The Deer Runner

The Deer Runner

Sunday, 16 March 2014

D33 - Do Epic Sh*t

The D33, no longer first race of the SUMS season but still first SUMS race of the year after a winter break.  Being an out and back makes this race unique, one where participants of all abilities cheer each other on, including the top runners.  Some runners find the course too flat with no hills to speak of but this race can have a nasty bite if not paced properly.  Read on for a race not paced properly.

I first ran the D33 with my youngest brother in 2011 where we did the first half too fast and struggled back to Duthie Park in 5 hours 49 minutes.  That was a lesson on pacing so there was no excuse for the bad pacing during yesterdays race.  Deep down I knew my time from last year was out of reach but I still lined up in the middle of the pack just before nine.

A safety briefing from George Reid before setting off under the cloudy sky.  I opted to ditch the waterproof jacket, even though it threatened to rain.  I was wearing a long sleeve top over a tee shirt to keep the westerly wind at bay.

At nine we were off, onto the disused railway line and heading west.  Once again I wanted to run this race without looking at my watch. I wanted to run a comfortable race but got carried away with the pace of everyone running around me.

I knew my pace was too fast when I overheard a runner announce 3 miles in under 27 minutes.
I should have responded to this and slowed things down but the stubbornness shone through.

 Views open up to the countryside on the left.

I'm carrying a packet of mini cheddars, 2 strawberry bar thingies and a packet of caffeine infused gels.  I take a gel every half an hour, a feeble attempt to keep energy up.  With this course being so runnable, I don't want to walk and eat normal food.  

The river Dee makes an appearance, sorry for the blurry pictures, they were taken on the run.

The railway line is tarred and heads out Deeside, it takes around 7 miles to clear housing at the west end of Aberdeen.

After clearing the railway line and a bit of trail, the first checkpoint is on quiet back roads.  This checkpoint will play an important role for me later in the race.

The back road is downhill before hitting a trail to Drumoak.  It's here that alarm bells start ringing with my pacing when I start to get passed by steady runners. 

I have taken three gels and they are stuck, I cant seem to shift them no matter how much water I drink.  I'm running out of energy before half way.

I manage to snap the race leader and congratulate all the front runners as they pass, this is what makes the D33 special.

The track runs parallel with the Deeside railway for a while.

Half way point ahead, I'm glad to get there and feel awful, it's going to be a grind back to Aberdeen.
I spend a couple of minutes at the checkpoint downing water before refilling the water bottle.
With the sun making an appearance and the wind behind us it's going to get very hot.
From the half way point the photos are few and far between, an indication of the stress that overcame me.

I open a strawberry bar, a last ditch attempt to get some energy but it's too late, I only manage half as it seems to be sitting on top of the gels.  I drink water as my pace slows and I begin to overheat.
I'm being passed by a lot of runners which doesn't help matters so I have a talk to myself, this is my race and my pace, don't worry about being passed, try to find a steady pace to return to Aberdeen.
I ignore everyone passing me, apologies for the silence.  My mind goes into negative overdrive where I begin to doubt I'll finish this.  I'm still running but very slowly.  I don't want to walk but it's inevitable and I try to hold off the urge for as long as possible.  I try to reach the uphill road section before walking but can only make it to the main street in Drumoak.

I walk along the pavement trying to take stock of the situation.  I'm absolutely soaking in sweat, the breeze is cooling me down as I practically finish my water.  I'm passed by runners and watch unconcerned as they disappear into the distance. 

I'm completely done in and consider giving this crazy hobby up.  Toys get chucked out of the pram big time as I consider withdrawing from the Fling and Double Cateran.  I also doubt if I'm fit or good enough to take on my East to West challenge.

It looks like I'll be walking back to Aberdeen so begin taking photos again.

On the uphill road section I am completely out of water and consider chapping on somebodies door to get a refill but the checkpoint is only about a mile ahead.

Alternative transport?

I finally reach the checkpoint with my race in tatters.  I feel terrible and down a lot of water before refilling the bottle.  I also spot a half bottle of coke on the free side of the table.  This is downed pronto but I can't face anything to eat.

Time to go, eight miles which quite frankly I was dreading.  Little did I know it, but my race was about to be improved.  Another runner, Alan Cormack, just happened to be leaving the checkpoint at the same time.  Good chat and a steady pace all the way back to the Duthie Park was just what the doctor ordered.  I still felt ropey but it was good sharing race stories and tips with Alan which helped pass the time. 

After running in and crossing the line together it was good to recover and have a much needed beer with Alan.  5 hours 15 minutes, a time I was happy with but not how I came to achieve it.

So it's back to the drawing board for food, gels are not for me, especially caffeine infused ones.
Training at 12 minute miles and expecting to race under 9 minute miles just didn't work out.
The D33 found me out big time, I need to either train for a faster time or just accept a slower pace and enjoy the run.

So, time to thank the race organisers George, Karen and the team of volunteers and marshals for another great event.  This race continues to gain popularity and deservedly so.  Oh, and thanks to Alan who came along at the right time, it was much appreciated.

Tues 4,  Thurs 3,  Sat 33. Weekly total 40 miles.

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