Saturday 25 December 2010

Thursday 23 December 2010

It's a Marcothon, not a sprint

We're now into the fourth week of our winter white-out and according to the forecast it's here to stay for the foreseeable future. Joy. It has pretty much disabled the entire country. And in true British-style, the weather is the favourite topic of conversation. Michael McIntyre summed it up during the Royal Variety Show last week, when he said the snow has become the news. National news: It's snowing. Sport: It's snowing. Weather: Well, it's snowing. The news where your are: It's snowing there too.

Who would have thought we would - well, most likely - finish the Marcothon in the same conditions we started? At first we all moaned about the snow. Then it stopped snowing and left an ice rink. Then we wished for the snow to come back. Now all we need is rain, which will no doubt give us something else to moan about. In true British Style.

Day 23 of the Marcothon and although I'm underwhelmed by the prospect of stepping outside most days, I'm overwhelmed by the response and enthusiasm of those involved. Nearly 300 recruits. There have been a few DNFs - although I'm sure there have been a few more than those who have confessed to bowing out. No wonder, it's been a tough one. There have been daily postings of hangovers, tantrums, tumbles, triumphs, struggles and lovely winter wonderland photos. Pictures which always look beautiful on screen. Not so beautiful when your ears are in danger of falling off.

There has been a little bit of rule bending, but who cares? It's all about the personal achievement and pushing yourself a little more than you normally would. Especially in the lowest ever temperatures recorded in December. Well, in Scotland anyway.

To be honest, if it wasn't for the Marcothon I don't think I would have bothered. I know it's good training, especially for mental toughness, but I'm also looking forward to:

1) Running under 8m/m
2) Not having to stop to help someone push their car
3) Turning corners without slowing to a shuffle and holding onto to a fence/lamp-post
4) No impromptu Saturday Night Fever moves, when my foot slips from underneath
5) No involuntary whooping and squealing
6) No more jaw-drop gazes from eyes that are just willing you to fall
7) Not having to start-stopping 10 feet from the kerbside
8) Wearing road shoes. Or anything that doesn't involved studs, spikes or grip
9) Being able to feel my face. And being aware that snot is running down it
10)Realising that shorts over tights is a ridiculous look. But my ass is freezing.

Not only has the Marcothon attracted record-holders, ultra-distance race winners, and even some running "celebrities", there are some real humbling stories. Ann McLachlan was stuck in hospital and used the four-hour a day when she wasn't linked up to a drip to complete the distance/time by stomping round the hospital wards and stairwells. How's that for dedication? One chap started the journey on a treadmill on a oil rig in the north sea and another hasn't even done a 10K - yet!

Given the conditions, it's just head's down and plodding. No sessions and no big runs for me. The most I've run is 17 miles with the Gibbering Midget. Even then we planned to run 25 miles on an out-and-back from Milngavie to Drymen. We almost threw in the towel at the car park, but managed a slippery seven miles before we about turned and did a circuit round Langbank. We did have a hoot though. You know you're out with the GM when you say something positive like. "Look on the bright-side. It's not raining. It's a beautiful day. And your glittery eye-shadow looks fabulous". Given that we both had Christmas nights' out that evening, we'd both gone a bit OTT on the fake-tan and turned up like satsumas. Although the GM looked immaculate as always, which might have more to do with her post-run liaisons :-)

That's packed-ice underfoot.

The Gibbering Midget: Outfit by Adidas. High Viz tights: Model's own.

Wednesday 1 December 2010

The nightmare before Christmas

Planes, trains and buses have ground to a halt. Cars have been abandoned. Road, airports and schools are closed. Shops have run out of basic supplies, people have become prisoners in their own homes and the ecomony is losing millions by the day. But it would take more than freezing temperatures and white-out conditions to stop runners grinding out out the miles, eh? Tough or mentally-insane? I say a healthy serving of both. Where there's a will there's a way.

Ill-equipped and scantily-clad, snow or now snow, the show must go on. The Marcothon has now commenced. As of today (the first day) there are 267 runners on Facebook signed up to run every day in December. Plus, I know there's quite a few anti-social-networkers on board too.

Looks like it's going to be a real challenge after all. I may need an extra serving of TTFU. Apparently winter 2009/10 was the worst for 30 years. Now 2010/11 is forecast to be the earliest and worst winter conditions for some time.

Saturday brought us the first dumping of snow, which meant I missed out on the Hugh Wilson 10K in East Kilbride. After searching for webcams, we found the conditions were worse there than in Glasgow. We later heard the race went ahead, but there were too many logistical and babysitting issues to bother with a race that involved running in ankle-deep snow. I was secretly relieved.

I opted for 10 miles round the west-end. Every cloud has a silver lining, as I got to try out my lovely new Inov8 Roclites.

Great grip and much lighter than my Trabucos. Only problem is they don't go with any of my outfits. But I've got a solution for that...:-)

Over the last few days - as the snow and ice continues - I've swapped them for my x-talons. Wearing them is probably the closest I'll get to "normal" running, so I'll stick with them for the time being. Hopefully not for the next 30 days though. I don't love them that much.

It may be hard to believe, but I've actually been enjoying running this week. I've kinda got my head round the fact the snow and ice could possibly be about for the rest of the month, so best to suck it up and get on with it.

So far, I haven't slipped. Yet. And I've managed to dodge the snowballs. Thus far. On Monday night, I passed a group of local neds One of them threw a snowball, which landed about two metres from my feet. Probably not my brightest move to say: "you throw like a girl". Next thing there were six 13-year-olds tearing down the street armed with snowballs. You know the sorry state of youth today when I was running on foot-deep snow on the pavement and they were running on the road, and I'd out-ran them within 200m. Another non-smart move was to turn round and give them the two's-up, before smugly sauntering on. I don't think I'll be doing that route for a while...

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Some running chat

As per previous posting, I'm still following Mark Johnston's training plan Monday-Friday. And basically doing what takes my fancy on Saturday and Sundays.

Here's the phase two plan. Dubbed phase two because it's - obviously - my second burst. Tuesdays and Thursdays are 7-8 miles steady with the speed sessions on Monday and Wednesday

W 17/11 – 6 x 4mins (75secs)
M 22/11 – 10 x 2mins (1min)
W 24/11 – 20min tempo + 6 x 200m
M 29/11 – 7 x triangle hill sprint (continuous) + 2 x 1 mile hill loop (2 – 3mins) W 1/12 – 3 x 8mins (2mins)
M 6/12 – 15 x 1min brisk, 30secs steady fartlek
W 8/12 – 3 x increasing pace killers (2mins)
M 13/12 - 1min, 2min, 3min, 4min, 5min, 4min, 3min, 2min, 1min (1min)
W 15/12 – 7 x figure of 8 hill reps [kelvingrove park]
M 20/12 - 4.8mile canal out & back tempo
W 22/12 – 8 x 3mins (1min)

'Spose I better feedback on phase one...Click on image below.

Thanks to everyone who shared my humour on Sonic's roller stunt.

Since I started this blog way back whenever it was, I've always been quite overwhelmed by the amount of people who read and comment on my drivel on life's ups and downs.

Annoucing I was pregnant - 25 comments
Cairn's first picture - 13 comments
2nd female and 2nd fastest female time ever in DOTH - 6m post-baby - 22 comments
10 hours PB on WHWR 2010 - 24 comments
1st female vet in Scottish Ultra Marathon Series - 4 comments

Post a video of my husband falling off bike - 27 comments. And that doesn't include the emails, texts or facebook messages.

Go figure!

Well now I know what appeals to you, here's a snip of a conversation I had with Sonic on the way to work this morning:

Sonic: I need to run under eight hours for 100K
Me: Well if you run two 3:10 marathons, that gives you 1:40 to run nine miles
Sonic: I think two 3:30 marathons would do it.
Me: That only gives you less than an hour to run nine miles, when you're knackered.
Sonic: OK, but what if I run the nine miles first?

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Too funny

For Sonic's birthday, I bought him rollers for his bike. This was the first bash. Excuse the language and his vain attempt to stop me from blogging this. Bare with it. The grade-A strop at the end is worth the viewing :-)

Monday 15 November 2010

With age comes sense?

At the grand old age of 35 and seven months old, I'm now closer to 40 than 30. Does that make me a proper grown-up? Nope, thanks to my maturity by-pass, I'm suffering from yet another colossal hangover today. On a school day as well.

To set the scene, the Gibbering Midget and I set out in the early dark hours for our long run. I'm not one for eating first thing, let alone 6am on a Sunday morning. So, 19 hilly miles on a empty stomach.

We started at Knightswoods and headed up to Milngavie, onto the West Highland Way and cut off at Killearn and took the track back to strathblane. It was a cracking morning. Nice and fresh. It's just the best time of year for running. I love the autumnal colours and the views of the snow-capped mountains in the background. Yes, I was close to hugging a tree.

There was method to the madness in our route choice, as Sonic was meeting some of the Garscube boys at Strathblane later in the morning.

One Cairn handover and I was off to blitz the house and prepare everything for a surprise birthday party for Sonic. Who's incidentally closer to 40 than me :-) It's a good job the weather has been close to freezing for the last week, as the garage has made a great makeshift secret fridge for party food and drink.

Still too busy to eat.

The usual recruits arrived at 6pm. The upside to being the hostess is direct access to an abundance of food. The downside is direct access to an unlimited supply of wine. The GM duly informed me that even time I came out of the kitchen I was a little bit more sparkled. Unfortunately, it's an unrequited love when it comes to the grape. Will I ever learn? Doubt it.

Happy 36th birthday to Sonic. Who incidentally ran 36 mins dead at the Bella 10K on Saturday. Spooky, eh?

Thursday 4 November 2010

Who's up for the Marcothon 2010?

This all started in 2009, when Marco (aka Sonic) challenged himself to run every day in November. As my wee Granny would say, I “can’t see green cheese”, so I decided to follow suit and run every day in December. I posted the challenge – and dubbed it the Marcothon - on Facebook and on my blog and before I knew it there was a group of runners equally eager to embrace the winter conditions of December 2009. And they were tough conditions!

The rules are simply, you must run every day. Minimum of three miles or 25 minutes – which ever comes first. The challenge starts on December 1 and finishes on December 31. And yes, that includes Christmas Day.

It's not a competition. Just a personal challenge or an incentive to burn off a few mince pies. So, who’s up for it the Marcothon 2010?

Join the gathering of Marcothonians on Facebook

Wednesday 3 November 2010

The mucky season

I'm now three cross-country races down. Who would have thought the girl with an adversion to such a pursuit, would willingly volunteer? I'm assured it's great training, although I remain unconvinced. Stoatin' about in an uncontrolled manner is something I'm well-trained in, but there's usually a few vinos involved.

So, since my last post, I've done Dumbartonshire CC Relays in Helensburgh and the National CC Relays in Cumbernauld. I loved the route in Helensburgh. A nice hilly trail. Perfect. Of course, everyone else seemed to dislike it. Weirdos.

The Nationals in Cumbernauld was torture. Not only was the course brutal, but I'd been on a work leaving do the night before and mucho juniper juice was consumed.

Look, someone stole my neck!!

We're now into November and I've still clueless about what I want to do for the rest of the year. I'm still half-heartily training for an imaginary 10K. And the most I've run since RAW is 15 miles. I don't lack motivation, just direction.

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Back to the future

For reasons which escape me, I've gone full-circle and I'm now training for a 10K. I'm not sure which 10K yet, but it will/could be sometime in November. That's even if I do a 10K. Let's just say, I lack direction just now. But I kinda like it that way for a bit.

I'm following (ish) Mark Johnston's - leader of Sonic's lunchtime group - training plan during the week. And just doing what ever takes my fancy at the weekend. Monday/Wednesday are speed sessions, Tuesday/Thursday are eight miles steady and there's an optional "strides" session at Glasgow Green on a Friday.

M 27/9 - 20min tempo + 6 x 200m [kelvingrove park]
W 29/9 – 10 x 2mins (1min) [kelvin]
M 4/10 – 6 x triangle hill sprint (continuous) + 2 x long hill loop (2 – 3mins)
W 6/10 – 5 x 6mins (90secs) [canal – kelvin]
M 11/10 – 15 x 1min brisk, 30sec steady (continuous fartlek) [kelvin]
W 13/10 – 5.5 mile tempo [canal – kelvin]
M 18/10 – 3 x killers [kelvingrove park]
W 20/10 – 5 x 1km (90secs) [glasgow green – grass and tarmac option]
M 25/10 - 20min tempo + 6 x 200m [kelvingrove park]
W 27/10 – 4 x 5mins (90secs) + 4 x 2mins (1min) [canal – kelvin]
M 1/11 - 6 x triangle hill sprint (continuous) + 2 x long hill loop (2 – 3mins)
W 3/11 – 3 x 12mins (2m30s) [canal – kelvin]
M 8/11 – 15 x 1min brisk, 30sec steady (continuous fartlek) [kelvin]
W 10/11 – 8,6,5,4,3,2,1min (90secs after 8 & 6 then 1min) [canal – kelvin]

Last week, I resurrected the Baby Jogger training. None of this faffing about running ultra-distances - time to get some really tough runs in. The Baby Jogger has been hiding in the garage since we moved house in March. Mainly because divvying up running time between us is not as difficult as originally anticipated and Cairn isn't exactly the daintiest of infants.

Last year, taking Cairn for a spin round the country roads of Alexandria was quite a joyous experience. If anything, tackling the undulating routes always kept the farmers entertained. Cruising through Knightswood doesn't have the same appeal. Granted I headed up to the canal path, but I had to pass the high-flats on Lincoln Avenue on the way. That raised a few eyebrows. I'm sure the observers would have muttered their opinions, if any of them could actually speak English.

On to the canal, the idea was to do six miles (three miles out and back). But my delightful son decided to drop his favourite blanket (the only thing he sleeps with) at the turning point, so I ended up doing 12 miles! I'm sure he was giggling like Mutley.

On Wednesday, I went out with the boys with the jet-propelled legs for the (as above) 5 x 6mins session. Dear god, I was practically on my knees by the end of it. Thursday night was 6 miles steady with the club. I wouldn't recommend doing this after a few glasses of wine at a work lunch.

On Saturday, I'd signed myself up for the West Districts Cross-country in Rouken Glen Park. In my defense, at the time I didn't realise it was a relay. That came as a bit of a shock. Not only was I running a cross-country race, but I had to RUN as my team position depended on it. In fairness, I think I was only there to make up the numbers, but it was quite daunting to see that every other Garscube girl was considerably faster than me. Considerably.

I've always kinda mocked cross-country. I've never quite understood how people could take it seriously. I'm not sure whether it was the shock from going from ultra-training to racing 2.6 across muck, but I was well and truly f**ked. I literally thought my eyes were going to pop. As I lay sparked out on the grass, I vowed never to mock cross-country again. Respect.

Jill (18.50), Ailsa (18.42) and I (20.04) finished 15th overall.

Team shot above. Cairn and Dr Crazy German below.

Click here for full results, if you're remotely interested.

On Sunday, I took part in Milburn Harriers 10 (and a wee bit) mile handicap race. The course follows the Balloch Horseshoe, which is one of my favourite routes. I love the rolling country roads and amazing views. I could have easily talked myself out of the race if it wasn't for that fact. Plus, Sonic had gone out on the hills with the Crazy German at 6am, to allow time to get to Alexandria to takeover Cairn watching duties. In true Consani fashion, he made it in the nick of time.

At my allocated starting time, I was set off with two Milburn blokes. They went belting off, like they were being chased by the Vale's finest. Great. Day-two of a weekend's ass-whipping. Fortunately for me, by mile three (and where the hills began) the gap was closing and I passed them both at mile four. I was glad I stayed steady at the start, as I felt great on the second half, picking off runners as I went. NB: This only ever happens to me on very long races or handicapped ones.

I fnished the 10.2 miles in 1:19:36, which I was quite pleased with. Especially considering the cheeky hills. Splits ( 7:48, 7:52, 8:52, 8:03, 7:58, 7:53, 8:00, 7:16, 7:07, 7:55, 7:18) Average 7:52m/m

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Cairn's debut performance

The Wee Nessie - for pre-school kids - as part of the Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of running.

Before you report us to the appropriate authorities, please note this was just a bit of family-fun.

Who's dulcet tones do you hear from the crowds?

Given the wet conditions, this could have doubled-up as his first cross-country race.

Friday 24 September 2010

Not such a RAW deal after all

I made no secret of the fact that I wasn't up for the River Ayr Way (RAW) Race. I was only in it to complete the four races required to qualify for the Scottish Ultra-Marathon Series.

I had my eye on fourth position, which would mean the 1st lady vet. I know, I'm a bit of a charlatan considering I had only just turned 35 when I did my first race this year. And the organisers are changing it to 40 for next year.

After a disastrous training run on the route two weeks before the race, I just had to screw my head on and get to the end.

The first 20 miles - of the just shy of 41 mile - I was a bit up and down, but after I left the Catrine checkpoint I felt reborn. The miles just kicked off and I really enjoyed the last 20 miles. Weird, eh?

It was by far my favourite race this year. The first, The Highland Fling - I blew up. The West Highland Way Race - well, it's 95 hilly miles. Enough said. The third, the Devil o' The Highlands - was just nasty from the start and then I fell running full pelt down a hill. RAW was the way I liked to feel during all races. Maybe it was the conservative start. Or maybe I ate so much the day before I should have really turned at the end and ran back to try and burn it off.

JK basically wrote my race report for me, so click here for the full account.

I got the points I needed to take 1st lady female...just. I didn't realise how close it was until the awards ceremony. My 1617 to Gail Murdoch's 1616. Thankfully most of the races are on trail, as Gail would run circles round me on the road.

The biggest challenge was trying to get my shoes on for the SUMS ball. My feet were soaked within one mile of starting the race, so my blisters had blisters.

Congratulations to all who completed the series. Especially Sonic who finished third in a hugely competitive field.

1st male Grant Jeans
2nd Jack Brown
3rd Marco Consani

1st female Lucy Colquhoun
2nd Sharon Law
3rd Jamie Aarons

1st male vet George Cairns
2nd Thomas Loehndorf
3rd Gavin Harvie

1st female vet Debbie Martin Consani
2nd Gail Murdoch
3rd Rosie Bell

1st male supervet John Kennedy
2nd Bill Hutchison
3rd John Kynaston

1st female supervet Elaine Calder
2nd Marion McPhail
3rd Jane Grundy

Thursday 16 September 2010

The (less) grand finale

Wow! Has it been that long since my last post? And I haven't got that much to say. I've made a half-arsed attempt at training for the River Ayr Way Race this Saturday. I'm only doing it to make up the fourth event to qualify for the Scottish Ultra Marathon Series. I'm guessing the majority of the field are in the same frame. I'm kinda cursing my DNF at the D33 now, but needs must.

So what's been happening over the last month? Still can't believe it's been almost a month since my last drivel-session. Well, I recovered fairly well from the Devils race - once the bruising and swelling had gone down and I could bend my knees again. I'll never again underestimate the importance of fully functioning knees when looking after an exuberant toddler.

Then there was the trip to Chamonix to support the troops on various races on the Tour du Mont Blanc circuit. Anyway who follows ultra running will know all the races were stopped/suspended/re-arranged. A lot of whw blogs have gone into detail, but I'll spare you. Despite only being on the sideline, it did put a bit of a damper on the holiday. Quite literally, courtesy of the monsoon conditions.

Here are some pix of the sun shining.

When it raining, it was bloody awful. Especially in a region that's so geared up for outdoor activities.

The morning the CCC started, the GM and I ran from Chamonix to Les Houches and I don't remember ever being that soaked. No wonder there so many who bowed out of the race - even before it was eventually stopped for less-able runners.

Thanks to the Crazy German for providing a comedy lifeline and DNF-ing at 5K. Although he maintains "it was six!". After he successfully completed the WHW on this third attempt, I've been a bit low on the ground on mocking material. Thanks, CG, for taking one for the team. The Courmayeur 5K will always have a special place in my heart :-) The comedy highlight was the night the UTMB started. Whilst running to a restaurant to escape the torrential rain, the GM shouted "Come on, Thomas. We'll get you up to 10K today".

Let's just say, I better not DNF this weekend.

I've been lucky enough to cover the full course on two training runs, so I've ironed out the logistical nightmares. I just need to find my mojo.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Speak of the Devil

The Olympic Creed is one of my favourites: "The most important thing is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well."

Well, my participation in the Devil o' the Highland (43 miles from Tyndrum to Fort William) was a struggle and a mini-triumph.

Despite my own mini-triumph in the WHWR seven weeks prior, I felt I had recovered well and was more than up for the race. To be honest, I was probably a little more top heavy on positive thoughts than I was on talent.

The race commenced with the usual pre-race briefing and bang on 6am we were off. The instant incline is always a bit of a lung warmer. You can tell ultra-distance running is becoming much more competitive, as the first few miles were a little more frantic than I remember.

The route to Bridge of Orchy was pretty uneventful. I'd settled into 5th/6th girl place by the time I'd reach the first back-up point. The lovely Allybea had "volunteered" to support and the aim was to pass through checkpoints as quickly as possible, so I grabbed a bottle of Lucozade and a gel and headed up the hill.

A few folks were running up the hills and although my heart was itching to follow, thankfully my legs were refusing point blank.

The highlight of the race was the views on descent into Inveronan. The sight of the mist over the water was nothing short of magical. It's just a shame that the arrival into a midge hellhole cancelled out all that beauty. Heading up the Drover's Road was pretty tortuous. The long precession of twitching, cursing runners must have been quite comical.

I was fuelling up on the mass consumption of midges, which was just as well because (as bloody usual!) I couldn't face food. All the way across Rannoch Moor, I felt really queasy and threatened to puke. There was nothing in me and was continuously overtaken, so by the time I had hit the ascent out of the Moor I had sunk back to 8th (lady) position. In my head I knew I would catch a few on the downhills, but my heart was jittery at the prospect dropping back so much.

I possibly passed five runners on the one mile descent to the ski centre, clocked in and headed off to Kingshouse to meet Allybea. I actually thought I was going to pass out en route. It was definitely one of those seeing-stars moments.

Quick fluid top and a wee cheeky caffeine shot and life was a little rosier. I still had to dig in to get to the top of Devil's Staircase. But I shouldn't have had to dig so early on. Well, 3-4 hours in. Maybe it was the comedy value of watching the gals in front tearing up the hills that cheered me up. Or the super-smiling twins cheering at the summit. Even if their kind offer of sweets and chocolate nearer sent me over.

Over the top and off I went. Within a mile or so I had passed quite and few guys and gals. The warrior within had stirred and I had moved up to third lady. I was flying. And on the final stretch going into Kinlochleven, I quite literary was. At the steep bit just by the pipeline, I tripped. Not quite sure of the sequence, but I took the knees out of my compression tights, skint my hands, rolled and banged my shoulder and hip...and ended up splat on my back on top of my bottle belt. And as if I wasn't feeling uncomfortable enough, my calf cramped. So there I was in star-shape on my back with my leg at a 90 degree angle and all I could think about was not losing any places.

I managed to pull it together, although I arrived in Kinlochleven a little shaky. Even Pete's fist shakes and shouts of "you're a warrior" seemed a bit out of context considering I was hobbling and bleeding. When I met Allybea I was wiping blood and mud of myself and cursing the "f-king road-runners" that I had to stay ahead of.

I passed another two blokes up to Lairig Mor. Instead of the notorious soul-sucking ability the Lairig Mor was array with smiling walkers, who cheered me and shouted encouragement when I passed.

I could see the Gibbering Midget (2nd lady) about a mile in front most of the way across, but I knew I'd never catch her. And I was pretty certain that nobody would catch me, so I took the foot off the gas and just concentrated on sustaining my position for the SUMS points.

I'd winded myself when I landed on my back during my fall, so I could only manage shallow breaths. My hands and knees were stinging and I was generally willing it be over. Lundarva came and went with a change of shoes and a bottle of coke. Thankfully Alison and Caroline confirmed I was third lady - as the medic on the Mor told me I was 5th!

To be honest, I don't really remember must about the final journey to Fort William. Other that hurting, moaning and generally spitting the dummy. I pretty much walked the last mile from Braveheart carpark, as - quite literally - even breathing hurt.

There was no joyous finale, I just crossed and slumped on the grass. I had kept my position and finished third lady and 19th overall in a time of 7:23. Slower than last year by about 15 minutes, but hey-ho, it was less upbeat and slightly more dramatic.

Thanks to Alison for top-notch back-up and to all those who organised the race and helped out.

Congratulations to all who conquered and all who fought well.

Thursday 5 August 2010

If you can't beet 'em, join 'em.

If the latest news reports are anything to go by, then drinking beetroot juice can "boost stamina and help people exercise for up to 16% longer"

"Apparently a UK University team found nitrate contained in the vegetable leads to a reduction in oxygen uptake - making exercise less tiring. The researchers believe their findings could help people with cardiovascular, respiratory or metabolic diseases - and endurance athletes". The research was conducted on a group of cyclists and suggested that drinking half a litre of beetroot juice a day for a week enabled them to cycle 16 per cent longer before getting tired out. They found that drinking beetroot juice doubled the amount of nitrate in the blood of volunteers, and reduced the rate at which muscles used their main source of energy...or something of that ilk.

Do I buy it? Kind of. Will I try it. Hell, yeah.

I know a few folks - none who of whom are sane of mind though - who have embraced these findings and are necking the stuff by the bottle. Obviously the Subversive Runner skimmed passed the bit in the research that says it works best with regular TRAINING and a healhy diet.

Well, I've been regular drinker since way back last Sunday. It's not too offensive. Really it's like drinking the juice out of a jar of beetroot. I don't really know why I thought it would taste any different from that.

Sonic has been consuming too. Not purchasing, just consuming. He followed his first trial by saying he'd "rather drink his own pish". Subsequent glasses of the fine beet later and he informed me he thought he's "shat a tampax". Readers of his sporadic blogging will know he's fairly graphic in the details of waste disposal regardless of the amount of times I tell him: "I don't do toilet chat".

One thing for sure is that our "pet" mice won't be jumping on the wagon. The last moose aboot the hoose managed to work its way through a lucozade gel and half a bar of tablet before trapping itself in the dust bin. When Sonic took it down the street to its new home on the green I was standing on the street shouting "You can't take it all the way down there. What if its family live in our garden. Have you not seen American Tail" Which was met with my rendition of Somewhere Out There.

Anyway, now we've got another mouse...

Saturday 31 July 2010

Kilpatrick Hills

Did my last long-ish run before the Devil's this morning. Kilpatrick Hill circuit is now my pre-race ritual.

We had a freelance photographer following us, as he's putting together a portfolio on ultra running. More specifically for the build up to the Devil's race.

Nothing really to report, I just like this picture that Sonic took. The best thing about Scotland is having such fabulous hills and trails within minutes of the city.

Thursday 29 July 2010


I did my last (oh and second) run for the Devil's last weekend. Two weeks ago I ran Tyndrum to Kingshouse and on Saturday there I covered Kingshouse to Fort William.

Lord knows I don't need to familiarise myself with the route. It's second only to my daily commute. But somehow, it my strange little world, it seemed like a good idea to do the full route as two training runs.

Cairn got to spend the day with Gran, so Sonic and I could run together - but, you know, no where near each other. We met up with Tim and Ross and hoped to catch up with Sue and Mandy en route.

One of the main reasons for this run, was to try out the terrain in road shoes. I've always worn trail shoes. It's ok for the first few miles, but I didn't have the same confidence coming off the Devil's Staircase. OK for holding back on the quad-knackering pace, but I was putting on the "brakes" which would made it worse. Didn't help that I was chasing down three boys - two of whom were trying to stick with Sonic. Actually Sonic was being rather reserved. So reserved in fact that we actually got to Kinlochleven only metres apart, which made me think he wasn't taking it seriously enough. Or maybe it's role reversal!

I think it's the one and only time that I didn't bomb on the soul-zapping Lairig Mor. I caught up with Ross about half-way. He's about eight foot tall, so got up the hills in about five steps. He was suffering with vaious ailments from the week before's Clyde Stride. Imagine! So I dropped him and pushed on.

I got to Lundarva in three hours dead, and then had an overwhelming urge to beat my time from last year (I did this route two weeks before too). A wee bit of tablet and Red Bull shot (you can take the girl out of Glasgow...) and I was re-born.

I was trying to keep steady, but ended up pushing more that I probably should have. There may or may not have been a wee bit of warrior chanting going on. I finished in 4.08, so six minutes faster than last year.

So, yep, all good. Nice wee confidence booster. Shame I've knackered my quads in the process. Coming down the stairs this week has been a bit nippy.

I've had few good swims and a couple of rubbish runs. Yesterday I did a session of one minute intervals to try and get the ol' trunks moving. And tonight it's an out-and-back with the club, which essential means running like the clappers for a few miles. Turning around and running like the clappers on the way back.

I'm loving swimming right now. I started in April (ish) when I could just about muster two lengths of front crawl. Yesterday, I did 52. My ultimate goal is to some day (far, far away) do an Ironman Triathlon. I think I've got the running bit covered and the swimming is in progress. But I'm lacking in the cycling discipline. Unless of course you count my one and only cycle of 2010, when my main goal was not to get hit by a car. So, I've started reading about Ironman Triathlons. I nearly keeled when I found out it was 112 miles on the bike. WTF? Maybe I should have found this out before my crazy thoughts went on overdrive.

Back in the real work...Work has been pretty adventurous. What I love about newspapers is that no two days on the job are the same. This week I've been dealing with our Everyday Heroes project. I got the pleasure of phoning Mark Cooper to tell he had won the Sporting category. Mark completed 50 marathons (Amsterdam to Barcelona) is 56 days to raise over £30,000 for the charity that helped his late Mother. He's a super nice guy and was really overwhelmed by his award. No stranger to a challenge he's also setting out this weekend to break the Hadrian's Wall record - hoping to cover 84 miles in less than 17 hours. When I told Sonic of this feat, I could see his crazy thoughts going into this space.

Following on from my conversation with Mark, I spoke to a one-legged man who asked if he could call me back as he was going out for a four-hour swim and didn't want to miss the tide. What a humbling experience that was. Note to self: Must stop moaning about sore quads.

Saturday 17 July 2010

Clyde Stride

I'll leave the official blog reports to Mrs MacPirate (Race Director), the Subversive Runner (her bitch) and all the fabulous starters and finishers who took part in today's inaugural Clyde Stride 40. No doubt everyone has their own stories to tell.

Only in ultra racing could a course be describe as "too short and too flat" in a negative way. Only over such a distance could the winner take a FIVE MILE detour and still come in first. And the lead lady stop to help a lost dog and chap on a door to ask for directions. It's all part of the adventure.

I helped out at the start and then supported the Gibbering Midget and took lots of photos on the way (well, of anyone who was before and slightly after the GM!).

Click here for race pictures.

The Gibbering Midget ran with the super-smiley Jamie Aarons most of the way. Check this out, her ears were actually bleeding at the end.

Just kidding, she collided with a tree branch. I shouldn't joke as I've since heard she had to make a trip to A&E for a couple of clips as the bleeding wouldn't stop. Remember what I said about everyone having their own race story.

Well done y'all. Especially Mrs Mac. It was a pleasure to be a part of it...and even more so being on the sane side of the fence.

Friday 16 July 2010

A Wee Devil

Last weekend I had my first post-race outing on the West Highland Way. In preparation for the fast-approaching Devil o' the Highland Race (August 7) I did the first half of the course from Tyndrum to Kingshouse.

Sonic and Cairn had "volunteered" to come along, with the view to Sonic running back from Kingshouse to Bridge of Orchy. Leaving poor little Cairn to play team relay baton again.

It went fairly well. Legs good, breathing good, hills not too taxing. I pretty much ran all of the way apart from the hill out of Bridge of Orchy. Times fairly similar to where I was last year. All in all I was quite pleased. Also quite pleased when it was over too (see attached video)

Then it was Sonic's turn to go. Donning one of those outfits that only ultra-runners would deem acceptable for public viewing - complete with Skins and knee-length compression socks. I took great delight in mocking him about his hairs sticking through his socks. Bit of banter back and forth and I nipped it in the bud with a sentence I hope never to use again: "I don't give a f**k what Richie does, you're not shaving your legs".

And here's Sonic playing about with his new iphone. Unfortunately for Cairn, he takes after me and goes bright red when he's hot.

Other stuff

Sunday: 12 mile walk with Cairn. He was in his buggy, before you call the Social
Monday: 4 mile walk + 50 lengths of the pool
Tuesday: 8 mile with 5 mile tempo (7.24, 7.25, 7.32, 7.29, 7.18 ave 7.26)
Wednesday: 5 mile with 6 x 500m reps
Thursday: Club run. 8m with 2 x 2 mile intervals. Killer! 7.17, 7.07 recovery jog and then off again 7.20, 7.03
Today: 50 lengths of the pool.

Yesterday I went to see the Polish Ambassador of Deep Heat to assess the damage in my legs. Not to bad...until he found a knot in my hamstring, which he would not give up on. There was a fair amount of colourful language used. At one point I thought he was going to have to drag me by my ankles to get me back on the table. It's got to be good for you, eh? Because it certainly isn't pleasant.

Tuesday 6 July 2010

Sunday 4 July 2010

Ready Steady Cook

It's been a while since I had been at club training, due to a combination of recovering from the Fling, the Polaroid races being on Thursday nights and tapering for the WHW.

Since the arrival of Cairn, I do most of my training on my own, so it's always nice to have some company. The session was billed as a steady seven miles, so I thought that was do-able. Quite a hilly route, but manageable (ish) at a steady pace. If only someone had turned down the heat. Steady pace was fine, legs were fine (ish) but after four miles I thought I was going to spontaneously combust. Giving the shade of my fellow runners' faces and the lack of chat, I think it was the general consensus.

It was probably one of the few times I actually welcomed a post-run ice bath.

Yesterday, I did the Kilpatrick hill route with the Gibbering Midget. I always maintain hills are a good tester for fitness and general physical well-being. I'm glad to report, we were pleasantly surprised. A bit of edging-each-other-on in the last few miles and I'm sure we got a route PB.

Cairn and I spent a leisurely afternoon in Largs with my Mum and Sis. Cairn was very excited about seeing the ferry. Shame he wasn't so excited about going back into his buggy. Public toddler tantrums can really test your general mental well-being.

Today, I did a 4.5m easy from the house. My legs felt like someone had put bricks in my shoes and my ankles are still dodgy, but thankfully it got better as the run went on.

Thursday 1 July 2010

Life after death

Although I don't think I'd take my chances with a three-legged donkey right now. Unlike this crazy fool. Click on pic below.

I took a few days off after the race. Swam or walked every day to try to keep things moving. I'm not sure what things, but I remember someone gave me this advice once! :-)

I went for a 4.5m run on Saturday afternoon, which wasn't pretty. I left the house and trotted along the street feeling quite light and fresh, until I hit an incline and my legs turned into a bag of spanners. It was quite muggy, which certainly didn't help. But hey, I was glad to get the first run over with as that the real tester. No damage, just generally tightness and my ankles still feel a little dogdy.

Sunday morning I did another 5 miles. I'd left my car in Bearsden after a BBQ the night before, so it was a good excuse to run out and get it. The route was fairly hilly, but I felt OK. Thankfully the morning was consirably cooler than the previous afternoon.

Tuesday lunchtime I tried a tempo (5m ave 7.29m/m). Maybe not the wisest choice, but there's only so much plodding about you can do. Started out quite rusty, stopped for a quick chat with JK, picked-up in the middle, really struggled with the heat and ended up with a face like a Halloween cake. So much so, that the folks in the office kept asking me if I was feeling OK all afternoon.

Friday 25 June 2010

Still alive after ninety-five

I know it's been nearly a week. I know you've read more than your fair share of race tales and I know JK has blogged 12 times, produced a video, slideshow, results spreadsheet and an updated all time list...but here's my version.

We arrived in Milngavie just before midnight. I registered, got my weight card and met with Kas, who had "volunteered" to do the nightshift.

The race start is quite an experience. It's only once a year, on the longest day, that the sleepy suburb of Milngavie is awoken to the sights of a kilted-man standing on top of car shouting instructions and rules to hundreds of people in skin-tight clothes, knee-high socks and startled eyes under head torches.

Bang on 1am, we were off. 95 miles over rough terrain in the Scottish Highlands. Senses alert. Eyes firmly focused on the dimly lite trail ahead. The smell of fear and apprehension. The deafening sound of silence, with only the faint muttering of a few nervous runners and the swishing of bottle packs and rustling jackets.

The first section definitely sets apart the men from the boys, so to speak. The latter go tearing off, frantically weaving. With the slightly more sensible smug in the knowledge that it's not going to last. Running through Mugdock Park, there was a bloke on my left shoulder panting like he was hyperventilating. I wanted to tell him that he was possibly going off too fast, but couldn't. I'm not sure whether I didn't want to come across as arrogant or I didn't want to ruin my chances of putting him into the ground later. I never did find out who he was.

A few miles later, I ran with Jason for a while and then Rosie Bell - last year's second female - trying to keep as steady and easy as possible. I know I'd gone off too fast in The Fling, which is ok (ish!) for 53 miles, but would be detrimental for 95.

I had bought a new head torch a few days before the race. A Petzl Myo. Obviously because I only used the one I bought last time (Petzl Tikka) three times and I hadn't quite spent enough money on the race!! But wow, what a purchase it was. I was even using my torch to help light the way for Rosie.

At the 10 mile mark, Helen Johnson caught up and the three of us chatted and enjoyed the pending sunrise before arriving in Drymen just before 3am. I waved off a top-up of supplies and kept going. I felt quite bad getting Kas to meet me there, but we both knew it was only for emergencies.

I passed a few and lost a few runners on the way to Balmaha. Including a Dutch guy who was already annoyed with the hills. It always bewilders why so many Dutch people (from the land no hills) come over for the WHW. It must be the national form of self-harming. Or many it's corporal punishment.

I continued to chat with Jason and we passed Drew. Boys will be boys and they hooked up and pushed each other on up Conic Hill. I took it easy on the uphill and more so on the downhill. I couldn't afford to take the same tumble I did during the Fling.

Quick top up in Balmaha and it was on to my second least favourite section of the race. Thankfully I had company to keep me entertained. And lots of cheers from Team Kynaston to keep me going.

Regular readers may remember the drama when I "nearly died" when I got lost in waist deep snow earlier in the year. Well, I was following kicked-steps. Sonic had met the step-kicker (a more equipped runner) en route to save me. And that random runner was Dave - who appeared behind me en route to Rowardennan and introduced himself. Fours hours later and he probably wished I had died on Conic Hill, as I was close to killing his ears. Hey, anything to take the focus off the legs.

I really enjoyed the section from Rowardennan to Beinglas. It was a gorgeous morning and the views over the loch were amazing. It wasn't without drama though. Before Inversnaid, I noticed there was a stream of blood down my shin and attached to that stream was a little black slug-like creature. I flicked it off and more blood spluttered out. Could there really be leeches in Scotland?

I was glad to run into Beinglas Farm. The stargate of the WHW. Reaching the end of the bridge is like stepping into a new world. Life always begins after Beinglas, doesn't it? Even though it's not even half-way. I replenished supplies, changed my shoes and headed up and up and up.

At the previous checkpoints I'd lost Aileen (last year's third place) at Balmaha and Rosie (last year's second) at Rowardennan, but I had no idea whether they were in front or behind. In the back of mind, I was still chasing them. When heading towards Coo Poo Junction (near Crianlarich) I saw a red and a yellow top (colours both donned by aforementioned girls)in the distance. That certainly put a spring in my step. I passed seven blokes - two of thom overtook me again later - and discovered the colours I was chasing was neither girls.

Heading towards Auchertyre, the sun was coming out in full force. I reached the farm and was greeted with lots of cheers. After getting weighed (I'd dropped 0.5kg) I changed back into my road shoes, as the inside of my foot was aching with the lack of support. I didn't want to stop as I wanted to take some time to meet the girls who were taking over from Kas in Tyndrum.

(Heading into Tyndrum with Dave and his sore ears!)

Food wasn't going down so well, so I put in an order for smoothie and cold Irn-Bru. Yep, you can take the girl out of Glasgow, but not Glasgow out of the girl.

Out of Tyndrum the headwind was quite forceful. I was starting to walk the hills and run the downs. I could feel a nice blister forming, but knew I'd scheduled in a sock and shoe change at Bridge of Orchy. I was pretty much on my own for this section, apart from a hiker who insisted on telling me about his double hip transplant. Charlotte had run up to meet me, but I was paranoid about support runner rules, so sent her on.

I checked in at Bridge of Orchy and tried to deal with the burning blister. Kas was in charge of plasters and asked me where the blister was, to which I replied: "Eh, the one you can see from space!" which she greeted with a slap round the back of my head.

Into my third change of footwear - my trail shoes - and it was up the Orchy hills. It's just a short two mile section, so it was nice to run with just a bottle in my hand - free of a belt. Mark was still there tagging on, and I apologised for the fact that he had to stare at my butt for so long.

At the top of the hill we were greeted with a smiling Murdo, who was flying a flag and dishing out jelly babies. He told me I was in 23rd position and 5th lady.

I usually love running off the hill down to Victoria Bridge, but this time I had to take it quite easy. Not because my legs hurt, but because my brain hurt. I couldn't get my eyes to focus and register on the path ahead. Mark went hurtling ahead and I sauntered on down to meet my crew.

Loaded up again and with my ipod for company, I embarked on the Drover's Road up to Rannoch Moor. I had downloaded three new albums for moments like this, but then discovered I forgot to transfer them from itunes. Doh!

I passed Mark again, following the JK attack of hills. I ran for 50 breaths and walked for 20 all the way up to the Mor. I was bursting for an overdue comfort break, so I had to gain some distance on the slowing Mark and the fast-approaching Kenny. I managed to find a big rock and spare everyone's blushes.

Although I had eaten quite regularly since the start, I knew I wasn't taking on enough. Just small flapjacks, tablet and mini bars of chocolate. All of a sudden I was ravenous and bonking. I only had a few miles to go until the ski centre checkpoint, but the hill out of the Moor took everything I had. Charlotte and Jill had run up to meet and a mumbled something about bonking/need food/anything. Charlotte - who had become the team go-for, well that's what she gets for earning herself an elite women's place in London Marathon! - was off like a shot.

Quick refuel at the (unnecessary detour!)at the ski centre and Charlotte the Go-for ran down with me to the A82. My lovely midwife, Lesley was cheering me on. I still find it quite funny that her husband is part of this scene. It doesn't seem that long ago that she was cheering encouragement for a completely different reason.

I passed through Kingshouse and on to the Devil's Staircase. I could see two white t-shirts (one of which was Dave's) and a dark one in front of me, but as usual I lack the competitive steak along with the inclination to care.

Heading into Kinlochleven, I was fading rapidly. I had to shout a runner who had gone off in the wrong direction. He started ranting to me about lack of signposting and I somehow wished I'd left him! The cheers through the town really pulled me together. Although I could have done without another detour to the checkpoint.

Arriving, I met Peter Duggan. Forget the race camaraderie, he nearly fainted when he saw me. Apparently he thought he "buried" me 50 miles back. Pah! You were confusing ambition and capability there, Pete. I thought I felt bad, but he bent over and gaunt like Gollum! Mentally he was razor sharp and hell-bent on beating me. Shame I didn't know about this driving force until after the race.

It was lovely to see the Pacepushers at the checkpoint and slightly nerving to see Dr you-will-die Ellis. I had to whisper my request for painkillers, whilst devouring the best sandwich I'd ever tasted. I probably hung about a bit too long - although I was prancing about to stop my legs from ceasing - as I was dreading the Bermuda Triangle that is the Lairig Mor.

Any then it was on to my FIRST least favourite part of the West Highland Way. The dreaded Lairig Mor. Even before I started the climb, I was exhausted by the mere thought of it. The ascent wasn't so bad, but I stumbled across like I had been shot. My muscles felt ok, but my ankles were suffering on the rocky path. But hey, it was always going to hurt. It's a very hilly 95 mile run, not cocktails on the beach.

I was half-heartedly using JK's splits throughout the day. I was sitting somewhere between 20 and 21 hours, but losing time rapidly. Thankfully Lundarva appeared quicker than normal (or maybe I just think that now). I passed a runner, who was resigned to walking and then the beautiful vision that was my crew came into view. I shouted ahead to get my road shoes to discover my voice was breaking, which was a bit of a shock. Charlotte the Go-for was charged with getting my shoes from the car, whilst Kas screamed at her to hurry up, Emma snapped with the camera and Jill expressed her delight in seeing me in daylight and on the same day.

Just seeing the gals lifted my spirits and hearing their cheers spurred me. Up the hill, round the corner and there was the mighty Ben Nevis. Despite numerous training runs, I always love the sight of the (even in June) snow-patched mountain. Although I can never get my head round why - if Fort William is at sea level - the route still continues to climb.

My ankles were a mess, but I just ran what I could. A few days before the race I had read in a book from my extensive running library that if you feel unmotivated or need to dig deep during a race, you should tell yourself you are a warrior. I know I will regret saying this, but going through the pine forests and onto the track I was hobbling and muttering "I am a warrior" over and over again. I know, WTF? Anyone catching a sight of this would think Pete was quite sane! :-)

I was continuously checking my watch , trying to get my brain to work out the distance and time. Just before Braveheart Carpark (which again appeared quicker than normal) Charlotte the Go-for appeared. I muttered a few expletives as a shuffled/jogged it in. In my best pathetic voice I told Charlotte: "I really want to get under 21 hours, but I caaaaaaaaaan't". Just before the entrance to the carpark, She just looked me straight in the eye and said in a matter-of-fact way: "You can do it". The rest of my crew were waiting as I'd asked them if we could all run the glory leg together. I'm not quite sure where it came from, but something snapped and I had a massive surge of energy. I was totally numb and focused, much to the amazement of my crew who were SCREAMING at me. Passing cars were were even beeping.

The funniest bit was Kas shouting that she couldn't keep up as she had been up all night, shouting "track" to Athole to get out of the way and Charlotte continuously reminding me the finish wasn't at the sign. I ran straight through the roundabout, along the pavement and into the carpark. My legs were moving too fast for my brain to register the parked cars, but I made it in time. 20 hours and 58 minutes and 36 seconds.

The female field was awesome this year, with the top three being under 20 hours. The Gibbering Midget was fourth (first last year) in 20:12 and I was 5th female. 20th overall.

It's all the support! Love my gals to bits.

Huge congrats to all who finished and all who postponed their success for another year. Sonic finished in 5th position in an amazing time of 18:47. Ritchie finally finished in pole position. The Crazy German FINALLY made it to Fort William on foot and finished just behind Sonic. Looking at the splits, I want a supply of whatever drugs he took in Fort William. JK had a brave fight, but has probably spent more time blogging than it took him to run. Thanks to everyone who put up with my drivel - Jason, Rosie, Helen, Gavin, Dave, Drew, Mark, Kenny and anyone else I've missed. Thanks to the committee, organisers, stewards, supporters and anyone who has made dreams come true.

I don't think I'll ever get another ten hour PB, so I'm just going to bask in this one for a moment...before sucking it up and getting into training for the Devils race in six weeks.

Ps: I pinched the first two pix from JK.

Monday 21 June 2010

WHWR 2010

Report, full results and pictures to follow...but in summary: Finished 95miles in 20 hours and 58 minutes. 5th female and 20th overall.

Monday 14 June 2010

Pre-race rituals anyone?

I usually just take two days off before the race. Hey, if it's good enough for Paula, then it's good enough for me. But prior to the last two good races (Devil's and the Fling) I've run the nine-mile circuit of the Kilpatrick Hills the weekend before. Given this morning's torrential rain and grey skies, I was tempted to just stick to the roads. But would that be tempting fate? A ritual is a ritual after all.

So off I went. Me, myself and I. Zero visibility and even less in navigational skills. As I set off into the mist, I promised myself that if I started to get a bit sceptical about the route, I would turn back. I know I've done the circuit a few times, but it's amazing how disorientated you can become in the mist. And lord knows I could do without the drama this weekend.

Being overly cautious about every step, kept me quite steady. Although the eeriness of it all made me want to push on. Even the sheep were freaking me out. When two runners appeared through the mist, I nearly keeled with shock. More so because they asked ME for directions.

Thankfully the faint path is more prominent than I remember. There were a few brief moments of panic, but all and all it was drama free. I was sodding wet and pretty cold, but at least I wasn't lost. Bonus.

So Kilpatrick Hill run? Tick. Now I just need step reps as my final session, a sports massage and two days of nothing.

What are your pre-race rituals?
I know JK does The Braes, WHWRunner and the Crazy German drive their long-suffering wives insane and Sonic (suddenly) develops a lactose intolerance - although he hasn't quite worked out that biscuits have dairy, but peanut butter doesn't.

Thursday 10 June 2010

The next step: Sobriety.

That's me on the final leg of the taper. I've been on the wagon since Sunday. No more sanity-saving vino until after the race. Life may seem a little uninteresting, but I suppose sobriety is ok in moderation - for a cause.

Since our last chat, I've had two cracking runs on the WHW.

Kingshouse to Beinglas - Monday, May 31
30.8 miles. 5:25hrs.

Last Monday I was out with the Gibbering Midget. Kingshouse to Beinglas. We got the bus up and ran back. It was a lovely day, possibly a little on the hot side, and very busy. I always find running in the opposite directions to hikers a little disconcerting. So many eyes and not enough people to sneak up on.

The run to Bridge of Orchy was great, but I bonked on the way to Tyndrum. Not sure whether it was fuel, heat or pace, but it's quite nasty going the other way. At Tyndrum we chatted with a bloke who was walking the full distance from Landsend to John o' Groats. With all his gear. And a full charity collection box. That was my cue to TTFU. I gave him all the money I had, which forced The GM to buy my supplies of tablet and sports drink :-) Bing! After that, I was back on form.

We ran, walked, chatted, stop for sheep herding (obviously) and were generally quite chipper all the way over to the A82 crossover.

We embarked on a stomp up the steep hill, briefly chatting to the oncoming hikers. Until one unsuspecting fella said: "Should you not be running?". The GM half-jokingly tore half his ear off...and then went on about it for half an hour. Thereafter, anytime we saw hikers, she made me run up the hills. I was glad to get to the top of the Crianlarich, as I was burst.

(me using the photo opp as an excuse for a breather!)

Great downhill all the way to Derrydarroch and then it was back up again. When we hit the steep ascent, I suspected the worse when I saw a group of guys lounging on the grass verge. At the incline the GM slowed to a stomp, to which I said: "Phew! I thought you were going to go for it then." She replied: "Hell no, none of them were good-looking". Fair play. Hail! Hail! The ugly boys.

Arriving at Beinglas, we stopped to buy some water (again, courtesy of the GM) and walked over to Drover's Inn. I remembered my sports therapist had been banging on about leg raises after runs, so I promptly lay at the side of the road with my feet on the fence. I encouraged a reluctant GM to do the same. Little did I know she was going to sit on nettles. So within minutes so was jumping about, squealing and yanking at her hotpants - much to the enjoyment of passing motorists.

Kinlochleven to Fort William Saturday, June 5

This was the annual Garscube WHW relay race. The GM and I were doing the last leg in final preparation for next weekend's race.

It was a bit of a scorcher and I had watched the previous leg runner burst in the heat, so I was a bit nervous when it came to my turn. Did I tell you I don't cope well in heat??

The intial climb up to Lairig Mor was quite taxing - but the GM went off like a rocket. After a few miles I got into my rhythm and kept pretty much the same distance all the way to Lundarva.

I expected the Way to be packed - with hikers finishing after starting at the bank holiday - but it was empty. Only four rubbish mountain bikers that I kept passing on the ascents.

I struggled from Lundarva to the woods, as I had run out of fluids and was suffering in the heat. It was a walk/shuffle all the way until I hit the shade of the pine trees, when I got my second wind. Unfortunately this allowed the GM to really widen the gap. She finished in 2.25 and I was 2.33. I felt great and (in the words of JK)really enjoyed my run.

So that's it folks. I did a wee tempo and some reps this week. Club run tonight. Possibly 10 miles at the weekend and some steps at the beginning of next week. Then it's game over. In the meantime I will continue with my sobriety. It's just a bit rubbish waking up the morning and knowing that's the best I'm going to feel all day :-)