Sunday 30 March 2008

Just a wee Devil

Who gets up at 5.30 and drives a 100+ mile round trip, just to run 20 odd miles? Oh that'll be me. The WHW troops scheduled in a 43 mile run on the Devil o' the Highlands course - Tyndrum to Fort William. As I'm focusing on London Marathon in two weeks, I'm acting a bit precious and decided to do the more tamer Kingshouse to Fort William section. Just a wee devil. I really should have bowed out of the training run, but I really enjoy them. And quite frankly, I'm scared I miss out on anything. Plus this is my favourite route.
I had pre-arranged to run with Alyson Macpherson - another cautious London-bound runner. Met up with the gang in Tyndrum, ready for their kick-off at 8am. Marco set off with Ian, JK, Gavin, Neal, Thomas and Davie. They were followed by super-support Silke, Caroline (Neal's wife) and Peter (Caroline's father). Alyson and I drove on to Kingshouse. And Tim started from Bridge of Orchy. Jon and Aileen had left earlier, but I never saw them all day.

When we set out the horizontal hailstones were pelting us with a fierce force. I was thankful I was wearing my cap. And my buff was great for protecting my ears. When we reached the bottom of the Devil's Staircase, the weather had calmed and we were pretty much lucky from then on in - apart from a few blustery sections. The outlook from the top was picture perfect. Crisp, blue and clear with amazing snow-clad mountains. I had to excuse myself for my first comfort stop of the day. Talk about room with a view!

Alyson and I gibbered the whole way. She has completed the race four times, so she instantly became my hero. Last year she was pulled at Lundavra. I'm starting to think that Lundavra is the Bermuda Triangle of the WHW. Being a race virgin, I can't get my head round finishing seven miles from the end. I would fall apart, but she's over it and looking forward to breaking 24 hours this year. She finished in 24:03 in 2006!

Alyson was a delight to run with. We both ran half-marathon in 1:42 a few weeks ago, so we were the perfect pacing match. And we both have the same aspirations for London.

I wasn't really paying much attention to my watch, but I know it was bang on 2 hours when we started on the ascent out of Kinlochleven. We passed lots of walkers on the way up. What a bunch of grumpy gits they were. As we greeted them cheerily, the most we got was a few grunts. We came to the conclusion they must be English ;-) Or maybe, given the toxic fumes, there was a hangover or two involved. After a few miles a pair of Americans walker saved the day by clapping and cheering us on, then stopped and shouted: "you're not running because it's a emergency are you?".

I told Alyson to cover her eyes and ears as we passed through Lundavra. We were both still full of beans and even picked up the pace. I remember running this route before the Devil's last year and I died at this point. But to be fair, that was the only training run I did for the race. This year, given all the speed/hill work I've been doing, I feel a lot fitter and much stronger.

Usually the section from Lundavra to Fort William is torturous and endless, but I was still in good form. We ended in a sprint (or as sprinty as sprinting can be after 23 killer miles) towards to gorgeous end of Way sign - which, incidentally, has been broken :-( I doubt I'll finish in 7.20m/m - unless I'm being transported courtesy of the NHS.

Alyson and I chatted so much, that the time flew by. Although she did mention a few things on my blog, so she probably had to listen to my tales all over again and was too polite to say. We finished in 4:53, which I don't think is not too shabby. Feeling quite confident as it was 33 minutes faster than my training attempt last year. And 36 minutes than I did the section in the Devil's race.

Shortly after we finished, the ray of sunshine that is Silke appeared with our food and clean clothes. After a much needed coffee, we headed along to the Braveheart carpark with Caroline and Peter to cheer in some of the guys. After a short while of shivering in the rain, Marco and Thomas appeared. Marco was running on empty (and raiding the boot of the car for foot) but Thomas looked fighting fit. Tim followed closely behind and they all headed off towards the end of the Way. As we followed them in the car, Silke was driving alongside Thomas, hanging out the window and screaming "watch your hamstrings". Who says the WHW family is a disfunctional?

Thomas had a storming finish. He looked like he was simply polishing off a 10K. Apparently the key was in his food consumption. Check out Thomas' blog for his top 'nutrition' tips.

By late afternoon most folks had finished and we all regrouped in the leisure centre. John Kynaston was his usually super positive and thoroughly delightful self - I'm sure little birds dress him in the morning. Neal smiling as always. And Davie being the wee monkey that he is. So all was good in team WHW camp.

Marco, Alyson and I headed back with Silke and Thomas. Marco had introduced Thomas to the term "bonking", which he found highly entertaining and tried to use it in as many sentences as possible. Thomas, word of warning: Bonking is not a word you should use outwith the running circle. Telling your IBM colleagues that "Marco bonked on the WHW" would tarnish my reputation. However, since the journey home, I have learned that Thomas is the only German man I know with a sense of humour, so maybe...

Keys points:

I wore my Injini socks. They are ankle cut length, which is great as I often get water retention and a heat rash if I've been on my feet for a long time. The downside is when they get wet, they slip down your heel. So, all though I didn't have any bother with feet, my heels rubbed and were a bleeding mess at the end.

Took on lots of advice on food and hydration. I know I couldn't handle soup and pasta, like some folks do. Cereal bars, peanut butter and jam pieces, bananas, honey, dates, yoghurt coated raisons and jelly babies are on my list so far.

After London Marathon, I'm going to spend as much time on the West Highland Way as possible.
The more time I spend on the Way and the more time I spend with the crazy folks that have signed up, the most excited I am about the race.

Saturday 29 March 2008

Pix from WHW training run

The gang meets up at 8am at the Green Welly Stop in Tyndrum

Davie resumes the position. Ian smiles for the camera. You saw it here first, folks.

The Loehndorfs.

Top of the Devil's Staircase. And Alyson and I at the finish. We cheated though, as we only ran from Kingshouse to Fort William. Saving ourselves for London Marathon in two weeks.

Still standing...Lochaber Leisure Centre in Fort William

Friday 28 March 2008

Garscube Harriers' Summer League

Our summer league has just been announced and includes the following races:

Any marathon between October 07 and August 08
May 10 Fireman's 10K (men only)
May 18 Ladies' 10K (surprisingly enough, ladies only)
May 22 Helensburgh 10K
May 22 Clydebank 10K
June 5 Dumbarton 10K (Club 10K championship)
June 15 Vale of Leven 10K
July 9 Jog Scotland 5K Glasgow Green
July 24 Club 5m race at Mugdock
Aug 3 Helensburgh half-marathon
Aug 17 Achilles Heel Bella 5K
Aug 31 Paisley 10K
Sept 7 Great Scottish Run half-marathon

There is a male and female league. Points will be allocated for position - 10 for 1st club place to 1 for 10th place. Each runner will receive 1 point for participation. 2 points allocated for a PB. Each runner will submit their best 6 races to count for final league results. Of course, in true Garscube there will be lots of grey areas. And probably lots of lengthy discussions at committee meeting.

So far I've scheduled in the 1) London marathon 2) Ladies' 10K if I'm OK after London 3) GSR if I don't get a big fat DNF again this year 4) I liked to try a 5K, as I haven't done one for yeeears 5) Maybe one of the Polaroid races - if I don't die of boredom en route 6) Paisley? I'd rather stab myself in the eye with a rusty compass 7) Helensburgh half is a goodie, but I'll need to wait until after the WHWR 8) Club 5-miler - only because it falls on a club training night and I made a right a*se of it last year - but again, depends on race recovery.

As you might have guessed, folks, I've got absolutely no idea what this year will bring. It's London and then WHW. Anything else is a bonus.

Anyone else doing any of the above races?

Thursday 27 March 2008

Garscube pack attack

Went to my yoga class at lunchtime, so the stretching was great for my hips, thighs and calves. If only I had the time, motivation and inclination to practice outwith my Thursday session, I'm sure I'd never get injured. In the space of 45 minutes I find and sort aches and pains that I wasn't aware of. It also loosens my back, neck and shoulders. I generally leave the gym feeling quite light and fluffy.
Thankfully the miserable weather had passed, so it a glorious night for a club run. It doesn't often happened, but the gang had the option of a five mile route or extending to eight miles. I've always been of the mindset if there's a longer option, then I'm going to take it. Cutting it short is just cheating.
The packs are a bit of a mess just now. Although I jumped two packs (from E to G) last week, I don't think I'm quite ready for the huge step. Tonight, I kind of formed a new pack F, dragging Lynn and Carol with me. As there were only a couple of Es, they came along for the first few miles. Anyway, what started at six, ended as three.
Route was Maryhill, Q Margaret, GWR, Crow, Maxwell, Cannisburn and back to main gate. The route only worked out at 7.3. Finished in 1:00:17. Splits were 8.46, 7.53, 7.58, 7.43, 8.22, 8.39 and 7.59 (average 8.10)

Wednesday 26 March 2008

The angel made me do it

As the clock struck five, the heavens opened. Brilliant. Out with the crisp air and blue skies and back with wind and rain. Oh joy. After leaving work I had a major tug of war with myself on the way to the carpark. It really is like having an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. Thankfully the angel won. Or maybe because I'm a stubborn wee bugg*r. I dumped my work gear in the car and headed out on a run towards the southside. As it was quite cold and wild, I wore my gloves and my rain jacket. After about three miles I was starting to regret that decision. As I was overheating, I pondered over how runners can wear rain/wind jackets. My answer came in the form of a council van on the outskirts of Pollok Park. Yes, right on cue the van drove through a huge puddle (almost a lake) and completely drenched me. I swear the water went straight over my head. That certainly cooled me down. I won't repeat what I shouted. Even Dave Waterman would blush.

So it was eight miles tonight. After my half-marathon PB and my long run on Sunday, I have reassessed my London Marathon pace. I'm now gunning for 8 - 8.10 m/m. I ran Sunday's 20-miler with average pace of 8.10, so here's hoping. Anyway...for tonight's run, as I was aiming for my goal marathon pace. Although I ended up running slightly faster, I felt really comfortable. I wasn't sauntering, but I wasn't bursting a vein either.

Started out from town, headed along Paisley Road West, round Bellahouston, round Pollok and through Shawlands. Finished 8.1 miles in 1.03.58. Splits were 7.49, 7.58, 8.09, 7.59, 7.51, 7.48, 7.41, 7.51. Average 7.53.

Monday 24 March 2008

Bank holidays rock!

Especially when the sun is shining and there's the odd sprinkle of snow.

Sonic and I had a really lazy morning. I was only the third serving of reprobates on the Jeremy Kyle show that forced me out of bed. Where do they find these people? What I find truly amazing is the state they turn up on. Surely if you were going on national TV you might have a bath? Maybe wear something nice. Possibly some make up. But at the very least you'd stay sober and try not to swear. And if you're lying about something, don't deny it and then take a lie detector test. It really is car crash viewing. You know you shouldn't watch it, but you have a rubber neck trying to move away from it.

I managed to surgically remove my PJs by 1pm. We decided to take advantage of the nice weather and take a stroll up Conic hill. Low and behold, just as we were leaving, Sonic got a mountain rescue call Conic hill. How's that for timing? I decided to go along for the trip. By the time we had arrived, the mountain rescue weren't required as the girl with the broken ankle had been airlifted.

We wandered on up the hill with Joe, another MR chap. It was a bit chilly and windy, but the view were amazing. It's the first time I've ever gone up Conic Hill from Balmaha direction. And it's the first time I've ever been on the path when it's not a river.

When we got to the top, the NHS ambulance helicopter had broken down. How comforting is that? A Navy Sea King had to be called to take the girl off. The police helicopter then arrived, dropping engineers on the hill top. The engineers didn't have the specific tools, as the gears had gone, so another helicopter was sent. That's one expensive broken ankle.

Sunday 23 March 2008

It's ONLY twenty miles

The last long run and start of the three week taper has always been the highlight of my marathon training plan. Until this year that is. Now it's just another 20-miler - albeit slightly faster. After all I'm still considering the extent of my participation on next weekend's WHW training run. The gang are running the 43 miles of the Devil o' the Highlands route from Tyndrum to Fort William. I've already decided against the full run, as it's far too close to London. Everything's going to plan just now, so I'm a little wary.
Anyway, today's run was a belter and filled me with loads of confidence for a good marathon time. Just need to make sure the sun doesn't make an appearance on the day. I felt really comfortable all the way round and felt there was loads left in me at the end.

Took in a route from town over the south side and then round the west end. Even managed to catch the bikers out on their annual Easter jaunt for Yorkhill. Pah! I'm running 96 miles to raise money for Yorkhill - feel free to sponsor me - but they've probably got the right idea. It was pretty spectacular to see thousands of bikes going through the streets of Glasgow. I bet the motorists weren't so excited about it though.

I finished the 20.3 miler in 2:45:33 - which is about 7 minutes faster than I ran the route at the beginning of February. The average pace was 8:10. Even picked up the pace at the end, without feeling it.

Scores on the door: 7.45, 8.22, 8.44, 8.35, 8.18, 8.18, 8.03, 7.33, 8.32, 8.03, 8.33, 8.04, 8.02, 8.24, 8.33, 8.10, 7.54, 7.40, 7.35 and 7.55.

Met up with Super-Marconic-not-so-sonic after his epic 27+ miler. He was slightly broken... but that might have something to do with running over the Balloch horseshoe and then on to the WHW in 3:15.

After a spa and sauna at the gym we went to the cinema to see 10,000BC. It's a great movie. I'd highly recommend it. Sonic is now forgiven for choosing Be Kind Rewind a few weeks ago. I'm still getting a chick flick next time round though.

Friday 21 March 2008

Please don't let this happen to me.

Report in today's paper.
Skeleton found in tent near West Highland Way
Police are investigating the discovery of a skeleton inside a tent. The remains were found inside the tent pitched in a forest near the West Highland Way. Police believe the decomposed body had lain in the tent at the isolated spot in Auch forest, near Bridge of Orchy in Argyll, for several years.
It is understood that so far it is unclear whether the victim is male or female and no identification has been the made.
The remains were discovered by forestry workers as the cleared a path for a scenic walk. They contacted police who conducted a forensic investigation at the scene and removed the body.
A post mortem will take place in Glasgow on Tuesday. Police have indicated that there are no suspicious circumstances, and say they are scanning missing person's reports as a matter of routine.

Thursday 20 March 2008

Going Ape

Today I spent the afternoon swinging about on trees. Perfect. A bit of corporate team building at Go Ape in Aberfoyle. Wow! What an amazing adventure it was. There's a brief safety and equipment demonstration before you set off - so you're on your own to get round the course. The 2-3 hour journey starts with a 300m zip wire across a gully to the site. As I watched the other harness themselves up and shoot across, I was eagerly awaiting my turn. I've only ever zip-wired once and that was off that Great Wall of China. I don't know if the flying fox at Blairdrummond Safari Park counts? Anyway I set off at a good pace and then started slow down, coming to a stop about 3/4 across. One of the guides had to come and rescue me. Great start. Apparently I was too light, so "there's no drag". The assault course is a riot. Lots of scary bits. I only had a brief flaky moment and bungee-jump-like bit. I was covered in mud and my hands were burnt, but I had a ball. To finish we had to zip-wire back over. Guess what? I got stopped half way across. At least I kept everyone entertained.
After all the fun, I still made it back in time for tonight's training run. After a tempo run on Tuesday and 10-mile tempo last night, I was looking forward to a steady run with the troops. That was not to be. Coach Lesley had reassessed the packs and moved me up TWO groups. Felt like slightly out of my depth, as pack G are much faster. Plus I had two tempos in my legs and London in three weeks. Hey ho, what Lesley says, goes. Off I went with the hope of at least sticking with them for four miles. Actually I managed six before they pulled away for the final mile. Got a bit to go, but it gives me something to aim for. Plus the "promotion" helps with my confidence and self belief.
The route took us on the tour de west end - down Crow Road, Dumbarton, up Gardner, Highburgh, Byres, Clevedon, Kelvindale, Maryhill and back to the Garscube Estate with a total distance of 7.47. Finished in 1.01.26 with an average time of 8.13m/m.

Splits: 8.38, 8.04, 7.54, 8.06, 8.46, 8.01, 7.52, 7.35. Slower than my usual tempos, but about 30 seconds faster than my usual pack. I missed them tonight. Boys talk rubbish.

Wednesday 19 March 2008

Steady town ten

Finished work at 5pm. An early depart as tonight was the dreaded club committee meeting. 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 miles, so had to circle the block to make it up to 10 miles.
Last time I did this route (Jan 30) I finished in 1:24:55 (average pace 8.36). Tonight I finished in 1:20:57 (average pace 7.59). Forgot my beloved ipod, so I was alone with my thoughts, puffs and footstrike. The silence made me more conscious of my feet, so I was trying to keep my steps lighter.
Splits: 7.38, 8.06, 8.09, 8.16, 8.23, 8.21, 8.09, 7.44, 7.53, 7.19. You can tell that Sonic caught up in the ninth mile and dragged me in for the rest.

Tuesday 18 March 2008

Ying 'n' yang

After a wholesome weekend, I undid all my good-doing with a Garscube night out on Sunday. 16 of us descended upon Asiza, which is a fabulous Moroccan restaurant on Great Western Road. It's a bring-your-own-bottle affair. With an off-license next door and some good home measures - the effects were lethal. I managed to consume a large bottle of beer and a whole bottle of red wine before dinner, so it was a bit vague from there on in. Yesterday morning I woke feeling like the smallest person in the world. Of course, Sonic took great delight in relaying my drunken antics. I told him he should shout at me and tell me I'm a disgrace, but he was enjoying the moral high ground. His favourite tale was when I was eating pistachio nuts and he had to tell me to take the shells off ;-) How special is that? And he did tell me it wasn't absolutely necessary to hug the waitress when we were leaving. Yesterday was a right-off. Thank heavens for everyone's blogs, ebay, facebook and online shops as that got me through a very long day in the office. Needless to say, I'm on the wagon...indefinitely. Personally, I think it's good quality training for the WHW race. After all I've got to prepare myself for race conditions: the deep lows, excruciating pain, losing the will to live, the shakes, hallucination, fatigue and severe dehydration. Gawd, the things I have to do for this bloody race. That's commitment and dedication for you.

I decided against tonight's Garscube hill reps. Think I've had my quota of hills. And I'll save the walk of shame until Thursday. Wasn't quite sure what the best alternative was though. Should have went for a couple of miles at recovery. I know it's good for you, but lets face it, sometimes it's hardly worth getting changed for. Opted for seven miles steady round the southside. The aim was to start easy and up the pace slightly to finish fast.

Finished the seven mile route in 55.46. Splits were 8.22, 8.08, 8.09, 8.00, 7.39, 7.25, 7.27. Average 7.52. Legs felt a little stiff, but generally OK.

Saturday 15 March 2008

Wuthering Hike

Well, what can I say? I ain't the West Highland Way, but it was an adventure none the less.

We arrived in Haworth (in the land where every second house has a for sale sign) late Friday afternoon. We'd booked a room in the hostel - complete with dodgy bunkbeds, that even prisoners wouldn't be subjected too. Another romantic weekend break for us!

We met up with Brian McIntosh and his lovely wife, who had the sense to book a gorgeous cottage. I was still having panics about my lack of navigation skills, so dragged Sonic away for a crash course on map reading.

We were up a dawn to register for the race in time for the 8am kick-off. The route started with a steep incline out of the village, along a track and then on to the mud swamp that is the Pennine Way. I really didn't get into it until after about five miles. Passing the first checkpoint (where the steward awarded me with best dressed runner) I was starting to really enjoy it. Managed to get lost by about the 15 mile and stood about trying to feebly decipher the map. Thankfully a race veteran appeared and promised to take me under his wing. Unfortunately he was then became the slowest runner in the world. I later hooked up with other runners, who I completed the rest of the route with. David (and his dog Charlie) was training for the Highland Fling, Jeremy for the MDS 2009, Ruby was a first timer, Mike her buddy and another chap who I can't remember his name. We chatted the whole way round, which made the event even more enjoyable. Throughout the whole course I had no idea where I was going. Once I latched on to the group, I was too scared to leave them. I wouldn't even stop for a toilet break.
Wuthering Hike is probably the toughest "training run" I've ever done. Even though it was shorter with less ascent, it was harder than the Devils. It's a mix of trail running, fell running, hiking, cross-country and road racing. It really didn't matter what you had on your feet as every choice would be the wrong choice. My head and legs really weren't in to doing anything spectacular, as London Marathon was always at the back of mind. WHW race pace and energy expenditure was the key. I finished the 32 mile (with 4400ft) course in 7:03. I still felt there was loads left in me and finished feeling really upbeat. Sonic finished in 25th position with 5:02 - using the must-beat-Kate-Jenkins pace.
The Injinji socks worked a treat. Even though I was wearing a brand spanking new pair of trail shoes, I had no problems with my feet.

I realised today that the WHW race is everywhere. Met Phil Robertson at the start and then Jim Drummond en route. Despite that fact that I wearing my WHW buff, Jim asked "No fancy doing the West Highland Way, hen?" That was my cue to push on %-) Ruby had met WHW-er Sarah Grigor (who I ran part of the Devils with) on holiday and was amused by her hallucinating tales of frogs on the Way. Also met Hugh Kerr at the finish.

Will I be doing Wuthering Hike again? Probably not. It's no secret that I'm not a fan of cross-country terrain. But hey, I've never been one to hold a grudge. And at least I know the course now.

Well done to John, Ian and Tom for great performances in the Lairig Mor race today. Big congrats to John for winning the fastest to blog race. We were walking down Fort William high street doing a bit of window shopping when I saw an internet cafe and decided to pop in and update my blog with the result of today's race!! That's almost an OCD you've got there, JK.

Friday 14 March 2008


You know me, I love at bit of retail therapy. And online retail therapy is my favourite pastime. My postman is frequently laden down with parcels that I've often forgotten I've ordered. Today, the postie delivered a much anticipated extra special new running socks. But not just any ol' running socks. They're Injinji running socks. Visit this site for further information.

Ultrarunners have hailed them as the best invention ever. So, guess what? Sonic and I bought two pairs each. The down side is they're not available in the UK, so we had to order them from the US. Almost one month later, they dropped through the letterbox. I was hoping to get them in time for Wuthering Hike, as most reviews indicate they take a bit of getting of used to. I haven't even got round to trying them on, but Sonic said "it feels like there's something stuck between my toes. I think I'll keep them for a training run". Full report to follow.

Thursday 13 March 2008

Garscube six

I could have easily been talked out of training tonight. I often feel that a hard tempo on a Wednesday night makes Thursday's session quite tough. And I knew I ripped the p*ss a bit last night. Sonic wasn't feeling feeling too great today - complaining of fatigue, stomach pains and a sore foot. But he'd had shiny new trainers to break in, so it was off to training. He made the sensible choice and dropped a pack. I still took the troops out on a six mile tempo. There were quite a few hills en route, so that slowed us down a bit.

Out the estate, Anniesland, GWR, Blairdarddie, Drumchapel, the dreaded Pendicle, Station, Bearsden x, Station, Milngavie and home. The wind was relatively tame, but the rain was out on force. Thankfully my legs felt great, so run was a success. A couple of new folks and some old faces, so there was plenty of chatter.

Finished the 6.2 mile route in 54.28. Nothing spectacular, but I finished feeling there was loads left in me. Average pace 8.29. Splits 8.59, 8.16, 8.15, 8.59, 8.26, 8.01.

Off to Haworth (West Yorkshire) tomorrow for Wuthering Hike on Saturday. A nice 33-miler on the Pennine Way. Having a bit of a panic as I don't know the course and I've got no idea how to read a map. Think I'll be stashing a GPS in my back pack. If you don't hear from me by Sunday afternoon, send out a search party.

I'm off to learn the lyrics to Wuthering Heights. Brian's in for a treat.

Wednesday 12 March 2008

I love it when a plan comes together

I'm a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. Even the rubbish stuff. I struggled to remain this positive when I pulled out after only three miles on the Great Scottish Run last year though. It was a humiliating and demoralising experience, shuffling back along Paisley Road West. Greeted within the snigger's of the on coming runners: "You're going the wrong way, hen" or from the baggy t-shirt fraternity: "don't give up". I was broken. But I knew at that point I had to get a grip. After being injured most of June and July (post-Devils) and August was wedding drama, I just didn't have anything in me and had pretty much fallen out of love with running. In hindsight (isn't hindsight a wonderful thing?!) it was probably the best thing that happened. Well, as far as running anyway. Up until then I was pretty much plodding away junk miles and half-heartedly participating in club speed sessions. When I got home that day I signed up for another half-marathon and spoke to Coach Lesley about a training plan.

Well tonight's run was one of those runs that proves everything does happen for a reason. Even the rubbish stuff. There's a seven mile round the Vale which I use a gauge my fitness and speed. Before I started the plan in September, I averaged 1:01. Never quite breaking the hour. Tonight I did 53:56. I even beat my 10K PB. Oooh I feel a PB in London coming on ;-)

Average pace 7.41. Splits 8.12, 7.45, 7.24, 7.33, 7.36, 7.37, 7.46, 7.42

Tuesday 11 March 2008

Park reps

OK, the PB party's over. Hangover (almost) shifted. Time to get to get back to training. Can't make Garscube run tonight, so I thought I'd sneak in a wee lunchtime speed session. Dragged Sonic along for the fun too. We haven't done the 600m reps in Kelvingrove this year, so that was the chosen one. It's a great circuit - with a stonkin' hill at the far end, a few big puddles and lots of dogs to maneuver round. It's almost an adventure run.

I thought I was holding up OK after Sunday's race. Legs good. No pains. And a rest day yesterday. Starting out along Waterloo Street told a different story though. I felt like I was breathing through a straw and trying to turnover legs like rusty wheels. The warm-up - which was interrupted within frequent burst of "MY recovery pace, Marco" - was tougher than the speed session. Felt a bit better by the time we got to Kelvingrove Park. The park with full of runners today. It was hard to believe we were actually still in Glasgow. Marco's eyes lit up like Christmas trees when he spotted a pack of fast boys (including Lindsay Cunningham and Scott Kennedy) out doing long reps. I had to drag him away again when he suggested going to join them.

I decided on five reps with one minute recovery. 2.16, 2.15, 2.14, 2.12, 2.10. Struggle to start, but the last two felt easier. (Time's from November's session were 2.23, 2.18, 2.17, 2.18, 2.15)

Sunday 9 March 2008

Balloch to Clydebank half marathon

You might have guessed that I've done sod all for two days. The plan was to rest up for today's half-marathon. It started to go a little bit wrong when I went to my core conditioning class on Friday. My usual teacher was on holiday and was replaced with a fiercely strong hobbit who took it upon herself to knacker our arms and legs. Who leaves a core class with arms like chimps?? Yesterday - on my second day of rest - I spent seven hours cleaning the house. I swear I've expended less energy with a marathon. I only had to stop from sheer exhaustion.

That aside, I was still raring to go this morning. Despite severe storm warnings, the weather was kind. It was torrential lining up for the race, but all in all we were quite lucky. There's not really much to write about a course that starts in Balloch and winds its way through Renton, Dumbarton, Bowling, Old Kilpatrick and ends in the Clydebank Retail Park. Scenic it ain't.

Started out on a good pace. At mile two I was joined by Maz (pictured). See post from January 3, 2008 for more info on the wonder that is Maz. I was still listening to my usual boppy tunes on my ipod. After another mile, I realised that Maz was staying and I was being very rude. As I packed away my ipod, I turned to Maz and said "I'm going to put this away and you're going to be off like a shot". She duly informed me in her delightful Irish drawl: " No way. I'm here for the distance". Yep, you guessed it, another mile in she was off like a shot. I didn't bother with the tunes, so I was probably more focused.

Anyway, enough of my drivel. I got another PB. Unofficial time was 1:42:53 which is approx one minute faster that Blackpool half two weeks ago. That's 3 1/2 minutes off (a long standing PB) this year.

Splits: 7.40, 7.32, 7.35, 7.44, 7.43, 7.37, 7.40, 7.46, 7.55, 8.00, 7.57, 7.53, 8.05 (average pace 7.46). Course slightly long (everyone's Garmin showed this, OK!) with 13.24 miles.

Marco got a PB too. And finished in sixth position. His unofficial time was 1:16:45.

Thanks for everyone for the well wishes. And huge thanks to Maz for the setting the pace early on and pushing me. Never before have I studied someone's back with such enthusiasm.

It's Sharon's birthday today. She got an extra special birthday gift - PB with 1:37 something. We're having a girlie night to celebrate a good day all round. Guess what? I'm having a rest day tomorrow to recover.

Marco and Davie struggling with the toffee from their Mars Bar - only found in Scottish race goodie bags.

Thursday 6 March 2008

Easy five

I was quite touched that the troops missed me last Thursday. Remember when I attempted a 20-miler, but had to settle for 9? Apparently they didn't really listen to the route, got lost and had no idea what to do about pacing, which means they all got split up. So back to babysitting duties tonight. One of our gang, Andy, had also done the Deerstalkers at the weekend and decided to make a rare appearance tonight. As he trotted behind I think I heard his full recollection for the 10 mile adventure run. A very detailed recollection.

The pace was pretty easy. Although it's just Ann and I who are running Balloch on Sunday, we felt the need to slow everyone else down too. It was a relatively hilly course (Milngavie, Mosshead, Stockimuir, Bearsden x, Maryhill) so we probably wouldn't be much faster. Had to include a warm-up, as I was too busy trying on new club kit before the run. Mostly easy (conversational pace) and then picked up the pace from Bearsden Cross to Canniesburn. Finished the 5.59 mile route in 49.08. Average pace 8.47. Splits were 9.14, 8.52, 9.09, 8.40, 8.02.

Wednesday 5 March 2008

Ol' faithful six-miler

Third blog entry for today. Note to self: must get a life.

Six mile (half-marathon pace) tempo on the schedule for tonight. Thought I'd try out a route I haven't used for a while. It's a 10k route round the west end - starting from my old bachelorette flat on Hillhead Street. Since I've been getting a little lighter on my feet, I've been dying to try it out to see what time I could do it in. I remember the days I aspired to run it under 55 minutes. I think the fastest I managed was 55:07. Then I joined Garscube and got it down to 53. Tonight I completed the route in 47:58. Average pace was 7.48. Splits were 7.52, 8.00, 7.21, 7.56, 7.44 and 7.50...against a fierce headwind that seemed to follow me. Here's hoping it blows over in time for Sunday.

Home to watch The Fastest Man on No Legs. Thoughts anyone?

Marco's guide to river crossing

Firstly, use your arm to stop nearest rival from over-taking. It's nasty, but sometimes necessary. Even if said rival is equipped for the conditions and finished in first position. Take car key fob out of pocket and prevent from getting wet, by holding you hand in the air. Once you hit the water, resume to belly-flop position and accept that you're going to get wet. Get up as quickly as possible and pretend it didn't happen. Repeat process at every river.
Deerstalkers 2008. Photos stolen from

My Race

Latest edition of My Race is out now. There's a fabulous feature runners' bug bears, written by yours truly. There's even quotes from Jill O'Neil, John Kynaston, Marco, Ian Beattie (does this count, Ian?), Mark Hamilton and Rachel Stevenson. I'd give you clue....but it's available in all good running shops and Debenhams.

Tuesday 4 March 2008

Science class

Never have I read a more truthful statement than: how long five minutes is, depends on what side of the bathroom door you're on. And tonight I learned that the length of short or medium reps depends on which coach is in charge. Tonight it was coach Lesley, so Stevie's medium rep course became our short rep course.

It was bitter cold, so I was glad we didn't venture far. Just across the road, to the Science Park. It may sound scenic, but it's really a modern office park at the top of Maryhill Road. The rep is approx 450 metres. I was in with three girls who are faster that me, so that really pushed me. Although Coach Lesley warned everyone who was doing Balloch half not to blast it. On hindsight maybe I was blasting it and they were taking it easy. Eck! Anyway, I finished the 8 x sets in 1.48, 1.44, 1.44, 1.40, 1.40, 1.38, 1.39, 1.38. Approx same times as last time, but with much shorter recoveries - and not after speed session the night before.

Monday 3 March 2008

Feeling miles better

Booked myself in for a sports' massage with Christine at Achilles Heel. I thought my luck was in when she said her arms were knackered after a session on the ice wall in Kinlochleven. No such joy. She still had in her to cause me immense pain. I realised my memory is short, as I recalled the same agony from a month ago. I think it's this kind of memory lapse that's the force behind multiple child birth. Marco's hopes off me being up the duff and on his WHW support team are shattered. I can't even cope with a massage.

On a positive note, my legs felt much better. My mascara was a mess and I'd practically burst a vain in my head, but my legs were OK ;-) Just in time for mile reps round Knightswood Park. We almost didn't make it, as it took us longer to get out the car than it did to do the session. Did one lap as a warm up. Well, me doing 5K pace and Marco warming up. One these days the warm-up is going to be my fastest lap. After sending him on his way, I set off on my own. Three laps in 6.49, 6.31 and 6.31 with three minute recoveries.

Sunday 2 March 2008

Morning after the night before

Woke up with the beer munchies. I'm not really a breakfast person, but I was really looking forward to a leisurely feast in the hotel. Whilst demolishing a man-size portion of fruit n fibre, we were joined by three fellow Deerstalkers who were staying there too. After a brief chat we discovered that they were training for the Marathon de Sable 2009. Very admiral. Puts our boasting about the WHW into perspective. Well, if we could all run as much as we could talk, we'd break records. We gibbered for nearly two hours about training, races, blisters, nutrition, sports drinks, trainers, socks, fundraising, blogs, chaffing, hydro packs, name it, we covered it. The poor lady who run's the B&B thought she was never going to get rid of us.

Check out Keith Anderson, James Hughes and James Myles adventures at www. hotrunning. net.

We headed home - in a car which looked more like a tractor - and stopped at the cinema en route. Very bad move. We went to see Be Kind Rewind, which is officially the worst film I've seen EVER. Actually, it's takes second place only to Sunshine. Both Marco's choice, so I think I've banked a few chick-flicks now.

Saturday 1 March 2008

The Mighty Deerstalkers 10K (Oh and another 3 miles)

When we arrived in the sleepy village of Innerleithen (Peeblesshire), we were quite unprepared for what was ahead. After checking into our quaint B&B I stood at the window admiring to glorious views of the hills. My jaw nearer hit the floor when I spotted an ant-like line of runners reaching the top of the hill (which looked like a mountain) in the distance. I knew it must the Deerstalkers' 5K race. But what the feck were they doing all the way up there? With a gulp and glance, we knew there was trouble ahead. Of course we had signed up for the Mighty Deerstalkers race, which was longer and in the dark.

(they may be tiny, but the 5K-ers are up there)

Here's what it says on the tin: "The Deerstalker is a turbo-charged roller coaster of a run. It's fun, it's fast, it's action-packed and it's as tough as you can bear. This is Fun Run meets Fell Race meets Hellrunner meets Tough Guy. It's Rat Race in the countryside. The onus is on fun but this is also a serious challenge, involving off-road terrain, steep gradients and exciting obstacles".

As with most of our journeys, the adventure begins before we even got to the start. We were late and scuttled about trying to find the registration and the start. Marco had to abandon the car (his car, thankfully) in a field, which was used an overspill carpark. And then I sent him sprinting back because I forgot my head torch.

We lined up behind a haystack bundle, next to the most randomly dressed individuals I've ever seen. Of course, there was an abundance of deerstalker caps, tweed jackets and antler hats. But I failed to see the connection with pink tights, red Indians and boys in dresses. I think Sonic and I were amongst the few who weren't embracing the fun of dressing-up. Sonic was completely rebelling and went head torch free in a pair of road shoes. I'm sure you'll read all about it in his blog. Maybe even before next year's event.

With a brief (very brief) safety chat from the organiser, the horn went off. Clambering over the haystack, the aforementioned man in pink tights elbowed me in the face...and that pretty much set the tone for the evening %-)

For the first half of the race, the pace is pretty much dictated by the person in front. On the ascent we ground to a stomp as the "runners" in front slowed down. I tried not to get frustrated, as there was no way I could get past. The track was only about 1m wide - about the same width as the bloke's ar*e in front of me. At the top I had to wait in a queue for seven minutes, as the steward filtered us over the beam walk obstacle. There was a Disney-like couple in front of me wearing t-shirts with pictures of each other on the back. Isn't that the cutest thing!? As if that didn't make me feel nauscious enough, the guys behind me drinking whisky from a half-bottle.

Once we were over this section, the field spread out. Or maybe because I widened the gap, as I practically bob-sleighed on my backside all the way down. And the fun continued. Icy-cold swamps and waist-high river crossing, steep inclines, even steeper descents, narrow paths, walking the plank, obstacles, muck, climbing fences, swinging branches, scree-clad hills, abseiling on rope as secure as knicker elastic...all tackled in the black of night. Directed only by the light from other runners - as there wasn't a steward in sight. I lost the ar*e of my tights on a barb-wire fence, burnt my hands on the rope, had at least a dozen spectacular falls, ran 300m up a river against the current (now I know how a salmon feels), squirmed whilst wading through sewage-like substance and practically cried when I realised I was alone at a river crossing. Searching for the race tape which marked the course, I was elated to see head torches coming towards me.

There was a real sense of comarderie amongst the troops. Every time I went a*se over elbow there was someone there to scrape me up. Couples ran together and teams waited for each other to catch up. Of course, Sonic was nowhere to be seen. As soon as the horn went he was up the hill like a rat up a pipe. Even as ill-equipped at he was.

Although I crossed the finishing line looking like I'd just crawled out of a swamp, I truly enjoyed the amazing experience. There was no point in race that I wanted it to be over. There was every point in the race when I wondered how the organisers got away with it though. It's a health and safety nightmare...just the way I like it.

What was promoted as a 10K (ish) run, was more like a 10 mile (ish) run. And it was a certainly was an adventure and a half. And in true Marco-style, the adventure didn't stop there. The remote-locking fob he had safety placed in his pocket had been soaked and refused to work. After much shivering, we managed to dry it out enough to open the doors...only to get the car stuck in the mud. We managed to entice the help of three carpark attendants. I helped the guys push as Marco steered - spinning the wheels and covering me in even more muck. Oh how I adore our romantic breaks in the countryside ;-)