Stob Coire an t-Sneachda

A free weekend with no hillwalking group heading out, yet fresh snowfall and blues skies forecast, had me pondering a solo effort by bus to not waste this opportunity. On meetup, somebody heading out to snowboard offered a lift; I volunteered to join him and would go for a walk wherever we ended up.

With roads closed to both Glenshee and The Lecht, we headed towards the more distant Cairngorm ski centre. Google maps on dashboard navigation made some odd routing suggestions which had us heading down back roads not full cleared. A few slides and we did a pit stop to change tyres, and the slow going on slippery roads, meant we’d be late on the hill.

A plus side to google’s erratic routing was that we got a view of the Ben Rinnes tors highlighted by a layer of spindrift.

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Glen Lee and Mount Keen

With there being 2 meetup sorties the same weekend, both in the same area, I’ve lumped them in together here. Saturday was with the Aberdeen Cycle Explorers, somebody had proposed a bothy stayover in Glen Lee. With there being limited hours of daylight, this meant a long evening in a quite small place; 2 of us would head up and get a fire going and then head home after the third arrived to camp over night.

On route to our start point of Tarfside we had a brief nosey to the rocks of solitude near Edzell, in a gorge on the River North Esk. The river was gushing through a waterfall.

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Loch Muick to Loch Brandy

November’s day trip with The Cairngorm Club was from Glen Muick through to Glen Clova. The forecast wasn’t brilliant with what looked to be potentially a long wet day, and the route involving off-path heather bashing, I’d escaped these kind of days all year and was overdue one.

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Heading up from the car park, low cloud hung dreich in the gullies.  As we neared Loch Muick there were quite a few deer and a lot closer than you’d expect there – whether they were exhausted by the rutting season, or just plain hungry for lowland fodder, who knows. Later on we’d discover one good reason to not be up higher. Continue reading “Loch Muick to Loch Brandy”

Culardoch

The bike had been getting a bit neglected recently, but an Aberdeen Cycle Explorers trip ticked boxes: a combined bike/hike to Ben Avon. I’d been there a month back, but a different route would provide some new exploration, and on bike would be less arduous. An early snowfall (as viewed from Glen Callater the week before) would also add to the challenge.

Come the day, much of the snow would have proven to have thawed, but the forecast gale force winds above 700m meant consideration of a plan B focusing more on lower levels.

We set off along Glen Gairn (another recent visit) from the track to Blairglass.

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Great Run Aberdeen 2018

2018 is the second year of Aberdeen Great Run, and I’ve entered the half marathon again. Had a quick wander out earlier with my camera to watch the start of the 10k. A photo of one of the later secondary phase starts

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25 minutes later and I watch the winner cruise past out on his own heading for 30 minutes dead, it looks effortless – I can barely sustain a 3 minutes/km pace for a minute, in my world that’s “frenzied screaming sprint”.

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I watch a few more early finishers come in before heading off to get ready.

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The target today is to knock 5 minutes of my PB, perhaps even stretch to a 1’30 if everything goes perfectly. I’ve put in a 40 minute 10k in recent runs so reckon I should do ok.

I line up near a tannoy tower thing, can’t really see much ahead..

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..should have paid more attention as we’re off and I’m a bit far back. Looking forward there’s hunners o folk.

I’m in there alongside another red top and capped chap

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I put the hammer down and seem ok with a fastish pace and begin passing folk.

At the turn toward bridge however, I’m beginning to suffer already. I can see the front of the field and have made up to a good position, but I’m not feeling strong.

As the road loops back from the exhibition centre, I’m being passed here and there, cadence seems good but my pace is dropping off.

After the brig o’balgownie, the route has changed and climbs up past hillhead halls, and then a nice leafy bit down into and across seaton park.

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After passing through Old Aberdeen (with a piper playing), the section back along the beach has a strong head wind, and now I’m tiring and losing places, just having to keep grinding on. At mounthooly a drum band is a welcome beat

Once into the West end I’m beginning to get pre-crampy twitches, not far to go now. Last year on the finishing straight, I sprinted easily, this time an attempt at opening the throttle gets a jolt of pain that says NO, and I coast home.

Time is 1’34’39. This puts me 188th out of perhaps 2000. I’m a bit disappointed in that I felt it was tough going today (I had a couple beers the night before .. hmm .. dunno if that affected things) though all told lopped 3+ minutes off last year’s 1’38’12 (274th), shouldn’t grumble really :-)

I had a 10k split of 42.59 which would have been bang on if 1’30 had been a goer, but realistically confirms that I headed out too fast. The great run ‘great for you’ calculator (assesses your age and course toughness) allocates a silver grade score of 675, up on last year’s bronze with 645.

Today’s booty: a t-shirt, medal and assorted edibles. There’s a lot of vouchers n paper for the recycle bin

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There is a stretch session behind the finishing line, some of these hurt, oocha. Afterwards I bump in to some other runners I know, and their running group JSK enthusiastically applaud folk home right to the end, got to love their enthusiasm

Ythan Challenge 2018

I really enjoyed the Ythan Challenge in 2017, a 12km trail run with some obstacles and a river crossing. A second bash at it was on the cards; hopefully putting in to practice a few things gleaned from last year’s attempt, and hopefully another year of running in the legs would push me up the rankings a bit.

In the run up, a very hot holiday where I got bit by a dog, and an assortment of football injuries meant I’d not really achieved much consistency or structure to training, a quick look on strava on performance versus a year back did indicate an overall improvement, with that in mind and a better idea of what to expect and an improved strategy I set my target as finishing under an hour and maybe even a top ten finish. It’d need an improvement of 7% to do that. Continue reading “Ythan Challenge 2018”

Kilomathon 2018

My first race of the year was a new one: a fellow runner had told me about Kilomathon in Edinburgh, an unusual distance of 13.1km along footpaths and through parks, and a rare chance to have a stadium finish. My dad stays in Edinburgh and I hadn’t visited him in a while, so good chance to catch up and also get a race under the belt in 2018.

I hadn’t been particularly training for this race, but had set new 5k, 10k and 10 mile PBs in the fortnight before, so was reasonably confident that I’d manage a top 10% finish based on the previous year’s results. Continue reading “Kilomathon 2018”