Wednesday 30 April 2008

Super seven

I'm missing my yoga class tomorrow, as I'm off to a wedding. Apparently Saturday weddings are so last season. I'm only slightly miffed that I'm missing yoga AND club training. I've found that since starting pilates and yoga, I haven't had any hip or thigh problems - touch wood - so I'm quite keen to keep to it. So (again much to Sonic's delight) I was up before 6am to do my Geri Yoga DVD. After having a fight with the x-box (why can't we have a DVD player like everyone else?), throwing a tantrum and hurling a few choice words round the house, Sonic came down to my rescue. Only because he feared the worse for his prize possession. After pressing a few buttons, whilst mumbling under his breath, a super-tiny Geri appeared on the screen. Sonic then grabbed a coffee and some cereal and plonked his backside on the couch - like it was show! He was thrown out. He later popped his head in to see my in m PJs, trying in vain to bend it like Geri...with a bewildered look that suggested he wondered when his life when so horribly wrong.

I had a pretty manic day at work, as I'm off until Tuesday. Still managed to squeeze in a nice girlie lunch with Sharon though. She's still on a high after her 3.27 finish in Lochaber Marathon on Sunday. Like me, she struggling with hamstring pains this week. Might have something do with the 100 lengths of the pool on Monday and recovery run yesterday though. Being a crazy-hobbit, she's the perfect candidate for next year's WHWR. Or disability benefits. Whatever comes first.

I have put together a training plan to see me though until the end of June, which got the seal of approval from coach Lesley. Once I work out how to, I'll post it to my blog.

Tonight I did my seven-mile tempo route over the Bonhill bridge, down to Dumbarton and back through Renton. I probably started off a bit fast, as I struggled more towards the end. There was also a chilly headwind on the way back that wasn't very pleasant.

Finished in 54.02. Splits were 8.06, 7.41, 7.34, 7.09, 7.54, 7.50, 7.31 (average pace 7.40)

I'm taking the next two days off, as I planning some long runs this weekend. Saturday is Beinglas to Kinghouse (32 miles) and Sunday is Kingshouse to Fort William (23 miles). Then I'm supporting Marco and Neal on Monday, as they're doing the Highland Fling course from Milngavie to Tyndrum.

Is anyone else on the Way this weekend?

Tuesday 29 April 2008

Mugdock Fartlek

The blue monkeys were allowed an extra special treat tonight. We were let out of the Garscube Estate to run loose in the wilderness. Mugduck Park in Milngavie to be exact.

The weather almost ruined the parade, as the late afternoon brought torrential rain and thunder storms. I do love running in the rain, but I draw the line at lightening. Unfortunately the storms blew in over in time for 7pm fartlek run.

After Sunday's glorious weather, I stupidly thought summer was upon us and didn't pack a long sleeve top. So my bare arms were frozen when we set off on the trail run. I was in with the packs faster than me, so I knew I'd heat up soon by chasing them for most of the session. The weather must have put a lot of people off (or they turned up at Garscube) as the numbers were really down. Actually in my group there were four runners and three coaches. It was almost like chaperoned day-release.

I do enjoy a fartlek session. Even though I think it's a fairy of a speed workout, I like the spontaneity of it. When coach Lesley shouts run. You run. Like the clappers. But you've got no idea how long for. When she says "fast up the hill" with a glint in her eye, you know there's a killer ahead. Especially when she says "wait for meat the top". Or "sprint to the car park. You'll eventually find it".

I felt it tough to start and managed to tag on, but seemed to pick up towards the end of the five mile course. I was completely covered in mud and, therefore, delighted that it was Sonic's car I was going back to. Poor Laura "I got lost" Sands turned up in a brand-new pair of bright white trainers. She was almost in tears by the end. And we were almost in tears at her trying to dodge the puddles and muck. Maybe that's why I was ahead of her after all.

Monday 28 April 2008

Training in the Trossachs

A running club training weekend conjures up images of wholesome , jolly tree-huggers prancing about in lycra, sipping aloe-vera juice and munching on gogi berries. I had many a tut and rolling eye when I told my colleagues I was off to Callander for the weekend with the troops in blue. In reality: yes, there was a fair amount of running, but there was also a lot of drinking and eating. I now look like you could squeeze a gin out my nose and I'm sure I've got a pot-belly. The only thing that has got me through the day is reading all the "Flingers" blogs and the knowledge that I going to the cinema after work. No running for me today.

So best start at the beginning. We arrived at the Trossach's Tryst late on Friday afternoon. It was pouring with rain, so I used the I'm-cooking-dinner-excuse to bow out of a the steady-five-miler. Actually, as I've said all along - I'm trying to make every run count, so I didn't see the point in plodding about in the rain just for the sake of it. I just rustled up fajitas for 20 and drank gin 'n' tonic. Quite civilised me thinks. Then I proceeded to polish off most the bottle and demolished lots of chocolate... and someone else will need to fill in the blanks.

I woke up on Saturday, probably feeling better than I deserved too. After a "rest" day, I was full of beans (OK, gin) and really looking forward to the one minute intervals. We drove out to the cycle track and Rob took us through some drills. I nearly brought up my Special K laughing at Marco's attempts. Gawd, the things you witness when you don't have a video camera. Arms and legs were flying everywhere.

The warm-up was a struggle, but the reps were great. The session was quite straight forward. We were split into groups and sent 20 minutes out, 20 minutes back. One minute ons and offs. Simple, right? Everyone finishes back at the same point in 40 minutes, right? Wrong. We all had to go on the hunt for Marco and the dafties, who turned up five minutes later.

After a relaxing afternoon with a bit of shopping, reading papers and sipping hot ribena we headed out along the loch for some hill reps. Athole and Marco went on the hunt de hill on Friday, so I was bit nervous about their discover. The two mile warm-up, although unnecessary, was quite pleasant. Arriving at the hill/mountain, some of group cowered away before the ascent. So, Kenyan hills it was. In summary, this means going up and down at the same speed without recovery. We went up and over the hill, down the other side and up again and again and again. Five in all. As usual I started out thinking, I might just do three or four, but I'm a stubborn buggar. I'm sure the scenery was amazing, but I found myself concentrating on my shoelaces and trying not to headbutt the road. Don't tell the guys I said so, but it was a cracker of a session. Although half-way into the two mile cool down, I was so over it.

The sun had come out on Saturday afternoon, so we had a mighty BBQ feast, more drink and a ASBO award-winning few hours with Singstar. I'm sure Sonic will tell you he got the highest score of the evening. What he probably won't tell you is that he lost everytime he was up against me.

On Sunday morning, we drove over to Aberfoyle and ran the number 7 cycle track back to Callander. The weather was fabulous and the route was amazing. Still, silent, crystal blue lochs, reflecting the surrounding hills. I have to admit I struggled on this run. I would love to say I still have marathon in my legs, but I really came down to the weekend's overindulgence. I even had to stop and walk at quite a few points. But there was no rush, so I really enjoyed it. My average pace for the 12 mile route was 10.11. Yikes. I'll put that in WHWR training catergory, won't I?

Saturday 26 April 2008

Garscube Harriers' Training Weekend

Full report to follow, but this should give you a snippet....

Sorry if you end up with a creeked neck watching this. I couldn't work out how to flip the video. And for some reason my trustee IT expert wouldn't help me.

Thursday 24 April 2008

Garscube seven

Went to my yoga class today and felt miles better than I did last week- I was totally shocked to discover how tight my hamstrings were. Today was good. Don't get me wrong, I'm not bendy by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm improving. The sequence even involved doing a crab. No sniggers please. I don't think I've done crab since my gymnastic days in primary school. But hey I did it. And I didn't even get stuck. Double-bonus.

Sonic was at mountain rescue training tonight, so I was off to Garscube by myself. He had submitted to route in advance. Surprise, surprise, as he wasn't going the route involved a stretch along the soul-sucking canal - or the fresh-air treadmill as I call it. I wasn't as strong and light as I have been of late, but that's probably because we were moving faster than we normally do on a Thursday night. I tend to run my decent tempos by myself on a Wednesday. It was just Lynn and I tonight. She was feeling quite tired, so asked me to set the pace quite steady. Throughout the course, she managed to keep about five inches in front of me. Everytime I pulled next to her, she had a uncanny knack of edging away.

The route went from the top gate on to the canal (zzzz), along Blairdardie on to Great Western Road and aaaaaaaall the way along to Cleveden. Up and over and down through Dawsholm on to Maryhill. Thanks, Marco. On a more positive note, if he had been there, there would have been a lot more hills. Finished the 7.15 mile route on 58.07. Splits were 8.23, 8.06, 8.05, 8.08, 8.01, 8.18, 8.01 and 7.26. Average 8.09.

Wednesday 23 April 2008

One minute intervals

I always think the first mile can make or break you. Within the first few minutes, I was very tempted to turn back. Nothing wanted to work. Thankfully after the chime of the first mile, I got a new lease of life. Picked up the pace - aiming for 5k pace for one minute intervals. So, one minute on, one minute off. After about eight sets, it was hard to distinguish between the interval and the recovery. Unfortunately I went off the focus of the session and became more concerned with beating my time for the 4.3 mile route - which, thankfully, I did. Finished the course in 33.24. 30 seconds faster than my last attempt.

And just for the purpose of recording, my splits were: 8.31, 7.49, 7.37, 7.34 and 7.28.

On my cool-down I was greeted by the entourage of the Alexandria Jogging Network. Met Davie Hall, who commented on my blog last week. He's just run his first Marathon in London and is gearing up for the Balfron 10K on Sunday - after supporting (and possibly support running) on The Highland Fling on Saturday. There must be something in the water in the Vale. It's like an open-air asylum.

That Fling Thing

Best of luck to everyone who's running The Highland Fling on Saturday.

Special wishes to my new buddies Ian, John, Davie, Thomas, Brian, Mike, Jim, Mags, Tim, Alyson and Ellen. I can't wait to hear all about it. No doubt the boys will be blaming each other for pushing the pace. At least Sonic won't be in trouble this time.

I stumbled upon this quote when looking for an inspiration quote for Sharon's good luck in Lochaber card..."I tell runners to divide a race into thirds. Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart"

Tuesday 22 April 2008

1000m reps

After another couple of days rest (well, hangovers) it's back with a vengeance. I was wearing my new birthday ensemble (thanks, Sharon) so that was my extra incentive to get going. Nothing like some new clothes to put a spring in my step.

Longs reps on the club schedule tonight. Depending on who's in charge this could be anything from 600m to miles. As suspected it was 1k reps.

My clan were out on the Garscube Estate. A short dash on the road and then on to a long trail section, before circling round back to the start. I always find the first rep the hardest. But after that I felt pretty good. Well as good as can be, considering the circumstances. The way the packs were divided I was at the fast end of the bottom packs, so I was out in front for all of them. There was the option to do four or five. I still felt pretty strong after the fourth, and I really wanted to keep in that way. I just dropped backed and jogged the last.

Four 1000m reps in 4.05, 3.58, 4.02 and 4.01.

Saturday 19 April 2008

Balloch Horseshoe

My hamstrings have been a wee tad tender, so I decided to have a couple of days off. It's not an injury, just a bit of wear 'n' tear. To add to my cupboard full of magical potions, I tried magnetic plasters. I really don't know how they work, but magnetism has been used for pain relief for thousands of years. "Magnetism in this form will allow you to obtain direct magnetic strength to the affected area, stimulating the blood circulation, thereby diminishing your muscular stiffness and pain." I didn't realise how bad my hamstrings were until I went to my yoga class on Thursday. I could barely touch my knees, let alone my toes.

So on with the plasters. I've got a line of them down the backs of my legs. Marco totally freaked out, as he said it looks like nipples. I kinda feel like a coo. But hey, they seem to have worked. Or maybe it was the rest or just generally time since the race... I was a bit cautious when I started out this morning, but all is good.

Tom - maybe this is something you could try?

I was up at the crack of dawn. Although I love light mornings, it does mean I'm as bright as a button from about 5am - much to Marco's disgust. I headed out at 8am to a gorgeous spring morning. Although there was a strong and chilly wind, it was bright and clear. Fabulous views of the surrounding hills and the snow-capped Ben Lomond.

I haven't done the Balloch horseshoe circuit since December. Namely because I sickened myself off it. It's a glorious 10 mile route - killer hills for the first few miles - on country roads. I finished the horseshoe in 1:13:32 and home 1:22:11. (The last time I did the course 1:15:54 and 1:24:20). Splits were 8.37, 8.29, 9.38, 8.22, 8.38, 8.02, 7.55, 7.16, 7.13, 7.51, 7.39 (average 8.12). My aim is get under 1:20, but I'll wait until after the WHW race.

Friday 18 April 2008

Running scribbles

Just in case you ever find yourself with lots of free time on your hands, I've set up a site with all my published running tales. Click here.

WHW-ers may giggle at the last comment on my Devil o' the Highland report.

Wednesday 16 April 2008

Back in the saddle

Even though all textbooks, coaches, training plans, running mags and guides dictate it, I just can't take a whole week off running. Cross-training is OK, but cycling, swimming, brisk walking yada yada, simply don't cut it. By last night my legs were a twitching mess. And by this afternoon, I was itching to get my trainers back on. Even running across the road to escape being flattened by a stagecoach bus was absolutely bliss.

Despite this enthusiasm, I wasn't quite sure how my legs would hold up. They were a little tender, but more like the-day-after-a-tough-rep-session tender. I did harbour fears that Alexandria's jogging network would pass me en route.

Surprisingly enough, my legs felt great even from the word go. I don't think I could have done more than my usual 4.5 recovery route round Balloch, but I feeling 100% confident for a speedy recovery.

4.4 miles in 37.31. Splits 8.30, 8.48, 8.22, 8.29, 8.23 (average 8.32). Oops a bit faster than easy pace, but I was happy to run as to how I felt.

Tuesday 15 April 2008

No jogging, just blogging

Understandably I've done absolutely he haw since Sunday's wee jog. Well, apart from my pilates class at lunchtime, but I don't think that counts. Sonic was supposed to come with me, but announced in the car that he'd forgotten to pack his gear. That old chestnut ;-)

Forgot to mention that John Kynaston predicted my marathon time as 3:31:15. How's that for for a very close guesstimate? John if you wouldn't mind predicting my WHW time as 23:59hrs, that would be a great help ;-)

Here's the scores on the door...

5 km 0:24:50
10 km 0:49:16
15 km 1:14:00
20 km 1:39:03
half 1:44:26
25 km 2:03:47
30 km 2:28:44
35 km 2:54:25
40 km 3:19:55
finish 3:31:00

That's my third fastest half-marathon EVER!

Average pace per mile by above splits: 7.59, 7.51, 7.57, 8.03, 7.53, 7.58, 8.01, 8.15, 8.12, 8.07. Average overall 8.02. Fairly consistent, so I'm quite chuffed. Especially when my (very ambitious) target was 8m/m.

Position (overall) 4846
Position (gender) 447
Position (age group) 71

Sunday 13 April 2008

London Marathon 3:31:00

After a restless sleep, we were up at 6am to make the nightmare journey to the marathon start. I was at the blue start with the masses, but Marco was at the green start with the celebrities and good-for-agers. After a slightly emotional goodbye I joined the other sardines on the packed train. You could actually smell the fear and nerves in the air. It's funny how we had spent most of year training for and living for this day, only for it to be replaced with utter dread.

The chap opposite me was lecturing me on the course, pacing, hydration yada yada. I humoured him for a while before announcing that it was my sixth marathon. Three of which were in London.

The weather was just perfect for marathon running. Bright and cool, with a faint breeze. And when I started to heat up after an hour, the rain started. Perfect.

As usual, the start was a dog's dinner. Runners totally out of their depth, trying to squeeze into faster pens. The girl next to me, who was supposed to be in pen seven, was blabbing about trying to break five hours. Ahh!

At 9.45am we were off. I was so excited I could have burst. Maybe the slow start was a good thing, but it took nine minutes to do my first mile. One minute slower than target pace. I managed to make up the time loss from mile two to four, but probably expended too much energy weiving in and out.

I just love the London Marathon. It's an amazing event. Probably the only good thing about the city of gloom. Well that and the Top Shop flagship store on Oxford Street ;-) The runners, officials and support are just amazing. People cheer with such passion - like they actually know you. The costumes are hilarious. I had the unfortunate experience of passing the man in the Borat swimsuit. He was leaving nothing to the imagination - and the crowds loved it. A man dressed as a giant smoothie bottle breezed past me at mile 10, which was only slightly demoralising. I also passed the maasai warriors at mile two, which was quite exciting.

I felt great most of the way round. 8m/m pacing felt really comfortable. My endurance has really only improved only the past six months, as I couldn't help but think that 26 miles isn't that long. The miles seemed to zip past. Focusing on mile-to-mile rather than the bigger picture really helped. I only had a really low point between 21-22 miles, but then I spotted three Bellahouston vests in front and was spurred on. After passing them, I spotted Paul in the distance. Woohoo. There was a real spring in my step then. Again I had a lull between 24-25, mostly because I knew I wasn't going to break 3:30. I had to force myself to realise there was a difference between 3:31 and 3:33. Anyway I managed a sprint finish and was absolutely delighted to cross in 3:31:00. My legs weren't too happy about stopping though. I totally seized up with pain that I hadn't experienced before. I had arranged to meet Marco at my baggage truck. I could see it, but I had to stop for four breaks to reach it. After chatting to Neal and Michael (actually they talked and I looked vacant) and then finally meeting up with Marco, I slumped on the grass - shattered and battered. Thankfully after about 10 minutes my legs felt fine.

Marco finished in an amazing time off 2:48:19 in 409th position. And that, folks, is why we call him Sonic. Paul (running his first marathon) finished in 3:36:02. Being a track runner, I joked that he couldn't train for a marathon on 400m reps. Plagued with injury, he almost did. I'm sure he'll sign up for Loch Ness and give me a good run for my money.

Team Consani. Notice the height disadvantage?

Someone stole Marco's outfit, so he had to dress as a runner. Although I had to giggle when I spoke to my Mum after the race, as my six-year-old Niece asked if "Uncle Marco was the one in a Scooby Doo outfit?" Bless. She clearly doesn't understand that Sonic won't even wear shoes that are heavier than an elastic band.

Saturday 12 April 2008

The road to London

The journey started with a train trip on Friday morning. We met up with Neal and Caroline Gibson, so we all talked about running for a whole six hours. We must have bored the other passengers to death. I think we only shut up long enough to overhear a very loud girl talking on her mobile and giving her friend worldly-wise advice on love, life and the universe. The carriage was entertained be her tales on random lunchtime s*x in the woods near her office, her junkie ex-boyfriend and drunken antics. And did you know Barcelona is in Spain? It was highly amusing. Even the driver over the tannoy was getting shushed.

Sonic and I went to see Dirty Dancing last night, which was brilliant. Sonic even did a marvellous job of pretending he was enjoying it. It was only the whooping crowds when "Patrick Swayze" removed his clothes that nearly sent him over. I thought the roof was going to come in when he said: "nobody puts baby in the corner". Fabulous show. Highly recommended.

Today we went to the Expo to meet up with Paul (my bro-in-law) and pick up our race packs. Met quite a few folks we knew and probably spent to much time wandering about, but it's all part of the London experience. I didn't do as much financial damage as I wanted to, but bought myself a couple of tops, a new cap and about 500 gels and energy bars. I'm OK for long runs for about a year. I left Marco alone for ten minutes and he bought a £40 rolling pin. Apparently it's the cure for all running injuries!?

Early (but substantial) dinner and early to bed.

Thursday 10 April 2008

OK, folks, I'm ready now.

And now, that London is near
And so I face the final curtain
My blog friend, I'll say it clear
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain
Ive completed a training plan that's full
I've ran along each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way
Bad runs, I've had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what Lesley told me to do
Every rep session without exemption
I've memorised the London course
Each careful step along the byway
But more, much more than this
I did it my way
Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I just kept eating and blocked it out
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way
I've loved, I've cheered and cried
I've had exhaustion and toenail bruising
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing
To think I ran all that
And may I say - not in a my usual slow way
No, oh no not me, I did it my way

Somehow I can't get Frank Sinatra out of my head, as I skipped off on my last pre-marathon run. I know the seven mile Garscube run might be a bit much and probably a bit fast, but I didn't want to miss out.

The first few miles along the Kelvin Walkway were a bit of struggle, but once I was out of Botanic Gardens I felt ace. Down GWR, along Bank St, up through Hyndland, down Clarence and Crow Road back to the Estate. Finished on a real high, so I'm really ready for Sunday now. I can't wait.

7.12 miles in 59.15. Really steady pace 8.42, 8.21, 8.57, 7.54, 7.55, 8.03, 8.23 and 7.46 (average 8.19).

Wednesday 9 April 2008

Easy four recovery run

I never thought I'd see the day when I had to tell myself to watch my speed out on a run. I was determined to do a very easy 9m/miles pace run. Sonic came with me. It was worth the four miles, just to watch him running in slow motion ;-) With the length of his legs, I'm sure he could walk 9m/miles*.

You can tell we're coming up to Ladies' 10K times, as we passed about three Jog Scotland groups en route. I vaguely remember my super-ambitious challenge when I signed up for my first Ladies' 10K way back in 2002. I surprised myself by running/jogging the whole way round. Little did I know that six years later, I'd be adding 90 miles to the distance. It's a fabulous event. And probably the reason behind the vast majority of female runners in the west of Scotland.

Anyway back to tonight. As with all runs, the session is pretty much driven by your brain. If I said I was going for a tempo run, I would have teared round the streets. As I was aiming for a recovery, my body was practically in hibernation. The 4.4 miles felt like a lifetime. Or as my dear friend Kas would say: "I ran like a bag of spanners".

4.4 miles in 38.27 (average pace 8.47). Splits 8.31, 8.34, 8.39 and 8.58.

*Stephen - he's been warned not to blog it as "usual very, very slow 5K run with the wife".

Tuesday 8 April 2008

Our race numbers for London

Marco 30272
Debs 25401

Dawsholm Park reps

It's a well-known fact that girls + football = danger. I have to agree. And I'm also the first to admit that girls + technology = extreme danger. I've asked Sonic a series of daft questions over the years. Tonight I realised that some girls can take it to new levels. Maz (the queen of daft questions/statement) was highly amused that wee Carole asked if she could use her Garmin Forerunner in the pool. Maz then promptly informed her that: "there's no way you'd get a signal indoors".

Tonight we went up to Dawsholm Park to do the "P reps". No nothing to do with your bladder, it's an undulating trail rep that's shaped in the letter P. Obvious really.

The rain was pouring when we started, but then the sun came out and we were blessed with fresh air and a Spectacular rainbow. Unfortunately, the glare made it difficult to see the trail in parts.

Felt really good. The short recoveries on a four minute turnaround made the last reps really tough though. It's the closest I've ever came to throwing up.

Reps (0.4 miles each) in 2.43, 2.39, 2.38, 2.38, 2.43 and 2.40.

Monday 7 April 2008

Support the Maasai in London

This is the best London Marathon story ever. I've sponsored them. Go on show your support.

Click the above to enlarge or read online here

Sunday 6 April 2008

Last (pre-London) long run

Well, long-ish. Just a mere ten really. I went down to sunny Ayrshire to run with Sharon. It was a really bright, but fresh morning. And guess what? It was windy too.

Sometimes I think half the battle with running is getting out the door. Not from motivation, but the pre-run choices. Gloves or no gloves? Longsleeve or jacket? Cap or buff? Long or shorts? Too drink or not to drink? As it was sunny, I decided to abandon extra layers. Sharon arrived sporting the lovely pink ensemble that I bought her for her birthday. And then gave me a lovely lilac ensemble that she bought me for mine. Great minds think alike.

We headed out of Kilbirnie on the back-road to Lochwinnoch. I deeply regretted my clothing choice, as the strong head wind was freezing. It's uphill for the first three miles, so the wind added to the challenged. Didn't stop us gibbering like budgies though. We headed through Lochwinnoch and over the country roads to Beith. Then up the killer hill home. It's a fabulous route with lovely rolling hills. Nice and quiet too. Finished the 10.39 miles in 1:27:28 (average 8.25). Splits 9.22, 9.06 (see what I mean?), 8.25, 7.49, 8.13, 8.28, 8.09, 8.17, 8.05, 8.19 and 8.12. According to SportTracks 30% of the route was ascending. I had a fabulous run and enjoyed every minute of it.

Saturday 5 April 2008

National Road Relay Championships

You know I didn't even know it was the national championships, until I looked up the results tonight. I really thoughts it was just a wee club jolly.

Start of the race

Off to the glorious nature spot that is Livingston - the land of industrial estates, roundabout, dual carriageway and out-of-town shopping. Lovely. Thankfully the race is a well-organised, cheery and well-attended event. And believe it or not, the sun is shining.

(Is Sonic hiding a clipboard?)

The men's teams were divided in six. 3 x 3.2 miles and 3 x 5.85 miles. The female teams were made of of four - two of each.

I signed up on the basis that I could do a three-mile leg on an uncompetitive team. I'm still not entirely comfortably with racing short distances, so I used London marathon as the excuse. When captain Maz made a note of my interest, she wrote "not on Jill's team" beside my name.

Garscube Ladies Team C - Sara (alias Lady Sadie), me, Maz, Carol and mini mascot, Finn

I was the third leg on my team. The course was great. Lots of cheeky hills, breezy moments, smiley stewards, bit of trail and lots of cheers at the end. I managed to make up a few places. Isn't it funny how it seems to take forever to close the gap on someone in front, but takes no time at all to pull away from them? I finished in 23:14 (average 7.24). That's officially the fastest I've ever run. Not including reps, of course.

Some of the Garscube uglies

Marco's team finished in an amazing 9th position. Click here for full results.

Ali (Whippet) Winship and Coach Lesley. Carol, me and Jill.

Thursday 3 April 2008

Ski club route + the taper caper

I've been feeling a wee bit run down over the last few days. Maybe because I seem to have forgotten the concept of "taper". I think in previous years, the marathon has been the be all and end all. But now I need to think beyond next Sunday. I've been reading a bit on marathon taper and, as usual, there' s lot of conflicting advice. Last months' Runner's World (or the official FLM training guide!) provided some sound guidance.
Tapering - scaling back you miles to allow your muscles to repair and your body to rest - is the critical last phase of training before a race. But consider this: Trimming your mileage right back abruptly might not be the best move. In fact, maintaining a higher volume during the taper period can give you a better chance of peaking on race day. "The problem with a big cut in mileage is that your body gets used to being on vacation"...this can lead to feeling sluggish and sickly...So what's the key to successful taper? Some cutback in total mileage combined with a little quality work. It's best to reduce volume by eliminating miles from each of your weekly runs. Multiple studies suggest that some fast-paced running is critical to keeping your lungs and legs sharp.
So with this in mind, here's my plan for the next week.
Sat: Livingston Road Relays - I'm doing a 5K leg.
Sun: 10/11 m with Sharon. I'm hoping she has a hangover, so she doesn't put me in the ground.
Mon: Rest
Tues: Medium reps with Garscube
Wed: Easy four miles
Thurs: Steady seven - with fast finish
Fri: Rest
Sat: Rest
Sun: The big day!!!
I'm still a bit confused about what to do in the last week. Even when it comes to fuel. I understand the concept of carb-loading, but I don't like feeling like a big bloater. Sometimes I feel better and lighter running on empty. I plan on taking a few gels before the race and a few en route. Any advice on tapering would be most welcome. Tim?
Anyway back to today's run. Sonic was off to run the Stoneymollan hill race with the Milburn Harriers. I've opted out of trying my first hill race (there's got to be one sensible person in the house) so I went along to Garscube training. Another hilly killer course devised by him indoors (or outdoors). I might just be a coincidence that he wasn't there to enjoy it.

Just slightly over six miles. Rannoch, Boclair, Milngavie Rd, Mosshead, Ski centre, Drymen Rd. Finished in 49.28 (average pace 8.08). Splits were 8.45, 8.08, 8.33, 8.20 (uphill), 7.29, 7.28, 7.22 (downhill)

Wednesday 2 April 2008

Local seven

My legs are a little tired after last night's 5K. It's funny how I can run 23 miles over the WHW and be fine 'n' dandy, but gubbed after three miles.

I just went out for a steady seven-miler after work. It was amazing to run in daylight. I even managed to get home and finish my route without the fear of being hit by a car on the backroads. Double bonus. I was getting use the adrenaline pace though.

Home - Bonhill Bridge - Dumbarton - Renton (almost as scenic as last night's run) in 54.27. Splits were 7.52, 7.55, 7.28, 7.33, 7.48, 7.45, 8.01, 7.27 (average 7.42)

I've just watched Bodyshock: The World's Heaviest Man. Terrifying stuff. The funniest bit was he actually had physiotherapists that came to his house massage his limbs, as hadn't moved them in years.

I can't believe I felt guilty for having a packet of jelly beans and a cream egg on Sunday.

Tuesday 1 April 2008

5K "it's not a time trial"

The Garscube website is down just now. Nothing technical, just a financial mix-up...apparently. Personally, I think the coaches pulled the plug, so people wouldn't be put off with "timed run". Last time I psyched myself up for a 5K time trial, only to discover that "timed efforts" actually meant a speed session broken up into specific time frames. Like fartlek, but with your watch instead of landmarks. Therefore my rest day, long warm-up, strides and drills were totally unnecessary. Tonight I was caught off guard, as I rolled in to sports centre totally unprepared. After a brief moment of panic, I decided to stick it out. The funny thing is I've been really looking forward to this session, so I can gauge any improvement.

After the announcement of the session and subsequent course, the attendance started to dwindle. You could actually see members back-tracking out the door. Jill kept saying: "it's a timed run, not a time trial. It's not a race". Likely story, O'Neil.

The wind was pretty horrendous and the course is very hilly and decidedly unscenic. A route description that includes "turn left at the dodgy garage, past the incinerator and up on to Maryhill road" isn't going to inspire you.

Anyway I finished the route in 23:15 (average pace 7.30) - which included going back to pick up my cap that blew off in the wind. The last time I ran the course (in October) I finished in 24:28, so I was quite pleased with how it went.