion after the Great North Run that I didn’t quite know how to express it. Some of it came out as anger against the crowds that caused my husband to miss my finish and kept me waiting for him for over an hour after the race. Some of it was despondency – how can I put myself through that again. And some of it was just delight at having been there at the largest ever biggest half marathon in the world.

The race itself, the joy that was the race, was getting lost beneath all these all negative emotions and I had to step back and deal with that. I found myself sending ranting tweets to celebrities who dared to tweet how wonderfully organised the event was. I was pretty wound up at the way I was left feeling after the race but, apart from the people who called for the buses to be emptied too early, I have no beef with the event organisers. Everything else was caused by the sheer volume of people attending. And the only way they can deal with that is to further cap entries.

I enjoyed running with Murphy on Tuesday, totally naked of technology and just running as I wanted. Slowly and without breaking into a sweat was what I needed. Today it’s very wet and the light isn’t good. I won’t chance running on the road or running through the woods – I will be hopping onto the treadmill and making the best of a rotten day.

I am now looking at what to do next. I’ve promised that I will do the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Edinburgh next April. I think I will make that my big event of the year. I can always put my name down for the GNR 2013 ballot and let fate decide if I am to do the event next September.

In the meantime there is the Jedburgh Running Festival at the end of October and I have a choice of a 10k and a half marathon there. There are some other options available, I just need to work round the rest of my life.

And stop stressing. Life is too short for stressing.

The Great North Run 2012

I wrote the title carefully, adding 2012 afterwards in case I needed to identify it as the 2012 report in the future.

I’m trying hard now to remember as many details as I can for you, but also for me because the whole day blurred into an experience, rather than a race. The Great North Run compares with nothing I’ve ever done before. If I’m honest, I’m sitting here watching the race on TV, which my son recorded for me. If nothing else it’s sparking memories that might make this a better post.

I’ll start at the beginning, at 7am when my alarm woke me. I was already awake, of course, waiting for the alarm to sound. I’d slept well and knew that I had everything ready so that I could breakfast, dress and go. I followed advice and ditched my porridge for toast and jam. We’d decided to catch the Metro from Whitley Bay. It’s the furthest point from Newcastle no matter which way you go so chances were that it would be quietest so far as passengers go. We also knew that it had a reasonable car park. Right enough the car park was only half full when we go there at just after 8. There were around 30 other runners at the station waiting. We boarded the anti-clockwise train and easily got a seat. So far, so good.

Runners embarked at every stop, until there was standing room only. We soon reached Haymarket, the station identified as the closest to the start, and followed the crowds. We had no idea where we were going; our recky run the day before hadn’t taken us further than the station. We passed the university and on the other side of the campus found ourselves in crowds I’ve never seen the like of, despite being a city born girl. Murphy had to be carried for fear of him being trodden on.

We found the baggage buses, all thirty of them, lined up parallel to the start. The green starters buses were right at the back so it was some walk to the bus and back. Once I’d deposited my bag I thought it best to visit the loo. It was now 9:45 and we were to be in our starting pens by 10:30 at the latest. No bother then.

What I hadn’t anticipated was how long it takes for people to pee. We joined a queue thinking it was one queue for the entire toilet block. It turned out to be the queue for the last toilet in the block and as we reached the corner we could see smaller queues for the others. Time wasted there! It was now 10:00. I eventually reached the end of the toilet queue at 10:15. Grant was panicking that I’d miss my pen time. So was I. We went straight down to the start.

The race starts on the A167 motorway, using both sides of the motorway. As we walked we went further and further from the starting line, trying to find my section. Eventually we found the green section, but no way into it. It turned out that the sections were merging and there was no clearly identifiable ‘I’ section within the green. I kissed Grant and Murphy goodbye and I queued up with hundreds of others outside of the pens, trying to move into them. Grant and Murphy planned to catch the Metro across to South Shields in time to see me cross the finish line some two and half hours later. As we waited the gun fired and the pens started to move forward, very slowly. It was obvious that as the people already in the pens moved forward we’d not be able to edge into our section. I couldn’t take it and jumped the fence along with a few others. I wasn’t going to be left behind, sorry!

It was way after 11 when I crossed the line. I had stuck to the right hand side of the road with the thought in my head that I needed to stay out of people’s way when I was on a walk break. When I looked across there was Mo Farah high fiving the starters on the left. Damn. An opportunity missed. I wasn’t about to race across the road for a taste of fame though. Whilst we were waiting for the start it had started to rain quite heavily. I managed to grab an Asics raincoat that someone had stuffed in the fence and wore that until we got close to the start. The rain had slowed by then and was reduced to a gentle and refreshing shower.

I had Jeff Galloway and his wonderful half marathon app on my iPhone, giving me a consistent pace to run to and I set off steadily, as planned. To begin with I was running with plenty of space around me. I didn’t take a lot of notice of people around me so I can’t say if they left me behind, or if I left them, but what I do remember is that just up from the start was a row of trees and a set of toilets; I couldn’t believe how many men headed for the trees and women headed for the loos! We ran along the motorway into Newcastle centre. As we went through the first tunnel there were shouts of “Oggy, Oggy, Oggy!” Spectators were lining the bridges and streets, which was amazing to see. I don’t think I’ve ever run for so far smiling!

I won’t do a step by step analysis of the run. To begin with I was running around about a 10 min/mile pace. Mile 1 came in at 9:34, mile 2 at 9:55 and mile 3 at 10:08, giving me an official 5k split of 31:01. I was really happy to see that. There was a time, not so long ago, when I couldn’t crack the 30 minute 5k and now I’m not far off that whilst carrying on to run a half marathon!

Crossing the iconic Tyne Bridge was the next amazing point. My husband loves bridges and I thought about how much he would like this as I crossed it. The amount of charity runners out there was astonishing. Thousands and thousands of them, for more charities than I knew existed. I spotted three other Dogs Trust runners on the way round and got a couple of pats on the back from other runners acknowledging what a great charity Dogs Trust is.

As well as spectators there were bands playing, the local radio station had presenters positioned along the course and ordinary folk were there handing out sweeties, oranges, ice pops – even Jaffa Cakes! It was hugely motivating, hugely so. I think the crowds, more than anything, spurred me on. There were frustrating times when we were running on narrower roads and I was dodging people trying to overtake them, weaving in and out and feeling as if I was running an extra mile on top of the 13.1!

I reached 10k in 64:52 which isn’t far off my ordinary 10k time. It’s certainly faster than I could do 10k last year! I’d been under the misapprehension that the course would be fairly flat, heading gently down to the coast. How wrong I was. It seemed to be hill after hill after hill. It shows on my Garmin data that the uphill miles 4 and 5 were much slower at 10:47 and 11:07. I managed to pick up my pace on the next two miles (10:14 and 10:35) and the fact that I managed to do so many faster miles meant that I could afford to be a bit slower on some miles and still be under my 11 min/mile target pace.

My nutrition was spot on. I had my Lucozade Isotonic drink for all the way round. I didn’t take any water or Powerade offered at the roadside wanting to stick to what I knew worked. I had my gels at miles 4, 7 and 11, although getting the tops off the gels was a nightmare with sweaty fingers! I had to stop and ask a fireman to help me open my last one!

Just before the drop down into South Shields there is a hill that just seems to go on forever! People around me were walking, but I was determined to only walk when Jeff told me to. At mile 12 the ground just dropped away in front of us revealing the sea. At last!

The last mile was nothing short of a killer. It was a long mile, but I tried to lift my pace. I did the last mile in 10:35, even managing to speed up at the end! The sight of the 800m sign spurred me on. I looked along the spectators for Grant and Murphy, expecting them to be somewhere along the finish straight. The Red Arrows did a fabulous display as I ran along the finish straight, finishing with a huge heart. They’d started us off at Newcastle and were helping us finish at South Shields.

I crossed the line in 2:22:13 in 27,766th place. It was a half marathon PB by 2 minutes which, considering the course and the amount of people in my way most of the time, was brilliant. My Garmin data is here.

I was spent by the time I crossed the line, I have to admit. I struggled to walk from the finish line to the chip deposit section. I managed to stretch out just beyond this and went to collect my goodie bag, complete with T-shirt and medal. The organisation at this point was spot on. Beyond the finish was a section for families to reunite. I rang Grant to tell him that I was heading up to the section for H and would wait under the flag, but only got his voicemail. Unbeknownst to me Grant had been held up in Newcastle, struggling to get a train to the coast. I waited and waited, getting colder and colder, not wanting to move in case I missed Grant. There was nothing in my goody bag that I could eat, everything had nuts or wheat in. All I had was the Powerade to sip.

An hour passed and still there was no sign of Grant. I kept trying to call, but my calls just went to voicemail. I sent texts to say where I was and eventually I got a reply. For some reason he had not received any of my voicemails and only knew that I’d finished when he started to get texts. When we finally found each other I needed my kitbag and the milk shakes and Mars Bar. We headed for the baggage buses.

I couldn’t find my bus! There was the sign saying bus 23, but no bus! When I asked an official he said the buses were being unloaded, despite the fact that the buses couldn’t leave and there were people still running! I was sent to a small marquee, loaded with bags, with a massive crowd leading from it. I joined the throng and patiently waited. There was no queue. It was a bit like a jumble sale. It was a good twenty minutes before I got to the front, a full two hours after I’d finished. Had I realised that Grant was so severely delayed I’d have gone straight to the baggage bus. I had something to eat and drink, although there wasn’t anything other than chips for me on the stalls. Sadly the risotto had run out! I settled for some hastily and undercooked chips and a hot chocolate.

We walked into South Shields town centre, following many others along the route, reaching the end of the Metro queue far too quickly. It stretched for the length of the High Street. I was tired and hungry. I wasn’t relishing the wait. We had initially planned to take the ferry across to North Shields and then two stops on the Metro to Whitley Bay. If I had been alone I think I would have chanced it and headed for the ferry, but together we are useless decision makers, neither wanting to upset the other! Instead we waited in the queue for a good hour or so. By the time we reached the platform I was shot. I started to feel sick and went to sit down. The train was fully packed and all the seats were taken before we could get on. I was carrying Murphy so I had no hands free to hold onto the straps or poles. Almost immediately I started to feel ill. My temperature started to climb and I felt weak. Apparently the colour drained from my face and I eventually took Grant’s advice to sit down on the floor. I sat on my bag with Murphy on my lap for the remainder of the journey into Newcastle, only really feeling better when we’d changed trains and reached Whitley Bay and I had my curry and Guinness  in my hand!

People have been asking if I’ll do it next year and I’m still unsure. If I could be transported to the start and beamed home at the finish I’d say yes, like a shot. Getting there wasn’t too bad, but getting away was awful. Everyone, especially catered for elites and celebrities, has been tweeting about how wonderful the event was and, yes, it is a great race. I loved running it. The logistics of getting away spoilt it for me. What I’ve learnt is that I need to go through the finish and head for my bag. Forget meeting anyone – just go. After that I can relax, knowing that I have my food and drink. Then we need to look more closely at the ferry and how much easier that might be or for Grant to take the car straight to the finish and park up there.

Today I went for a recovery run. Just a slow trail run with Murphy, free of iPhone, music and Garmin. I walked when I wanted and ran when I wanted, working out the stiffness in my legs. It was bloody hard for the first half a mile, almost as if my feet had forgotten what “to run” meant! After that I just went with my easy pace and enjoyed it, hardly breaking sweat.

Next on the calendar? I’m not sure at the moment. Give me a few days and I’ll let you know!

Down at the Quayside with Mo and Greg

Just sat down to write this pre-GNR blog post, when the Red Arrows flew past the caravan. That sort of sums up our day; a mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous. We caught the Metro train into the city this morning, rehearsing tomorrow’s route to the start. It seems easy enough without fifty odd thousand other people trying to do the same!

We made our way down from Haymarket to the Quayside, only to be greeted by a sea of people. Everyone and their granny had come down to see The GNR Games and celebrity spot. We’d planned to meet friends at the Pitcher and Piano, which was mobbed. I’m not quite sure how I managed it, but I spotted Zoë’s mum, Joan, sitting outside having only ever seen her in a Facebook photograph! Prior to today I’d met none of my Facebook running friends in person. Ours was a virtual relationship and I said to Zoë when she arrived that it was like online dating!

It was far too busy for us, with Murphy, to venture across the Millenium Bridge so our viewing was restricted to watching the large screen across the river, although I did mosey on down to the end of the bridge to watch Mo Farah racing. I took a couple of photos, one blurry one of Mo in the distance and an excellent one of a bald spectator’s shiny bonce! The route was packed and, unfortunately, just as we all positioned our cameras, a TV camera arrived on the back of motorbike and parked right in front of us. I did get to see long jumper Greg Rutherford closer up, but didn’t get my camera out in time! Useless!

I briefly met a longstanding Facebook friend and supporter, Paul Smith, whose tales of his Ron Hill inspired run streak (which now runs into the 2000s) entertain us on FB daily. He is chaperoning celebrity Olympic sprinter Iwan Thomas tomorrow and I think it’ll be a fast race for him! Unfortunately it was just too busy and there was too much going on for us to properly catch up. That’ll have to wait for another time.

So, how do I feel? I have just over 12 hours before the start and I’m actually quite calm. I’ve eaten sensibly, cooking a meal in our little caravan which sits on the cliffs overlooking the North Sea. I made a Quorn, chickpea, potato and pea curry and served it with with Thai rice. Nothing too spicy, just very mild. We’re sitting here watching Strictly Come Dancing. I’m that relaxed!

Tomorrow morning I plan to have toast and jam. I’ve bought Lucozade Sport Isotonic drink for the race, despite the fact that there will be Powerade available. I know that I’m ok with Lucozade so I’m sticking with it. One bottle should see me through. On top of that I have SIF gels to take at miles 4, 7 and 11 and Dextro tablets if I need them. Post-race I have soya milkshakes and a Mars Bar in my bag; I’m taking no chances!

I’ll sign off now and check my kit bag for tomorrow. I just need to know that everything is there, my Garmin and iPhone are charged and that there is nothing left to do. Adios amigos!

Avoiding last minute preparations

Well here we are. I have a few days left until the biggest race I’ll probably ever do. Depending on how it goes I might not do the Great North Run again. I don’t like all this worry leading up to the event, to be honest. I like small events, those without worries of where to park or which bus to get to get to the start! Ones where my husband can walk from the start to the finish without having to take a bus.


So, I’ve destroyed my charity vest. It’s a shame, but the vest was just big enough and, I’m sure, would have chaffed and I’m not taking the chance. Instead I’ve cut the printed matter out and pinned it to the back of my chosen Nike vest.

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The front looks like this:

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I’ve also been updating my playlist, taking off some tunes that were annoying me and adding some that I thought might help. My playlist now looks like this (prepare yourself):

The Chain – Fleetwood Mac
Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen
Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits
Crocodile Rock – Elton John
Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting – Elton John
Sex on Fire – Kings of Leon
Sweet Hitch-Hiker – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Hanging on the Telephone – Blondie
Promises – Eric Clapton
Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
My Generation – The Who
Bang a Gong – Blondie
Ballroom Blitz – The Sweet
Paranoid – Black Sabbath
Whatever You Want – Status Quo
Highway to Hell – AC/DC
Whole Lotta Rosie – AC/DC
You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC
Mr Blue Sky – ELO
Town Called Malice – The Jam
Caroline – Status Quo
Down Down – Status Quo
Bright Side of the Road – Van Morrison
Slow An’ Easy – Whitesnake
Here I Go Again – OK Go!
Signed, Sealed, Delivered – Stevie Wonder
Hold on Tight – ELO
Dancing in the Street – Martha and the Vandellas
Get Ready – Rare Earth
Sex-O-Matic Venus Freak – Macy Gray
Finally – More & Twizt
Some Kinda Rush – Booty Luv
I Need a Miracle – KLM Music
Just Dance – Radio G
Pump Up the Jam – D.O.N.S.

Any suggestions for good pumping rock songs are welcomed!

The Last Long Run (which was quite short really)

Today saw the my last long run before the impending doom/joy that is the Great North Run, doom or joy depending on which level of hysteria I am currently experiencing.

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However, long is a bit of a poor adjective for me to use as long, now, is upwards of 13 miles. This was a little, itty bitty 5 miles. Hardly enough for me to break into a sweat.

Had it not been quite so humid maybe I wouldn’t have broken into the sweat I did! I decided to do a trail run. My long (really long) runs have been largely road runs. This, coupled with the fact that the nights are starting to draw in and the weather hasn’t been as sun shiny as it could have been on my running days, has meant that poor Murphy hasn’t been running in quite a while. I felt that today was the day to out that right. Luckily it was fairly dry, although it had poured down all night. To be honest, I was heading out come (insert any weather possible and some not probable.)

I vaguely worked out that two and a bit laps of the castle would give me about 5 miles. To my horror the battery on my Garmin was almost flat so I ran NAKED! Seeing a freckle where you were expecting to see your pace is a tad disconcerting at first, but you soon get used to it! I was determined to run an easy pace anyway so not having my watch to obsess about was probably a good thing.

My ankle was a bit stiff, I must admit. Every now and again I would stop on walk breaks to stretch my legs out a bit. It did help and the discomfort, because it’s not pain, tended to come and go. Possibly running on uneven ground may have helped a bit, causing my foot to move more than running on the road would have. The ground was only really soggy up near the castle where the trees overhang the path, not really allowing the sun in.

Murphy had a great time. I had a great time too, regardless of what I looked like at the end! I managed just over 11 min/mile pace which was what I wanted. Murphy was a total star, running perfectly on the lead when we got to the castle road, which has made me think really hard about entering some Canix events in the future. He wasn’t quite so chuffed when I plonked him in the sink on our return to wash his little belly! The hazards of being a slow-slung hound!

So, that’s me. Two short runs left, one tomorrow I think and one on Thursday and then rest up until Sunday morning! We’re travelling across to the north east on Friday morning, camping at Whitley Bay. I’ve sussed out the Metro and we should be able to get to the start fairly easily, fingers crossed. We’ll test out the route on Saturday just to be sure. I’m really looking forward to meeting people I’ve only ever messaged on Facebook and Twitter.

The only thing I have left to do is organise my gear. The Dogs Trust have sent me a personalised technical vest, but I’m not keen on wearing it. I think I’d rather wear something I’m comfortable in. What I’m considering doing is cutting the donated vest and pinning parts of it to my comfy vest. If that doesn’t work, I’ll just go incognito and enjoy the anonymity!

Caution: Reblogging in Progress

This is a new blog started by a friend of mine, Fraser. We met through the Alfa Romeo forum alfaowner.com and share a love of photography. He and his work partner are raising money for Help for Heroes and they have a very personal reason for this. Read on…


Welcome to the Terrenus Help for Heroes blog. A long time in the making since, at the time of writing, we have completed 8 of our 9 events, but the next one is the main event, the biggie, the real cahuna, the challenge for a couple of middle aged guys who really should know better.

Having variously tackled 200 miles on a spin bike, cycling across the north of England in two days in February (foolish in the extreme), taken part in a Duathlon, Cycled 65 miles around the Trossachs (steeeep and looong hills), tackled the seven Munroes on the South Glenshiel Ridge (only completing 5 due to a knee injury, footwear malfunction, kilt-induced friction burns and an Arctic Enema – don’t ask), ran a 10 k for the first time (me), Cycled the Great Glen Way in two days and ran around Arthur’s Seat at night while wearing a light suit…

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Gallovidian 10k Road Race

Here I am, sitting in my little art gallery in Dumfries, getting my priorities right. The window hasn’t been changed, I’ve not checked my emails, phone calls or opened a tube of paint. No, instead I have a cup of tea and my lap top with my blog open in front of me. This is where obsession starts calling, I think.

Last night I was driven into Dumfries by my team coach (otherwise known as my long suffering husband) for the annual 10k hosted by Dumfries Harriers. It’s now in its fifteenth year and this was my second at the same event. Last year I came as a 10k race novice and, to be fair, I’ve only done one other since and that was in October last year. I don’t seem to be able to find races locally that happen on a day I can make it, i.e. one that I’m not working on. Either that or they clash with something else. I could have done the Glasgow 10k last Sunday right enough, but my training asked for a 14 mile run and I really didn’t want to split it this time.

According to their website Dumfries Harriers had 267 people enter the race and 234 actually finished. As it’s not a chipped race none of us know how many didn’t turn up, but I think it’s safe to assume that most people started. The fact that it’s not chipped also affects your time unless you start at the front. I invariably start my races at the back and try to work through the field, so I didn’t cross the start line for a few seconds after the clock started. No many seconds, I don’t suppose, but every one counts!

Pre-race I’d thought hard about my nutrition, especially in light of Sunday’s experiences. I ate well the night before, enjoying a frittata with potatoes and salad – a good mix of carbs and protein, breakfasted on porridge with honey and banana and lunched on jacket potato with baked beans. As the race didn’t start until 7pm, when I got home from school I had a Sci Mx Protein Flapjack  (which was lovely!) and then just before the race I had a Maxifuel Viper Active gel. I may have been overdoing it for a 10k, but I wasn’t taking any chances. As it was at least one person flaked out during the race and many didn’t finish. It was very humid.

This is a very friendly race and I saw lots of well ken’t faces before the start. I saw the back of my friend George. I recognised him from the head band! I later asked my husband how George had done and he replied that George had finished about 10 minutes ahead of me and that he heard him before he saw him, such was the puffing and panting going on! George is great! There were others; Tracy, who I’ve worked with on and off for years in school, whose husband was running and I briefly met up with Nicola, who is also doing the Great North Run, before I had to leave for a warm up walk. I was still concerned about my right ankle. There is no pain, but it is stiff and takes a while to warm up. The first kilometre is hard going, I have to admit. I just have to have faith that it will ease and run through the stiffness. It makes me feel as if I’m hobbling along at the start; not a look to impress onlookers!

Before the event I’d tried to tell myself to run, not race. I didn’t go as far as to write this on my wrist, as I’d planned, but it was in my head that I’d had a hard run on Sunday and that I shouldn’t expect much from what could still be a tired body. I did, however, set my Jeff Galloway 10k app onto race day with a pace of 10 min/miles. I didn’t think that that was asking too much; I could always slow down.

I started, as I’ve said, from the back. I had my Garmin so I wasn’t worried about clocking an official time. I just hit start when I crossed the line. One thing I noticed is that everyone went out fast. I watched them all but a few disappear as I ran to the tempo of the music. Slowly I caught them up, without trying too, too hard and passed a few before doing my first walk break after four minutes of running. My ankle was still stiff, but walking helped to loosen it off – another benefit of run walking.

I tended to yo-yo with the same runners, catching them up and passing them on a run and then have them pass me on a walk. It caused some amusement and I became known as the “Yo Yo Woman”. I really hope that it didn’t put them off. I think it might have p****ed one guy off who couldn’t quite believe the pace at which I overtook him, only to see me walking a bit further down the road! I felt as if I was right at the back of the field, but I could see a few runners behind me.

Once I reached 3 miles I started to pass more and more runners who were starting to tire. Not having them catch up with me on a walk break gave me confidence to push home. I could see that my pace was hovering around the 10 min/mile and that meant only one thing:

As I headed into the last mile I pushed myself on. I overtook a couple of ladies I’d been yoyoing with for the last two miles and just carried on running. I took one short walk break just after the 5 mile point of about 10 seconds and then ran to the finish. I passed a few coming into the finish and, as I approached the stadium, saw my friend Nicola ahead of me. I followed her across the line finishing (Garmin time) in a PB of 62:34. I knocked nearly 3 minutes off last year’s time. I finished the race in 215th place with a published time of 62:47, which shows that it took me 13 seconds to cross the start line! There are no stats to tell me how far I was placed as a woman or in my age group. I can’t even work the last one out as no age groups are listed and I gave up counting the women ahead of me (I thought that was slightly too obsessive!) No medal for my achievements this time, but one of the best quality T-shirts around! I’ll happily take that!

There’s a bit of me that would have loved to have finished in under 60 minutes, but I’m really pleased with my time. I’ve knocked time off all of my distances so far this year, sticking to the run:walk:run method every time. If I carry on like this then I will soon do a sub-60 10k and I’m happy to bide my time. I’ve subbed a 30 minute 5k and a 2:30 half marathon so far this year, so the 10k is the next one to fall!

This has set me up really well for the Great North Run. If I can get my ankle moving properly, I’ll be very happy.

Before I race, a promise. Kinda.



Feeling fit and ready for action after Sunday’s (not so) Fabulous Fourteen, I’ve decided that I will indeed run tomorrow night’s 10k race here in Dumfries. It’s a nice wee race, with a relatively small field, that ordinarily would be a PB chaser. It’s a pretty flat road course and last year I managed 65:10 minutes, which was great for my first 10k race.

I’m saying this now to you all – I am NOT chasing a PB. Really, I’m not.




…although it would be nice to finish a little closer to 60 minutes!

The Last Really Long Run before the Great North Run!

That’s it. I’ve reached that point at which things start to wind down, giving my body time to build up resources for the Great North Run. In a way I’m already not looking forward to stepping right back; I’m already talking about trying a 15 mile run after the race and building it up to see how far this middle aged body will take me. I must be mad.

Yesterday I got my husband to take me into town and drop me off so that I could run home, rather than run to a point and back. They were roads I knew well, although the first part out of Dumfries I’d never run on before. The weather seemed perfect – not too hot, not to sunny and sporting a gentle breeze.

I’d tried to carb load, but I’m not good at it. I think too much about everyone else and cook what I think they’d like, rather than what I need. I really need to do something about that. I had tacos the night before, when I probably should have had pasta or rice, and breakfasted on boiled egg and toast, when I probably should have had porridge. With all this in mind I think I was almost certainly under fuelled for a long run. However…

I was dropped off at Castledykes Park and, after a quick visit to the loo, set off along the Glencaple Road. I started off trying to listen to my body and run at what felt like an easy pace. It turns out that my easy pace is around 10:30 min/mile pace as the first two miles came in at 10:34 and 10:11. I even stopped now and again to take photographs; I was feeling relaxed and happy. My left ankle was stiff to begin with but soon started to loosen off and that had been my main worry.

The River Nith heading out into the Solway.

As you can see from the photo it’d had started to heat up a bit. I’d left starting the run quite late, not helped by the fact that as I was ready to go my husband decided to do an online search for a new cooker hood to replace the one that has been broken for the last 3 years! Only mad dogs and English runners set off in the mid day sun!

It gradually got hotter and hotter and I could feel my pace slipping, despite me trying to maintain it. In the front of my mind though I was telling myself that only distance mattered today, not pace. I just wanted to do a long, slow 14 mile run. However I also realised that the slower I ran, the longer it would take!

My husband had promised to follow me along the road once he’d finished his cooker hood shopping and eventually caught up with me as I finished mile 7 and was reaching for my gel. I stopped to talk to him for a while before he drove home.

Caerlaverock Castle across the fields, subject of some of my paintings.

My splits tell the story:

The first three miles were on the button.
After that I started to feel the heat and slow up.
I took a gel at mile 7, which helped a little, but just felt as if I was crawling the last few miles.
These two last miles were pure torture.


I stopped slightly short of 14 miles because I’d reached the pub! My son is a bar man there, so I popped in to see him and get my water bottle refilled. After that I walked home as best I could after 14 tortuous miles! My husband met me as I walked up the road. He said he wasn’t worried, but just thought that it was time I was due home.

I knew that I was weak; I drank my recovery protein drink (a banana milk shake) as soon as I got in and went for a dip in the hot tub. I went hot and cold and hot again and lasted maybe 10 minutes before I started seeing stars. I had to get out. I quickly made myself a sandwich and forced myself to eat it, even though it was the very last thing I wanted. Quite quickly I started to feel better so I ran myself a cold bath and sat in that for 10 minutes. Once the initial shock had subsided, so long as I didn’t move, it actually felt good. My legs were still hot despite being in the cold water for 10 minutes.

After that I was just ravenous. We walked to the local pub and besides my favourite Guinness recovery drink I had to have a packet of crisps (US translation: chips) before ordering my veggie chilli supper! It’s not like me, but I had literally used up every reserve I had – I was running on empty!

Today I feel OK. I’m a little stiff, but not at all sore. My previously sore leg is feeling fine. I’m planning a gentle bike ride to help loosen things, but that’s all. I do have a bad case of sunburn though, highlighting just how hot it was yesterday.

On Wednesday I am booked into a 10k race in Dumfries, but I’m waiting to see how I feel about it. I won’t run if I think it’s going to spoil what I’ve worked up to so far. However, I think I’ll be OK although I won’t be aiming for a PB!