Thursday, 10 October 2013

What happened next

My goodness, my last blog was just after the WHWrace. I usually do an aftermath blog but when you leave it more than a week it kind of goes out your head and then you never get round to it. Headtorch and beautiful sunrises are in vogue again.

Starting where I left off.  I'd taken a week off work to get some R&R but by Tuesday I was a bit bored as Ian was back to work and I was feeling fine. I was astounded by my recovery. By Tuesday I had tired legs but no DOMS, I was more bothered by the 3 million midgie bites which seemed to explode all over my body in the days after the race. I was on a diet of Piriton and wine, I slept a lot.

I'll put my good recovery down to Ian's perfect training plan and the added bonus of adding Donnie as my PT to strengthen me. My crew kept me in good spirits and believed in me the whole way. I couldn't have asked for more really.

After the race I had no grand plans for rest of year. Only thing I'd entered was Speyside Way Ultra which I'd done the first year and had great memories of. So it was a case of going with the flow with regard to races. There was talk of an Autumn Marathon but no hard plans were laid.
We ended up in Arran only 2 weeks after race doing not only the half but the 4 mile fun run day before too. (roasting ) We did the 6 hills of Edinburgh on one of hottest days of yr (yes, we missed one out)a fabulous 13miler with Susan & Howard in Pentlands and The Donkey Brae ( hills, biblical rain)
To mix it up there was also the meadows 2 miler (killer, actually thought lungs would burst) 

Ian had said he wasn't doing Ultra's this year but after following everyone's antics over the Devil of the Highlands it sparked something in him and he made noises about wishing he'd been there. I suggested he could come up and do Speyside with me and he said "well I'll have to do a 30miler to see how I get on" So hasty plans were made and we ended up in Oak Tree Inn. Ian planned his long run and I planned a chilled out time after suffering with tonsillitis all week.
Speyside way. The first year I ran I did 6hrs 1 min so my only real goal was to get sub6 this year. Oh and try and beat Ian, who's 30miler had clearly gone quite well btw. 

Now I hadn't done any long runs since WHW, runs to and from work and a few races, Arran half if you want to count that as a long run (I don't) so I wasn't entirely sure how it would pan out but I still had the sub6 in my mind. I decided to keep Ian in my sights for as long as I could, he still faffing around in 1st checkpoint when I got there and bolted when I appeared but I soon caught him again and we played cat & mouse for good 15 miles after till he pulled away on a downhill section. I ended up letting him win with it being his first Ultra this year ;)  I finished in 5.48, 6th Lady and 20th overall. Delighted.
The pic is from the book of first year- must contact agent
Next up -and Stirling 10k (apocalyptic) and a disappointing time of 48mins. I'm pretty rubbish at short distances anyway but I guess head and heart weren't in race as I sat in car REALLY not wanting to get out in THAT weather. And I'm not fair weather runner. Next again week Dumfries Half Marathon. I'd ran it 3 yrs previous and forgotten how tough it was. Did same time as 3 yrs previous, not sure whether I should be happy or sad about that, so I was neutral. Great to see Susan & Howard again albeit briefly.
And few whw family too in forms of Ian who kindly ran us back to bus and regaled with stories of crazy triathlons and Keith who was as smiley as ever but had no chunky kitkats.

Oh what next?
Hmm, Baxters river ness 10k. Ian had been invited up so we decided we might as well race if we were going all way up there. No room at the Inn nor anywhere remotely near so we ended up staying in middle of nowhere about an hours drive away. Still, it was better than driving 4 hrs in the morning and getting up in middle of night for a 10k. Guy who checked us in seemed strangely familiar but couldn't figure out why til we went down for dinner and he asked about Ians whw top. Turns out it was Terry who gave Donny a run for his money at this yrs Speyside way and lost by 2 seconds. Small world.

River Ness turned out to be a wholly unexpected PB! I'm still no speedster by any means but I was delighted with 46.28. No speedwork since April, I'll take that. Another roasty toasty day, cant complain we've had no summer this year! Was great being in VIP tent and rehydrating with wine whilst cheering folk over finish line too.

That left the talked about Autumn Marathon. We plumped for Chester. Read great things about it and all reports said it was great, well organised and had been voted number 1 marathon in uk. I'd banged on about it being my first marathon for 3 yrs until I realised i'd done Loch Ness last yr, my god. I knew I felt utterly crap after that and limped in 3.49 but to blank it out my head totally? lol

I was pretty nervous. If you'd asked me in March i'd have said I was pretty damn confident. I'd been doing regular speed training along with long runs which culminated in my 50k PB of 4.26

Fast forward 6months. Gulp.
Pigtails, Chanel ribbons, Chanel no 5. Ready

Another glorious day beckoned, I like the hot weather. Only weather I don't particularly like is wind, chuck anything else and I'm happy. I had a goal in my head that only a few people knew about. I'd signed up to the twitter & facebook feed at last minute to put extra pressure on. Nerves were kicking in but I always take that as a positive. I wished Ian luck and he went off to his pen ahead of me and I lined up in middle of sub 3.30 pen. I decided I was just going to run comfortably. I'd felt comfortable at River Ness which is bizarre as I ran that at the same pace as 2 miler in meadows where I nearly died.

So that's what I did. Started off with a lap of racecourse, my goodness it made me feel sorry for horses! I was glad to get off there and up the wee hill onto the road, well this *was* a road Marathon remember. Into the beautiful city of Chester and down the cobbled streets, much more forgiving than Edinburgh's I have to say.  Over a wee bridge which got pretty congested then onto wider streets and country roads. Stunning route which took in little villages with quaint houses. I somehow caught up with the 3.30 pacers at around mile 4 and stayed with them (not trying to) for another 2 or 3 I think. I was a bit worried I had gone off too fast but I'd not caught them till 4 miles and I still felt ok.

This marathon actually crosses the border into Wales which I was a bit excited about giving I'd never been there. I was hoping for a big sign saying *WALES*  but was sadly disappointed. I had an indication I was there as I heard a roar of "oggy oggy oggy" ahead, thinking we were approaching another bunch of supporters. It turns out we hadn't so I can only assume this was where we crossed into Wales. After that most signs were in Welsh & English but I'm bit gutted there was no leeks and daffodils in abundance ;) I'd seen guy in a pink tutu couple times during race, doing bit showboating and getting huge cheers-he seemed familiar, then I spotted guy he was running withs tshirt which confirmed it was. I eventually realised he was someone I'd met on twitter and hoped to catch the two of them eventually.

I only looked at my garmin when I felt I was running a bit too easy and would push pace if I thought it was slipping. I started doing calculations in my head, if I do this pace till then, I'll do that, etc etc. I knew I'd slow down, I had done at Perth. But one thing I hadn't counted on one iota was walking.

I'd ran every single step of Perth, no stops for toilet, drinks, nothing. By mile 14 I was walking though drinks stations but ploughing on after. My mile 21 I was taking walking breaks. This marathon wasn't as flat as folk made out! There were few long drags which you only started to notice half a mile into. There were hills late on, they didn't quite kill me but I did walk part of them. I'd said I was NOT going to walk. I was bitterly disappointed with myself and kept recalculating finish time over and over in my head.

Head was willing me on, legs were willing me to stop. The battle went on. 24 miles in and the crowds were back, 25miles in and it was a line of supporters, much like a finish line. Barriers, screaming supporters lining whole route, Everyone shouting "nearly there" down to river, "nearly there, keep going, looking good" wtf? me? no I don't think so. Where's the fucking finish line? what have you done with the racecourse?  I felt like grabbing a marshal and shaking them asking them if they'd moved the mile markers, moved the finish? I wanted to STOP

 Through an archway, omg, there it is, we're in racecourse! Wait, where's the finish? aaargh! ALL the way round there? I cant run on grass now, I have no power in my legs. I'm not a bloody racehorse, a donkey perhaps.

Looked at Garmin, damn, I had targeted sub 3.40 and I saw my watch tick tick towards it as I plodded my donkey legs as fast as they'd go. I got a shout out! yay. Here comes Sandra Macdog ...ul   hmmph, is that me? does he mean me? who cares? there's the finish!  3hrs 40 mins and 45 seconds.

conflicting emotions.

gah! Stupid 46 secs, why did you walk Sandra?
 yay! PB by over 6 minutes, walk if wan to , walk if you want to.....

I'm not complaining. I'm very happy with that. My last speed training was in March/April leading up to Fling/Double day. Spent nearly all of May injured then ran WHW race. No long runs since then with the exception of  Speyside Way Ultra, none. To get results, you have to do the work.

It makes me think of what I could actually do with some proper Marathon training.

Met my pink tutu wearing twitter  friend Mike & Simon at end, they'd finished 5 mins ahead, literally seconds ahead of Ian who incidentally got a seasons best.  I should've used them as pacers!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Chasing the dream

Everyone has different hopes & dreams. For me this year it was to finish the race running, to run every step I could and not get injured in the process. Sounds simple.

But anyone who has followed my progress knows it's a bit of a different story but we wont go there again. This year my training was turned on its head. Ian sat me down in January with the calendar and we pencilled in all the long runs. I was also ordered to take 2 full weeks off before it all kicked in. Other different thing I did was take on Donny Campbell as my PT.  He sat me down and asked what I needed from him and from then on proceeded to destroy me week on week.

But hey, you know all that.

As normal, I'd booked a room at Premier Inn for us all to chill out in. We arrived around 3pm with Susan & Howard not far behind. They went off for a run and Ian went off to do what Race Directors do whilst I had a bath and a snooze. We headed to dinner around 6ish, very poor service meant Ian ended up only eating half his before heading off to registration, not great. Couple glasses of red wine calmed me down a bit and it was 9pm before we got back to room. Nick arrived soon after followed by Stephen & Gillian. Team Santababy was complete. Car was packed and bit of race talk ensued. Stephen & Gill went off for ice cream and we all tried to get bit of sleep, not forgetting to set alarm for 12midnight.

I got up around 11.40 and got lycra on, pigtailed up and chanel ribbons and a quick squirt of no 5 and I was ready. We piled into car and headed to start. Ian phoned just as we arrived, after sleeping in the first year and missing half the race briefing he was making sure I was there this time lol.

It's difficult to put into words the atmosphere at the start. A mix of excitement and nerves is palpable. And its same again. Squashy hugs aplenty to all and sundry, good luck wishes and nervous laughter filled the air. I said my goodbyes to Ian and positioned myself beside 183 others awaiting the 95mile adventure ahead. I felt quite emotional, I'd felt that way all week and when I said this to Andrew Murray on Thursday he told me it was because I knew in my heart I'd finish, that I'd worked hard and nothing would stop me. He was right.

1am- we're off.  Running through the town centre is quite surreal, lots of cheers, lots of flashes going off and people calling your name. But soon enough we're into the trails and it all goes quiet. The headtorches all bobbing around. There's the occasional chatter but people I suspect are quite reflective for first few miles till we're proper into the trail and onto the first hill. I ran a fair bit of the first section with John K. I let him do the talking mainly remembering the time he had headcam on during Glenmore! The miles ticked by really quickly and I had to stop and take my jacket off, it was bit drizzly but very warm and clammy and I soon down to my vest. We ran through the Beech Tree together and had people shouting our names, it's almost impossible to see who it is in the glare of the headtorches but I spotted Ian in nick of time and gave him wave. John joked that I won that section on the shouts, think it was 3-2 :)

After crossing road and back onto trail my shoes started giving me bit of nip, I decided that once I was on the hills that climb towards Drymen I'd call my crew and get a change of shoe. Blisters at this stage would not be good. Called Nick and think he got bit of shock wondering why I was calling him so early in race, I could hear his relief when I told him I just needed change shoe.

Arrived at Drymen pretty much on schedule and probably wasted couple minutes changing shoes but was not in slightest bit worried. There were still lots of runners around so you never felt quite alone but it had spread out compared to the first 12 miles. it was very misty on approach to Conic Hill and I decided to put jacket back on in case it was bit chilly up there. Didn't think we'd see much of the views but as soon as we crested the hill we were greeted with the breath taking view of Loch Lomond. Passed a few scouts and got lots of encouragement from them as they headed up the hill for their annual longest day trip up there.

As much as the path has been improved coming off conic I still took it very easy, no point trashing my quads now when we're not even at first checkpoint. And the steps are still as steep/high as ever, for my wee legs anyway. There is no easy down and jumping down each one I was aware of my ankles and taking it easy. Howard had run out to see if I wanted anything,  I said I was going straight to oak tree to toilet and i'd see them there. Got inside, quick hug to Lucy (owner of Oak tree who kindly opened up again for us lot) and my crew sat me down, shoved a roll in my hand and a cup of tea. Lucy came through and asked if I needed anything but I was eager to get off. She told me she'd left something for me at Rowardennan and off went.

Said to my crew *see in hour and half* and I did. Still on schedule I arrived in Rowardennan through a mist of midgies.
Crew did quick check of my feet. I was convinced the first shoes had given  me start of blisters so they changed compeeds & socks. My right ankle had been bothering me since coming off Conic and I told crew, we were prepared for this and had cold gel things which we stuck on and sprayed with freeze spray. I tried not to focus on it but hoped desperately this wasn't a repeat of previous years. I told my crew It didn't matter, nothing was stopping me today.
 Off I went again. About another half mile up road I got to Lucy's house which is last house you see for a while. She'd made a sign up and stuck it to gate saying Go Sandra Go! :) brilliant. She'd also stuck a hug bag of goodies for me. This posed a bit of problem for me. My crew had filled up my bag before leaving Rowardennan as they knew I'd not see them til Beinglas. I tried calling Nick to come get it but it went straight to answerphone so I just had to shove it all inside my bag. I threw the apple to the birds (sorry Lucy!) and squeezed everything else in. There was a pack of tissues which I delighted to find as my nose seemed to be streaming.

Off  I trotted towards Inverersnaid where I caught up with Rab and ran with him for about 4 miles. As it got a bit more rocky he took off and I let him, he was just leaving inversnaid as I arrived. Wonderful surprise there was Karin McKendrick and her sister Brenda. great to see a friendly face and get hugs. She said I was looking ,much better than I had last yr at this stage, I couldn't have agreed more.

But I knew what lay ahead, my Achilles heel. The dreaded loch side. the first mile out there is totally runnable so I ran and vowed to run as much of this section as I could. During the fling I got passed by lots folk here but caught them after beinglas so I just decided to try do same. Guess the good thing about this section is you get chance to have odd chat with folk, its not easy climbing up and over rocks but at least it slows us down enough for chat! Had lovely chat with Graeme McClymont here but he was soon off into the distance. Another guy asked me if my name was Sandra and when I said yes, he told me it was like meeting a celebrity. lol Really sorry if I was disappointment and I've forgotten your name, sorry!

I had to stop somewhere here and fix my compeed, as soon as sat down the migdies started dive bombing me. Everyone who passed asked I was ok, that's what makes this race special, I told them was just fixing compeed and was fine. this was result of that little stop though.

I was so relieved to leave that section behind even if mean a big climb to Darios Hill. I knew I was within couple miles of seeing crew, had chat with another runner on approach to Beinglas about it being the longest 2 miles ever.

Got into Beinglas and was delighted to see Ian. My crew as per usual were on ball and went to work on me, changing tops,giving new dry hat and jacket- socks, feeding me etc. I took a red bull here, I'd been avoiding caffeine expect for odd cup tea here and there so far and this worked a treat during fling. I lost about 1/2 hour on schedule over this section but wasn't too worried, we weren't even at half way after all.
I left there in high spirits.

I'd done pretty well during fling on this section so just tried to do same. Crew said they'd see me at Auchtertyre which was 50miles in and next checkpoint.

I took off my pink jacket not long after leaving checkpoint and was back to my vest again. On climb to cow poo alley the heavens opened and it rained pretty heavily. I knew putting on pink jacket meant it would just stick to me and make me colder so I stuck to my vest, and it stuck to me! I passed few walkers here who looked at me as if I was nuts running along in a vest soaked to skin, they all said good luck to me though. As I approached Crianlarich a spotted the familiar cheery face of Nick ahead. Susan knew the jacket I had on wouldn't do much good n this rain and dispatched him with my thicket rain jacket. this is where good crew comes in, thinking ahead when your runner cant. Priceless. Nick gave me jacket and ran back to gate, I thought maybe there would be people there as there usually is but he was only one there when I arrived. We said our goodbyes and I headed off up the hill for the rollercoaster section before the road crossing.

I ran all of this section with Ross Moreland and his buddy. It took away the relentless grind of the up and down chatting away and we all ran into Auchertyre together. 50miles done and dusted!
I'd told crew I didn't want to stop here and i'd rather have break at Tyndrum so I ran in, got weighed and ran out again. Luckily because Paul Giblin had been tearing up the course and throwing the rule book away I was allowed buddy runner here so Susan & Howard joined me. It was bloody fantastic to keep getting updates on people throughout race. I nearly peed myself when they told me how well Lorna was doing, this kind of thing is a real boost. loved it.

Before too long we arrived in Tyndrum, got big shout out from Kirsty as we passed by the way and arrived at car park to find my friend Jules who'd come up specially, was expecting a bottle of champagne but all I got was Chicken soup, a roll and another red bull and I was off up the road past the village hall where many a good night has been had and a special engagement party no less.

I do love the section towards Bridge of Orchy, I love the way it opens up ahead of you with the spectacular surroundings. We ran with a spring in our step and Howard ran on ahead to let crew know I'd not be stopping here and to be ready. Stephen, my boy was going to run to Inveronan hotel from here and I was excited to be sharing this with him. I came into checkpoint singing 35 miles to go and doing a wee dance. Someone asked wtf I'd been getting fed on that last section!
 Susan handed over the reins to Nick here and after quick hug to Jane at BoO, scanned in by Tim & Muriel we stomped off up hill. Nick was singing killers songs at top of his voice going up here and I turned to runner behind me and apologised for the noise, I didn't get much response, so I let him past and he caught up with Nick who was still singing. Nick tried to engage him but he wasn't having it, guessing he just wanted peace and quiet! sorry if you're reading this...

Stopped off at Murdo's hill for obligatory pic (to follow) and off we went on the lovely downhill towards the hotel.

Quick stop at bottom and I changed into road shoes for the bumpy ride across Rannoch Moor, not my favourite section. Elaine Sandemon drove past here telling me Donald was about 10mins ahead. I said to her "I'll catch him!"

Nick was coming across Rannoch Moor with me, it was his first time on that section and was excited. He loved it, every minute. We passed few folk here and kept setting wee targets of people in distance, Nick was surprised at how much climbing there was though and asked if it ever had a downhill. There are a few of course but it does seem like a never ending albeit gentle climb. I was still running pretty well here and as Howard ran out to meet us about mile out he remarked how "unrunable" it was back in and to watch my feet.

I decided not to stop at Glencoe so it was quick scan and off again down road. Susan & Howard rejoined me here and Nick took over the driving again. We passed few people on section towards devil and soon enough we were at bottom and ready to climb. After doing that section 4 times in one day I said I had no fear of it. Hmm, my legs had different ideas and it felt like a long slog. We could see people dotted around all way up and just kept focusing on that til we got to top. 

I remember getting to the bridge and saying to Susan and Howard that it was only 3 miles til Kinlochleven, Howard asked if he should run ahead now and get ready but I said wait till we were closer. As usual the road went on and on but we eventually saw the pipes and crossed Pete's bouncy bridge and ran into Kinlochleven.

Ian was here again which was lovely surprise. Julie was in full control here and popped me on scales with supreme efficiency after giving me hug. I spent bit too long here as Stephen had to keep running out to car to get stuff, Ian said I was grumpy here but I genuinely don't think I was, think Susan was more grumpy than me cause stuff wasn't ready.

But I was, this was it-the last push. I kissed Ian goodbye and ran off with Nick again towards to death climb.

Every so often Nick would turn round, look at me and started laughing manically. I asked what he was laughing at? He said "when does it stop going up, every time I think we're at top there's another fuckin climb?"

Lol. It was while.

But get to the top we did. I wasn't sure how my legs would be and if they were willing to run again, but run they did. I'd kept my road shoes on and I'm glad I did here as it gave a little more cushioning, mind you it was a bit like the princess and the pea, nothing was going to help after 80+ miles, lets face it.

We passed by Jeff and I kindly thanked him for being there but declined any drinks etc, he did take this great picture of us though.
Nick said when he saw that pic that "I have no right to be that happy after 87miles!"

Picked off a few people here but always trying to give words of encouragement as we did. About half mile from Lundavra I spotted bright yellow jacket ahead, it was same one id seen at top of Devil as I slogged up at bottom. It turned out to be Keith Ainslie, he said his legs were hurting, I said mine too! He asked how far lundavra was from there and I told him it was just over the hill. "oh, another hill, great stuff" he replied.

We ran into Lundavra in great spirits singing at tops of our voices and missing out on the rocky theme as we drowned it out! Hugs from Caroline & high five from Neil and almost ran out without realising Ian was there! haha. Again a great surprise. He told me that Ross & Donnie were ahead and that I had 1hr 29mins to get under 23hrs from here! aaargh

Nick took off up hill like rocket and I tried best to follow. We soon caught Ross & Donnie. Donnie asked how many times I'd fell. NONE! don't jinx me now I said!

Off we went on a mission and set out to pass anyone we saw. And we did. Had to put head torches on as we entered forest which slowed us down but we kept the momentum up. As we approached the decimated forest before the fire road we pass 3 guys we'd been chasing for a while. As we got onto fire road Stephen & Howard appeared from nowhere. It was bit lighter now that we were out forest but not enough for no head torches. Off we went down that fire road like people possessed.

I think I stopped for few walking steps every mile or so. Keziah from our club passed us going up to support a dutch runner she'd never met before today and wished me luck saying I had 2 miles to go.

As ever Braveheart just seemed to never arrive. When I saw the gates I choked up a bit and Susan was there to meet us. Team Santa were once again all together and would finish this journey together. We passed 2 more runners on the last mile towards Leisure centre somehow and I ran every last step to finish line and into Ian's arms.

23hrs 11mins.

I have video of finish but don't know how to post it here. Here I am with my boy
I'll do aftermath blog another day, if you're not exhausted reading this far then go run it next year :)

Monday, 27 May 2013

Jumping the gun

I'm seeing my Physio today at 2.30

I've been a very good and obedient girl of late and following Physio orders to the letter. Well kind of. Letter as edited by Sandra. I was told that pool running would turn me into Freya Ross and/or Kelly Holmes, both of whom went on to PB after being injured and took to pool running. The pool belt thingy is £50 though, and add that to Physio costs along with PT costs and the faff of getting to pool it just gets silly.

This is no *ordinary* Physio btw, he was recommended to me by Debs M-C and he just happens to be  Team GB Ultra Physio, he also looks after pocket rocket Antonia too, its fair to say i put my trust in him.

Mags saw on FB that i was advised to get one and offered me hers and was going to take it to Cateran but somehow we both totally forgot about it. So i mailed my Physio and asked if i could walk. Yes, he said, do it! And if it doesn't hurt then you can speed walk, go for it.
So i did. First day i asked Ian how long it would take me to walk the 3 miles to work he estimated 50minutes. I did it in 49. Yes, i was wearing a garmin. I was also, faebooking, tweeting and taking random pics and generally enjoying my surroundings. I miss a lot of that when running i guess. I saw a ship called dignity, and action men in boat windows.

I was also wearing normal clothes like a normal and was freaking freezing. Next day the lycra was back on as were couple layers and gloves. Walking does not in any way keep you warm in same way. So next day i upped the ante and decided that keeping warm was the focus. I went from 16mm to 14 .  Hmm once a runner eh....

And so it continued, i did a wee bit longer every day, the pce came down further to between 13/13.5 and that wasn't walking like a crazy speedwalker person with my hips swinging out along with my arms. I was actually starting to enjoy it. I wasnt arriving at work all yawny like i had been when getting bus. What a revelation.

Thing is, Ian has been telling me this for months, quite probably years. Sometimes i listen to him, i just didnt about the walking but I'm a convert now. Sorry Ian, i bow to your knowledge.

Saw On Thursday i did a bit of jumping the gun hence the blog title and i ran a bit. It was a rather lovely day and as i power walked along road i suddenly broke into a wee trot. Don't even know where it came from, i hadn't really planned to run. Something just made me. So i ran, then i walked. I tried to keep it structured. One minute off, one on. Then i ran bit longer but still walked too. Ended up doing 7 miles, i'd say 60/40 run/walk. Did much same after work on way to PT

Donny decided the softly softly approach of last week (if you can call doing 100sit ups with a weight on my chest, god knows how many minutes planking with a weight on my back and rest of things i blanked out soft that is) and he worked me hard. Clearly making sure the calf was OK at all times. I mailed my physio on Thursday night to tell him about all the walking I'd been doing and what I'd been doing with PT. i didn't mention the running at that stage as I'd only just done it-no point worrying him -right?

Turns out he was rather impressed, even though I'd never managed to get feet wet. He told me RUN. Not just run but run twice a day for half hour until i saw him on Monday! yeah baby!

Shame i couldn't move my thighs day after PT and my calf's were super tight. So i decided to take a rest day as i had busy day planned anyway, once i was in my heels the calf's eased a bit. I knew it was the PT stuff though as it was both of them and in different place to original injury.

Saturday i ran with Ian in the glorious sunshine for just over 4 miles, thighs still sore but eased off as miles ticked by. Nice easy run for Ian day before the Edinburgh half (his 95th!)

Ran in this morning, all ok. So far so good. Suspect the sports massage today that is planned will hurt but I'll find out if I've got green light to do one more long run before whwrace or not. If i don't then its fine. What I've got from the lay off and the reluctant push into walking is a new found confidence. Sounds crazy i know but as Ultra runners we spend a fair bit of our time on hills and unless your leading the pack you'll be walking.

And i can walk.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Cateran Trail adventues

I'm doing this blog all backwards sorry. I thought with Cateran Race next weekend I'd do update and give people who are doing it for first time an insight as to what to expect.
A couple weeks before the fling my club mates had organised a 2 day training run over the entire route.  It was the week after Perth 50k and I didn't commit to it till the Monday as I wasn't sure how I'd feel. After Loch ness marathon I was broken and it took me a week to recover. After Perth I did a PB and PB at Marathon distance and was fine by next day, goodness knows how that works but I wasn't complaining.

Ian was going to footy on Sunday so he decided to come along for part of Saturday and it would be his last (and first lol) training run for London. Plan was to do Glenshee to Blairgowrie on first day and Blairgowrie to Glenshee 2nd day. Ian decided to run to Alyth which was around marathon distance.

We headed up to Alyth in morning and met Lorna & John, Ian left his car there and we headed up to meet rest gang at Glenshee. By 9.30 we were heading out into the glorious sunshine. I had my jacket on for first mile or so but it was soon discarded and I was down to my vest. There was still a lot of snow around but it was such a gloriously sunny day. I'm probably repeating what I've said before when talking about Cateran trail but I do love this route.

It's basically a tour of many farms, one day I shall count all ones you run through, I'm sure Karen could tell us exactly how many there are though. The first 6 miles were the usual, lovely trails and sinky bogs and a poor squashed Hare, the tortoise clearly had made off safely. We came across fair amount of cows on path in first few miles and Ian went to front and shooed them all away
Soon enough we are the first checkpoint area of race. Then it was 3 miles of road before getting to where we re-join trail.

Ian & Donald were a bit ahead and I climbed the massive style to join them on other side they pointed to the huge open gate to the right. They let me, and everyone else climb it before telling us.

These pics are  taken from top of said style.

Might be something to look out for in race if you're running it.

The climbs started again and the snow got deeper as we went on but still the sun shone brightly on us.

We ploughed on enjoying every step and taking in the fabulous scenery. The snow was lovely to run on the bogs were, well, boggy and very icy cold when disappearing into them due to the snow & ice around. Many a time we'd come to a gate and start clambering over only for someone to then go open it. It's not like I've not done this route before! Again, if you're doing race, check first. save your legs.....

When we arrived at Alyth,we had quick pic then
 Ian took off to go get his car and we waited on rest gang catching up before heading off into Den of Alyth which is another checkpoint in race.

Then it was long drag on road again up towards the fabulous Drimmie Woods. I do love this section and was looking forward to seeing the famous spiders web but we were gutted to see it was snapped in half. Guessing it must've been weight of the snow, hope it's been fixed now.

See Fionnas' sad face >>

There was also fair few trees fallen there too which we had to climb over, wasn't too much hassle though, think we managed to jump over one so it's not too much of an obstacle if it's still there. Coming out of Drimmie woods you're faced with a 2 mile steep downhill on road. Sounds pretty good right? Maybe not so much after 29miles running and knowing you've got another 23 tough miles ahead. Just be a tad cautious! We however were finishing at Blairgowrie that day so went for it and enjoyed it.
Day one complete. 32 miles.
Back t hotel for bath, food and wine and fairly early to bed for 8.30 start next day.

Typical for Scotland the weather changed completely and woke up to a fresh snow fall and snow continued to fall for entire second day so we were all layered up. We started 2nd day where the checkpoint in race is just at carpark at bottom of *that* hill

We all felt pretty good and there was plenty of runnable sections, it was minus 3 when we'd got up though so we didn't want much hanging around getting cold.

Just before Bridge of Caley checkpoint there's pretty much no point trying to avoid the bogs & mud, just embrace it and accept you'll get muddy. When you get to that CP during race I always liken it to Beinglas, you know you've broken back of race but you also know you've got to dig deep knowing whats ahead. There's a lot of runnable sections after there but there's also a lot of hills. Fionna was powering up all them and putting us all to shame but I guess that's why she won the race last yr :)

the higher we climbed the colder it got but we were all in high spirits and having great fun.

The fun proper started after last CP in race which is Enochdu. As we started the climb towards Glenshee the snow got deeper and deeper. Not the lovely runnable snow of yesterday but silly deep snow which you'd suddenly disappear into up to your knees.

It became an adventure from then and running was getting harder and harder.


the views were quite spectacular though so it was well worth it, despite it being very tough on legs. As we climbed the last big hill a mere 2 miles from end it must've taken us a good hour, certainly felt like it. when we got to top we found this!
it really was like another world , proper ice cave- quite incredible.

That last mile downhill is usually tremendous fun and it great to power down it knowing you've finished. Trying to run down this time was a nightmare and we kept on disappearing down pockets of snow and disappearing again. Look how deep the snow is here, that post is almost covered!
We did make all make it down safely though and got to hotel, had celebratory drink then headed off home happy.
55 miles done over *interesting* conditions.
Hoping the weather next weekend is a tad warmer as we are marshaling.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Following the Fling with St Nick & Santababy

After the fling i told Nick not to let me hang around the finish too long. I have zero willpower and having found boxes of wine at end i probably would've lain on floor and got it poured from above.

Think we were there for about an hour before heading off to Fort William. After taking off my roclites i discovered 2 huge blisters on heel and one on big toe. I never get blisters and on examining the shoes was appalled to see the heel worn right through. Looking at the tread on shoes they have barely worn down so I'm not very happy with Inov8 and i doubt i'll ever buy them again. Look! the tread is barely worn at all! really unhappy with them.
 After our curry we headed back to hotel. I'd said to Nick I'd text him in morning when was up. Had bit of rubbish sleep, beds are crap compared to Premier Inn. Think woke up every hours or so then was wide awake by 5.30, normal for me, I'm normally up, lycra'd up and ready to go running by then. After couple cups tea and a weetabix i txt Nick about 6.30 to let him know i was awake, he'd also been up ages so we decided to head to Tyndrum sooner than expected.

Luckily I'd brought an extra pair of shoes, my Adidas Kanadias which I'd worn on my first whw race with no blisters so i wore them. Think I've only worn them couple times as felt they were a bit roomy, but with thick trail socks on they felt great.

 Weather wasn't quite same as day before. Pretty bloody miserable in fact and i set off at 8am from the corner store at Tyndrum and was soon walking up that bloody hill.

But once at top i was fine and off. I do love this part of course and i ran smiling and happy not seeing another soul for about 4 miles when i came across couple campers out on hillside who'd just woken up, looked out tent and thought better off it.

I got to BoO bang on time Nick had predicted and he was ready to run with me. This part was new to him so it was nice to show him the sights and Murdo's hill (100k) point of race. Took quick pic there and enjoyed the downhill passing some walkers on way who were all very cheery despite the brutal weather. Nick ran with me til start of Rannoch Moor then headed back to car to drive to Glencoe.

Rannoch Moor isn't my most favourite part of course, i find it bleak and sore on feet. This time though i felt great! The Kanadias did a great job and my feet felt fine even with the blisters (good old compeed) passed a few walkers but mainly coming towards me and everyone was cheerful and said hello.

As i ran across the moor getting battered with rain, wind, sleet and hail i embraced every step and was actually enjoying it! But i  made decision that i was going to stop at Kinlochleven. Not because i was tired or anything, i felt great and knew i could easily run to Fort William. Nick had driven from Lincoln on Saturday to support me, had then driven to FW, then me back to Tyndrum in morning and was supporting me all way back up up there.  He was then heading back to Lincoln as he was working the next day. I thought that keeping him out there for 3 hours longer would serve neither of us any purpose.

 Again i got to Glencoe bang on when Nick predicted and i jumped in car for quick cup tea, told Nick my plans and although he protested he knew my mind was made up. 4 minutes later i was back out running down towards Kingshouse with big fuck off hailtstones in my face and winds trying to blow me sideways.

As i ran the route from Kingshouse towards Alntfaedh i was just about to run past a walker and i said "Morning!" when he screamed like a girl and threw his arms in air. lol, i apologised for scaring him and he laughed and said he hadn't expected anyone passing him especially in this weather. He was chewing on a full block of cheese and had a big hairy beard, mistook him for Richie for a mo ;)

I got to bottom of devil and remembered with a smile the last time I'd been there, doing my up n over day. I headed off feeling strong and was even running the runnable parts. Felt like i got to top in good time and it started snowing and blowing a gale by time i got to summit. I'd got sunburnt and had worn a vest for Fling the day before for goodness sake.

As i headed off down towards to fabled town i was singing at top of my voice and loving it. Because I'd done my back n forth day i had wee markers which made me know exactly how far i had to run. Yes i know my garmin can also tell me that but that town sometimes gets further & further away the closer you get and when you're tired your mind tends to start playing tricks on you.

Nick said he'd run out to meet me and he appeared about a mile from KL, he'd fallen asleep in car which only confirmed I'd made correct decision to stop. I was singing when he met me and carried on singing til we got to car park. I felt totally elated and still had plenty energy left should i have needed it for a further 13miles.

82miles done in 2 days. I felt great on the second run, despite the crappy weather.

Then it was back in car, back to Fort William to get cleaned up & changed then head back down. Ian had said he'd meet us in Glasgow so Nick didn't have to drop me off in Edinburgh and it saved him bit more time off his journey.

I'm am so lucky and so blessed to have such good friends. How many people would put themselves out like that? I have an amazing crew.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Highland Fling

This was my 4th Fling this weekend. 4th! I've only finished the damn thing once though.

My first Fling was very special in so many ways but I've already blogged about that. 2nd i fell once early on the again a mile from BeinGlas. I thought i'd done some real damage and pulled out there. Last yr i felt great for first 15miles then started to feel crap. Coming across poor Ellen lying with broken shoulder in Forest near Rowardennan confirmed another Fling DNF. Again, it's there in my blogs.

But things were being sent to test me before getting anywhere near the race. I originally had planned to run with my whwrace crew. Susan & Nick. But Susan got injured, then Nick did too. And Ian had football so i had to change plans around a bit. Nick told me he was still coming to support me, which is quite incredible considering he lives in blooming Lincoln.

So this year was going to be different, i was getting to end if i had to bloody crawl there. Training has been going well and i was confident, but you never really know whats going to happen on the day. We arrived in Tyndrum the night before and had much fun meeting up with all the usual suspects. I slept really well and was raring to go by time 6am came around, which for me is a perfect race start time. Quick photo call with club mates and we were good to go.

I had specific instructions from Ian and was determined not to mess things up. Bit difficult reeling it in now that first section has been upgraded so much, had to keep pulling self back so as not to suffer later.I loved that so many good friends were marshaling, i got kiss off both George & Karen at Beech Tree then Neil & Caroline at Drymen, love it. Puts proper spring in step that does.
 Got to top of conic and much to my surprise i also found Ian. Quick chat/kiss and i was off back down. Plenty people passing me taking advantage of upgraded path but i was being mindful of my quads for latter stages.

David caught me here and we ran into Balamaha together and then headed to toilets. I was in and out there and on my way again.Not long after coming off the first climb after Balmaha a relay runner passed me rather speedily. He then proceeded to run towards guy in front and can only describe it as manhandled him out way! When guy protested the relay runner shouted "I'm in a race mate"  guy responded "aye, so am i!" how rude!
yeah you're in race but a mere 12miles compared to the 53 we were doing it's fucking rude to do that.  Rest of relay runners were great btw. whoever you were, hang you re head in shame, doubt you'll be reading this though, guessing us Ultra runners aren't important enough.
 Arrived at Rowardennan bang on schedule and after lovely hug from Fiona R i was off again. Arrived at Inversnaid again bang on time again. More kisses and hugs from Karen & George and off i go again.

I struggled this section, lots of people were passing me here. Not sure if it was because i was slowing down or if i was being sensible still. There is so much jumping off rocks and trees here that i was ever mindful of my ankle problems. Every time i jumped off a rock, cause lets face it there is no choice here, i felt crunching. I was probably over paranoid but after issues I've had i didn't care. So i took it easy and i calmed down and let people pass.

Which meant i came into Beinglas feeling good. Dropbag here had a bottle irn bru, can red bull and a miniature of vodka. Helen Munro was much amused (thanks for pic) and i took that and took off. Took slug of redbull and poured vodka in then called Ian to let him know where i was. I was around 30mins behind schedule here and was worried it had all gone pear shaped.

Not so said he, you've got 2.5hours to get to end, you CAN do this. You know what?after that phone call i knew I'd put everything i had left.I also txt Nick to let him know my time. I came across Duncan McGoohan about mile from Beinglas (he was everywhere!) and he kindly took my empty can and off i went. Just after Derry Darroch i came back onto trail then came a cropper, tripping on smallest stone. Smashed knee hard and landed in pile of cow poo.

Lay there shouting FUCK. Hurt my elbow which was bleeding but my knee was really hurting. Oh well, not lot i could do except pull self up and get on with last 9 miles eh?
In fact it probably spurred me on. I started seeing people in distance and targeting them, passing them and setting new targets. I ran through Cow poo alley as others were tip toeing round edge, fuck it, i'd already been lying in it did it matter if it got all over my shoes?

Got to Crianlarich and had forgotten Gavin was going to be there, another huge hug and i was on way up into forrest. Another mile on who should appear but saint Nick!
Now i knew he was coming but i had expected him around the wigwams perhaps, he was at bottom of hill 5 miles out and when i spotted him to took off up hill. I soon caught him though ;)

we carried on picking people off and chatting away happily. By wigwams i was bursting and had to run to loo and as i came out Keith Ainslie passed me, i was suprised and told him i thought he'd be way ahead of me, he told me he'd been chasing me since Beinglas!

Told Ian this yesterday and he told me i couldve got sub11 if i'd not gone, told me i shouldve peed myself and that i'd be getting cleaned up at end anyway! lol. No race is worth that much, sorry!

So no i didn't sub11, but i was very happy indeed with 11.05 which was a PB by a about a minute.Had few glasses of red at finish and quick catch up wth everyone. Delighted to find out my  clubmate Fionna came 2nd, so delighted for her, only got beaten my a minute too! We got 1st ladies team too as well as mixed team prize. Not bad for wee club - go Harmeny!  Sean cleaned me up at end and made me scream a bit but i was ok really.

I'd told Nick not to let me stay too long at end (no willpower me) as we(he!) had to drive to Fort William, get cleaned up, food and sleep to start all over again in morning in Tyndrum but thats another blog. We headed off still meeting loads folk and hugging/ catching up as we headed to car, Nick joked that it's like walking along road with Julia Roberts. Shame he's no George Clooney ;)

Got to Fort William and all i could think about was a hot bath. Checked into my room to find a shower. I actually nearly cried, i also swore. Then i found out i only had 2 towels. ffs, 2 people were originally booked in this room.
 towels? Oh, and no hairdryer> wtf. Travelodge fail.

I txt Nick to say was ready and off we went for a massive Indian meal and few more glasses red and i was tucked up in bed by 10.30 ready to face next days challenge.

another blog to follow.

Monday, 1 April 2013

No hiding place

This year has always been about quality over quantity. Getting stronger not and not worrying over mileage, or what other people are doing.

Ian set me plan at start of year and i added to it by getting  Donnie as my PT to strengthen me up. First race of year was day after D33 which we were marshalling at. we had original plans to stay whole weekend but Ian wouldnt have seen his boys and we decided to race on Sunday after being offered places in the Kilomathon. After having a great 10mile training run the previous Sunday where i managed to beat Ian he set me a mission. He said i had 2 objectives, one was to beat him, other was to get under and hour (its 13.1K) have to say i was quite confident but it was big fat fail on both counts. Clearly Ian was having an off day previous Sunday and i just couldn't hang onto him, he did indeed get under the hour but i snuck over it in 1.02. Was bit disapointed with that and could blame long day standing around in freezing cold and not getting home til late but i wont. on a more postive note i was 1stFV and 134th overall out of 800finishers so quite high up in field. you can only race who's there an all that..

Seeing Donnie once a week and i usually leave studio with jelly legs, if i swear at him he gives me extra to do and his counting is sometimes dubious when he says, 5 secs to go, then 5 secs later says 5 secs to go but i always seem to forgive him by the end of the hour. Probably too tired to argue by then mind you.

Yesterday was Perth50k although it's not my favourite terrain i do love this race. It's very well organised (thanks to Adrian and his team) and it's super social. With me being a social butterfly it's my kinda race. The race is 1.48mile loop of North Inch Park in Perth, this means 21 loops which sounds mind numbingly awful but because we get to see the vast support crews 21times it makes for fun running. If you're daft enough call that kind of thing fun.

I'd ordered new shoes last week and they arrived on Thu which gave me time to give them a couple of miles test, you know what they say, never run in anything new.....

Ian had set me an objective again and this time i was determined not to let him down. Or myself for that matter. The quest was for sub4.30 this would mean an 8 min pb for me but i thought it was achievable and i was confident. I pondered about wearing garmin or not and decided against, it can be as much as a hindrince to me as a help during races sometimes, guess it depends on your mood but if my pace drops below what i'm aiming for it can knock me, not always. It can spur me on too but i decided against wearing it. We see the clock every 1.48miles anyway so no big deal.

It was pretty damn baltic when we arrived and i had planned on running in my vest, i pondered about changing but wasnt keen then Debbie said she had arm warmers that i could borrow. I told her i'd always laughed at them thinking they were ridiculous and she said i'd laugh no more. Have to say they were proper warm n toasty and it meant i could keep my precious vest on. Soon enough we were being called for race briefing and we lined up at the side to make sure we didnt interupt the 100k runners who'd set off at 7am. I set off a bit too quick, i knew that but i was trying to warm up my frozen toes, i knew i was going too fast as i could see Sharon Law ahead for the whole first lap lol was on 3rd lap i think before i actually started to defrost.

Thing about this race is that there's no hiding place, you can pretty much see start/finish area from wherever you are and there are always other runners around. Ian was helping out doing the timings so no  hiding from him either, who needs garmins with all that going on! I'd been told what lap pace to aim for so i just ran as steady as i could and kept eye on clock every lap. Support was brilliant, my fellow racers were fab and encouraging. To see these guys zip past you doing the 100k as if they're out on an easy jog is really quite inspiring, and so many say *well done, doing great, etc* as they pass. It was like a who's who of the Ultra world, great to see so many familiar faces and even better to see how well they were all doing. I was truly inspired. My fab PT Donnie was doing his 1st 100k and first road race and was passing me making it look far too bloody easy!

On saturday Fiona posted on her facebook page saying " if you're struggling, slap a stupid grin on your face and do a lap for me"  so when i felt the going getting tough thats what i did. My last 3 laps were for you. On my penultimate lap Marco passed me and said it was his too, i tried to keep him in my sights but he soon long gone even though he'd been racing since 7am and was doing the 100k!
 I had a bit of a moment when going through start/finish and someone shouted 2 more to go! I shouted back NO, one i said, and they repeated 2. Luckily Ian was right at funnel and shouted last one Sandra! And even though i'd counted them myself i was bit freaked out. What if i'd miscounted, what if Ian meant i had one more after that. aaargh. Luckily Karen and George saved the day by cycling round to tell me i WAS on my last lap, phew, i wasn't going mad. Not sure how i'd have coped having to do another after thinking i was done.

I crossed the line in 4hrs 26mins and 50seconds. splits and results from both races here
results  Job done.
this pic wasnt the end, JohnK took it probably halfway though, think i was trying to fly instead of run.

Have to say i was a bit teary at end. I never stopped once. Not for toilet break, not for drink, not once. I've never even done that in a marathon, i've always stopped at water stations and drank a bit/walked bit. So to do 31miles without so much as a teeny break i was well chuffed. I'm getting stronger and my training is starting to pay off. Thanks to my fabulous coach Ian for devising my plan and for making me believe and to my PT Donnie for making me stronger.

Talking of Donnie, he practices what he preaches and came 3rd. And Team Scotland retained the Anglo Celtic plate, superb work from Marco (5th) Paul (7th &also doing his 1st 100k!) great work all round everyone.

During race i  noticed my right arm was really sore, i tried shaking it out but nothing seemed to be working, It was odd soreness, from my elbow up to my shoulder, never had it before and mentioning to Debs & Marco after race they both said they've also suffered from it. After posting on facebook this morning it seems i'm not only one either. how very odd. Does anyone know why? Had uncomfortable nights sleep because of it but on plus side my legs are ok, its either that or body can only cope with one thing at a time! Maybe the DOMS will kick in tomorrow.

So i ended up with 12min pb which i'm very happy with. I reckon the secret is borrowing an item of clothing from the fabulous Debs, now if only i could borrow her legs next time.....


This could be a long blog, but 100 miles is a long way. I've always had a pull to this race for various reasons. I've heard many g...