Over the past few months, as suspected, I have got consistently slower. I did the women's 10K in May unaware that I was four weeks pregnant in 47 mins, the Paisley 10K at five months in 54 mins and yesterday's Loch Ness 10K in 57 mins. But what I have lost in time and the inclination to push myself, I have gained in the smugness that I can still run 6.2 miles at six months pregnant. And more to the point, I'm still really enjoy running.
The last time I did the Loch Ness 10K was in 2005, when I had an appalling race. I ended up getting completely lost (life before the Tom Tom) and when I finally found the start, had to jump out the car and start running pretty much straight away. After a 3.5 hour drive! This year's attempt wasn't less stressful. We got stuck at roadworks and then I had to wait in the queue for the toilets for 40 mins. I made it to the start with only a few minutes to spare.
The start was organised by race number and subsequent finishing times. I lined up in the 55 minute section, which is what I applied for. I thought giving my "condition", that this was a realistic position in the field. Bad move. I got completely held up by really slow runners for the first two miles. The narrow country roads weren't the best for passing. So there was a lots of bumping, near tumbles and numerous snide remarks. I probably expended far too much energy in the frustration to overtake, but at least I kept my gob shut.
From mile two onwards, I felt really good. Just a nice steady pace. I was hoping for under an hour, but I wasn't hell-bent on pushing myself to get it. I knew it was going to be my last race for a while, so I was more focused on simply enjoying it. It was such a lovely day - sunny and cool - and a great course, so it was hard not to enjoy it.
For the last few miles there was a small gang of runners around me, travelling at the same pace. There was a girl in the pink vest who seemed to be either one foot in front or one foot behind me. You always find there are people in a race that you just can't shake off, don't you? Anyway my lack of competitive spirit meant I wasn't rising to the bait. Even when she sprinted off for the finishing line. I crossed the finishing line in 57:36 and was completely delighted with my time. When passing through the finishers tunnel I congratulated the pink vest, who duly informed me that she was "determined to beat me". I did giggle and told her I had the upperhand being six months pregnant. Touche. I left her to pick up her jaw and went over to meet Sonic and the Pacepushers. Sonic finished in 36:27 and Pacepushers both got PB - a good tuner race for next week's Chicago Marathon. Fellow Garscubians Jill and Kathryn had great performances - 41 and 43 mins, respectively. And well done to WHW WAGS Katrina and Muriel.
The way the races were scheduled, we got to cheer on the marathon runners finishing. The first runner was home in 2:28. Congratulations to George, Sharon, Tim, Karen, George R, Ellen, Pauline, Fiona, John H and Crawford (and anyone else I missed) who all completed the marathon. Especially to those who have recently completed ultras. Davie B- you're a big poof! Just kidding, buddy. Hope your knee/IT recovers well.
On the way home, Sonic, Jill and I stopped off at a cafe in Fort Augustus for a post-race feast. They opted for the bake potato in haggis, whereas I was more reserved with the ol' tuna mayo. The highlight of the experience was the waitress (providing the usual Scottish hospitality) trying to explain to an American couple what Irn Bru tasted like. Hilarious. Almost as hilarious as when the male American tourist asked if I would stand in the middle of the road to take a picture of them outside the cafe. I honestly thought he was joking, but he really did want me to stand in the middle of the road. So there I was standing in the middle of the A82 on a sunny Sunday afternoon....just part of the adventure me thinks.