This post is a little overdue, what with the race having taken place back on 2 January!  Maybe I just needed the recovery time…

This Aberdeenshire village, 25 miles from the Big City, was handily close to my friends’ house where I stayed for Hogmanay.  As runners themselves (and bloody good ones, too), they suggested we get the year off to a flyer.  Relatively speaking.

I was warned about the uphill start but was told it was basically downhill after that.  On consulting Strava, it’s not immediately clear just how wrong that felt, but I’ll get to that.

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I’m a bad runner, in that I don’t traditionally bother with warm ups.  My friends are not like me, though, so off up that steep hill we went.  It’s a mile up, and it felt it.  At an easy pace it felt fine, but you could bet it’d hurt once the race started.  Still, at least we were to get it out of the way.

And off we went, and up we went!  And up, and up some more.

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Credit: AB21 Photography (duh)

The adrenaline of the first race of the year, and how early in the race the hill came up meant this wasn’t too bad.  Considering I’d run Snowdonia a couple of months back, this was tame in comparison, but the shorter race does make you push a bit more.  Still, I got myself up it, and then the fun descent started!

I can honestly say that first 4k flew by.  I felt strong, it was still downhill at that point, and I was really enjoying it!  So it was naturally at this point that things flattened out, steadily got more lumpy, and then it was time for the off-road section.  Oh dear.

It’s not clearly visible on the course profile above, but you gain a relatively small 30m over the mile from 6k.  This, when you factor in watching your step the whole time, made this the toughest part of the race for me, no question.  I’d gone from Great to Terrible in no time, and just really wanted it to end by that point.  And I regretted wearing my nice, reasonably new ‘race’ road shoes for this.  Mud!

The suffering eventually came to an end as we came off the tracks and back to the open roads with just over 2k to go.  We were going downhill again, and after a minute or two I began to feel better again.  This running lark is a funny business like that.

I knew by now that any ideas of matching my time from the Bella 10k in November was fantasy stuff, but sub-42 sounded good for a first outing of the year.  Handily, I had a target to chase as someone had passed me at the top of the turn.  I gave an extra welly as we came back into Lumphanan village will a little over 1k to run, and kept the foot down.  Incentive after incentive came back towards me as a few guys struggling gave me fresh targets, and then one of my friends – having finished ages ago, obviously – gave an extra shout of encouragement with 100m to go.

Absolutely burst by now, I gave the nearest I could get to a sprint finish to cross the line in 40:59.

Phew!

Lap Distance Time Pace GAP Elev HR
  1 1.0 km 4:42 4:42 /km 3:45 /km 53 m 173 bpm
  2 1.0 km 4:45 4:45 /km 3:55 /km 46 m 184 bpm
  3 1.0 km 3:41 3:41 /km 4:10 /km -31 m 182 bpm
  4 1.0 km 3:40 3:40 /km 4:15 /km -40 m 182 bpm
  5 1.0 km 3:50 3:50 /km 3:52 /km -3 m 184 bpm
  6 1.0 km 3:55 3:55 /km 3:57 /km -2 m 183 bpm
  7 1.0 km 4:28 4:28 /km 4:19 /km 7 m 187 bpm
  8 1.0 km 4:28 4:28 /km 4:39 /km -10 m 187 bpm
  9 1.0 km 4:02 4:02 /km 4:16 /km -13 m 183 bpm
 10 0.9 km 3:26 3:44 /km 3:46 /km -4 m 190 bpm

The numbers here are pretty reflective of how I felt on the way round.  I loved getting to test the HR monitor my brother got me for Christmas – any new data to pour over is welcome data!

This race made for a great start to the year.  It was a nice (if tough!) looped course on open roads/trail, and it got a whole bunch of folk out who might not otherwise have bothered.  After all, it’s cold outside and all that chocolate won’t eat itself.