Sunday, 26 December 2010


I hope you’ve all had a nice Xmas. We’ve had a quiet and cosy time spending our first Christmas in our new home.
Time to look back now to see what happened to my running goals of 2010. Well on paper it looks like that: Fling, Devil DNS, CCC DNF. Well, it could be seen as a failure but I am actually very pleased with last year. :-)

The Fling was only my 2nd ultra after the Devil and I was scared of it. I was running it unsupported with drop bags and had no idea of how it would go. But on the day I really enjoyed it. I loved seeing everyone pass due to the staggered start (and I do mean nearly everyone!) and was very happy to reach the finish in my target time of sub 13.5 hrs just in time to see Thomas getting his prize for 2nd overall!
As a Fling bonus I achieved one of my major running goals after trying for the past year or so of getting under 50min in a 10K. I just ran the Women’s 10K out of fun a couple of weeks after the Fling and got in even under 49min! I did another 2 10Ks and managed to stay under 50min both times even though I did not beat my new PB of 48:55.

Then out of nowhere our dream house appeared and we weren’t even actively searching and before we knew it we had bought it with an entry date of 1/7/10 (strategically placed after the WHW Race). So suddenly I was busy with trying to get people organised for July for some major changes before we would move in early August just 5 days before the Devil and after a 2-week long planned holiday with 10 relatives in Glen Affric! You get the drift but running took a back stage from July onwards and when I did run my Achilles was playing up. So I decided not to even start the Devil. Thomas did though as he needed the points for his SUMS and he put in a decent run not being in the best shape and very exhausted from the recent move.

Before we knew it we were in Chamonix for the UTMB/CCC and even though I had started to run again my training had been pathetic compared to what it should have been for the CCC. But I got sucked into the whole atmosphere there and was all up for it to see how far I could get when the heavens opened and the dream of running over mountains in sunshine got washed away. After his inaugural Courmayeur 5K (or was it 6?!), Thomas phoned me and thankfully decided for both of us to stop. We were the first to “DNF” and should have got a medal for it as later on the whole race was stopped and only a few had made it to the finish. As everyone knows the rest of the races were also stopped, cancelled and then changed the next day. But we had a great week with everyone else who was there and were not too disappointed.
Once back I concentrated on skating to get in shape for the Berlin Marathon. I was not as fit as last year but still thought I had a chance to get a new PB and finish under 1:40. For Thomas the weekend was hard as he had been all set for a new PB when a chest infection struck and he was unable to run for a couple of weeks so he was sidelined to spectating. But what else should happen then the heavens opened shortly before the start and turned the roads into rivers?! Where had I seen that before? For skaters this is even worse so the PB was not on but I still managed to enjoy myself and ruin all my bearings in the wheels! So that’s 2 races spoiled by torrential rain and none of them was in Scotland! In fact all the races here had been fantastic weather wise.

After Berlin I think I just went into hibernation running wise. I just thought I deserved a rest and did not do anything for weeks with the odd run in between. Well that went on into November and by the end I had to do something and decided to become a “Marcothoni”. So for the past 25 days I have been running every day covering the minimum most times, sending swear words towards Marco when I had to get up at 5:30 am to do my run before work but otherwise in fact loving running on the ice and snow with my Kahtoola Microspikes! I now even own a pair myself, having ordered a pair via Amazon on 20/12/10 they arrived on 23/12/10! How is that for a Xmas miracle?!

The highlight of the year though was Thomas finishing the WHW Race. And finishing it well! Despite injury worries before, during and after the race. I am really proud of him and still have tears in my eyes when I think of the moment he ran into the car park at the Leisure Centre. I am so glad he had a very good year running wise and now not only has a WHW Goblet but also a rather nice decanter for his 2nd veteran place overall in the Scottish Ultra Marathon Series!

So into 2011! I have no big plans and will not do any ultra race next year. Instead I will be concentrating on “shorter” distances, i.e. Marathon and HM. :-) Now I hear some saying that this is not very ambitious. I know. But after last year I have learned that there is no point planning ultras when I already know that I will be struggling with getting all the required miles in, the long training runs etc. If I have a training plan I like to stick to it and get a bit nervous if things get in the way. And as there are a few important non-running events next year that will take up my time, I decided not to put me under this pressure. I was thinking though despite better judgement of entering the CCC as I really want this finisher’s gillet. :-) But it turns out my Fling points will count for 2012 so that’s been postponed until then for now. Unfortunately the Devil is only one week after my parents’ Golden Wedding so again not the best timing for me as I will be involved quite a bit in the planning before and after. I also want to be around for a few other family events in Germany that will take up weekends as well as having friends and family over here for their holidays. So ultra-wise I will be back in support for all that Thomas wants to achieve next year.

For myself I have planned the Edinburgh Marathon and I hope to get under 4 hours this time. This is my main goal. I hope to do some of my longer training runs on the WHW. I will do a HM somewhere, probably the Women’s 10K and a couple of other ones, maybe the Glasgow HM later on in the year. I still have to get a sub 1:50 HM time so that’s another goal for 2011. At the moment we are undecided if we will go to Berlin again. If we do I will be back on my inline skates, and maybe even get a new pair of racing skates that will help me to be even faster!

So bring on 2011. It will be an exciting year for us, welcoming friends and family in our new home, celebrating various special birthdays, weddings and of course continuing to be part of this special WHW-Family and enjoying everything (ultra-)running has to offer – both for the runner and the supporter!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year 2011.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Day 9 of Marcothon

Yes, I am still in it! Not doing much more than the required minimum but it is a first for me to be out running for 9 consecutive days. And in THESE conditions! In fact the snow and ice probably helped me as I was just loving the running with Kahtoolas, and on Monday I managed to run in the freshly falling snow - like a soft carpet! Great.
Well yesterday saw me retreating into the gym for the first time in years though - and probably the last for another few years. I left work early in the afternoon to get home safely while I could still see the ice and snow on the motorway in daylight and headed into the Gourock gym onto the treadmill for 30min - £4.90! Got 1000m of rowing in as well, I guess it is still cheaper than hiring a boat... Well, Thomas had "booked" the Kahtoolas for his afternoon run so I guess it is really time to buy a second pair so I won't have to retreat into the gym if our running times clash.
On my way back I also went into Tesco. Big mistake as the whole of Greenock was in there buying supplies. No fresh milk left and the sliced loafs of bread were rationed! One per customer. Luckily I was after the German Rye bread - no rationing there. :-) So Glenpark girls I guess it will be German bread, sausages and Sauerkraut for our weekend brunch! :-) Just kidding ...

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


I have joined the Marcothon today, literally at the last minute. I had immediately declined the invitation on facebook a few weeks ago as I don't do daily running. In fact I always look forward to my days with no running. But towards the end of November my thoughts were going back to the Marcothon. I averaged one run per week in November - not because of injury, but purely because I have been lazy. A few other things got in the way and to be honest I did not really miss it. That's my problem, I don't need my daily dosage of running so I'm quite comfortable just chilling out at home. But the threat of loosing my fitness got me thinking how I could get back into more regular running. So that's where the Marcothon popped up again. But I had more excuses not to join in! My parents were due to arrive today for a few days and surely I could not leave them alone on their first evening to go running. Then Edinburgh airport got closed and their flight cancelled and I had spare time at my hand. So I thought, maybe it's time to take the challenge. Will I be up for it? Especially in this weather? (By the way, does a treadmill run count - just in case it gets even worse! Or a brisk 30min walk in the snow at lunch time? - I guess it's a no for the walk?) So I got home, quickly checked the rules on the internet, put my Trabuccos on and ventured out for 30min, a few extra minutes to allow for stoppage time to let cars pass as I was running on the road. I enjoyed it! Bring on day 2!

Monday, 27 September 2010

A new Rain-PB

It took me 1:58:22 to complete the Berlin Marathon this year, nowhere near my goal of sub 1:40 due to pouring rain. You have to add about 10-15min to your time if you are lucky not to fall and all attempts at PBs can be forgotten right at the start. Some say this makes for a more relaxed race as people take it easier as the main goal is to get round in one piece. So when the rain started 2 hours before the race I was deliberating if I should start at all. I had said before I would not skate in the rain as it ruins all your bearings, wheels etc and is potentially dangerous as falls are likely. In the end I started anyway and I was glad I did even though my wheels/bearings are ruined once again and have to be replaced. But I was lucky enough to skate in a group that was guided by a very cheerful "Marathon-Guide" who kept working the crowds at the roadside so we got lots of cheers and really had fun.

When we met up for our practice sessions in the morning before the race though I was nearly thrown out of the 1:40 group by him. When you join this paceline project you have to turn up for the practice session and they try to get the group working together etc. Germans are not known to be very polite but rather direct so one was thrown out of the group straight away as he could not brake or turn. One girl was told to skate at the back as she was a liability and likely to fall and take the group with her if she was in the middle or the front. Somebody was sent down from a faster group as he did not make that cut. So there were 12 in our group and 3 guides. There were 5 girls in total with my usual problem that they were much smaller. It was difficult for our group to find a good rhythm so the "fun-guide" had the brilliant idea that the girls could skate together as they usually have a "similar rhythm". This is not true as it really depends on your stride. I objected as it would not give me any advantage having the wind right in my face as I was the tallest. I went for a short practice with them anyway and then he picked on me for moving my upper body too much. Yes, because I constantly had to adjust my rhythm. The next test was a 1km stretch at race pace, this time behind the guys. And I dropped off. Turned out he had gone at a slightly faster pace than race pace. Only: race pace for a 1:40 was my limit. So a few hours before the actual race I went back to the hotel for a rest rather deflated. Then the rain started. And it did not stop. I went to the start with Don who was in a different group. When I found my group I refused to get in-line with the girls and stayed with the guys in 3rd position, then in 4th as one wanted to be in front probably thinking I would keep him back. Ha! Then we started and shortly after the big group fell apart and there were only 6 left at the front including myself. Turned out that the guy in front was actually flagging a few times and a gap kept opening. Eventually we changed positions and found a good rhythm. And right from the start it was clear that we would be nowhere near our target time and we were told to just "enjoy the ride"! And I must admit the guide really made sure we did. We also had a motorbike with us filming our group for Skate-TV (DVD available later in the year!). Eventually we lost a few and there were only 4 left. After 30km the guy in front started to get tired and eventually was dropped even though we slowed down a few times for him and I tried to push him up a small incline once! Another one fell but due to the weather and no PBs we slowed down and let him catch up. We crossed the finish line together and were really happy as we actually had a fun race despite the weather and the time. At least it was still a sub-2hours!

Here are the stats:

There were 2974 male finishers and 1324 female finishers. I was in position 372 from 1324 girls with a time of 1:58:22. Last time I did a marathon in the rain I was over 2 hours so a new rain record for me.

You can watch my finish here. I am in the middle of the line of 5.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

SUMS 2010

Yesterday was not only the final race of the Scottish Ultra Marathon Series but also the Ball with the prize giving ceremony of this first SUMS-Championship. The venue in Ayr Townhall was very nice and the evening was a great success. As was the whole SUMS! So a big thank you to all those who made its first year possible!

And Thomas did very well in his ultra races this year. Not only did he finish his 1st WHWR but he came 5th overall in the SUMS Championship (having done the required 4 races with the Double Marathon, the Fling, the WHWR and the Devil) after Grant Jeans, Jack Brown, Marco Consani (superb!) and George Cairns. And he brought home a very nice price indeed for coming 2nd in the Vet category! So great achievement and well done!!

What next?

Well, we are off to Berlin next weekend for the Berlin Marathon. I will be doing the Inline Marathon on Saturday afternoon and Thomas is on the start list for Sunday's run. Up to last week he was on target to attempt another PB. Unforunately this has been halted by a bad chest infection that is not shifting. So at the moment he cannot run (or speak for that matter as his voice has also disappeared) and we will have to wait and see how he is in a few days. But a PB in Berlin is far away just now.

Myself I am also targetting a new PB - if I manage not to catch whatever he has got! Last year I had a great race coming in after only 1:41 when I was trying to get under 1:50. So this year I have signed up for the 1:39 paceline! Though I am not as fit as last year and have not done as much skating as last year I will see if I can keep up with that pace group. It would just be fantastic to do it, but it is very optimistic. But on a dry day with no wind - who knows what is possible ... My 2 Scottish fellow skaters will go for 1:49 and 1:29 respectively so here is hoping we all have a great time! It is a bit late for me to invest in bigger wheels at the Expo as I will not have enough time to get used to them but that would certainly help me with my target as most of the others in my group will probably skate with 100mm wheels. I only have 90mm ones. But no excuses! I managed 1:41 last year so bring on Berlin!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

The race that never was ...

I was well geared up for it after a few days in Chamonix, all the gear shops and of course its stunning mountain scenery. We had a few brilliant days with blue skies and sunshine, I had picked up my race number and was going to start the CCC. I could not wait to see all those fantastic views along the route.
But it was all over after only an hour or so. Even before we set off from our appartment we had received a text from the organizers warning us about bad weather. So I packed another layer and changed my rain trousers to better ones. We were bussed to the start in Italy, Courmayeur and the little town was buzzing with hundreds of runners. The atmosphere was electric and I was getting rather nervous. It was still dry and we were hanging about. At one point I said to Thomas maybe I'll just go back to Chamonix and support you instead as I was feeling so inadequate amongst these super fit people who had trained for months for this event. But he said I should just start running and my nerves would calm down. So we said our good-byes as he wanted to be near the front runners to escape the pole swinging majority and to avoid any early queues. I settled into the middle and everyone gathered 30min before the start. But by then the heavens had opened and it was pouring down. Goretex out already but the majority were soaking wet even before the start. Then the music and the countdown and off we were. I had planned to walk all the inclines but found myself perched into the middle and everyone was running uphill through the little streets. Eventually the road narrowed and everyone had to walk and even wait to pass the narrower parts. Thunder and pouring rain, the streets turned into streams. I was getting into the swing of using my poles when I received my first text from Thomas. Where was I and should he wait? I said no and he texted again that this was not what we came for and he was already completely wet and cold and thought it would in fact be rather risky to continue as this was just the valley and higher up at 2500m there would be snow and no visibility. He would wait for me. When I reached him he suggested we should stop and go back to Courmayeur while it was still easy to get transport back. I was happy to agree as we had always said we wanted to do the CCC to get to know the route and enjoy the stunning scenery. This would not happen today. So we told one of the marhals and waited for the official guy to cut off our timing chips and talk to someone on his walkie talkie to announce the "first quitters"! It felt strange but right at the time and we were given a lift back to the village where we would wait for the bus bringing us back to Chamonix. After 90min and a few coffees we had warmed up and suddenly the sun came out again. We did feel a bit awkward then but were still in good spirits.
As the day went on we were getting excited for the start of the UTMB. We would watch everyone coming through Les Houches. But again the heavens opened this time after the start. We felt sorry for them all and once everyone was through had dinner with Sharon and the Consani-Clan. When we got back we heard the news that the race had been called off and the TDS had not been started at all. We also learned this morning that the CCC was stopped at Vallorcine in the early morning hours due to ongoing terrible weather conditions for all those that had not passed through. I would certainly not have passed by that time so am rather glad that Thomas decided for both of us shortly after the start. We felt terribly sorry for all those that had come here for the UTMB and TDS and had trained hard. They must have been so disappointed. The decision was taken out of their hands by the organizers who had to consider the well being of all these hundreds of runners. We had taken the decision to stop ourselves so did not feel too bad about it - just disappointed that we would not see the route in all its glory.

Will we be back? Certainly to explore the route maybe over a few days. For the race I'm not sure right now. Though when I was walking through Chamonix today and saw those few CCC finishers (500 from 1800 starters) walking about in their nice finisher windstopper gillets I said to Debs I think I would like one of those ...

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

DOTH 2010

The Devil 2010 has passed and I did not run it myself as planned. Instead I was enjoying the supporter's role again. The past 5 weeks have been rather stressful and I really had not ran much at all. I still thought I might just be able to finish it though. Then my achilles tendon played up and I had to withdraw from the start. I have done a few shorter runs since (really short i.e. 5-6K) and it is better.
Moving house just 5 days before an ultra is not the best idea but we had not much choice. We got the keys to our new home on the 1st of July (so arranged that it would not collide with the WHWR!), 14 days of coordinating joiners, workmen, painters etc and we had new windows, a fireplace, new bedroom, (nearly) finished new floor and a couple of new carpets. With all the cleaning and packing we were already exhausted.Then a long planned holiday in Glen Affric with nieces, nephews etc took us away from it all, only to come back and have 2 days left to pack everything for the removal van.
Needless to say not much running for Thomas either, instead some pulled rib cage muscle from moving furniture. 3 days before the race he was unsure if he should in fact run. By then I was looking forward to supporting him and catching up with everyone else running and supporting. It would do us good to get out there and fight with the midges! So off we went and had a fabulous day! Well I did while Thomas was struggling a bit but kept going. He had given me a rough time guide and was falling behind it for a 6:30 time. At the bottom of the staircase he squirted an already opened gel that was supposed to go straight into his mouth into his bumbag. And blamed me for it of course! The joys! When he looked very tired in Lundavra he mumbled something about hoping to keep his position, I looked back and saw No 7 right behind him. You better get a move on then as No 7 is already here - so off he went with 2 more gels. I did not really expect him to arrive in 6:30 but in fact he arrived after 6:22 and still in 6th position! So really well done! We decided to stay for the prizegiving as a few friends had done great and would be receiving prizes. So we spent the time waiting (that's the problem if you are too fast! You have about 3 hours to wait...) and catching up with the pacepushers' adventures (Caroline's trip to Nepal and India and Neal's Navy stories). At last Neal had been out on the trail again (where he belongs!). We saw Sharon and Debbie finish 2nd and 3rd, Marco 4th and Graham Harcus 5th and 1st supervet. Suddenly at the prizegiving Thomas' name was called up and to our surprise he had won the 1st vet prize. George Cairns the only other vet in front of him had received the 3rd overall prize! Great! And for the 1st time he has brought home prize money!! £40 in vouchers for the Sweat Shop. Not bad!

What next? Well the CCC on paper, but I am not sure if this is still realistic. I know I have not done my homework due to a lack of running. I won't be able to sqeeze it in either. I am looking forward to the great scenery and hopefully sunshine though. We have long given up on the idea of running together as we have obviously a completely different pace. I am just a bit scared to run through the night on my own over high mountains that I don't even know. So at the moment I am thinking of starting the CCC, aiming to keep going throughout daylight, taking it easy and enjoying it without getting timed out too early. And then wait and see. Maybe it is possible, maybe it is not. But if it is not then I will have hopefully enjoyed a great day out and soaked in the atmosphere. By the way No 7 (Richard Galbraith) is also running the CCC.
The house move has come in the way, but when we booked all these trips and races last year we did not even think about moving. When the house came up though we could not let it pass by. And with the big one done and dusted in June, and the move last week everything else took 2nd place. So bring on Chamonix. I can't wait to see it all for myself even if I have a DNS or a DNF.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

WHW Race 2010

Photo by Davie Hall

What can I say?! Thomas finally achieved his dream and conquered the WHW Race – a dream that started over 3 years ago and got him into ultra-running. A dream that had turned into a nightmare in the past 2 years with his 2 DNFs. I am so happy for him to have finally done it and I am so proud of him.

It was a very emotional weekend for me. He started well running his pace and none of the injuries he had dealt with over the past 4 weeks seemed to cause any problems until Rowardennan. So we left for our journey round the loch to Beinglas. I was on tender hooks the whole night and day as I knew anything could happen anytime and threaten his run. When we were waiting for him at Beinglas Marco’s support team called over that they had got a message that Thomas had hurt his shin again and he would be arriving a bit later! I could not believe it! I ran to the car to get the 1st Aid Box and when he arrived we iced his leg, gave him some painkillers and he ran on. 4 weeks ago this shin problem had halted our run and I knew it was very sore on the downhills. I felt completely deflated after he had left and did not think he would be able to finish this race. From then on Nancy had to support the runner and the other half of the support team! I was tense the whole time waiting for his call to be picked up somewhere along the route.

At Auchtertyre he arrived but did not mention pulling out and we did not ask! After being weighed he just kept running on. At Tyndrum he looked very sore going up the hill and again I was getting even more concerned. He ran into Bridge of Orchy and the plan was for me to meet him at the support stop, change his bottle, gels and find out if he needed anything else. But I felt I did not make a good job out of it and we changed tactics after that. Nancy would meet him, do all the talking and supply him with what he needed – and she did great. She cheered him up, he even joked and carried on without questioning anything. I think in my mind I was getting more worked up and was already thinking about Glencoe where he dropped out twice before and I so wanted him to get past there. So when we left the Bridge of Orchy car park I drove along the A82 until Nancy said, are we not supposed to turn left here towards Victoria Bridge? In my mind I was already heading to Glencoe! So I turned the car and Nancy waited for Thomas at Inverornan and I kept in the background.

Change of socks and shoes at Victoria Bridge and a backpack with a bladder to get him across Rannoch. The fact that he decided to cross Rannoch was a good sign for me as I knew then that he felt he had a chance to keep going. So now we were ready to head to the Ski Centre. The weather was fantastic (for supporters as the wind kept the midges away and the sun was shining), the views absolutely amazing. So we sat at the ski centre car park waiting for him. Marco’s support team was there again and once again they sent me into a panic. Nancy was looking out for Thomas on the path while I was in the car park. Suddenly Marco’ supporter shouted and waved at me to come down – and I thought, OMG what’s wrong now? Nancy is already there so why do they need me? But he hadn’t realized that Nancy was there for Thomas and just let me know he was in sight! Pheww! Not again at exactly the same spot 3 years in a row!
I had just had a phone call from Jens Lukas (winner in 2008). He and Maya kept phoning and texting during the day to support Thomas and wish him well. Thanks guys. That was great. He had just said to me, you have to get him past Kingshouse. He cannot stop there. Yes, that was our mission. He actually was not too bad and ran on. When he had left the car park Nancy and I cheered and hugged as we felt one mission was accomplished! Off to Altnafeadh – new territory for us!

When we sent him on his way up the Devil’s staircase to Kinlochleven I was still scared that his injury could get worse on the steep downhill into KLL. I was relieved he was running towards KLL though but I still did not think about a finish. I was looking forward to KLL where I knew Caroline, her dad and Neal would be waiting (and marshalling). They would help us to spur him on if there was any problem. He arrived about 30min later than expected, it didn’t help to calm my nerves but again I tried to stay in the background until he freely shared his anxieties about a possible fractured leg with Caroline, Neal and the race doctor! It did not help that Nancy handed him his painkiller (Diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory at the recommended daily dose!) right under the eyes of the race doctor (to her defence she did not know who he was). From his medical briefings I know that he is not keen on the use of these anti-inflammatories in ultra races. And I guess people do abuse them and take a dose that is too high and are not aware of the risks. But both Nancy and I knew very well what we were doing and kept a record of times and doses given to not exceed the daily dose. So I quickly tried to guide him away from the scales and the doctor to the car to get him sorted for his final leg into FW.

He left and I decided that NOW a finish seemed possible even to me and we stopped at the co-op to buy some sparkling wine for the finish! I sent a few texts to people who had been sending messages of support, especially the club was keen to find out how he got on. They were all at Glen Massan for the annual BBQ. Off to Lundavra to see him for the final time, last remote chance for dropping out though that was now highly unlikely! But no! we arrived with 5 min to spare to the earliest expected time of arrival, thinking he will have slowed down by now. Before we were able to unload, a guy came up and said, I would not carry all this up to the checkpoint. You have missed your runner! What? Yes he ran through 6 min ago, looking strong and running fast. What? I asked him twice if he did not mix us up and made Nancy go up the hill (sorry!) to check with the marshals as I did not believe him. But it was true. How can that happen? Well, now it was sure that he would finish. No doubt left even in me! So we better get a move on so we won’t miss his finish!

We arrived at the finish and I realized that only 3 people had arrived. (My race favourite had won! Richie Cunningham in 16h 36min – what an excellent performance! I was so pleased for him.) I had not paid much attention to positions at all and thought at KLL that a sub 20 finish was not possible for Thomas, but what was going on now? Again Marco’s supporters told me that he was running fast, maybe even catching Marco on the final stretch. I could hardly believe it. But I knew he would not overtake Marco on the final stretch if he did catch him. If that happened he would run in with him together. As it turned out Marco too had more in his legs at the end and sprinted to the finish in 5th place! Superb!
Then we waited for Thomas to appear. Finally the moment we had waited for for 3 years. I was in tears before he was even in sight. And that was not the first and last time of the day.

Watch the video of his finish for yourself. He ran up to me first to hug me and people shouted at him to run to the doors, the official finish. And there he was, a WHW Race Finisher! In 18H 49min and 6th place! Absolutely fantastic!

The prize giving the next day was again an emotional affair for me. Thomas was just so happy to be finally called forward to collect his goblet. And everyone involved in the race who knew him, from runner and marshal to supporter, was so happy for him. They clapped and cheered and hugged him – it was fantastic to see. Thank you all.

I know Dario would have been so happy for him. He kept encouraging him and knew that one day he would be there at the finish and one day he would collect his goblet. It is so sad though that he could not receive it from Dario himself.
I would really like to thank Gilian at this point. I think she has shown tremendous courage and strength to be there at the start, the finish and the prize giving. She knew about Thomas too and was so happy for him to finish. I personally felt it was very important to have her there, to share this moment.

And I think everyone in the committee has done a great job to continue the legacy of this race. Thank you!

Friday, 18 June 2010

Good luck

Just wanted to wish everyone involved in this year's WHW Race good luck! I hope for the runners that they'll achieve their dreams. If you were lucky enough not to have had any problems in your preparation, go for it, whatever your goal is. If you've had a few hickups, I hope that everything can come together and you will still have a good race. And if it comes to the worst and for some (unforeseen) circumstances you can't finish the race, don't despair. It's not the end of the world but only the end of your run. And there will be other runs. (I know people don't like to hear this, but given our experiences I thought I should mention it :-))
For those involved in planning, organising, marshalling, supporting. Good luck to you as well. I hope there won't be any big problems along the route. And I'm sure the commitee has been working hard to ensure that the race will start and finish in the unique spirit that Dario created. Thank you for that in advance!

See you all in Milngavie.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Polaroid 10K Series

To my own surprise I put in late entries to 2 of the 10K races of the Polaroid Series. A few girls of the club were doing them so I tagged along. Secretly hoping to better my Women’s 10K PB of 48:55. It did not happen. I am very pleased with my runs though. The Dumbarton 10K was very hard, it was hot, an evening race and my legs felt very heavy. I think I did not eat right during the day and lacked energy and had done a rollerblading session the night before. I still got a 49:06 so that was good.
Today was the Vale of Leven 10K. Apparently the hardest of them all and rather hilly. The weather was much better with a light drizzle all the time and my legs felt good. I had done a speed session in preparation this time. I actually enjoyed the race and was surprised to get 49:49. I did not think I could get under 50 due to the hills. So I am pleased to have 3 recent 10Ks all in sub-50.

I met Davie Hall out to take pictures and one of Debbie’s support runners, Jill (I think, sorry, I’m not good with names).

But don’t get me started on this year’s WHW Race preparations! The past 3 weeks have been a rollercoaster of injuries, improvements, new injuries and a “nearly-call” to withdraw from the race. I wish he just had taperitis, but there was not much to taper from as instead he had picked up tendinitis and muscle strains. After deciding it was probably not meant to be this year we emptied a bottle of the Fling’s Finest to celebrate his great performance at the Fling and toast to other challenges to come. As he could not bring himself to call it off officially he kept a glimmer of hope “just in case”. As his sport masseur is now back from his 2-week-sick leave that coincided with Tom’s injuries, he has already had a few sessions. And he has been able to run uphill. If only all the 95M were uphill! Anyway, to cut a long story short and not put you through what I had to endure, he is much better now. His “test run” yesterday went o.k., he has got some miles to taper from and the race is on again! Don’t blame me if I only believe this was a good idea when he has reached FW’s Leisure Centre on foot! How I am looking forward to a one week spell of taperitis now! At least it is only one week!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Flashback and Flashforward

We had a perfect plan for our 3-day-tour of the WHW. It just did not work out.

2 days before we were setting off Thomas did not feel too great, probably some viral illness and we were not sure if he could run. But of course he did, he set off for his 1st leg from Milngavie to Beinglas with Marco keeping him company until Drymen. I realized he was struggling already in Balmaha as he was rather slow but he carried on. Then I suggested to drive round with me from Anchorage Cottage to Ardlui and take the ferry and have a good rest before the next day. But no, he wanted to “get the miles in” and off he went, well shuffled as far as I could see it. Anyway, I took the ferry across from Ardlui, a wonderful ferry ride in beautiful sunshine. When I had phoned to see where he was he hadn’t even reached Inversnaid! So when I got across rather than walking straight to Beinglas and enjoy a glass of wine in the sunshine I started to walk towards him, and walked and walked. I must have been half way to Inversnaid when he finally came into view. He was walking at snail pace. Well what can I say?! It took us a few hours to get to Beinglas, being overtaken by walkers (!) with heavy backpacks. Where have I experienced that before?! Flashback! WHW Race 2009! Well the path was empty and quiet by the time we approached Beinglas. It took him 10 hours! My Fling time incidentally! The only reason I had taken the car up was because he was supposed to run at his own pace and as I would be hours behind I decided to skip the 1st leg. I need not have worried!

We had a nice meal, met Lorna and her friend from the club who was walking the WHW and then had an early night. The next day we were going over our options. But he felt “fine” again and the weather was superb and he wanted to run. So we set off together and stayed together until just above Crianlarich forest where he was itching to get away.

Then on a downhill section injury struck! I was running downhill towards the bridge trying to take a few photos but he didn’t follow me. I thought he must have fallen and was just about going back when he came. He felt a sudden pain on his right shin and could hardly walk downhill or lift up his foot! I could not believe it. As we were close to the road and the cottage turnoff I said that’s it, we are getting the car and calling it a day. But no! He wanted to put his feet into the stream first to see if it got better. Well. It didn’t and he reluctantly followed me to the roadside. We got a lift back to Ardlui, into the car and drove up to Kingshouse. You can imagine the mood! The injury was iced and rested.

I was itching to do some exercise myself and was looking up our favourite munro, the Buchaille Etive Mor.

Then at 15.30 I decided I would go up to the top. Thomas thought I could get there in maybe 2-2 ½ hours and would make it back in time for a bar meal. So off I went and had a great climb. The views were absolutely stunning, I was the only one on the summit and got there in 1h:27min!! I was rather pleased with myself. I got back down and arrived 2h:30min after setting off from the car, I think this was my quickest ascent/decent yet. Back to KH where Thomas was enjoying the sunshine too and a few beers!

The next day I then ran from the Staircase to Fort William on my own with Thomas supporting me in the car. I met him at the Ice Factor where he had met up with Peter who was trying to cheer him up! Again I had a great run but in the back of my mind I was worrying about Thomas and really thought that he had ruined his chances for this year’s WHW. I just could not face to wait another year for his finish!

We settled into our B&B which is right at the end of the WHW (and actually ran by Craig Mitchell’s parents, winner of the Lhairig Mor race). We could see walkers coming past and even saw the few runners who were out training on the route. As this is the B&B we have booked for the race I felt like I had a flashforward. Looking out the window seeing everyone else running towards the finish and Thomas injured next to me! Not a nice feeling! And I knew then that I could not face coming up to see the finish if he indeed could not start the race. Sorry to all my friends but at that moment I felt like I could not do it again. Thomas on the other hand was already planning to come up and stay in the B&B himself. (Maybe I would come along as well in the end …)

Anyway, I had a closer look again at the injury myself and it looked like a muscular problem in the Anterior Tibilias muscle. I applied some massage, Ibuprofen and by the next morning it felt slightly better. We had also arranged an emergency appointment with his sports masseur that evening who diagnosed a grade 1 muscle injury. He advised to give it a few more days and then start back running mid week. GOOD NEWS at last!

So we are still on for the race and there is hope yet that this year he will deliver what I know he is capable of. But if there is any injury doubt at all he will certainly not start.

Monday, 10 May 2010


This is my new 10K PB!!
I can’t quite believe it. I have been trying to get a sub-50min for a while. Last year I was chasing faster times in my 10K, HM and Marathon and had my training geared up to it, but it never happened. So this year with all the ultras I didn’t even bother trying. I nearly did not enter the Women’s 10K race, but as so many girls from the club were doing it, I decided 2 weeks ago that I would go along for the fun!
With hardly any speed training at all apart from one single session 1 week ago with 3 fast 1K intervals I went along to yesterday’s race. My plan was to try and stick with Yvonne for as long as I could as she had just got a sub-50min on Wednesday in Troon. So we all lined up and I found myself near the front of the field next to Sharon and Debbie! What was I doing there? Off we went and I kept up with Yvonne, I even saw Debbie just in front of me during the first 1K and thought this was way too fast. And it was! 4:42. We settled into a more relaxed pace and I did not look at the watch again until halfway, 24:55. So just under 50min pace. I felt really good and relaxed but I could see that Yvonne was working hard. When we turned into the park and the inclines started she told me to go on. My legs felt great, I felt relaxed and knew I could go a bit faster. So that’s what I did.
And as the inclines started I went past runner after runner and kept overtaking them even on the steep incline just before km 8. Me overtaking people?! So when I reached Km 8 in just under 40min I knew I could get a sub 50. Saw Marco and Cairn again near Km 9, a quick wave and onto the last Km. When I got closer to the finish and saw the clock it was still showing 48 something. So I gave all I had and sprinted to the finish line and managed to stay under 49min! I crossed the line, threw my arms into the air and ran up to the first Glenpark girl I saw (Fiona) and screamed my time into her ear while she was trying to get her chip off. She got quite a fright. My next victims were Sharon and Debbie who had crossed the line a few min earlier of course. I was very happy!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

"Done and dusted" - What next?

Now that the dust has settled on my Fling-finish and the bottle of sparkling has been emptied, how do I feel one week after?

First of all a big thank you again to Ellen & Murdo and all the other organizers, marshals and supporters. It was a great race and I need not have worried about my drop bags as everything was where it should be and I was given my bags without delay every time. (Not that I need to have worried about any "delay" given my time!) I thought the timing chip was brilliant, so small, comfortable around your wrist and no need to attach a number to your shirt.
I am still proud of myself that I have actually finished the Fling and in a good time for me. I'm not into statistics really, but I was quite happy to see that my best placing for each section was in fact the last one with my worst being the first. So I guess I was pacing myself well given my "limited ability" ;-) .
But my sense of achievement is even bigger because I managed to do it just with my drop bags, carrying a far too heavy bag pack (weighing between 1.5-2kg) and without anyone particular waiting for me on the route (apart from Caroline who was marshalling at Drymen). My total stoppage time was 45-50min taking 15min at Balmaha getting a bit quicker with sorting myself out and only needing 10min at the other stops and a bit longer again at Beinglas. For me it was a bit of a self-experience adventure and it went well! I ran most of it on my own apart from some miles towards Drymen where I was chatting to a few people. And I really enjoyed the experience. It was great to be part of the race and seeing the other runners, getting from checkpoint to checkpoint, hearing encouragement on the way and then being on my own again, enjoying the great scenery, the weather, the fact that I was actually running this race. Don't get me wrong I would have enjoyed company as well, but as it happened noone else was moving at my pace.
I was doing it to prove to myself that I could, Thomas always believed I could and kept saying I was "made for endurance events"! There was one point after Balmaha when I thought why again are you doing this? You can enjoy a great day out running in the hills even if you "only" cover 30M, why do you have to cover 53m?! My achilles was beginning to hurt and I was worried about the damage it might do. But I blocked these thoughts out and just kept moving forward and soon forgot all about it while I enjoyed being part of the race as a runner.

Talking about it to your family and colleagues though brings you quickly down to earth as they just can't get how you would ever do anything like it. At work some girls are just getting themselves fit enough to walk the 5K Race for Life so 53M is just far too crazy. My sister's comment was: "So you took 5 hours longer than Thomas for the SAME distance?!" I guess that sums it up! :-)

I had a great run with 2 girls from the club yesterday, 7.5M around the Greenock Cut, and they wanted to know everything as Yvonne had been to the finish and saw Thomas coming in. That was great and I could relive all the excitement again. And Thomas is working hard to get them to enter for next year!
And yes, by the way, I am running again, my legs feel fine and they have been since Thursday. So that's good news! But I will also be back on my rollerblades next week for the 1st time this year. The Lochwinnoch Loops have started again so I will use it as cross-training.

Our next adventure is a 3-day WHW tour in 3 weeks. Given our time difference though (thanks sis for pointing it out!) I have decided to skip the first leg to Beinglas and take the little ferry from Ardlui, walk into Beinglas and spend a leisurely afternoon until Thomas arrives. After all I'm not training for the WHWR!
And at the moment I think I won't be in the near future either. Walking/running along the loch side and then through Crianlarich forest later when everything was hurting I was in total awe of all those who carry on after Tyndrum in the WHWR with another 42M in front! Incredible! Mind you it is just 2 years nearly to the day
that I ran my first marathon and thought that was incredible! So don't quote me on this.

I'm looking forward to the Devil though. I love the route and I now know I can do it, it is "only" 42M after all! :-)

Then comes our biggest adventure yet, the CCC! And it is really more a "holiday madness" thing, while we are there, why not give this a go?! I knew if I could not finish the Fling then I could forget the CCC, but given that I have - well, we'll see what happens. I have one big advantage over Thomas (yes I have!), I know I can carry a heavy bagpack over at least 53M, his featherlite hipbelt won't do for that race! :-)

Sunday, 25 April 2010

My Highland Fling

The short version: I finished! And I finished with my silver goal of “sub 13:30” in 13:23 with 7min to spare until the prize-giving to see Thomas winning his 1st vet prize and 2nd overall in a new PB of 8:09!! What a star!

The long version: I was very nervous before the race. I knew I would be “on my own” with my drop bags as Nancy had got caught up in the volcanic ash chaos and could not make it to Rowardennan. Would the bags be there, what if not? What if I struggled? What if I got stuck on the Lochside? But I also pictured myself approaching that finish line in Tyndrum, determined not to be as emotional as after the Devil, my 1st ultra, but to just enjoy it when I got there. But there were still 53 miles to cover! It would be my longest distance ever – how would I cope?!

Once we started I was actually o.k. My legs felt good and I just settled into my easy pace. Up to Drymen I chatted with a few people, Tim, Jim Drummond and a few girls, Liz from Chester (23 years with already a number of ultras under her belt) and Jill from London on her ultra-debut a few days before her 40th birthday. There was a group of girls in front who were just slightly too fast and Liz and Jill were going slightly slower so I decided to just go at my own pace. What is the etiquette of ultra-running? Do you drop your pace to chat a bit or do you try and stay with a group? I decided to be “antisocial” and run on my own. And funnily enough for most of the time this is what I literally did. For long distances I did not see anyone close by apart from when the faster guys approached from behind to disappear into the distance. Until Beinglas that was, when I kept seeing a few of the 7 o’clock runners struggling with cramps, walking, taking breaks and we kept bumping into each other. I enjoy running on my own taking in the scenery and luckily the day was nice and I kept looking at the loch, the mountains, some of which were still snow capped. Beautiful. But I also enjoyed being overtaken by the faster guys, meeting lots of familiar faces and getting encouragement on the way. I think that really helped as I was working out who I still had to see. Most of the ones I knew had overtaken me before Inversnaid.

I reached Drymen a bit quicker than during my training run and saw Caroline who was marshalling there. She actually had a Lucozade ready for me and 2 gels I had given her before. I also met Jude who together with his wife and dog were out on their support debut for Thomas. It was good to see them and off I went after refilling my water bladder. My hands were rather cold and I decided to keep my gloves on as I found it difficult to even tie up my laces. Which I had to do about 3 times at least. For whatever reason they kept getting loose even with a double knot. After Drymen I kept looking back to see if any of the vet runners who had started one hour after us was approaching. And I was waiting for Thomas to catch me. Then just before the gate leading onto the path to Conic Hill I heard someone whistling. There was Thomas on his own leading the vet race. Where is Richie was my first question as I was so surprised to see Thomas running on his own in the lead! Off he went into the distance but it was not too long until Richie came. A few minutes further behind was someone wearing a German triathlon shirt but I did not know him. Then there was quite a gap.

In Balmaha (3:55 for me) I was told Richie was a min ahead of Thomas and he was going well. That’s great I thought and got my own drop bag and had a much needed toilet break and reorganized my food which took me about 15min in fact. Readjusting of laces, round of Vaseline and off I went.

Got to Rowardennan in just under 6:00, a nose bleed on the way (what was that? I never get nose bleeds and I thought that would be an unusual show stopper!), further toilet stop, organizing of drop bag, handed my rubbish to Janet who was supporting her husband Jon, quick chat, newsflash that Thomas was now a few min ahead of Richie again and onto the lochside. This is where I missed Marco going past but I found out later from Ian that he had already come through as I was getting worried. He had started 2 hours behind me (being so young :-)) and had a great race finishing 3rd overall! On the steep climbs towards Inversnaid I met Ian who had a tough race with stomach problems as I found out later.

Got into Inversnaid, straight into the hotel toilet again (last toilet stop though as I think I was getting the hydration right in the end), drop bag organization. My bag had got rather heavy as I really just stuck to gels and stuffed a lot of the food into the bag. I left most of it at Inversnaid realizing that I would not eat it anyway, just took a few nuts, jelly babies and crisps. Quickly saw Mags Turnbull coming in but then lost sight of her. And onwards towards Beinglas.
I was quite happy by then realizing that I would make it at least to Beinglas, would not get stuck at Inversnaid and could be rescued much easier if I had to. That lifted my spirit as I was picturing achieving at least a 42M distance. But the lochside dragged on, so many tree roots, so many boulders. In fact I walked most of it as I felt it was not worth getting into a running mode only to stumble across a tree root or slip on a rock. The view back to Loch Lomond was fantastic. It was about there that I got a text from Thomas telling me he had won the vet race!! I was so happy for him and got a bit emotional then, luckily all on my own. Well, I thought I better try and get there for the prize giving! The pressure was on! I thought if I could reach Beinglas in 10hrs I had a chance. And I was caught by a couple of runners, one of them told me I wasn’t far off pace. And I told him very proudly that my husband had just won the vet race and I had to get to the prize giving.

Well, I reached Beinglas in just over 10:00 and sat down for the 1st time. Again to refill my bladder with 1.5L (!) as I thought it was getting hot and I might need it! I did not and ended up with sore shoulders due to all the weight I was carrying the whole way. Never mind. Trying to get up though I ended up with a cramp in my thigh and I was getting worried as from there on I saw so many struggling with cramps. In fact one of the runners walked onto a bridge and suddenly was making the weirdest movements as he had a terrible cramp. I had to lean on his foot until the cramp eased! Later on I saw others using salt sachets and I decided to also use my emergency supply of salt. I had little restaurant style salt sachets and poured one right into my mouth. Disgusting! Quickly washed down with water and onwards. Derrydaroch farm, Carmyle Cottage, important milestones and on to the farm track. I handed one salt sachet to another runner struggling with cramps getting up the steps. Then another nose bleed! (WTF?) The cows were waiting right on the path and a female releigh runner was waiting for someone else to go first! We took a slight detour instead! Into the forest and again never-ending ups and downs, but with the end in sight it was bearable. I knew I could finish it but was just a bit concerned about possible cramps. My muscles felt tight and seconds away from cramping but never actually did. So that was lucky.

As I was getting closer to 13:00 I tried to keep a running motion going whenever I could as I so wanted to get there for the prize giving. Crossing the road, on to Auchtertyre, flat bits, try to keep running, you want to be there at 7.30pm, don’t walk too much when you can still run a bit. That was my mantra. I had dreaded the flat bit to Auchtertyre and then the finish before the race as I knew it would be tough to run then, but trying to beat that 7.30pm deadline gave me a good focus.

Getting on to the path along the river into Tyndrum and up the hill to the station I heard someone shouting my name from the path below leading towards the finish. It was Thomas waving his arms like mad, the pipers were playing and I could not help it and the tears were coming. Quick composure by the time I reached Thomas who filled me in with his 2nd overall position as well as 1st vet prize and the brilliant news that Marco had come 3rd, that Lucy had won with Sharon 2nd and Debbie 3rd! Wow! Apart from the overall winner Craig Stewart who I don't know personally all podium positions were occupied by people I know and love. Well, one more than the rest, but you know what I mean! Could it get any better? I ran up to the finish line and the crowd was cheering and I was waving. I felt like a star! I crossed the finish line and John handed me my medal. Lots of hugs from everyone. Thanks to all for cheering me on and believing I could do it.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

The countdown has begun ...

... 10 days to go! Until the "Highland Fling" race, my 2nd ultra race, but my 1st over a distance of 52 miles. I will have 15 hours to complete it and completion is my main goal! Time does not really matter as long as it is within the 15hrs, but I do have a "silver" and a "golden" goal! A finish in time for the prize giving would be absolutely fantastic, i.e. within 13.5 hrs. Anything less is at present unimaginable!
I don't have any predicted times for the checkpoints, just what I can expect to do from my training runs. I reckon 2:30 to Drymen, maybe 2:20, then 4:00 to Balmaha and 6:00 to Rowardennan. After that it will be a blur. I will try my best to get to Beinglas even if I am in trouble as I do not want to get stranded in Inversnaid. And I have previously covered the distance to Beinglas in the Devil, so I should be able to get there. After Beinglas will be "unknown territory" for me. I will be on my own with my drop bags until Rowardennan (half way point) where our friend Nancy will meet me for moral support and any first aid I might need (new socks,T-shirt,Compeed etc). After that my drop bags will be waiting for me again and get me to the end (hopefully).
Today saw me doing another double session with my last long run at lunchtime and an easy 5M with the club tonight. In the last 8 days, i.e. from last Thursday when I also did the same double session, I have done my highest mileage ever. On Saturday I ran from Milngavie to Balmaha and on Sunday I ran for about 2 hrs, 1 hour out of Balmaha towards Rowardennan and back. A few easier and shorter runs in between and then today's last long run. I actually felt better on my long run this week then last week. And I think I have finally decided what I will take food/energy wise.

Now it is taper time! The best time!! I don't need to worry about getting a long run in and can relax! I am off next Thursday and Friday so I will get plenty of rest and time to carboload. And strangely enough I am starting to look forward to this race. For me it is a big adventure, to see if I can do it. I entered (or rather was entered) and did not know if I would be up to the miles. But I decided to see where I was in April and decide then if I would give it a go. I have certainly not done as many miles as most other runners, in fact I have probably done not more than 35-40M per week on average with some weeks even less than that, but I have done as much as I could and as much as I wanted to do given the time constrains, laziness etc. I really enjoyed my long runs out on the trails and I hope that this will keep me going on the day. What I did not like was the fact that I have missed a few club runs that I had wanted to do, because they were on days when a long run was planned or the day before. And that is the downside, it is quite a commitment and shorter races are not really part of the preparation. Well especially with my Achilles tendon problem as well.

That Achilles tendon problem will remain for now. I have had a number of sessions and even dropped my mileage a lot for 10 days to give it a chance to get better with physio etc., but after a long run it would just flare up and the physio would start from square one again. So I decided to ignore it just now if I wanted to have a go at my planned runs this summer. As long as I don't press on my Achilles tendons they are fine! They have to wait until autumn to get seen to again. I just hope they can wait that long!

So bring on Saturday, the 24th of April 2010! I am as ready as I will ever be!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Well Well ...

... it is never a good idea to be too smug so after my good run on Sunday I have landed back on my feet. The physio had been working hard on both of my Achilles tendons and reckoned that with about 4 intensive sessions just for the Achilles tendons (involving rather painful massage to break up any tissue etc)we should see an improvement. When I started my run on Sunday the left one was a bit sore at the beginning but that soon disappeared. And apart from when you apply pressure I don't really get much pain from the Achilles. But the discomfort on pressure is obviously a sign that something is not quite right. That's why I decided to get it treated.

So yesterday (my 3rd session) the area in question was very tender, in fact worse than at the first session. So he reckoned I should really take it easy for 2 weeks, not run more than 5M every 2nd day to give it a chance to improve. Or else I might not be able to start the Fling! NOT what I wanted to hear! He has also given me some mild orthotics in case the overpronation support that I already have in my Asics is just not enough. And even though the Trabuccos have some support, I guess it is not as much as the running shoes. That would make sense as the problem is rather symmetrical, slightly worse on the left but in the same area. On a good note, he was quite impressed about the state of my muscles after this long run. He reckoned that "biomechanically" my body seems to be able to take the "pounding" and it is the Achilles area that is the problem but it could be sorted if I gave it TIME! Time I do not have if I want to have a go at the Fling. He thinks it is the downhill running that puts the most strain onto the Achilles area.

Anyway, I think I will take it easy for at least 1 week until the next appointment, then maybe another. And then I still have nearly 3 weeks to get a few longer runs in. Just when the season has started! :-(

Monday, 22 March 2010

32 Miles on the Way

Yesterday I ran from BoO to KHH (and a bit further) and back to Tyndrum, making it my 2nd longest run ever (the Devil being the longest). I ran it completely self-sufficient with a new larger backpack that not only had all my food but also some spare clothes in there. I refilled my water once at KHH. All in all I was on my feet for 7h:13min. Needless to say I felt very pleased with myself!

The plan was for Thomas, Marco, Debbie and me to meet up for this long training run 5 weeks before the Fling. Before you think, how is that going to work out time-wise with the Sonics, Thomas and then me thrown in, we had a plan!

Debbie would run the Devil, Thomas and Marco would run it backwards leaving the car in FW. I was supposed to start in BoO and run to FW, but decided to make my own plan as I was fearing Debbie would have to wait for me in FW for hours and I did not want the pressure in case I could not go on etc. Running back to Tyndrum would give me my miles and leave me lots of time for unforeseen circumstances.

Well, well. It turned out that I was the only one actually finishing the planned run with everyone else bailing out at various points for various reasons. :-)

I was completely oblivious to all this as Thomas kept phoning my old mobile and then complained I had not switched the phone on! While I was happily running my last few miles down into Tyndrum, I was doing a few calculations and worked out that I could have actually run to FW and would have probably arrived only a short time after Debbie, which made me feel even better. I was starting to plan what I could eat at the Green Wellie and how I would spend the time until everyone else arrived. I stopped the watch (sorry, The Garmin Thomas had given me to ensure the mileage was all recorded) and stretched my sore legs and back. While I was leisurely looking up I saw a car pulling into the car park and 3 familiar faces! Debbie, Marco and Thomas! My face must have had a rather stupid look as I tried to figure out how they all got into that car and arrived just as I finished my run? Well, check out their blogs, you might find out. Nothing serious just a combination of viral illnesses and tiredness. I in fact had a rather good day, enjoying the run on my own, the stunning scenery with sunny spells, showers, rainbows thrown in, wind and then dry weather again. I tested a few food options, even Ginger Crystals at the end, new socks, new backpack (GoLite Rush for Women) - all to get ready for the BIG ONE, the Fling.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Marathon on the WHW

While a few friends were running the Barcelona Marathon yesterday, I decided to do my own marathon distance on the WHW.
Thomas was going to support me as he was in no state to run or walk very fast for that matter! When he asked me how he would get from Milngavie to the Beechtree in the car, it dawned on me that he had actually never driven along this part of the route before! He managed to find all the places though and did a good job.
I started in Milngavie at 11am and had planned to run to Rowardennan. On the route there were lots of walkers, runners and cyclists all enjoying the nice weather and sunshine. Just after Milngavie I met 3 girls running back to Drymen all training for the Fling as well. They went straight back chatting among themselves after a quick hello and a short exchange with one of them so that I decided to head off. That cost me a bit more energy than planned right at the start as they were actually going at about my pace. Anyway, after the Beechtree Inn I met another girl training for the Fling, Rosie Kerr. She was really nice, we introduced ourselves and chatted along. She was on her way back to Drymen but wanted to go slower and after a round of Vaseline at the next support stop we said our good-byes. I arrived in Drymen after 2h:25min (looking at the Fling results I might get a medal for the slowest time on that leg!). On the path up into the forest from Drymen there was a lot of slushy snow. You could not run and I was sliding a lot even walking. I knew it would probably be similar on the path towards Conic Hill even though the actual forest road was clear so I decided that I would get a lift from Thomas to Balmaha and continue running along the lochside and make up for the miles by running towards Inversnaid at the end. So that's what I did, a quick pit stop in Balmaha, some crisps, a new top and I started my second part of the run. The weather was glorious and the path in very good condition. I arrived in Rowardennan after 1h:45min and had to do another 5miles. That's what I did and got back to the car park at 5pm. I had a great day!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

GEDM 2010

Thomas at the finish of the Glasgow-Edinburgh-Double-Marathon (56M or 90K)

He ran a brilliant time of 6:55 and came 4th. Well done!

It was an exciting race with a lot of fast runners on the starter's list and I did not expect him to get into the top 5 this year. When the race started in Ruchill Park Glasgow there was one guy literally sprinting out of the park and everyone was smiling and thinking, yeah, how far will he get? Well, he built up a lead of 10min at one point and kept running like this. His running style looked so not distance- running-style that everywhere he passed people commented, oh, he will surely slow down soon, he will not get to the end like this.
But I learned 1 very important lesson yesterday, never to judge anyone by his running style!
He sure finished and he finished 2nd after Marcus Scotney who overtook him at half-way. Marcus looked comfortable the whole way and his winning time was 6:22. The 2nd one turned out to be no-one less than Grant Jeans, a fairly recent discovery as we were told who was picked to run the 100K in Keswick at the Commonwealth last year (running under 7:30 I think)! He finished maybe 10min behind Marcus though I am not sure.
Thomas worked his way up, initially running with George Cairns in 11th position and was 5th after the Falkirk Wheel. At my next stop at 59K he was 4th and the 3rd guy was only 3min ahead. So I thought, that's not too much and he will be able to catch him.
Last year he was only a few minutes behind Kenny Valentine but at a much later point and could not get to him. So I was getting really excited and rushed to my next stop at 71K. Again he was a few min behind the 3rd who still looked very comfortable, I had to admit. Thomas in fact had him in his sight as the canal was stretching out a bit. Again encouragement to "get him".
But at 81K it was the same picture and when Thomas approached and I said you can do it, he said, no way, he had actually overtaken him at a checkpoint and pulled away. But it only lasted a few min when the other guy came "jogging" past (as Thomas said) in a pace that I could not run a 10K in. So I knew he would not get into 3rd.
I must admit I was slightly disappointed at that point, just because he was so close again like last year - even though I never expected him to be that far up this year. But your expectations go wild when you are following a race unfolding.
Anyway, who was the 3rd guy? Someone called Ian Sharman from Serpentine RC London. A Marathon de Sables Finisher and numerous marathon runs with PBs around 2:32!
So very well done to Thomas to come so close to him. By the time I reached the finish (and parked the car in a very dark and forsaken underground car park, I emerged and was right next to the finish at the canal! Well done Silke!) I realized what a brilliant (and much faster than last year's) finish time Thomas would have, I was cheering him on to the finish line. Together with Murdo, his daughter and Ellen who were there watching as well.

6:55 - superb! Well done!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Running & Supporting

Tomorrow is the GLA-EDI-Double-Marathon (GEDM) and I will be back in my supporting role for Thomas. I am actually getting quite excited as the weather looks good, the path seems to be in good condition and Thomas is certainly up for it. His training has been going well, no serious injuries just now (usual hamstring niggles and the occasional “scare” of aches and pains here and there) and no recent race. There will be a lot of fast runners including Lucy (who will want to defend her title, “Go Lucy Go!” I will have a spare bottle for you this year in case you need it towards the end!) and Marcus Scotney, George Cairns, some (to me) unknown “sprinters” and Thomas of course! :-)
He is under instructions though to go easy as this is part of his training for bigger things to come – but when did he ever listen to me?!

Well, how has my own training been over the past few weeks? Last week saw me doing my highest “mileage” yet – 70K. I know it is not much compared to what others do regularly, but for me it is a step up. Largely due to 2 longer runs at the weekend. Initially planned to be run on the WHW, but when our club race got cancelled due to high snow on the hills above Greenock, it was obvious that that was not a good idea. So I ran with some girls from the club who did their last long run before the Barcelona Marathon. On Sunday I ran with them again, only they did a shorter route and I ran to the club from the house and back with a few loops around Greenock. That gave me nearly 30M already for the week. They do start rather early in the morning when I usually still enjoy my warm bed, but hey – the things you do to get some running in!

I then had my 1st sports massage on Tuesday. Thomas had been on to me for a while to get one, but I did not really feel I needed it with my low mileage etc. But after the weekend I felt I had “earned” it. So I went and came back with a huge list of “problem areas”: bilateral Achilles tendinopathy (no tendinitis yet), tight calves, tight quads and tight right hamstring. Well, at least my right ITB is better! I sort of knew about the Achilles problem, but have opted to ignore it for the last 12 months and just tried not to run fast (well what I would call fast). It only is a problem when my husband tries to apply friction massage (which he insists on doing, with good intent I know) or when he makes me endure an ice-cold foot bath after a run! But the sports massage felt really good after the initial pain subsided! The passive stretches that came at the end made the massage seem rather relaxing! All this despite the fact that I am actually one of those people who do a little stretching routine after each run – obviously not enough. So I might go back to get the Achilles problem sorted a bit more.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Valentine's Weekend

At the finish on a hill above the hotel

We finally got to use a Christmas present from 2008 (!), a DB&B voucher for the Holly Tree Hotel in Kentallen near Ballachulish. And what a nice place it is!
Our plan was to do a circular run from Kentallen along the new cycle path towards South Ballachulish, then on to Ballachulish and up into Glen Duror, to Duror village and back to the hotel. It was fantastic. We took about 3.5hrs with a lot of photo stops. It was 25.5KM and quite a bit up and down. Thomas had done this run years ago when I wasn't running at all so I was really keen to do it myself. And the new cycle path is great. To my surprise it is in fact tarmaced so it will be worth taking my rollerblades next time for a wee run along there.
We then relaxed in the hotel pool and sauna and then had the most delicious dinner.

Next morning after a good breakfast we set out to meet up with Sharon and John at Kingshouse. Thomas was going to run with them from there. I would join them at the bottom of the staircase. That would give me a chance to keep up with them I figured! It is amazing how fast Sharon is even on the uphills, my longer legs not giving me a big advantage. On the downhill she was just storming down. I kept up with Tim though and his dog who tried to trip us by running between our legs all the time. I was giving my new Roclites their first run and they felt quite good. Thomas stopped just before the very steep downhill into KLL started and we returned up the staircase. He waited for me at the top and took a few photos. That was my chance. I ran ahead and opened a slight gap. We then stormed down the staircase and he did not catch me! Luckily he did not fall then but later when he was running back on his own to the ski centre. Off to the Green Welly afterwards for some soup.

So this was my first "back to back", well sort of though the distances were not that long. But I was very pleased with my running over the weekend and really enjoyed it. It will bring my weekly mileage up nicely.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Half a glee outing

Yesterday I joined the glee club run from Drymen to Rowardennan. I was only going to do the 1st half and the plan was for Thomas to pick me up at Rowardennan. Well, I was a bit nervous as this was going to be my 1st outing with them "on my own", but Thomas reassured me that I would "easily" be able to keep up with their pace! Well, little did he know! So we gathered in Drymen, about 10 or even 12 of us, I only knew Ellen, Pauline and Fiona and Ian King. Thomas was meeting Marco to run to Balmaha and back for a speedier session and a slightly diverted route and then drive the car to Rowardennan. I was a bit concerned about my right knee but that was holding up, but needs a rest today so no Renfrewshire Road Race for me.
After a picture we set off. Well, setting off?! Speeding off into the distance was more like it. There were 2 girls at the front (I had not met either of them before) who were setting a pace that left me gasping for breath. I was talking to Ellen, or rather she was talking to me and asking me about Nepal, but all I could do was give short answers and hiss the question: Is this your usual pace? After the 1st gate I just had to let them go and fell back until I met Fiona who was also finding it a bit too fast. So I settled into a much more relaxed pace and we chatted. In fact our chat would last nearly 4 hours until we got to Rowardennan with photo stops and a toilet break in Balmaha. In Balmaha Ellen, Pauline, Janet and Don were waiting on us, apparently they had also slowed down and had only waited a few minutes? We had met Thomas and Marco coming up Conic Hill again and stopped for a quick photo.

Fiona is obviously a very experienced WHW Runner so I got a few tips and tasted Ginger Crystals and Rice Crispy Squares that I will test out myself next time. I had gels and fruit pastilles but started to eat them a bit late (90min into the run) so I really have to stick to my orders of eating a gel every 30min or so. But I drank regularly.

Thomas met us about 3K out from Rowardennan and ran back with us, telling us that Ellen & Co were only a few min ahead but that the other half of the group had been there for at least 25min! We arrived and the bar was full of runners! To our surprise Karen and George and their running friends were there having run from Beinglas to Rowardennan and stocking up on food and drinks. They are all training for the Fling. I got changed and was pleased with my 4 hour run. We then headed to Glasgow to buy new (old) Trabuccos. I was keen to get my old model (Trabucco 12) but all they had was the new Goretex version in a pink that was too hard to bear. Luckily she offered to order the non Goretex version in purple - Perfect. And we met some more WHW Family members, Tim Downie, Muriel and their daughter were shopping for new running gear. Good luck to Muriel in her 1st HM in Bath!

Monday, 1 February 2010

Beinglas to Tyndrum

While Thomas, Marco and Richie were running from Drymen to Beinglas I parked the car at the Drover's and ran to Tyndrum. I had planned to also run back but decided against it as I was not only feeling completely exhausted when I reached Auchtertyre but felt my right knee getting sorer on the downhills.
In my excuse we had only just returned from our skiing trip the night before and I had noticed my right knee towards the end of the skiing week. There was no particular injury but maybe just too much pressure on the knee from all the skiing. It is my ITB I think.
Anyway, I had a great run in crisp cold sunshine. This was the only part of the Way I had not ran on, and from our walking a few years ago I had forgotten how many uphill sections there are. And how long the path winds through the forest above Crianlarich. I was so glad I had read Ian's blog about how to approach cows as of course they were all waiting for me on the mud-frozen path. I approached giving myself a pep talk on looking confident enough, until a small calf got scared and started to run all over the place. I was expecting the other cows to go mad as well but luckily they just stood still and I quickly disappeared up the path.

I reached Tyndrum after 2:45min. I then joined a long queue at the Green Welly where a bus-load of people had just arrived. The soup was delicious and after getting warmed up I started to eye up potential lifts. I did not have to wait long when 2 girls arrived at the petrol station and agreed to give me a lift to Beinglas. They were on their way back to Manchester from Skye and were planning to stop at the Drover's for lunch. Perfect. So after more chatting in the pub and some coffees it was time to look out for the boys. They arrived at 15.15 and we were back in the pub for more soup and chips.

This was probably our last skiing trip for a few years as downhill skiing and running don't go together so well. I was keeping my fingers crossed the whole week that Thomas would not pick up any injury. He also feels that the skiing does not fit into his training regime at all. So while this has been an annual trip with friends it looks as if we are pulling out. So here are a few pictures from our last trip, snow conditions were perfect by the way!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

My first 22 Miler of the year

And a surprise one!
This morning I was planning to join 5 girls from the club on their Barcelona Marathon training run. They had planned to do 2 laps of the Greenock cut and I was going to do one lap with them, maybe a bit more.
My longest run since the Devil last year had been 10miles, not a lot and I was getting a bit worried about all these big races in my year ahead. But I also wanted to be very careful not to increase my weekly mileage too fast. Especially as my Achilles tendons are both slightly tender on pressure, though they have been for over a year, I just decided to ignore it (when you don't press on them they are fine)and it is only now that Thomas found out about it and thinks I need to be more careful. He keeps applying friction massage now.
Anyway, it turned out that the cut was pure ice and they decided to run on the road, an out-and-back route of 11M. There I was in my trail shoes(!) and very ill prepared food/drink/carboloading wise. But what the heck I thought, yes I'll join you. And that's what I did! I relied on their food and we had a few stops at shops to buy further supplies of water, lucozade and sweets. The last 4M were a real struggle, feeling sick. My right ankle was sore and I was worried that I might do some serious damage running in these trail shoes.
But hey, with their encouragement I got to the end and was sooo happy. This was a real confidence booster for me and felt like finishing a marathon. (I could have survived another 4M :-) ) So maybe the Fling is actually a realistic goal. After I finished today I certainly could see myself being at the start with a good chance of getting to the end. But there will be more training runs to get through before this ...