Interim running and a squibbly lens

This weekends run took in some nice wee hills round the local hill range known as Bennachie, where I did a New Years’ run almost 3 years ago, to celebrate being sober at Hogmanay for the first time since my early teens 😉

Ah, sobriety ties nicely with running and training; so what if I have to be on-the-wagon for Hoggers. It’s nice to be able to remember everything and then drive home at the end of the night. I’m not sure where this year’s Xmas and New Years day routes will take me: last year I made my way round a country road which normally would be too treacherous with 60 mph traffic. It was great being out there, practically on my own. New Years day I went to the local park and saw a purple-legged runner in shorts, despite the snow. Happy times.

My ‘point and press’ approach to photography has been getting me down a bit; the camera on the phone is good but not responsive enough and I’ve missed mony a scrumptious sunset or cloud pattern fiddling about (accidentally) with autotag. So I am hoping I will find a small but decent /proper camera in my Xmas stocking this year (although the official line is not to buy anything or if you have to, buy something consumable, so we have less to pack and move. I am looking forward to back-to-back bubble baths, eating chocolate and drinking tea in order to use up this prophetic bounty).

I’ve also been doing some town running and capturing things from around the city which I thought were interesting and which the ordinary man might not look at twice. A lot more journeys a la pied due to being a one car family at the moment, so when OH is in the office and I’m not, I have taken to packing a bum-bag and just getting on with my business. It sure beats traffic queues and parking issues both figuratively and sometimes literally. I even interviewed a potential employee in my running gear!

As Xmas approaches, so too does the decision on whether to start a training regime knowing that I will likely be living in another country by the end of it. I have an entry for the Brass Monkey half, which will more likely be a Fetch-fest social than an actual realistic attempt at a PB. I also have an entry for Lochaber marathon which Ms Jupp kinda made me enter on the premise that I could jog round and eat sarnies at the back with her. However, we’ll likely be gone by March so that is another (insert entry fee) which I won’t see again but it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do some training. Well, so long as the achilles doesn’t get any more painful, I might well start a 16 week programme and try and get my weight down a bit. This is the best time of year for me because I don’t eat turkey dinners and I don’t like a lot of stuff like Xmas pudding or mince pies 😉

A couple of new additions to the Nywanda catalogue of sports goods (yes, yes, I really should get round to proper reviews, I know, I know…..). The X-bionic range continues to be a favourite; not exactly flattering unless you’ve got washboard abs but you actually notice the difference in temperature regulation which is brilliant for someone like me who is prone to over-heating but then cooling rapidly as soon as I stop. I am loving the padded shoulder area of the Trekking top and I get a really decent fit from the men’s small.

With new seasonal colours and an ever-expanding and (to me) at times confusing range of INOV-8s, I’ve actually sniffed out a bargain replacement pair of Roclites for £25 which are the exact same model I first bought in complete ignorance of the brand in 2009, but which worked out brilliantly – see Teal 282s above.inov8shoe2 I say confusing for the barefoot/ road range with the transitional 4-0 arrows but then some of the F-lites are 2 arrows but the road shoes are called barefoot and some are transitional and I’m not even aspiring to become a forefoot striker (implode), ah, frak it, I went for the Purple Ones 😉

The 2013 edition of the Salomon S-Lab 12 set is out and they’ve slashed 40g from the weight AND added new features. All of which means the “bog standard” 12 is now discounted and voila, Trekinn will soon be furnishing me with an upgrade from the XA20 which has done me proud on longer runs, but which is becoming a bit tattered around the zip. I am very excited about this but will not be “breaking it out” until I have relocated. Something to look forward to. In the meantime, I am chucking out and rehoming any/all winter running gear and excess rucksacks. How many fleeces does one girl need? 🙂

SKIN_PACK_12_hi_37474

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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?

Half Marathon Nemesis – Nairn

On Friday we headed North via Fochabers Chip shop, [forget the deep fried mars bar handle, they have thee best chips] for a tough-of-the-track style pie supper and checked into our favourite rest place in Inverness, the Glen Druidh Hotel http://www.cozzee-nessie-bed.co.uk/ which is amok with wildlife. I had a relatively early night and slept well after quaffing litres of electrolyte drink in preparation for a scorching race-day heatwave. Indeed we woke through the night and had to open more windows. The hazey har that greeted us in the morning confirmed the weather forecast, so I ditched the red and black outfit in favour of, yep, my “usual” halgofs intense cream vest and skins/Nike baggy shorts combo, same stuff I wore at the Benbecula half marathon.

Adrenalin was making my hands a bit shaky at breakfast; it dawned on me that I would be re-running my first half marathon again. Nairn in 2010 was my first ever 13 mile run, having only completed 12 miles the previous week and it wasn’t pleasant. I nearly got overtaken by a pipeband on the final straight and the high winds and undulating course made it a really naff experience. I have of course run hillier, windier and faster half marathon times since, but Nairn represented a special demon for me and I wanted to anihilate it today.

Pre-race I kept up the fluids and soaked up the heat and atmosphere of the MacCallan sponsored Highland Games. I also bumped into Marion’s husband Iain (bib 94), a very accomplished club runner who works in the same office as I do. Here we are at the start and I’m alleviating pre-race nerves with a bit of banter. Without warning we were off!

I can never ‘just’ smile

Iain went passed me as we left the grass loop and I tried to settle into a sensible pace, carrying a full carb drink, 3 gels and a neurofen, just encase. I opted to leave the ipod behind as it was just too hot to contemplate wearing anything extra. Moving

through the first few miles I noticed David, a local Fetch Everyone forumite and we ran together whilst catching up and comparing injuries. I was a little ahead of myself at this point as we got up the hill and into the 3rd mile in 26.20. David moved off at the water station whereas I slowed, took gel and 3 cups of water. I was really sweating by this point and experiencing that lovely stinging sensation underneath my sunspecs as the sweat poured down my face. I decided I would try and keep David in my sights but my pace was feeling uncomfortable and I took the pragmatic approach to keep an even effort and conserve energy until within striking distance of water stations.

I re-caught David for a little bit and told him he was looking comfortable and he really was. Then we hit a hump-back bridge. A complete Saint had put out a walk-through makeshift hose shower and I gratefully loitered through that as the second water station allowed me another 3 cups of water. I walked through mile 6 in 52.40. Next came a cooler flattish section through the woods where we managed to pass a few folk. The run out to the turnpoint and back was blisteringly hot and I was wilting and not experiencing that homeward bound feeling that I get once I know I’ve completed more than 50% of the race. I had nearly finished my carb drink too (this usually lasts me the whole half distance).

Hats off the to the gent at the next water station who grappled around for a bottle of water for me. I probably seemed ungrateful as I mumbled about needing it to take my gel and neurofen with. SORRY! As we headed out into the wind, which didn’t cool much and just held us back, I noticed the pace really dropping off so I stopped looking at the Garmin and just got my head down. I took the meltlet as my left toes were feeling a bit bruised. But the effort was steady and gradually, eventually, runner’s started being passed by David and then about 50 yards behind, by me. There were some really scary looking weavers and as I saw the ambulance driving towards us, I knew someone somewhere was seriously struggling! I exchanged a few words with runners as I passed them; most said they were ‘done’ or ‘spent’. Even club runners were walking and we all seemed to be on the maintenance shuffle.

“In the heat, you race for place and not for time” and whoever said that (or similar) must surely have had today’s race in mind!

Luckily I had grabbed another water bottle and used someones discarded bottle to soak myself with and was honestly, as well hydrated as I could have been – over 3 Litres of water drunk and no need to use the loo. As we came into the town I met with David once again and we decided that a 10 minute mile was alright, considering 😉 We started passing a few folk and asked them to stay with us, in an end of tough race cameraderie. We were both in relatively good shape, notably because D was well under his normal RP and I had been making-like-a-camel and waterboarding for the entire race. I was certainly in much better condition than when I last ran this part of thr course!! Before long we were on the final prom home and swatting wayward kids out of the way and shouting ahead “excuse me”. Loads of well done’s from finished runners and I got a little burn on, pun intended, targetting a lady who was struggling up ahead. Sorry lady but thanks for keeping me going.

As I heaved into the playing field I was hopeful that no one would re-pass me and they didn’t. I followed the yellow line around the outside of the track, swerved the picniccers sitting inside it and was so thankful to hear my name called out of over the tannoy. I clicked the Garmin off at 2:04:53.

That time might not be much to write home about but after speaking to Maureen, one of the other veteran prize winners from the Heb 3 series, she said she was faster on those far hillier courses than she was today. Well done lady- she picked up another prize despite the weather and relative slow time. A couple of other runners said they were 8-10 minutes off recent half times, so all in all, I’m pleased with todays performance. I did manage to Hang Tough, felt OK at the end and I’m pleased I put the Nairn Demons to rest. I enjoyed catching up with Iain (1:48), David (just a few seconds behind me) and a couple of other local and Heb 3 runners after the race and drank down another Litre of fluid and scoffed crisps and mars bar. I also managed to see a few of the local attractions, like the pipe bands.

And so, I can safely say that the Nairn Half is no longer my running nemesis. I was a bit disappointed back in 2010 not to have got a medal for finishing my first half but this year, a medal and a cool orange buff courtesy of the local running club were in the goody bag. Thanks Nairn. I got a nice, albeit patchy sun-tan too 😉 Now, where can I find a flattish, drizzly half marathon??

Finally! A Nairn Half Medal and roadrunners buff

http://www.nairnroadrunners.co.uk/14401/index.html

Official result 121/184 runners, in 2 hrs 4 mins and 58 seconds

Benbecula Half Marathon

I completed the Heb 3 last year; Benbecula, Skye and Harris. Loved the experience, met loads of other runners and got some good chats along the way (the usual back of the pack cameraderie). I managed to scoop the FV35 in 2011 (there were only two of us in it) but I relished the prize and promised I would return, better trained, thinner, all the stuff you normally swear you’ll do.I didn’t. Four months on from the December marathon and I was up one serious calf strain and an achilles issue. I had managed to get to where I could run 7.5 mile route on trail but was in no way distance or speed trained. BUT since we were heading up to the islands anyway, it seemed rude not to at least try and get round.I forgot my Garmin last year so this time I thought I would start out and see how far I could get with the promise that if anything hurt I would pull up and walk or DNF. My old buddy from last year Philip, was there dressed in a woolly jumper again (even though it was warm n sunny). We set off into the headwind and everything went well, 5K in 27 mins, 10K in 55 mins, 10 miles in 91 mins. The wind was a real struggle and unfortunately, there wasn’t a recoup of the wind behind as by then the route was well away from the coastline. Well, it got properly tough around 9 miles but I held on, overtaking a few here and there, managed a gel and knew that it was roughly flat and down-hill from the last water station at mile 11. I took a walk through the station, downed two cups of water and staved off a stitch as I pushed through the glue that was my untrained legs in the final few miles. As I crossed the final main road, I saw another lady running for Vatersay crossing behind me and decided I would try and stay in front of her. Pace felt like 12 min miles but the Garmin said ~8.35. The heat and wind had sapped a few runners, one who I urged to “stay with me” but he said he had nothing left.

The finishing strait

No pick up for a sprint finish, Phil finished 30 secs in front (last year I was only 3 secs behind him). I gave myself a break, knowing I was still under treatment for injuries and hadn’t run further than 8 miles all year.However, I got two surprises: One – my finish time was sub-2 and running a half in 1.58.22 was not far outside my 2011 PB. Two – there were 5 runners in my age category and I had passed the second one in the last mile, the lady from Vatersay, so I managed to pick up the FV35 prize again.

Good effort by me (not up for the false modesty) and a great indicator that I’m not too far off form and that with a return to full fitness and some specific training, my Half marathon PB WILL die this year.Our summer holiday continued to Harris, Lewis, St. Kilda and onto the mainland to Achiltibuie. However, we didn’t make it back down to Skye the following weekend so my hopes of perhaps completing the Heb 3 series again were totally dashed. But I was happy with the race and the outcome. Benbecula is an idyllic place to holiday, walk, bike and run and I feel very lucky to have been part of this event again.

http://runbenbecula.btck.co.uk/HalfMarathon/HalfMarathon2012