In Lockdown With Bella is a new series of blogs from members of Bellahouston Harriers aimed at providing an insight into running life during the coronavirus pandemic.
In this second blog in the series, Lynne Bruce describes how a major life-changing event and lockdown have not diminished the connection she feels to the club.
By Lynne Bruce
My name is Lynne Bruce (nee McDowall) and I’ve been a member of Bellahouston Harriers for almost five years now. It’s been such a fantastic experience, training and racing with the friendliest running club in Glasgow!
I’ve enjoyed many a Tuesday or Thursday night training session over the past few years, heading out from our meeting place at Cartha Queen’s Park Rugby Club into Pollok Park or the surrounding residential streets in all of Glasgow’s varying weather! We used to do track night during the winter too at Hutcheson’s Grammar School’s running track – I have memories of running 300 metre reps in torrential horizontal rain!
I have so many great memories of races with the Harriers too over the years. Standouts are the Clydebank 10k in 2016, the Tom Scott 10 miler in the same year, and the Balloch – Clydebank Half Marathon also in 2016. I achieved my PBs for these distances at each of these races.
There’s a common theme of 2016 here – I trained for and ran the Belfast Marathon in May that year and the extra weekly mileage made me temporarily much faster over all distances. Running Belfast - my one and only marathon to date - wearing the Bella vest was an incredible experience.
Other standouts are numerous very muddy cross-country races over the years (loads of fun!) and running the Bellahouston Harriers’ flagship 10k, the Brian Goodwin 10k in June in 2016, 2017 and 2018. There have been so many other great racing experiences with Bellahouston Harriers – far too many to mention them all here.
Things have changed significantly recently, both for me personally and for basically the whole world. For me personally, I emigrated to Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA in February 2020. For the whole world, I’m of course talking about Covid-19 and how it has changed our lives in all kinds of ways over the past couple of months.
Both the UK and Colorado have been subject to lockdown restrictions due to Covid-19 since mid to late March 2020, meaning no running club training sessions, gyms all closed, and all running has had to be done on our own or with members of our own households only and whilst staying socially distanced (at least 6 feet away) from anyone we might encounter on our route.
I joined a running group at my local gym shortly after I moved to Colorado Springs but I was only able to get out to run with them once before the gym closed for lockdown and all group runs were obviously cancelled for the foreseeable future.
I do enjoy running on my own as it gives me time to think. Running outdoors has been absolute boon during lockdown too. I’ve been so glad to have that outlet, an outdoor activity that we’re allowed to do during lockdown, which is not only great physical exercise but also, for me anyway, fantastic for keeping up my spirits if they are wavering a little - a feeling I’m sure most of us have had occasionally during this strange and scary time.
Colorado Springs sits at a very high altitude in the Rocky Mountains – around 6,500 feet above sea level. This makes running, or any vigorous physical activity much harder, at least until you acclimatise to the high altitude. Put very simply, when running at high altitudes the reduced air pressure means that less oxygen is getting to your muscles (there’s more to it than that but that’s basically what’s happening). The air is also very dry here in Colorado most of the time, leading to an increased risk of becoming dehydrated.
I’ve now been here in Colorado for nine weeks, and I’m happy to report that I am becoming much more used to the altitude. I’m finding that I can run up some steeper hills that I had to walk up when I first arrived, which is great! I’ve heard that it takes twelve weeks to acclimatise fully to the altitude.
Earlier today I took part in the Bellahouston Harriers April Virtual Two Mile Time Trial.
The Harriers traditionally have two mile time trials in Pollok Park several times a year, and obviously April 2020’s cannot be held due to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. Instead, we’ve had a virtual time trial, where we all choose our own route (with various rules – e.g. no massively downhill routes; we must adhere to local lockdown and social distancing guidelines), then go run it and log it on Garmin / Strava and send in screenshots of our efforts!
I ran my two miles today, April 28th 2020, in 13 minutes 32 seconds, which I’m pleased with considering the altitude and the fact that, while I’ve been running a lot lately, I haven’t been doing much in the way of speed work. I’m slightly concerned that my route had a bit more downhill than I intended, though not massively downhill and there was a good bit of uphill in mile two. I’ll also confess that I had to stop very briefly three times on that uphill to catch my breath, which I’m disappointed about but, hey, it’s tough running at racing pace at more than a mile above sea level!
I’m looking forward to seeing how my fellow Harriers got on with their virtual time trials back in Scotland. – Little update, the club decided to record my elapsed time of 14:08 for the April Virtual Time Trial rather than my moving time of 13:32 - that seems fair enough!
It’s amazing that modern technology allows us to take part in these virtual activities even during lockdown, giving us a real sense of connection. The virtual nature of this time trial allowed me, 5,000 miles away from Glasgow in Colorado, to take part too which was fantastic! Last week I was also able to join my fellow Harriers in a Zoom strength session led by our coach, Colin – again, the wonders of technology allowing us to work out together virtually whilst in the safety of our individual homes.
Although I’m many miles away in Colorado, I hope to remain a Bellahouston Harrier if they’ll have me. I would miss so much being part of this amazing group, even virtually, and I hope to join them for a training session or two again in future when I am visiting Scotland once lockdown is eventually over.