The weekend of the 12th of October saw a few of us, friends/ clients head over to Aviemore for the 10km/ half marathon race. I haven’t entered this race for some time for personal reasons but decided this was the year when I saw that a friend was looking for volunteers to head over and make it a laugh. I decided I could conquer my demons this time, lots of distraction combined with running – the best way I know to relax the stressed mind. I signed up quickly before I could change my mind. I was going with the aim of getting that PB that had eluded me at the Dundee Half Marathon after I had to give first aid to a young lad. Which was naturally a choice I would make EVERY single time, the fact of the matter is that there was no choice.
The drive up was epic, in that we had all sorts of music, wind ups, a stop of for the ‘cloakrooms’, yes not toilets – we had entered a new world. The views, as always on this drive, were simply captivating. It just makes you want to take it all in, I was alittle apprehensive heading up to Aviemore, it holds alot of personal memories as I mentioned, some of which I have in the past struggled to deal with. But as I have said I felt it was time to face them and I do love Aviemore, I was heading up with a group that would easily distract me 😉
I really feel alive as I head up into this area of Scotland, being close to the hills, out in the proper fresh, clean air, there’s something about it all that makes me feel invigorated. Being surrounded by people who want to be active is brilliant!
Getting into Aviemore, there was alot of traffic, people were clearly arriving in their droves. Unfortunately, it was while we were in Aviemore, that I was literally sucker punched. The chances of a face from my past being in Aviemore the same weekend I had decided to venture up had to be minimal, so I hadn’t expected it. This was to throw a cloud over my weekend but I dug deep to see past this and not let it change the weekend.
Gareth from The Cairn Hotel in Carrbridge was fantastic, with brilliant customer service, he arranged for us to stay at a local self-catering apartment, The Old School House, due to another group extending their stay. It was 5 star and amazing, we were in our element and not least because the 3 of us staying there enjoyed rubbing in the fact that we had a hot tub to the rest of the group.
Oh yes! But the most endearing aspect of it all was the 3 goats, hahaha, as Tornado would say -‘Its all about the V.’
Registration for the event was flawless, check out your name on the boards, head for your numbered table to collect your envelope and, if you were a sponsored entry, an Aviemore buff. In the registration room at the MacDonald hotel was also a route map to confirm any queries, the helpers were friendly and fantastic! Run4It had a mini shop set up and had lots of perfect kit for the run (hopefully no last minute purchases for untested kit) and as I have always found, great customer service.
We all met up at registration with some hilarious events – knew I would be distracted if only for moments at a time!! Visits to the toilets had turned out to be eventful. We headed for food which was outstanding, lots of serious preparation for our runs the following day as you can see from theses pictures . . . . .
Some of the guys, headed off for a few more drinks after dinner while the three of us headed back to The Old School House. Rolling galore to loosen of the tight muscles from our long travel that day. I have to thank the facebook page ‘I love Foam Rolling’, they provided me with a roller to take away and use – brilliant. Naturally, I shared this with my friends, important to share these benefits!
(This is not me, however, aptly demonstrates the kind of faces I regularly witness and I am sure pull)
Our sleep patterns are massively important to our bodies ability to recover and prepare for our events. There is some research that sleep can affect the body’s ability to replenish our glycogen stores, affect focus, energy stores and recovery from hard workouts. Unfortunately, my sleep was affected by reflection on the days events. I hadn’t been able to let them go.
(This was our amazing view that we woke to on the Sunday morning, seriously, what more could you want to see!)
This meant I was not as organised as usual before my race, we headed into Aviemore to get the bus to the race start. It was getting super busy but the buses were moving efficiently and promptly. Great system! The race was at Rothiemurchus, again a beautiful area, a very necessary toilet queue. The cold morning air just added to this need, it was stunning, the rest of the group had joined us, fully rested after their eventful night. I was very nervous, worried I would bump it that familiar face, how would I deal with this event should it occur, what would I say – lots of scenarios went through my head like a revolving door with no escape.
We were separated into our distance lines, this is where it gets even more nerve-wracking. We are then walked along to the start area to the sound of a piper. It was a fantastic morning, perfect weather for the run, crisp, dry and the sun was out. I was worried that I would not be focused sufficiently to hit my PB target but all I could do right now is put one foot in front of the other and concentrate on the here and now. At this moment I started listening to the people around me, one gentleman was discussing the disadvantages of buying new kit at the Run4It store and wearing them on race day, I had a wee chuckle to myself.
In previous years the start had taken a wee while but we were off before I knew it. Out along the forest track, curving through the forest. We were into an incline fairly quickly, the path was fairly rocky, loose stones underfoot and it wasn’t long before I saw a guy roll his ankle on a stone in front of me. I think I actually exclaimed out loud, before running around him, but fair play he carried on. (Damn it – I had worn too many layers, something I repeatedly advise my own runners about but often struggle with decision wise myself.) I know this feeling, we then went into a downhill section. This carried on for the next 6 miles, the most difficult sections for the half marathon runners are these start line – 6.5 miles. This is the best I had ever felt on these hils but I felt my right glute tightening gradually but I was on target for my PB, I had to keep going. It might loosen off and let me push it out as it had at the Edinburgh half marathon. I utilised the downhill sections, arms out to help my balance and hugging the corners. One girl spoke to me as we headed down the best downhill section and said that I was helping her with my pace but it was kicking my ass – LITERALLY!
The views really kept driving me forward, I love it! The view of Loch Morlich with the sun glistening on the surface was amazing! Lots of memories came flooding back as I ran this route, in some ways great and in others – not so great. Important to focus on where the run is, the enjoyment of being in the surroundings that I was in, the beauty of the area, the people I was surrounded by, the fact I was there and able to run.
Gradually, I felt my glutes tighten and my leg became stiff. It became difficult to move my leg forward and I began to limp/ run, I clamped down on that quickly as that would just lead me to more problems. But as the race progressed I my hip then tightened up and started causing me no end of issues, I really had to push hard when I had hit the road section. I had to dig really deep, concentrating on my technique, fighting for every step. As I kept going I could feel my PB slipping away, frustratingly out of my reach, I nearly gave up on it, then I would kick myself up the ass and tell myself that wasn’t good enough, keep going. Lots of the guys were out running today, aiming to do their best. Now it was my turn, I had to do my best, my best means not giving up.
As we crossed the road to come under the railway bridge, I was really hurting by this point and I rounded the corner to hear, ‘Get your ass up the hill!!’ hahaha what a welcome sound, Lesley, a very longstanding client was there!! She certainly knew how to get you moving. She was there to support her cousin which is great but nevertheless I know we all found her words of motivation perfect at that time and location. Then Pat was there with the pup, quietly cheering us on. This was enough to pick me up, then over to the final stretch and I could hear clients shouting my name at various points and all of a sudden all I could think was, keep pushing the legs.
That was it, it was all over, incredibly sore, but I was keen to find everyone without moving too much. The crew all did amazingly well!! I love seeing people out there achieving their goals and pushing beyond what they initially thought were their limits. New ones were created that day, new boundaries to once again defy. The guys took part in some full body stretching, others attempting (yes I said attempting, to replicate some taught moves).
This is a well run race, the marshalls are simply superb, high 5’s along the way to lift the spirits. Supporters are fantastic, not justthose who know your name but every single person that claps you onwards and wishes you good luck is amazing. Well done every single person who is involved in the organisation of a fantastic event. In addition, all the many runners, who take part. Thank you.
My weekend finished on a high, where Tornado and I walked the forest trails around Carrbridge, taking in the scenery. Had a fantastic meal at The Cairn Hotel, this was a very welcoming pub with great food. We then headed back to the the luxury that was our 5 star accomodation. We hit the hot tub for some well earned relaxation and recovery . . . . . . one word – fabulous!
A brilliant weekend, if somewhat tainted by my own personal battles. But you can not deny we truly live in a beautiful and spectacular part of the world. We simply have to open our eyes and our hearts to appreciate it!