Knockhill – The Clues In The Name

Run round an actual vehicle race course?  Yeah I’m up for that!  The Carnegie Harriers do an annul event which is roughly a 3.9 mile run round the Knockhill Racing Circuit – sounds awesome, so I signed up.  Plus last year the medal was an actual toy car, what’s not to love?

Still feeling broken from the Perth Half it wasn’t exactly great timing plus I am fighting the need to go and get my hip seen to but I was running this one way or another.  I resolved myself to the fact it would be more a fun run then a push, and with a marathon coming up I thought that would be fine.

There are a couple of people at work who are keen racing car people (I don’t know what you call them?  Racer fans?  Fast car fanatics?) so I asked them what the course was like presuming it would naturally look like the ones on the telly which are all perfect tarmac, flat as a pancake and round.  No Ella, no.  It isn’t Brands Hatch or Silverstone, this is Perth.  It is a race track but it’s not round.  Ah well, should still be fine.  Tarmac and flat with some corners, no worries.

Joe and 2 out of 3 kids came along – purely because I would have gotten lost otherwise.  There was no way I was finding this place by myself lets be honest here.  As soon as someone even tries to tell me a place is well sign posted I smell b@llsh!t.  There isn’t a place in the world that is!  Besides, it was pretty cool for the kids to come along to this one anyway.  (Did I mention it was a race track?).

Standing in the queue for the toilets and the usual chit chat occurs.  Have you done this race before?  Me – No but it looks pretty cool, what’s not to like.  Other – 3 laps with that hill is a killer though.

Excuse me?

‘I know, I felt a bit stupid when my friend pointed out it’s called Knock HILL, as in it’s built on a hill.  At least it’s less than 4 miles’.

I genuinely felt the light bulb turn on in my own head at this point.

Knock….HILL.

Why did I not click?!?  Why did I think it was flat?  But more importantly – who builds a race track that isn’t flat?!?

I spent the next 20 minutes amazed at my own stupidity – but also freezing.  It was windy, and cold.  Not the best combination.  Not on a non flat route.

Pre-race photo done and it was off to the start line.  There were quite a few of us Road Runners so there were green vests a plenty.  Knowing my hip wasn’t really up for this I didn’t do my usual ‘pick someone and try to beat them’.  I just settled in to the run.  It was a very slight uphill at first and then we went down, before climbing up.

Genuine question though – how do you race a car round that?  You would have to change gears so many times!  My trusty family people carrier would struggle to go down the hill never mind back up it.  I can truly picture having to get everyone out to push it.  Ten Ton Bessie would not enjoy being driven round that course let me tell you that.  She would dig her heels in and grind to a halt (although that’s pretty much what she does right now anyway, she’s a moody cow, wonder if it’s the menopause.  Hmm, my car has the caropause?).

Anyway, back to the race.  Now I’m ‘mentioning’ (*cough complaining!) about this non flat route but Stewart – another road runner – was pushing a buggy round this!  It may be a specifically designed running buggy but it is still a buggy with a 4 year old child in it!  She was having a whale of a time with the wind in her hair

though and her mum was running too.  

Oh and yes – he beat me.  Man who runs with buggy beat me.  Ah well.

Now, during this run, my hip was, as predicted, annoying me.  At the moment it feels like I am dragging my entire left side as I run.   I should go and get it seen to but I am going through the ‘ignore it and see if it goes away’ phase.  Plus we have a stupendous amount of things going on in September that I am trying to save money where I can.  However.  I also know what will happen if I don’t go and get tortured up and if that happens and I can barely lift my leg off the ground, well, I won’t be able to run.  So yeah, I guess I better go.

So in my head I am running round this track, left side being dragged along from top to bottom, wondering if there is a way I can crack my own back without breaking it and re-aligning my spine etc when I go past my kids at the side shouting and waving.

‘Mum, keep going you’ll win’.

Cutest. Thing. Ever.

I had no chance – or desire – to win, but it was very cute.  The rest of the race was spent wondering what trainers to buy him for just 2 weeks time when he can go to Junior Parkrun!  And also, how long before he is beating me in a race….

The spread afterwards was phenomenal and I got a much needed cup of tea.  Joe went back to the car with the youngest but my daughter pinched a cake or two.  Her justification?  She ran with me a little bit at the end of the first lap (a bit too windy after that she said ha ha).  Unfortunately there was no car medal this year, I imagine down to cost as they couldn’t have been that cheap to purchase.  A great race though and one I am glad to have ticked off.

And even though it’s not really the same as the ones on the telly, it is to me – so yes, I can now say I have ran round a racing circuit.

 

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Road Runners Do Tri

It’s been quite a week.

First the Perth Half last Saturday – let’s not say anything more about that. But I have picked my next half where I will get my club standards time or die trying! Speaking of ‘Tri’, the day after Perth Half was the Relay Wild Triathlon. I did this last year  but this year I was in the Road Runners team. Tuesday after that was a race at Knockhill (Tuesday, not the Wednesday that I thought) and finally last night was the clubs duathlon. So yeah, pretty busy.

Relay Wild Triathlon

This year in the team was myself, Scott and Debbie (2 road runners) and my other half. It’s a fun event rather than a serious one but that doesn’t make it easy. The distances are short which means you don’t get in to your stride before you move on to the next discipline. Each member of the team completes all 3 before passing the timing chip to the next member.

The weather was very sporadic throughout the day which was unfortunate as last year it was great and we could sit out on the grass. A few from the club came out to support as well which is always great to see. Shows how friendly a club it is. Debbie has done a few triathlons before but this was to be Scott’s first and he had joked he was going to wear his speedos as he didn’t have a Tri suit.

We were joking about before hand – Stuart had his sons (fake) swords and daggers so we were debating about taking out some of the very serious looking competition with them. At least 50% of the field was half my age and there were a lot of club Tri suits. I didn’t care, I had my HUUB suit, and it has pink on it!

Debbie went first and we waved her off and made sure we were there to shout her on. She looked like she was loving it! Before long she was out and back in on the bike then off for her run. She passed the chip to Scott. Turns out, he wasn’t joking about the speedos! There’s not many almost 50 year old guys that can pull that look off. Hats off to him though, he raised a few eyebrows. Just a shame most of the females there were young enough to be his teenage daughter ha ha. (Just kidding Scott).

It wasn’t long before he was back and I was off. True to form no matter how ‘relaxed’ the race is meant to be I stood waiting for the chip saying to myself ‘why am I doing this’. I’m fine once I get going but every time before the start I get that exasperated feeling of ‘what are you doing?!?’. Also true enough I messed up my swim. I had a pre-pubescent boy continuously stroke me up the very first length. You only need to tap me once to let me know you’re there! Good thing I didn’t have Stuart’s sons dagger that’s all I’m saying. On to the bike and I felt ok. I’m still embarrassed by my bike time at Edinburgh Half Ironman so haven’t been on it since then. I wasn’t expecting much here and that’s what I did – ‘ok’.

On to the run and I remembered how bad I felt running at last years event. I’m surprised I even got round the course then! This year was different though. It was still hard and I was still breathing heavily but I was keeping pace not too bad. Stuart had come down to the run route to ‘encourage’ me on (or shout abuse, pretty sure it’s the same thing). That did stop me from slowing down though.

I passed the timing chip to Joe and as he’s now part of the Tri club and another member was in another team it was clear from the get go they were racing! Joes just a ‘little’ competitive shall we say.

His challenger finished the swim first. He wasn’t happy. I on the other hand took great delight in telling him his friend was in front of him. Until I remembered Joe was actually on my team and we needed him to win.

Whilst waiting for Joe to come back from his cycle I went and got a print out of my times. I knew my swim had been bad and wanted to see just how bad.

”7 minutes 55?!? I don’t bloody think so!! What the hell!!’.

There was no way my time was as long as that! I had it down to 4m 5 in the pool. Absolutely no way! It did not take me almost 4 minutes to walk from the pool to the door!! (You weren’t allowed to run for safety reasons).

‘Can you get it checked?’ Asked Steph. ‘I’m bloody going to!’ I’m pretty sure I replied before she had even finished. I was raging. Livid! Who do I speak to!! How dare they! Steam was actually coming out of my ears! I can’t put this in my scrap book!

Then it was pointed out to me I had asked for the wrong number on the print out. I had someone else’s times.

Tail firmly between my legs I went back to the van and with my head hanging in shame asked for the correct number.

When Joe came back from the cycle he was still behind his friend so I ran down to the run route to coax him on. I was at the side shouting and taking photos when another runner on the route apologised to me for ruining my photos. ‘Don’t be daft no you’re not love’ I shouted to her. Then she said I could help her by running with her.

How do you say no to that?

Why would I say no to that?!

So I did. I found out she had started running but hadn’t really enjoyed it so was mixing it up by doing triathlon. Her first one had been in April. I told her to keep going and that the biggest cheer is always at the end and always worth it. I ran with her until we reached her husband who got her to the end.

Lovely Woman
Lovely Woman

I went back to the others and to see how Joe had done. He had overtaken his challenger on the run and beaten him overall (he too had been quick to the van to check, although with the right number the first time…) so he was happy. Looking at the teams overall time we had done really well so looked like we were in a good position to place in the top 3 – wa hey!

We stuck about for the food and the presentation – after all, you can’t go home without picking up your prizes, that’s just rude. Debbie kept us entertained with her Yoda impression too.

The rain started again so we went in to the hall as they read out the results. The all males and all females teams were read out first. The prizes were mostly beer and yes, we did have a joke about whether they were old enough to drink it (some non alcoholic prizes were handed out, I’m sure they didn’t give underage kids alcohol!). Then came the team prize. Ok, we are up for this! I was thinking second. Hopefully first but it was quite competitive so may have just missed it. The results were read out in reverse order along with times.

We didn’t win.

I’m putting my money on the winning team being a mum, dad and their two kids! Thought this was supposed to be a fun event? Yes I’ve done a half ironman but you would never have guessed it with my performance ha ha. Joe pointed out that would quite likely be us – especially when our youngest is old enough. Fair point.

There was a prize for fastest swimmer and whilst I was under no illusion it would be me I was hopeful it may be Joe. There were two people with the exact same time. They read out the first name and there was a loud cheer. The guy went up. ‘If its you I’m cheering way louder than them’ I said to Joe.

It was Joe.

He didn’t hear it though because I was screaming. Yes, that’s me, the overexcitable supportive wife. I do like a good cheer! Just wait until your next race!

‘Slightly’ disgruntled at no team prize we still had a great day. All jokes aside it is a fun day and I would do it again. Hopefully we will get another team from the road runners next year, possibly even two. Its fantastic that some people from the club come out and support too – definitely tells me I chose the right club.

Not Up To Standard

If it was easy everyone would be doing it and it would be boring. Right now I think 'infuriating', 'annoying' and 'aarrgghhh' are more accurate in describing how it is and feels.

No I didn't get my club standards time. Not even close.

The day started well. It's an 11am start so no rush in the morning. I even made my own breakfast of porridge and banana (I never cook. I hate it, detest it, will go to bed hungry before I cook. Just one of those things) but because someone wouldn't wash up the saucepan HE had used I ended up making it. So I was quite impressed with myself. Not so much with the 'top guy'.

Frazer aka original running buddy came round as he was running in the Half and Lorner was too. Lorner had her cat at the vet so was running a little late and we ended up getting a lift to the start instead of the bus – where unfortunately my parents had gone to surprise us and wish us all luck…. (sorry mum and dad).

This was Frazers first half marathon and he had a rough time in mind but ultimately just wanted to finish. Lorner has run one before but has had some injury issue in the last couple of months so she also just wanted to finish.

I wanted under 1 hr 48.

Club photo done and it was off to the start. Frazer and Lorner headed a little further back and continued their chat of alcohol , how many gels they were going to take and whether or not you could get alcoholic gels. They were also trying to calculate how much iron is in a pint of Guinness!

I placed myself quite near the front before the start line. It was gun time and not chip time so every second counts. Beside me another road runner was pacing his friend who had previously run 1hr 47 so I thought to keep her in sight. Another road runner was possibly looking at 1hr 45 depends how she felt. Definitely too fast for me so I was thinking more dot in the distance on that one.

Off we went and it's straight on to a trail path of loose rocks and gravel. I knew I had to concentrate on foot placing until I got to the road so it was head down most the way. I was joined by a guy who went to the first running group I went to and we chatted away for a couple of miles until I realised I was going too fast and needed to focus more so I dropped back a little. I had my goal and I was getting it.

It's a very mixed terrain course so you are jumping between the small rocks and gravel through fields and farms then on to road then in to woods. You get a bit of everything. No real elevation though apart from 2 very short sections. At the first water station I saw a woman from work who had volunteered and shouted out a hello and a wave as I went by.

On to a section of road and we were told to keep in as it wasn't closed roads. Rules state no earphones now for safety reasons but there was a guy in front close to the middle of the road. Cars were going closely by him but he wasn't moving in. Yup, he had earphones in. I couldn't help but think what a twat. He could have been hit by a car he couldn't have heard coming if he had tripped or swerved out and it could have shut down the event. Further on and I was throwing myself down a hill (still on route, not randomly) when another runner, this time female, ear phones again, moved out in front of me and I had to think fast. Now, she would have heard me coming there's no doubt about that. Pretty sure my mum and dad heard me at the finish line at this point and I was still 7 miles away! I spent the next couple of miles writing a strongly worded letter of complaint in my head to the organiser regarding people using their earphones and the dangers they cause.

I spent a good chunk of the second half on the heels of another road runner I know is faster than me. I didn't know what time she was going for (she may very well have just been running it with no time in mind) but I knew she was a good paced runner so tried to stay there.

I kept checking my watch a lot during the race and I felt I was doing good time. It was going to be touch and go but I remained focused. I absolutely detest running fast (I may have mentioned this before like, oh I don't know, 50 billion times!) so I really didn't want to have to do this again. On to the main road and I was feeling it but I was still on the heels of the other runner. If I could just get to the Inch (big park in Perth) and hopefully get pushed on I could make this.

Over the bridge, turn to the right and I see my mum. I start laughing as I know what's about to happen. She sees me and frantically waves to my dad on the other side to say I'm coming. She then looks at her phone…..and looks at her phone….. and looks at her phone…..I go past and she's still trying to turn the camera on on her phone. Every time.

I hit the Inch and that's when I begin to lose it. I'm no longer on her heels, she's 20 metres in front. Scott goes past and I try to use him to push on but he is flying! It's almost a sprint finish on the last 3 miles for him! I desperately need water but haven't seen a water station for miles, there has to be one on the Inch! Then I remember from last year they didn't have one and I genuinely start looking around wondering if I know anyone I can ask if they have water! I need it that badly! I swear at myself for looking and pausing at my water bottle earlier that morning and deciding not to take it. Twat.

Creeping up to the last mile and I tell myself I need to push it along the last, long stretch. It's straight, it's flat, you can do this. Last section then you don't have to run fast again for a while (lies I know but still, you'll tell yourself anything at this point).

On to the very, very long straight and I'm going. I've got good rhythm, my arms are going, I'm not sprinting but I'm going steady. I can make this 1:48! I'm over taking the odd person but there's not many other runners. Where is the finish?? I can't see the finish!! I can't see where I'm aiming for. There are NO other runners here!! I feel like an idiot. F@ck!!

Sod it. Had enough. Can't do this. I HATE THIS.

My watch hits 1:48.

I run to the end but shake my head as I read 1:49:07 on the clock. I didn't do it. I lost it. It wasn't even a PB. I didn't even come close. Over a minute too slow. I'm miserably disappointed.

I take my water and bag – of which I don't even look in – and head over to my mum and dad. A few minutes later my daughter comes bounding over. She and my other half have just got here. I tell him I didn't make it and await the 'told you so' from him but instead says he had spoken to another runner who had said it's not really a PB course. I don't say anything. Because of the loop on the Inch Lucie – our daughter – knew where Lorner and Frazer were and knowing how awful that last stretch was I head back down to try and encourage them on. They both found it hot and hard but they both finished and that was their aim.

Frazer was working in a couple of hours so we headed back. It was then I saw the water station hidden at the start of the Inch. I had gone right past it and not seen it. Turns out many people missed it too.

I could give a number of excuses as to why I didn't hit my goal. It was hot, I didn't have enough water, I went out too fast, it wasn't a PB course (yet someone in the club got a PB and by quite a chunk! Well done him!), it wasn't completely on road like I'm used to etc etc.

Truth of the matter is though I just didn't run fast enough. There's no other reason than that. And there's nothing more disappointing than that. I'm now going to have to find another Half so I can get my time. This, I am not happy with. But it's got to be done.

That, or I could strongly contest why the club standards time is so ridiculously difficult to get. Demand to see stats of the club of how many have actually achieved it, how many are capable and how many realistically can not (like me, right now). Oh yes, when I was running I was writing this letter too! 'Dear Chairperson, I would like to know who decides what time …..'.

Maybe I will just keep my mouth shut though and (try to) run faster! Isn't that the point?

Still disappointed though.

School Holidays

Every year my daughter begs me to be on holiday for the entire time she is off school. Unfortunately this just isn't possible. My job doesn't allow for 6 week sabbaticals and my tendency to enter event after event – and her addiction to the most expensive trends going – kind of means I need my job. 2 weeks is the best I can do.

And naturally the very first day I am off I ask her what she wants to do and she tells me she's made plans with friends! Last thing on her mind is spending time with her mum! Hmmf.

2 weeks off work also means disruption to my routine. This I dislike very much. I love routine. I need routine. I can't tell you how many times I've had a hissy fit in the changing rooms at work because someone is in my spot. I am in there everyday at 12:02pm and I use the same locker next to the same spot on the same bench every bloody day. Completely puts me off when someone else gets there first!

Image result for my spot

However. I have to work with this. I have to change some things (not my spot in the changing rooms, it's mine). So gone are the lunch runs for 2 weeks and in come the early morning alarms so I can get it done before he is off to work. Gone are the lovely field runs with fresh air and wildlife and in come the loops round and round my house beside a road, dodging the kid on the scooter who is clearly aiming for me (so much self control it took not to push him over) all to get it done.

Gone also is my 'lunch'. As in actual food. It's 3pm before I realise I haven't eaten and by 4pm my Jekyll and Hyde impression is Oscar worthy. Half past 4 and I'm crashing out for a nap. Yup, got to love being off work….

And now lastly, it's beginning to feel like my speed is threatening to go. Yes ok I've never exactly been in the league of Laura Muir but I like to think I have at least a chance of getting my GFA time for London. What if that's all it is though? Something I like to think? And not something that is a reality?

'That' Saturdays long run threw me a little. Last Saturday was definitely better. Marginally longer but no 'bathroom' issues, just a bit of a hip issue. But now I've figured out I need to run 8min 30 splits. That's a bloody huge challenge. Kind of wish I hadn't looked that up. 26.2 miles at that pace? Hmmm.

It's what's driving me though. So when I was doing park run to finish my long run and I wanted to slow down…. I didn't. Pushed on by realising someone was using me as a pacer I kept at it. Took me a while to realise I knew her, spending the first 2 miles trying to figure out who's voice it was. Of course I could have just turned round and looked but it's more fun to play the guessing game! So when I started increasing my pace near the end and I felt her slow, I shouted at her to keep going. She was truly doing amazing and came so close to getting a PB. I'm sure she was only a few seconds off.

Same again last night at the club run. After a pitiful attempt at an excuse not to go from my friend (looks like thunder she said – barely a cloud in the sky, I'm picking you up) I agreed to run with her group. Near the end though and I was slightly a bit ahead with another roadrunner. 'Heading straight back or the long way round with strides?' He asked. 'Long way round, definitely.'

I hadn't heard him say 'strides'.

'Ok, bin to bin. GO!!'

I very quickly discovered I did not have that in me. But he kept going, kept pushing, and although it was quite a pitiful attempt on my part, I got it done. No way in hell I would have done it if there hadn't been someone shouting me on!

And so that just leaves this mornings run. Whilst my youngest was at nursery, my daughter who had begged me to be off work still lay in bed (I am NOT getting up mum!), and the myth that is my eldest was also in bed (obvs, duh), I took off for my run.

6 miles.

At a MUCH better pace!

Finally!

I got home and went straight in to a cold bath. I know some people say this does nothing for you but I certainly feel better for it and even if it's only mentally, I don't care. There's a lot to be said for placebos.

Saturday is my local half marathon. And shock horror I have another challenge (because obviously the marathon isn't quite challenging enough! *cough,cough). I want my club standards time. 1hour 48mins. I didn't get it at Loch Leven and I was disappointed, those 38 seconds still haunt me.  I want it this Saturday. The last 3 miles have you go past the finish for a loop out and back. Horrendous route. So I will make sure the other half – and hopefully my mum and dad – are placed to shout at me to keep moving. It's going to be needed.

Fingers crossed! (But not toes, because I wouldn't be able to run then).

Looks like thunder my arse!

Training Update

As promised (mainly to myself) a training update.

A fellow roadrunner suggested Hal Higdon and one of the websites plans fits well in to my already 'brief' schedule so I've gone for that. It will need tweaked I don't doubt but it's given me a good starting place.

  • Monday – 5 mile run
  • Tuesday – leg workout, club run
  • Wednesday – 5 mile run
  • Thursday – core workout, hills/track
  • Friday – rest
  • Saturday – long run
  • Sunday – rest

That's the gist of it. There's a few more details to each run and I'm still swimming etc but yeah, that's it.

And oh my god my legs are killing me!! First time I did my leg workout I couldn't walk for days. Days!! And it's only really lunges and squats! Clearly torture moves designed by those who don't like running.

Evil, evil I tell you.

And I'm back to a longer run. Which I love, I truly adore. Just start running and keep going and going and going.

However……

Saturdays long run didn't 'quite' go to plan. And by 'quite', I really mean not at all. I put on a podcast to try and keep my pace slower, this worked good. What also seemed to be working was my bowel movements. Shame they didn't choose to work before I went out running however (and believe me, I tried everything to get them to move!).

I was barely 3 miles in, enjoying listening to an interview on Toughgirl when that oh too familiar feeling appeared. I tried to block it out, hoping it would go away (because that happens all the time – yeah right), but alas no. I ended up banging on my parents door at about 7:45am hopping from one foot to the next. As soon as the door was unlocked I went screaming past them 'I need a poo!'.

They were least impressed although I suspect they also found this not too abnormal now. Pretty sure I may have done this before.

Back out and I turned the podcast back on. Within minutes they were talking about embarrassing things that happen when you're out running. Naturally, the subject of needing to go came up. I was still laughing a couple of miles on.

My stomach wasn't great though and low and behold I needed another emergency pit stop. This time it was the start of Parkrun which thankfully is a sports centre so does have toilets. I had intended on a few more miles after Parkrun but it was time to call it a day. On the walk home my friend pointed out having fast food the night before probably wasn't the best idea.

The penny dropped again.

(I mean the metaphoric one just to be clear!)

So basically training is going to plan but I need to stop these rookie mistakes. My legs hurt but I'm thinking they will get used to it soon. I probably need to up the track sessions or review my 5 milers – try and make them more speedwork specific – but it's going good so far.

I will get that 3:45.