Friday 29 May 2009

Good luck message from Cairn

To everyone running in Edinburgh. This is everything you need to know about running a marathon :-) Sound advice really.

Get your suncream out. After looking at the forecast I fear the sweat with be running faster than most legs.

Thursday 28 May 2009

Baby jogging debut

The time has come to get the new wheels on the road. My lovely Baby Jogger Performance Series has been locked in its box in the spare room for months - eagerly awaiting the day that Cairn was big and sturdy enough to ride in it.

Sonic bought me it for Christmas. Apparently it was a "Sh*t present" but it was what I wanted. Actually I said to Sonic that we should cap our Christmas expenditure at £250, as the year before we had gone a bit OTT. When he asked why, I replied "obviously the thing I want is £250" :-)

So today was our debut performance. I started working early so I could take Cairn out for a spin at lunchtime. Jeez by the time I'd got everything sorted I was so over it.

Here's a picture of Cairn in his Baby Jogger. You can tell he's distinctly underwhelmed by the experience. He's got a look that says: "When I can speak, I'm going to tell everyone I'm adopted". I know he's secretly wishing he'd going to wake up in the reality TV show or that someone is going to slip up and call him Truman.

The Baby Jogger is light and easy to maneuver, but it doesn't mean it's easy to run with. It will definitely take a bit of getting used to. I liken it to the first time I ran with a waist/back pack. I thought it was a restrictive nightmare at first, but now it's second skin. Regardless of the mechanics, I'm still pushing over two stone in front of me (Cairn is now 16lbs!). My arms ached from the word go, so hopefully continued use might strengthen them.

Today I managed a 10-mile out-and-back over to Croftamie. It's a undulating country road, so only a handful of cars passed me. I'm going to use the Jogger on quiet roads and cycle paths. No bumps and pavements. Today I drove up to the start of the road though. Not only because I didn't want to tackle pavements, but I don't think Alexandria is quite ready for a Baby Jogger. It would just look like I'd stolen a baby.

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Four days on the Way

It's only 10 weeks until the Devil o' the Highlands and I'm having a slight panic. I know many readers of this blog will think that 43 miles with a little tiny 5000ft in ascent is a walk in the park. Though for every one of you, there's a million who think it just plain stupid. But for me it's my biggest (running) challenge of the year and one that's making me slightly edgy right now.

The first time I did this race in 2007, I was a little cocky to say the least. I distinctly remember sending Sonic a weblink with the subject title "Fancy this?" My reasoning was: "surely if we can run a marathon, we can walk/jog this?". Pah! We did one training run - from Kingshouse to Fort William - which nearly had me in crutches for a week. I was truly and utterly broken. You know the runs that have you practically in tears towards the end? Let's just say I wasn't so cocky after that. I wasn't even sure I would make to the end of the race let alone make it within the 12 hour cut off time. But somehow I scraped my sorry ass over the finishing line in 8:48. It was certainly a life changing experience. Now our whole lives revolve around the glorious trails of the West Highland Way. Cairn has seen more trails than the inside of his crib. Thankfully he's so happy and content, that we can take him anywhere.

So in the midst of my panic I decided to take in two long runs over the bank holiday weekend. As Sonic was taking part in the two-day training weekend, it involved regimental planning: three shopping trips, two cars, a caravan, 450 miles of driving and 120 miles of running. Not to mention drop-off bags, checkpoint pit stops and the small matter of a small child.

My first run was from Kingshouse to Fort William. Just a piddly 23.5 miles with 3000ft of ascent. The main aims were to finish it, enjoy it and feel better than I did on my first attempt. Big tick on all three. I loved it. It was a glorious sunny day and I felt brilliant the whole way. It was great having Sonic as support, although his skills aren't as fine-tuned as mine. When I got to Kinlochleven he was in full-on panic because Cairn needed feed AND changed. As babies do. And when I got to Lundarva he was busy cleaning his car with babywipes. WTF? He did turn up in all the right places and tell me I looked good, even thought he was telling fibs. I have learnt of late what difficult, often tedious and thankless task supporting is, so I really appreciate my boys coming out.

I did (kind of) return the favour by supporting Sonic on his two-day adventure. I let him take my car and leave it at Balmaha. Surely that's helping? I didn't make it up until the troops (Sonic, JK, Sharon and Davie) were over the lochside. Davie had texted me en route and me to pick him up, as his ITB was giving him jip. No problem thought I. I'd soon be passing his pick-up point. What he neglected to mention was that he wasn't actually there yet... before he dissappeared out of mobile signal. I drove up and down the A82, in out of the farm road and back and fourth to Tyndrum. I couldn't get hold of anyone and couldn't find Davie. I was convinced he was hiding in bushes laughing at me. I swear the Nazis could have found Anne Frank quicker. By the time I found Sonic et al I was a bit on the ratty side. They duly informed me that the abandoned Davie was behind them. One more drive down the road and there he was. Looking like a drowned rate. And smelling like a wet dog. Nevertheless, he was still upbeat - considering.

After having dinner in the Bridge of Orchy Hotel and a night at the Pinetrees in Tyndrum, Sonic set off on day two of JK's pacing class. Late. Maybe he slowed down his pace a bit too much. Actually maybe that's why he goes off too fast at the beginning - because he's always late and has to catch up on time? Mmm there's food for thought.

I spent the day with Mrs JK, Dr Crazy German and Davie. At least we knew when Sonic and JK would be arriving. You can set your heart by JK's timings. When I asked Mrs JK what her thoughts were on ETAs she said with a smirk: "What, you don't have a laminated sheet with splits and pace?" I'm sure it would have been useful if we referred to it. I think JK was a little close to spitting the dummy as I continued to ask him about arrival times. Obviously not referring to said laminated sheet.

So Monday, it was back to my turn for running. I opted to run back to Balmaha to pick up my car. The original plan was to spend Sunday night in the caravan and run along the loch back to Balmaha. But after spending a rainy Sunday in the car, I couldn't face being coped up in another tin can, so we just drove home.

My quads were still very tendor, but I thought I'd give it a bash. I even put the bus timetable in my rucksack in case I decided to bow out early. I ran over the horseshoe to meet the WHW before Drymen. I took it easy and wasn't even remotely bothered that I reached Drymen three minutes behind last week's time. In hindsight the reserved pace meant I could run all the way to the bottom of Conic Hill - even the nasty inclines. And even managed to run up about 40% of Conic. My quads were only causing me grief on the downhills. Actually it took me 19 mins to get up Conic Hill and 16 mins to come off the other side. I think I mentally yelped the whole way down. Despite the slow start I finished one minute faster than last week and felt a million times better. Proper pacing definitely makes a huge difference. Doesn't it. Sonic?

On another note: On the way back from Fort William on Sunday we discussed the changes being made on the West Highland Way. Horrible new gates, removing stiles, clearing forest, detour paths etc... All because of health and safety. You can tell the decision makers have never walked the WHW. This is my favourite H&S hazard - on the way to Drymen.

The path over the bridge often floods.

Which forces hikers/runners to walk along the small wall. Don't want to get wet feet afterall.

But steady those wobbly legs as there's 30ft drop on to the rocky river below.

Maybe I shouldn't have pointed this out. There will probably be a handrail there next week.

Sunday 17 May 2009


This weekly blogging is becoming a bit of a habit. Maybe I'm not superwoman after all. I'm mean with being a full-time working Mother (minus the childcare), 247 milk machine, maid, cook, coach and wannabe athlete, you'd think I'd have loads of time on my hands. Thankfully I'm a member of the fairer sex and just get on with it. Although I did take it to a new level last week I was feeding Cairn, making the dinner and replying to emails on my Blackberry at the same time.

So I've been back working for the last couple of weeks. Well, working from home. I wasn't sure I was motivated enough, but I actually get loads more done. And I'm lovin' it. Not that I've ever been away from work you understand. Sonic used to threaten to confiscate my Blackberry.

Although I love hanging out with Cairn, I'm so not cut-out to be a stay-at-home-Mom. I did try the baby group thing. A baby massage class, in fact. The first couple of weeks were great. But by week five we were still talking about our childbirth experiences and breastfeeding, so I losing the will to live. Maybe they were a little more wholesome than me. Especially when they were excitedly telling me about the Baby Rhythm Time class they go to on a Friday morning. I found myself saying: "oh that would be lovely" when really I thinking: "I'd rather stab myself in the eye with a rusty compass". I never went back.

I have converted the room (uh hum, cupboard) under the stairs into my office. Now I know how Harry Potter felt. I spend many long hours without even a window for sanity. I pretty much start work as soon as I get up. Given the light mornings, can be as early as 5am. When we move house, I promise I'm going to buy black-out blinds. My early morning meanderings could be grounds for divorce. The only thing with working from home, is there's no cut off point. No 9 to 5. So I could be sitting at my PC at 6am and still working at 10pm.

I'm usually up and organised before Cairn even stirs. And he sleeps through the night. I know, I've been blessed. Actually there was a day last week, when I had to wake him up at 9.45am. Not because it might mess up his routine, but because I was starting to look like Lola Ferrari. Anyway, I wished I had left him sleeping. Within the space of 30 minutes he'd puked on me, peed on the carpet and sh*t in the bath. Babies, eh? Can't live with 'em. Can't sell them on Ebay :-)

This week it's been a hard slog trying to fit in some running and general exercise. On Tuesday night, I did my usual 10-mile on the Balloch Horseshoe. Sonic always mocks me for running the same routes all the time. Does anyone else do this? I don't usually like a route until I've done it a few times. On Thursday, I did my usual seven mile tempo run round Dumbarton. See me, see creature of habit.

But wait, On Saturday I pushed the boat right out and did something different - I ran from the house (via Drymen) to Balmaha. OK it starts on the Balloch Horseshoe and I have ran from Drymen to Balmaha more times than I can mention, but I've never linked it all together. And I've never done the bit in the middle. Does this count? Wow what a great route. Undulating country roads, peaceful cycle paths and then onto the West Highland Way before Drymen. I knew this was going to be a tough 18.5 mile run, but I didn't really flag until I got to Conic Hill. I was pretty glad my journey would be over at the other side. I tried to run as much as I could, but was reduced to walking at the mega steep bits. Except when I jogged past a group of hikers and I overheard one saying "Look, there's a fell runner". Oh boll*cks! I felt obliged to keep going to save face. Thankfully the wind was behind me on the way up, but it didn't help on the descent on the other side. Being pushed off a steep muddy hill in road shoes wasn't pleasant. And the fact that my quads were screaming didn't help. Hopefully giving my legs are good kickin' should see me right for my first long run on the WHW - Kingshouse to Fort William. It's my favourite section, so I can't wait.

total time 3:19. Average pace 10:56 m/m

Monday 11 May 2009

My first post-baby race

The Women's 10K in Glasgow. It was my first ever race, so it's a bit like a birthday celebration for me. I don't think I would have signed up for this year's if it wasn't for the fact that I want to do it every year. Even if I have to crawl round (don't quote me on that). Today would be race number 8. I had no idea what to expect. I haven't done any speed work for over a year. And the 10Ks I did when I was preggers were just for giggles.

Basically I'm starting from a clean slate. A new personal best (PB) is now a new post baby (PB). Over the last two months it's been great monitoring the improvement ever time I go out. Hopefully this will continue until I meet and surpass where I left off.

Today's run was great. I loved every minute of it. How often do you get to say you loved a 10K? I think it was the no pressure and no preconceived ideas of time/splits/pace. I just started out steady and maintained the effort the whole way. I crossed the line in 48:57 with a huge smile, as it was way better than I had expected. I finished 324 out of 10740 runners, so I'm delighted. I think that's top 3%. Not bad for my first race back. It's onward and upwards me thinks.

Average pace: 7:49 Splits: 7:50, 8:01, 7:42, 7:56, 8:06, 7:31.

And for anyone who thinks this race is flat, here's proof that there are a few cheeky hills.

The race was won by Linet Masai in 31:30. Check out the picture I found on Flickr. Big Rob (worse than a man down) rubbing shoulders with the elite :-)

Saturday 9 May 2009

Bits 'n' bobs and a 10K

I know, it's been a while. There's been a fair amount of running, but not a lot worth wibbering about. Plus I don't have the time or the inclination to bore you to death with a mile-by-mile report. And there isn't much point listing: I ran eight miles. The pace was 8 m/m. It was sunny. I liked it. Yada yada.

So, here's a synopsis of my running week. At the club training weekend, I was VERY well behaved. Well, for me anyway. I blame Jill on forgetting the Playstation leads, so we couldn't have a Singstar competition. Resorting to playing Pictionary on a flipchart using Trivia Pursuit answers (don't ask) enough to send anyway for an early night.

On the Sunday I had volunteered to join Kas on a 20 miler. Kas is running the Edinburgh Marathon at the end of the month, and this run was to be the tip of the training plan run. I knew it was a bit of jump for me - the longest run this year being 14 miles - but I figured as I was running with Kas my ears would ache more than my legs :-) As we were up in Callander we used the number 7 cycle route - which I'm sure Mark Beaumont used to cycle round the world. Is there anywhere that path doesn't go? The weather was nice, cool and clear. Perfect for a long run. The plan was to pace Kas round on 10m/m. We remained pretty steady, but by 12 miles my thighs were killing me. Long suffering readers of this blog may recall I had problems with my adductors and hips a while back. You may also remember I always refer to them as adductors, as I refuse point blank to call is groin strain. It's so graphic and 5-aside-like. So anyway, it was pretty long drawn out journey to the end. Kas was practicing with gels, which she duly informed me "didn't agree" with her. On the contrary, I've never seen her so happy. It was like she'd been plugged into the mains. Despite being adamant that she would take over four hours, we finished in 3:18. Kas is a sensible (pah! I'll never say that again) even paced runner, so I predict 4:15 for her marathon.

On Sunday night, I was buckled. I couldn't sit, stand or lie down. My thighs had their own pulse. I had to go to bed early as I was starting to annoy myself with my constant whining. I was pretty sure I would be out of running for a while, but on Monday morning I felt way better. And on Tuesday I did a fabulous five-miler - with one minute intervals from mile two. Thursday night I ran eight mile with the club. And that, folks, is it. Ta da. One brief summary.

I took Friday and Saturday off, as I always like two days rest before a race. Women's 10K tomorrow. Sonic had signed up for the Cateran Trail 23 today, so I thought I'd be the dutiful wife and go along for support. I did tell him that if we had to get up at the crack of dawn and drive forever to get there for the early start, that he would have to organise himself. I would sort out myself and Cairn. I always mock Sonic for being "hand-knitted". A delightfully apt phrase that I picked up from the aforementioned Kas. The one who refers to her husband as "worse than a man down". In Sonic's defense he doesn't have much of an option. I'm a complete control freak that must do EVERYTHING. But I did laugh when I told him he had to go shopping to get the stuff he needs to eat before/during/after the race and he responded: "No problem. What will I want to eat?" In all seriousness too. And this is why I say I have two children to organise.