Thursday 30 April 2009

Club run and pre-weekend frenzy

This weekend we're off to Callander for the annual Garscube Harriers' training weekend. I say training in the loosest way possible. It's usually a bit of a messy affair. There's traditionally a lot of late boozing, a Singstar competition and very dodgy morning runs. Actually one year I was so ill, I pretended I had a stop to tie my lace...waited until everyone was out of view and went back to bed.

This year I'll need to be a little more sensible. Not only will be have Cairn on tow, but Coach Lesley will be there to keep us line. Plus, I've probably been drinking too much for a gal who's supposed to be exclusively breastfeeding. There seems to be more bottles being introduced. Bottles of wine for me. And bottles of formula milk for Cairn. Thankfully Cairn - like Sonic - doesn't mind where his food comes from. As long as it's frequent and in abundance. I swear he would suck milk off a dirty cloth. Cairn that is, not Sonic.

So I've had two girlie nights with my Sis and Sharon, which have ended less than graceful. And I was at the Scottish Press Awards at the Radisson last week: In a dress, with make-up, lady shoes and a very, very small bag. It felt a little strange going out with light luggage. Anyway like all awards ceremonies, there were a lot of audience quiet moments, which unfortunately meant too much of the complimentary wine was consumed. I did laugh when the invite said the bar would be open until 3am. I'm pretty well-known for my inability to function after 10pm. The only way I would see 3am is if I needed a pee of a pillow fluff-up. I did think 11.30 would be do-able though. But I texted Sonic at 10.30pm asking if he would come and pick me up as I was "tipsy and tired". In reality I descended the marble staircase like I'd just been shot. I probably only had the equivalent of 3/4 glasses of wine - which were diluted with soda - but I gibbered utter p*sh all the way home and suffered from the wrath of the grape on Friday. Every time I half-heatedly sign the pledge never to drink wine again, but it's just too good. Pity the love is unrequited.

Anyway. Running. Let's talk about running. This evening I went out with the club. Not without precise planning though. I meet Sonic at his office and picked up his gear, whilst he went on a six mile run up to Bearsden. I drove up to the club, feed Cairn and then handed the parental duties over to Sonic. Reminding him not to throw him in the air as he's only three months old. Sometimes is best not to know what they get up to. When I came back from my run on Tuesday, Sonic excitedly informed me: "Look! He's eating banana". Help me, Boab.

I'm digressing again. Tonight's run was an "out and back". The plan was to run out (along the f-king canal!!) for 25 minutes and then turn and run the same distance back in the same time. It's supposed to be about even pacing, but I felt pretty rubbish when I set out, so I did the return journey in 22:50. I was tempted to hide behind a tree and spare the wrath of Coach Lesley, but I was willing it to be over. I only averaged 8:30m/m as I felt my legs were so stiff and heavy. I might need to reintroduce speed work sooner than planned.

Wednesday 29 April 2009

Enough about him. It's all about me!

Apart from running about after Sonic (and not just on the WHW) I have been pounding the streets myself. I'm nearly up to 30 miles per week. Woohoo, ho'd me back. I've had some cracking 10 mile runs. And a 14-miler that nearly cracked me. Every run gets better and faster. The fact that I'm getting lighter (down to 8st 6lbs)has really helped. I definitely feel lighter on my feet. Still a wee bit to go until I feel comfortable in my pre-preggers jeans, but definitely moving in the right direction. I suppose three months on, I can't use the baby weight as an excuse. Especially when the baby weight is sitting in his Bumbo watching BBC news right now. Strange kid, I know.

I've been using a 10-mile route on the Balloch Horseshoe to gage how things are going. Before I was preggers (and the week after London marathon) I completed the run in 1:22. At the end of March I did it in 1:35, which I thought was good until I came back at looked up my previous time. Last week I ran with Sara in 1:35 and on Sunday I ran myself in 1:24. So I'm getting there.

I still haven't done any speed work. I'm going to wait until Mid-May and after the Ladies 10K. Then I'll be in serious training for the Devils race in August. I have no idea how I will get on in the 10K. And to be fair, I'm not really that bothered. The only reason I'm running it is because it was my first race way back in 2002 and I would like to complete it every year. If I got under 50 minutes I would be absolutely delighted. But I would be happy with anything under 55. Although I did the Paisley 10K at five months pregnant in 54 minutes, so I would have to have a serious word with myself if it was anything slower. I'll be shelving my 2008 goal of a sub:45 for another year, I think.

Although I think I'm doing OK, I would like to mention my crazy blog buddy Natalie, who ran the Boston Marathon in 4:21 - 10 weeks after having her baby son. That's four minutes faster than my first marathon. Well done, Natalie.

Congratulations to everyone who ran the London Marathon at the weekend. Special congrats to Paul (Brother Sonic) who ran after being injured for three weeks, Athole who ran a stormer in 3:05 and Coach Lesley. We came home on Sunday - with no radio, mobiles or news updates - only to discover the Skybox had crashed :-( It was quite sad to watch the marathon on TV. I ran London in 2004, 2005, 2006 (2007 I did Paris Marathon) and 2008. I've got a guaranteed place for next year, after getting 3:31:00 in 2008, so I might go back and give it another bash. But again, it's on the same weekend as the Fling, so I'm torn.

Anyway, I forgot to mention the most amazing athletic performance of the month. Forget Usain Bolt, you should have seen Dr Crazy German sprint across the carpark when a certain Mr Bragg was in need to some painkillers. Wow I've never seen a burd move so fast :-) We're both running the Devil's this year. I hope we don't have the same competitive rivalry as our husbands, or I'm in serious trouble :-) :-)

Monday 27 April 2009

Highland Fling pictures

Click here

Dave - you might want to click, click, click.

Saturday 25 April 2009

Sonic's Fling in the Highlands

My wise pre-race words to Sonic were: "Run your own race and ignore everyone else. If you don't get the time you're after, you can say whatever you want at the end: You got injured, you blew up, ran out of energy..anything. Just do not tell me you went off to fast". Now anyone who knows Sonic, will probably be chuckling at my ambitious advice. Especially when six miles into the 53 miles, he appeared on the horizon right on the shoulder of the course record-holder and North Face sponsored ultra-human, ultra running, Jez Bragg. I was rolling my eyes so much, it took me nearly an hour to regain focus.

And, surprise, surprise, 12 miles on at the first check-point in Drymen he was still in hot pursuit. Even one of my "LOOKS" didn't dampen his sprits, as he was off bounding down the track like a Labrador that had been let out a car.

Needless to say, 20 miles in, his arrival at Balmaha was somewhat less jovial. He was 20 minutes ahead of schedule, but still in good form. Sonic must be the easiest runner in the world to support. All he fuels on is energy drink and gels. Throw in the odd jelly baby and sandwich and my job is pretty simple. So other than the fact it takes me almost as long to drive as it does to run, I had loads of time to chat, cheer and take pictures.

Because of the staggered start - females and vets start at 6am and the rest start at 7am - there was plenty of action and support teams about. It did get a bit confusing trying to work out the runner's postitions though.

Sonic was still 15 minutes ahead of schedule at Rowardennan and still looking fit. He set off on the 14 miles of the Lochside, whilst I started the journey of driving round to the other side - which can take up to an hour and a half. Although runner's always moan about the Lochside, I think the support teams get the short straw.

Watching runners appear over the bridge at Beinglas Farm is like watching the Dawn of the Dead. The lochside is notorious for zapping every ounce of life out of you. What's worse is that hitting the top of the Loch is like almost the end, but in reality there's another 12 miles of very undulating (f-ing hilly) terrain to battle.

Sonic appeared in Beinglas looking very white, after losing all the time he'd gained in the first section. He was still on target for his race goal of 8:25, but was in danger of losing it. Especially as his knee was throbbing and the girls were trying to get him to take a seat - and I was pulling him off it and telling him to get a move on. I know, I'm a bad bitch, but I only had his best interests at heart.

I stopped at the A82 about four miles along. I really hate this support point. I always feel slightly queasy stopping and getting out the car, whilst cars are flying passed at 60/70/80 miles an hour. It's a pretty straight road, so drivers really put the foot down and motorcycles dice with death. You can imagine how far my jaw dropped when I saw another support team doing a three-point-turn. WTF??

After I packed up my bag of goodies and put Cairn in his baby carrier (which is almost an operation) I headed down to the track with kathy and Silke - Dr Crazy German and wife of Sonic's biggest "friendly" rival, Tom the Crazy German. Sonic had stayed ahead of the Crazy German all day, but I knew when he appeared first my weekend was in danger of going t*ts up. Thankfully I was entertained by the Crazy Germans shouting at each other in their Mother tongue and throwing sparkling mineral water everywhere. What a diva you are Tom :-) Most people would happily cool off with some tap water. But no, not you.

Sonic arrived soon after. Walking. Of course the only thing he requested was the only thing I hadn't dragged down to the trail, his road shoes. So off I scrambled running through the tunnel and up the steps - with Cairn strapped to my front and a bag of food on my shoulder. After shouting at Sonic to change is shoes faster and stop sulking about "everyone passing" - everyone being the Crazy German - I gave him a knee strap handful of grapes and pushed him onwards.

My last support stop was to be the Wigwams, which is about 2-3 miles from the finish. I drove along to the finish in the hope of seeing the winners crossing the line, but I was too late. Jez had broken his own record and finished in 7:19. Now you can understand my previous angst.

Back at the farm I met up with Mrs JK, the long suffering wife and support of, obviously, JK. Although he was still on for a storming time, he wasn't his usual cheery self. As previously mentioned, I'm convinced little birds dress JK in the morning. But what was this? Could he have been close to spitting the dummy? :-)

After sharon went blazing through to secure a fabulous third place, I was willing Sonic to appear so I could get to the end to see her finish. I didn't have to wait for long as he came jogging/hopping down the trail in a much healthier state than the last time I saw him.

So back in the car, it was nearly over. And I was bloody exhausted. Between getting up at 4am, driving, supporting and looking after a three month old baby, I barely had time to stop let alone eat or drink anything.

Sharon finished third lady in a fabulous time of 9hr 41. And still smiling. As she had to leave, I got to pick up her prize - much to the confusion of many spectators.

Sonic finished in 8h:52. 15th position out of 242. Although he seemed quite dissapointed, I was totally over the moon for him. And to be fair if he knew that was going to be his time before the race, he would have been delighted with that. No guesses as to what he said his race faults were :-) I could say, he's just a boy at a bad age, but his plans for sorting out his race strategy was short-lived. On the way home he was still analysing the top runner's pace and splits. With he learn in time for the big race in June? Stop shaking your head. I've got eight weeks to drum it into him... one ear and out of the other

But at least Sonic and the Crazy Germans are still pals. Although it looks like Sonic was off to drown his sorrows.

Big huge congratulations to everyone who ran, supported, organised and marshalled such a fabulous race.

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Safari run

Well, Sara, where do I start? My closing words to Sara when we completed a 12 mile trail run was: "at least I'll have something to blog about".

It started before I'd even laced up my shoes. My original plan was to run with the Millies, but Sonic had booked a sports massage and wouldn't be home in time for their kick-off time.

The Pacepushers were going to join us, but they decided on WHW run. Sonic was hoping to have an Xbox evening the Pacepusher though. So Sara I planned our own run starting at 6.30pm. Sara, notorious for her tardiness, was on time. Sonic, also notorious for his tardiness, wasn't. It was closer to 7pm when we embarked on our journey over Stoneymollan to Cardross. All was going well. It was a nice clear evening, so the views over Loch Lomond were amazing. After heading through Cardross we turned onto the farm tracks to take the off-road route to Renton. I had just warned Sara about the evil sheepdog, when said evil sheepdog and two of his equally evil pals appeared. We tinkered about for about 10 minutes, but there was no way they were letting us passed. As previously mentioned, I'm not very good with dogs, so I wasn't going anywhere. The dogs were down on their front legs trying to chase us back down the track - and I was taking the hint. Then we saw the farmer coming up the road in his tractor. After what seemed like eternity he approach and we cowardly asked if he could help us passed. God, if felt about five years old. He seemed suitably unimpressed with us, but admitted they were "quite fierce". After we made it through we were half expecting the farmer to set them after us, so we were up the hill in record time.

Five minutes later we were surrounded by cows. Sara's a farmer's daughter so she stomped on through - with me attached to her. Despite my love of the great outdoors, I'm still convinced that all coos are bulls. One day I'll know the difference. Why do animals that bloody HUGE cower away from humans? I bet there's a story of a cow who killed a human. I'll google it later.

We passed through the last farm pretty much drama free. I was slightly nervous as the last time I was on the route a manic dog came flying out from no where.

Back on the tarmac, a mile from the main road, I thought we were on the home straight. But no safari would be complete without some neds (that's undesirable young men to my international readers!). Except these were neds with a difference. They stopped their car and asked us if we'd seen two Rottweilers. WTF?? After a series to "you're joking"/"we're not joking" they informed us that the dogs had got out of the North Lodge, as someone had left the gates open. I was totally expected them to start laughing, but they remained poker-faced. I knew the dogs they were talking about, as I'm generally terrified just walking passed the lodge gates. They are mental. The electric gates, complete with CCTV, are about 10" from the ground, so you can see the dogs growling and foaming at the mouth as they try to get free to kill you. The always remind me of Fluffy from Harry Potter. But the neds informed us: "don't worry, they're pets". I know, it keeps getting better.

We were about 70% convinced it was a wind up, but we were obviously super cautious and super terrified. Thankfully I came up with an SAS-style plan. "Right, if the dogs appear, we should cuddle each other and hide our faces. Best not to run". WTF! Where do I get my stuff from? Even super-nice Sara looked like she wanted to push me off the hill. Note to self: Look up what to do in a dog attack.

Back on the main road, we passed the Lodge. They gates were closed, but there was no sign of the dogs. Was it a wind up?? The only things that made me think otherwise was the fact the neds-in-car literally came round the corner and stopped to ask. It wasn't like the saw us coming and thought it would be a laugh. Plus, they didn't laugh. And they drove away really slowly. And the dogs actually exist.

We completed the last two miles a bit shocked and slightly battered. Think I'll shelve that route for a while.

Monday 13 April 2009

Little Sonic on Conic

A little jaunt up Conic Hill is becoming a bit of a bank holiday tradition. This time we had Cairn - enjoying his first hill walk. Well at least it was his first hill walk in the outside world. He was so underwhelmed by it all, he practically slept the whole journey.

The Bank Holiday Conic Hill dash is becoming a tradition for Team Kynaston too, as we bumped into them en route - for the third time. We're not stalking you. Honest!

I'm looking for a half marathon in June/July. Most of them seem to be on June 21, which are out because of the WHW race. I'm contemplating Girvan or Stonehaven halfs. Has anyone done either or have any suggestions for alternatives?

Sunday 12 April 2009

Back on the Way. Wayhay!!

Today was my first run on the West Highland Way since last June. I was so excited and geared up for it. Sonic wanted to run this morning too, so it involved some planning. He had to go first, as I've got to feed Cairn. Plus, we both needed to start sharp as we were going to my Mum's for an Easter feast.

Sonic drove over to Milngavie, left his car and ran the 19 miles to Balmaha. Click here to read all about it. I thought running back that distance on that terrain was a bit much, so took the fairy option and started at Drymen. I would have preferred to have run more than the 12.25 miles, but there isn't really a cut-off point between the two sections.

I had a bit of a stop/start first few miles. I had to stop to adjust my backpack, tie my laces, take off my extra layers, pack my gloves away and fix my ponytail as my cap kept blowing off. Then I needed a comfort stop and couldn't get the tier on my tights undone. My pelvic floor is not what it used to be, so it got quite frantic :-) Finally I was off and settled into a steady run. I wasn't particularly bothered about pace. My main aim was to run the whole way and just enjoy it.

As I started at 10am and was going in the opposite direction to the walkers, I got quite annoyed having to acknowledge everyone I passed. Not annoyed enough to turn into one of those rude runners who totally ignore everyone though.

I quite surprised by some of the changes on the route. The tree clearings, flattening some of the rocky track and knocking down historic stone-built walls and replacing them with steel gates. WTF? John posted some pictures on his blog. Granted, sometimes the stiles were quite tricky, but they were an iconic part of the trail. As usual it's health and safety gone mad. There will be handrails, chairlifts and wheelchair access before we know it. Although I feel for the those living in the houses next to the new gates. They poor folks will have to hear the gates slam shut 175 times during race night.

After I got over the disgust of the changes near Carbeth, I was heading into the unleashed dog territory of Mugdock Park, so that was something else for me to whine about. I'm never quite sure of dogs, especially the big hyper ones. One came bounding towards me and the owner shouted: "Don't worry, he might jump all over you, but he won't bite". I had a overwhelming urge to throw something at him. I've vowed never to run through Mugdock again. Famous last words.

I finished the run in 2:07, which I was quite pleased with. At no point did I feel knackered or breathless. I ran up all the hills and finished feeling really strong and could have taken on more.

I'm going to do a 12 mile trail run on Tuesday night, club on Thursday and then try for 16/17 miles next weekend.

Saturday 11 April 2009

Two runners + a baby

A combination that requires military precision and planning. But to be fair it's been a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. I envisaged Sonic and I bickering about who's turn it was to go running, but it's been pretty smooth. Sonic's lunchtime training group "with the fast boys" frees up the evenings for me. And Mama Sonic kindly volunteered her grandmother services so we can both go to club training on a Thursday. Perfect. The weekends usual take a bit of planning. Especially with Sonic's high mileage - and his inability to carry anything more than a Lucozade bottle and a gel :-) - has meant that Cairn and I had have spent a fair bit of time following him along the West Highland Way. Poor kid definitely got the short straw when choosing his 'rents.

Well it's been all go...

Last weekend we were at Center Parcs for four days, which was great. Sonic had organised it as a surprise for my birthday, but Mr Center Parcs posted the booking pack in a clear envelope. Doh! We had a fabulous time. The weather was sunny, but cold. It was nice to go for little jogs (one in, one out), long walks and nice dinners. We took Cairn to the swimming pool, which he seemed totally unfazed about. He was more interested in what was going on around him. It will be great to go back next year, when Cairn's a bit older. And I can take the baby jogger :-)

On Monday, when we got back, I went for a easy 3.5m run. On Tuesday night, I went out with our local running club, Milburn Harriers. They were planning a 12 mile trail run, a bit of a step up from my ONE 10 mile road run. I thought I'd give it a bash. After all Dario assured me my legs would remember the distance :-) So off I went with Davie and four of his buddies - who referred to him as TomTom. Davie took us on a fabulous tour of the local countryside. I'm a self-confessed stuck-in-my-ways runner, and don't tend to venture off my ol' faithful routes. I like to know where I'm going and how long it is. Sonic, on the other hand, is very much an off the cuff route master. I was a bit sceptical of Davie's intentions and navigation when we were apologising to farmers, climbing fences (not Davie's forte) and stomping through water-logged grass, but I had a great time. As suspected, I HAD bitten off more than I could chew, as I arrived home completely broken. I walked through the door like I'd lost my horse. My hamstrings were in tatters. But, thankfully, I was as right as rain the next day. I can't be as unfit as I thought I was.

My legs were a bit rusty for Thursday's seven-mile club run, but I plodded round the undulating route with Sara. I'm a firm believer that how you handle hills suggests how fit you are. Although it's getting better, hills remind me that I need to fit in some speed work.

Today, I was feeling a little delicate after drinking too much wine and analysing the world with Sharon and my Sis, so there was no running for me. I took my niece and mini-me, Beth, along to participate in her first fun run. I didn't want to be the pushy Auntie, but she was really excited about it. Actually she spent half an hour before the start, racing the boys up and down the carpark to see who was the fastest. She wasn't quite grasping that she was using up all her energy. Anyway we've got a mini endurance runner in the making. All the kids sprinted off at the start, but Beth ran the whole 1.5 miles without stopping. She was smiling and waving when she crossed the finishing line and was running about five minutes later. Everyone came up to tell me how well she had done and what a great wee runner she was. I was as proud as punch. She's desperate to do another watch this space.