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)