Monday, 27 April 2009

Thomas in 7th Heaven

The headline is "borrowed" from the Glenpark club website. They were first yesterday to blog about Thomas' amazing run in the Montane Highland Fling 2009 on Saturday, 25th of April where he finished in 7th overall position and won the 2nd male vet prize with a time of 8h:20min:40sec.

If you read his contemplations before the Fling you know that he did not think he would get under the Top 10. His optimistic target was 8h:45min and his suppport schedule was geared to this. While in real life not the most optimistic person, he always seems to know what time he is capable of in races if everything is going to plan and right enough his arrival times in Drymen, Balmaha and Rowardennan were exactly on his 8:45 schedule to the minute! He arrived 8min ahead of schedule in Beinglas, was 17min ahead by the time he reached Carmyle Cottage, 22min ahead at the A82 crossing and 27min at Auchtertyre. He changed into his Glenpark shirt there and I sent him off telling him to try and catch Richie who was 2min ahead for 3rd male vet place. I found out later that Richie is nowhere near the vet category (Sorry!), but George Cairns informed me that he had just turned 40! So when I heard Thomas name being called for 2nd vet prize I was very surprised as I thought he had missed out.
This report really is a bit chaotic as there seems to be so much to write about.
Thomas looked great throughout the race but really got stronger in the 2nd half. It was such a great day for him. For me Beinglas was the most difficult support stop as expected. I carried a very heavy bag and a rucksack to the farm with any possible item he might need including 2 spare pairs of shoes, first aid box,bottles of water, soup etc. He arrived, grabbed 2 gels, a new bottle and was off again. The lady waiting for someone else just said, well it took you longer to lay it all out than his actual stop time. Thank you, at least someone is noticing!

I was busy the whole day switching between supporting and medical roles. But in fact it was very quiet on the medical side. No problems in Drymen or Balmaha, a few smaller ones at the end in Tyndrum. I removed a tick, gave out some Paracetamol, some antacids and looked at a blood blister. And of course I glanced my eye over the one guy who drew a lot of attention to himself with his face being covered in old dried blood. He had banged his head in the A82 underpath and must have had quite a laceration, but by the time he arrived the bleeding had long stopped and he really just needed a shower!
At other times I was helping out with opening beer bottles, giving out champagne, supervising kids at the walkie talkie, finding the right drop bag, ensuring no runner squeezes past without giving his race number etc. I really enjoyed the day and meeting lots of other marshals. And of course I got a brilliant Montane jacket for it!
The only time the 2 roles nearly clashed were at the finish. I had just arrived and expected Thomas to arrive any minute when I was called to see someone in the cottage. Luckily there was another medic, Donald, who was already on his way in so I left him to it. I thought if they needed extra help they would call me, which they didn't. So I was free to see Thomas crossing the finish line. Hurrah!

I saw lots of other runners finish, some after difficult runs like Marco, John and Ian, others with great times like Neal and Mike T. And also Sharon. She is such an incredible runner, never looks as if she has just run an ultra and so fast! She finished as 3rd female. Congratulations! Some never managed to cross the finish like Jon and I think Davie Bell who I last saw at Balmaha. I hope you can get over this quickly and concentrate on your goals ahead! We were thinking of you. And then we were all waiting for Caroline to finish her 1st ultra race. What a great moment that was when she approached the finish line. I was rather emotional myself, but luckily was called away to look at a very bloody and taped up toe. That certainly stopped me crying even if it brought tears into the eyes of the patient! No, it didn't actually, she was very brave!

We left Tyndrum at around 8.30PM and though I had not run at all I felt exhausted. My legs were burning and my back sore from literally standing on my feet for more than 12 hours. I had entered a 10K race for the next day (Balfron 10K) as part of my marathon preparation but it slowly dawned on me that I'd rather had a VERY long lie in! So the plan was to run a 10K race on my own along the promenade the next day with Thomas as my race official, water station and support! We woke up and watched the London Marathon and I got ready to go for a new 10K PB. I was aiming for under 50min for the 1st time. I was as nervous as in a real race and set off with a Garmin strapped to my wrist into 5k of headwind. I was working really hard and to cut a long story short managed to finish in 49min10sec! So a new "unofficial" 10K PB for me and my first time under 50min. I was very pleased with this and am on target so far for the EDI Marathon.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Round and round Cumbrae (30K)

I did my long run today instead of Sunday when we will be in Huntly for a Silver Wedding Ceilidh. As I was off and the weather promised to be sunny I headed off to Largs to catch the ferry across to Cumbrae. I had planned to run around Cumbrae twice to give me my scheduled 30K run. Those of you who have cycled around it know that one round is 10Miles. On my second round I headed across the hill from Millport down to the ferry point which is 2K shorter. So this gave me exactly 30K. It took me 3:06 with a pretty steady pace and 1:37 for the first 10M round.

While it was very sunny today the easterly wind was very strong! It pushed me along during my first 9K until I got into Millport and the headwind hit me. It was battling with the elements indeed! Millport itself was very busy with families and groups of kids, but the road around the island was very quiet, a few people pushing their bikes into the headwind as it was so strong! I stopped at the tearoom at Fintry Bay during my 2nd round as I was in desperate need of salty crisps and plain water. I feel so at home on this island not only because we got married there 4 years ago and spent 4 fabulous days on the islands with lots of our guests, but because we have walked, cycled and even skated round the island numerous times. I had never run around it though. There are lots of great memories at every corner and the scenery is just amazing. The yellow broom was out in full bloom and the smell of it is really nice. Anyway, I had a great run despite recent Achilles tendon troubles. During the past 2 weeks I have done no speed or hill sessions and have stayed on the flat. While I was very careful not to increase my weekly mileage too fast, I guess I was less careful about introducing hill runs!

10 days before the Fling peace and calm has been restored in the Loehndorf home! After last weekend's drama with Tom's painting injury we are now looking forward again to the start of the Fling. Besides my support duties for Thomas and the excitement that comes with it (!) I am getting ready for my other role as medical back-up. I have restocked my first-aid box and made sure there are enough butterfly stitches for John K and anyone else who decides to take a tumble down Conic Hill or elsewhere! With my long run done I am looking forward to a nice weekend away, a great Ceilidh and maybe a few shorter runs somewhere in Aberdeenshire. Needless to say Thomas will not do much Ceilidh dancing! I will also have to lie low for the foreseeable future regarding DIY jobs for him! I only waited 3 years for the door to be painted! :-)
(In case you are wondering, yes, I am useless at DIY myself!)

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Rowardennan-Inversnaid-Rob Roy’s Cave and back (25KM, 16Miles)

Today I went for my long run on the WHW. By Friday I was still not able to run properly so I was not sure if I would just walk the 25K or be able to run part of it. Luckily after the weather was so bad on Saturday we decided to postpone our run until today. We had actually walked to the car yesterday but the wind and rain felt so uncomfortable that we went back inside! And luckily for us today the sun was shining and we both had a brilliant day. So had hundreds of other people though – the WHW was as busy as I have never seen it, walkers, a few runners, groups of kids and teenagers, families, day tourists etc.

I had dropped Thomas off in Milngavie as he was going to run from there to Rowardennan. When I got to Rowardennan car park there was no space left! I then spotted a car that had occupied 2 spaces and the driver and his friend were just taking photos by the water. I asked politely if he could move his car so that I could park next to him. But no, this nice gentleman pointed out that there were lots of other spaces where in fact there are bolders and trees that might look like a space from the distance. “I would not say so if it was not true …” he pointed out probably having never been to Rowardennan car park before. I had though and already circled around it at least once today. I squeezed onto a grass verge hoping that the car would not get stuck in the mud afterwards. I then met these 2 gentlemen again just at the start of my run and needless to say I did not return their greeting.

Anyway, the run turned out to be great. My legs were o.k. so I could run on the flat and downhill sections and walked the uphills. The sun was shining and it felt great to be out there. The Loch was magical especially when the path came so close to the water and you could hear the water lapping against the shore. The views across to the hills were fabulous. My right Achilles region gave me some minor problems and I was trying not to walk uphill on my toes but to use my whole foot.

This was my second time on this section. Four years ago I walked it as part of our Honeymoon, then I was on my own as well as Thomas had decided at Rowardennan he could ran up Ben Lomond while I continued on the WHW. So he handed me his backpack ( it was only a daypack admittedly) and off he went. I should have realized then what I got myself into! But by then it was too late anyway!:-)

I passed Inversnaid and ran to Rob Roy’s Cave to get my 25K distance. On my way back I stopped outside Inversnaid, had a Snickers and started my run back. The Snickers was a bit too much and I was not feeling too great initially. Slowly it got better and by then I was looking out for Thomas who was going to run towards me from Rowardennan. I wanted to make sure I was not walking when he saw me! I also ran out of fluids and was really thirsty. This is the first time this happened, before I always had plenty left and got told off for not drinking enough. I reached the main forest track, had eaten both my gels and was hoping Thomas would get to me soon as he would probably have some water. 3km from the car park he appeared just when I was running a downhill part – brilliant timing! I drank some water and felt better. We finished strongly, passing Karen on her last long run before the Fling. She was on her way to Inversnaid. I arrived back at the car park after 3hrs and 50min. The Oak Tree was far too busy so we headed back home to our favourite Chinese.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Fame at last!

Thomas is becoming famous, well at least in Greenock!
(Greenock Telegraph from 30/3/2009)

My legs are still recovering from Sunday’s run – and I only did 23miles! How can you lot run again the next day? My quads are still so sore that I am only walking along the seafront at the moment and just did a 10KM walk/jog for the 1st time since Sunday. I am sure I was in more agony on Monday than a lot of the patients I saw! I should have just gone to my doctor and asked for a sickline!

Anyway, I really enjoyed the run on Sunday, the weather, the scenery, the company. By then I was still on a high and the DOMS hadn’t set in. On our way back Thomas and I had a bit of an argument as I informed him I had decided to do all my long runs for the Edinburgh marathon out on the WHW as I had enjoyed it so much. But what did he say? No, that was not a good idea as the marathon is flat and I have to do some of the long runs on a flatter surface. And I thought he wanted to get me into trail running! So now that I enjoy it I should not do it?:-)

By Monday morning I started to understand his reasons, by Tuesday even more! As I said I am still recovering and my quads have never been so sore in my life. So I guess he was right, because what is the point doing such a run every weekend and then not being able to do the rest of the programme during the week?! So I will keep to the flatter courses during the latter stages of my marathon training as I really hope to get some speed training in during the week and get a good time. For this weekend though we have compromised as he wants to get out for a long run on the WHW in preparation for the Fling. I will attempt to run/walk from Rowardennan to Inversnaid and back, that gives me my planned mileage of about 15M. Apparently even though it is up and down it is nothing compared to Sunday’s downhills. So a good gentle mix is what I should be doing. Thomas will probably run from Balmaha to Inversnaid and back.

Ah, and I have picked up a “peripheral sural neuropathy” – at least that is what my colleague and I have agreed on. BEFORE Sunday’s run (in fact while I was resting on Saturday in preparation of Sunday’s long run) my right heel started to become numb. It is still numb now and I was a bit worried on Sunday if I could run properly, but it didn’t hinder my balance. So on Tuesday when it was still there I got one of my colleagues to check it out. It seems to be only superficial, reflexes etc are all intact so I will live! Terrible hypochondriacs these doctors! I’ll just have to ignore it until it is gone, I guess.