Thursday 31 January 2008

Garmin Forerunner 205 part deux

Got my new Forerunner 205 today. It's been less than a week, but I've really missed it. Now before I completely diss the Forerunner 50, it does have it's advantages. Firstly you don't need to prance about trying to get a signal, it works from the first step. Secondly, it's got a footpod, so you can train according to cadence. Thirdly, the battery last for about 12 months. And that's it. It's as accurate as the grown-up versions and provides the same information (in a round about way). But the screen in tiny, the light doesn't stay on, you can only display two fields, the timer starts from the moment you go, the footpod clicks, you can't map your route and the memory only holds seven hours of training. All is not lost though, as I'm definetely going to schedule in some cadence training runs into my speed plan.
Well today's weather brought all the delights of that Scotland has to offer. I barely slept a wink last night, as I thought the windows were coming in. Torrential rain, sleet, snow showers and gale force winds caused havoc on the roads. Anyone with half a brain (the vast majority of Garscube that is) would have bowed out of training, but not me. My colleagues already think I'm slightly unhinged, but when they saw me leaving in my running gear, that took to a whole new level. Most farewells were a variation on: "You're NOT going out running in THAT". If it wasn't for the fact that Wee Ann had text me earlier to see if I was going along, I might have been less inclined. My inner office leaves me ignorant to the outside world.
There was a grand total of 18 (out of 120) runners out tonight. I thought it was pretty good show, considering the conditions. Packs (which involved sole runners) were clumped together, as coach Lesley was adament that no one was out by themself. In my group, I had the advantage of being the only person who knew the route, so everyone had to run with me. Te he.
It was a nice eight-miler over Maxwell, down Canniesburn, past Donald Dewar Centre, Alderman, Lincoln, GWR and home to the bridge. As the horizontal sleet was stabbing our skin, the idea of pacing was thrown out of the window. It was just about getting your head down and trying to survive. I lost count of the amount of cars that sprayed us in puddles. The gang started to split up after the fourth mile, so there was a bit hanging back and regrouping. Nevermind, it's about character building, right? I think everyone should be proud they did it, but even more proud that they had the balls to start it in the first place. The hard-core strikes again. I best not tell anyone that I was wimpering in my soggy clothes all the way home. And I'll make sure that Marco spares you the details of his various points of chaffing %-)
Finished the 8 mile route in 1:10:25 with an average pace of 8:49. Really not bothered with the result, as I'm just pleased I got the miles in my legs.

Wednesday 30 January 2008

Steady town ten

Got up bright and early to get to the gym before work. Nothing too strenuous, just 15 minutes on the bike, some core work and leg weights. I could definitely feel the muscles in my stomach after yesterday's pilates class. I used to think pilates was for jessies, but it's pretty tough going. Especially when I'm trying not to laugh at Marco when he forgets to breath during the moves. He looks like he going to combust.
My quads were feeling much better today. Top tip for the guys discussing DOMS, high heels are much easier to walk on that flats ;-) I wouldn't recommend you wear them for work though. Especially you, JK.
Finished work at 5.30 and headed round the west end for a 10-mile steady. Along Dumbarton Road, up Crow Road, through Garscube Estate, along Maryhill to St George's and then back into the city centre. Back to my office is 9.5 mile so had to circle the block to make it up to 10 miles. This confused and humoured the security guard who waved to me about three times.
Had a bit of a scary moment when I went over on my ankle in a pot hole at the bottom of Maryhill Road. Thankfully the pain only lasted a few minutes, but my year of races flashed in front of me. Took it easy for half a mile and then I was right as rain :-) Marco and I had a debate about the crying skater who broke his ankle on Dancing on Ice. If I broke a bone at this stage in my training I would be inconsolable and unbearable to live with.
Finished the 10-mile route in 1:24:55. Average pace was 8.36. My goal race pace for London is 8:20, so I'm quite pleased about how comfortable tonight's pace was. Even against 16mph winds. The forecast for tomorrow is 23mph winds, so 8-mile run with Garsube could be a challenge.

Tuesday 29 January 2008

The recovery quads squad

After two days of struggling with stairs, it was time to bite the bullet and get my trainers on. Sorry for the lack of blogging, Jill, but my quads were shot after Saturday's WHW run. I didn't think my tales of shopping, drinking and eating were worth sharing, but I know better for next time ;-)

During my shopping trip I did manage to buy some new trainers, so that was an incentive to get back on the streets. The latest Saucony Trigon Guide. I love new springy trainers. And I love the colour, so double bonus. I also got to try out my new Garmin 50. It's been in the box since I got it last month. After my 205 got waterlogged - and subsequently goosed - on Saturday, I was forced to get my head round the new gadget. Within minutes I realised how much I was going to miss my 205 and went on line to order another one. So I've got a few days with the nifty 50. The reason I bought it was for the WHW race. It works with a footpod rather than GPS, so the battery life is much longer. And it has a heart rate monitor. It seems pretty basic, but I haven't really given it a proper go. I'm just eagerly awaiting the arrival of my 205. Although the new 405 is out in April. I just need to get one before Marco. Te he.

Anyway, about tonight's run. It was timed efforts. Last time this was on the schedule, we turned up expecting a 5k time trial. Fortunately, it's not as scary. It's simply reps for a specific time, rather than distance. This time is was 3 x 6 minutes at 10k pace (with 1.5min recovery) and then 1 x 3m. Of course I was in with the two of the faster packs, so I was probably doing 5k pace to try and keep up. Once I've worked out how to get the info off the poor-persons' Garmin, I'll post the results. Actually once Marco's showed me how to do it, I'll post the results. All I know it that the distance was 7.3 miles (including 0.6m warm up). I had a great run tonight. I really enjoyed it. Being with faster people really pushes me - just to hang in at the end.

Saturday 26 January 2008

WHW training run - numero trois

The first training in November brought torrential rain and gale force winds. December's run was on an ice-rink in sub-zero temperatures. And today's wasn't so pleasant either.
I spent most of last night listening to the wind and rain battering off the bedroom's velux windows. I kept nudging Marco at various points during the night to share my panic, but he was none-the-wiser. Even my chat of "You're in the Lomond Mountain Rescue. What do you think of scantily-clad runners trying to take in the broken banks of the Loch". He managed a mumble and something about a "challenge" before trying to block me out.
Anyway by the time dawn had broken it wasn't quite a dramatic. Although it might have scared off the masses, as there was only 13 of us that turned up in Drymen. The plan was to run point-to-point from Drymen to Inverarnan. Much more inviting than a soul-destroying out and back.
Manage to convince Sharon (my bessie mate and team Debs' support) to join us for the occasion. I bought her first trail shoes as a Christmas present, so today was the perfect day to break them in.
The run from Drymen to Balmaha was great. Conic Hill was a bit scary, but it was lovely all the way to Rowardennan. Along the dreaded loch-side was OK. I actually quite like this section. The time flies by as you really have to focus on every step. The rain started as we passed Inversnaid...and didn't stop. I ran through more rivers than I care to mention. Sharon, on the other, was only worried in case her mascara had run. That's my girl. Modesty over victory. It's a long slog from there on in. I was very excited to see the wig-wams (AKA garden huts) at Beinglas. I remember walking the WHW last year and wasn't so excited to see our accommodation for the evening. My buddy Dominic put the nail on the head when he said: "I wouldn't subject my fly-mo to this".
It was just a short trot to the Drover's Inn to meet up with the rest of the (equally drenched troops) and a welcoming beer.
(scores on the door...29.6 miles in 6:52)
Thanks to John Kynaston for organising a fabulous day out. Looking forward to February's run. Might need to go trail shoe shopping next Saturday. Although Marco tells me that a bit of mud is not a valid excuse for buying new shoes.

Wednesday 23 January 2008

Early morning seven-miler

Up at 6am to get my miles in, as I'm off to Manchester today. I've never been one for early morning runs. I always find them quite tough on still sleepy muscles, but I'd feel really guilty if I missed a run. Although I had already dropped the run from nine miles to seven before I'd left the house, so I'm not that conscientious. Anyway, I wasn't overly worried about pace. If I hit faster than marathon pace, then I'd be quite happy.

Quite a windy start and surprisingly quite muggy, so my perceived effort was probably higher than the pace. Started out slow and picked up the pace to half-marathon after the first mile. Aimed to finish flat out - to prepare me for fast finish in races.

Nothing exciting to report. Finished my seven mile route in 57:08. (PB 55.57, so a bit slower)

Splits for miles 9:17, 8:39, 7:58, 8:02, 8:05, 8:06, 6:57. Average pace 8:15.

Tuesday 22 January 2008

Winter warm-up 800s

News from the Skins camp: I think they actually might work. OK, maybe just help the ol' muscles. My legs felt fine after Sunday's run. It could, of course, just be psychological. But, let's face it, I need all the psychological help I can get ;-)

Here's what they say on the tin: "Enhanced circulation from engineered gradient compression assists in reducing lactic acid build-up". They also reduce the muscle vibration, draw moisture from the skin, optimise body temperature, contain antibacterial and anti-odour treatments AND have sun protection factor of 50+. Not bad for a pair of tights in a box.
After trying out the core conditioning class on Sunday (which was essentially yoga) I thought I'd try the pilates class at the gym. It's at lunchtime, it's raining and it's free. Three good reasons. Managed to drag Marco (and his new snowboarding injury) along for the support. It's quite tough and really works the core. I might try the core class on Friday lunchtime. I'm reading ChiRunning just now and it really focuses on strenghtening the core and using your inner Chi. It's all very interesting, when put into context. I don't see me wearing PJs and humming in Christie Park at dawn.
Long reps on the schedule for Garscube training tonight. Marco's having knee issues, so I was on my lonesome. My worst fears were realised when I was informed that it was 800s round the winter warm-up. This is route in Garscube Estate, dubbed the winter warm-up as it's the only good area that's floodlit for dark nights. So dull that we only venture there when needs must. After some brief moaning we were split into groups of two. Being the middle pack, I had the option of going with the fast ones or the slower ones. I opted for the challenge. My other pack members didn't. So it was just me and 13 backs.
Finished the set of six - complete with two hills and six speedbumps - in 3.27, 3.27, 3.31, 3.33, 3.31, 3.31.

Sunday 20 January 2008

The hills of Helensburgh

The lack of exertion in yesterday's x-swamp race meant that my legs were fine 'n' dandy for today's long-run. Realising that I hadn't uncovered any hidden talents for cross-country running, I headed back on the roads.

Marco devised a wee gem of an 18-mile route. Unlike his usual adventurous standards, this one was relatively normal. It didn't involve abseiling, scrambling, swimming or pot-holing. And I didn't come home harbouring murderous thoughts or looking like the exorcist. Double bonus. OK, it wasn't easy by any stretch of the imagination. It was crazy hilly. One incline merited a road sign highlighting the 17% incline. Believe it or not it was still a tame route for a man who was cross-bred with a mountain goat. Unfortunately, given the location of our house there is very few routes that aren't hilly. Fortunately that means I'm not shy on good-quality hill training.
The route started from the house to Balloch and along Loch Lomond side. Then it crossed the A82 on to the cycle path to Helensburgh and along with seafront over to Cardross. Then it up and over the evil Carmen Hill and through Renton. I had to do a wee circuit round Christie Park to make it up to the 18-mile. Finished in 2:43:11 with average pace of 9:04.
I bought a pair of Skins on Friday. I know, I'm a marketers dream. Tried them for the first time today. Deary me, they don't leave much to the imagination. They must be the modern day equivalent to Speedos. If my legs are spared even a little pain after today's epic journey then they're worth their weight in gold. I'll keep you posted. Think I'll be wearing them on the WHW. I just need to find a top, trainers and socks to match. Said half-jokingly.
Went to a core conditioning class at Kevinhall tonight. It's a combination of yoga and pilates, specifically geared up for runners. Wow I underestimated the strength that's required for something like this. I dabbled with yoga about six/seven years, before I started running. It was just one of my many fads way back then. Short-lived. If I can find the time, I'd like to keep it up long enough to at least touch my toes. After years of running, I can barely touch my knees.

Saturday 19 January 2008

Henderson Cup

Completed my first real cross-country today. I know I did the west-districts back in September, but that was a kid-on one. More like a trail run. My shiny yellow spikes didn't even have a mark on them. Today, on the other hand, was the real McCoy. The 6.7 miles of the Garscube Henderson Cup was a hilly swamp.

I made it quite clear that I was just taking it easy. Just a normal training run to take in some hills. My main focus for the weekend is my long run tomorrow.

After helping to set out the course, I found it hard to believe that people actually take cross-country seriously. Really? I just think it's a joke. The comedy value was heightened when I stood knee deep it mud. The picture will give you the general idea of what it was like.

It was a handicapped race. I started first and managed to finish last. But hey ho, I was first lady. As you might have gathered by the previous statement, I was the ONLY lady. That's a nice 11 points on the club's winter league with an absolute minimum of effort.

(Yes, those shoes WERE bright yellow!)

Picture of the runners at the end. Guests included Mike Thomson (fellow virgin WHW-er) and some random bloke who turned up saying he was originally from Glasgow, lived in Belgium and spoke with an American accent. I don't know what was funnier, the silver tights, the bobble hat or the odd gloves. n

Thursday 17 January 2008

Gardner Street Treat

I had a game of tug 'n' war with myself as to whether to go to training tonight. My legs felt OK, but the rest of me was screaming for a rest day. It was pouring at lunchtime, so I convinced my Marco (this time he was kickin' and screamin') to go to the gym. Just some core work and some stretching, I promised. A bit of stretching goes a long way (sorry!), so I thought I'd give the session a bash.
It was a seven mile tempo. As I'm pack leader, I was obliged to follow the structure for the tempo. Out the top gate, down to Anniesland (easy). Pick up the pace down Crow Road, along Dumbarton Road and Up Gardner Street - a hill that strikes fear in any runner. Maintaining pace along Hyndland, down Great Western Road. Then easy from Queen Margaret Drive along Maryhill Road. Hard for the last mile from Scaethorn. I got caught up with Ali - the gal who nearly floored me last Thursday, so we kept having to stop for a couple of the troops to catch up. I dropped to the back (cunningly) to make sure everyone got back OK.

Stephen Mulrine passed me at Scaethorn and said "don't you be blogging that as a cheeky wee hill". I promised to note that Gardner Street is a big b**tard of a hill.
Finished the 7.2 route in 1:02:41. At the easy bits we were very easy. At the tempo bits we stuck to half-marathon pace. At the hills I tried to control my tourettes.

Rest day for me tomorrow. Promise. So it's over and out until Saturday.

WHW Pep-talk

Meeting up with the WHW folks tonight, so I had to venture out at lunchtime for my Wednesday tempo run. 8-miles on the cards. Although it was a glorious sunny day (novel), I felt quite drained. My own fault really, as I only had a banana for breakfast - after four speed sessions in my legs. My head felt really airy (no comments please) and I found myself stumbling quite a bit. Kept up the pace, but had to stop for a few wee breathers. There were quite a few traffic lights that I didn't necessarily need to stop at. Finished my 7.6 mile west end route in 59.08 (which is 26 seconds off my PB) with an average pace of 7.52 (my pace for the 10K race on Saturday was 7.45). I did cheat a bit with a few breaks though. Think I might have to vary my tempo routes, as I'm now more focused on finished the route in a specific time, rather than focusing on the quality of the tempo in the middle.

And now on to the WHW pep-talk...well, my brain is well and truly pickled. So many do's and don'ts, conflicting experienced advice, scary medical chat and horror stories. I've decided I'm going to take it on board and just do what feels best for me. I'm not going to start clocking 180-mile weeks, eating tinned raspberries (?), fanatically weighing myself or running with a book shelf on my back, just because it has worked for some people. Seems like the field is split into "those who compete and those who complete". I'm definitely of the latter.

Here's how the night went: We arrived at Run and Become in Edinburgh at 7pm to meet up with race veterans, virgins, organisers, stewards, doctor and support crew. The whole family really. Everyone was really welcoming and friendly. Although people kept asking me if I was Marco's support! Pah!

The night opened with a chat from Adrian (runner, store owner and sponsor) and Dario (race organiser), followed by a inspirational and motivational talk from experienced runners, Ian and Murdo. All very nice and fluffy until the doc took to the "stage". The audience sat like startled rabbits as Dr Chris Ellis provided an overview of nasties and symptoms of potential dangers that all seemed to end with "...and you will be pulled from the race"

Thankfully the air was lifted with some light entertainment from duo-act Bobby Shields and Duncan Watson - the crazy runners who initiated the concept of running the full WHW. Watching the characters mocking and reminiscing was like watching Still Game's Jack and Victor. I'm not sure they even realised we were in the room until they were heckled from the crowd. They're a comical pair with all the patter. Purists that mock the regulations of the modern day race. Duncan commented: "one year I did in on three packets of dextrose and water from the burn" to which Bobby echoed: "Auch forget gels and camelbaks, digestive biscuits are what I carried". They must be horrified by today's pampered WHW runner: compression tights, dry-fit clothes, eight different types of shoes, gels, powder, hydration packs, GPS, gore-tex...the list goes on. They were the hardcore. They're legends. And don't even get them started on the newly restored path. Or motorway as Bobby called it.

Kate Jenkins, who held the ladies' record for four years explained her first race. Reading from a race report she scribed many years ago, we sat transfixed listening to the magic of her emotional tale and "life-changing experienced". She mentioned that she "loved the spirit of the West Highland Way. And it was that spirit that carried her". That's a statement I won't forget in the long time. She's an awe inspiring person. When her knees have finally packed in she should considering narrating. We were all gooey eyes by the end. I was half-expecting it to finish.."and then they saw the end of the Way sign and they all lived happily-ever-after".
The evening progressed (well past scheduled) with advice from an experienced support crew member and some information on food and drink from Adrian. I'm pretty much going to pack everything, as I've got no idea what I'll feel like. We packed enough to feed a family for month for the Devils, and I only ate a cereal bar and a handful of jelly babies.
It was a great evening and a fabulous introduction to what's ahead. Although "you don't know what it's like until you've done" was mentioned once or twenty-seven times. I don't feel either comforted or scared by being being more informed...just more prepared now.
Note to self 1) Organise briefing meeting with support team 2) Don't let Marco pack his racing shoes ;-)

Tuesday 15 January 2008

Garscube Hill-billies

Marco had to practically drag me out of the car kicking and screaming. I was cream-crackered. I tried every trick in the book to get him to change his mind. Everything. But he promised me I would thank him for it afterwards. Gawd, I hate it when he's right. I loved it. Even though it was long hill reps up the side road of the Garscube Estate.
After the warm-up, I was feeling much brighter and lighter. I thought the comedy of watching Marco attempt the drills again would certainly cheer me up. He must have been practicing today, as he'd almost grasped it. Although, when we met up with the troops Captain Stevie was still doing impressions of his morris dancing.
There was a quite a turn out tonight, so we were split into group of three: the elites, the distinctively average and the less able. Hey, it's just a bad as been categorised as fast, medium and slow. Packs B,C,D are the slower ones. I'm in E, so was grouped with F and G. H and above were out there to kill each other. I was one of slower in my group. The session was a 300m hill reps with recovery back down x 10. Struggled with the first few, but I was right on form - and closing the gap - by rep six. I was even first to the top on rep nine.

Monday 14 January 2008

Hanging out with the track pack

From one extreme to another, I swapped the mud and stormy weather for the comfort of an indoor track. It's cheating, I know. But hey, it's supposed to be a rest day. There's a gang of Garscubians that meet on a Monday night for a track session. Usually it's at Scotstoun, a venue I'm not a big fan off. It seems to have a climatic zone of it's own. No matter when you go it's always covered in puddles with the wind rattling down the lane. Anyway the precious track pack have gone under cover and changed their session to the 200m track in Kelvinhall. And as precious as I feeling, I relented and decided to join them.
The most mind numbing part of the session was the fifteen warm-up, going round and round the parimeter of the track. I threw in the towel after about ten minutes. Running round is circles was quite nausiating. I felt like I was on the waltzers. After that we did some dynamic stretching with some drills. Strides, knees-up, kick backs and fast feet. The funniest part was watching Marco - the man with no coorination - struggling to get his head them. If I had thrown him a couple of hankies, he'd look like a Morris dancer! ;-)
The crazy-hamsters that are the Monday night track crew had 12x400m on the plan, with three sets of four. I gave it a bash, but ended up doing 4x400 and 6x200. I think I'll be back, so I can only aim to catch them up.

Sunday 13 January 2008


After the success of yesterday's race, Marco and I went to a pal's house for dinner. Lack of communication on who was drinking and who was driving meant that we'd both had a few glasses of grape juice and had to kip over. We must officially be the worst house guests. After drinking Dominic's wine, eating all his food, wilting by 10.30 and stealing his bed, we then woke-up the house well before dawn. And left the carnage of the party behind. Marco got a mountain rescue call-out, so we were up and out by 7.30.

As he went off to rescue mountains, I went back to bed with a massive bowl of Frosties and the News of the World. After enjoying what is deemed as a normal Sunday morning, I felt a bit guilty and got ready for my run. I didn't have a whole lot in me, but I didn't want to miss a long run. Using the I-can't-be-bothered excuse is not a valid reason for missing a run.

As if I hadn't had enough of "cross-country" I decided to hit the trails of the Stoneymollan route. It had been pretty stormy through the night, so I was expecting some dodgy terrain.

As I set out, I could feel the 10K in my legs. Or maybe it was my Brooks trail shoes. I had never run in the them before and I wished I'd kept it that way. They were terrible on the roads. No cushioning, so I could feel every strike going up my legs. Much better when I hit the trails and starting heading up the hill. The trail was indeed waterlogged and submerging my feet in icy cold water was pretty gruesome.

On through the woods, the storms from Tuesday night had uprooted quite a few trees. I stopped to take a few pictures before passing the gates towards the farms. There was a lot of pesky coos on the trail, but I'm getting a little braver. I'm sure they were laughing at me as I dragged myself through knee-high deep muck and sh*te. I even lost my shoe at one point, as it was sucked off in the muck. There was a brief moment of panic, as my house key was attached to the lace. Sometimes I liken my runs to Mr Bean's adventures.

It was back on the country roads down to Cardross. Running through the town looking like I had just emerged from a swamp, raised a few eyebrows. Or maybe it was my erratic running style, as the non-cushioned trail shoes were causing my shins and knees to throb.

I was pleasantly relieved to be back on the trail. Heading up another farm, I noticed Marco running towards me in the distance. Stupidly I decided the whistle, which attracted the attention of the farm dogs - who were not amused by my presence.

I ran the rest of the route with Marco. Usual really. Him sauntering and me running flat-out to keep up.

Finished the 12-mile route in 2hrs. Average pace was 10miles. Given the terrain and gradient, I was pretty pleasured with that. And it was two minutes faster than my last attempt. To be fair I was little more wary of the killers cows way back then.

NB: I later discovered Marco's early morning wake-up call was to rescue two deerstalkers lost in the Campsies. If I'd known that, I wouldn't have been so willing to get up. Their fear and pain was just karma.

Saturday 12 January 2008

A real cracker jack.

Jack Crawford 10K: A reputable event within the Scottish road race calendar. I say this with tongue firmly in cheek. I vaguely remember running on a road for about 600m at the start. Then is was on to the trail path along the canal, that went on and on.

On a positive note, it's a well-organised, friendly event that run on a course that is as flat as flat can be.

Thank you to all my dear friends who heightened my pre-race nerves with jovial gibes of bogs, cross-country and the need to wear spikes...your comments were obviously well resourced. The trails were narrow and the ground was mucky and spongey. To add to that, the puddles had frozen over - forces runners onto the verge - and there were a few cycle barriers to maneuver. Then there was my own daftness. I forget to take my garmin off the one minute interval alerts from Wednesday's run, so spent the first 500, trying to run whilst resetting my watch. Doh!

All that aside, I got a PB. Woohoo. Finished in 47:56, which is about 45 seconds off my previous best.

The big yin did amazingly well. Got a new PB of 34: 48 - that's 40 seconds faster than the Nigel Barge last week. I'm sure he'll tell you all about it in his blog. Ha ha. I'm just full of those tongue-i- cheek comments today.

Thursday 10 January 2008

Uphill tempo

Booked myself in for a sports massage with (the lovely, but brutal) Christine at Achilles Hill. The word massage my conjure up perceptions of relaxation and pampering, but it reality it was torture. I don't know how anyone so small can cause so much pain. OK, I'm a bit of a kiff at the best of times, but when she found the knots in my calves I was biting down on the bed willing for the ordeal to end. Apparently my calves and quads were in a bit of state. It's been my right hamstring that's been playing up since Kilimanjaro, but that seemed OK. After half and hour, my face was slightly strained and my voice was a few decibels higher. It was all worth though. The lady's magic. My legs feel all light and fluffy.
Not for long though. Time to undo the fluffiness with a tempo run through Bearsden. A hilly little bugg*r up Drymen Road, over Stockiemuir into Milngavie. Down to Bearsden up the dreaded Boclair and down Rannoch. The tempo was split into three parts. The first was a mile was all up hill. Tried to cool it, as not to take too much out of my legs for Saturday. Ended up running with Ali Locke. She's about four minutes faster than me for a 10K, so probably not the best way to cool it on the hills.
6.14 miles in 53.16. Pace 8:42.
News from the camp: Route for Saturday's Jack Crawford 10K is a bog. Joy.

Wednesday 9 January 2008

Running on the wild side

Switched the radio this morning to hear: "Winds of up to 90mph have caused chaos all over Scotland. Thousands of homes are without power and rail, road and major road bridges have closed. Only travel if necessary". The proceeding travel report seemed to go on for about 20 Minutes. Not that I needed the report you understand. Lying in bed listening to the wheelie bins thundering down the street, was all the evidence I needed.

The journey in to work was an experience. What usually takes 30-40minutes, took nearly two hours. The weather had brought down trees and toppled lorries. As the Erskine Bridge was closed, we had to head along Great Western Road. All I could think about was how it would effect my tempo run pace for tonight ;-)

The storm had calmed by the time I got home and headed out on the Wednesday speed session. As I've got a race on Saturday, I'm laying off the longer runs. Coach Lesley advised me to do 4/5 miles - picking up pace in the middle. So I did my Balloch-Bonhill 4.5 miler with one minute intervals. Despite the wind, I managed to take four seconds off to finish in 33.53.

Tuesday 8 January 2008

The F-word

It's fartlek tonight. And lets face it, fartlek is the fairy of all speed sessions. Swedish for speed play and Scottish for dossing around. All that "oh there's a lamppost, lets sprint to it" and "fast to the end of the road" bla bla. You can really make it as hard or as easy as you like. It's more like a mobile social evening.
Fartlek attracts the most members to Tuesday's speed nights. With 1k reps and time trials having the opposite effect. Not tonight though. The rain was bouncing off the streets. Perfect excuse for the troops to put off their good intentions for another week. It even took us about 10 minutes to venture out of the car.
Thankfully it cleared a little when we were out. Or maybe I didn't really notice. One of my favourite things is running in the rain...although I prefer it if the rains starts when I'm already out.
There was about 10 in our group tonight. We all took turns at leading the pack. This is usually quite detrimental as each "leader" tries to out do the last by running a bit further and bit faster.
Had a great run tonight. Glad I took the day off yesterday. The alternative was a cut-down rep session at Kelvinhall track. I did promise to make it along next Monday. I'm sure I'll live to regret that %-)

Monday 7 January 2008

2007 tally

Finally got round to toting up the miles in my training diary...and the grand total for 2007 was 1653.7 (approximately!?). The most I ran in one week was 54 miles (Devil's race) and the least was a meagre two, whilst I was in Las Vegas. It was 40 degrees after all. I probably did a few ultras going round the shopping malls though.

Sunday 6 January 2008

Four seasons in one day

You know you're in Scotland when you can go from grey skies with torrential rain, to glorious sunshine, sleet showers and, of course, the mandatory gale forces winds...all within one run.

I had one of those runs that could you put you off for life. My legs were stiff - blaming squats in the gym on Friday - and I generally felt pretty rubbish. I was just putting in the 16-miles for the sake of doing a long run. I suppose I was training my body to run when I just didn't have it it me. So all's not lost.

I started on my usual 16-miler over the Balloch Horseshoe. I messed up my Garmin at mile five and didn't realise until a couple of miles up the road. It's amazing how gadgets have the ability to de-motivate you. After I discovered my mistake with the overall time and pacing, I couldn't help but think what's the point. In hindsight it was quite nice to run without a time-to-beat in mind.

It was pretty windy from there on in. I can't remember a time when I did that route and it wasn't windy.

I stopped to take a picture of my favourite sign, which is posted to a tree outside a family-run farm. Not only does it mark the end of the hills, but it always make me smile. I can't believe I'm carrying a camera on my runs now. I'm blaming you JK ;-)

I'll spare you my moans, but I was pretty miserable for the rest of the course. And when the cold sleet started, I couldn't wait for it to be over. When I finally made it home I was soaking wet, my skin was bright red and my lips were blue. My hair was a mass of knots, which took a half a bottle of conditioner to untangle.

When Marco made it home, I was strangely comforted by the state he was in. I just presumed it was me that had a terrible time. When he opened the door he collapsed face down, foaming about never racing and then doing a long run again. As the loving and devoted wife that I am, I took some photos and a video and then shouted out him to get his mucky gear off the carpet. Hey if I was that mean, I'd post the evidence ;-)

Saturday 5 January 2008

Step reps

Feel like a proper grown-up, as I managed to sleep past 9am this morning. That's probably the latest since my student days. I think the festivities and a couple of hectic days at work took a lot out of me. Or maybe it was lying under the velux windows listening to the rain and wind bashing of them.

Whilst everyone else was preparing for the Nigel Barge 10K, I was opting to do my own. Found a lovely set of steps when I was out on my run last weekend, so I've been dying to them a bash.

The steps are long and require two footstrikes. Then there's a plateau at the top, back down the steps at the other side and then a 50m sprint back to the start. Still with me? Decided to try eight. 1:20, 1:17, 1:19, 1:17, 1:15, 1:17, 1:16 and 1:13. Great wee session. And it's there are streetlights too, so perfect for a winter's evening.
(Yes, I went back to take this picture. I'm going to be flung in white van soon. I can imagine folks in the vale thinking: "aye, that's the nutter who was running about with socks on her hands last week")

I went along to Nigel Barge 10K to cheer on Marco and fellow Garscube and WHW runners. OK, it was to try out my new camera really ;-) I must have had a premonition, as my morning run was definitely the best option. It wasn't just raining cats and dogs, it was raining farm animals. The wind was howling and it was icy cold. To add to that, it's two reps round a very boring hilly course. Felt quite smug wrapped in a down jacket and perched under a golf umbrella.

I found a great wall to stand on to get views - and pictures - of uncoming runners. Unfortunately the wind threatened to throw me off, so that was short lived.

Despite the odds being against him, Marco got a PB with 35:31. How's that for a great start to the new year? He might even go crazy and update his blog.

Friday 4 January 2008

Dragged myself back to the gym at lunchtime today. I bet in every city across the world, the gyms will be jammed-packed and buzzing. Full of highly motivated detoxers, full of the joys of a new year. Not in Glasgow though. In true west of Scotland style, the gym was pretty vacant. Just the usual 20-odd folk pretending to work out when really their watching the crazy burds in their body combat (or something of that ilk) class. I'm sure it will be a different story tonight, but I've only ventured there once after 6pm. I'll never quite understand why people queue to walk on a treadmill or pedal on a stationary bike. I generally just do some core work and dabble with some leg weights.

Latest edition of My Race is out now.
There's a fabulous feature on new year's resolution, written by yours truly. Read about my first attempts at cross-country, road relays and hill running.
I'd give you clue....but it's available in all good running shops and Debenhams.

Having a night in tonight. Novel, but blissful. Marco's running in the Nigel Barge 10K tomorrow. I'm not. No excuses, I'm just not. We're presently watching the WHW DVD. He's taking notes, analysing maps and times and I'm writing my blog. Who says romance is dead? This is what newly-weds do of a Friday night.

Thursday 3 January 2008

First Footin'

After a very mild few days the temperatures have now dropped. Scotland is in for a cold snap and snow is on it's on way. I was holding out for a being snowed in tomorrow, but it looks like the worst affected will be the north and the east. I'm starting to question my motives for buying a house in the sticks.

With January's good intentions, I expected the turn out for tonight's pack runs to be quite good. And I half expected to see some new faces. Neither. Just the usual group of core die-hards.

The route for tonight was a "good six miles" - which means seven - round Knightswood and back through Maryhill. And to set the year off on a good start there were a few nose-bleed hills thrown in for good measure.

I was the only show from the pack E troops, but Captain Maz wanted to run with me. It was her debut club run as a Garscube Mum. She gave birth to her gorgeous son Finn - by Cesarean Section - only three months ago. Now any new-Mum would embrace the maudlin state of trackie-bottoms, the baby blues and sleep deprivation, but not Maz. Her body snapped back into shape and she'd signed up as a reserve at the club x-country three weeks later. Yes, that's three weeks after what is classed as a major operation. As lovely as she is, Maz is the walking proof that justifies the brunt the Irish receive is everyday jokes. Her sweeping statements are infamous. Whilst disguising her pregnancy during the early stages, she asked if she could run with me because she "felt awful. Terrible" and "wanted to run really, really slow and take it easy". Now that's motivational chat from the Ladies' Captain. Unbeknown to her, she provides the much needed comedy value that the club needs. At the training weekend last year, she told the group over dinner that you could drive in Ireland without a license. After about 20 minutes of debate and dispute, she pipped up and in her lovely Irish drawl announced: "you're not supposed to. But you can."

If there's truth in the theory that woman come back stronger runners after childbirth, then Maz will be the prime example. When we started out on the "easy" run, I know it was going to be anything but easy. Maz was considerably faster than me before blooming. So much so, that even after pregnancy, childbirth and sleepless nights, she was still faster than me. I'd like to think we were pushing each other, but I think I may be flattering myself. By the half-way point our chatter had turned to gasping.

I've had a bit of a cough for the last week and this was quite noticeable when we hit the hills. I continuously apologised for my spluttering. I always find the cold really affects my breathing.

On through Jordanhill, over Kelvindale and up to Maryhill we kept up a steady pace. The hill up Scaethorn nearly floored me, but we finish the last mile hard. It was definitely the toughest run I've done this year. Te he.

Jill, you better polish-up that shameless competitive streak of yours. The Irish are back on form.

And for the boring, just for the record stuff: Garscube, GWR, Lincoln, Anniesland Rd, Southbrae, Whittingham, GWR, Dorchester, Scaethorn and home. 6.78 miles in 56:44. Average pace 8.22. Slower than expected. Darn hills and dodgy lungs.

Wednesday 2 January 2008

Goals for 2008

Good riddens 2007! After an injury-plagued and unmotivated year, my only real achievement was the Devil o' the Highlands and one whole second off my 10K PB.

I melted in Paris, pulled-out of the Great Scottish Run, got blown away in Prestonpans and lost the will to live during the Polaroids. I had no structured training plan and simply hammered out mile after mile. Ironically I still huffed when I didn't improve my race times.

This year is going to be great. I'm embracing speed work, making every session count and ditching the junk miles. One-pace Debs no more... don't quote of on that though (Jill).

So here goes...

Marathon: For the last two years, this has been my main focus. Unfortunately, I've never really had a good shot at a good time. Soaring heat in Berlin (06) and then again in Paris (07) really threw me. This year I plan on running the London Marathon in April and (injury prevailing) the Loch Ness Marathon in October.

Half-marathon: This is my favourite distance. PB set in Great Scottish Run in 2006. Messed up quite a few last year, so didn't really get close to breaking it.

10K: This is my least favourite, as I always find them too frantic. Actually I tend to avoid these races. There's no flexbility. Every second counts. Even little hitches like hills, water stations, breeze, corners...can have a huge impact on time. My "first" 10K is next weekend at the Jack Crawford in Bishopbriggs. Here's hoping.

According to my new running bible (the competitive runner's handbook) the best way to set goals is to break them down into flexbile chucks and then again by time frame.
Race Distance
PB : 48:42    
  Acceptable Goal Challenging Goal Ultimate Goal
Short Term
(30 days)
47:59 46:42 46:15
Intermediate (Within 3 months) 47:30 46:30 46:00
Long Term
(within 1 year)
46:15 45:30 44:59
Race Distance Half Marathon PB : 1:46:15    
  Acceptable Goal Challenging Goal Ultimate Goal
Short Term
(30 days)
Intermediate (Within 3 months) 1:45:30 1:43:45 1:42:00
Long Term
(within 1 year)
1:43:00 1:41:30 1:39:59
Race Distance Marathon PB : 3:48:48    
  Acceptable Goal Challenging Goal Ultimate Goal
Short Term
(30 days)
Intermediate (Within 3 months) 3:44:59 3:40:00 3:37:00
Long Term
(within 1 year)
3:39:00 3:34:00 3:29:59

West Highland Way: And for the Big Yin, I just want to live to tell the tale. My main aim is just to finish in one piece. And if I were to finish in one piece in under 26 hours, I'd be delighted.

Tuesday 1 January 2008

New year jaunt

Marco and I are staying in Glencoe for New Year and suffering slightly after a night in the Clachaig Inn. After copious amounts of beer and blueberry Bacardi Breezers, I wasn't holding out my hope for today's run. Amanda and Stewart dropped us off at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel. We left our car at Kinghouse, so we could run the 12-miles of the West Highland Way section.

En route we had a debate as whether to leave the car at the ski centre or the Kingshouse Hotel. I'm a bit of a stickler for doing things properly. Although we would welcome a closer finish, I wouldn't be satisfied with not completing the full section. Whilst shaking his head at my theory, Marco parked the car up at Kinghouse, shortly after noon. On the way to Bridge of Orchy, Stewart kept asking if we wanted out sooner. Even I was slightly concerned about the distance we were moving away from the car.

After my Sis took the mandatory pre-run picture, we said our goodbyes set off up the Orchy hills. We passed quite a few groups - with bemused looks - on the way up. Despite feeling quite delicate, I felt really light on the hills. Usually I struggle on this incline, but not today. Maybe it was the blueberry juice sugar injection. We were moving quite quickly on the descent into Inveronan. The road section between Inveronan (past the annoying yappy dog that always seems to appear) and the Drove Road, is my least favourite part of the WHW. Running on road in trail shoes is awful.

Up the Drover Road on to Rannoch Moor, is always a bit a challenge. It's deceptively steep incline can take a lot out of your legs.

The weather was still and fresh, so Rannoch Moor was very enjoyable. I love the wide open space and seeing the length of the trail stretched out in front.

After about six miles, Marco decided he was "starving". Don't be deceived by is super svelte physique, the boy has an bigger appetite than a gastric band waiting list. Despite a super-fuelled breakfast and six scoops of energy drink in his platypus, he felt the need to devour a Cinnamon and raisin bagel. He unsuccessfully disguised his greediness as "training to eat on the run". Watching him choke and splutter on the third bite was quite comical. Devoid of intelligence it was me who had to tell him to stop running until he cleared is air pipes. I fear the worse for letting him out there on his own.

I ran the whole way up the hills to the highest point, which is something I've never been able to do and the last three attempts. I didn't really feel any different that running on the flat, other than the pace was slower.

We really picked up the pace on the trail down to the ski centre. I loved running down hill. I think the no-fear element is one of my strengths. Unfortunately my feet move faster than my brain, so it's quite treacherous.

The route from Bridge of Orchy to the ski centre took us 2:15. This is the point-to-point time including stopping for pictures, comfort stops and clothing changes. Even though it's January the temperature was eight degrees, so there was a few pip-stops for removing layers.

We picked up the pace again on the way to Kingshouse. For reasons which escape me, I was running faster that 10K pace. Oh well, a fast finish is great race preparation.

Finished the 12-mile section in 2:25. My garmin says I burned approx 1000 calories, which I promtly replaced with a Clachaig burger and chips.

Great band on in the Clachaig...