Yes, it was my birthday last week and as a special present, my pal Dod held a wee race at the weekend. He called it the D33 aka The Jam Sandwich Race, but we all know that really it was the Shanksi Birthday Bash. He even managed to get heaps of wonderful people to come along: club mates, Fetchies, and all sorts of top quality distance runners.
He was even good enough to give me a nice simple job to do - get a photo of all the Stonehaven runners, preferably in club tops, before the start. Of course, I failed miserably with that one - there was far too much hand-shaking, hugging, and general faffing to be done, and it would have been like herding cats anyway. In any case there are some great photos in the collections here, here and here, and in several other places if you look hard enough.
The first half of the race went well: I ran with Dave_K for most of it and it went pretty much to plan, a very enjoyable just under 10:00/mile which was about the same pace as last year and felt good. It was nice to catch up with mrs s at the half way point - we'd had her in our sights a few times but despite me waving, she hadn't looked back. Refuelling was a tub of Muller Rice (which went down well) and some cold pizza (which I took one bite of and ditched the rest), and then Dave and I set off again at a very slightly reduced pace.
A couple of miles in we hit the wee climb up to the main road at Crathes and Dave pulled ahead as I slowed to a walk. Soon after, it was like the wheels fell off my running and I was finding it difficult to keep a half-decent pace going. Like last year, the 3 miles between Crathes and Drumoak seemed to go on and on for ever - it was nice to see Angus who did his best to raise my spirits but I was starting to feel tired and sore and having difficulty keeping any food or drink down (I think I might have neglected to eat for too long after the turn, but can't remember for sure) so it was tough going. A few folks passed me as I headed for home; very pleased to see Pdoll going strong but disappointed at that point to realise my chances of getting in in under 6 hours had completely disappeared. Still, I was on for a PB so kept going with a run/walk (too much walking). It was good to see Craig and Alex and to have a quick chat with them, but largely wanted to focus, keep my own company and just get to the finish. Which I did, eventually, and was delighted to see mrs s and the kids waiting for me, and to get beer and a medal from Dod. Once again, we had personalised beer from Brewdog, but this year, the medals were hand crafted by our friend Annette at craftrocks.co.uk Best race medals ever!
I wasn't exactly sure of my time, mainly because I'd been relying on my phone for timing and pace information which was a bit stupid since I have difficulty reading the screen in daylight, but I was confident I'd beaten last years time, and thus made lots of betting Fetchies happy :)
Once I was able to walk again, we drove round to the Inn at the Park for a quick drink and a catch up before heading for home, food, a shower, and then back out to the pub for drinks.
Looking back, it was a top weekend and fantastic to see so many friends out enjoying themselves in the Aberdeen sunshine (and the Stonehaven pub light). I'm slightly disappointed with my time and the way my running fell to pieces a bit on the second half. I think I can do better so it's time for some quality training in the lead up to the Fling. I also need to have a rethink about eating and drinking - I've been using nuun tablets in my water but really wasn't enjoying the taste and might go for straight water plus electrolyte tablets that can just be necked rather than having them dissolved in the water.
Thanks again to Dod for putting on another great race and to all the marshalls and other helpers who made the race possible, and to everyone who ran and made it a grand day out, and also to everyone who came along to the pub and had a drink and a laugh and made it such a nice weekend. Cheers guys, you're all very special people. In more than one sense of the word.