Fiona in Focus
Running in Scotland
Whenever I visit family in Scotland I always look for an opportunity to race while I am there. During last month's trip I was able to squeeze in 2 races. An online search prior to leaving Texas had revealed that that there was a Kilomathon - 13.1K, and a mini Kilomathon - 6.55K, taking place in Edinburgh a couple of days after my arrival. As the 6.55K had already sold out I nervously signed up for the 13.1K. Having run nothing longer than a 5k in over a year due to muscle issues I was unsure of how my body might react to the extra distance. I overcame my hesitation by rationalizing that if necessary I could always walk and, since it was such a random race distance, I was guaranteed a PR.
A missed connection in Newark meant an unexpected overnight stay in New York which, while not a terrible predicament in itself, did limit the time I would have to recover from jet lag. My wise and supportive husband insisted we force ourselves to stay awake and not give in to our overwhelming desire to crash mid-afternoon on Saturday. I played along with his plan for a while before convincing him that walking around in a zombie like state is not as much fun as it sounds.
The temperature on Sunday morning hovered around 60 degrees. There was little wind and barely a cloud in the sky, providing runners with ideal race conditions. The 13.1K course started near the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith's Ocean Terminal area, passed through the trendy harbor and restaurant district then followed the city's cycle path system, eventually ending with a sprint into Murrayfield sports stadium.
Fiona in Scotland
April is a beautiful time of year in Scotland and the paths were lined with lush greenery and masses of yellow daffodils, offering a beautiful change from a regular road race. The first few kilometers flew by and before long we were joined by the 6.55K runners who had been bussed to a different starting location. Despite a few blisters I managed to finish in a reasonably respectable time of 1:02:33, good enough for 2nd in my age group. Awards were only presented to the top 3 overall male and female runners. The overall male was a repeat winner who smoked the competition with his 45 minute finish while the top female clocked 54 minutes. I would definitely recommend this event. It was one of the most scenic, enjoyable races I have run in a long time.
The following weekend I took part in my first ever UK Park Run. Park Runs take place every weekend in various locations throughout Scotland and England. They are free events offering beginners and experienced racers alike a low cost opportunity to test their speed on a regular basis. Participants simply have to register online ahead of time then show up on race day with their individual bar code. On crossing the finish line runners are handed a token, which is scanned, along with their bar code, to give them their time. Results are age-graded to keep things interesting. I opted for a race in Dundee's Camperdown Park only to discover on arrival at the site that this was considered to be one of the toughest park runs in the country! The course started with a steep downhill stretch on uneven terrain, eventually flattening out and allowing runners to find their natural race pace. There then followed a long, steep climb which seemed to last forever! Lungs searing and legs wobbling, I surged forward, wondering whether my insurance policy covered self-induced heart episodes and reminding myself to take course elevation into account the next time I was picking a race. There was yet another impressive incline at the end, which I guess should have been expected, given the fact that we had started off running downhill! My husband, greeting me at the finish line, was quick to point out that some older lady had finished ahead of me then shared his casual observation that the young runners had simply sprinted the last hill effortlessly while the older runners looked like they were taking their last breath. While my time was nothing to celebrate I did place first in my age group and lived to tell the tale!
Any runners planning on visiting and racing in the UK can learn more about Park Runs by clicking on the link below. www.parkrun.co.uk