How to feel like you’ve done stuff when you haven’t done anything

This is how my running life goes: doldrums and procrastination, some good bits, loads of race entries followed by almost as many DNSs. My eyes are way bigger than my stomach, legs, lungs, non-injury periods.

And somehow (presumably because I have so much money, hope and enthusiasm) I still keep entering races, year after year. Just encase ūüėČ

June 2015 – The Heb 3 Half marathons series, including Benbecula, Skye and Barra. Yeah Baby!

3 x 13.1 miles or thereabouts, with hills, headwinds, banter galore and quite possibly a¬†stupidly short tartan running kilt. In a four week period. No chance of a possible injury there then! A shot at the new local park-run route which is actually in a park (faints off to the side to visually underline this) means I’ll get a 5K in the inbetween week and/or the inaugural Tomintoul whiskey 10K and who doesn’t like one of those?

July – I have planned a day-long mimble around MacRitchie reservoir trails in Singapore, with Brian, one of my MBA buddies. Why? Because it will be awesome trail training for BU50K, it’s the location of the TNF100 Singapore so a decent chance to¬†find out what the expected technicality of these North Face events¬†is¬†and there are opporchancities for shopping and visiting some mates.[I am sure that Hokas or recovery flip-flops are welcome in all Orchard Road boutiques].

August – Borneo Ultra 50K aka BU50K. Or is it TMBT 55K? I’ve definitely entered one and they start from same place on same day and will require cheat-sticks,¬†climbing on hands and knees as well as a healthy smattering of Dr. Doolittle syndrome “Please Mister snake, please do not wake up now as I stumble through the undergrowth”. Yes, I tend to verbalise my fear of biting and sucking animals. I’ll have 12-15 hours to perfect my communication. This is my “A” race for the year, in line with that whole forty year old birthday landmark.

September – no events planned but since BU50K is the last weekend in Aug, I’ll probably be recovering in matching air-boots and stretching my quads out on a vice in preparation for………

October – Climbathon International¬†Trail event. Different terrain from the above but still Malaysia’s finest attempt to crush my knee cartilage into vampire-meets-sunshine dust in the foothill of Mt Kinabalu: the 20th highest mountain in The World. Should be great funishment and I can celebrity spot the sky-runners in the elite race while I organise the straight jacket and fire up the O2 tent for ‘after’

November – Beirut Marathon. More a ‘why not?’, than a ‘why’ scenario. A bronze medal event in Lebanon over a more traditional forum. I blame Carrie and Homeland for my slight but ongoing obsession with the Northern part of the Middle-East. I wouldn’t say no to toe-ing the line in Jordan and Jeruslam too. Pass the headscarf……

The Mighty Jeff Ooi RD of KL Tasek Perdana 12 hour ultra fame, has just announced a 16 hour event happening sometime near the end of the year. Might be a great time to try and breach the 100K mark whilst eating twice my body-weight in noodles. But it all depends on ^^^^ and whether I can put one foot in front of the other without wincing, yelping or puking (the Holy Trinity of pain definitions).

At the moment, I’d be extremely happy with an enjoyable half marathon around the Outer Hebridean island of Benbecula. So many entries but it’s still one race at a time. Let’s hope I can keep a decent start and finish statistic.

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The long yawn of Interim

So, like, where the frak have I been, eh?

Nowhere special (drags toe of shoe back and forth¬†along the dusty pebble-path….). Just ‘around’, being all introverted and cannae-be-ershty. Plus I was like working and everything.

But now I am back and not working and wondering where the start of this new phase of blogging should be and what was the last thing I did of any substance anyway?

I was actually in a fantastic ‘ramping up’ phase heading towards some great unknowns: The Mauritius Marathon, The Speyside Way Ultra-marathon, The Most Beautiful Thing jungle-traily thing with nose-bleed ascents/descents and my first 12 hour event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There was a lot of eventing going on. That was in 2013! What happened in 2014?? Do we even care?

I remember getting to the end of the year and just feeling beat. 2014 was full of a lot of planning followed by a lot of DNS, either through lack of preparation or niggles, lethargy, life-stuff getting in the way of living.

But now it’s 2015, so time to draw the line in the sand (…………….) and start fresh!

Recap 2013

Longest race: KL Tasek Perdana Ultra – 66 Km (ca. 9 hours, not 12)

Best finish position: 3rd Lady KL Ultra, 17th overall TMBT (25 Km category)

Marathon – YES – Mauritius

Ultra-marathon – YES – Speyside (60K), KL (66K)

PBs – No (unless you count new distances, which I don’t due to the mad terrain being non-repeatable and therefore unchallengable in PB territory)

New terrain Рjungle hashing, jungle hill Check-point event, looped time event

Recap 2014

Longest race: Berlin Marathon (42 Km)

Best finish position: none to speak of, glad to not DNF, feet condition was decent after Berlin

Marathon – YES – Berlin, Germany (World Marathon Major). Deferred a ballot place for New York Marathon

Ultra-marathon – NO – DNS at Tarawera 85K, Titi 50K

PBs – No

New terrain – No

2014 was a pretty poor year all in all; running just didn’t happen much once work started and I never really got into a groove with embracing the early morning cooler times or getting out straight from the office. I was in a FUNK.

So what’s planned for 2015?

JUNE/UK. Another crack at the spectacular Heb 3 Half marathon race series in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. I completed Benbecula, Harris and Skye in 2011 and the former two in 2012 (missing out on Skye due to a flooded road out of Achultibuie). Got an elusive place in Barrathon (it sells out in minutes) and plan to run Benbecula and Skye again to make the series.

AUGUST/MALAYSIA. Borneo 50K in the Northern Malaysian state of Sabah. This is a similar route and terrain to the TMBT and it will be a 12-15 hour event, all things being equal. Through jungle and remote villages, perhaps in the dark. With trekking poles this time. This is my 40th birthday event so I am going to enjoy it thoroughly and training has begun in earnest but will definitely rely on me getting back to the jungle hash on Labi road and maybe finding some long run buddies for off-road treks.

It would be nice to look towards a marathon near the end of the year but it really depends on how the old injury sites respond to training and how well I can motivate myself to do long runs. [I’m classing anything over 2 hours as long run territory]

More on that later. Maps, pictures and race reports may be retroactively inserted but one of my non-work goals is to keep up to date with things on Blog Island. At least until I get distracted again. [By the way, how good was that Maleficent movie? Man, I just loved Angelina in those horns………]

Harris Half Marathon – archive 2012

The last outing in the Heb 3 series was the Half Marathon, Tarbert, Isle of Harris. Find out more about the Heb 3 from the¬†Stornoway Running Club¬†website. In 2011, I completed Benbecula, Skye and Harris and got this lovely scoop for my efforts. DSC_0147The main issue (apart from hills, wind, 13.1 miles….) is that the¬†travel requires some pre-organising and commitment, especially the wee country roads drive across to and through Skye, which we did¬† a couple of times for these and the Uist Hill Races. Plenty ferry’s from Uig to Tarbert, Harris and to Lochmaddy, North Uist for the commute across causeways to Benbecula and there’s transport laid on to take you to and from the races, although camping and B&Bs/hotels are viable options (look out for runner’s discounted rooms/meals).

Sadly in 2012, I only made the Benbecula and Harris races due to injury and road blockages on the morning of the Skye half. But 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, apparently.

Did I mention that the Outer Hebrides are thee most beautiful places in the world ūüėČ There’s no home-land bias here, I’m an ‘Eastie Beastie’ myself being from Easter Ross, but wow! I waiver between telling anyone who’ll listen about the islands to keeping complete schtum for fear of over-crowding. The scenery¬†can be¬†tear-evoking and certainly removes some of the sting from the wind, the rain, the gradients……..

This particular half marathon is a hilly route with high chance of a head-wind and no shelter what-so-ever.

DSC_06412012 was no exception Рabout 100 of us were bussed out passed Skeabost and I was lucky enough to be distracted from my travel-sickness through chatting to a gent about this years Cape Wrath Challenge (thanks Mr). We huddled at the start and eased into an uphill struggle against the wind. Not just any wind, a Galeforce 7 which would see many of the hills unrunnable as we struggled to make our trainers meet the ground before they were whipped away.

My running style, such as it is, became bent over as I leaned into the wind to balance myself. This was actually a neat trick until my back started to complain about the S-shape curve it was holding in the very open sections.

I’ll admit, I echoed a mad-man’s cackle at the sheer stupidity of trying to make haste against the elements. I pushed and pushed, sometimes with very little forward momentum¬†and the overall effort was literally unsurpassed in any previous race. I literally had nothing left at the end and had to just let gravity take me for the steep descent into the ferry terminal.DSC_0834

This was all further compounded by the fact that I’d beaten last years time(!) AND everyone else was about 10 minutes off their normal time (which means this was likely a best performance for me). I hated parts of it (because I was under-trained and it was hard)¬†but I also loved the route’s scenery, the camaraderie that you get during the Hebridean series; like a really exclusive gang, respectful of each other regardless of ability, conjoined in our love for the islands and individually touched by how special the Outer Hebrides are. I’d consider everyone a friend when you’re out there and you don’t compete per se, you encourage and commiserate and you get invited for a ceilidh, porridge and offered a nights kip from people you have literally known for 2 hours during a race. Hell yeah! Don’t mention the drinking at the Hebridean Hotel which continues all the way back on the late night ferry!

Then there’s the ever present Jim Bruce¬†from SRAC, notable by his grey pony-tail (see below gallery) and the super sub-set of exclusive Heb 5 individuals, who have completed all 5 races in one year- Barra, Benbecula, Stornoway, Skye and Harris (not necessarily in that order!) and get a special gaelic mention on their series tee-shirt ‚Äúrinn mise na coig‚Ä̬†meaning, I did the five. There are other island halfs if you can’t get to these ones¬†which take place May through July; Isle of Coll, Mull, Berneray to Lochmaddy “two islands” half and there are rumours of an Isle of Lewis Marathon coming soon ūüôā

Take it from someone who has made the pilgrimage for two consecutive years- it’s worth it and you won’t regret anything about the experience, so bring your best camera and prepare to eat a lot of cake and sandwiches.

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 ūüėČ 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 ūüėČ 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