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.

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 Mat√© …….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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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Hot weather training – distance running goals

Last week we moved from the temporary accommodation provided by my husbands company, to our new permanent home – a rented terraced townhouse, not unlike the one we left behind in Scotland! What this means as far as training is concerned, is that I now get to have my very own gym, on the top floor, with balcony. The luxury! Well, it’s far from luxurious and is really just a mish-mosh of gear at the moment but I am hoping to pimp it up a bit with mirrors, storage and maybe a barbell. For now, it is functional and allows me to run, cycle, stretch and cross-train: what more could a girl need?

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The treadmill is an inexpensive lesser-known brand Powertech¬†and suits all my current needs; it is very good at dealing with a vast amount of sweat pouring onto it! The cycling set-up is basically a duff old stainless steel framed mountain bike I won as a safety award from Baker Hughes, a new¬†rear road-tyre from Wiggle¬†and a¬†Riva Tesla Turbo-trainer trainer from Sport Pursuit. No proper computer on it but I am training for X duration at < 130 bpm, so I just wear my Garmin Heart-rate monitor¬†and I’m all good.

IMG-20130513-03254I’ve been trying to do the majority of my running outside; only taking to the gym when I had no available time in the cooler hours between 6-8am or 5-7pm. Now that it’s time to start upping the distance towards the 20+ mile mark, I had hoped to run outside for ~2 hours and then finish off the distance inside on the treadmill, although I worried that these later stage miles would not be as affective if they were run in cooler conditions. Not to worry! The top floor of the house has an ambient of 29-33 degC, so although there is an air-conditioning unit in the room, I have been keeping it switched off, thus getting a full “hot climate” work-out!

The furthest I have run in the home-gym¬†has been 10K straight through and one 10 mile session carried out in 5K/6K/5K¬†chunks with a water re-fill in-between. The black fridge/freezer we brought from the UK is now the designated “beer” fridge, which would be fairly incongruent in the gym, save only for the water dispenser in the front! I also keep my electrolye tabs and TORQ fuel in there too.

Because of the high temperatures, the running is slower and I lower and raise the speed on the treadmill or my own pace when outside, to keep my heart-rate constant. Maximum heart-rate is desired as 165 bpm and an average of 140 bpm ideally. I am noting duration, average speed versus heart-rate in my training diary and will be looking for trends in fitness as my mileage and conditioning progresses.

Meanwhile my remaining running goals for 2013 are:

  1. Acclimatise to running in high humidity heats of 30+degC
  2. Remain injury free
  3. Become au fait with off-road jungle terrain

I have ear-marked a few key races for me, which will be a helluva lot of fun but also strategic to these and longer term goals.

  1. Marathon D’ile Maurice (July, Mauritius, 42 Km) – as a training run for (2) and also to try and run under 5 hours in 25+ degC conditions. Plus of course, Mauritius is a beautiful place and will be another island off the bucket-list. It also happens to fall on the weekend before my birthday.
  2. Speyside Way Ultramarathon¬†(August, UK, 58 Km)¬†– determined to finish an ultra without stomach or derrier issues! I completed this last year after a fairly horrendous but also extremely full-filling experience in just under 7.5 hours; I’d like to think I could do something different/ better in 2013.
  3. The Most Beautiful Thing¬†(September, Malaysia, 25-30 Km) – to experience some local hills, valleys, forest and scenery around Kota Kinabalu and associated forests. Officially called Colourcoil TMBT Ultramarathon, the 100K runners who finish in < 30 hours earn 3 points towards UTMB. That means the course is challenging (hence why I’m starting with the short distance, did I say “starting” there? ūüėČ )

So it’s going to be a fairly intense few months of training, leading up to a few months of eventing (I shake my head when I try and call these “races”). As ever, the planning phase for my training has been intense, profuse, detailed and because I know I am a ‘planner’ by nature, I’ve allowed myself to draw up schedule after schedule, move things around, prescribe every aspect……so now I’m ready to RELAX and commit to my long distance runs as well as a few things which have ‘just happened to come my way’, so I’m not going to knock the Universe on that. So, having said all that, my week looks like this, with a couple of step-back weeks of low intensity for development. I’ve also started incorporating short HIIT and a glutes work-out wherever/whenever I feel like it, which currently, is most days¬†ūüôā

Monday – 10 miles (am)

Tuesday – 30-40 minute sprint session with local ladies running club (pm)

Wednesday –¬†jungle hash ( 1-1.5 hours) (pm)

Thursday – MASSAGE (am)

Friday Рreformer pilates (am) / bike session (pm)

Saturday – REST

Sunday – long run (various distances)

Beyond 26.2 – a 3rd attempt at ultras

This is my 5th marathon, counting ultras and I can tell you one thing – I seem to ALWAYS acquire a cold of some description in the week prior to the event!

I assume it’s a function of increasing mileage and then tapering – the latter allowing your body to start recovering but also being susceptible to the coughs n sneezes of others.

This time I’ve been really going for the prevention method – avoiding snotty children (sorry family!), washing hands more, taking echinacea and high dose Vit C, sleeping more when I can…..still, with a week to go my throat got scratchy and now I can’t reach the top notes of Boston’s More than A Feeling- a sure fire sign that my vocal chords, lungs and throat are at less than their best. Still if it doesn’t go into¬†my chest I will be waking early, in four sleeps time, to start my quest to complete the Glen Ogle Ultramarathon #2. But it’s not a repeat of last year!

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Last year there were two tiny tarsals of contention; the 33 mile route was going to be shorter than advertised and, during the event, some perceived ambiguous directions lead to some people doing a shorter route and some doubling back once realising the mistake and ending up doing more. Me? I did the ‘correct route’ after dithering at the arrow until the next set of runners came along and we decided by majority which way to go (and we cheated and asked a local dog-walker) but all this arose from each of us having given our route maps away NOTE: carry map at all times. I ended up with roughly 31.5 miles on the clock with just under 6 hours of running time and about 30 mins of check-pointing.

This year we are assured the distance will be nearer 33 but in re-aligning the route, it seems the organisers have thrown in another hill, just for good measure! So unfortunately, the performances for the same race year on year will not be comparable. I quite like a year on year comparison; weather aside, it’s nice to see yourself as the main variable and in that way, progress can be gauged. Got a feeling this year will be a tad tougher.

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However, this race will be very different from last years for all sorts of reasons…..at one stage I did want to consider it as a race but after the Speyside Way, I’m going to be very pleased to finish with no use of pain killers, no dodgy tummy and a successful eating/ fuelling strategy! Those are my success criteria. I won’t leave the GPS at home BUT I won’t be eye-balling it. (Plus I’ve only just found out how to extend the battery life so it might actually last the whole route this year!)

I’ve also just received a new ipod Nano – 8Gb beauty in exchange for my very old and recalled model a 2Gb Nano 2005 model (apparently it did some electrical melting act on lots of people over in Japan so Apple re-called and offered refurbs/ exchanges….) my poor unit had obviously succumbed to too many rainy runs stuffed inside a non waterproof pocket. Either that or too many Dire Straits tunes! I received a complete replacement. BONUS! I’ll be loading up some¬†ear-buzz for when the going gets tough.

I had a wee shot at making some flapjacks, just so I know exactly what went into them. They were “alright” but not so more-ish that they would tempt me through a period of running induced nausea. I may have to resort to the peanut butter drink again.

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I’ve had an acupuncture session already this week and the right plantar and achilles are questionable read: painful under manipulation. But I have worked out a very nice flat footed strategy which got me through SSW OK. One more session on Thursday night and then it’s all digits crossed and a strong mental resolve to complete the journey in the least painful way possible.

The Glen Ogle will be my last event of the year and sadly, maybe my last UK event for quite some time ūüė¶ I have some tentative bookings for next year but given that I might have to¬†cough for¬†a 5 time-zone flight to get to them, in all likelihood, they might not happen.

But there will be “other” events to consider.

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Until then, I’ll be looking forward to some freezing cold Scottish country-side running and to re-enact www.GO33ultra.com in much the same way as this:-

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Two weeks to Glen Ogle Ultra

The longer runs are behind me and I’m now counting down to the Glen Ogle Ultramarathon at start of November.

What have I been up to? Well, worrying about injury sites and sliding into very cold shallow baths immediately after long runs to try and stave off micro-tears and calm hot spots. A visit to the acupuncture lady was sore and my calves seem tighter than ever.¬†I’m also beginning to start to think about fretting over what food I’ll take with me this year, following my overall fuelling disaster at the Speyside Way. Well, I say disaster: I *did* finish but I wouldn’t want to go through anything like that in a few weeks time. Our hotel is booked and I’ll be meeting up with Andy Grumpy runner (a total misnomer as he is ace craik & has the same give-it-a-go attitude as moi) as well as PC Helen, she of West coast photography, amongst other returnees and Fetchies. My 3rd ultra is looming- whoda thunk it?

Despite the on-set of winter weather and the temperatures cruising into the single figures, training levels have been generally good…until this week when work hours reached an all-time¬†high just as weekly mileage crept up towards 35 miles. I’m currently so over-allocated with projects I need to clone myself immediately and start both of us working the night-shift. Spose it’s a good ‘problem’ to have but it’s definitely not sustainable and we all know which is more important. I’m also behind with things like hair-cut, expense claims, car faffage….anyway, running = >>>

On advice from physio at the start of the year when the achilles was more like an a-kill-ease, I’ve been following a 4 – 5 week periodisation; weeks ramp up in mileage and duration and then drop right back before re-starting the ramp up. So far so good but there *have* been bruised feelings over the old injury areas in the last few¬†tempo runs¬†and I need to eek out these legs and feet for just a few more weeks and then through the race-day itself. I’m going easy now ūüôā

Some nice snaps from around and abouts, taken with the Whiteberry

A couple of wee stints at marshalling and racering here and there, not all-out and always without GPS. I don’t really want the feedback or pressure to push¬†at the moment, just running at what my legs and lungs will find comfortable/sustainable: Proms 3K = 14:44 (+2 secs from Dec 11), Park-run = 29:12 (Claire’s parkrun PB which she then smashed the following week without me, about 5 mins outside my best), Kinord 10K = 62 mins, OK let’s delve a wee bit into that one……I had sent an event link to my BiL as he wanted to get back into racing after a season off from triathlon. I had just finished a week of travel and catch up, 11 hours in the office every day and home-work at night. Boo! Energy levels were bottoming out off the back of non-existent lunchbreaks topped up with meals out with friends at night. Tuesday -The Colemans, Wednesday – The Stronachs, Thursday – The Nolans plus 2 week old baby. Havoc! The weekend came and I just wanted bed, more bed and feet up. OK, go on then, I’ll do a 10K! I do looooove the fact that I have the Choice to just do a 10K at almost the drop of a hat. In the past I would have needed to train towards this as a main event and I feel grateful for that, it’s easy to forget sometimes and just move straight to the “ooh what time did I get?”, which is why the Garmin has been left at home for races and really only using the MotoACTV as a MP3 and distance recorder on longer runs.

This¬†gathering was crawling with local hill-running talent and I sheepishly rocked up and said Hi to some Cosmics, who all informed me that Tuesday sessions had started again and basically, if I could run today without any pain I should get my lardy butt back to training. Well, they didn’t say lardy. That’s my terminology and I DO feel very tubby right now even though the long runs have been enjoyable. I should go back after the ultra ūüôā

The short of it, I found it tough going to 5K (my warm-up involved standing around in¬†a¬†hoody drinking Powerade), with some proper technical down-hill bursts strewn with trip hazards, but I was loving it and working hard in the mid to back-pack. Then a bliddy stone in the left shoe¬†jammed under the arch, so stopped after the marshall and had to houdini my¬†INOV8 which was triple tied and compacted with mud throughout the laces. By the time I started up again I had received a flood of lactic and at least 10 runners had passed ūüė¶ I tried to get steady and overtook one or two but stopped again about a click later to scoof some juice at the water station. Then the single track made passing all but impossible, a few gracious runners who heard my porno breathing stepped aside. I was flying and loving it again by 8K and all too soon I was running towards my niece Anna who’s¬†only 21/2, cuter than cute and I asked her to wait for me and run in at the end. So we did!

Myself, Anna & my sister Iona finish Kinord 10K

A beautiful end to a tough wee race. To be honest I would have liked to have gone on for a few miles once I’d crossed the line, as I felt properly warmed up and that’s the difference between having speed training in you and having the endurance slow running in the bank. I was careful though and didn’t turn an ankle, slip on the bridges (I’d been prior warned by Pauline Cosmic) or hurt anything. Nice one! Very happy and even¬†got a spot prize. Nice¬†event Dinnet folkies! Nice work Cosmics too, Team prize, Rob winning outright and Matt giving a gut busting PB performance on “that” course which was even a tad longer than 10K ūüėČ Happy daze. So good to see a few faces from the West Coast hill-running scene and a couple of other local runners, the friendliness reminds me why I love running and smaller events are always decent about post race grub (puts the bigger events with extortionate entry fees, to shame). Funds from todays race went towards maintaining the local hall;hopefully the gazillions of cakes and sandwiches my family as a whole managed to put away didn’t deplete the donations too much. And I don’t think that todays run did anything detrimental in the¬†lead up to the ultramarathon.

Apart from all that, I’ve been re-reading Dean Karnazes latest book and laughing my head off, watching the new Dallas and laughing my head off, watching Rylan on X-Factor and laughing my head off, downloading Samantha Ronson/ Conor Maynard/ Of Monsters and men/ Emmylou Harris, sending food back in restaurants, devising a 2013 global strategy for the service line I head up (not laughing my head off)¬†and buying a few bits n pieces, including a new ‘lid’ and super lumen lights for the bike¬†ūüôā Loving my Ben Fogle buff (to be worn at the Glen Ogle geddit?), Marni jellies and Rodial scary sounding Dragons blood face juice. All this outdoor running can take it’s toll!

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 ūüė¶

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 ūüôā¬†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‚Äôs 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‚Äôt think we‚Äôd be out for over an hour. So ten miles on the clock (as I discovered literally, when I couldn‚Äôt 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‚Äôt let me get ensconced with carbon this and ceramic that…it‚Äôs so easy to get sucked into a new world and my Wiggle connections are already Gold status through running J Here‚Äôs 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 ‚Äúhidey-hut‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôs the Chinese proverb of the mighty oak versus the weeping willow: sometimes it‚Äôs easier to roll with the punches and be subservient to might, rather than trying to stand-up to the elements. There‚Äôs a lesson there http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Oak_and_the_Reed

A wee hidey hut – can you see the seat?

Ultramarathon drop-bag palaver

FIRSTLY: Wow, big shock that right-to-die activist and victim of stroke induced locked-in syndrome, Tony Nicklinson has passed away just days after losing his high court appeal, to end his own life. Whether you agree with the decision or his rights, it is indisputable that Tony’s situation was an awful circumstance. His case (amongst others) has certainly spurned me on to raise more funds for BASIC www.basiccharity.org.uk¬†and I thank all my sponsors to date.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/aug/22/tony-nicklinson-dies-right-to-die?newsfeed=true

So, trepidation concerning completing the Speyside Way ultrmarathon this weekend, has been replaced with utmost resolve to cover the ground any way I can and to the very best of my abilities. I’ve gone through pre-race planning that would scare even the most detail driven project manager and have arrived at this conclusion –>> it’s all about the drop-bags!

Start HANDHELD 1, electrolyte tab, 3 gels, refill at 5 miles
CP1 RUCKSACK (put empty HH1 inside), flat coke, popcorn bar, choc milk, CLIF bar, mobile phone, 3 gels, banana, IBU
CP2 leave RUCKSACK, change shoes/socks, HANDHELD 2, eat sarnie, gels into vest, small pocket into vest pocket
Fochabers leave HANDHELD 2 with hubby, fill HH1 with carb drink
Spey Bay Drink sweet tea, HH2 filled with coconut water, 3 gels
Finish Eat whatever I can manage

And the fuelling of course!

For the above to happen I need to set my Salomon rucksack up as my Checkpoint 1 (CP1) drop-bag and have a largish drop-bag for CP2 since my rucksack and changed out of shoes, need to go back in it.

This is my first foray into carrying less and using Ultraspire hand-helds; I usually have a rucksack filled with a kit list and water reserve that would fear you! This time I will be leaving out: full waterproofs, OS map, first aid kit, toilet-roll, food for me plus 4 virtual friends and will instead be replacing it with, a paclite jacket in both drop bags, scaled down 1st aid kit of ‘just’ ibuprofen, micropore tape, spare shoelace, safety pins and paracetemol. As for TP, I’ll take ‘some’ but as there are six public toilets en route I’m hoping I can manage to stifle the call of nature, to coincide with proper facilities. Time will tell if this approach pays off. The weather forecast is for intermittent showers but so long as my feet stay dry, I’ll be relatively happy ūüôā

[Later……] a pit-stop to Cotswalds (extra large stuff sac), Fjallraven tee and technical shorts (non-ultra related), Peckhams (dairy free choc drops, yoghurt covered popsorn bar, spelt bagels), ASDA (coke, little bananas) and then realising I’d have to go to Tesco at the other side of town because ASDA is, well, “rubbish” for things off the beaten track like: soya choc milk in wee cartons, crystallised ginger, Kara coconut milk, somehow some raisin n biscuit Yorkies got in there………. ūüôā

Aaaaaaand relaaaaaaaaax! It’s 22:36 and the drop bags are packed, my personal support stuff is labelled and everything is in order for the off, straight from work tomorrow. We’re staying overnight with a friend, close to the registration town of Buckie where we have been promised porridge AND poached eggs on toast for brekkie on race day. Food n drink; the important nutritional and hydration¬†parts are sorted. Mental prep and motivation are two for two. Now all that’s left is the physical bit: to run.

Another Rescinded Entry

http://www.lakeland100.com/the-lakeland-50

It was with a pursed lip and a Grrr-Argh that I officially rescinded my entry to Lakelands 50 earlier this week.

Originally entered in the blazing gusto a.k.a. completing the Glen Ogle 33 (er, 32, er depending on your route, 31…) mile ultramarathon last year, injury and lack of training have combined to give me another DNS. Now I’m not interested in any incredulous BS regarding DNS versus DNF. The simple fact is that many races (the interesting ones) require you to pay your money (in this instance, quite a lot) up to a year in advance. Can I tell the future? Nope. I certainly thought I would be well trained by this stage and even after sustaining a fairly nasty achilles strain at the start of the year, I STILL thought I would recover in time.

Hope sprung eternal when, having four months away from anything resembling training, I still thought I could walk the route and make all the Checkpoints. I even found some fellow-walkers aiming to just complete and who offered a shoulder to waddle with, across the fifty mile route. But lets not kid ourselves, this isn’t a fifty mile stroll round a park, it’s in the Lake District over hills, dales and some fairly mountainous stuff! Having just managed round a couple of half marathons, I’m not going to risk anything by putting myself through a course which might just set me back even further.

Having said that, there was still a large part of me that wanted to try. God loves a trier and I’m definitely one of those. I would have made it round, not sure about how many pieces I would’ve been in. So Lakelands 50, I thank thee and please accept my ¬£70 entry fee as testament to good intention but a tick in the Did Not Start or Do Not be Stupid as I’m calling it. I’m assuming the hills and the event will be there next year

That said, I AM willing to put myself through 36.5 miles and the ‘real’ 33 mile Glen Ogle course, later in the year. But I’ll be doing it properly, with (gasp) training, route recces, nutrition experiments and new kit. Gotta love an excuse for new running gear.

OK, don’t kill me but….

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Whoops. Rescinding entries. Coped with by applying the Retail therapy Plaster