Extra Zeds – back to back long runs

I really need more sleep. This week I’ve been forced to remember how difficult it is to do back to back runs and exist in the land of the living. A couple of days I have found beforeHarrisHalfmyself sitting in front of the laptop with my eye-balls rolling back in my head, fighting to stay awake. If I loiter anywhere for too long, I find my body starts to shutdown and urges me to catch a few zeds! Pass the Yerba Maté …….Zzzzzzz

All quite normal as I am asking my body to run between 3 and 4 hours, followed by 2 hours with only 10 hours sleep in-between. When I write it like that, it seems ludicrous! But this is what week 3, 4 & 5 has entailed, so just as well I’m facing a step-back week where my longest run will barely be in double figure mileage.

As a reward for the longer runs, I treated myself to an aromatherapy 90 minute massage to pummel out those weary muscles. And some new ‘incentives’ from Sportpursuit. I’m so good to myself, you’d think I’d try harder.

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So this is what I’ve been up to over the last few weeks, working towards The Mauritius Marathon, which will be my longest training run for the Speyside way ultramarathon in August and The Most Beautiful Thing in September.

Week 3: Long run 27K, 2 x 5Ks, jungle hash, HIIT and reformer Pilates

P1000465Week 4: back to back runs of 5 miles, 9 miles,10 miles (38K) plus HIIT and Pilates.

One of these runs was run along the beach wearing full length Salomon EXO compression tights. Although I’m sure my legs liked the additional support it was WAY too hot and the extra burden of running in sand and having to navigate beach debris and river inlets meant it felt a lot longer than it was. My Achilles was really stiff afterwards but following the piriformis exercises, I had absolutely no repercussions for my 10 miler the next day 🙂

Week 5: back to back runs of 5 miles, 18 miles, 5 miles (45K) plus HIIT and Pilates

and then this coming week is a step-back or drop-down week, with a cheeky wee 10 mile race called the Mizuno Wave Run near Kuala Lumpur. I have so far been really impressed by the organisation, local hospitality and excellent quality of race goodies provided by the Far East’s Road racing circuit. Let’s hope this one maintains the standard. I need to get back to the jungle hash though, as the terrain training will really benefit the hillier part of SSW as well as the overall conditions of TMBT.

Week 6 – 3 miles /10 mile race/3 miles (26K) and the shorter runs will be more or lessi_love_plodding_along_mug-rfbae3764c5024b4eb8602fbdb84a62b3_x7jgr_8byvr_152 ‘speed work’ involving 400m reps with short intervals. I can’t really expect my legs to like upping the pace even for these short runs but it’ll be good for them to have a change from all the plodding. If I don’t watch out I’ll be growing donkey-ears 🙂

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Recovering and racing between Ultras

It’s been five weeks since the Speyside Way ultra (36.5 miles) and I’ve taken part in two races – the Crathes Castle Half Marathon (3 weeks after) and the Baxters River Ness 10K (5 weeks after), with results you might expect from a few months of back-to-back runs: slow and somewhat painful. DOMS after both events felt like my quads had been severly shortened over-night, so the mutliple daily journeys down the 3 flights of stairs in my townhouse have been time consuming.

But the runs themselves were splendid for many reasons and if nothing else, it was worth it for the unusually decent technical tee-shirts (decent sizing,colours & quality, not covered in sponsors logos) and the catch up with a few buddies.

NTS Crathes Castle Half Marathon

Finish target: 2:11:00. Actual finish time: 2:13:40. A hot day and I set off ‘self-pacing’ with no Garmin and no real pressure other than to finish and see if I came in somewhere around 2 hrs 11(a 10 minute mile). I knew the course to be fairly flat, with some off-road and I had a magic p*ss-about run there last year, involving karaoke guess the song title quizzes, piggy-backs, interviewing charity runners and general cajouling of the back-of-packers, as I buddied someone round the route for their first half marathon in 17 years! I know I can run without the over-analysis of pace feedback but was alas caught out with a desperate charge to a discrete area for emergency proceedings before the first water station! Disappointed that I AGAIN did not seem capable of controlling my body through eating/ drinking food which would not upset me during a run 😦

Baxters River Ness 10K

Time target: sub 55 mins. Actual time: 53.16. Another hot day and I wasn’t “bovvered” about time but hoped to come in comfortably under 55.02, which is what I ran in Southport in February with excrutiating pain, at the start of the injury which was to become The  Achilles Issue – enough that I had to walk at the 8K mark. As my only opportunity to run a 10K before year end, I thought I’d see what I could do and put in a mad mile split at the start and the end. Because I felt I could 🙂 Pleased that I can churn out this time without speed training and that sub-55 is something I can expect of myself nowadays. 10Ks are so weird right now though – the first 2 miles kinda hurt (sorry legs, I hadn’t given you enough running in the last 2 weeks) and I was feeling much better by mile 5 and then of course, it was all over! Inverness was buzzing due to the Marathon and it was weird seeing the count-up miles on Ness walk, where the two courses synched. I felt I should have been running the longer distance this year but I don’t fancy the course much at all. Ambiguous as ever, me!

The new Flying Scotsman?

A BRILLIANT run by Aberdeen’s very own Ben Hukins who literally threw himself over the line in a chariots-of-fire Eric Liddell pose and then collapsed in a valiant heap having finished second in the Loch Ness Marathon in under 2 hrs 30 mins. Amazing to see an athlete able to expend every single last ounce of effort and I believe he was OK a few minutes later (I felt too much like a car-crash oggler to stay around watching him sprawl). An inspirational run and this gent seems to be equally excellent across all distances from 5K to 26.2. Liam-Kerry came in for a triumphant 3rd place and winner of “everything” (practically) in the MV40 cat this year. Go Fetchie! We cleared off earlier than intended as one of the cats has been off-colour but managed to bump into Claire (PB), Esther (PB), Carol (SB), DQ and was delighted to hear that Fi blasted over 20 minutes off last years time with a GFA performance and a new PB with 3 hrs 40! That’ll be my last trip to Inverness for running this year and for a good while to come.

My first cycle (with my new hard-tail)

After months of deliberating between the cycle to work scheme and the fact that I have a bike shaped object in the garage (knackered gears, pink and silver, made from lead, slower than a sloth on pot), I eventually took my pennies and found the most amount of bike for the money. I had help from various MTB-ers and my BiL who is a decent triathlete and they all agreed, this Revolution Triad 1.0 (Edinburgh bike Co-ops own brand) was the mutts nuts. Plus I thought it looked cool and was in fact NOT a girls bike (thank-you Baddiel and Newman) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nCKYEM8qRc

Some bike info:

  • RockShox Solo Air-sprung Tora fork with PopLoc
  • Shimano Alivio 27-spd with Deore front and SLX rear mechs
  • Avid Juicy 3 hydraulic disc brakes
  • 13.79kg / 30.4lb
  • Multi-coloured spokey-dokeys **

** OK….maybe not!

I am very excited to be embracing a complementary outdoor activity to the current runnering exploits, albeit the dark nights are upon us. Leg strengthening and all that. Plus it’s something I can do with hubby. We decided to break the new toy in on a modest blast out the old railway and I had good fun experimenting with seat height and gear combinations (27 gears, would that be right?), especially once I got on the Big Cog and seemed to stretch away from the other half with relative ease. I had to get the buff on as the black flies were out by the time we returned. Unfortunately the light faded and went completely before we got back to the car-park, so a mile was cycled in the complete darkness(!) Yes, I will fit the lights for the next night outing but I was so eager to get out and didn’t think we’d be out for over an hour. So ten miles on the clock (as I discovered literally, when I couldn’t get my Garmin to log my pace on the next run, only to realise that I was still in bike mode). I will try not to go on about the bike too much but I think it will start to feature more and more in my life over the next few months. Please: don’t let me get ensconced with carbon this and ceramic that…it’s so easy to get sucked into a new world and my Wiggle connections are already Gold status through running J Here’s to the next outing. And maintaining focus…..

Riverside trail run

Talking of which, a couple of recent training runs after some particularly bad storms in the local areas, coupled with Noah-esque rainfall. I did get a nice breather on the top path on my local trail run through clearing some hefty tree limbs off the path and rolling them garde-loo style over the barrier and down towards the River. The day was so beautiful, as is often the case after Mother Nature has cleared her throat.

Where the wind blows…….

I came across a delightful little “hidey-hut” complete with tied down branches and a stone seat. How come this survived the storm but the streets were littered with leaves, branches and even huge trees with roots ripped from the Earth? I guess it’s the Chinese proverb of the mighty oak versus the weeping willow: sometimes it’s easier to roll with the punches and be subservient to might, rather than trying to stand-up to the elements. There’s a lesson there http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Oak_and_the_Reed

A wee hidey hut – can you see the seat?

Nairn Half Marathon – 7 days to go

Day 7

Sunday – My last training session before attempting to run the Nairn Half Marathon. Nairn has long stood as a running nemesis; my first half marathon and I finished in last place (2 hrs 42 mins) and had a thoroughly miserable time back in 2010. I had hoped to revisit it at some stage and although not ideally placed in this years calendar, I decided to “go for it” and wipe the previous experience 100% into the annals of history. So after discussing possible sites for the session with Marion, I headed out to our agreed location- the disused railway. As I embarked on the  longish tempo run with a race pace and sub race pace section, I was advised that the Dyce Half Marathon was being run and there will still runners on the line. I had totally forgotten it was on as it was held in July last year. I kinda had a crappy run at it too after a night of upset stomach and guts and then developing a lush set of blood blisters during the run (2 hrs 6 mins). So I set off for 4 miles out at ~9.30 m/m and made sure I said well done to the tail-end runners. It was truly warm in the wooded areas, with a nice refreshing breeze passed Kennedy’s yard. I got to my turn point having finished ¾ of my juice, took a gel and then set- off for my RP-5% section. Twenty minutes flew passed and I was ahead of pace and felt tired but good. I jogged for about 30 seconds and finished the rest of the Gatorade then set off for twenty minutes at RP. Of course, it felt relatively sustainable coming after the faster section and save for a fairly smelly dead bunny on the track and the humidity, I had a cracking run. A real confidence booster! I treated myself to a hot bath that night, after a super cold leg shower.

Day 6

Monday –I was originally planning to attend British Military Fitness class but had the chance to try my hand at badminton, with folk from work. I booked a court at the Woodbank facility (£4 for an hour- a bargain) but found that the work had decided to go somewhere else. Last minute, my brother stepped in and we arranged to have a knock about to work up a sweat. I dug my old warped Carlton racket out and wished I hadn’t as the handle badly needs re-strapped and the suede coloured my hand a bright blue. Also it meant I had to try and scab a lift or get public transport and I ended up ehading out to catch the No. 19. The local bus company had decided to switch around bus-stops and services, so as I waited at the designated place I saw the bus I wanted drive right passed and the driver shaking his head as I tried to flag it. To avoid lateness I started running (in my work gear, two bags and racket) and managed to overtake the bus at the traffic lights. Since none of the new stops had been marked up with the bus numbers, I was slightly confuddled about where to get on and (stupidly) decided I’d just run back up the bus lane towards the oncoming number 19! It stopped (randomly at the No 1 stop), I got on and dished a plate of sarcasm to the driver with a side order of red faced sweat. Once aboard, I did enjoy catching up with a colleague from yore, so was pretty happy again once I reached the sports centre. My badminton game was gash but I did get a good sweat on and was even getting a few well placed shuttles passed my bro, who is a bit of a competitive beast at badders and tends to slam shots to the deck every chance he gets. There weren’t many rallys! I enjoyed it though and requirement for new racket aside, I think I’ll revisit badminton again.

Injury sites: I was a bit worried about my right foot as I was slamming it down quite forcefully on the forehand and overhead shots. A quick jump on the powerplate and the vibration did highlight that left calf and right plantar were indeed “sore”. Soreness on known problems sites….that’s OK. I can deal with that.

Day 5

Tuesday – BMF on a very soggy park due to the thunder, lightening and torrential rain from the night before. I again forgot to choose my INOV-8s, which would make a lot more sense as we spend 95% of our time running on and getting down and up from muddy grass! I jogged down from work to my brothers flat and we drove to the park because he said he had the CBAs. Once there, a new instructor offered a very different workout and I struggled with quite a few elements including being the second last pairing to be sent off on a circuit therefore having to hold a full plank for what seemed like hours! My usual hold points – shocking press-ups, complete inability to support myself as the front of a wheelbarrow, inability to crouch n run up a hill in the monkey, bear or crab positions. Very frustrating as I have made no progress on these elements since I started BMF at end of May. However my wall squats and step ups were good (although I got told off for taking a walking run-up to stepping onto the concrete blocks. Oops). I’m starting to recognize a few faces now so it’s a bit more friendly. I doubt that the girl who was paired me for the hill reps will be in a hurry to pair with me again, sorry Lady, I was trying, honest!

Injury sites: Plantar was sore and my back was also very knotted, with bingo-wings (triceps) and rib area and hips sore. Presumably I did some proper muscle depletion during BMF. Hope it builds back up before Saturday.

Day 4

Wednesday – my usual long slow run in the morning was cancelled by the other party, which was a blessing really. I had a long lie til 10am! Bliss! So no 8 mile jog/walk and this is good because I find I do get sore after a slower cadence run. When I say sore, I mean just an uncomfortable bruised feeling which doesn’t last long but is there all the same. Instead I decided to do some of the lesser known fitness art-form I like to call “dancing to cheesey pop in your own living-room” as a warm-up to a pilates DVD, courtesy of Darcy Bussell. After 30 mins I changed my mind again and gave the local beauty place a call and booked a back, shoulder and neck massage. Thanks Abz-olute beauty. Whilst out, the postman with the inconsistent delivery time decided to try and deliver my Velcro Garmin Strap. How naff! Now I have to try and collect before Friday evening. The rest of the afternoon I did that undesirable but necessary exercise known as housework. I also rustled up an apple crumble and spicy tomato sauce for hubby’s dinner, as I was going out to Wagamama with a martial arts practitioner. Very nice it was too. I wore some high-heeled Fornarina boots, so as a precaution I strapped my right foot with micro porous tape around the arch and went to bed with it on. Felt fine in the morning.

Day 3

Thursday – Acupuncture day! I got an unfortunate text on Tuesday to say that Dr Shu –  the lady who has been treating me with acupuncture for my calf and Achilles strain – had broken her leg whilst running off a hill and wanted to cancel my appointment! Nooooo! I wished her well and asked her for a referral as I had the Half Marathon coming up. Thankfully, she said she would keep the appointment although it might take her longer than an hour as she’d have to take it slowly. I was SO relieved.

Not my actual foot

The acupuncture session are now forming part of my strategy for avoiding overstrain and I am relying particularly on this session to make sure that any niggles or tightness I have picked up are ironed out before trying to run. I feel good going into the session and will ask her to pin the right Achilles and plantar fascia as well as the usual glute and calf areas. Chinese medicine actually rocks and all cynicism I had about it has completely dissipated since I underwent treatment in May with immediate and effective results.

Day 2

More resting, an unfortunate dodgy stomach as well as a super-tight left calf. Acupuncture was sore around the right plantar fascia and the rigorous massage lead to what felt like a calf strain which I was assured would be better the next day, so as precaution I put the Natures Kiss cream on it and applied the compresssports calf guards! However, the next day it was right as rain. The dodgy tummy was a worry though however I applied the dairy free choc milk and kept to bland foods through the day and packed ready for the journey to Inverness. What to wear? Red/black or turquoise and white?

Race Day – well, we’ll see what eventuates. The weather forecast is now for 20% chance of rain but 21 degC!!! and windy, so not ideal on the circular route along the coast. However I am looking forward to catching up with some family and a few friends who will be running or coming along to support. Now remember, when you see my red face coming into the playing fields- shout LOUD but don’t look too closely.