Sunday, 20 December 2015

What Sandra did next

After the disappointment of the Devil I had to re focus and get race head back on.

Ian spotted a new race through by Castle Semple, Hessilhead 10k. It's pretty close to his hometown of Kilbarchan and he knew guy who was organising. So off we went on a beautiful Wednesday night to run a 10k I was pretty unprepared for.

Actually it turned out not too badly and I finished 45.41, a mere 40secs off my PB,  I was pretty happy with that given my lack of speedwork. And it gave me bit of test for Edinburgh Half which was looming large.

Sorry, not Edinburgh Half, its called Scottish half Marathon starts in Wallyford and finishes Musselburgh racecourse. We got a fabulous day for it and its a proper lovely course. Can recommend it highly. I scraped a 3 second PB there, ok its not much but hey, a PB is a PB, I'll take it. although a flat fast tarmac surface is not great training for a trail Marathon. Medal was blingtastic!

2 weeks later & we were heading to Keildor water. Not sure how I got roped into this, sometimes Ian will be tapping away on laptop and suddenly I'll get an email thanking me for entering a race. I think I did agree to this one though. Pretty sure Ian told me it was flatt (ish)  I can tell you that this race is in no way flat. I can barely recall a flat bit of it. I was SO not into it. All week I moaned to Ian saying I wasn't up for a Marathon, so much so that he tried to get me switched to the half to no avail.

However- I loved it! I seemed to get stronger as the race went on. This never happens to me in Marathons, I always fade. I finished in 3.48, no PB but I was 3rd FV & 8th Lady! Been told its about 20 mins slower than a regular Marathon so very happy indeed with that time. I think it's first marathon I've paced well, I ran last 3 miles around same pace as first 3. Tough but beautiful route. Got over finish line and Ian was standing chatting to Steve Cram so I got congratulated from him, told him it was great race and that I'd be back.

Another 2 weeks on & we are enroute to Kinloch Rannoch. Now this race really was a surprise. Ian had spotted it had been resurrected and entered marathon immediately. I didn't and wasn't even planning on going up tbh. As it happens we were in the local pub having dinner on Friday evening chatting about it and I said I'd probably go & support him after all. It was then that he mentioned there was also a half marathon that day. Cue us on phone entering me into the half, well it beats hanging around for hours doing nothing.

Drive up there was lovely. And my goodness, I now understand why Ian has raved about this race. The Marathon started first then we were bussed to halfway point. Was chatting to Gail Murdoch at start & thought that would last time I saw her. To my surprise I kept getting up a hill & seeing her not too far in distance. I knew one girl had shot off and Gail was right behind her. I'd yo yo'd with a girl who kept overtaking me on flat who I'd get back on hills, I ended up getting annoyed with that & pushing on. Didn't see her again but made me aware I was 3rd lady. eek. Now time to push on & make sure I wasn't overtaken and keep Gail in my sights! I did until the last 2mile when she told me she caught sight of a pink vest and took off! lol :)

I finished 3rd lady with another PB. 2015, the year of the PB for me. Not often I'm on podium, loved it. Ian loved being back in full race and also enjoyed it. Stunning route, think this race will be a lot busier next year. Maybe I shouldn't shout about it too much. Sometimes the smaller key races are better, but for it to a success they need more folk.

Wee bit more rest till next race. 3 whole weeks till Jedburgh Ultra. My last race as Sandra McDougall (or so I thought) I'd told Noanie (think I was drunk) that I'd run it in hen gear. Then they announce its being filmed for the Adventure show. wonderful. Noanie & Angela had asked Ian aka Sumsie Squirrel to be official starter & warm up person. He took it a bit more seriously than perhaps normal.

I just wanted to go out & enjoy this race. Having never done it but always wanted to, I had enjoyed an organised (thanks Angela) recce run of 18 miles of it. Only 20 to tag on, should be easy enough. I was running for fun in my hen gear & with my maid of (dis) honour, Susan. Crew extraordinaire. I was interviewed beforehand & asked why I was marrying a chipmunk. lol. we'll see if that makes the cut...

So off we go, Susan as ever apologising for slowing me down. I was really enjoying it, taking in the scenery, what a fabulous time of year to be running a route like that. Bursting full of autumnal magic. Just perfect. Susans hip was bothering her and she admitted to me she was told by docs not to run! so 1st CP she said to me " don't shout at me but I'm stopping" I thought she meant just to pick up stuff then I saw her face. She was in pain. And the right thing for her to do was stop. Damn, I nearly dropped out too. This was meant to a jolly! It was great to have so many friends out on course marshalling, I got lots of hugs and bagfuls of encouragement from random people who loved my outfit and kept asking when big day was.

Oh well, time to push on. For rest of race I just picked people off one by one. I guess taking it easy at start really does pay off, I felt great. Got near to top of first hill and was more than a bit surprised to see Sumsie Squirell up there. Got to top of second hill and had chat with Desiree from adventure show, she asked where my fiancé was. I pointed to hill behind me and said, "on top of that hill dressed as a squirrel"
And off I went. I felt great.
 Until I got to about mile 31. This is where the mind started fighting with the legs. It was at this point I realised it I hadn't ran over 26 miles since WHWrace! not best training really. So on I ran still picking people off with each mile. Finished in 7.28, fairly pleased and still felt good. I'd have happily ran the half next day but we needed to get back to Edinburgh. I was surprised of how good my legs felt given serious lack of training.

 Fast forward a week and its hen party time! I had no idea what we were doing, susan arrived Friday night and only thing I got told was that I was doing parkrun in the morning. So Jedburgh hadn't been last race before wedding after all!

Got down there to find lots of my lovely friends in Santa hats. I managed another PB to end a great year of racing for me, cant complain about that. Jemima had even been secretly training! we all headed to café for tea & scones before heading back hme to get all glammed up for party.

And oh what fun we had! Champagne, cocktails, singing & dancing. Everyone was dressed to the 9's and we partied hard till 4am. Huge thanks to Susan & Gillian for organising and to everyone who came. Brilliant night.

So there it is, I'm pretty pleased how my year went. The goal was sub22 WHW race, the other PB's were just picked up on the way. I think the wedding needs a blog of its own.....

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

When things dont go to plan.

To counteract the last blog title!

Devil of the highlands race. I probably wouldn't have bothered entering had John not taken the race over but I did as soon as he announced it. To be perfectly honest I didn't have my race head on the same as I have for all the races I've done & PB'd at year. And I thought, not unreasonably IMO that it would be an easy PB. Now when I say easy, I know these things never are. It's 42 miles of tough terrain that are damn hard on the feet and legs.

Still, as much as I didn't have *race head* on I was still excited about it. I wanted to go out and enjoy it, despite the weather predictions which were anticipating apocalyptic weather. Ian and I had last ran the route in March and had the most horrendous weather imaginable. Couldn't be any worse than I that so it was game on, weather schmeather.

Ian picked me up straight from work and off we went to Airport to pick up Giacomo, turns out you don't pronounce it jeeeahkomo but as Jackamo! everyday a school day and all that. And off we went to Fort William, the weather was sunny when leaving Edinburgh and got steadily worse the further North we got. Ah well, it was predicted.

We quickly dumped our cases in room and headed down for dinner, sharing a nice bottle of red then getting to bed early in preparation for a 2.50am alarm call. We both slept well which is always a bonus night before a race. I was asked by John to be in charge of the bus to check off names and to make sure we left on time (4am sharp) so we got to station about 4.45 but no bus. He did arrive soon enough and I checked everyone on, at 4am I jumped out to check if anyone else was coming and indeed we had someone sprinting along road who got on just in time.

It was lovely drive down, seeing the light change the landscape.

Arrived at Tyndrum to find lots of excited folk and lots of friends handing out hugs. It didn't feel like 5am in morning. Collected number, did drop bag stuff then John did his briefing. He said there might be weather. Quick kiss to Ian to wish him luck and we were off.  Couple of miles in I caught up with Stuart Chalmers and ran all way to Bridge of Orchy with him. time passes so quickly when you're chatting away, we didn't notice the miles go by.  I know I delighted him with my singing and that probably spurred him onto his PB ;)

He shot up the hill, cant think why. I soon caught up with Ian who was chatting to David Greig up and over JBH. Coming down into Inveronan I started feeling twinges in front of my ankle. Slight panic thinking it was stupid ankle injury coming back but I ploughed on towards Rannoch moor anyway in hot pursuit of Ian. By time I was on Rannoch ankle was ok, mile or so later the ball of my left foot started hurting. I ignored it. This was the same problem  had back at start of year. Every time I upped my mileage or tried long runs I got same problem. The week before Donnies training camp in Spain in March I was ready to pull out thinking I couldn't run at all. It slowed me down a bit but not hugely, I was still making good progress and on target for 3 hrs at Glencoe which was all part of plan. Unfortunately it was also hurting more the minute. abut mile and half out of glencoe I started to walk to see if it would help, it didn't. It just meant I was hobbling. So I took off running again, getting passed by few folk whom I'd passed earlier. I kept swapping places with Alan Doig & Col Barber nearly all way over Rannoch.  I thought my race was over and decided to just pull out at Glencoe.

Of course I get into *that* Checkpoint to be first of met by Sharon Law, Then Lucy C,then Debs M-C. Oh and of course Paul G. How can I pull out at a checkpoint manned by the top Ultra runners in Scotland/UK? I got a hug off Paul took 2 paracetamol and zipped up my man suit. Whether it was a placebo effect or I just wanted to get away from them so they didn't see me hobble I motored it out of there. Lorna & Noanie were at road crossing and I told them of my woes, they told me Ian was just ahead and I could go catch him. So off I went, not feeling so confident. Caught up with Mel Sinclair on road to Kingshouse , she'd be having breathing issues and had nearly pulled out too. So on we went trying to man up. I could see Ian's red t-shirt in distance and kept focusing on that instead of the pain I was feeling. I'd gone ahead of Mel when she was walking a bit at Kingshouse to eat something but she caught me with about a mile to go till bottom of Devils staircase. I was hobbling a bit and in fair bit of pain and she gave me stronger painkiller to see if it would help. tbh by that point I had decided I was quitting. Too much pain to do another 21 miles over highest point of course.

I hobbled towards Altnafaed to be met with shouts of encouragement from Ruth Howie. I told her I was pulling out and bless her she tried to persuade me otherwise. When she realised my mind was made up she put me in her car and gave me jacket to keep warm. Then she ran me to Fort William even though she was heading to Kinlochleven to support Angela. What a star.

I called John & Lorna to let them know I was out and safely rescued and headed up to hotel for a bath.

The it was off to finish line to cheer everyone in. I actually felt ok about my decision up until about Sunday night/Monday morning. 2 things. I had DOMS like I'd ran the whole damn thing, and my foot felt like it was improving.  Does that mean I didn't just tough it out? I don't know.

I  walked about 8miles altogether on Monday and ball of foot was still sore.  I was running by Tuesday & it was still tender but better. I now wonder if it's down to lack of trail running since WHWrace. Working where I am now (Heriot Watt)it's 8 miles exactly from house, quickest route is along canal. Maybe my feet have got less tough? I wasn't prepared to go through another couple months trying to fix it like I did January/Feb. so maybe I did do right thing. Now that I'm seeing all the pics & blogs it does make it hurt bit more. Hey ho, I need to slap a smile back on and get on with things.

It goes to show that you just never know how a race will go, I've been very lucky this year and I need to focus on the positives. In meant time I guess we have a wedding to plan, maybe I'll go all bridezilla with all this time on my hands ;)

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

When it all comes together.

This might be long, go grab a drink.

Having spent the last week worrying about not being worried, suddenly it was time to pack. I took it down a notch this yr and only packed what I thought I'd need. still looked an awful lot for small person though. But hey, better to have stuff "just in case" eh

As we drove up to Milngavie Ian asked me again how I was feeling. Chilled I said. And I genuinely was. Got to hotel and Ian went off in search of car charger for his phone and I kicked back and read my book. Susan & Nick (my wonderful crew) had arrived earlier that day and went for run from Drymen to Balamaha and back. Very kind of them to do Conic twice so they could feel at least some of the pain I'd be feeling later in the race. They arrived back, showered & off we went for dinner. I was starving by then as had only had a ham roll all day. We all had starters & mains and me & Susan both had 2 large glasses Merlot each.  Went down a treat. Ian transferred all my kit from our car into Nicks then went off to do what a Race Director does.

Back to hotel for wee nap and then it was time to go register. Arrived to find huge queue out door. I did registration  last yr and folk just trickled in over a couple of hours, had never seen queues like this. I had requested number 22, this was to remind me of my goal.  Would seem that people were pretty keen, good sign. Then it was back to hotel to kick back and welcome rest of my crew in form of my boy Stephen & his girlfriend Gillian. They arrived then went off to grab a coffee and rest of us grabbed a couple hrs sleep.

Alarm went off at 11.40pm - got up, dressed, brushed teeth and pigtailed up. Squirt of chanel no 5 and I was ready to race. In car I was asked again how I felt. Totally chilled was my answer. I was actually really starting to worry about how calm I felt. We arrived to find the usual electric atmosphere. Managed to catch up with quite few people and hand out hugs & good luck wishes wherever I could. After Ian & Sean did their briefing I got couple pics with my crew gave one last kiss to Ian and lined up ready to start.

A few months ago I had mailed my crew and said I wanted sub22. My training had been going really well, the week in Spain at Donnies training camp had given me a huge boost after a pretty bad start to year with constant niggles stopping me in my tracks, I was feeling good and feeling fit. I knew my weaknesses and had overcome them by doing training where I needed work. Ian dug out his splits from when he did similar time and we talked them over & figured out where I needed to be and what I needed to work on. Game on. I decided that like last time I ran I would leave my garmin at home and just wear a watch. no point worrying about pace when scrambling over rocks & whatnot. And its not like I don't know the route or distance.

Countdown began, hooter went off. Time to get this show on the road. The first 6 miles just ticked by nicely, I chatted occasionally to people having no clue who I was chatting to most of time (its dark!) Although Ross did pass me saying "I smell chanel"  to be fair, its hard to miss someone dressed as spiderman, even in the dark. Ran few miles with Fraser McCoull & chatted away which passed the miles quickly. Got through Drymen & gave thumbs up to my crew and ran on through. I turned off my headtroch just as we went through deer gate on approach to conic and enjoyed the natural light for the climb ahead. Conic seemed to pass really quickly. Was great to see Graeme Reid and his scouts at top ready to climb to summit, an annual pilgrimage they do and they're all very encouraging.

I came off conic the way I always do, very carefully. Which meant few people passed me tearing down. I was preserving my quads for later in day, no point trashing them when race has barely begun. Into Balamaha bang of schedule. (3.26) the car park was jumping, got lots of shouts from people which was great. I ran straight to Oak Tree to meet crew as planned. Quick toilet stop and I ate whatever they gave me, rice pudding I think Nick handed me a cup of tea, I took one look at it and handed it back to him and asked him not to be on tea duties for rest of day. Got big hug from Lucy who owns Oak tree and was chatting to her & Agnes when Ian walked through door. Hello darling I said- his reply " don't go hanging around in here, you're making good time & your 5th lady"  at that point Lucy & Agnes burst out laughing and I burst out the door shouting to crew I'd see them in Rowardennan.

I've done this section probably more than any other given that we stay at Oak Tree so often and I love it. I was swapping places with Charlie Lees occasionally here and at one point he was ahead on hill and I saw him chatting to another girl. I thought it looked like Rosie but put that thought out my head, why would she be so far back. 2 times winner & sub20 runner, this wasn't right. Alas it was, I caught up and she told me she'd fallen but was continuing , that time didn't matter anymore. Kudos to her and her courage.

Got to Rowardennan (5.06)feeling good. no idea what I ate & drank here. just did what was told by crew. Didn't hang around too long and set off knowing I'd not see them again till Beinglas. Lucy (who owns oak tree) lives in ben Lomond cottage which is last one you'll see about mile out of rowardennan. She told me she'd left something for me at gate so I trotted up there and there was a bag of chocolate hearts and a good luck card :)  really put a spring in my step. thank you Lucy x

Got to Inversnaid, ate few spoonfuls of rice, got water bottle topped up and headed off as quickly as I could. I knew there was at least a mile I could actually run here before scrambling started. The lochside was fairly slippy and being so wee I was struggling  to get up &over some of the rocks. getting pretty muddy in process. But, I still felt pretty good. It passed over quicker than expected and soon enough I was trudging up Darios hill. I stopped briefly to touch the post and say goodbye to Loch Lomond.

Off again with spring in step knowing my crew would be at next CP. Arrived & found crew quickly. Stephen & Gill had rejoined and everyone was busy looking after me, again I've no idea what I ate or drank, just took what was given & got going again. Almost forgot I had to scan my chip but Tim grabbed me on way past. (8.38) and off I went up hill. Sun was out, the day was panning out nicely and I was in a wee happy place. Cow poo alley was pretty dry and soon enough I was at Crianlarich. There was few people there supporting and I joked with them saying "hurrah, official halfway point, just need to do this all again!"  I had a down point of rollercoaster during fling but I didn't this time. Still no downs, still felt great. Caught up with Leon Provis just before road crossing & he was struggling a bit there. Got into Auchtertyre and couldn't find my crew. I got weighed and scanned chip (10.43)saying I'd send crew back with card.

Got further up and suddenly crew all burst out car at once, made me laugh, comedy moment. They told me I was still *too close* to Paul to get support runner but I was cool with that. Took something off them, cant recall what and off I went saying I'd see them up in Tyndrum. This section passed very quickly. I was passing by the way and was thinking about last time I raced and Kirsty had come out to hug me and lo & behold it happened again! :) I didn't think I'd see her as I knew she was supporting Carole. lovely wee boost. I then came through gate and was crossing river when I spotted Ian coming towards me! I shouted out and ran across water to give him a kiss, at that moment a lady had just climbed up hill to left on her horse and said "aww, what a lovely moment, you've made my day, I hope she belongs to you!" I assured her I did. Ian told me not to dally and get running to go meet my crew so I did. Don't argue with the RD

I stopped at road and suddenly clocked my fabulous crew jumping up & down, waving pom poms and singing " give me an S, give me an A ..." lol just brilliant. Everyone was looking at us as if we were nuts.

Think I might've changed shoes here but cant remember. Ate and drank something, dunno what and off I set on my most favourite part of course. I just love this section.
About half a mile away from BoO I spotted 2 familiar faces running towards me, it was only the fab Fionna Ross & Debs M-C - proper love this pic.
 I picked away at people and just kept moving forward. Kept closing in on someone but didn't quite catch him until we were at Bridge of Orchy. Hadn't realised it was Neil Rutherford till I saw Sarah waiting on him.

Arrived at Bridge of Orchy (12.44-pos 38 in great spirits.Ian was here too so got another quick kiss before being sent on way Singing and knowing that I'd broken back of race. Nick  Susan both joined me up & over JBH, what a great sight to see Murdos flags and hear Pete Duggan playing his whistle. We came into there singing at top of our voices, got hugs from Bob &  Gayle Allison and left singing all way down. Just brilliant. I love my crew. .

Nick left us there and Susan & I trotted off towards Rannoch Moor. Its never been my favourite part of course which is why I decided to blast it on recent training weekend. This was a good call and we worked our way through there slowly targeting people ahead and catching them. Susan ran on to get stuff ready at CP and I trotted on steadily, just after the turn off towards to CP there was a huge boggy puddle which I tried to jump over. My legs are just too wee though and must've been a bit tired as one foot landed in and sucked my shoes right off! I landed in heap next to watching my shoe sink down. Just at that moment Keith mabbott who was supporting Charlie Lees arrived like a knight in shining armour. Stuck his hand right into bog, retrieved by shoe, washed it in clean water then pulled me up out bog. lol.thanks Keith, you're a true gent.

Into Glencoe (15.16 -pos 34) crew were superslick as ever and I was on my way leaving the fabulous Susan behind and Nick taking over from here. Susan met us at bottom of devil to give me long sleeved top in case it was cold up there. I'd been in vest all day and been totally find like that, I also had my jacket in bag which I'd carried all day too. We needn't have worried , weather was perfect and vest was enough. Nick has an internal jukebox and a wide array of songs to his repertoire so I got everything from Oasis to Buddy Holly blasting our way towards Kinlochleven. It was here that 2 guys passed us and one asked if my name was Sandra, he introduced himself (Dave Troman, he was lovely) and told me I he'd been watching me through out day and I was happiest cheeriest runner he'd seen! Thank you Dave, really gave me boost and lovely to meet you.

Passed a relay runner here just as Nick was belting out killers songs, he invited said relay runner to join in but she politely laughed & declined. Then she said "Sandra!" it was my fetch friend Michelle, I had no idea she was even running, Another lovely surprise. We said our farewells and ran on chasing Dave & his pal. Nick ran ahead to CP to get stuff ready and I arrived woooping and singing " last checkpoint, woohoo" only to be told off by Julie for making too much noise. lol

Chip swiped (18.07 pos 33)) weighed and off I went with Susan again, knowing the final push was on. We chatted about times and finishing times and pondered about the sub 22.  Susan was confident and was constantly telling me things like "that's another 30secs gained" this was superb boost as that climb is just so unforgiving, especially on tired legs. She kept telling me that for every run it was more time in bag and I complied whenever I could. Legs were starting to tire here but hey, we'd ran over 80 miles, of curse they were! Nick had said he'd go to Fort William and run up & meet us on fire road so we could al finish this together. About a mile away from Lundavra who should appear running towards us but Ian & Nick! :) What a brilliant surprise. We all ran back in together with Ian staying with me telling me that sub22 was on, that I needed to stay focussed and that he had done it before and so could I. No pressure then. Quick hello to everyone at Lundavra but no stopping

Kissed Ian goodbye and followed my crew up hill. The race starts here.  Steady progress was made all way and as we approached the forest I remember that last time we had to put head torches on as we got here. Time before was even earlier.  Not this time, what a bonus. What a boost.

I was getting constant updates about mileage left and time left all way from Lundavra, Susan & Nick kept glancing at watches anxiously. I tried not to let it worry me, I tried to tell myself that even if I was over 22 that was still big PB. I tried. but my crew had other ideas. Ian had left Nick in no doubt in car that he better keep me focused on getting it. Susan just kept telling me everything was ok, we're still on for it, keep going, i'm so proud of you. (crying now, thinking about it) We hit the fire road like runners possessed. Nothing was stopping us, I just kept digging in, just kept running. At one point we came to two roads, Nick & Susan said which way. I said "that way!" and off we went. 2 mins later I started to question myself and said to them, I hope I've not took wrong road. they looked at me in horror and I just smiled and said it'll be ok, I think its right. 93 miles in everything starts to look same.

Finally got to braveheart and onwards we ran. I started to need a few steps walking here and there, Susan assured me I had time. Just walk to that tree, then we'll run again - she'd say. Like I had the whole day, I just did what I was told. Suddenly a car appears and blinds us with its lights. Its Stephen & Gillian, they shout our words of encouragement, do a quick turn and speed back off up to leisure centre.

30 mile sign, half a mile to go. Dig deep, keep going. Cant. lose .this. now.

Pass Devil finish then see sign that says 4metres to go. 4metres Sandra! both Nick & Susan shout, you can do this, its just round corner, go go! I get round corner and see finish line. Ian shuts YES! YES! pumping his fist in air. I knew I'd done it. Chip scanned. Finish time of 21hrs, 57mins. 5th Lady, 28th overall. OMG. Fell into Ian's arms crying.

Hugs & congratulations from so many people at end. Great to see Neal & Caroline who said they'd stayed to watch me finish. Massive hugs to my most fabulous crew.

I wish I could put into words just how incredibly grateful I am to them, I feel there are none that can possibly do it justice
so here's a tune. This sums it up, they can all sit back and say, I did that.
One last thank you to Ian, whose never ending belief in me pushes me on and makes me the smiley wee girl you all know.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015


We are now 3 days away from WHWrace or 2 sleeps, whatever way you want to count it.

I've always been pretty chilled leading up to races, Ian is always amazed at how chilled I am, even for my first WHWrace. The way I look at it is that we have put 6 months into this race, we look at social media and see other peoples training and start to panic. Oh my god, I'm doing nowhere near that, should I be running more? longer? faster? sooner?

We worry about being injured, every niggle is dissected and stressed over, we think the worse of course and it's never (usually) that bad. We worry about our diet, or lack thereof. We worry about shoes, what shoes to wear, what backpack to use? what kit? Ask a question and you'll get a hundred different answers.

What do I eat during race? Pizza, Cheese, soup, potatoes, ice-cream, beer! You name it, someone will have tried it and SWEAR by it.

Of course it all means nothing, because all that matters is what works for YOU. And that only comes with trial and error, which is why we train.

So as I sit here with my sore foot, my sore throat and my tired body I wonder if I'll make it through the race. Anything can happen from 1am on Saturday morning that much I know having had 2 finishes and one DNF so far.

There's nothing else I can do, or want to. I think I'm as fit as I can be, I've done my training and I'm ready. I just need things to go right on the day.

And THAT is why I'm worried about not being worried.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

A whole new ballgame

It's taper time, we are now only 3 small weeks away from the West Highland way race. Let the taper madness begin.

Since the Fling I've been feeling pretty good. I recovered pretty quickly and was running again by Tuesday. Last month has been pretty busy with work & life. We marshalled at the Cateran and I was also  doing the cooking. I was up at 4.30am having gone to bed at 1am. Cooked breakfast for runners & marshalls then headed off to our Checkpoint where we had an 80's disco complete with genuine ghettoblaster.  We had a proper blast, thanks Helen & Julie, great fun.

Then it was back to Lodge to get cooking dinner. Luckily had the very able helping hands of Helen and I even managed to sneak off for a bath at some point during day. Only person I managed to see finish was the awesome Ritchie who won it comfortably . For rest of day I was stuck in kitchen, not even seeing the presentations. Long tiring day but worth it to take pressure off Karen and happy that everyone seemed to enjoy it. I love the Cateran, was very envious of all the runners, its the most beautiful route.

 I've recently moved jobs and I'm no longer in city centre. I was only 2.2 miles from work but tended to do 7 or 8 miles most mornings by meandering a bit, and I'd usually do 3 home. I think 10 miles a day is just fine. But now I'm based out at Edinburgh business school at Heriot Watt. It's 8.02 miles door to door. If I don't run I'd have to either walk 2 miles to Princes st or get bus there. That would mean 4 buses a day. For anyone who knows me also knows about my bus rants. Something had to be done.

So I decided to get a bike. I've never had a bike, not unless you count when I was ten that is, even then I was never on it. Its only for when I'm not running, ie- tapering r recovering from races or injured.

apologies for anyone who's already read this on fetch!

Ian was dead excited, makes noises about cycling holidays and long bike rides together, I looked at him as if he was nuts

 I thought you could just go into a shop, pick a bike and cycle out. It would appear not, there are lots of bikes in shops, just not for sale.
I went to Edinburgh bicycle co-operative at first, Ian got his there and was happy with service and loves his bike. A proper bike for road cycling, not the kind I was looking for. I looked at a few I liked look of, apparently you don't go for ones you like look of though? Isn't that what you do when you buy a car? Oh, that looks nice and its red-I'll take it! That's how I buy things, you know- dresses, shoes, bags etc.

But no, girl steered me away from ones I liked and towards ones I didn't. These were lighter, faster ( I don't want faster!) better handling, better gears (gears? ) aaargh. It just stressed me out. I got one and cycled round shop, bumping into anything within a fraction of me.   And it was more than I wanted to realistically wanted to spend. Its not that I cant afford to spend a lot, I just don't want to. This is purely functional, its not for pleasure.

left there feeling a bit downhearted, Ian suggested trying Evans seeing we were out anyway (we'd ran and weather was fowl) So off we went. I actually ended up buying one from their website, well I put a deposit down it anyway, could get it back if I didn't like it when it arrived. He said 2 or 3 days so I expected it in on Tuesday/Wednesday. True enough got phone call on the Tuesday so ran from work and popped in to see it. Except I couldn't. They were too busy to build it, they'd got over 200 bikes in that morning and would be working from 7am till 10pm building them don't you know. my would be ready in week.
That's my problem how? Don't tell me my bike will be ready by midweek then tag another freaking week on to it. I was bit annoyed and told them so. Ian was doing his sportive that weekend and I thought I could've taken it up and cycled round a bit and get used to it at my leisure. hmmph.

So no bike for Sportive, hey ho. I got call & email to say it was in, again I ran there. I got told when I ordered it I could add on mudguards and a pannier rack, that they'd do it when I went it to test drive/pay for it. only guess what? they were too busy, they'd had lots bikes delivered blah bloody blah. Another days wait.

EVENTUALLY I got the bloody bike. The seat is down low, yes I know its too low, stop telling me its too low but until I feel comfortable on it I want my two feet to go flat on ground, deal with it folks. I paid rest of money (cost me around £400 all told) and pushed it out of shop and towards meadows. The shop is next to a very busy road and no way was I jumping on it and looking like a kid trying to ride a bike for first time in middle of lorries and buses.
I got to meadows and jumped on, I genuinely had no idea what I was doing, I have no clues what the gears do and kept moving them which made them jump a bit and me nearly fall over. All too soon I was through the meadows, had to cross a road into oncoming traffic and get onto cycle lane. got beeped at for not getting across fast enough.
Once I was on cycle lane it wasn't too bad, its wee bit slight uphill then a downhill toward causewayside, the cycle lane is clearly marked but sometimes there was a car parked in it which freaked me out having to go into middle of road. I've seen the way cars pretty much ignore cyclist. I was proper scared.

Got to Suffolk road after being passed by about 5 cyclists literally whizzing past me and it was straight road down to house. This is very nice area full of big nice expensive cars. There are cars parked both sides of street so only one car can get up or down at certain parts. As I was cycling down a big fuck of Landover which has no place in the city centre came towards me, I had space to cycle down side no bother, I was horrified to find driving towards me whilst txting on his fuckin mobile. I was nervous enough without arseholes like that around ffs.

I glared at him and cycled down to house and to put bike in bike shed. I got off feeling shaky and bit seasick! I'd only cycled 2 bloody miles.

Its like riding a bike. Ian got home from work and he took me down to cycle around estate a bit to get bit more used to it, look I'm even smiling.    Next day I was cycling to & from work. Scared face. Its ok, it's like riding a bike.

I left about 10mins later than I'd normally, I cycled same way I'd came night before, Roads very quiet at 6.30am thankfully and soon enough I was on canal without incident. Until I got to aquaduct. There are signs asking cyclist to dismount, no problem there, no way am I cycling along cobbles on a path half the width of one I'd just been on. Of course not everyone does that, and sure enough I came across a cyclist hurtling towards me whilst I tried to keep in as close I could banging my ankles, legs etc. for the umpteemth time I might add.
only 1.5 miles to work from there, phew. Got to my turn off and tried to turn bike round sharp corner only to fall off it, bike landed on top of me and I just lay there thinking, fuck this malarkey. Its like riding a bike.
Girl cyclist came from behind me and asked if I was ok, I was. I wasn't hurt. I said that thank you I was fine, just an idiot new cyclist out on her shiny new bike for first time. She was very kind and told me it was very sharp corner. I smiled & thanked her again. I pushed bike up the hill and got back on for last mile which I managed without falling off again. I was pretty relived to get to work. 9 miles done and dusted which is mile longer than my run route as I take the *less road* approach.

So then I had to do it all again at end of day. It wasn't too bad on way back except for the 3 cyclists all coming towards me on the aquaduct. ignoring the signs. Got home, got off it, felt seasick, wtf! Seasick? Legs felt bit wobbly, how does anyone do a triathlon? Not that I *actually* want to know, I just felt crap, not exactly the exhilaration I was hoping for. Oh and the bell, I do have freakishly small hands but the bell feels like a million miles away from my wee hands, I have to move my whole hand. Not easy when you're wobbling all over shop and about to go under a bridge with cobbles. God only knows what cyclists, walkers or ducks thing of me when looking at me.

I have no huge desire to run to bike shed and cycle to work or anywhere else for that matter. Like I said before its functional. Its like riding a bike I'm told, only if you've not had a bloody bike then what's it like?
The bike and I are not friends, merely acquaintances. I'm afraid Ian will have to keep dreaming of cycling holidays for a bit longer.....

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Flinging it.

The Highland Fling is now in its 10th year. Ian ran the first 6, the first year they had 17 runners. to get from that to 1000 in 10 short years in phenomenal and shows just how much not only running, but ultra running has moved forward. 10yrs ago I had only just started running. I said I'd never do anything beyond 5k. Clearly things have changed since then. In 2007 I asked my friend George to pace me at Lochaber Marathon. Some of you may have met him. Surname -Reid - aka Legend. He said hey, no problem Sandra, I'm racing day before but I'll pop over in morning and pace you. I remember asking him again what race he'd been doing the day before. He went on to tell me all about this crazy 53 mile trail race. I told him he was utterly nuts, and said to him "you'll never get me off tarmac, I hate mud, I never even run on grass!"


I was cajoled in 2009 to run the relay. Sucker. by 2010 there I was lining up at 6am to run whole thing.

In those days it finished across the river and by the cottages. You still got ice cold beer, still got bubbly, tshirt, medal and stovies. It's always been a stupdily too good value for money race IMHO. Some folk moan about changes to the route but hey, we're not the only ones using the trails, they have to be preserved for future generations. Anyway.. i digress. Lets fast forward to 2015 race.

As my last blogs have said I was feeling strong. I got message from Donnie  telling me to run strong and remember how good I was feeling and wishing me luck. This was my 5th fling but I've only finished twice. again its been well documented if you fancy reading back. Prep wasn't best I've ever had, I'd liked to have had day off on Friday but I've just moved jobs and things were difficult. I was on feet all day Friday, but hey. that's not unusual. it is what it is. Ian picked me up and we got to Milngavie, settled in, got registered and had dinner. Susan
arrived and i went off to have few glasses wine with her.  I slept really well and was up at my normal mon-fri time. 6am starts really suit me

soon enough we were at start. I wished Ian good luck and positioned myself in second pen, I was looking for sub 11, so that's where I stood. Weather was a bit crappy at start, wet and coldish. I knew I'd discard jacket and hat before too long and had vest on underneath.  I also had sunglasses in bag in anticipation of the sun shining, its the fling, of course its going to shine. Johnny fling cant organise such a superb race for it not to.

I got to drymen around time i thought. I hugged Ian Shanski and ran on. Conic was good and i found it went quite quickly. Got to the top the find Graeme Hewiston snapping away, gave him hug (he is also our wedding photographer)   I knew I would get passed lots on way down. I remember way back in the day when Karen D told me about someone walking down conic and going on to place high up in field. That's never left me, I'm not great at descents, my wee legs don't cope so well with those steps but I was happy to come down slow. didn't quite expect to see Graham Kelly half way up conic after getting his blooming stookie off the previous week! I didn't have drop bag at balamaha, ran in there and into aforementioned George Reid's arms to give him biggest hug & kiss. Had to push on though and i needed so I popped into toilets to find big queue so didn't hang around there and headed off to Oak tree instead. That just felt right. I love that place.

So i came along road much to surprise of Carolyn Kiddell who asked where id been. i told her the oak tree of course! Off i went uphill where i was behind Superhero pal Ross Lawrie & who is running as Spidey. too impressive. He stopped for a photo opportunity at top (don't tell Donnie) I ploughed on.

I love this section, maybe because we've stayed at Oak tree so much and ran it so often. Onwards I went, running up those hills, passing people chatting and enjoying the sunshine. At one point i was singing *the sun has got his hat on* going up a hill, guy behind me joined in and told me it was his birthday, so I then sang to Happy Birthday to him (liam maybe) guy n front of me joined in :) that's Ultra running. superb. got there!

Into Rowardennan 4.45, happy as a happy thing and superbly looked after by Gavin Bussie. Saw my ex clubmates from Harmeny who asked if Ian was catching me yet, i said he'd be too busy peeing!  I had predicted asub 11 for Ian and i knew there was very good chance of us being very close. I did wonder if he would suddenly appear on my shoulder! Off again I went and I knew next CP Susan was there so did I wee song to myself after every mile singing 6 miles till see Susan, 5 miles till I see Susan etc.. I passed a former clubmate Lorna around here and was bit surprised (she did sub10 last yr) she passed me again bit later but then went on to get cramp

Again these miles passed by quite quickly, i came into Inversnaid singing and was delighted to see Nic & Duncan Mcgoughan which lifted me. After counting down the miles to see Susan its ironic I didn't see her until I was leaving. Keith Mabbot looked after me and reminded me I'd kicked him out of there last yr. I needed no kicking out, Quick hug to Susan and I gave her my jacket knowing the sun was staying put.

Off i went to my Achilles heel section, probably most peoples tbf. I've always lost time here. Not this time. Yes people were still passing me, it'll never be my greatest section but I was much stronger than ever and it was over before i knew it! Only photo of day was at Dario's post. Beinglas here I come baby! 8.02 hrs

Arrived there and the fabulous Matt Williamson looked after me here. I mean seriously, every CP, just the most brilliant support - the drop bags were ready as we arrived, and endless people falling over themselves to help. I marshalled last year, its a tough gig. thank you guys.

Last section I love too. Heading up to cow poo alley as i delighted to see my friend Gavin who was out supporting. he ran a wee bit with me then ran back to support other folks, great wee boost. Graham Kelly here again and took this fab pic. 47 miles in, still smiling. Up and over rollercoaster, I felt a bit of a dip here to excuse the pun! the road never arrives does it!

Got to road crossing where Muriel was standing with arms spread out to stop me crossing, I'm not stupid enough to rush out in front of all that stupid fast traffic. i waited patiently to cross when it was safe, wehey, less than 3 miles to go! Not keen on that wee tarmaccy bit leading up to Auchtertyre but kept plodding on. Always feel bit off boost as i pass through it though and i did.

That last wee windy bit, the bit you keep thinking "where the fuck IS that clearing where's the gate!" it was here that Kirsty caught me again, I was talking a bit of walk break and she pushed me on "c'mon Sandra, its only round corner"  push me on it did. Soon enough we could hear the piper, Kirsty said "lets finish together" grabbed my hand and off we went. that Red carpet looked at long way off but boy did it feel wonderful once we were on it.
10.37  job done.

Tshirt, beer, wine, soup, medals, champagne, ice cream, hugs, smiles, painful stories, wonderful pb stories, more hugs. Finish tent is wonderful
Ian finished just 10mins behind me, I'd managed to hold him off. Just. He was chuffed to bits and rightly so, still looked fresh at end.  He was soon getting back to his other day job and presenting medals. No one was more surprised than me to receive a brone medal for the Scottish Ultra trail champs! :)

Susan arrived from her marshalling stint and we awaited Nicks arrival. He came in smiling but tired. considering he told me he wasn't running 2 weeks previous that's pretty impressive. Team Santa were all back together.

Next up. WHW race.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Devil of a run

 Since Spain I've been feeling great. At end of March Ian and I decided to head up to Fort William. He wanted to do a long run before deciding if he was doing Fling or not. We arrived Friday evening and  got bus back down to Tyndrum on Saturday morning to run back. Here we are looking optimistically happy whilst nice warm and dry on bus.
 It was the same weekend as the fling training run at By the way so bumped into a fair few who'd decided to go North that day, lovely to see smiley friendly faces in midst of what can only be described as challenging weather. Kirsty ran with us for a while before going back to get the others. Here is Ian & Kirsty chasing rainbows

We pushed on and got to Bridge of Orchy
 fairly quickly, the sun came out, the rainbows led the way, the wind howled and sleet poured down. Repeat for rest of day and you get general idea. Rannoch moor is brutal and exposed on a good day. Ian knows this is not my favourite place, he loves it, i wouldn't say I loathe it, its just not my favourite bit. (Tyndrum to Bridge Orchy is my fave if you're in least bit interested)  He told he I had to run the whole way. Have you seen the elevation of it? Ian was running really strong and loving it, I was hanging on for dear life and not loving it. He pushed on ahead to get to Kingshouse and order coffee &;tea. The weather took turn for worse about half mile from Glencoe, I was literally blown off the trail and the rain/sleet/hailstones were hammering down. I got my head down and ran fast as i could to Kingshouse desperate for cup of tea and quick dry off.

Got into hotel absolutely drenched. Tea was waiting and Ian told me to drink it quick. . Think we were in for about ten mins or so if we were lucky. What joy to step back out into the wind howling around us, at least the rain had stopped. For now. Onwards we pushed. I don't mind the devils staircase at all, we got to top to find fairly deep snow, none over other side on way down though. Plenty sleet and rain though and sun and rainbows..  Ian ran on ahead again as he wanted to pop to shops and I met him as I got to pub (didn't go in) we headed off for the never ending climb out of Kinlochleven.

This imho is worse than the devil. It just seems to go on for ever and ever. I've ran it on trashed legs and fresh legs, swear there is no difference. Onto Lairig mhor and again all sorts weather happening, one minute getting blown around like a kite, next min proper calm.
Saw only 2 walkers from Kingshouse to Fort William, guessing weather kept them at home. Ian pushed on again from Lundavra and I said I'd see him at FW. Seem to have bit of dip coming through forest and the climb up to fire road felt harder than normal. Eventually got to Braveheart and felt a bit better heading along the last stretch of road. Did a wee celebratory dance to myself as I passed leisure centre and pushed onto Premier Inn where we'd left car. Rain was battering me here and I arrived like a drowned rat just as Ian was coming out all changed & dry. I popped into toilets to get changed, we had dinner then headed off for home. Knackered but happy. Ian decided he was indeed running the Fling...

Next again day we went to Norton House for champagne Spa day, just what we needed after day before.  I had the hard task of drinking Ians' champagne as straight after we were heading off to Glasgow having been invited to Hampden for Scotland game and he was driving.  Super busy weekend!

                                 Happy Days

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

"This is NOT a holiday camp"

That is what Donnie told me whenever i mentioned the word holiday or wine to him. "This is a training camp"

Never a truer word was said.

Keziah's OH took us through to airport and we headed straight to bar for bottle bubbly to celebrate
A- being on holiday (or so we thought)
B- her huge PB and win the day before at Kelso Marathon
C- being generally fabulous

I then stocked up on snacks for the flight rather than pay exorbiant prices only to leave them on my seat where we were waiting to board! aaaargh

Hey ho. I bought a toastie and some red wine and calm was restored. Donnie picked us up from airport and it was about half hour car journey to our destination. Charlie was cooking dinner for us and i cracked open another bottle of wine only for Charlie to grab it off me and pour some into the pot, i nearly choked on the bloody wine. Oh the waste....

We were told to be up and ready to leave at 9am the next morning. We were heading up Puig Campana. A rather large looking rock that was our outlook. this was view from our kitchen window.
 Link (roll over me to see where I go)
omfg. 2 hrs later we were top and had done about 3 miles. I had visions of Ian getting a call saying i'd fell off Mountain and died, actual serious.
When Donnie announced at the top that tomorrow we were doing a Tempo run up same way i told him i wasn't going up that way again. I was genuinely scared of falling down mountain as my foot kept dislodging rocks and anyone behind me (poor Keziah for part of it) was dodging rocks big time. Donnie ended up going behind me to help guide me and to give me bit more confidence in case i did fall. Donnie goes up there is 55min normally! crazy.

We were out for about 6 or 7 hrs that day, it was meant to be bit longer (that only covered about 18 miles!) but we were all knackered. Me because its longest i've done in long time, Charlie arrived day 2 days before us and had already done long runs and Keziah cause she'd ran Marathon Sunday
. That's the beauty of Donnie recceing area and knowing it well enough to be able to cut it short thankfully. The terrain is so hard,rocky and stony and unforgiving on feet. My poor feet were aching. It was clear by end of first day that this was indeed no holiday camp. I found out later it was higher than Ben Nevis

Home to great dinner cooked by Donnie, and wine consumed by me before we all crashed. Mine & Keziahs room had an ensuite bathroom, one big problem. it had 4 steps up to it, big ones. It was ministry of funny walks and noises as we made our way up and down those steps throughout the week. Just as well we have sense of humour.
Next day was 9am start again and we set off the 2 miles uphill to the bottom of *that* mountain. This time i was going round it and meeting them hafway round, they were going up and over. So i had gradual climb and the had vertical one again. Know which one i prefer !i knew i had a bit of time to kill once i arrived so i ran round where i was and did a bit of hill reps totting up another 4 miles before the guys arrived. We then set off down the mountain and back to house to top off a 13 mile (3hr) day. That was the morning session.

Evening session was a night run. Boy was i nervous about this. We drove out to somewhere, dont ask me where but we did climb quite a bit and it was beautiful and sunny when we set off and for first hour or two. Constant climbing again and at one point me & Keziah were on a bit of low and Donnie shouted to us "only 60metres to top" yahhoo. Only it wasnt. It only 60metre to top of *that* hill (mountain) we still had another 3 peaks to go. jeez. Views were outstanding though
and we got some great pics. Headtorches on and we got to peak, boy it was peaky. The climb down was more than a little steep and we may have screamed a bit. Well maybe Donnie didn't. I was kinda glad it was pitch black!

We got back down to land rover track which was about mile from where car was, it then that we just stood spellbound at the stars sparkling like diamonds in the sky, along with the sound of silence. Donnie was getting Charlie to close his eyes and un downhill, madness. You can't buy moments like this. Back to car, home along bumpy windy road for anther great dinner (Donnie is great cook) and more red wine. Well I bloody needed it before tackling the bathroom steps again ;)

Next day was long run again. Donnie showed us route on PC, we had bit of a drive to get to where we were leaving car. It was steep. Shock. Each day so far we'd climbed higher than Ben Nevis. This was no holiday, have I mentioned that? Off we set for long run, we had a lovely mixture of terrain here. Still lots rocky stuff but some lovely trails through forests, and the glorious colours of the trees which looked stunningly gorgeous until you tried to grab hold of one and realised it was full of thorns! Ouch. Mistake made over and over.
 Only this time we went a bit off track. Couple of times we headed down trails to find they stopped and the drop, and I mean drop down was too stupid dangerous to contemplate. Weather was still glorious and we were unconcerned. Until we got to bottom go hill at one point where a house was and two dogs had ran at us barking and snarling, this had happened about an hour previous and Donnie had saved us all, no messing with a former marine. He confronted said dogs and scared them off. This time they weren't back down and me & Keziah were hiding behind a tree and eventually Charlie came and joined us leaving Donnie to deal with dogs! Lol luckily the owners came out and called them off. They also showed us to a water pipe where we all refilled our bottles for rest of run ahead. It was a hot day and we had fair bit to do.

This is where it all went a bit thorn shaped. Back up hill past house and not big steep hill, through many gorse bushes and picking our way through rocks. We eventually got to top and looked down at non existent trail. But plenty of the evil but beautiful yellow trees. There was no other way, down we went, the boys ploughing on ahead, me keeping Keziah in my sights with her white cap, sometimes she'd disappear into the thickness and height of it al but I'd hear yelps and screams so kept following the voice. At one point I came to a halt though and we had to find alternative route, Donnie came back up to guide me round. Once to got to a clearing I found Keziah sitting down on ground, I joined her and we both laughed, oh how we laughed. Our legs were a total mess, we took off our shoes and emptied all the thorns out and sat picking the hundreds of thorns out our legs.

At this point we knew we were on nicer trails and route back to car but we were a bit worried as Charlie was flying home that night and time wasn't exactly on our side knowing we still had 40 min drive back to villa. Donnie decided to run on ahead and said he'd leave signs for us if there were any bits we could go wrong. We found wee piles of stones at one point then his water bottle and were playing the " what will we find of Donnie's next?" Game ended when we heard the sound of a car just as we started on another uphill ( god help us) we were saying " please let this be a white car" lo and behold it was. Me and Keziah jumped into each other's arms like we'd scored the winning World Cup goal then threw ourselves on boot of car hugging it. Today had been an epic tough day.

We had plenty time after all and we stopped of at a most beautiful little village in the mountains where we took pictures and compared scars bought some souvenirs and I had a most fabulous ice cold shandy.
 Somehow the toughness of the run started to fade in the sunshine, I think we were all proud of how we dealt with it all. Donnie promised us pizza that night and we had a happy content drive back. Quick  late lunch and we bid Charlie farewell and Donnie went off to deposit him at airport.
  Keziah & me argued over who was going in shower first. I lost. There were a few yelps but it wasn't as bad as I anticipated. I poured myself a large drink and waited on Donnie returning with our pizzas which we devoured happily with more red wine. Or that might've just been me. ;-)

The next day we were promised an easy day. 9.30am start in the glorious sun and off we set up the hill, todays delights were hill reps! 55 mins. With Donnie 3/4 up hill and running with us pushing us on each time.

think only reason I wasn't sick was because I sensibly didn't have breakfast first! We got bit of down time to sunbathe, have lunch then chill out before heading back out later in day for another run. Donnie asked how we were feeling, Keziah was chirpy and said, great! I was less chirpy and said *ok* I was feeling a bit tired if truth be told!
We set off up a new hill where we climbed p onto ridge where we got marvellous views once again. I started feeling a bit sick and Donnie fed me teddy bears, the jelly ones, not the furry kind. Ten minutes later they made a return trip and ended up mashed up teddy bears on top of a mountain. This was pattern for next 15 mins or so, every time I thought I was ok up they came along with all the water id drank. I was incredibly thirsty.

Donnie decided to cut run short, I felt awful and said I'd go back myself as I didn't want to spoil their run. They protested but I insisted, I had straight run back down road to village and was only home about 45mins before they got back, Only missed on about 4 miles as it was 2nd session of day. I think fatigue just got to me that day tbh. this pic was taken just before I was sick

After wee sleep I felt much better and we even got taken out for dinner that night in the metropolis that is finestrat and its finest Italian restaurant.

Last day and the weather wasn't looking good. Woke up to clouds and we couldn't even see the Mountain which faced us every morning. I was doing round the mountain again and Keziah &; Donnie were going up & over.  I bid them farewell at bottom of the vertical Km and off we went. Weather was very changeable but I was in vest until I got a bit higher and it got colder and wetter. I got to our meeting point and it was pretty cold. I didn't really want to hang around too long getting colder and I wasn't entirely sure of route all way round so I decided to back way I came, I txt Donnie to let him know and he called me to make sure I was ok with that (I so was!) I got totally &  utterly drenched on run back it was correct decision. Keziah & Donnie weren't too far behind as they'd got snow at top and it was pretty miserable.

Elevation pic makes it look like a nice shaped mountain for last day

Once we were all back and had a last lunch once again a triumph

Then the clouds disappeared and the sun made a reappearance. There was chat about a run later but me & K decided to let Donnie go running on his own and do his own thing instead of baby-sitting us for a change.

He did try and change our minds but we stuck to our guns and decided we'd go for a tourist run around the town. What great fun we had!

And there it is. Last run done. We were rewarded that night with a trip to the bright lights of Benidorm to Tapas alley where I made sure I sampled the local cava just make sure it was up to standard of course

To sum up the week, I was pushed way beyond my comfort zone many a time, did 83 miles and climbed higher than Ben Nevis many times. I came back from Spain stronger and more confident in my training than I've felt for a very very long time.

Donnie is will be organising this again next year and I will most definitely be signing up again, cant recommend it enough. Superb.

see here

Adios Amigos


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...