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".