Monday, 24 April 2017

Things are sent to test you

Well I ended my last blog with - London's Calling

And calling it was. My first London Marathon, THE Marathon,  the only one that matters, the longest etc etc

I've had many opportunities to  run it, I actually got in on my first ever try through ballot, got injured deferred then found myself on Ultra scene. silly. Then I've had GFA for ages, being so good for my age, obv. (and thats super soft for girls quite frankly)

So this was the year! Cant say I was excited about it if I'm honest. I love watching it on telly, love tracking folk but being there, I had no desire really. I supported Ian a few yrs back when he was running & loved it but to me I thought I'd need boxing gloves to get folk out my way.

Training for a marathon & a 100miler isn't so easy though, because I was targeting London for a PB it meant trying to get speedwork and long road runs in as well as making sure I got the long trail runs in too. Been averaging 75 mil weeks peaking at 99.3 yes really, and no I wasn't tempted.

2 weeks out I did cutback week after my back2back weekend of 78 miles (that 99.3 week) and did 51 miles & had 2 full days rest, next week again 2 full days. On Good Friday we were both off & went out on out nice wee 5 mile loop we have through blackford & braid nature reserve and I said to Ian I was getting shooting pains in my knee. Randomly, not all time. This was before even leaving house & happened couple times on run. It made my leg buckle, not so good. had good run so thought nothing of it. Rested next day then we headed off to St Andrews for a wee break.

We went out for run around golf course, trails  & beach and although it was glorious, I had a proper niggle in my hip. This didn't go away & only got worse as day went on moving into my back. By Monday I was sitting with hot water bottle against lower back, taking drugs (paracetamol, don't worry) and desperately trying to appt with my stupidly popular busy physio    this guy...

He said he'd call me if he got cancellation and I got apt for Wed morning. He did his best to make me scream a lot ( does everyone else bite their tongue he always tells me I'm very vocal)  gave me some exercises to do. Said I hadn't damaged anything & that "I'll probably hurt" on Sunday, but that I could run. Friday night & Saturday morning my back still hurt. I managed it with wine pretty much.

It wasn't  all about the Marathon though, Ian bought me (us) tickets for Les Miserables for the Saturday for my Christmas. I was so excited about that more than marathon it has to be said! We were both working Friday so arrived at Airport separately, I went straight to lounge and got tucked into the wine & Ian arrived about an hour later. We arrived at hotel and got bite to eat before heading to bed around 11ish. having been up since 6am

Up early Saturday to head to Expo, needed to get there, see bit of it, get back to hotel then head out to Theatre, busybusy!  I forgot to mention I'd bought myself new shoes at airport. I love Kurt Geiger & bought I pair of shoes in same style id had before which were comfiest ever. So I wore them.
Sometimes I worry about my decisions, this was one of them. 6 miles of walking and 5 blisters the day before you're trying to PB at a Marathon

Add to that the Lrg Wine & 2 prosecco with lunch. The 2 Prosecco during theatre (which was magnificent b
tw) We met Gayle & Alan for dinner after theatre.
 Had bottle wine  (that I shared) with Gayle
I guess my prep isn't quite textbook!

On the plus side, my sore feet made me forget about my sore back, that's good right....

Because of my blisters rubbing against duvet I woke up quite a lot during night. not the best. Breakfast of smoked salmon & scrambled eggs, if only I had a bucks fii to go with it, I seriously would've had it.  view from breakfast room looks over London city. proper trendy bar at night to be in I believe

Ian walked me to station to se me on my on way, by then I was starting to feel really nervous. I don't get nerves. Not even for WHW race, I'm usually as chilled as a chilled thing. I think I use my nervousness  leading up to that normally as I'm usually in tears all week watching Home & away &whatnot, Maybe this week because I so worrying about even being on start line it took that away only for it to thrown itself on me on race morning

Its a lonely old world and not one person had spoken to me til I was finally finding my way to green start & heard an almighty holler.Could only be the voice of Gavin, who is even louder than me. What a great wee boost that gave me. they were in jail so I had to kiss them through the barricades

off I went to green start & met up with more Scottish folk! hurrah. David & Caroline at start, knew I wouldn't see them again once we got going. When someone dressed as massive toilet roll joined by pen I made sure I was well away from them!
 I positioned myself  passed on my good luck wishes and suddenly we were off, It took only 2 mins to cross line but immediately I got stressed. So so busy, no room to move anywhere for first few miles it was worse then we joined  the red start. Made it even more busy. I was asked plenty times what time I was going for.Training indicated between 3.30 & 3.35 so I told everyone 3.35  which was genuinely what I thought I would do. No chance of choosing pace had to go with flow at that point, Luckily they seem to have starting points correct so everyone looking at same sort of pace. I deliberately went ahead of 3.30 pacer guy as I as I so used to running on my own and didn't want to be slave to that then lose heart if I lost him. And I prefer to have bit in bank. He didn't pass me till about mile 23
I calmed down about 4 miles in when there was bit more space, I always took the outer route when I could rather than cut corners, I even saw runners run down pavements behind supports. wtf. roads have been closed for you guys, fucking use them and let the pedestrians use the pavements.

I deliberately didn't put my name on vest, not sure if it was because I was nervous about my pb attempt & if ended up walking didn't want *go Sandra, looking good* when you feel anything but! or if it was just a selfish thing,  this was about me.

Have to say, the miles flew by. Incredibly so. I passed Antonia & we had quick hug. I knew she'd pass me later ( & she did, super speedy girly)  There was 2 moments when I got clipped-barged by folk who didn't apologies- they heard me after for sure *insert swear words*

I knew Ian was going to by Fetchpoint at mile 12 ish which is a station set up every year by Fetcheveryone see link here... fetch ( I've supported there before and set up same in Edinburgh, its proper awesome. I was so excited & emotional leading up to there,  was still on course for sub 3.30  at that point and just hoping it wasn't a fluke

The cheers I got gave me massive boost, and I knew that the next 10 miles til I saw them & Ian again would be tough. I sometimes regretted not having name on shirt but most of time I was happy being ingocnito so to speak. Back to FP & I was still running strong, I high fived all way along and again it put spring in step, Didn't see Ian though, then suddenly at 23 miles I heard him scream my name! my goodness what that did for me you have no idea. I kept thinking, when am I going to blow up, when will I need to stop, to walk... it never happened.  I kept telling myself over & over " Sandra, you're an ultra runner, you've ran much further than this etc" I still expected to massively slow down though.

3 miles to go, I kept calculating worse case scenarios in  my head- if I do 10minute miling  from here I will still pb, 2 miles, same thing - if I do this that, the next thing... I swear I didn't even see big ben or Buckingham palace, head was firmly on finish.

That last 200m felt like 2 miles. I was so so delighted to finish in 3 hrs 30 mins & 56 secs. A stonking 10 minute PB!  I was a bit tearful when I finished & even more so when walking past all the baggage handlers who were applauding us. The organisation is tremendous, from start to finish. I walked through to met up area and found Ian waiting and cried again.

I still don't feel like it happened to me, but it did! Even know, it feels like an out of body experience. I ended up with 26.6 miles on watch with all the weaving & trying to find spaces to run but hey, its is what it is.

Bloody hell I've worked hard for it though, I take my hat off to all my friends with young children. How they do it I have no idea. I think I got my time down to bigger mileage, smarter training and better eating. Marathons are damn hard work. Given I'm so close to sub3.30 I may well train for one later in year once I've recovered from SDWrace.

So that's London done. London's not calling anymore  but Winchester certainly is - few more runs to fit in before my 100Miler.

reasons to run, click here!! for my sponsor page- very worthy charities.

Here are the some of the stats, quite impressive reading I think...

Sunday, 9 April 2017

3 nights, 3 hotels,a few wet miles on the way & a little help from my friends.

Last week it snowed.

It was no huge surprise to be honest, I mean my ayephone told me it would. The day before I ran to work in a vest and Lorna Mc pointed out to me I wouldn't be in vest next day She was right, as was my ayephone.  Just as I stepped outside at 5,48 or thereabouts the first few snowflakes started to fall. By the time I was  miles in it was full blown snowstorm and I was finding it difficult to see. I stopped to do a live video ( as you do) as I wasn't sure anyone would believe quite how bad it was.

I mentioned in video that we mustn't let weather affect or stop training run (never have) and I've always said "it could be like this on race day"  Now I did say in the video that if its like THAT on race day then I'd stop drinking champagne AND I'd eat my hat, a woolly ronhill one in case you weren't watching.

I am now a bit worried my sick & twisted crew will ship down some snow.

I took last Friday off work with the plan for 2 days running on WHW route. I've actually not done a big back to back in a long time so although I've been running pretty strong this year it was a big ask for my wee body. Originally I was doing it solo as it was Ian's financial year end at work but the pull of long run on his favourite part of whw was too much of a pull, or maybe he was going to miss me...

So I'd made plans to do it alone, kinda. Plan was to get train to Milngavie and Carol would pick me up and take me to Oak tree. Slight change to go meet Lorna for catch up Glasgow then meet Carol but we still got Oaktree in end. Had lovely dinner with Carol then she went home only to return at 8am to run the first 7 miles with me.  I wanted to leave pretty sharp with a long day ahead of me

Weather was pretty dreich but certainly warm enough for us to be in vests. given that Carol is a small ultra chatty wee blonde and i'm an ultra chatty wee blonde it was a talkative cocktail as opposed to a Molotov cocktail. The  7 miles went in a flash & I sadly waved goodbye knowing I had a lonely 35 miles ahead.

Even though I was on my own & having done this route so very often I made good progress and got to Inversnaid bang on target. I was happy to find hotel open so popped in to use toilet and dry off for few minutes, the rain was relentless but it still wasn't cold. I set off for lochside knowing the rocks would be a bit treacherous, I was right. It made for pretty slow progress, last thing I needed when on my own in middle of nowhere was to injure myself, i'd barely seen a soul since rowardennan, one guy I did pass almost had heart attack, clearly not expecting anyone else to be daft enough to be out in that weather.

As I got to top of Darios hill suddenly the wind picked up and I had to stop & put jacket on as it really chilled me. I decided to nip into Beinglas & get cup of tea to takeaway but once I was inside I decided to run garmin off for  mins and dry out-warm up a little knowing I still had 22 miles to go.

Every waterfall I passed was ferocious, some you'd not normally notice as they trickled down hillside were so full & noisy, rather beautiful. No such thing as bad weather.. Cow poo alley was pretty disgusting, I had to get through herd of cows who gathered round the calfs and glared at me, I shouted shoo like Ian showed me to but they laughed in my face and stood their ground. I was hopped over the style I thanked them for not killing me. If anyone had come along and saw me speaking to cows I'm sure I'd have got a strange look or two but hours on your lonesome can do strange things.

Rollercoaster passed quicker than normal, passed few groups of kids doing DOE and soon enough I was at road crossing. Got to field to find these signs, I followed the advice. I'd suggest anyone out there running soon does too.
Unless you like disappearing into more soggy bogs. not long after going under road I got to river crossing (where there is now a bridge!) and bumped into Mel, first runner i'd seen all day. She said Noanie was just ahead walking the dogs and sure enough there was Rufus & Sam bounding up the trails, I shouted on them and they ran to greet me then probably wondered who hell this drookit wee thing was.

After a lovely Hug from a surprised Noanie I set off up road with her, we were about mile & half away from Tyndrum and it was nice to have bit of company after 8 hrs on my own. I decided a wee walk break would do me good and give me bit more energy for my last 10miles. I bade her & dogs goodbye at Bytheway then ran off on my final stage.

Stopped off at Brodies for a mars bar after realising I hadn't eaten all day. So walked up hill eating that, it gave me spring in my step for my favourite part of course. Still the rain came down, heavier than ever, but I could see ahead there was bits of blue skies peeking through. Saw few more runners from training weekend & had quick chat with Tina before running on. About a mile out from Bridge of Orchy a miracle happened-it stopped raining. 9 full ours of rain and it stops when I have half an our of running left, go figure! Nice to get jacket off and back down to my vest for last push up & over Jellybabyhill. As I crested said hill Ian called me to say he was just leaving Edinburgh & expected to arrive around 9pm.

The glorious sight of Inveronan hotel, speaking to Ian and the killers on loud put a smile on my face & a spring in my step for the last downhill of day. Got into my room and did a victory dance to find I had a bath, was dreading arriving to find a poky shower room. You can keep your icebaths, after a run (a very wet one at that) I need a soak in a hot bubbly bath and boy did it feel good. Coupled with cup of tea, bag of crisps and a cup of tea it was pure dead brilliant.

Can highly recommend this wee hotel, friendly attentive staff, lovely cosy room and superb food. No wifi, no signal on phone and the tv doesn't even get a signal but none of that mattered. Ian arrived 9pm sharp and  we had few drinks in bar before finishing off wine I'd brought with me.

Lovely breakfast of scrambled eggs & smoked salmon and Ian set off in car for Bridge of Orchy so we could get train back there next day. he was running from there, I was lucky enough to have Lorna, Emma & Louise for company for start of the day. Lorna & Louise were doing 5 out & back and boy did those 5mile pass quickly .We waved them off and me & Emma who was running to Kinlochleven (from Tyndrum) set off again and were surprised to see Kingshouse hotel appear rather quickly. Amazing what chatter and not constantly looking at mileage can do.

We got down to Kingshouse to find 4 very tame deer wandering around, now although its fabulous to see them up so close its kind of sad too. They know they will get fed by tourists but its not the stuff wild deer should be eating really. Still lovely to see them. Emma was uber excited!

After a few pics we set off on that god forsaken section to Altnafeadh and the devils straircase. Again this section which usually fills me with dread passed quickly and we were soon climbing up the staircase pondering when Ian would catch us up.  I like the Devil, I never find that climb nearly as bad as the climb out of KL.

We got to top and they may have been some larking around.
Off we went of the never ending descent in the mythical town of kinlochleven. About 3 miles down Ian suddenly appeared behind us just as another runner ran towards us to stop for chat. I gave Ian a quick kiss and he powered on ahead. few mins later we stepped aside to let a runner who was hammering it g past us, we watched in awe as he ran on then skipped up hill past Ian as if he wasn't even on a hill.

Further on we came across a group of walkers, think they were Italian, they stood wither side of trail whopping, cheering & high fiving us, utterly brilliant. Ian said they did same to him. wish I'd got pic but we were laughing so much from the reception we skipped on down the trail . We were now trying to work out timescales as Emma had a bus to catch to get her back to her car. As we got into KL we ran up road to see bus sitting there, we asked driver when he was leaving and he said "now" oh, wait till we get a selfie said we! haaha he did too.  I sadly bid farewell to Emma and tried to talk myself into positive frame of mind for next 14 miles and *that* climb.

As I ran through the town I came across this>
I stopped for a moment and thought about my Mum, and I knew she'd be very proud of me. It gave the positive boost I needed and I ran on with happy thoughts of her in my head.

here is great excuse to put my fundraising page. >>>

As I set off up the trail Ian called to warn me of a possible turn I might miss. There was bit in path with no sign that means its possible to go uphill when in fact you should go left & down. I have been known to get lost but I was ok, although I did see a few walkers head up that, maybe they wanted to though...

Eventually I got to top and once round corner and properly onto Lairig mor I started spotting Ian in the distance in his yellow fling tshirt. It was taking my mind of things watching I'm appear & disappear up and down hills or round corners & I wondered if I was gaining on him. I knew with all those miles in my legs i'd be hard pushed to catch him. Eventually Lundavra appeared and as I wandered up that hill it made me think of last time I did it in the race, good times.

Its a few miles in before you start to see the forestry work that's closed that part of route for past 6 months. At first its just lots of branches and debris all over path making it easy to trip up on my tired legs and catching in my shoes a fair bit. As I crested hill to where main part f feeling was I found 2 bewildered  foreign walkers who were standing on top a muddy mound  just looking around in astonishment. The path totally disappears and they weren't sure where to head. I picked my across the mud mounds and found path again and they gratefully followed, after that part its easier to see the trail even though its mostly covered but they'd be able to watch me in distance as I ran on ahead.

The forestry commission did say they would re open the path on April 1st and they stuck to that, but I do think it was perhaps a tad too early, I'm pretty sure its all been cleaned up now but it would've been confusing to anyone who didn't really know the route. Not that I passed anyone on Lairig anyway but still.

I used to love running through that bit of forest but hey, that why these trees are planted as I explained to the tourists who were horrified and asked why on earth they'd do that. I guess its just the shock of the devastation. Anyway, I was soon enough on fire road and on the never ending road to Braveheart car park. I passed the famous30mph sign and couldn't resist a photo stop by the leisure centre where I got a bit emotional thinking of my last finish there .

Another half mile to go and I arrived at Hotel just as garmin clocked 34 miles. 77 Miles done & dusted, two very different days. Challenging conditions but I loved it all.

Felt strong on both days and finished still running strong and happy. Was surprised to arrive at check to find Ian hadn't checked in but I soon found him next door in pub. Nice wee rehydration was in order for sure and well deserved I felt.

Next day we went for wander around town and seafront to loosen off legs before getting train to Bridge of Orchy to pick up car. Oh my goodness, what a stunning journey that is, right through middle earth ;) passing through Rannoch moor and the most remote station in the UK. Breathtaking scenery. Its nice to sit back & enjoy.

We stopped off in Tyndrum for spot of lunch at Real food café & managed to catch up with John, Noanie, Gavin, Lorna, Mark and few others who'd been on training weekend. Lovely end to a great two days training.

Had to celebrate once home...

As I write this one week on, I'm pleased to say I recovered pretty quickly, a good indication of where my training is at. I took 2 full days off and was back running by Tuesday. Nice easy cutback week. London in now calling.....

Monday, 3 April 2017

What's happening

I've been meaning to blog for ages and I never seem to find the time.
We are away most weekends and seem to be busy all time and blogging is way down on list of stuff that needs doing! But hey, I've got the day off so here I am.

Reason I've taken day off is to rest & recover after long weekend of training - which brings me to explain why I am back in blogland. Last year I didn't really have a big plan nor a big race to train for. I just picked races as the year went on and did stuff I'd not done before. Islay half marathon, Glencoe Marathon, Strathearn marathon to name a few. All good stuff and its good to do different things instead of same old stuff year on year I reckon.

So this year I needed a focus. That focus is the South Downs Way race in June. Its 100 miles long, starts in Winchester & finishes in Eastbourne. I've always had a pull to do this race and here's why

I actually did my very first Ultra on the South Downs Way, It was called the Downlands challenge, no idea if its still going but it was a 30 mile race. I don't even know where it started but it was 15 out & back and there were windmills which I'm pretty sure were called Jack & Jill! my friend Jen Jackson had persuaded to do my first Ultra & although it was a damn long way to go I thought it was nice distance and not too scary.

Jen had done loads of Ultras so I put my trust in her-. I went down to stay with her and totally loved the race and was truly bitten by the Ultra bug. Jen had always loved the South downs way and was convinced it would make a great 100 mile race. So she decided she'd create one. And right there is where the SDW100 was created.  Susan ( my ever present crew) was marshalling as were many other running friends. lots of whom live down that way.
At that stage I could never imagine running that distance. I'd crewed for Jen when she did WHWrace in 2009 and I was in awe of everyone doing it. Funny how things shape your life, little did I goodness we were clueless, there is a blog about all that if  you look far enough back lol

Jen organised the race in 2010 & 2011 before deciding it was too much work have recently bought a horse which took up lots of her free time. She passed race into the very capable hands of James Elson & its fair to say he hit the ground running (excuse the pun) and  & has made a great success in form of all the Centurion races.

So it feels like I should be doing this race after all this time now I know I can indeed run all that way!

With 10 weeks to go and I reckon training is going well It feels good to have a focus again.  Although I am following plan loosely based around my 2015 WHW race training, I am also running London Marathon for first time so I've been trying to incorporate marathon training alongside Ultra training. Tricky but doable .
This include nice mix of road & trail runs, races &  intervals. Also doing some weights to mix things up a bit and keep me strong. Touch wood its all going to plan. I've PB'd at 5k & half marathon distance this year so far, hoping that a bit like wine, I'm getting better with age ;)

Although you don't need crew for this race as there are plenty well stocked aid stations, when I told Susan & Nick I was doing the race they immediately said they were coming too. I was quite happy to go down on my own but they both want to go back there (Nick did that same 1st Ultra as me that day)

Quite often I get asked if I'm running for charity and I always joke that if I did that every year I'd have no friends & people would run other way when they see me coming. But its been 7 years since I last fundraised. (for my first fling) so I think it's time to do it again. I've sponsored many of my friend over the years and still do.

I have chosen two charities very close to my heart.

First one is Marie Curie - 

My mum was looked after in our local Marie Curie hospice in her final weeks. They do a marvellous & tough job, they even sent 2 nurses with my mum so she could spend a few hours at home with me on my 21st Birthday. I'll never forget that and treasure those memories. I'll be ever thankful to them. £20 pays for one nurse for one hour -

Me & mum

Second one is SAMH -
Ian is actually Vice chair of SAMH. Both our families have had to deal mental health issues but my main reason is in memory of my sons best friend- Jordan Lane. He took his own life at the young age of 22 - he was a beautiful, bright smiley boy who's been sadly missed these past few years. Suicide is a massive problem with young males as they feel they cant speak to anyone about it.This weekend I've ran with several friends, every one of them has been closely touched by suicide
If raising money can save even one more person then it'll be money well spent. £20 provides one hour of help to someone in need.
here is pic of me & Jordan at my boys 21st

Having made it this far- please click on this link and help me help people who need it.

Click here to donate, thank you! x

Planning another blog shortly to talk abut training this weekend. watch this space!


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...