Monday 30 June 2008

The legs are twitching...

...but the feet ain't playing ball.

After a week of inactivity - apart from bending my elbow to stuff my face - I woke up this morning dying to do something. Anything. Running is still out of the question as the bones in my feet don't like that idea. So, I decided to go to the gym at lunchtime. 20 minutes on the elliptical trainer, 10 minutes on the stairclimbing thingy (both, which I usually find highly entertaining) and some light weights...and I'm feeling much better. I've got my pilates and yoga classes this week and might try for a wee cycle. Hopefully I'll be out on the streets by the end of the week.

Saturday 28 June 2008

Tuesday 24 June 2008

West Highland Way Race - 95 miles over 15,000ft

Well, I did it. I don't know how, but I made it to the end. Just. I will never know where I found the strength. I've always known I was a stubborn wee bugg*r (to quote my Mother), but I've taken it a whole new level.

OK, seen as I've resigned by myself to a non-productive week, I best start at the beginning. Just for the record, this entry had taken me longer to write that it did to run ;-)


I met up with the first part of Team Debs just after midnight. Sharon and Sara were my back up from Milngavie to Rowardenan. Then swapping with Jill and Kas at Balloch - who were taking over from Beinglas.

After registration and picking up my new race merchandise, Dario gave us a race briefing and safety information. Well, as much safety information as can be provided for people about to embark on a 95 mile run through the Scottish Highlands. Dario pointed out that there were four married couples taking part in this year's race. Some were running together. Some not. We were definitely within the latter.

Milngavie to Drymen.
The journey started at 1am with sea of headtorches making their way through Milngavie town centre and onto the start of the West Highland Way. Some started off quite frantically as nerves took over, but I settled back into an easy pace. A brief chat with George, Ellen and Alyson and I was on my own. It was a very surreal experience. Although there were 100+ people around me, there wasn't a mutter or whisper of chat. The only sound was the scuffle of feet on the track.

The only downside to this section was, as there were so many people about, I had to make a detour for a comfort break. Twice. Maybe the 14 pints of water that I had sunk during the day wasn't such a good idea.

Heading over the hill into Drymen, I was just willing the sun to come up. Running in the dark always seems to make things worse. The crowds waiting in Drymen brightened things up though. Even if they were just silhouettes standing chittering with their arms folded. Then I heard Sharon's dainty worse "Psst. Debs. Over here". The aim was to drop off, pick up and move on as fast as possible. Sara threw a bottle belt and sports bar at me and sent me packing.

Drymen to Balmaha
I often find this section quite tough, as the continuous ascent is quite deceiving. But the sun was rising quickly and promised some fabulous views from the top of Conic Hill. I kept an easy pace and dropped back to a stomp on the hill. As predicted many boys passed me on the way up, as they chased each other. Boys will be boys ;-)

My foot started to ache, which really worried me. I just had to bide my time until I got to Balmaha and put the arch support in my shoe. On the descent into the carpark I was greeted with Sharon and Sara's smiling faces. And somehow the pirate entourage of Dave Waterman seemed to stand out.

Balmaha to Rowardenen
The arch insert sorted out my foot pain pretty much instantly. Initially I had an energy lull in this section, but I put it down to a lack of caffeine. I picked up after a few miles and passed a few runners. I spotted Gavin Melville in the distance and shouted "I'd recognise those legs anywhere".

The views over the loch were breathtaking. So still and peaceful. I'm sure that's what the campers who had chosen this spot had thought. Little did they know that they would be woken in the early hours by a stampede of ultra runners. Mind you, given the usual standard of camper in this area, they were probably so full of Buckfast and hash that they wouldn't have woken until Tuesday ;-)

The route on this section twists in an out along track, lochshore and the main road. There were plenty of stewards out ensuring that everyone followed the correct course. Or more to the point didn't cheat.

The arrival at Rowardenan was a mixed emotional one. I was glad to tick off another section, but I knew I was entering a midge hell-hole. Plus I knew I wouldn't see my support team for another few hours. And I was heading along the dreaded lochside. But the other end marked half-way for me.

Sharon and Sara were finishing their stint and taking a rest. Before the left, they filled me food, covered me in skin-so-soft and excitedly told me in Sonic was in first position. Oh no! He's just a boy at a bad age.

I met Ian Beattie at the Visitor Centre. I had to take a double-look. I'm used to seeing Ian on the WHW, but no within striking distance. And definitely not in his civvies. He had decided to call it a day. A very tough decision for someone who has the race in his blood. It goes to show that regardless of experience, people have their good and bad days. It's a long way to just hang in there. Ian's a trooper though and he'll be back with a vengeance next year.

Rowardenan to Inversnaid.
Heading off I encountered a brief moment of disorientation. Thankfully the Beatties were hanging out their car, pointing and shouting "that way Debs". Thanks, folks. I should blame the midges in my eyes, but my brain was a little pickled.

The midges didn't disperse. It was like running into thick black smog. The little blighters were in my eyes, ears and mouth. And I was eating them along with a peanut butter sandwich. I was using baby wipes to scrape them off my skin by the handful. It was the worst I have ever experienced. And it was pretty much relentless all the way to Inversnaid. I chatted with Tomo Thompson for a short while, before pushing on. He was having a major melt-down with midges

Inversnaid to Beinglas
Finally the waterfall at the hotel was in sight. The beautiful sound of gushing water and the beautiful realisation that I’d reached the half-way house. I jokingly tried to trade some jelly babies for a midge net with one of the rescue team, but I doubt he would have parted with it for the winning lottery numbers.

I was informed that Sonic was in second place and looking good.

I caught up for George Reid again. And then the notorious Dave Waterman. We've been blog mates for a couple of months, so it was nice to finally meet him. Stuart and Andy also caught up. I was gibbering away to Stuart when I slid down some jaggy rock faces on my backside. Given that I was wearing Skins (which are a bit of the thin side) I was worried I ripped the ar*e out of them. Could you imagine running the section with your cheeks on show? Thankfully the material's a little sturdier than I anticipated.

I know most people hate the lochside, but I actually quite enjoy it. You get the chance to relax and drop the pace. There's no pressure, as there's no point. Plus, it was a great incentive knowing that I was going to see Kas and Jill at the other end.

Beinglas to Tyndrum
The new crew piled me up with food and off I went. I was told Sonic was in fourth postition and the boys were happier about that. I was planning on eating whilst walking up the hill out of the farm. I was goosed by the time I got to the top, but picked it up again whilst heading into Derrydarroch. The walkers on the Way forced me to stay composed. You can't show weakness after all. I couldn't help but laugh when I saw the gals in their club sweaters and midge nets. Giggling on approach I said the looked like "Garscube's latest Muslim recruits". Kas muttered something about me not losing my cheekiness.

From Derrydarroch to the A82 I had another low point. Maybe it was because the food hasn't got into my system. When I climbed over the first stile, I placed my foot at the wrong angle and twisted my knee as I pulled my other leg over. Although there was an instant sharp pain, I didn't think too much of it. Or so I thought. Watch this space...

I met the girls at the A82 crossover, grabbed a bottle and quick team huddle and headed up the hill. I could see Phil Robertson catching up in the distance. I was desperate for a toilet stop, so willed him to hurry up. Met Graeme McClymont, who probably didn't realise, but he saved this section for me. Just the brief social interaction really perked me up. Caught up with George Reid (yet again) and I told him I was sick of looking at his back.

I arrived at Auchentyre 18 minutes ahead of schedule. I was quite surprised, as I really took my time over that section with frequent walking breaks. I grabbed a cereal bar, jumped on the scales and headed off.

Jill ran with me from the farm to Tyndrum. She was highly amused when I opened my cereal bar and dropped it in the dirt. Doh! Jill's considerably faster than me, so it must have been torture for her. Couldn't have been that bad, as when we got to Brodie's she decided to push on to Bridge of Orchy.

The last I heard on Sonic's plight, was he was 8th leaving Bridge of Orchy but had a low point at Victoria Bridge. He was patched up and sent on though.

Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy

We left Tyndrum along with George and his support crew. George had rediscovered his mojo, so it was the last I saw of his back.

Unfortunately it was this section where my race plan went t*ts up. The previous twist of the knee was now a throbbing pain. I could walk, but running was agony. We played a mini-fartlek game for a couple of miles, but it was really taking its toll. I had to hobble in to Bridge of Orchy like a deflated balloon.

At the checkpoint, the steward did a quick assessment and told me I was compos mentis enough to go on. That was until Kas decided to give me a leg message. Sweet lord I nearly shot over the Orchy Hills. Now, Kas isn't the most gentile of ladies so when she started pummelling my knee and quad with her thumbs I was trying to kick her off whilst screaming "Kas! Nooooo!". The surrounding support teams must have thought I was being murdered in the back of the car.

Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse
I started on a slow march up to the top of the hill. Usually I love this section, as I like flying off the other side down to Victoria Bridge. Not today though. My knee wasn't going to let me go anywhere. I phoned ahead and asked the gals to make an emergency stop at the Inveronan Hotel. Sara and Jill were back on the team now. Looking back, watching Jill's black VW fly rounding the corner and girls jumping out like the A-team was quite comical. I was pushed on to a chair as they applied various ointments and strappings. At no point did they suggest calling it a day, which I will be eternally grateful for.

I hobbled round to Victoria Bridge and then pushed my way up the Drover's Road to Rannoch Moor. Jill and Kas were out for a run, so they joined me. They wanted to stay with me, but I urged them to go on. Only because I knew I needed my own emotional moment. After a tearful session, I knew I had to resort to plan B. Whilst I could still put one leg in front of the other, I knew I couldn't give up. I'm a fighter. Albeit a slightly unhinged one.

Kas had text me to say that I was call if they needed me to come back. I texted back saying "Thanks. I can't quit though". To which she replied: "Bloody right you're not. What am I supposed to tell me boss?" Kas had previously told me how he didn't think a girl couldn't do the distance in the allocated time. *?£$%&£$%. You can fill in the blanks.

I stomped across the moors and managed to catch up with the gals, who had abandoned their idea of running and we're sauntering along gibbering. The rain had started and we were all beginning to freeze. Walking is really tough when you've got loads of energy to run, so the ascent out of the moors and descent down to the ski centre was relentless.

Kingshouse to Kinlochleven
When I arrived in Kingshouse I was slightly broken, cold, wet and very emotional. I was amazed that the hotel's chimney was on fire, but no one seemed too notice. Support teams were just scuttling about meeting the demands of their runners.

I added a few layers, put on my waterproofs and demolished a Snickers and half a packet of ginger crunch biscuits. The best thing about the race was that I got to eat lots of lots of rubbish. A novel experience for a control freak like me.

Sara was accompanying me on this section. She had never done the Devil's Staircase, so it was a bit of an adventure for her. I started by saying that I wasn't going to be much company, but we ended up gibbering like budgies the whole way. We chatted about her wedding plans and house renovations and reminisced about our days on Kilimanjaro. Up to this point in the race, I was adamant that nothing was as tough as summit night on Kilimanjaro.

When we reach the top of the Devil's Staircase it was starting to get dark. But the rain had stopped. Even on the whole descent, we didn't bother with headtorches. There's something quite magical about the moments before total darkness.

Kinlochleven to Lundavra

We arrived at Kinlochleven just after 11.30. I entered the checkpoint with the words: "A broken number 114 reporting for duty". Dario looked shocked: "Broken? You're NOT quitting are you". Huh! As if. There wasn't much left in me, but I'd have to drop down first.

Before stepping on the scales for the officially weigh-in I did warn them that I had a acquired a few more layers, just in case I was whisked off for retaining fluids. Dario told me he thought I was the most lucid person he’d seen all day. Gawd, the rest must have been bad.

I received a few texts from Sonic who finished in a fabulous time of 20:47. Sonic was made for this kind of race. Now he's got his first one under his belt, I'm sure he'll go on to do great things.

Sharon had the lucky job of accompanying me to Lundarva. The comment of the event was when she announced to everyone that she had: "done two all-nighters, without so much as a sh*g or a bottle of wine".

The weather had really taken a turn for the worse. Gail force wind and torrential rain combined with the dark of night. Just what you need after 80+ miles. I should be thankful that the wind was behind us, but every gust pushed me forward and gared my knee. Plus my balance had gone to pot, so I was in danger of being thrown off. My knee throbbed and feet felt like every bone had been crushed. The enthusiastic walk had turned into a shuffle, so I was also in danger of being pushed off ;-) Poor Sharon was freezing and doing her best to keep me pushing on. Still going into the second night was taking its toll. I adopted the everything-will-be-better-when-it's-daylight mentality.

The worst thing about this section is there are very few landmarks and everything looks the same. The descent into the woods couldn't come quick enough. And Duncan's campfire (verging on forest fire) in distance was the most beautiful sight of the day.

Sharon ran on ahead to wake up Jill and Kas...but I really think she wanted to get away from me. She took great delight in banging on the car window and scaring them half to death. Kas mocked Sharon because apparently she was adamant she was going the whole way in. But seven miles later she volleyed Kas out and car and said: "you HAVE to take over".

I decided to change my socks and shoes for the final leg. Bad move. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Lundarva to Fort William
After discovering the two huge blisters on the bottoms of my heels, they now affected the way I walked. If I hadn't seen them, they probably wouldn't have bothered me. I practically finished the course on my tip toes. Or maybe I just thought I was on my tip toes, as I was completely away with the fairies. I don't even know where to start with the hallucinations. Trees become zoo animals, rocks became cats and owls. The coloured pebbled specks on the trail flashed up faces of smiling little people. And all the time I felt there was someone standing behind me.

I don't know where is came from, but Kas had the patience of a saint. What was a shuffle was now more like the funeral march. If Kas hadn't been there, I would have crawled up in some moss and gone to sleep. I think she knew that, as she kept checking I was vertical and was determined to keep me right beside her.

The long track down into town wasn't even a welcome relief, as I knew we still had a couple of miles to go. I couldn't wait to see Sonic. And I was starting to well up just thinking about the finish. About half a mile from the Braveheart Carpark, Kas ran on to tell the troops I was on my way. The A-team had now become Charlie’s Angels. Kas and Jill ran up with some coke. Sharon went to collect Marco. And I nearly lost the plot willing the carpark to appear. Why is it always longer than you think?

I didn't stop in the car park for long, as I was in danger of becoming quite emotional. Another two runners past me on the road to the leisure centre, but I really didn't care. When I told them I'd walked from Tyndrum, they even asked if I "was still in the race?"

At the time I didn't realise that Sharon and Jill were walking slowly behind me - trying to keep out of sight. Later I told them I kept looking back and seeing two old men ;-) Anyway, they were highly amused at me stoatin’ all over and off the pavement.

I passed the end of WHW sign and headed for the leisure centre. And there it was. My oasis. With the lovely Dario's face smiling at me.

And then it was over. Against the odds, I made it. After 30 hours and 45 minutes,my character had been well and truly built. I can hold my head up and say I completed the WHWR. Even if I had to walk 40+ bloody miles of it. Initially I felt a bit of a fraud - even if I was well within the 35 hour time allowance. But hey, when the plan went out the window, I had to change gear and plod on. There was no way I could give up. I just couldn't. It wasn't just about me. It was important to everyone who had helped me, trained with me, listened to me going on about it for months and gave up two nights sleep for me. And there was no way I could home with only one goblet. Chances are I'll break one dusting, so we need a back up. And then there was my poor Mother who had zero sleep sitting waiting for a phone call. But more importantly, I'd bought loads of race merchandise and couldn't possibly wear it with a DNF against my name ;-) Te he. Really I did it for Team Debs. They never let me down and couldn't let them down. Kas - I hope you gave your boss the two-fingered salute? ;-)

I will never be able to thank Sharon, Jill, Kas and Sara enough. They were absolute troopers. I'm sure they wanted to strangle me on numerous occasions, but they were there for me 200%. I could not have done it without their support, motivation and inspiration. They went over and above the call of duty.

I've still got loads more to, times (where it all went wrong), more thanks and some more general thoughts...but I better post this before you think I've died.

Thursday 19 June 2008

Medal collection

There's a posting on the WHWR forum asking how people display their medals, trophies and race memorabilia.

Here's how Sonic and I store ours: On towel rails under that stairs. Mine is the top collection. You know, the one with the most medals ;-) Try and keep up, Sonic.

Wednesday 18 June 2008

School's out for summer

Woohoo! Last day at work today. And last run tonight.

I spent most of the day running around like a headless chicken. Not only did I have to cram in a week's worth of work, I was also doing the supermarket sweep dash round the shops picking up last minute supplies. It was mostly panic buying the "just-in-case" stuff. Given the amount of money I have spent over the last six months in preparation for this race, I'm sure it would be cheaper to climb Everest.

Later I joined Davie Hall and Jim Robertson's jog Scotland crew for a 5-mile trot round Alexandria. It was really lovely to get out and run at a an easy pace and just chat to new people.

So that's it, folks. School's out for summer. I'm going to spend the next two days on the sofa..eating.

Tuesday 17 June 2008

Mixed bag

Tonight was my last club training session for...well, who knows?

A " mixed session" can be pretty much anything. It's a lottery. I emailed Jill in advance just to make sure it wasn't too strenuous. I'm sure they could have turned a mixed session into a 5K time trial. You know: a tempo run, with race conditions, bit of hills and a fast finish.

Being in pack F, I fall right on the border line between two groups. I took the easy option and went out with C-E, which was mostly made up of Es.

It was a lovely and, believe it or not, fun session. It was like games on the last day of school. First we did a warm-up down to the canal and then did a few miles of Indian lines. This basically means it's a easy pace in single file. The person at the back sprints to overtake and join the front and then the next person at the back does the same...and so on.

The we found a hill on the switchback and used the streetlamps as markers. We jogged down to the sixth post and sprinted back up. Jogged to the firth and back up...and so on.

I felt great the whole time. I've finally got rid of my heavy legs. My breathing's still a bit out of sorts though. But I doubt I'll be doing any hill sprints this weekend.

My first dabble with the WHW

The first time I experienced the West Highland Way, was on a six day walk in June 2006. I didn't find the walking particularly draining. Not physically anyway. But the hangovers nearly killed me. Yes, after each day's walking all six of us hit the pub.

Coincidentally the day we arrived in Kinlochleven, was the day of the West Highland Way Race. As we basked in the sun, whilst sipping my beer I couldn't get my head round why anyone would want to run the route. Let alone run the route in one go.

When we arrived in Fort William on the Sunday, we went straight to the pub. Some random dive in the middle of the main street. We ended up talking to a few of the chaps who had run and supported the day before. I vaguely remember that they were southerners and one of them DNF-ed. I often wonder if our paths have crossed again this year. Does anyone remember talking this picture for us?

Monday 16 June 2008

It's all about the charity

Sonic and I have now raised over £4000 for the Yorkhill children's Foundation. The aim is to reach £5000 by the end of the year.

If you would like to sponsor us ahead of Saturday's little jog, please click on the justgiving link on the right. Or let me know and I'll add you to our sheets.

Saturday 14 June 2008

Last run on the WHW

This was to be the grand finale to months of training. An easy run from Drymen to Balmaha. Sonic was doing an out and back, but I think that requires a mental strength that I don't have. There's just something soul destroying about it. I opted to run to Balmaha and then to take the road round (or the cheaters' choice) through Milton of Buchanan back to Drymen.

I knew today, we'd be going through the "this time next week..." game. Starting today's run just before 10am, I was hoping that this time next week I'd be between Inversnaid and Beinglas.

My plan on the day is to run this section in 1:40, so that was my aim for today. It was a glorious day. Perfect for a slow, easy run. After checking out others runners' race plans, Sonic was aiming for 1:20. I was very sceptical when I sent him on his way.

The pace was very comfortable and, as with previous training runs, I was concentrating on keeping my effort levels fairly low.

I made the fatal mistake of running without breakfast, but it didn't really take it's toll until I started heading up Conic Hill. My legs felt empty.

Heading over the top of the hill, I spotted the familiar sight of Sonic's red t-shirt on the way back up. He got to Balmaha in 1:02. I know, he's a lost cause. To be fair, he's the only person I know who can take hills like he's running on flat.

Reaching Balmaha carpark in 1:29 I had a two minute breather before heading round the road.

Sonic and I have often wondered why the Way goes over Conic Hill instead of round. Maybe it was boggy or inaccessible in previous times? Anyway today I worked out why. It's a bloody nightmare. It goes up and up and up - forever. On the plus side, it's considerably shorter. Only about 4.5 miles, compared to 7 miles. So, 11.5 miles all in today. In a steady 2:15. And no foot problems. Yippee.

So a couple of easy runs next week and, well, bring it on.

Thursday 12 June 2008

Jog along the Kelvin Walkway

Tonight I was dragged along to Garscube training...kicking and screaming. I really wasn't up for it, but Sonic was looking for a speedy run with some boy competition. I really didn't want another nail in my speed coffin, so he sooooo owes me one.

I was hoping to drop a pack or two, but coach Lesley was adamant that everyone was to stay in their group and take it easy. Emphasis on the easy. And no one was to leave anyone. I was charged with keeping Stuart and Paul in line. Great. I'm sure they were delighted to be stuck at my 8.5m/m pace.

So it was an easy 5.5m jaunt along the Kelvin Walkway and through Botanics. The run wasn't as bad I thought it would be, but I've been having problems with my stomach this week. I was practically doubled in pain by the end. I even had to make Sonic drive my car home, which is never an enjoyable experience for either of us. He finds it some what embarrassing to drive a baby blue Aygo complete with Hello Kitty air freshener. And I always have to remind that it's best for move up from third gear when driving at 60mph.

On a postive note (always best to end on a postive note!): The service of Dr Garmin is remarkable. I sent my Garmin away on Monday afternoon. And a new one arrived this morning. How's that for service?

Wednesday 11 June 2008

Steady five

I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Even the rubbish stuff. Although I'm struggling as to why my Dad ran over my cat when I was nine or why I lost chunks of my hair in the back of the hairdryer a couple of years ago...but generally, I believe my theory.

So maybe the reason why my Garmin broke was because I was getting too wrapped up in miles,pace, splits...yada yada. The slower I got the most distressed I was getting, which in turn made me dread going for a run.

Tonight I went out for an steady five miles round Balloch. No Garmin - although I could have used my Forerunner 50 - and no watch. I only had my perceived effort levels as a gauge. I was aiming for 7/10.

In the words of the great JK: "I really enjoyed my run tonight". Nice weather and no pressure.

I bumped into Jim Robertson (WHW-er), who was out with his Jog Scotland group. I ran with them for about 1/2 mile and we chatted about training and race day. Jim has completed the race about 10 times, so I felt a bit of a charlatan. Before the group were bored with our tales, I said my goodbyes and headed up though Balloch Park and down through Bonhill.

I finished feeling great and a bit more in love with running again.

Ps: Forgot to mention my other bad race experience in my "Tagged" post. Prestonpans half-marathon 2007. I have never experienced wind (as in the weather kind) like it. At one point as was limited to 12m/m.

Tuesday 10 June 2008

Mugdock Park Fartlek

Sorry, but this blogging malarky has taken a bit of a backseat. There's nothing really exciting to write about. Foot is getting better everyday, but I'm finding it difficult to motivate myself to run. I suppose I've just lost my zest a bit. This generally happens during the taper though. It's like the calm before the storm.

Well, my Garmin (number two) has been sent to Dr Garmin. Technically, it's goosed. Hopefully I should have it (or a new one!) back by next week. If not, oh well.

Tonight I went along to Garscube 5m fartlek session in Mugdock Park. In hindsight I should have dropped a group, but I got swept along with my usual crew. Yikes! What happened to my speed? I felt like a had someone else's feet. We did a few long strides out and then some hill circuits. Jeez I can't even remember the last time I "ran" up a steep hill.

I'm glad I went along though. If anything, I've probably given everyone else a confidence boost ;-)

Sunday 8 June 2008

Garscube WHW Relay Race

Saturday was Garscube Harriers' annual West Highland Way relay race. Four teams set out from Milngavie at 7am. The route was split into 12 bitesize (or big cry baby) sections. It's not a real relay as such. People don't wait until their handover team member arrives - otherwise we would have been there all day. Each section starts off a various times throughout the day. With the last leaving Lundarva at 3.45pm. The winning team was the team with the lowest cumulative time across all team members.

Sections are mostly allocated at random, but members could request their preferred option. I had asked for the Lochside, as I've only walked it once and ran it once. My knowledge was fairly limited, so I just wanted to familiarise myself for the final time.

I started at Rowardennan at 9.45am. I was adamant that I was sticking to race pace all the way along. OK, maybe a little faster, but I was mostly concentrating on not raising my heart rate and just keeping my breathing relaxed. So the other three runners went tearing off and I sauntered on behind. I know it wasn't the best team spirit, but there was no way I could risk hurting my foot more or wearing myself out.

I had a bit of an epic first mile. After the drama of my foot bone pain over the last few weeks, I'm starting to think there are lots of signs that I shouldn't be doing the race. Firstly my Garmin (which I had to replace in January) decided to give up the ghost. Then I broke the strap on my favourite hydration pack. So I had to spend the next 13 miles with a pack rattling round my neck and shoulders. I don't even get me started on the midges :-(

All was not lost though. It was a glorious day. I know this section is dreaded by many walkers and runners, but the lochside is a totally different place in the sunshine. Both my previous journeys were through torrential ran. It was so still and quiet, so I never got to scare any walkers. Huff!

I finished (very comfortably) in 3:12. I really took it easy, so I was quite pleased as I'll be aiming for 3.40 on the big day. More importantly, there was loads left in me and I really enjoyed the section. I actually think (or hope!) I'll enjoy it on the day. It really takes the pressure off and you don't have to worry about time or pace. I just jogged along thinking: Oh look there's a hill, best walk. Oh and no point running across boulders. I even stopped the chat to a few folks. And offered to take tourists' pictures. Mmm I wonder how many people in my team read this blog. Yikes. Off to check....Sh*te I've just noticed that Alex and Ben were on my team. Alex - don't forget to sponsor us. Yes, I was tipsy but not that tipsy. And Ben you're going to be annoyed later in the this posting anyway...

After I finished my leg, I went on the pick up Sonic who was running from Beinglas to Tyndrum. And guess what? He was gubbed after racing Alex and Euan. Some boys will never learn. So then I had to listen to him whining about losing speed and not being able to run 12 miles. Despite telling him frequently that he was never going to cover the section in 1:40 during the went in one ear and ended up in Australia.

We followed the route along to support the folks running the latter stages. As we cheered and clapped we were greeted with various comments (some quite colourful) about our quest to run the full thing. I suppose at least people appreciate it.

After the day was over, the majority of the troops stayed over at the Inchree Centre in Onich. There was lots of fine food and beers consumed. Big thanks to everyone who organised a fantastic day out.

The aforementioned Ben is Garscube's latest (and fastest) American recruit. He entertained us with his impression of the local neds mocking his yellow shorts. After a few beers, this was THE funniest thing I've ever heard.

Anyone see the similarity between Ben and Groundskeeper Willie from The Simpsons? Sorry, Ben, but that could stick. That's one in the bank for the Garscube lookalike award at the Christmas party.

After a restless night in the sauna that is the Inchree Centre, I woke up at 7am. Not wanting to disturb the gals in the dorm I decided to go out and read some papers. That was short lived. The midges were out in full force. I sat in the car waiting for a suitable time to chap up Marco and the guys. Just after 8am Marco found me at the door of the boys' dorm scratching, break-dancing and shrieking: "please get me out of this midge infested hell-hole". And that concludes another romantic break in the Scottish Highlands.

And the Marco-ism (s) of the trip 1) Asking the organisers whether the relay finished at the End of Way sign or at the sports centre? As if. 2) When driving from the finish to the Inchree Centre, Marco decided he wanted to drink one of the beers we had packed. Despite the fact I was driving he asked me all in seriousness if I "wanted to share one with him"

Friday 6 June 2008

There has been movement

Just in case you thought I had hung up my trainers for good, let me reassure that there has been some running/training going on. On Tuesday i did the club's speed session. Badly. And on Wednesday I did the 10-miles of the Balloch Horseshoe. Badly.

My foot's getting better, but it's still giving me cause for concern. Although it's not necessarily painful to run on, I can definitely feel it. Unless it clears up, these feelings are going to turn into feckin' agony somewhere along the WHW. But hey, I got two weeks to sort it out.

Last night I cycled over to Dumbarton to watch the 10K. As soon as I left the house, the heavens opened. Sonic drove by me giggling. For reasons which escape me, as he was off to mountain rescue training.

It was a great night for race, as I love running in the rain. Much better than cycling, as it wasn't a pleasant experience. I was freezing by the time I got home. I don't think I've ever cycled so fast in the life. Not only because I was in dire need of a warm shower, but because Big Brother was starting. As I fear I may be confined to the couch for most of July, I thought I better get into it. How in a country as small as Scotland, did they manage to find a blind cross-dresser?

Tuesday 3 June 2008


I was tagged by JK.

Here are the rules and my reply.

  • Tagging is easy. Just copy the following onto your post.
  • The rules of the game are posted at the start of your blog post.
  • In this case, I'm asking you five questions about running.
  • Each player answers the five questions on their own blog.
  • At the end of your post you tag five other people and post their names.
  • Go to their blogs and leave a comment on their blogs telling them they've been tagged and to look at your blog for details.
  • When they've answered the questions on their own blog, they come back to yours to tell you.
1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago?

Non-existent. I was in my last year of uni and would have keeled over if anyone told I'd take up running. Let along long-distance running.

2. What is your best and worst run/race experience?

My two favourites are this year's London Marathon and last year's Devil o The Highlands. The Devils because although Sonic ran an amazing time, I was the one that went home with a trophy. Te he.

Worst experience was the 30 degree in Paris Marathon 2007. I was so out of it, I missed running past the Eiffel Tower. Other races I have erased from my mind are this year's Women's 10K and the big fat DNFs for the Great Scottish Run and Jedburgh half.

3. Why do you run?

Because I don't know how to stop.
It keeps my ass in one place.
All my friends are runners, so I'd be socially inept if I didn't.
I can't bare to tell my husband that I actually don't like it.
Folks in my office would die of shock if I responded differently to their annoying "you still running?" question.
Local running shops would go out of business.
Sports gels don't mix well with gin. And I've got a huge supply to go through.
And how else am I going to bore my dear readers to death?

4. What is the best or worst piece of advice you've been given about running?

Self belief is the key. Thanks, Sharon, for drumming that into my head. Sonic told me "to run how I feel", which takes the pressure of time/splits. In turn, you're relaxed and subsequently run faster.

I don't really think I've been given any bad advice. Everyone has their own opinions and ways of doing things. Whether you just take away a learning experience, there's still something gained.

5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.

I've got one ear that's bigger than the other.
I have a dolphin tattoo and a piercing on my navel.
I bit my tongue off when I was three.
I'm terrified of cockroaches and falling.
I think marzipan is pure evil - Sara please no marzipan cakes.
I will never understand football or have any idea what's going on in Heroes/Lost/Dr Who.
My life will be complete when I have a walk-in wardrobe.
I've yet to clean out the inside of my car - which I bought in December.
I drink far too much juice and have to pee about five times a night!

Probably sharing a bit too much. But if I can't write about running...

I'm a bit at the coo's tail with this one, so most of the bloggers I know have been tagged. I'm tagging...Rachel and Davie Hall .

I will be back!

Forgive me Father, for it's been six days since my last blog. Which according to the other member of team Consani, is not a considerably long time.

Firstly I'd like to thank everyone for their messages/texts/emails and calls. I've been overwhelmed by support and kind words of encouragement. There's only one thing worse than injury...and that's someone else's injury, so that makes the concern even more appreciated. Secondly, and more importantly, I would like to apologise to Sonic for having to endure my drama queen-like behaviour since last Wednesday. Yes, there has been tears, tantrums. sleepless nights and numerous unnecessary sarcastic comments.

The verdict on the foot situation is that it's a Midtarsal fault - which basically means the arch has flattened. I went to see a podiatrist on Sunday, who ruled out a stress fracture. Big phew! And assured me that the pain/stress will ease with an arch support. Bigger phew! She nearly fainted when I told her about the WHWR. And found the concept so humorous and bizarre she felt the need to share it with everyone within a 20 metre radius. To which I was greeted with a sea of "and-you-wonder-why-you-need-a-podiatrist" looks.

Basically, last Thursday and Friday I couldn't walk. The worse being barefoot. Again high heels saved the day. JK- are you sure you don't want to reconsider ;-). But it's gradually getting better. If Friday was a 10 of pain, Saturday was 8, Sunday 7, Monday 6 and today 5.

I spent most of the weekend cycling. Sonic was doing a 20-mile run on Saturday, so I cycled alongside him. I was quite novel being next to him and still have the ability to breath, hold a conversation (albeit one-sided) AND be nice. Maybe he has a greater understanding of why my plot is lost when we run together.

Sunday I woke up just after 6am - even though we we're at a 40th birthday party the night before. I couldn't sleep, so decided to go for another 20-miler cycle round Helensburgh. It was very quiet, clear and sunny, so it was a glorious experience.

Needless to say my backside is so sore, it's taking the focus off my foot ;-)

I'm toying with the idea of going to training tonight, but we'll see what 7pm brings. There's no Britain's Got Talent, so I may as well.