Another day off work and a stark contrast to the previous downpour- a random scorcher, which saw me reaching for the SPF 30. I drove up to SpeyBay and was immediately struck by the over-crowding at the WDCS, so the initial plan of running SpeyBay to Fochabers and back was slightly blighted, so I picked up a map and continued along the coast to Port Gordon, further along the SSW
A couple of miles West to SpeyBay and once there I realised I was over dressed and overladen. Still, I’m working on the premise that if I’m carrying extra weight and running in a veritable ‘sauna suit’, come race day I will feel fresher and springier having become conditioned to being hot n heavy (well, I’m not sure it works quite like that, but….)
GEAR:Nike Lunarglide 2+, Haglofs full length intense tights, X-sock run sky run (worn inside out), Haglofs boxers, shockabsorber B4490, Rabs ultrasilk tee, Gore orange AS vest, Cosmics buff, white woodworm glasses, Garmin 205, Salomon XA 20, 1.5 Litres water + 2 electrolyte High5 zeros, 2 popcorn/yoghurt bars, cherry mulekick gels, usual rucksack stuff: 1st aid kit, TP (in waterproof wrapper), vaseline, mobile phone, hat, spare fleece, waterproof trousers and jacket(!!), OS map
The route from PortGordon was somewhat flat and although I stuck to the road and didn’t go on the disused railway I reckoned I’ll need the new scenery on the day, to keep me distracted from the pain of having done 31 miles at that stage! I wore road shoes as I’m more and more inclined to think I’ll get benefit from their support more than I’ll benefit from the grip of off-road shoes (I won’t be going SO fast, that I need rugged lugged soles to gain time).
Spey Bay was absolutely crammed full of bird-watchers, dolphin spotters and Grandparents with grandchildren, so I passed through quickly and promised myself an ice cold cocoa-cola at the visitors centre cafe on the way back. There were a few walkers on the main path and I met a dozen or so at about half way.
Apparently there were literally hundreds of ramblers in Fochabers that day and they had dispersed to various wooded walks up and down the SSW. This group were very gracious and moved onto the more rocky side of the path, to let me passed. [I always get the feeling that I’m running on the more overgrown/ rocky side but if I swap to the other furrow, the original side looks better!]
The route was variable, from open landrover track (sometimes with deep furrows), to tow-path single file type paths but overall it was quite flat and pleasant through trees and with the Spey wide and majestic on the right.
As I neared Fochabers (and under the bridge I negotiated a digger and workies as well as very gnarly paths ribboned with tree roots), I was starting to feel the pace and the heat of the day and encountered quite a few cars around the main park, about 1/2 mile from town. The paths were hooching with walkers; anyone would think it was a public pathway 🙂 I ran into the town square and made my way towards the local supermarket and running shop for a break, before returning the way I came. The local Co-op did not have such a thing as chocolate soya milk, which I’d got into my head that I “needed”. I opted to go for an ice cold coke.
Scarlett was in the local running shop Out run and introduced me to her friend as “a proper runner”. Dunno about that! They both remarked that I was over-dressed and that my bag weighed a tonne. Yep. We had a chat and again, I was offered all sorts of help- tea, toilet, lifts to Buckie (soooo tempting) and the unexpected advice that my shoes were way too loose. I gave my usual response, that my feet swell and I get blisters etc etc. However, I kept the shoe laced tight and once I left, I adjusted the right so it was same pressure on the premise I could always stop and undo them but guess what? Scarlett was right! The tighter tied shoes made my feet feel a lot lighter somehow and I didn’t suffer from cut off circulation or blisters. Folks- trust the experts! I will definitely wear my shoes tied up to the final hole and tighter than before. (Oh and the shop stocks X-Bionic, including the latest Fennec tops which looks well lush….but I digress)
I had to negotiate several long strands of slow moving groups before heading back out of the town. Now you might have laughed at me buying an OS map for this route but I “did” manage to get lost and go off down a dead end on the way back….so if you see this bothy, turn back, you’re no longer on the SSW!
I met the walkers again, not a moment too soon as I had literally just finished, er, “using the outside latrine”……suddenly there were plenty school kids who didn’t want to budge over and I put a wee burn on, down in the 08:30 minute mile mark as I approached Spey Bay. I enjoyed a slice of Soreen loaf and a bottle of cooling water as I made my way back to Portgordon on warm-down for a total of 16.34 miles. A quick clothes change and I started the long but pleasant drive back to Aberdeen.
I’m leaving the Portgordon to Buckie miles for race day. My return to the town of my childhood will no doubt be an emotional one but I can’t wait to see it and run in (yes, not hobble, run) to the finish after the gruelling hill of the High Street!