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! :-)