Yes, it's that time again! It's about 12 degrees outside and there's a few glimpses of sunshine between the showers... it must be summer! So, here's the action packed Summer Special, full of tales of running adventures and even including a free gift! Just put on a pair of running shoes and get out the door and you'll find your very own adventures... completely free!
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!!