Monday, 23 February 2009

Sometimes you've just got to tell your body to shut up....!

A 750 mile round trip, 35 mile race and about 5 gallons of coffee made for an eventful weekend.

There was still about half an hour to go before the start of yesterdays Draycote Water 35 mile race and I was trying to make up my mind. Should I just pull out and cheer the other Carnegie runners on who I'd travelled down with? I just didn't feel things were right and the freezing wind that was blasting us didn't make me feel much better about it. I got changed and before I could make my mind up I was on the start line and off and running.

After about 45 mins I had completed the first lap of 7 (this was a longer one to make the distance up) then lap 2 went in at about 33 mins and lap 3 about the same. So far so good, I felt pretty comfortable and my knee was perfect! lap 4 was a wee bit slower and I lost about 2 1/2 mins on lap 5 because I had to stop at the loos, no avoiding it, and lap 6 I lost 2 places as I slowed quite a bit but I felt good and steady at the end to finish in 7th place in 4 hours 21 and a bit. I went through the marathon in 3:11 as well which is a marathon pb for me!( I've only done 2, about 10 years ago).

So, children, the moral of the story is don't listen to your body when it's complaining, just give yourself a good kick up the butt and get on with it!

Today I'm knackered... maybe I should go out and get in a quick 20 miles...??!

Friday, 20 February 2009

A Sore Knee and an Itchy Bum - Have I Gone Too Far?

Is this weekend going to be a step too far?

That's the question I've been asking myself the last few days.

I've had three weeks of hard training and racing, with the mileage being stepped up a bit too. My knee has been niggling since the beginning of January after a slip on the slopes of Cairngorm in the snow and then giving it a real good clatter in Forfar just to make sure. But how else do you find out what's a step too far?

So it's off south for the Draycote Water 35 mile race. Not really my forte this but good training nonetheless, 4.75 mile circuits on tarmac... yes you can sense my enthusiasm!

A wee recap of the last few weeks then.

After Forfar I put in my first 100 mile week of the year finishing off with a couple of back-to-back 20+ milers so it was good to get that under my belt, then I was up in Aberdeenshire for a week working so the snow made running a pain as it was all road runs but I still managed a speed session of sorts which was interesting!

Then at the weekend there was the Carnethy 5 hill race. This year was the snowy edition, which meant really fast descents for most except the girly descenders like me who tootled down most carefully then battered it to the next one! I did manage a bumslide though, which I regretted afterwards with my bright red bum cheeks glowing through till about Wednesday and now they're just really itchy so I spend most of my time with my hands down the back of my trousers howking. This gets funny looks in the supermarket.

The next day, after Carnethy, I met up with Kate J for a run which she had suggested going from the Hillend ski area along the Pentlands then down to West Linton adding in another few tops for good measure. It was a great route but I think it would be much more enjoyable on a warmer day! My feet were like ice the whole way round, every time I just about got them warmed up they were dipped into another freezing swampy patch... oh joy! The beans and toast went down a real treat at the end though, after 21+ miles and about 6000' I think we'd earned it.

Then, on Monday just to round things off I put in a 16 mile road run which had the knee niggling again and it's kind of been their in the background all week so I'll give it the test on Sunday and see if it's a real injury or not!

A "warrior" pic from Forfar (the rest of the Garden Gang are right behind me!)
Pic courtesy of Allan Young

I've updated the list of races I'm hoping to do this year ( about time... yeah I know...!) see it down the left hand side.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Late Call

January is a hard month for an ultra runner in Scotland. The weather is at it's worst and the days are short. So what better way to make things more interesting than a night run in the hills??

It was Oscar who made me do it. His idea was to run from Galashiels to Peebles then on to Innerleithen and get the bus back to Gala. Why? To prepare for the High Peak Marathon of course! It's a 40 mile race on THE toughest terrain I've ever ran on/through, it borders on the farcical when, in the middle of the night your running partners (and you) regularly "lose" a leg up to the waist in freezing peat bog and everyone trots on as if nothing has happened... I can't wait!

So, Oscar and I slipped and slid the first few miles in the dark along the Southern Upland Way hoping to recreate some of the HPM's testing conditions and thus give ourselves some kind of valuable advantage!

It had all been going according to plan until we arrived in Peebles at about 4am in torrential rain, it was real stair-rod stuff and I was soaked to the skin. I mentioned to Oscar that this might be a bit dodgy as we climbed back into the hills but after a short discussion we agreed to stick to the plan and do the loop back to Innerleithen. So, we started the climb up Kirkhope Law and the rain went off, but then the sky cleared and the temperature dropped rapidly. Very quickly I was freezing cold and unable to get warmed up with the wind increasing and going right through my wet clothes so we pushed on almost to the summit then decided it would be sensible to go back to Peebles and catch the bus there as we had some tricky navigation to come and anything going wrong in these conditions could be pretty dodgy. We timed it perfectly, as we rounded the corner into Peebles high street the bus was waiting, we grabbed some food in the bakers and sat on the bus shivering, looking like two complete weirdo's who had been to some sort of strange lycra fetish party (I believe they exist in Peebles) with 33 miles and a load of climbing in the bag... mission accomplished!

Dark and rain above Peebles

Next up on the schedule was the Devils Burdens Relays in the Lomond Hills. It's always a really enjoyable race with Carnegie putting in nine teams this year. Great to see some new faces trying out in the hills for the first time. I ran leg 3 again with Sandy as my partner and had a pretty good run, then ran leg 4 to make up the numbers in another team so had a good fast flat run too.

Yesterday was the club cross country race at Loch Fitty so I decided to do it as the course is excellent. It was really muddy this year and made for hard running so I was pleased to only be about 15 seconds outside my pb from 2007 and in 2nd place.

Then to complete a weekend of fast, muddy running I went up to Forfar to do the multi terrain half marathon which is a mixture of road, trail and hill with lots of mud too. I haven't ran a half marathon for years so wasn't really sure how this would go. I set off at a good steady pace then pushed it a bit at about 3 miles to make up some ground, then at 4 miles had a nasty fall in a huge muddy puddle gashing my knee and hands so that took the wind out of my sails for half a mile or so. One wrong turn later I was running with another two guys until we found ourselves in someones back garden realising something was wrong when the path reached the garden shed. Then back on track again I took my chances on my own as they didn't seem to have much more of an idea of the route than me, at least when I took wrong turns they shouted me back... very sporting! I finished up in 13th place in 1:25:29 and had a good long soak in Forfar Loch to celebrate.

Some fast stuff lately has blown the cobwebs away making it quite a good months running with mileage totalling just over 280 and a fair mix-up of road, hills and people's back gardens so hopefully I can keep it going.