|Make a Smilebox slideshow|
Monday, 21 December 2009
Thursday, 17 December 2009
At 6.30am we finally got going and took off at a good fast pace. The first 9 miles followed a singletrack loop and then returned past the start line and continued onto sandy "truck trails" up into the mountains. Top US runner Karl Meltzer had taken the lead and myself and Dominic Grossman were not far behind as we climbed up into the Saddleback mountains. The rain had been torrential and had soaked through my waterproof and the wind was blasting which meant it was getting difficult to maintain body heat on some of the more exposed sections. After about 15 miles my legs were getting so cold because my leggings were soaked through that I ditched them at an aid station and took the chance of running in just shorts hoping that I might be warmer that way. It was much better and by the time I got to the Trabuco Peak aid station I was feeling like I was getting into my stride, for me the weather was perfect! The aid tent was taking a battering though and I made some comment about hoping it would still be there when we passed on the way back. We continued on with Dominic disappearing out of sight for a while and when I reached the next aid station at Santiago Peak, which was about 5500 feet up, he was sitting in a chair with a blanket wrapped around him not looking too good at all. I filled my bottle, ate a small potato and grabbed a couple of gels then got straight out of there before I got too comfortable. The tent up there was taking a real battering too and I was glad when the trail became a bit more sheltered as it descended to the next aid at Maple Springs. When I got there the two girls had their hands full trying to keep the water out and the tent on the ground but did a great job in making sure I had what I needed and getting me turned around quickly. I asked how far ahead Karl was and was told about 5 minutes and that he was having problems with the cold and had had to go into one of the cars for a few minutes to get warm again. This perked me up a bit, I certainly felt the cold but felt, literally, at home in these conditions and started to think that once we got back up high again I might have a bit of an advantage.
The next section was a long descent down to Silverado Canyon and the last few miles were on a great, rocky single-track which I hammered down at a good pace, the more technical terrain taking my mind off the battering my quads were taking. I reached the aid station, had a few crisps and topped up my drink then headed on up the next section, at 45 miles, which began with 3 miles of tarmac road. I was hating this section, the road was gradually climbing up and at each corner I was expecting to see the track but it took ages to come. I was reduced to walking a few times, being so uninspired by the terrain and I wondered if I was heading into a bad patch. Soon though I was back on the trail winding up into the mountains and I was running hard again, this is more like it, I was starting to feel like I was really coming onto my game and hoping I might catch sight of Karl in front soon. Then a runner appeared coming towards me, "it's done" he shouted "the race has been called off". My heart sank, I decided to keep pushing on to the next aid station to see if it was true but a few minutes later Karl appeared with a couple of other guys and confirmed the race had been abandoned.
Monday, 9 November 2009
Thursday, 29 October 2009
HERE is my freshly written training plan for Athens 24 hour race next March.
It is based on the training I did for the West Highland Way race this year and I've tried to incorporate the following into the plan-
- a lot of flat, steady paced running (race specific)
- back to back long runs to build endurance
- weekly fast/rep. sessions but no more than 90% intensity(use HRM to keep check)
- train to handle the steady pounding soreness/ stiffness which flat running causes
- cross-training to supplement the running and strengthen supporting muscles.
When I put the WHW training plan into action work and life came into play, races were slotted in here and there and the actual training was quite different to the plan but I stuck to the general principles so I anticipate the same happening here (also I've a few adventures in the plotting stages...) but I need a plan to work around.
So, have a look through it and leave your thoughts in the comments. I've one or two things I've thought about changing so it'll be interesting to see if anyone else thinks the same.
Training starts 16th November so you'll have to flick the calendar forward to see it.
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
This guy passed me in Round Rotherham
I've been stalked by the fatigue demon for the last few races and on Saturday he finally got me. He had introduced himself to me during the Devil O' the Highlands race in August and when I refused to heed his warnings he turned up at the TDS and punched me in the stomach causing me to throw up for the last hour of the race. At Keswick he decided to get serious, he wasn't going to let me eat anything and if I tried to drink, well that was going to re-appear on the pavement, causing me to grind to a halt. He even had the lap counters in on the deal!As I approached the line to make 100 miles my lap counter appeared and said "listen mate, you've made 100 miles, look at the state of you, why not call it a day at that? There's no point in putting yourself through all that just for a few more miles!" I wasn't having that though, I had more resurrections than anything else at Keswick, by the end I think they were calling me Mandelson.
The thing is, the way to kick the fatigue demon's butt is not to fight him tooth and nail, gritting your teeth and taking the pain of race after race. The way to do it is to take a break, fool him into thinking you've given up all this knee-crippling nonsense and he'll go off and bother some other race junkie instead.
It's all in the training diary, the mistakes. Two weeks after WHW race and back into racing with the Dollar Hill Race just to mash the quads up again, then the next week I put in a 130 mile week and 30 000 feet of climbing on the UTMB route. Then next up, 7 days later, was the Ben Rinnes race on top of a 50 mile week, then the week after a 45 mile run from Linn o Dee to Aviemore and back rounded off a 90 mile week, and a week later the 42 mile Devil o the Highlands (still training through the week, remember!). Then 3 weeks later the TDS (65m +20 000 feet) and 19 days later Keswick (106m). Since I felt completely knackered by this point I had a weeks rest, then, since I'd had a weeks rest I rattled in a 90 mile week just to make sure I hadn't lost it and was fit for Rotherham! ( Just to illustrate how fatigue affects the brain, I had been on to the race organiser for the Tooting 24 hour race to try to get an entry since I hadn't performed at Keswick... just as well the race was full!!)
Every cloud has a silver lining as they say. The best thing about training to breaking point is the biscuits. A full pack of chocolate digestives in one sitting? No problem. A four pack of Kit Kat Chunkys in a oner? Easy. But, when the appetite went that's when I knew it was serious. After Rotherham's 25 miles I wasn't very hungry, didn't fancy any biscuits, in fact came home with a full packet of choccy diggies. I knew then that it all had to change (and I don't mean to those orange flavour ones, that's sacrilege).
For the next few weeks I'm not going to do much running, maybe a couple of club sessions in the week but keep them easy. The odd short race at weekends but at an enjoyable pace, and just rest up so I'm fresh for the next round of training.
I was hoping to complete 11 ultras this year, the same as last year, or even try for 12 to make it one a month on average but I'll settle for 9 and call it quits at that. That last sentence tells a story, doesn't it? I've improved a bit this year and have even been competing at the front end in races so I need to move forward and start to try competing in specific races instead of doing too many and not running as well as I'm capable. I'll still be running plenty races though, but I'll have my targets and the others will be part of the training.
So, what's next?
Three races for next year:- Athens 24 hour in March. West Highland Way in June and UTMB in September.
This time I'm going to train for the 24 hour so I've a few races planned as part of that, The Thames Trot, The Country to Capital and Draycote Water. So the adventures continue and it's going to be lots of tarmac and lots of flat running, training starts on 16th November, but for now where's those choccy diggies...??
Friday, 18 September 2009
Steve and William had great runs notching up 145m+ and 130m+ respectively, I managed approx. 106m. i'm glad it's all over, I've never had such a bad experience in a race before, my legs and body are completely trashed. Even Harry Potter couldn't have put some magic into that performance.
Monday, 14 September 2009
I was 9 years old at the time and it made quite an impression on me. That 3-1 defeat by Peru when we were taken apart by Cubillas, the dismal 1-1 draw with Iran, one of our star players Willie Johnston caught using performance enhancing drugs, only one game to go against 1974 runners-up Holland, who we had to beat by 3 clear goals, and it looked like the dream was well and truly over. But wee Archie Gemmill had other ideas. Having put us 2-1 up from the penalty spot Gemmill picked up the ball just outside the penalty box, jinxed past 3 flying Dutchmen and with his left foot, chipped the ball over the goalie to score one of the greatest world cup goals in history. It wasn't enough to save Scotlands world cup hopes though, and the team were on the next plane home.
The Gemmill goal was re-enacted all over the country by various 9 year olds often wearing wellies (the Brazilian kids used to learn to play football on the beaches in their bare feet, the Scottish kids played on the road in wellies) and the lesson that we might be down but we've all got some Archie Gemmill magic was learnt.
So, if you happen to be passing the 24 hour race in Fitz park in Keswick as part of the Commonwealth Championships on Thursday/Friday this week and you see a wee man in a Scotland shirt (no wellies), extracting the last ounces of magic from his legs, jinking past a few Englishmen, maybe to snatch some last minute glory, then you'll know it's the Archie Gemmill magic at work.
Thursday, 10 September 2009
"MR SCOTT JUREK!!"
El Venado was startled briefly as he looked up to see the tattood, skinheaded, Cumbernauld academic Brian Mc grinning back at him.
"do I know you??" stammered Mr Jurek, with a hint of panic in his voice
"NAW, I'm just a random Scottish punter!!" declared the gallus Glesga cutieboy
In a second he was gone. The taper momentarily forgotten as he made a sprint for cover not even hanging around to work out what a "punter" might be let alone a psycho Scottish one.
The Tartan Ultra Army was in town.
Brian, Drew (qualifies as Scottish through the Grandparents rule) and myself arrived on the Saturday, had ran the last UTMB section from Vallorcine over La Flagere and back to Chamonix on the Sunday and were now trying to busy ourselves until the weekend. I had also walked the first section to Les Houches with Brian one afternoon and spent the day at the Auguille du Midi cable car station with Drew, George R, Davie and Sharon. At 3800 metres we thought that if we spent the day there it should help with acclimatisation, it was also a beautiful day for lazing in the sun with amazing views of the mountains around. I had had a few extra runs during the week too since I was doing one of the 'shorter' races (106km 6700 metres ascent) so I felt I could do a bit more than the other guys who were trying to preserve themselves for the brutality of the UTMB (softies ;0)
View from the Auguille du Midi
As we walked the guys down to the start line the atmosphere was electric, crowds of people lined the streets so much so that we had to push our way back to the flat in time to get to our vantage point on the balcony above the main street. We had front row seats as the 2300 ish runners passed below us to start their 102 mile journey around the foot of Mont Blanc.
I didn't bother chasing the lead pack as I was reluctant to go faster than I felt comfortable, this was a new race after all so the chances are most of these people would blow-up at some point and I didn't want to get sucked into anything daft. I ran with a group of 3 or 4 which made it easier to see with the combined torch light and it wasn't long before we reached Col de Voza and left the familiar UTMB route to descend into the valley and to the first main aid point at Saint Nicolas de Veroce. I was 44th with 2 and a half hours gone, it felt really fast at this point and even though it was quite cool I was soaked through with sweat. The pace would change now though, with the long 1350m climb up Mont Joly ahead.
It took me about an hour and 45 minutes to reach the summit, I'd had to stop and rake around in my bag for some raisins to stave off a bonk near the top, and my climbing hadn't been good... no change from recent races then. A wrong line by a group of us sent us below and past the summit so a quick double back and a short climb to the checkpoint then I was back running again along the ridge. The mist was swirling around but you could see the drop-offs going away into nothing. I tried not to look down too much and just concentrated on my footing. A good descent down to Col du Joly saw me start to overtake people, too much guddling about with poles meant that lots of them were going really slow on the descents, I just held mine and battered downhill. I tried to force a couple of biscuits down at the checkpoint but didn't really manage so instead downed some coke in my fancy big cup (you have to carry your own cup to save waste, so I thought it would be good to take a BIG one, BIG cup= BIG drink).
Next we passed the familiar Col du Bonhomme from the main UTMB race but instead of going off left along the edge of the valley we went straight ahead and down through some rough stuff and along the valley floor. Again I was taking places descending. The scenery was beautiful here as we ran along next to a small river, the feeling of remoteness was noticible too, which isn't something you normally experience in these races. The next aid point, Cormet de Roselend (51k) was more of the same, cheese, bread, dates, dry stodgy cake, ham, biscuits which I think they got from the pet shop... you name it- I couldn't stomach it. So, another BIG cup of coke and I was off again. All I was able to eat so far was a few Shot Bloks and some sweets, I'd have paid good money for some mashed tatties.
The next section was again pretty technical, with some really rough, rocky ground and then a very steep climb through a jumble of rocks to the col, the poles were a real pain here getting in the way all the time as I was trying to use my hands. Some good steady running followed then it was down past a big castle and the steep, never-ending descent to Bourg Saint Maurice. After about 45 minutes of quad hammering descending and my toes jamming into the front of my shoes on every step we made our way into the town. It was much hotter down in the valley and I was lashing with sweat and seriously thirsty. The crowds were out in the main street clapping and cheering and since I was running with the first lady the cheering was extra loud which took my mind off how bad I was feeling for a few minutes. As soon as I got into the aid tent, though, I realised I had to eat here or else. The menu was the same as before but there was some noodle soup which I tried but I just couldn't stomach it. I was wretching as I tried to force some down, so again it was a BIG cup of coke and off on my way. I felt terrible, running on empty was a timebomb waiting to go off and I knew I only had a few more miles before I crashed and burned. As I left the busy town contemplating the 1400 metre climb ahead and hit the quieter trails I started walking, I knew I'd had it, a low wall next to some houses in the shade looked so comfy so I sat down and wondered what next. My options were 1- get a taxi to Courmayeur; 2- beg a lift from a local back to the aid station; 3- lie and sleep behind the wall and hope this was all just a nightmarebut before I got a chance to decide a runner came past, Italian I think, and encouraged me to follow him. I started behind him and kept pace for a few miles but ran out of gas as the trail steepened and started walking again, it was then I decided I would finish this, as long as I could stay upright I'd walk to the finish. One of the things which kept me going was the beautiful scenery as I was climbing higher more and more of the mountains were coming into view, it was just stunning.
I started to wonder why I was missing all this scenery just to run in some race looking at my feet all the time so I sat down at the side of the trail, put my feet up on a rock and had a nibble on a sweaty dog biscuit I'd stashed in my pocket. Runners were steadily passing me now, some asking if I was ok, one or two even stopping to sit for a breath or two and take in the scenery too. This was the pattern for almost 4 hours, walk, sit, enjoy the scenery, chew on a sweaty Bonio biscuit, then eventually I reached the top. The Col Petit St-Bernard was the Italian border, the wind was blowing and it was cold. A large bonfire was roaring and spitting sparks, this wasn't a place to hang around long. I took out my scrap of paper with the race profile on and had a look, a 600 metre descent was next, then a 300m climb then a 700 m roll down the hill and a wee climb to finish, 25k in total. I'll try a jog down the descent, see what happens. I seemed to click into it here and started passing people, I knew that the race website was tracking me going through checkpoints and that people at home would be seeing my collapse so far (48th place now), so I thought maybe I could put on a bit of a resurrection here. By the time I reached La Thuile at 90k I'd taken 14 places, my target was to pull back 20 by the finish, surely that would be around where I was before my 'collapse'?
I was flying on the descent through the woods, the lights down below getting closer and closer, 17 people I'd passed now as I crossed a bridge into a car park. I could hear the music, people clapping... wait another 3 runners ahead, I sprinted hard past them to the finish... hang-on another marker... a winding street... up into the woods... I looked at my scrap of paper, oops still 4km to go, now I felt awful. My stomach heaved as I puked on the trail, run 100m, puke or dry wretch, run 100m this was the pattern for the next few km. I could see the torches behind, they will be working hard to catch me, the nutter sprinting at 102km. I was so glad to see the markings on the road in Courmayeur 500m to go, still managing not to lose any places I crossed the line in 24th place in 17 hours 16 mins then wobbled, shook, puked and was escorted to the medical area.
By the time I got back to Chamonix it was 4am, I managed about 4 hours restless sleep then was up and getting ready to watch out for the UTMB'ers coming into the finish. First in was Drew looking far too fresh for having ran for 39 odd hours, then Brian and Tommy together then George, Davie and Michael. It was really amazing to watch the finishers coming in, very emotional, if you don't want to run this one then I'd thoroughly recommend going as a spectator for what is a really positive, life-affirming experience. Big jugs of beer later on only enhanced our life-affirming positivity.
George at the finish
Monday, 31 August 2009
The UTMB organisation delivered yet again with this superb new race. It was like Stuc a' Chroin, The Ben, Glen Rosa, Jura and Borrowdale all rolled into one with some trail added in for good measure. The route was really quite technical with loads of rock hopping, scrambling and even some scree running. I finished 24th from 632 starters in 17 hours 16 mins.
I'll post a full report soon. Some good pics of the route HERE
Brian, me, George and Drew showing off our gilets... ooh la la!!
Friday, 28 August 2009
A week later, having not managed much running due to my trashed quads, I was off to Chamonix. The plan was to run the UTMB route over three days with Lucy and Andy R who would join us after his race at Seirre Chevalier. Day 1 was the big day, Chamonix to Courmayour, about 50 miles with 10 000+ feet of ascent. We had to crack on at a good pace to make sure that we got there before dark and most importantly in time for food. By the time we got to Saint Gervais, about 15m into it, it was clear it was going to be a tough day for me. Lucy was bounding along bursting with energy whilst all I wanted to do was lie down somewhere and sleep. I filled up my Camelbak with water and Coke and hoped this would perk me up a bit then we headed off and promptly got lost. I was really losing the will to live at this point, wondering if I could get a bus to Courmayour or something, but there was really no option but to plod on. We ran with a French guy for a bit who got us back onto the route to Les Contamines where again I had to stop and down more Coke, strawberry milk and cake as locals and tourists stared at the two of us. The route started to get steeper and less runnable now and the more it did the more energy I seemed to get, the cake was kicking in. It was amazing to be running this part of the route in daylight since it was dark when I raced it, the scenery was incredible and it felt great to be running in such an amazing place. The long descent into Courmayour was made bearable by the thought of good pizza as we had now crossed over the border into Italy and it was a pleasant surprise to discover the place we had booked into was a lovely luxurious hotel. I don't know if they were as happy to see us though, standing in the reception area all dusty and sweaty from 14 hours of running, but it's not an understatement to say I was glad to be there!
Day 2 the plan was to run on to Champex, a shorter distance of about 25 miles but some huge climbs. It was a real treat though. I was starting to really enjoy the running now, flying down the descent from Grande Col Ferret was fantastic! We flew down the trail, with snow capped peaks and glaciers all around what better a place to be.
Day 3 began in style at the best bakery on the UTMB route. It's owned by Leon of Petite Trot a' Leon race fame and his family, and boy do they know how to put on a breakfast. After stuffing ourselves with food and coffee we were off into the final section back to Chamonix. Another day of some of Europes best trails followed with Andy and I racing each other on the descents and some lung busting climbs with the odd wrong turn thrown in for good measure. We stopped for lunch at Vallorcine, as it was getting really hot, filled up with water then it was off over La Flagere and back to Chamonix and the end of 3 fantastic days running.
Just over a week later and I was passing by Aviemore, Scotland's version of Chamonix only cheaper and with a good chippy, on the way to the Dufftown Highland Games to do the Ben Rhinnes Hill Race. This has become a bit of a habit now as I've done the race for quite a few years now, so it was good to be lining up on the games field again with the sun shining down on us for the start. It's a very runnable route for a long race so it's fast going, but this time I felt in much better shape and took 9 minutes off my PB. All that Alpine air must have done wonders!
Next up on the training plan was a run from the Linn O' Dee up the Lairig Gru to Aviemore and back. I set off a bit late in the day, about midday, and felt pretty trashed by the time I got to Aviemore so decided to get some chocolate milk, coke and crisps and let them do their magic before starting back. I sat in the warm sunshine and before I knew it I'd drunk a half litre of choco milk, half litre of Coke and some water. As i waddled off back down the road my stomach was protesting vigorously so I thought I'd better sit down on a grassy verge and let things digest, and in the warm sun I somehow fell asleep for an hour. I woke up, looked at my watch, jumped up and started running. It was a couple of miles down the track when I realised I was going the wrong way so after doubling back eventually got back in the direction of the Gru. I was thoroughly knackered when I got back to the car, the detour had meant my the distance was exactly 45 miles and it was pretty rough running in sections too but what a day to do all that in a oner! (And get a kip in too!)
As I lined up in Tyndrum 7 days later at the start of The Devil O' the Highlands Race I was a bit worried that the Gru might still be lingering in my legs but this is one of my favourite ultras so I was raring to go. The pace was fast to start so I dropped back and just got into my own groove. I ran along with Peter H a fellow Carnegie until just before Kingshouse, it was Pete's first ultra and he was going well. Then George C passed me and I knew it was game on. I chased hard past Kingshouse and planned to pass him then disappear into the distance up the Devils staircase but George was much too strong for me this time and he made the climb look easy as he passed me and I disappeared into the distance... behind him.
I still managed a good time, 6:07, but was about 12 mins slower than last year.
So, here I sit, back in Chamonix waiting for tomorrows TDS race. It's part of the UTMB only a shorter race at 106km and 6700m of climbing. I've been here since Saturday doing a bit of running and trying to get up high to acclimatise. Yesterday I spent all day up the Auguille Du Midi which is 3800m. I was joined by a few other WHW'rs George R, Drew S, Davie and Sharon, Hugh Kerr also. It's amazing how light-headed you get up there, especially when Sharon asked me if I was looking for a good time! Of course she meant in the race! Well I'd love to run well in this one but I'm wondering if I've maybe pushed it a bit far recently. Soon find out.
Friday, 24 July 2009
Every now and then I would forget for a minute and expect to see him with flourescent top and big smile, clipboard in hand, running around.
During the service his sister, Diana, asked us to pick a memory of Dario and treasure it and remember him that way. Well, mine would be from the night run we did just a couple of weeks before this years race. I ran on ahead of the group over Conic Hill and down to the car-park in Balmaha where Dario was waiting to meet us after his run. It was after 3am and my torch beam caught sight of his flourescent jacket and as soon as he recognised me he started chatting away, he laughed and said "I don't know why I'm doing this, I'm not even running the race!" then he beamed and said "yes, but it's great fun, isn't it?" And it was.
Sunday, 19 July 2009
The hand-drawn race number from the Cateran Trail
Dario presenting me with my prize at this years WHW race
(pic by Alan Young)
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
Team Carnegie (well most of us!) at the start
pic courtesy of Alan Young
Scott and I on the Lairig Mor (pic courtesy of Tim Downie)
I stumbled into Lundavra and Lucy and Ken were shouting that it was all to play for, they were only 5 minutes or so in front. I was destroyed though, I told them I was struggling and was in mid-moan when someone else pitched in and said something, I can't remember what, but it hit home and I took off my bum-bag emptied it on the ground, grabbed a bottle and ran up the hill absolutely fired-up again!
I looked at my watch as I left Lundavra, 15 hours 15 mins it said. The slowest I'd ever done this section was 1 hour 50 mins and the fastest was 1 hour 15. Sub 17 was definitely on and sub 16:30 a possibility and if I can catch up with the other two....
My quads were screaming on the downhills, the pain was getting really bad. I could still run hard on the uphills and the flats though so I just kept pushing on along the ever undulating track until I reached the new bulldozed track section then I knew all I had to do was grit my teeth and let gravity pull me down to Fort William. I remembered it took me about 30 minutes from here last year and looked at my watch, 15:55, sub 16:30 was more than on!
I ran through the Braveheart car park and passed George's wife and son and gave them my bumbag, then hit the road as hard as I could run. I stared straight ahead trying to put every ounce of energy I posessed into moving myself forward, the tarmac was agony on my legs but only a matter of minutes now, the speed limit signs, the roundabout then the clapping and cheering as I reached the Leisure Centre and the sounds of the piper meaning it was all over. It was all just a blur, Lucy and Ken were there to congratulate me and hold me up, I said no to the quaich of whisky this year, I wasn't going to need that to be sick this time.
My finish time was 16:24 exactly and 3rd place.
A special thanks to my support crew of Mark and Neil on the nightshift and Lucy and Ken who took over, you made it all possible and without your help, encouragement and inspiration I couldn't have done it. Also to Dario and all the volunteers who make this race possible, all the other runners out there and the walkers who encouraged us along the way, a big thankyou to all of you.
...and next year?? I've got a new time in my head but I daren't even whisper that one....
Sunday, 21 June 2009
It was an amazing race to be involved in with 95 miles of real racing, competing for places and pushing each other to the very limits. I finished in 3rd place and now need to go and lie down in a darkened room and let it all sink in..... (report to follow)
Sunday, 14 June 2009
Saturday, 6 June 2009
It's been an action packed May, with a race every weekend. Starting with Stuc a chroin as detailed in the last post then it was up to Blairgowrie to run the Cateran Trail 23 miler. I hadn't intended to do it since the plan was to cut out the racing and save myself for the West Highland Way Race but after speaking to Pete the night before I decided to run it at training pace. That was never going to happen was it?! I did for the first 14 miles but I got sucked in and raced to the finish in 2nd place, about 3 mins quicker than my previous best as well, so I was quite pleased.
The next week it was back to suck wind at the Cateran Trail but this time to run the 55 mile ultra. I was a bit wary of this one because the terrain is really tough and there's also about 8000 feet of climbing which climaxes in a 1500 foot climb at mile 53! I started off quite conservatively and it wasn't long before the rain was lashing down making underfoot conditions rather heavy to say the least. I was running with George C for most of the race and with 7 miles to go we were neck and neck. I made the mistake of not stopping to get food out of my bag when I needed to and paid for it with the worst "crash" I've had in a race for many a year. I was absolutely destroyed for about 3 miles and by the time I got it together again George was long gone and I was checking over my shoulder regularly for the runner behind, but no-one appeared and I finished again in 2nd 13 minutes behind George. Incidentally I had given up caffeine 10 days before the race and I'm sure this affected me, I just felt like something was missing (not food of course, lol) so that was enough to send me back to my 3 pints of Starbucks a day!
My race number and lovely hand-carved trophy from the Cateran Ultra
Next up Victor and I went up to run the Cape Wrath Marathon, the most Northern marathon on the mainland UK which goes across to the uninhabited Cape Wrath peninsula and involves 2500 feet of climbing and also a boat crossing at 22 miles! It was a very enjoyable race which I ran pretty well, managing to narrowly escape hypothermia on the boat crossing and finished quite strongly in 3:08 and 3rd place. A very beautiful and spectacular setting for a race. The next day Victor and I headed down to the Cairngorms for a cracking run over to Loch A'an and up Beinn Mheadhoin, it was nice and sunny but still quite cold. We met the usual sour-faced walkers who seem to frequent the Cairngorms, I just can't work it out, there's nowhere else in Scotland where you get such looks of disgust as you pass people. Most of them obviously disapprove of us heading out into the hills in shorts and trainers and choose to show their disapproval by scowling at us as we say hello, they just don't get it do they?! I remember one day running over the Lairig Ghru with Victor and we passed a couple coming the opposite way. Victor passed them and as I approached the guy was staring at me very strangely. As I said hello he said "your mate hasn't got any manners has he?" I told him he'd need to speak to him about that and before I knew what was happening him and Victor were verging on a full-on fist-fight! I quickly ushered Victor on but the bloke kept shouting and screaming, winding himself up into a real rage, so to give him something to rage about I took the nuclear option and dropped my shorts bending over to give him the full moon greeting at which point he almost exploded and we trotted off in the other direction chortling heartily. Pity I hadn't thought about the fact that we were doing an out and back route! There was no sign of him on the way back and I think the sight of my arse would have deterred him from making anymore trouble anyway.
Running down to Loch A'an
The racing has been knocked on the head now but I've had a few decent training runs. Last Friday night I met up with some of the guys from the WHW forum and we ran a 20 mile night run from Milngavie to Drymen to prepare for the 1am start of the WHW race. It's a kind of acclimatisation process, I'm hoping my body is going to get used to running in the middle of the night but it's debatable whether it does any good or not. After the run we arrived back in Milngavie at 3.30am and I managed to drive as far as Harthill services where I had to stop for a short sleep, next thing I knew I woke up and it was 7am! Not a very pleasant nights sleep!
On the Sunday, Lucy and I went up to Glen Tilt for a run in the glorious sunshine as most of the country basked in a heatwave. It was an amazingly scenic route following the river through the glen to the suspension bridge where we cooled our feet in the water and lazed in the sun for a while before running the 11 miles or so back to the car, then down to the river again to cool off the fried quads. Lucy took great amusement from the fact that I keep an emergency pot of jam in the glovebox of the car (the second person to comment on this in a few weeks!) I reckon it makes good sense to have some jam to hand in case of an emergency food bonk, all you need is some oatcakes or a couple of rolls and you're back on the road in no time!
Last night I ventured out for another night run, this time with the twins, Fiona and Pauline. What a change in the weather! It was about 7 degrees and we were drenched on a regular basis with the heavy showers, it was more like winter this time but I felt much better this week so maybe I am "acclimatising".
So, less than two weeks to go before the biggest, toughest ultra in Scotland. I'm absolutely busting to get going. I feel in good shape and races up to now have went pretty well so all that remains is to keep a lid on things, lie low and get stuck in there. I might post a few words before then in way of a preview, so till then behave yourselves or I'll be over to give you a big Ballingry moonshine!!
Sunday, 10 May 2009
So for the 11th year, (I missed one due to a dislocated shoulder) with a car full of eager Hillbillies, I was battling back up through Callandar, fighting my way through the cars filled with excited bank holiday-ers on the hunt for the Trossachs' best bargain tartan blanket and matching fridge magnet. This years journey was without incident, unlike last year when I was spectacularly pulled over in the main street packed with thimble hunters after stopping about 5 miles south of Callander and taking a slash in a bush. Sherlock Holmes read me the riot act whilst blocking all traffic heading north and probably caused fridge magnet sales to hit an all-time low for a good ten minutes, it's reassuring to know they're on the ball though.
We quickly registered, picked up our souvenir mugs and got ourselves to the start line. It was a huge field this year because the race was included in the British Championship, there was runners from all over the UK here and I saw a few familiar faces like IainR who had ran the Fling last week too. Once we got going I took the pace nice and easy until the track levelled out then I tried to push on a bit to get a decent spot before the field narrowed into single file for some of the climbs. The 1500 foot climb up Ben Each was as hard as always with everyone nose to tail climbing up through the rough heather then when it eventually levels out a bit the legs are so thrashed it's hard to get some running rythmn going again. I felt fine on the climbs but I really lacked strength on the descents and my brain seemed to be lagging a bit behind my legs today which wasn't good with such tricky terrain to negotiate. I made sure I took on water each time I passed the marshalls because it was quite warm and I was sweating buckets. Up to the summit then a big effort to hold it together on the descent to Glen Ample before the chin-scraping, quad busting climb back up again. As I hit the track I could see I was catching fellow Carnegie clubmate Pete so I pushed on and passed him and made the finish-line with about 100 yards on Pete, but missing a pb by a mere 16 seconds.
We were both trashed at the end with Pete writhing around on the ground with cramp, so the only cure was 10 minutes sitting in the freezing river. The Hillbillies came down too but thought the river was for washing in and just looked at me strangely as I sat submerged talking of the therapeutic benefits I would be reaping in the morning....
Friday, 1 May 2009
Here's my longest log entry ever...
Scott Bradley 2009
Thursday, 30 April 2009
The Pink Panther (yeah, yeah I need to tidy the garage...!)
I thought I'd just use the 10k as a tempo session for this week but yep, you guessed it, I couldn't resist racing it! It was pretty painful to start with, going at that pace, and when I glanced at my watch for the first time and there was only 10 minutes gone I had to double check I hadn't pressed stop by mistake. After that I just got my head down and started to feel pretty good about half way, even taking a few places.
I wasn't the only nutter there either, my clubmate and fellow Flinger Sid James also ran and finished just a few steps behind me. We're a hardy bunch us Carnegies!
I finished in 30th place in 38:34 which probably means I've no hope of a pb at Stuc a Chroin on Saturday but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it!
A massive spread of cakes awaited us at the end but unfortunately I had no lights on the Pink Panther so I just rammed my mouth full of cake and left... apologies for my terrible manners.
I must also mention all the comments on the Fling report and say thanks to everybody, it's very much appreciated that you take the time to read my nonsense!
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
As I said in my preview post I wasn't sure if I was going to suffer because of all the big mileage I've been putting in and in the end I don't think I did, but I don't think it's improved me much either... yet, it's all miles in the bank for the West Highland Way race in June, that's the plan.
The Highland Fling has got to be the best value race in the calender. It is superbly organised and is run over a course which tests a whole range of skills, with the flat and fast 13 miles to Drymen, the very technical sections up Loch Lomond and the hilly miles at the end. This means that judging your pace is really important and also a bit tricky. Go out too fast and you'll pay dearly later on, as I found out. I think if I'd dropped my pace a fraction up to Drymen I'd have been much stronger on the Loch-side, something to remember for WHW.
The new system of staggered starts was implemented this year with the Ladies and Super-Vets going out an hour earlier which meant we got to hunt down women and old people to get to the beer and stovies first at the finish. This turned out to be really good with loads of encouragement from everyone I passed and seeing friendly faces gave a real boost at some of the low points.
For me, there was a few of those.
My stomach was bad from the start, and just got worse as the race went on, with numerous pit stops in the woods giving temporary respite, but the worst thing was I just couldn't eat. I think I ate about 6 gels and some sweets on the 53 miles along with my energy drinks which sloshed around in my stomach like a washing machine on full spin cycle, all I could think about for most of the race was crossing the finish line and having a real good spew!
That wasn't to be though.
The Crazy German had other ideas as, with about 5 miles to go he overtook looking fresh as a gänseblümchen. I already had swapped places with Iain R about 20 times in the race and he wasn't for letting go so potentially I could drop another place and who knows, were the cavalry fast approaching from behind? So, I decided it was now or never, let go on the descent to the A82, passed the Crazy German, and hoped I could keep the pace going to the finish. I never saw anyone behind me after that, and believe me I had a few glances over my shoulder, and managed to hang on until the river just before the end where I started to cramp up quite badly but the sight of the bouncy castle spurred me on and by the time I realised it wasn't a bouncy castle I was finished. The energetic finish had, ironically, sorted my stomach out so it wasn't long before I was enjoying the complimentary stovies and beer. A pb of 8:18 and 1st team prize rounded off a great day.
Thanks to Murdo, Ellen all involved in the organisation, to Debbie and Silke for the encouragement and to all the other runners and supporters for making it a great day on the trails, also to the club who generously put me up in the bunkhouse and provided a great feed as well!
Report on Scottish Athletics Website