Sunday, 30 November 2008

WHW-training run: Beinglas-Inversnaid and back

Today was my 2nd run on the WHW within 1 week. This time it was a run organized by John Kynaston with 35(!) runners turning up, including all the fast ones! It was a glorious winter day, very cold, but sunny and lots of snow on the hills. The Loch looked fantastic with the sunshine - though you really had to concentrate on the path in front of you due to the rather icy conditions.

The pace was pretty quick right from the start and people seemed to also run the uphills in the beginning. The group spread out and I dropped back and back and eventually settled into a pace with Sue. I had met her at Eddie's HM and she had joined the run today with her friend Mandy who has entered the Devil for next year as well. Unfortunately we were a bit slow on the icy bits trying to be really careful not to slip. We walked across the bolder parts and lost sight of Mandy & Co quite quickly. But I had a great time chatting with Sue along the way and admiring the views in between. I had hoped though for her sake that maybe Mandy and some of the other runners ahead of us would wait for her at Inversnaid so she could have a faster run back. But they were all on their way back by the time we got there... I kept thinking she did after all join the run to meet people who had actually run the WHW Race and I was obviously not one of them. I tried to pass on some of Tom's insights though and introduced her to "Mud socks". She was great company and said she did not mind! Thanks!
3 miles before Beinglas I insisted Sue should head off as she wanted to run to Derrydaroch which I hadn't planned to do anyway. I actually caught up with someone else on this part, Rab from Dundee. He picked up a few injuries along the route involving his Achilles tendon and hamstring. He was swearing after slipping yet again when I approached from behind and we ran/walked the last half mile together. He headed back straight after arriving at the Drover's Inn and I hope he is all right getting his injuries sorted! He managed to finish this year's WHWRace despite also being injured.

I did really enjoy my run in great weather, scenery and company, but I also realized that this is indeed the faster group. The pace is fast, there is no hanging about and everyone seemed to try and get to Inversnaid as quickly as possible. So, I don't think I will be there next time. I would probably arrive in Drymen by the time they were all back at the Beechtree Inn or somewhere close! We also have our Christmas Night out from work the day before so I'll probably prefer to have a lie in. For next year I might come along to the training runs with Thomas but do my own bit, some out and backs maybe along the same route so I can at least say hi while everyone is flying past me or if there is a support vehicle I might ask for a lift. But well done to all of you ultra-runners today. I am clearly a long way off!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

1st Training Run on the WHW

Today was my 1st training run on the WHW, from Milngavie to Drymen, about 12 miles. The “Glee Club” (organized by Mark Hamilton) was running from Milngavie to Drymen and back. I thought as a starter just out to Drymen would be enough so organized a lift back from Janet, Jon Cornall’s wife who was supporting.
I was slightly nervous before, though I was hoping that I would be able to keep up. I had a bit of a problem with my Achilles tendon the week before, it had come out of the blue with no previous problems. So I did not run for a few days, took a few Ibuprofen, used friction massage and tried to do a short run on Friday before. As this went o.k. I decided to go for the Sunday run.
And I had no problems at all, at least not with my Achilles tendon. My Trabuccos proved to be a great choice, they are really comfortable and together with the debris socks did not give me any blisters. It started to rain when we left the car park but then we had long spells of blue sky and sunshine – and lots of rainbows whenever another shower came our way. I stayed at the end with Mags, Marie (Davie Bell’s sister-in-law and support runner), Jon Cornall and Jim.
Thomas “ran away”, no he didn’t really, he just ran ahead with a few of the others and then kept coming back or wait to “check up on me”. There were about 15 runners altogether. The faster bunch was out of sight most of the time. There were LOTS OF puddles, actually they were like mini-lochs and in the beginning I did try to avoid them, but eventually gave up. These were not only puddles or streams of water but MUD-holes. Luckily I saw Jon’s lower leg disappear in one of them and just managed to jump across, but I could not avoid all of them. I could have done with a pair of these fishing trousers! At one point my feet were freezing, but they actually did warm up again.
I started to struggle a bit just after the Beech Tree Inn (yes, I know it is not that far!), Thomas had come back by that time and thought it was just one of my “mental blocks” where I think I am tired but I am actually not!! Easy for him to say. Anyway I fell back a bit (yes further) until Mags thought that the pace was a bit too fast for her as well. So we ran together and sent Thomas on his way to catch up with some of the others. But then all these lovely inclines appeared where you can walk on the tarmac road towards Drymen. I really like these bits! So the slow bunch (yes, Thomas was part of it) got together again and we arrived at the Pottery Bar after 2h:30min, only 5 or 10min after the rest of the group. So I was actually quite pleased with my run and I did enjoy it. What I even enjoyed more though was my carrot cake, coffee and the lift back to Milngavie in the car!!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Lochaber HM

Who said that the Lochaber HM was a flat course??!
Well, Thomas did! But I guess only to persuade me to have a go at beating my PB. Once the weather forecast looked really promising, Tom's "injury" was miraculously cured and the HM in Lochaber was on again! I hadn't really trained at all, in fact my last long run was the Glasgow HM 2 months ago (my "cross training" was the roller blading for the Cologne Marathon 4 weeks ago)and then I started back 2-3 weeks ago with no longer than 10K runs and these 2 club speed sessions recently.
Still I thought that out of nowhere a PB might be possible on a flat course - well, it was not. And I think that it was better this way as I might have drawn my wrong conclusions otherwise. First of all the course was anything but flat, in fact it was rather up and down with a (short) killer ascent in the last mile. I went off too fast with an 8:34 mile (my PB in Glasgow of 1:55:29 has an 8:48 average) and I thought to myself, great, you are on course for a PB! :-) next mile was 8:49 and then it got worse from there on with all miles being over 9min and the slowest 10:09. I did the first half in 1:00:29 and my finish time was 2:02:59. There were 2 girls I kept overtaking, then they overtook me and so on, until I eventually stayed with one of them who had also tried to get under 2:00. She was from Lochaber and knew everyone en route. People were handing her jelly babies and I just held my hand open and got some as well! I am sure they helped me to keep going as I was really struggling. I had stitches right and then left, my right calf was tightening and I found it difficult to even lift my legs to get up and down these kerbs (and there were a lot). But after the last steep incline in mile 12 I managed to leave the nice Lochaber runner and push past 2 other runners to arrive at the finish all smiling. I had decided fairly early on that this was not a PB day or course for me but just a long training run amidst the most amazing scenery and in glorious sunshine and autumn gold!

And amazing it was! The weather was so perfect that it was one of those rare beautiful days in Scotland that make up for all the bad weather we get. If you can be out on a day like this, you would not want to be anywhere else! The top of the hills were covered with snow, it was clear and crisp but not too cold, there was no wind, Ben Nevis was without a cloud and the views across the Loch out on the road towards Mallaig were just breathtaking. The spot for the half way turn around point was so beautiful that I could have just said down and watched.

We had driven up the day before and had a nice 3-hour hill walk near Bridge of Orchy, also in great weather. Not something I would normally do before a HM. But it was going to be a relaxed weekend, wasn't it?! So I thought and did all the things you should not do before a race. Carboloading?! Why not eat fish, crepes with cheese and spinach and have a glass of wine? We stayed in a great B&B (Lime Tree just at the roundabout when you enter FW) and had the perfect breakfast though. American pancakes with maple syrup - delicious! I must admit none of the above excuses did Thomas any harm (though he stayed clear of any alcohol and ate all the potatoes). He surprised me with a great time, a new PB by over 2min 22sec in 1:18:56. He came in 4th position and won the 1st male vet prize in his age group (40-49) - so very well done!! I had seen him en route when he was in 7th position and looking strong. So even the fall off the stile on our walk yesterday did him no harm! The most inspirational guy though was Hugh Turner who won his age group in 2:29:41 - his age group being the Male 80 and above!!