Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I'm back!

Ever since I’d signed us up for the Edinburgh Great Winter Run around Arthur’s Seat, I’d been having visions of the two of us slogging through rain, hail, gale-force winds or all three. Although it doesn’t get super-cold in Edinburgh even in the winter, it would be a bit optimistic to _expect_ nice weather on the fourteenth of January.

I was also a little apprehensive about my levels of fitness. The gym was closed for almost two weeks over the Christmas period, and although I’d been back twice before the run, I hadn’t been too impressed with my performance. On the Monday I’d actually had a touch of asthma for the first time in months, and since in the past it’s often been brought on by cold air, I was beginning to wonder whether running outside in January was such a good idea. The D. B. is a lot fitter than me, and usually goes running after dark, braving the cold without any problems, but had only had time for a couple of runs to get back into it since his cast came off.

He was also a little unclear as to the distance he usually runs. His normal route takes 20 minutes, and given that he runs much faster than I do, I didn’t think he’d have too much trouble with the 5K, although we’d been warned that the first half of the course contained a long uphill section.

Despite all that angst, it was a beautiful day after all – sunny and mild (well, for January). My brother gave us a lift to Dynamic Earth, which is the white structure you can see behind us in the photo, and I was relieved to see lots of obvious runners converging on the complex. It’s always reassuring to know that if you’ve got the day wrong, so have lots of others… We followed the tide of humanity up the steps, then discovered there was no way down and had to retrace our path.

Edinburgh Great Winter Run - before the start

After that inauspicious beginning, we found the starting area for the race already quite busy. The area was divided up into projected finishing times, which I hadn’t seen before. We decided we were probably “30-40 minutes” (the D. B. was determined to run at my pace) and settled down to wait. The warm-up was already in progress, but we couldn’t see the leader from where we were so contented ourselves with jumping up and down a bit and doing as much stretching as the crowd would allow.

Suddenly I was hailed from behind (I must have a recognisable pigtail). It was the Proper Runner from work who gave me a lift to the Race for Life back in July. She maintained that she hadn’t done much training over Christmas and wouldn’t be whizzing round (but she got away from us when we started and we haven’t seen her since!)

The clock started and we were away… only to grind to a halt a few metres later with the pressure of the crowd. By the time we got to the start line, however, things had opened up a little more, and we set off along a good, even path in the sunshine. At this point, we were running on the flat. The D. B was jogging along easily – obviously this part was not challenging him too much – and even I was able to talk a little (we agreed that mid-January was perhaps a little early for the guy with the mike to be talking about “spring sunshine”). It seemed like no time before we reached the 1K mark, and I was quite encouraged that I’d got that far without really feeling it.

Soon, though, the path began to climb. And kept right on climbing. The views were fantastic – I’ve lived in Edinburgh all my life, but I still love looking out over the city from Arthur’s Seat. However, the feeling in my legs was not fantastic at all. Apparently it was a mistake to do quite such an energetic leg workout on Thursday – I hadn’t done any squats since before Christmas, and I’d reckoned I ought to get back into it… Wrong. I had to slow to a walk. My leg muscles were just too tight to run uphill, and I didn’t want to injure myself – certainly not at this early stage.

By way of encouragement, the race organisers had planted signs by the path with their ‘Top 5 Songs for Running Uphill’ (number five was ‘Running up that hill’ by Kate Bush). The D. B. was doing a kind of slow-motion jog so that I could keep up with him. “You’re doing really well. Run to that next sign?” I had a go, but didn’t quite make it.

Over the next two kilometres, I ran when I could (on the less steep bits) but to be honest, most of it was walking. Fast walking, mind you – I was warm, and no doubt crimson in the face – but walking. The D. B. (who was actually cold!) stuck with me nobly and was very encouraging. By this point, most of the field were going about the same speed as us, and as he pointed out, we weren’t exactly falling back. And, well, it was a nice day for a walk.

The turning point came at Dunsapie Loch – we knew this was the highest point of the route. The path is fairly flat here, and I was able to run again. We passed the 3K marker at around this point, and the song suggestions switched to “Running Downhill”. The first one was ‘Moving on Up’ by M People, which would have done as well, we felt, for running uphill.

“Can you think of any songs for running downhill, though?”
“Don’t know. ‘Down Down’ by Status Quo – that’s got to be one of them.” (It was.)
“Hasn’t anyone written a song called ‘Downhill all the way’?”

We didn’t come up with much. On the other hand, the route was now quite appreciably downhill, and running had become easy. Once we’d rounded the western curve of the hill, we could see almost all the way to the finish line, and I began to entertain hopes of being able to run the rest of the way. We could see a few finishers making their way back along the sides of the route already.

I wish running was always like this.

The route flattened out slightly before the 5K marker and the last song (‘Don’t Stop Me Now’). There were still about 300 metres to go, and I would have liked to walk, but I was NOT going to run 2K without stopping and then finish at a walk. I told the D. B. to run on ahead, but he didn’t, and in the end we crossed the line together, hand in hand.

Well, we’re engaged, we’re allowed to be soppy.

Then we just had to collect our free water, disengage our running chips from the socks to which they had become intimately velcro’d, and go and get our goody bags and T-shirts (I took mine out of the packet to check the size, and instantly dropped it in the mud. That was bright.)

Edinburgh Great Winter Run - we finished!

As you can see, I was still a little purple in the face at this point.

“Can I go back to bed now?” the D. B. asked as we made our way back up Holyrood Gait to go and meet my brother, who was giving us a lift back.


In the end, our times were within a second of each other (mine was one second faster – the D. B. must have adopted a ladies-first policy). He’s talking about running the route by himself sometime to find out how long it actually takes him, though. My time was 37:18, which is about the same as the last 5K I did, which wasn’t nearly so hilly. So perhaps my form hasn’t declined as much as I feared, although I’d very much like to actually _run_ the next one.

I’ll be back with a roundup of other news later in the week – I hope. I’ve been trying not to go on too much about the wedding here, but the D. B. and I have been quite busy with various preparations this month, which has cut into my messing-around-on-the-internet time somewhat. But I hope I never go so long without updating again…


For a while now, I've been a little tired of my template. I want a different colour, and I want something less off-the-peg. On the other hand, I know nothing about designing websites, so actually doing much about this is a little difficult.

In the name of totally accurate research, I did a little quiz to see what colour my new design should be - and got this:

Your Blog Should Be Green
Your blog is smart and thoughtful - not a lot of fluff.You enjoy a good discussion, especially if it involves picking apart ideas.However, you tend to get easily annoyed by any thoughtless comments in your blog.

Well, that's me telt. Fortunately, I don't recall anyone ever being nasty in the comments!


Jeni said...

Hi K! I'm so glad you're back. Great job on the 5K; I think 37 minutes is quite fast. And in January at that! Come back soon!

Appleblossombeck said...

Hi! I missed your blog, but I'm glad you've been doing fun things. Way to go on the 5K! That's really impressive to me. Have fun with the wedding stuff and, as a married woman, don't let anyone tell you what to do with your wedding, because they won't regret it nearly as much as you if it isn't what you want. Good Luck!

Zara said...

Wow, it was *almost* worth the wait to have such a fantastic update! :)

You're brave for tackling a 5K with a big hill like that - and conquering it!! Kick ass!*

And I LOVE the photos of you and D.B. - share them more often! You are both so nice-looking and together you look especially happy and lovely! I see a long happy future for you two. ;)

*The "running up that hill" song you mentoined made me think of the fantastic cover of that song that Tor1 Amos performed at her concert this summer. If I had seen that sign, it would have made me smile! (through the tears of leg pain, of course, haha.) I have a boot1eg copy (shhh!) so if you are interested I could find a way to get it to you. ;)

Rosemary Grace said...

I love that you crossed the finish line hand in hand!

Your face looks a lot slimmer than the photo you posted from the summer 5k.

Good going!

K said...

Thanks for the comments, everybody!

The D. B. would like to point out that his hair is not usually quite so mad-professorish. We were indeed very happy, especially in the second photo. Zara, I would love to have that song - you could e-mail me at kirsten[dot]donaldson[at]gmx[dot]net.

RG - I have just looked back at that photo, and I don't know if I can see a difference, although the Square Jaw of Doom is present and correct both times. I'm going to post better comparison photos soon, though, I hope...

Rosemary Grace said...

Nonononononono, square jaw = good! Square jaw = facial definition and "good bones".

I'm probably biased because I have a "strong jawline" too, and big features in general. But it's better than being a chinless wonder!

YP said...

Congratulations on the 5k - I'm always scared of those hilly courses that really tax the old leg muscles, for some reason I tend to look for the flattest races I can find after a really nasty hilly 10k... Well done for conquering those hills!

Jennifer said...

Your DB sounds like a swell fella. Glad you're back!