Tom Scott Road Races
I went over to Scotland last week to visit the family and run in the Tom Scott Road Race. My uncle is the race director and had mentioned last February that I should come and race. Given my fortunate ability to fly internationally for not a lot of money, I took a look at the flights for around April 7 and decided that I should go for it.
I sort of had an idea that races in Scotland were different. Looking at 2012's results, it was obvious that I was not going to be in the top 20% (where I normally hover in North American races). The age groups are different and people race for clubs, not for themselves. You can kind of tell by looking at this picture:
Racing is a serious thing over there and there doesn't really seem to be a thing called a "fun run". Anyway, I was glad I registered for the less-competitive 6K for both the fact that the guy who came in last place in the 10 mile race was averaging an 11:00 mile (think about it, this guy was running at around 5.5 mph and came in last), and my knee started to give me a hard time after 3 miles anyway.
After staying at the Holiday Inn Express right next to Strathclyde Park in Motherwell (where the race was being held), my husband and I headed over to get registered. Turns out my uncle had recruited most of my family to work at the registration desk so I got a nice visit in with my cousins while prepping for the race start. I was cold and miserable pretty much the whole time in Scotland, so I was bundled up despite the 8C temperatures, and made the mistake of wearing a purple UA t-shirt, my bright Lululemon long sleeve shirt and a new jacket to the race. Some guy from the Motherwell club said that I'd be boiling... he was right. Around a mile in, I was already dying of the heat. You can tell in pictures that I tried to unzip my jacket, but failed miserably when I realized that my race number was pinned to the jacket.
My uncle had advised me that the course was "flat" and I didn't have to worry about hills. Well, this is the same uncle who says "It never rains in Scotland" and 10 miles is "not far". The first 2 miles were admittedly pretty flat and the views around the loch were pretty. I was very grateful to not be running in the rain. However, after 2 miles, the path winded in all sorts of directions, including up (luckily it also went down at some points). I was already exhausted with the heat, so the hills didn't help. I've decided that whenever I get back to running, hill training will be required.
While I had been passing people for the first two miles and holding a steady 8:30-8:45 pace, it dropped off dramatically towards the finish and I struggled to hold a sub-10:00 pace for the remainder of the race. Luckily I broke out of the trees and hills enough to see that I was getting close to the end (and more importantly, that the rest of the course was flat) and I did a little sprint towards the finish line.
Never thought I'd be that warm in a Scottish race
All in all, I was pleased with my overall time of 34:31. It was slightly less on my GPS watch (I think there was an issue with the chip timing - I didn't see a mat at the start of the race). Turns out I came in 2 of 6 in the FSNR category. I don't know what it stands for other than the F is female. I didn't get a prize, though. Overall, I was 12 of 28 women and 37 of 63 runners. I was expecting a lot worse so I'm pleased with my result. And check out that pretty stride!
Well, if you can't tell by the three (yes, three) braces I'm wearing in the race photo, I've got a lot of work to do injury-wise. My trainer kind of chewed me out for not doing non-impact stuff but the truth is, I really wanted to not suck at this race. Now that it's over, I'm a little bit more accepting of the fact that I need to tone down the running and turn up the cross-training/strengthening. I'm okay with that -- any exercise is good. I still want to sneak in some runs on the weekends, whether it be a race or not (to keep the competitive fires burning), but it's going to be 90% cross training at the moment. My left Achilles still gets "twinge"y even when just biking or doing elliptical, which kind of sucks. Right now I'm just focusing on strengthening, starting a new non-impact plan through my trainer, and getting ready for summer where I can hopefully run. Given that we're getting 20 cm of snow on Friday, I guess I'm not really missing out on the outdoor running.