Thursday 31 December 2009

Ice Road Runners

Forget Ice Road Truckers, I'm not sure I will be able to walk on "dry" land anymore. I've forgotten what pavements look like.

Anyway, I did it. I completed the Marcothon and ran everyday in December. My shortest run was 3.5 miles and my longest 25 miles. My calves are in tatters, but apart from the obvious terrain constraints, I've felt pretty good.

Today, I ran with Sonic, Athole and Sharon on a 12 mile circular route from Strathblane on to the Way Highland Way and back via Killearn. It was definitely the highlight of my running month. The piece de resistance of what has certainly been a challenge. The initial inclines on sheets of ice were a struggle, but after that it was amazing.

Well done to everyone else who completed the Marcothon - Fiona, Pauline, Anita, Euan, Mark, Karin...and I suppose I better mention the founder, Marco. Anyone else I've missed?

Here are some pictures of Cairn sledging with Mama Sonic.

Happy New Year everyone! If you see/speak to sharon, be sure to say "all the best when it comes, darling" It's her favourite saying :-)

Monday 28 December 2009

Belated Christmas wishes

Obviously I haven't had time to blog about running, because I've been too bloody busy running! That's 28 days on the trot. I've lost count of how many of them have been skiting on ice of trudging through snow. I'm all for a white Christmas, but I'm kind of over it now. I don't think I've run faster than a 9m/m in what seems like weeks. I think it's more mental training than physical. Every day I tell myself to wear my fell shoes on the next run. Every day the conditions get worse and I still go out in my road shoes.

Today I had first-hand experience of Karma when I chuckled at a young ned landing on his a*se at the foot of the Squiggley bridge. 20 seconds later I did the exact same thing. Same spot, same graceful landing.

Seems like the majority of Marcothon recruits are still on track. Well done, folks. Not long to go now. Keith - Dave's going to send you a lovely second-hand blouse :-) That's Karma.

Here are few shots of the Garscube Harriers' Santa Race. It's handicapped, so I used the Baby Jogger sob story to go off from scratch. Bev (the winner) also went off at the same time. I must have looked quite comical watching an elf with a buggy chasing another elf through the streets of Bearsden. The best elf won on the day. Well done, Bev. Cairn and I came second. I'll need to come up with a better excuse for next, baby Santa is heavier... :-)

(Bev the winner!!)
(Cairn - mortified by his parents)

Thursday 17 December 2009

Day 17 and still on track...just!

The founder of the Marcothon assured me that after two weeks I would feel "fit and light". Well yesterday, I felt like I was riddled with injuries and my nose was running faster than my legs. OK, slight exaggeration. The said founder knows I am prone to slight exaggeration on this blog. Poetic license I think. I do have niggles in my left calve and shin. Mainly because I made the mistake of mentioning a few weeks ago that I never get lower leg problems, it's always my thighs and hips. I have, however, had a cold and sore throat for over a week now. The said founder claims to have been struck the same virus - although he seems to be symptomless. You go figure.

So day 17 of consecutive days running. Well 18, but the one in November doesn't count. There have been many days when I've wanted to chuck the challenge. Possibly in the region of, er, 17. Fitting in a daily run along with the duties of a full-time working Mum trying to get organised for Christmas, has been a challenge. Last night when I sat down to my dinner at 9.30pm, I honestly thought I was hanging together with a very fine thread. Thank heavens for wine. Which brings me on nicely to a comical e-funny I received from Mrs MacPirate.

And to quickly summarise some running:

This week I've been taking it a bit easier, as the last two weeks have been relatively high mileage (over 55 miles)

Saturday: WHW - Milngavie-Drymen-Milngavie 24 mins in 3:52
Sunday: 3.5 miles easy
Monday: 3.5 miles easy
Tuesday: 8 mile tempo (7:49)
Wednesday: 3.5 miles steady
Thursday:7 mile tempo (ave 7:47)

Tomorrow I need to get up before the larks to fit in my run before the day begins. It's my office lunchtime Christmas quiz tomorrow, which will involve a few refreshments. Sonic asked me why I just don't drink, so I can do my run at night. Ha ha. Cue the cartoon strip above.

Thursday 10 December 2009

'Tis the season

Scottish Advent Calendar

Great gadget gift for runners (according to Runner's World gift guide)

Solar-powered baseball cap, £9.99: The piece of kit you never knew you needed. Perfect for running under the harsh summer sun, this cap has a solar panel on top, which runs the fan integrated into the peak - so the more the sun shines, the faster the fan turns to keep you cool.

I could match this with a WHW buff, compression tights, arm warmers and go for a wee stint with the Baby Jogger round the Balloch Horseshoe. Bob's your straight-jacket :-)

Saturday 5 December 2009

High five for day five

Still on track for "The Marco Challenge" of running every day in December. As previously mentioned, I'm following Marco's November task of running at least three miles (or 25 mins) every day. In hindsight we should have called in the Marcothon - minimum of 2.62 miles or 26.2 mins. Maybe that could be January's challenge. Although I fully intend on sitting with my feet up on New Year's Day. But don't quote me on that.

Seems like there's quite a following. So far there's Sharon, Anita, Keith, Fiona, Pauline, Andy L, Karin, Deb C, Ailsa, Mark, Euan, and - obviously - Marco and I. Is there anyone I've missed?

So, this week:

Monday: Recovery run round Balloch (This doesn't count as it was still November)
Tuesday: 8 mile southside tempo run (ave 7.48)
Wednesday: 5.5 with warm up and 10 x one minute intervals
Thursday: 5.9 mile club run (ave 8.07)
Friday: 5 mile strides in Glasgow Green
Saturday: 18.5 Home to Balmaha - via WHW (ave 10.26)

Today I ran from home to Balmaha - over the Balloch horseshoe and onto to West Highland Way - with Sharon. I'm loving running with her every weekend of late. We're a really good pace for each other - and we gibber like budgies all the way round. As you can by the elevation chart below, it's tad hilly. Quite pleased to average 10.26 m/m over the 18.5m route.

Maybe it's the oxygen to the brain, but the Sharon-isms are starting to surpass the Marco-isms. To set the scene, Sharon suffers from excruciating painful hands in the cold. She hasn't been diagnosed with Raynard's, but she's as good as. Who would run with gloves in the height of summer? Granted it's not exactly tropical, but you get my drift. Anyway her new theory (passed on from another) is that it could be driving on bumpy roads that has affected the nerves on tips on her fingers. Apparently it's quite common with workers using drills and diggers. Her words "the tips are destroyed with overuse of vibrating tools". When I suggested that might be something she keeps to herself, it took a wee while for the penny to drop :-)

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Are you a Marco or a mouse?

I'm going to take The Marco Challenge and run every day in December. Not sure why, as it wasn't even a wine-fuelled decision. Marco (that's his real name, in case any readers think my husband's name is actually Sonic!) has informed me that the only rule is that the distance/time must be at least three miles or 25 minutes.

Anyone care to join me? It's not a competition. Just a personal challenge. Or an incentive to burn off a few mince pies. So far I two recruits: One willing (Anita) and one not-so-willing (Euan).

So today I did an eight mile tempo at lunchtime (ave 7.49). That's one day down, 30 to go. I think hogmanay has a new-found appeal. Next rest day? Next year.

Monday 30 November 2009

What's so strange about that?

I have friends who run barefoot or with books in a backpack. They run races backwards: In the dark and in the height of winter. There is one who turns up the heating and cycles (obviously on a stationary bike) in various layers of clothing, so he's prepared for a hot race day. Even though he lives in Scotland! Many run back-to-back days or split sessions, just to make sure they are completely f*cked! And many run on empty so their body is prepared to, er, run on empty. Some throw themselves off hills, knowing they will probably shed some blood on their hurtling descent. And many partake in the mind-boggling pursuit that is cross-country running.

So really, was my run to work on Friday morning really that "mental"? OK, it's an 18 mile journey and I had to start at 6am. It was a dark, cold and wet on a mind-numbing route along the A82...and I still had a day's work to do at the other end. But on the grand scale of things, I think it was positively normal. So when I arrived in the office, red-faced and lycra clad, a few heads popped over computer screens. When asked where I'd run from, I merely replied "home" only to be greeted with vacant stares. Before their eyes rolled back down behind the screens.

The only reason I did my long run on Friday was because I was going to Oban with my Sis and Sharon on Saturday. I must admit I felt quite smug knowing I had not only done my daily run before work. But I had also done my weekly long run. Double bonus.

Friday night involved pampering and preening prior to the girlie weekend. Including fake tanning - even though the weather forecast was close to freezing. I wanted to do a recovery run on Saturday morning, but I couldn't bothered to wash off my fakers first. I'm all for cleanliness, but three showers in one day is a bit extreme. So I was up before 6am to sprackle round Balloch before the sun came up.

We headed off just after 1pm. All equally fake-tanned up. It was like a traffic-cone road trip :-) The weather was fabulous. Crisp, sunny and very still. We stayed in a superior suite at the Columba Hotel - complete with sea view. It was total luxury. We had dinner at a fabulous Italian on the north pier, visited a few drinking dens, giggled and gossiped (put the world to right) and were back in our jammies before shutting time.

Happy St Andrew's Day everyone. It's great to be Scottish! From the country that brought us the telephone, television, steam engine, bicycle, penicillin...and Susan Boyle!!

There were quite a few comments on my previous post regarding the picture of Ian. I had to laugh at the mid-air hand embrace. He must have been thinking "I don't have enough antibac hand gel to disinfect if I touch these two" :-) :-)

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Ginger Ninja Security Services

Hi folks, Sorry it's been a while. I have started many posts, but never got round to finishing them. Shame I can't say the same about a bottle of wine :-) Anyway here's a summary (a combination of half-baked posts) of the life o' Debs over the last week (s) or so.

Saturday, November 14.

If it wasn't for the fact that I was meeting Ian and Sharon on Saturday morning for a WHW run (Milngavie to Balmaha), I could have easily been persuaded into having a PJ day. It was wet 'n' wild and I felt a little out of sorts.

The topic of conversation was always going to be that week's "incident". One flippant, tongue-in-cheek blog posting and Ian's character and intent was questioned and scrutinised. Thankfully everyone who knows or has met him would agree he's a top-notch, thoroughly decent guy. How could a man who carries hand gel to disinfect his hands after an al fresco comfort break possibly have a malicious bone in his body? :-) Even if his name was marked, he had the two red-heads from Ayrshire there to protect him. Well, Sharon could have talked them to death :-)

Although the weather wasn't great, we had a fab day out. The rain was pretty consistent apart from a dry spell from the Beech Tree Inn when we were wading through knee deep (that's thigh deep for Sharon) puddles anyway.

As you will no doubt know, long runs are always a game of peaks and troughs. I had quite a few more troughs than normal. You know you're in good company when I yelped "Jeez I'm totally bonking" and no one bats an eyelid. Thankfully I had an emergency gel to save the day. Next time, I'll be back to my ol' faithful jelly babies though.

Arriving in Balmaha, where Sonic had kindly "volunteered" to pick us up, we were sodding wet and mankie. I have to admit, I was slightly broken as well. And sitting in the car in wet clothes back to Milngavie didn't help. I felt pretty rubbish for the rest of the day and couldn't face food until about 8pm. Then I was spewing during the night, so I guess I had a bit of a bug. Not a bug with hands and feet before you ask!

W/c November 16

I took a couple of days off and then did a 8 mile tempo on Tuesday (ave 7:47), 500 reps on Wednesday and a club run on Thursday (ave 7:59). On Friday I went out with Johnston's Joggers (I think this could stick, Mark) to do strides on Glasgow Green's football pitches. This time I arranged to meet Sonic et al there, as there was no danger of me doing my 10K pace to keep up with them.

Sunday I was out with Sharon for 14 miles around the Balloch Horseshoe. Sharon usually describes her routes as "a bit bumpy" or "challenging". I described this one as: "It starts off very hilly and then gets less very hilly". The weather was favourably to start, but then the wind and rain picked up. The last few miles were a case of heads down and think happy thoughts. A cracking run and considering the gradients we were happy to average 8.40 m/m.

This week (yay, I'm up-to-date!)

This week the wind will be playing havoc on a lot of people's training. Yesterday I did a seven mile tempo round the west end (ave 7:55). Considering I didn't get to sleep until 4am, courtesy of small child with a cold, I really enjoyed my run - in the style of JK.

Cairn (and Sonic for that matter) pretty much slept through the night, and I was awake listening to little grunts coming from his room. And then would freak out when I didn't hear little grunts. He kept coughing himself awake and in the end I sent Sonic to the sofa and brought Cairn in with me. Now I know why his cot is back-to-front and inside-out in the morning. I've never seen so many involuntary body movements in my life. I was walloped in the head, karate-chopped in the face, kicked in the stomach. Next time, I bagsy the sofa.

This morning I got up well before the sun to do my reps, so I could do some Christmas shopping at lunchtime. 20 x step reps in Kelvingrove park. Big tick. Three new tops for me. Fail. Oh well, must try harder.

Phew! That's it folks. I'm off for a wee lie down...

Friday 13 November 2009

All in a week's work

I survived my first hill race! Well, I nearly never started it. I was so wet behind the ears, I turned up without all (eh, actually any) of the necessary equipment. Apparently according to Scottish Hill Running rules all participants must carry waterproofs, compass (yeh, like I can navigate), whistle, map..yada yada. After a brief panic, Sharon gave me her spare waistpack (only Sharon would have a spare waistpack), and I tied my jacket round my waist for a) waterproof and b) hide the fact there was he-haw in the pack. Well apart from a small bottle of cherry juice - also courtesy of Sharon. With the stamp "perfect for lunchboxes" I doubt it would have saved me in an emergency. Personally, given the size of the hill (1500ft) and a 4.4 mile route, I didn't think any equipment would be necessary. Thankfully there wasn't a kit-check.

Like most races, it was all a bit frantic at the start. Sharon and I had gone up to the front to wish Sonic luck and struggled to get back through the crowds into a more comfortable zone. We settled somewhere in the middle - with wee Sharon armpit deep in hairy hill runners :-) After the gun I was nearly taken out in the stampede, but it calmed down within a mile - when I was resigned to a stomp. I started passing quite few runners on the way up. One comedy moment was when I passed a bloke and he got all testosterone-y and decided to "run" passed shouting "runner through"... for him to stop and walk and I had to pass him again.

The 35 minute ascent was pretty brutal, especially as I was barely halfway up when the winners came tumbling down. The 15 minute downhill was fabulous though. I think I must have caught about 10 runners. I finished in 50:37, which was way better than my sub one hour target. Sonic was 90th in 41:58 and Sharon finished in 52:03.

Thanks for Mama Sonic for coming along to provide mobile babysitting services, car watching, jacket holding and photography. Especially the above picture of me at the finishing line with a super-serious face.

On Sunday, a gang of us did the Kilpatrick Hill Route. Me, Sharon and all the boys cross-bred with mountain goats. I had managed to talk Jill, Mo and Anita into coming along, but they turned up in shiny new trainers. Big mistake. Huge. It was a chilly day, but the sun was out in force. Perfect. We all had piled on far too many layers, so after that initial 1.5 mile ascent there were more red faces than an AA meeting. Before the boggy bit, the girls turned back down the trails to save their trainers. I'm not sure they took it seriously enough as later that day I saw pictures of them on facebook posing against beautiful backdrops!

I was totally and utterly filthy by the end - courtesy of falling flat out about three times - but loved every minute of it. A great day out on lovely hills on a beautiful day with fabulous people. I almost hugged a tree at the end.

On Monday I went for 4.5m recovery . It was less of a recovery from hard training and more of a recovery from working at home all day with a crawling baby. Especially a crawling baby who favours electrical wires, doors and sharp implements over anything made by Fisher Price.

Tuesday I did an 8 mile tempo (average 7.35m/m), Wednesday morning was 800m reps (3.00, 3.01, 2.59, 2.52 and 2.51) and Thursday was a 6.7m run round the west end with the club (average 8.17). I had to get the stats off Emma, as I messed up my Garmin. When I tried to sort it on the way home, I was alarmed to see that the watch wasn't picking up the distance. Sonic saved the day and said "you told it you were inside". Doh! Dashing my hopes of justifying a purchase of the Garmin 310XT. I think we're the only people in the world trying to break our Garmins. Given my track record with Garmins (and ipods for that matter) the smart better's money is on me winning.

Today I'm having a rest day - after running 10 days in a row. Which loosely translates as I shop instead of running.

Friday 6 November 2009

Supposedly, I'm the scatty one!

On Tuesday I bit the bullet and went out with Sonic's "fast boys" lunchtime session. Do you know the scene from Pretty Woman when Vivian walks into the shop and says: "Big mistake. Big. Huge"? Somehow I couldn't get that out of my head. Not the being a hooker bit, but more that I was potentially out of my depth. It was eight miles along the canal and then back along the Kelvin Walkway (my favourites!!). They were sauntering along at recovery pace and I was bleeding out of my eyes. After a circuit round the hills in Kelvingrove Park, I was finished. I returned to the office covered in mud and practically foaming at the mouth. I was surprised that I was 40 seconds per mile SLOWER than my usual tempo run. I think I'm the only runner in the world who runs faster on solo runs!

On Wednesday, I went out for some pre-work 800m reps. I was up at 5.30am to get all Cairn's stuff organised for nursery. Bottles made, breakfast out, lunch ready, clothes laid out, spare clothes packed. Sonic lacks multi-tasking skills, so I thought my helping-hand would see him right in the morning. How he was actually TWO HOURS late for work is beyond me. I called at 8am and was assured that Cairn was fed and dressed. Then a couple of hours later there was a panic call from Sonic saying that he had got to the nursery without Cairn's daypack, so had to do a 40+ mile round-trip home to pick it up. Yes folks, this was the boy who called me "a wee bit scatty" a few days ago. Think I'll get some mileage out of this.

Last night, we were out for the Garscube club run. Yep, running through Maryhill on Bonfire Night will certainly put a spring in your step. There was a running lecture organised for after the session, so it was a sharp start and not-so-long distance. We were splits into three large groups - which I'm guessing were the remedial class, distinctly average and the nerds.

It was a fairly easy 5.5 mile route - with a few nasty hills for good measure. Even our middle group broke up quite quickly and I was in a pack of about eight. Most of whom are usually in faster packs than me. I'm used to running alone or with a couple of people, so I found it quite crowded. Especially with obstacles to maneuver, pavements and potholes. It was hard to judge where my feet were going. Or maybe my brains a bit slow on the up-take these days. Plus it was dark and the wet leaves made it quite slippery underfoot. Anyway I don't know how it happened, but it somehow turned into a race. One person pushed the pace, we followed, we all knew we were going to fast, but no one gave up. I ended up at the back of the group hanging on for dear life...but the wheels feel off after about four miles. Thanks to Anna for hanging back and pretending she was equally gubbed. I was spent at the end, but felt great. Sometimes it's good to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

I wasn't back in my comfort zone for long, as I went out again with Sonic's lunchtime crew today. A "strides" session. Which was billed as "easy" and "perfect for pre-race training". Yep, they jogged along on the two mile warm-up out to Glasgow Green...and I was doing my 10K pace. Diagonal strides across a water-logged football pitch. Well they bounded across like a gazelles...and I stumbled behind like a Fraggle being chased.

So tomorrow is the Tinto Hill Race. I know it's going to be seriously competitive, so anything above coming in last would be a bonus. First rule of racing: Never try out new gear. Yep, my shiny new fell shoes are still in the box.

Monday 2 November 2009

Trick or treat

The trick was testing out the route of next week's Tinto Hill Race. And the treat was "having" to buy new shoes for the occasion. But the cutest Halloween delight was my boy in his fancy dress for his nursery party.

On Friday, whilst Cairn was off enjoying his first e-number feast, Sonic and I went out to Biggar for a recce on Tinto Hill.

As previous stated (probably numerous times) I am not a fan of the unknown. I prefer routes I'm familiar with. Plus, I'm slightly nervous about participating in my first hill race. Mostly because I'm slightly nervous about taking the wooden spoon. I thought a recce would help me feel a little more prepared. Not that it will help with the distinct lack of talent.

I will always be in awe of people who can run up those inclines. I don't think running makes me go any faster, but boy does it take a lot more out of me. At the first sign of a steep gradient I was reduced to a stomp. Actually we pretty much walked all the way up.

I quite like running down hills (is there anyone who doesn't like a good downhill? Doubt it) but my trails shoes weren't gripping on the muddy slopes and wet rocks. I felt I was breaking and jerking a lot, so I knew my quads were going to be shot.

What was supposed to be a nice morning jaunt, turned into a race to break the hour. Finished in 59:58. How's that for close? 42 mins up and 17 to get back down.

Cue the new shoes...Run-4-It at the Tiso Outdoor Centre were having a Inov-8 day. I took that as a sign :-) A very helpful and thoroughly knowledgeable chap helped me with my shoe choice. A tried on a few models and a few sizes, but settled for the x-Talon 212.

When I got to cashdesk to pay for my shiny new shoes, the assistant lent towards me and said "the guy who helped you is the owner of Inov-8" Well, if you want some expert advice you may as well go straight to the top. After a google search, it was indeed Wayne Edy the founder and MD of Inov-8. If I had known at the time, I would have got a pic for the blog.

Yesterday morning, I went out with some of the Garscube gals - Jill, Maz, Emma and Anna for a long slow run. It was the first time I had met them for a weekend run, as logistically it's a bit of a nightmare. Sonic had to get up at 5.30, to do his run with John!

I had to make a detour to buy some Deep Heat for my quads, but arrived on time for the 9.30 kick-off. Jill and Maz were running a bit late. Jill texted to say Maz was having car problems. The fact that Maz can't actually drive begs a fews questions %-) On arrival I mocked them about it not being a handicap race, but we all set off about 9.45. There was no mad rush to get going though, as Glasgow was experiencing monsoon conditions. Which held up for the whole day.

The original route was an out and back to the Erskine Bridge - along the canal. It didn't take much to convince them that a circular course round the southside was a better option. It was a great run and time went passed really quickly. It was a momentous occasion when Jill (who calls me One-pace Debs) suggested that I might be pushing the pace a bit too quickly. I could retire on that comment.

I did have to laugh when Maz said "you know you're out with Debs, when we seem to have been going for ages but making no sign of turning back".

Monday 26 October 2009

Refreshingly hilly

I didn't need to look out the window to assess the weather situation. I could hear it trying to put the windows in. Perfect for exercising the what-doesn't-kill-you-makes-you-stronger theory. The wind was howling and the rain was torrential, but I was still looking forward to my long run with Sharon. It was in her neck of the woods, so she was in charge of route choice. Something which she described as "refreshingly hilly". She added to my sceptecism by saying: "you will have forgiven me by the downhill finish". Highly unlikely consdering she lives at the top of a big bloody hill.

The weather hadn't improved any by the time we set out. Considering the conditions, I had pushed the boat out and put on my snazzy arm-warmers. Sharon, on the other hand, had on more layers than a pass-the-parcel prize.

The all-road route was indeed "refreshing hilly". 1500ft of ascent actually. Same on the descent though, but it never seems to balance out does it. The wind was pretty fierce and the rain had turned the roads into rivers, but it didn't dampen our spirits.

Heading towards the final ascent, Sharon warned me to "take in easy going up, it's longer than your think". No sh*t. I remember hanging out (basically loitering) at the foot of the hill in my younger years. At time it looked like a mountain. Actually it was the bottom of said hill that Sharon and I first met. Little did we know that 20 years later we'd be racing each other up it.

17 miles. Ave 8:56.

Congratulations to John and Lesley on the (somewhat delayed) arrival of little Alexandra. Another running thoroughbred. Although her genes are a little faster than Cairn's genes. Mummy runs a 36m 10K and Daddy jogs round in 32. Watch this space.

Also congratulations to Brother Sonic who got through the auditions for Total Wipe-Out. He's off to Argentina next month. I'll keep you posted when it's on the TV. Unless, of course, he gets wiped out in the first round :-)

Tuesday 20 October 2009

First WHW run of the season

Saturday, October 17: Out and back - Tyndrum to Beinglas. Approx 25 miles.

I had a crackin' run up until about 18 miles. Felt brilliant and really enjoyed the steady pace, lots of chat and the beautiful autumn day.

I stupidly let my guard down, tripped on a rock and went flying. My knees took the brunt of it. But I managed to bruise my right hip and shoulder in the process. Where were you with the camera then, eh Davie?

You know you're a real runner when despite rolling about in the dirt, screaming like a banshee and swearing like a drunken sailor...I managed to lift my shaking hands to stop my watch :-)

After assessing the situation, I realised that I couldn't go on. Although there was no spraining, I was having serious bother bending my knees. Sharon continued on the six mile track to get to the car, and I headed down into Crianlarich - where she was going to pick me up.

Although it was nice sunny day, it was certainly fresh. I was sitting on the side of road contemplating hypothermia, when the voice of angel shouted: "Debs, do you want a lift?" Not quite an angel, but Brian Garry. After a series of ungraceful moves to get off the pavement, I hobbled across the road and into the back of the car. I know I'm a bit slow on the uptake sometimes, but it took me about five minutes to realise that Brian had hitched. I thought the driver was one of the group. Poor guy. Not only had he made the mistake of stopping to pick up a sweaty runner. He had to stop and pick up his sweaty runner pals en route :-) Thankfully he had god on his side as there was about four different versions of the bible on the backseat next to me. Bizarre, I know.

It wasn't long before Sharon appeared, armed with bottles of Coke. I was still pretty cold, so jumped into the back of the car to get changed. My second screaming session of the day was when Davie appeared at the window to see how I was. I think he got more of a fright than I did though! He was certainly having a wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time-day, as five minutes later he drove passed Sharon standing in her bra!

When I got home, Sonic had indeed been out shopping and was in charge of dinner making duties. I should blog that more often. His signature dish - tuna steaks and spinach. He doesn't get to exercise his culinary skills very often - mainly because I'm a control freak - but it was damn good!

Sunday was pretty much a right off, as bending my knees was pretty tough. I spent the day going up and down the stairs on my bum...and trying to master the art of peeing standing up! :-)

When the big black bruises appeared Sonic said: "Ah, I actually believe you now".

Friday 16 October 2009

Bits 'n' Bobs

After Saturday's "disappointing" performance (I'm over it now) I managed to cheer myself up over a few glasses of vino (give or take a bottle) at the Crazy Germans' soiree. Neal - did Dean Karnazes ever come back to you regarding his invite to run the WHWR? Facebook + Alcohol = something that's a good idea at the time.

Despite feeling a little rough on Sunday morning (must have been Thomas' cooking!?) I still felt quite up for a long run. Sonic and Euan had been out from 7am, so it was after 9am before I started my run. I'm sure Cairn is starting to feel like a relay baton. My aim was 14 miles, but I would have been happy with 10. After a few miles (all up hill) I got into my stride and was really enjoying the country run on a lovely Autumn morning. I went for the 14 mile (Balloch horseshoe, Croftamie rd, Gartocharn, horseshoe, Balloch) and finished in 1:59 with average pace of 8:33

(If that start doesn't raise your heart rate nothing will)

I took Monday off, as I had a lot of work to do. And on Monday night we went to see Billy Connelly at the SECC. What an outstanding evening that was. I even managed to sneak a bit of footage - but I'm struggling to upload it just now. It is not for the easily offended. Or obese for that matter.

On Tuesday I did 800m reps* round the Squiggley Bridge - only in Glasgow would you get bridges officially called the Squiggley and Squinty Bridge. Wednesday was a 8-mile tempo** run. And last night I was out with the club.

Tomorrow I'm joining the Glee club for a WHW run. Tyndrum to Beinglas and back, which is about 25-26 miles. Can't wait, as the weather looks perfect. Hopefully I'll be home in time for X-Factor and Sonic will have made my dinner ready and chilled a bottle of wine. Hey a girl can dream.

One of the funniest (baring in mind I have a sick sense of humour) things I read this week was one the hacks in my office's facebook status "...police can comfirm that Louis Walsh received a letter stating that for every week John and Edward stay in X-Factor, a Boyzone member will die."

Surely the little annoyances that they are will leave tomorrow night? The only saving grace is that at least some talented didn't get booted last week instead. Stacey to win!! Or possibly Danyl. Or maybe Lucie or Joe.

Anyway, whilst I'll be kicking back and watching X-factor Ian and Aileen will be running round and round a track again and again and again. They're participating in the Self Transcendence 24 hour race in Tooting. Yep that's 24 hours of running round a TRACK in London. I know, WTF?

* 800m 2:56, 2:59, 2:56, 2:57
** 8 mile temp 8:22, 8:26, 8:13, 7:27, 7:24, 7:18, 7:07, 7:16. Total 1:01:36. Ave 7:38

Wednesday 14 October 2009

With maturity, comes acceptance?

As I grow older there are numerous things that I am learning to accept.

1) I will always be a little bit pear-shaped. Mainly because my hips are disproportionate to my chest.
2) The freckles on my shoulders will never disappear.
3) Even though I like my hair colour, I will always get mocked for it. That wasn't a cue for jokes, Waterman.
4) I will never be able to drink wine and not make a t*t of myself.
5) I'll always be rubbish with numbers.
6) I can't tame my sarcasm and will probably always offend someone.
7) And I'm never going to run a good 5K. Or a 10K for that matter.

Try as I might, short distances are not my thing. After Saturday's performance in the Parkrun 5K (23:20) I whimpered something along the lines of "how am I going to get faster?" but really, as I said, acceptance is probably the best way forward. I will continue to use 5Ks and 10Ks as good speed sessions, but they are not my forte. My heart will always lie with the long-distance races. I will never neglect speed work, as I believe it's an important part of marathon training and ultra running.

Anyone can get round a three/six mile course. I know non-runners who have gone out and fluked excellent times. I think the test lies in pushing yourself beyond boundaries. If I put my heart, mind and training to it, could I get a sub:20 5K time? Possibly, maybe. But who cares? Could I get a sub:20hr WHWR? Now that would special.

I think I'm just starting to tap into my ultra-running potential. I'm not going to blow my own trumpet - I'm British! But I'd like to see how I would get on with proper training and a good shot at a race.

Saturday 10 October 2009

The last week...

...has gone by in a flash! I thought time passed quickly pre-Cairn, but it's a whole different ballgame now. I lost count of the times that people said to "enjoy them whilst they're young, because they grow up so quickly". I tutted it off with a mental eye-roll, but really it's so true. Now my little baby is not so much a little baby. He's practically crawling, has three teeth, waves goodbye and can moan "mum, mum" when he wants something. Unfortunately he can scale a room in an blink and can usually find something that would suggest we haven't quite baby proofed the house - entangled in electrical wires, playing with bottles of shampoo...that's my boy! I think he's going to be a mischievous one, but he's still a delight. Sleeps through the night, never cries and eats all his dinner. A bit like Sonic, but less maintenance.

Trying to work, run and spend QT with the family is still a huge juggling act. Throw in my domestic chores and it's pretty much 24/7 full-speed. I have to super-organised and even more super-motivated. I have windows for running and I have to get out the door and go. There's no sitting about humming and hawing or waiting for the rain to go off.

I'm trying to follow the training plan that Coach Lesley drew up for me for last year's London Marathon. In summary, it follow this basic sequence

Monday: Rest or x-train
Tuesday: Speed/reps
Wednesday: Tempo run
Thursday: club run
Friday: Rest or x-train
Saturday: Short speed
Sunday: Long run

After the previous Saturday's dismal attempt at a short race, I signed up for the McAndrew Relay Race last Saturday. After running the course as a club training run, I felt better prepared for the race. You know how I don't like courses I'm not familiar with :-) Well the weather was quite tip-top race conditions. Gale force winds and torrential rain. Arriving at the start in Jordanhill, if it wasn't for the team-factor I would have driven away.

It was a bit of a late start - 3pm! Which kind of plays havoc with your day. And meals. I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast, so I bought a packet of Fruit Pastilles and Skittles on the way. I was totally wired and very on puking after than nutrious snack.

I was in a team with Emma (1st leg), Me (2nd) and Rachel (3rd). Emma had a great run and appeared over the the hill - long legs a bounding - look as fresh as a daisy. Setting off along Anniesland Road, running straight into the wind, I debated whether to pass the (slightly larger) runner in front or just sit behind her. Thankfully I opted to the team spirit and ended up passing SEVEN runners on the 3.3 mile course. I felt pretty good and actually enjoyed it...ish. The hills took everything out of my legs though. Rachel took over and had a great run - especially has she hadn't raced for a nearly a year. We ended up 12th out of 27 teams, which we were all quite pleased with.

Saturday night I undid all my good-doing with a night out with Sharon. Mucho beer and a few juniper juices. We still managed an 11-mile (VERY hilly) run on Sunday morning. It was probably one of the best runs I've ever had. Despite the steep inclines (or nosebleed hills as Sharon calls them) and nearly getting taking out on a bend by an Audi 4x4, it was a cracker. With Autumn in full swing, it was a sunny, crisp morning - perfect for a run on undulating country roads. Without sounding too much of a tree hugger, the autumnal colours were gorgeous. A lovely way to pick up my car - which was abandoned at the pub the night before.

After the run, the Mum, Gran and I took Cairn over to Castle Semple in Lochwinnoch to feed the ducks.

On Tuesday I did some reps round the track at Bellahouston Park and Wednesday I did an 8-mile tempo run (ave 7:49). I decided to get up at 5.30 and do the run before work, as running at lunchtime often adds to the stress of a hectic day. I try to use quite flat routes for a tempo run, as Thursday's club runs are always hilly. I doubt there's a route round Bearsden/west end that doesn't have killer hills. This Thursday's run was quite special, as we took in the stoaters! One being Gardner street, pictured below. 6.23m ave 8:15

This morning I did the Glasgow Parkrun 5K. I forget to set my watch, so I've got no idea what my time was. I'll need to wait for the official results. Watch this space. Hopefully I'll have time to blog again before Cairn starts school :-)

Friday 2 October 2009

Not-so-fun runs

Like many of my blogger friends, sometimes I lose direction. I have read many times "It's a running blog, so I better talk about running". So here goes...zzz

Last week was a bit of a write off. I think I got a bit of a bug in Morocco. Nothing too dramatic, just a bit of a cough and sore throat. On Wednesday lunchtime I went out for a five mile run (ave 7:59m/m). It was awful. I felt (and looked!)like I had just run 30 miles. I was actually wheezing and spluttering. Thursday I tried some short reps. Again, not pretty. Saturday I joined my fellow Garscube runners in the George Cummings relay. Just a short 2.7m lap. My lord, was it tough. Nothing seemed to work. I was second leg and managed to catch three runners, to finish in 19:50 (average 7:24m/m) - which is a course PB. Sonic started is leg a few minutes after me, but he didn't manage to catch me. Yay! The course was about 100m too short for that. On Sunday, I decided to forget roads and time and did an 11m route round the Stoneymollan and back over Carmen Hill.

I think the race and the hills sorted me out, as this week I've had my best runs of the year. Tuesday I did hill reps over at Kelvingrove and Wednesday lunchtime I did a 8-miler round the southside* Of course, as soon as I left the office the heavens opened. The rain was torrential. So much so that even the passers-by were laughing at me from the comfort of their cars. Last night I went to club training and we followed the McAndrew route, in preparation for tomorrow's relay race.

I know, another relay race. Sigh. Then we're into cross-country season, which is not something I embrace. Not because I have anything against muck, I just don't see the point in it. I am toying with the idea of doing a hill race though. Just a baby one - the Tinto Hill Race on November 7. I always maintained that running and hill walking are beautiful pastimes to be enjoyed in isolation. But hey, I fancy trying something different.

*Southside run splits: Average pace 7:35 (8.30, 8.16, 8.03, 7.28, 7.29, 7.15, 7.13, 6.58)

Monday 28 September 2009

Holiday pictures and a new addition

Hey folks,

Just a quick update, as life has been rather hectic since we got back from Morocco. Click here to see the pictures.

Great mountain, fabulous country and an interesting trip to Marrakesh. Where else would you get ripped off by cowboy snake charmers, groped, find someone else's hand in your pocket, square up to a crazy man selling other people's false teeth, witness corrupt law enforcers and offered to trade in your wife for 3000 camels. The latter to which Jill piped up with "aye, Camel fags!".

There's a new arrival in Team Consani. Sister Sonic (also known as Lisa) delivered beautiful Chloe on Wednesday night - weighing in at a very healthy 8lb 15 (I know, ouch!). Congratulations to Lisa and Bryan.

Monday 14 September 2009

Good Vs bad

If you would like to see some serious aw-factor stuff. Then click on this link and check out the newborn pictures. Makes you go all gooey it does. (None are of Cairn by the way)

BAD: If you need to be reminded that there are some serious w*nkers in the world, then read on. JK - there could be too much bad language for your. On Saturday afternoon I was out shopping (shock! horror). I had to send a work email and then sat my company Blackberry on the hood of the buggy. I realised about 20mins later that it wasn't there. After a many moments of panic, I started to retrace my steps, trying to phone from my mobile. My Blackberry kept going on to voicemail - so I presumed it was out of signal. But after a few attempts a man picked it up. I was totally relieved and starting gibbering that he had my phone and where could I meet him yada yada...until he said in his matter of fact best broken-English "No. No. It's my phone now" and hung up on me. After numerous attempts to call and a half-blubbering call to Sonic I had the same conversation with the thieving pr*ck. Then five minutes later low and behold the thieving pr*ck ACTUALLY called me back and said again in his best broken-English "Stop calling me. This is my phone now. This is my number". By that time I had completely lost the rag and was walking down Buchanan Street (Oh yes, on a Saturday afternoon now) hissing "you complete an utter wa*king b*stard. F*ck off where you belong to" Or something of that ilk. Classy, eh? Anyway I just went straight to my office and organised to get the sim wiped and the device disabled. Complete useless now. I'm all for culture diversity, but I'm totally bitter about this.

On to some running news (I appreciate the topic don't flow, but hey ho) I did a four mile recovery with Debbie Cox on Tuesday, 800m reps on Wednesday and a 10-miler on Saturday.

We're off to Morocco on Wednesday (a small jaunt in the High Atlas Mountains). See y'all when we we get back :-)

Wednesday 9 September 2009

Great Scottish Run half-marathon

Along with the 10K, this is quite an iconic event on the Scottish running calendar. I know people who train only for this race and then hang up their trainers until next time around. It doesn't have the same hold for me as the Glasgow Women's 10K (my first race), but it was my second ever road race after starting out in 2002.

Last year I didn't do it because I was a) trekking round Vietnam and b) five months pregnant. Not that the latter would have stopped me. The year before (2007) I pulled out at 4.5 miles. My heart, head and body just weren't up for it. I ended up running about 5 miles back to Glasgow Green to cheer on the finishers. Go figure. That's Debbie logic for you.

The only reason I signed up for Sunday's race was a last minute scramble to get club league points. As previously stated it's the best six performances out of 12 races. First in gets 11 points and goes down to 1 point for participating. As of Saturday I had only done five races and was fourth in the league.

I'm not going to blabber too much about the race. What can I say about running round Glasgow? It was pretty uneventful. Nice and cool with a slight drizzle, so I can't even complain about the weather. Legs felt ok, but the last mile was a struggle. Maintained a relatively even pace (7:49m/m) and finished in 1:43:51. Not a PB, but I was quite pleased with the even (ish) splits.

Huge congrats to everyone who ran, finished, PB-d and haven't hung up their trainers until next year.

Thursday 3 September 2009

Weighty issue

I would take this with a pinch of salt, but here's an interesting running calculator. It predicts the effect of weight change on your race times.

That's it. I'm on a self-imposed jelly baby ban.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

The need for speed

Well, Thursday's club run really burst my bubble. I was fine for the first couple of miles, but then something went - and my heart went with it. I just felt knackered. Not muscle fatigue, just general lack of sleep.

On Saturday we had to go to another wedding. An old school friend of Sonic's. I wasn't particularly excited about going, as we weren't allowed to take Cairn. It was a no-children wedding - which is just weird in my books. The bride in question is a bit, erm, alternative. Sonic was convinced she would come down the aisle in a black ensemble, but she appeared looking radiant in white - bearing more tattoos than our favourite pirate. Sonic had informed me they had booked a rock band for the reception. After doing my head-banging rendition of "Bring your Daughter to the Slaughter", I said: "If they have 'Don't Want to Miss a Thing' as their first dance, I will p*ss myself laughing". Not that I don't think it's a nice song, but given that we're practically profession wedding go-ers, I heard it quite a few times. Note to any bride-to-be: Google top 10 wedding songs and don't use any of them.

The wedding ceremony was lovely. The bride looked like she was going to burst with joy and giggled all the way through the vows. The groom cried and they generally looked like the happiest couple ever.

The reception was out in Houston. Although we hadn't discussed designated driver duties, Sonic managed to sink champagne and two whisky liqueurs within five minutes of arriving, so I was sidelined to diet coke and large jug of water. After shifting uncomfortably through a cringe worthy Father-of-the-Bride speech, where he mentioned that she had got into the wrong crowd at school (a la Sonic)quite a few times, it was time for dinner. Haggis followed by Venison. Although both are quite special as far as wedding dinners go, neither were my cup of tea. Haggis is full of sh*te only Scottish people would eat and venison? Well, it's Bambi. It's all wrong. Of course I looked like a weirdo, as everyone else looked like they'd died and gone to heaven.

Sonic discovered he had a little red wine monopoly going on, as everyone else on the table drank white. Oh joy. This generally means he will talk no stop, most sentences will start "one time on the West Highland Way" regardless of who he's speaking too and he'll pass out in the car home. He got talking to a chap that went to his school who claimed he used to run and did the London Marathon in 1991 in 2:41. It was blindingly obviously the guy was talking rubbish, but Sonic continued to probe and salute him - even after several shift kicks under the table. Despite various convincing attempts, I doubt he will be signing up for Garscube.

Then arrived the band - who were more Orson than rock - and time for the first dance. No guesses what the first song was. I managed to contain p*ssing myself. Especially as the band were really good. And the couple didn't take it remotely seriously. Before the party really kicked off, we had to bow out to pick up Cairn. Someone else to sleep on the journey home. I was glad I was driving though, as I would probably still be dancing round my handbag in the wee small hours.

I had signed up for the Paisley 10K on Sunday morning, which I couldn't see far enough. I never hid the fact that I was only there for the club league points. I felt OK for the first two miles and then blew up. I considered bowing out at 5K (even though I got a 5K PB) but then I'd be stranded in Fegie Park, which ain't exactly suburbia. I couldn't shake the negative "don't want to be there" thoughts. Again it wasn't muscle fatigue, I just didn't have any drive. Runners were passing me on the hill, but I kept going. I didn't look at my watch much, but I glanced at 9k to see what I was faced with. I finished in 47:46 which is a PB by two whole seconds. I'm not going to be one of those pain-in-arse runners who get a PB and still moan, so I won't. So far I haven't had to act disappointed. Everyone I told has done it for me. You know and I know that I should be faster, but I think I will always be a better long-distance runner. Considering I could probably count in the one hand how many speed sessions I have done since I had Cairn. And it has only be three weeks since the Devils race. Excuses, excuses. Maybe one day I should focus my efforts and get a good 10k time. In the meantime I prefer something with a bit of endurance.

On a more positive note, Garscube Ladies won the first team prize. I never thought I'd be placed in the same team as the superfast Kirsty Husband and Ali "whippet" Winship. Obviously the team prize was won on their amazing times. But hey, if I hadn't run we wouldn't have won it. The prize was £120 (£40 each) so that more than covers the entry fee. I've been quids-in in the last three races. Woohoo. Hey, Mrs Pacepusher, if you had run on Sunday you would have won the prize along with Hailey and Leanne. Imagine taking a team prize with Hailey Haining??

Yesterday I did a seven-miler round the horseshoe. Average 8m/m. And today I did 5 x 500 reps after feeling inspired to sort out the lack of speed training situation.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Chickened out

I was considering going out for another run at lunchtime today, but I just couldn't talk myself into it. The 99% effort required to get out the door, could not be coaxed. I did, however, go to the gym. 30 mins on the elliptical trainer and then a bit of half-hearted weights.

Whilst on the trainer there was a rather large chap on the machine next to me, who clearly didn't know there was a fine line between macho and heart failure. He was really going at it. Had it right up on level 12, compared to my feeble level 7. He was gasping, going purple and was sweating all over the place. I mean POURING sweat. To make matters worse his ipod was up so loud I could hear the hissing of his music - which is probably my number one bug bear. If it wasn't so comical I would have pushed him off.

Just looking round the gym you can spot the difference between men and women. The guys are on the cusp of personal injury and the gals think a hard-core work out is walking on a treadmill. Now, I'm all for physical exercise for health reasons, but there's got to be a sensible approach to it. This is not a funny story, so try not to laugh. Little super-endurance runner, Sharon, is very much an early morning runner. So much so, that she is a regular sight for the local workies. One white-van man was so inspired by her he told her he was taking up running because of her. Anyway he started out on a treadmill. And died on the bloody thing. I kid you not. I said don't laugh!

Tuesday 25 August 2009

Spring chickens

In preparation for the aforementioned decider long run, I went for a sports massage on Friday. Aileen put me in touch with her physio: a Polish chap, Janek, based at Green's. This is one of the reasons that I felt bad passing Aileen in the Devil's race. After feeling a few aches and pains last week I decided a return visit to Janek - and his unnatural obsession with Deep Heat - was much needed. Given his profession he's very knowledgeable on effects of long-distance running on your muscles. He kindly insinuated that Aileen and I weren't exactly running on young muscles. When I informed him in my best Glasgow accent "Aye, we no spring chickens" and had to explain the expression. He joked in his best Polish accent "OK, so I tell Aileen: Debbie says you are not spring chicken". Noooooooo!!

On Saturday morning I felt semi geared-up for a 20-mile run. I've spent the last few weeks cutting back on breastfeeding and Saturday morning was my last stint with the breast pump. Yippee! I've had a love-hate relationship with the god-awful contraption. Although it's been a saviour (especially when wine has been involved) I'll be happy never to hear the groaning sound ever again. I'm sure Sonic will miss those romantic evening/morning of me curled up in my PJs, linked up to a breast pump. Sexy, eh? Now that Cairn is seven months, is at nursery most days and (more importantly) has two teeth, it was time to call it a day. Not bad considering I swore I was only doing it for 12 weeks. So far (maybe coincidentally) it has paid off, as Cairn hasn't been sick once.

So off I went with my freshly-squeezed boobs and my not-so-fresh legs. I opted (for reason which escape me) to do the route over to Helensburgh and back through Dalreoch. Rule one of long runs: Don't incorporate too many tough hills. Rule two: Don't ignore rule one. My legs still felt light and springy, but my knee was threatening to call it a day. After numerous stops to stretch and a panic call to Sonic, I actually made it round. Apart from my knee, I generally felt quite good. I averaged 8:29 m/m for the route. I was glad it was over though, but happy I can see a marathon in my sights. And if I play my cards right over the next few weeks, possibly a PB.

In true Debs' ying 'n' yang style, I undid all the good with a visit to the curry buffet at the Killermont Polo Club. Sonic treated his WHW support crew as a thank you. As it's next to our running club, I've passed it loads of times and been dying to try it out. I would highly recommend it. The unlimited buffet is great for runners. And Cairn liked the ice-cream.

On Sunday I went over to Strathaven to watch some of the 50 mile road race. Bit of a wasted journey really, as everyone I went to see pulled out. I suppose I leant from their mistakes though. As Sharon said: "Anything over marathon distance on road, is just no right". I agree. Although a chat with Ian got me thinking about round Arran race. Think it's about 54 (very f-king undulating) miles. But I think it would be more of a achievement for runners. Kind of like I ran the WHW in one go. I think saying "I ran round Arran" makes more sense than saying "I ran round Strathaven". I would like to organise a race one day, so maybe this could be it.

Today, I went out at lunchtime for a wee jaunt. It was one of those days when getting out of the door was 99% of the battle. I hummed and hawed for about an hour, but eventually made it out. 100m along the street and I felt like I was reborn. I jogged along the Clyde for a few miles and then did some 450m reps over and round the bridges over the Clyde. The Jamaica bridge and the, erm, one next to the Jamaica Bridge. By jeez is in windy done by the water. 1.45, 1.43, 1.42, 1.43, 1.43. I guess (unlike Caster Semenya) I won't be getting whisked away for a gender test. Even with the return of my wee boobs.

Friday 21 August 2009

Me? Fickle?

As previously mentioned, races for the rest of the year are kind of up in the air. I lacked direction, so I signed up for the Paisley 10K (August 30) and the Great Scottish Run half-marathon (Sept 5). Two small problems: I have a wedding the day before the 10K and I haven't done any speed training. Oh well I can do them for 1) to continue my winning streak on more medals than Sonic 2) just for fun 3) as speed training for an Autumn marathon.

Which brings me nicely on to my next subject. Autumn marathon choice. I WAS thinking Loch Ness on October 4. But now I'm drawn towards Dublin on October 26. Has anyone done either or, even better, both? I mean both, as in, to compare. I'm not considering doing both.

Mind you, after this weekend's long-run, I may can the whole idea altogether. My left knee seems very weak, like it might give way sometime. It's not an injury per se, but I concerned that it may turn into one. But should I really stop running on the basis that I many get injured? Doubt it.

Last night I tried out my super new training with a club run. It's great to go along on Thursday's, as pushing myself against other people is the main thing my training "plan" lacks.

Coach Lesley put me in charge of a pack which consisted of Emma, Anna, Alan, Dermot and Gary. Bit of a mix bag. Emma and Anna are going places, Dermot's trying to get back there and Alan's a seasoned runner. Gary's not built like your typical runner (yet) but he's got serious strength in his legs. I've watched him over the last few weeks. I probably expend as much energy shaking my head as he does powering all the streets. As most of our club runs are round Bearsden, there's always some nasty hills. It's no secret to anyone that he dislikes hills. But his method of stomping up them as fast as possible is suicidal. My attempts at advicing him how to run up and down hills fell of deaf eyes. Wathching him bounding up the hill next to Emma made me giggle. Next to Emma's petite frame and daintly stride he looked like Shrek. One day he'll get it and he will leave us all speechless. Until then I can't decide whether he's fiercly competitive or he just wants it over with as quickly as possible.

My knee was a bit touch and go from about three miles. My legs are still a bit tired and they wouldn't let me attack the hills. I even had to walk for a few seconds on Pendicle. I got a bit of a scare when my knee went from underneath me in the last mile, but it doesn't feel any worse or better.

I know this is a bit w*nky, but here's a wee story about yours truly in our local paper. Thank Davie Hall for being my PR man. The reported never contacted me. See if you can spot the mistakes.

Thursday 20 August 2009

When your mojo ups and leaves...

..I often find a new pair of shoes will entice it back.

This time I actually needed a new pair of road shoes. Although I record my miles on SportTrack, I don't keep a note of what shoes I'm wearing. I presumed (possibly, maybe) my shoes were passed their 500 miles. Plus they look a bit dirty :-)

Yesterday I went off to Achilles Heel on a shoe-buying adventure. I did toy with the idea of going out with Sonic's lunchtime crew for a rep session, but my adductors have been playing up since I went out with Cairn in the baby jogger on Monday. The coach of Sonic's gang - Mark Johnston - has always been very encouraging, even though he knows I'll definitely fall behind. I must admit I do feel quite intimidated by the prospect, especially when they refer to themselves as "the fast guys". Maybe next week I'll bite the bullet.

Anyway, back to important things. Shoe shopping. After my last sports' massage from the wee-but-mighty Christine, she had suggested that I might want to up the support in my shoes to accommodate the higher mileage. I have been running in the Saucony Guide for a few years now. I've previously tried the Brooks GTS and the Asics Kayana. I'm a big fan of the Saucony, so Christine had suggested trying out the Omni. At Achilles Heel they take shoe choice very seriously. After trying on various models and sizes and parading about the store with my trousers rolled up, I settled on the Hurricane. The most expensive out of the range. At £95 I think they're the most expensive trainers I've ever bought. I tried on last season's discounted Hurricane 10, but I'd already fallen in the love with the shiny blue Hurricane 11.

From now on, I'm going to make a note of the miles in my trainers. I think fluttering between road, trail and lightweights requires a bit of monitoring. In hindsight, maybe I shouldn't have laughed when I found Sonic taking pictures of his shoes for his SportTracks records.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Hands-up who has anorexia athletica

Click on image below.

(Daily Mail. August 19, 2009)

Monday 17 August 2009

What next?

The countdown clock above is still set for the Devil's race. Mainly because Sonic put it on for me and I don't know how to change it, but also because I'm not sure what to do next. The plan was to wait and see what kind of state the race left me in. I'm glad to report that all is well. I went over my ankle (just a weakness) a few hours after the race, but it was OK after a couple of days. My legs and joints felt a bit stiff and weak, but two miles on the treadmill on Wednesday and I felt much better. On Thursday I did a hilly nine miles with Sonic. We were going to go to the club on Thursday night, but when I heard the planned route for the tempo run I bowed out. My knees felt really stiff, so I took Friday and Saturday off.

Yesterday I did the Achilles Heel Bella 5K. It's one the key races in Garscube's Summer League. I've pretty much missed most the season, so I'm having the cram-run the last few races. After my buddy's 40th birthday party on Saturday night (and a few too many grape juices) I wasn't in the best shape for a 5K. But after Sonic did the talking-through-Cairn thing:"look at your Mum, Cairn. Isn't she a drunken bum?" I had to save face and turn up for the race. Remarkably I felt better than I deserved too. Despite the strong winds and the overwhelming urge to throw up wine, I actually got a PB. 23:05. Don't laugh OK. I'm not cut-out to be a short-distance runner! But boy was I glad it was only 5K.

So what next, indeed? I'm thinking about the Loch Ness Marathon in October. I can still apply for a club place up until September 12. I haven't done any marathon specific training, so I'm not holding out for a PB. But somewhere close to my 3:31 would be nice...but I'm undecided. Possibly the River Ayr Way Race? But I'm not sure I have the inclination to run another 40m+ race. Especially on a route I can potentially to get lost on. I'm still not sure whether I can be bothered with the Great Scottish Run half-marathon either. I'm going to try an 18-20 road run at the weekend and take it from there.

Monday 10 August 2009

Devil's race report + video and photos

This was my big race of the year. What I thought was an over-ambitious goal to shift the baby weight turned out to be the race of my life.

The Scottish ultra-running scene has become very popular over the last few years and is now hugely competitive. When I signed up for the Devil o' the Highlands (43 with 6200ft of ascent) my main goal was to complete rather than compete. If I got a PB, bonus. If I got under eight hours, double-bonus.

My training had gone better than expected and I actually felt stronger and faster than I left it last year. I didn't have a race plan per se. I was just going to go with the flow. I had a general idea of when I would like to get to checkpoints, but I never put a schedule together. It was all about running to effort level and comfort.

Sonic and Cairn were my support for the day. After my long training run a few weeks ago, I knew Sonic was going to be ace. Cairn, on the other hand, was a bit of an amateur :-) The plan was not to stop. Just a run-through-drop-of-an-pick-up.

The race kicked-off at 6am. The start of an ultra-marathon is so civilised. There's no scramble to get to the front. No elbowing and frantic sprints. The "gun" goes off and everyone saunters up the hill chatting away.

I chatted with JK and Ian as the field started to divide. After a mile or so, JK pushed on and I ran with Ian for a while before settling into my own pace. I stayed in third female position, but could see the first and second not far in front. It was way too early to start "racing", so I wasn't even remotely bothered about where I was placed in the field.

I arrived at Bridge of Orchy in (approx) 55 minutes, grabbed a gel and a bottle of Lucozade and headed up the hill. I met Sonic again at Victoria Bridge and took my backpack for Rannoch Moor. The long incline on the Drover's Road usually kills my thighs, but I felt great. I had a few low points over the next few miles, but started to pick-up (with the help of gel with caffeine) as I headed out of the Moors. Murdo was waiting at the top, so it was nice to see a friendly. Even nicer when he informed me JK wasn't too far in front :-)

The descent down to the ski centre is one of my favourite bits. The steep free fall on the rocky path is almost like brain training. Unfortunately/fortunately my feet work faster than my brain, so there's generally a few stumbles. Maybe I should contact Nintendo about a brain trainging game for the DS.

I arrived at the first official checkpoint - the glencoe ski centre - in 2:42. I couldn't say it was ahead of schedule, because I didn't have a schedule. But it was faster than I expected. When I met up with Sonic in Kingshouse, he seemed slightly concerned about my speedy arrival. Neal, Caroline, Chris and Davie H were also there and had chalked a welcome message on the ground, which unfortunately my brain couldn't process. Sonic had to explain it. Thanks for the thought guys. And thanks Sue for the banner.

In my head, Kingshouse was when the race should REALLY start. 19 miles in with two main sections to go. I still felt strong, but was looking forward to the walk up the Devil's Staircase. On the way up I spotted Aileen (2nd female) zig-zagging her way up. I remember saying to Sonic during one of his WHWR training runs that it was great when he was wearing a white t-shirt, as I could see him coming miles away. Probably not so good when your colour choice spurs on your nearest rival. Sorry, Aileen. It gave me a real boost. I had a self-motivating chat with myself and shouted out "OK, let's go!"...only to discover my nearest rival was about three feet away from me. Doh! I tried to hum and cough to disguise my outburst, but he must of thought I was a bit mental. After an introduction I chatted to Richard most of the way up. Only on a ultra-run would you not blink an eye stomping up a hill with a guy wearing a vest, cycling shorts and knee-length compression socks :-)

At the top of the Devil's Staircase Neal, Caroline and Chris were there cheering me on again. I was looking forward the descent, as it's one of my strengths. The no-fear factor really helps. Richard informed me he was going to push-on and wished me well. I watched him for a minute or so, humouring him. I wasn't out to compete with boys, but I knew I had to put him in his place. After passing and widening the gap I heard him shouting "you must be better on trails than me". Mmm you'd think.

Arriving in Kinlochleven, I heard Sonic shouting "Two minutes. Second lady is two minutes in front". It was great to see John and Lesley there and looking so excited. Making the 200 mile trip to come out and support me was really appreciated. Thanks guys. Good job I was doing well or they might have asked me for the petrol money.

I passed Aileen who had stopped at the Kinlochleven checkpoint to refuel. I felt a bit of a fraud as Aileen ran a storming 95-race only five weeks previous. After many words of encouragement from the gathering crowds, I grabbed my backpack and headed up to Lairig Mor. There were two male runners behind me on the ascent. I was slightly conscious of the fact that my compression tights are pretty transparent when I bend over, but the hands-on-knees technique always helps with the steep ascent. Sorry guys, but it was a case of victory over modesty.

Although Lairig Mor is a beautiful section, it is notorious for its soul-sucking ability. It's the Bermuda Triangle of the WHW. As suspected I had a few low-points, which were unexplainable. I still had energy, no aches or pains and the weather was favourable. I had many serious chats with myself. This time out of ear-shot. I tried to eat some jelly babies (which I usually swear by) but they were making me gag. I couldn't even drink the juice in my hydration pack as it tasted too sweet. From a girl who takes five sweeteners in coffee, that was not the norm.

I perked up a lot when I caught and passed another runner (again, spurred on by his white t-shirt). On the flats I could see Aileen. There was enough of a gap, but I knew I couldn't slack off.

When I arrived at Lundarva, I was delighted to dump the backpack and change into my lovely Nike Lunaglide. I had collected a bit of gravel in my trail shoes and was glad to shake it off. I had invested in some lock laces before the race and the change over was super-slick. I took a bottle of coke and my new found spring in my step and started on the last section. It was bang on six hours, so I knew I was well within my 7:30 hour dream target.

The shoe change was a brilliant plan. The lightness meant I could mentally and physically change gear. I could run up the hills that I would have more than likely walked up. I passed lots of trekkers who were all cheering me on. Onwards and upwards through the forestry I was on a total high. Not just because of my time, but mostly because it was nearly over.

When I hit the track to embark on the last three miles that's when my lightweight trainers came into play. There was no pressure for time, so I didn't blast it. As I passed through the gates to the Braveheart carpark, Sonic, John and Lesley were screaming at me. I vaguely remember John shouting that I looked strong and to push it. Turning the corner to roadside in 7:01 I was on the home straight. After passing the 30mph sign (the most beautiful signpost in the world) I reached the houses on the outskirt of the town. At the small incline I slowed to fix my hat and wipe the snotters from my nose (hey, I knew there would be cameras) and picked up the pace for my grand finale.

I could hear everyone cheering and I saw Sonic and Cairn waiting at the finish line. It was 10 seconds of my life that I will never forget. I finished in 7:08:59. Second lady and 16th overall. Only one minute slower than the previous ladies record! I can't even put into words how pleased I am. The response I've had since has been pretty overwhelming. Especially as most people were as shocked as I was.

Thanks to Sonic for being so fabulous. I really think the support can make or break a good race time and he was amazing. Thanks to John, Lesley, Sharon, Davie B, George (I was in the bushes!!), Davie H, Jim R, Neal, Caroline, Chris, Adrian and Murdo for your cheers, pictures and videos. And everyone else who was out supporting.

Special congratulations to JK for a fabulous time of 6:55, Silke for completing her first ultra in 9:22, Ian for banking another ultra-marathon, Helen for breaking the ladies record, Aileen for a PB by nearly one hour, Karen for a fab PB and for putting up with George the whole way and to George and Richie for being super-fast as always.

During the race I ran with a small picture of Dario pinned to my top. I joked about pinning in to my bum, so he didn't finish in front of me :-) I'm sure he was watching over us all. When the sun threaten to hinder performances, there was drizzle and cool breeze to save the day. After the awards' presentation we were in the hotel having a celebratory beer when Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run came over the speakers - the song played at Dario's funeral. I'd like to believe it was a sign.

Here's the race video - directed by Sonic the Maccer. It's worth watching just to see the finish. I've only watched it about 100 times already.