Saturday 27 February 2010

I'm the common denominator

When it comes to drama, guaranteed I'll be at the root of it. And today's run took it to a whole new level.

According to my training schedule, a 35-mile run was on the cards. The original plan was to run from Bridge of Orchy to Fort William, but recent snow storms across Scotland forced us to change plans to lower-lying grounds.

Cairn was staying at my Mum's last night, so we could both run today. I left the house with the view to running onto the WHW, taking the road round to Balmaha and then back on the WHW up Conic Hill and onto Milngavie. Sonic was doing the similar route, but leaving after me to catch up.

All was going well until I started going up Conic Hill. The further I went up, the deeper the snow got. In hindsight I was ill prepared for the conditions. The temperature was close to freezing, but the wind-chill factor would have taken it well below that. Some kind soul had kicked most of the steps, so I followed them. If I had half a brain cell I would turned back, but I was committed (oh and a little bit stubborn) and was moving closer to the summit. I called Sonic to explain the situation (mini-tantrum) who informed me he was at the bottom of hill. Descending the other side was when I got myself into a real pickle. I was waist-deep in thick snow, soaking wet and freezing my ass off. There was a layer of ice on top of snow, which was shredding my legs. Despite knowing this route like the back of my hand, the path was non-existent and I felt as if I was (literally) rolling about aimlessly. I was a blubbering, snottering wreck. As dramatic as it sounds, I honestly feared for my life.

Panic calls to Sonic (mega-tantrum), who tried to calm me and find out where I was. He informed me he was down at the bridge (after going from Drymen). "WTF? You mean you're not on this hill". I was expecting him to appear behind, like a knight in shining armour. "F*ck no, it's waist-deep up there", was the reply. After what seemed like an eternity of trudging through snow, he appeared in the distance. Given the way I had previously acted he would have been forgiven for just leaving me there!!

Sonic was a little more prepared (from his mountain rescue training) than me, and piled me up with a fleece sweater and a wind-proof jacket. My survival kit consisted of some sweets, a cap, babywipes and an ipod! He later informed me that I was gibbering rubbish and shaking uncontrollably. I must admit being that cold and that disorientated - it's amazing that a route you know so well becomes unrecognisable in different conditions - was very scary. What would normally take 30 minutes, took over two hours. And I would probably take the prize for being the most ill equipped/prepared runner on the hills.

Although, at a lower level - the snow-depth had shrunk to a more manageable knee-deep, it was a few miles on the route to Drymen before we could start running. There were a few walkers out enjoying - what was then - as lovely snow-covered path. I had piled the layers of clothing on top of my backpack, so I must have looked like a Ninja turtle approaching.

We met another runner - Sarah who was training for the Fling - just outside of Drymen. She must have thought I was slightly unhinged, given the ensemble and the gibbering story of my Conic Hill adventure.

Anyway, the show must go on. Although If I was given the option of airlift of the hill to never run again, I would have taken it. Back in the land of normality (or at least normal body temperature) I had waved off the notion of hitching a lift and changed the route to running back over the Balloch Horseshoe home. 33 miles in total. If good ultra-running training is about time of feet, then that was a quality run. Although it's not an experience I would want to repeat, EVER.

Sitting of the comfort of my sofa with a chilled glass of wine (for medicinal reasons, obviously) I probably did act a little OTT. When I told Sonic I thought Cairn was going to be orphaned, he said "but he would still have me". Really, it's two of the same thing. I would just leave two boys without responsible guidance and care. Although Sonic has had the satisfaction of referring to me as a "fking idiot" more often than absolutely necessary this afternoon. Next time, I'll pack more appropriately. Well, maybe. It has given me something to blog about :-)

Sunday 21 February 2010

My boobs have relocated to my thighs!

I neglected to mention the good points of Valentine's Day. The lovely Sonic bought me gorgeous roses, chocolates and fabulous North Face slippers. I got him an I owe you (present hadn't arrived in the post) and chocolates, which I think I ate the most of. I did, however, treat to some slap-up sushi and noodles - my favourite. All selfless acts.

Training this week...

Monday: 5.5 steady
Tuesday: 7 miles with 5 miles tempo (7.29m/m)
Wednesday: 6 x 650m reps in Kelvingrove Park - with a cheeky hill in the middle
Thursday: 6.2 mile club run - 25 minute out and back - steady to tempo pace
Friday: Rest

The three hard sessions back-to-back was probably not my wisest choice - not that I've ever made a wise choice - as my legs felt the effects on yesterday's long run.

I met the Gibbering Midget for a 20m(ish) circuit round Helensburgh. BTW the Gibbering Midget is Sharon - not Cairn, as Stephen asked me at club training. He's been walking for about a month now, but he's not progressed into ultra-running yet.

Back in time for Sonic to hand over the relay baton that is our son, before he headed off to the National Country Championships in Falkirk. Sonic that is, Stephen, not Cairn. Obviously I don't need to reiterate the fact that I don't do cross-country, so it works out well for us.

The latest Sonic-ism - it has been a while since I posted one - was during a conversation about how amazed he was that everyone seems to know his name (except they obviously cheer "Marco") at cross-country events. I told Sonic it was because people knew him through me. Joking. To which he replied - in all seriousness - "they probably do know you, because they were dead slow". Well I'm never going to look at my husband for an ego boost. It was right up there with when he pointed out from his latest ultra-running read that the best female ultra runners have no boobs and a higher (for a runner) body fat percentage. Followed by a knowing nod that would explain why my ability lies in a longer distances.

By my own omission, my boobs have gone beyond ridiculously small. Even the Gibbering Midget has been mocking me for it. You know, Little Miss Katie Price!! I would retaliate and tell you about her super un-PC chat about those less-fortunate at her concert the other night, but I'm afraid she might be taken out in a drive-by mobility scooter shooting. I'll just get her back by mentioning she was at a Ronan Keating concert! I know, WTF? But yeah, why would a blind person get a front row seat?

Even before my husband's comments on body fat, I've been trying to work on mine. Even though I'm pretty much the same weight as I was before Cairn (or BC, as we refer to it) my body fat is approx 2% higher. I've been reading Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald, which is one of those random purchases from an Amazon recommends list.

According to this book - and its calculations on optimum weight for peak performance - I'm need to shift 5lbs and 2.5% of body fat. I've put on 3lbs since i stopped breast-feeding in August. Well actually it was less to do with milk supplying and more to do with eating too much :-) I'll keep you posted on progress - once I've got through the book. So far, I would recommend it as an interesting read. I'm hoping to get to a bit where I still eat cake, but I doubt that's going to come up.

Friday 19 February 2010

St Valentine's Day Massacre

If it wasn't for the fact that Sonic is, em, quite Sonic, there could have been a massacre.

Before I delve into the delight that was Valentine's Day, I want to tell you about my first PB for 2010. I did the slightly bumpy Parkrun 5K on Saturday morning. 22:53. Five seconds slower than my Garmin time. Lord knows what I was doing faffing about at the start. Anyway, that's it, I told you. Had a bit of a battle with a Kirkie burd, but she came up trumps. Enough said.

On Sunday, to celebrate the over-commercialised joy that is St Valentine's (which I always maintain is for girls btw) Sonic has organised for Mama C to take Cairn for a few hours. He has been harping on about this route for some time. I thought organising childcare was very proactive, but in hindsight I just think he had run out of running buddies who were willing to endure the torture.

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that I have a slight aversion to cross-country. Don't get me wrong I love going off-road and embrace a cheeky hill, but trapsing through grass and muck? I don't see the point.

I have done a smaller version of the route, which although tough, is very enjoyable. Sonic advertised the longer one as "a bit hilly and mucky, and requires fell shoes". I couldn't quite get my head round the fact it started in Duntocher, took in the Kilpatrick hills, the Whangie, WHW and back through Faifley. To me, they were practically at either ends of the country. Map navigation is not my forte.

The first few miles were cracking. A nice ascent on a rocky path. And that's were the enjoyment ended. After that I was knee deep in swamps and sheep shit. We even went stomping up a hill only to come straight back down the same way. Sonic justified this by saying "just to take in another hill" WHF? Off he went bounding across as I tissed and hissed and stumbled about. At one point I hid in the long grass to see if he noticed. If I hadn't given in and come out, I'd probably still be there.

When we finally reached the Whangie, I was promised a trail. All I got was more mud and an overwhelming sense that we were going the wrong way. Sonic pointed out a pole in the ground which "apparently" marked the race route. Really I think it was lone walker who had simply sunk into the ground and left his pole behind.

At the top of the Whangie we met a picnicking couple enjoying a lovely Valentine's Day picnic. With rolling eyes and running nose I told them "I was promised a romantic stroll".

Coming off the Whangie I then found myself running along the f-king A809 in a pair of fell racing shoes!! Then more fields, more barb wire fences, more mini-tantrums and we were on to the glorious familiar territory of the WHW. Bliss. Well, for a few miles and then more hills, fields and neds with a loose rottweiler thrown in for good measure.

(Sonic waiting patiently at the top of the "lovely trail" - before he informed me I run across fields like a Thunderbird Puppet!)

At one point I even begged Sonic to let me run in front, because it was sole-destroying looking at his back for so long. Although, I think he was trying to avoid looking at my crabbit face. Anyway, he obliged. Well, he ran beside me but a little bit in front. What is it with boys??

The outcome: Marriage + running together = danger.

Point taken, Sonic. You can go running with the boys anytime.

Friday 12 February 2010

Go Figure!

My husband bought me this mug. And backed it up with: "I thought it was just you". I'm not sure what to make of that, dear reader.

I wonder what romantic delights I might get for Valentine's Day.

This week's running/training

Monday: Rest day - 50 lengths swimming.
Tuesday: 7 mile tempo (average 7.38)
Wednesday: 15 x step reps at Kelvingrove Park
Thursday: 7 mile club run - with 25 min tempo.

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Chaperone required

On Sunday, the Gibbering Midget and I were planning an out and back from Beinglas to Tyndrum. Anyone who knows us would confirm that we are a bit ditty at times. Probably too much Diamond White and Peach Schnapps (together!!) in our younger years. Coupled with my belief that my last few functioning brain cells were removed with childbirth.

Well, a few mini-dramas were guaranteed.

1) Firstly, when we arrived at Beinglas there was a big HUGE Alsatian (type) dog circling the car. I have since discovered it is a "friendly big dug" but I swear it was eyeing us up for breakfast. I've got more meat on my bones, so I would have been first. The super-svelte Gibbering Midget would have been merely post-breakfast dental floss. After (what seemed like) an eternity of willing it to go away, we decided to drive on and start the run at Derrydarroch Farm. I kid you not, the dog was nudging the door handle of the car with its nose.

2) After our first run-in with the local wildlife, we were then faced with the beasts at Coo Poo Junction. The Gibbering Midget is much braver in these situations, but I was terrified. She did try to comfort me by saying "It doesn't matter how irrational it seems, a fear is a fear". Given that the average weight of these monsters is 1500lb (I googled it), I hardly think it's an "irrational" fear. But if she wasn't there, I would have been back down and running along the A82. I even considered jumping the wall. Apparently they sense fear. Maybe because I was squealing like a pig and practically climbing on the Gibbering Midget's back. Once passed, I actually felt quite brave and pleased with myself.

3) After Crianlarich we hit some dodgy snow/ice patches. The GB went over on her ankle and used language that would make a drunken sailor blush. Five minutes later I did the same thing, but with only a few choice words.

4) Later, I slipped on the ice on the way back and cut my hands and bruised my knees before sliding down in the muck. The GM - the wee soul - was deeply concerned in case I had ripped my tights.

5) En route we bumped into the Happy Days clan. Karen joked about how glam The GM and I looked - right at the point when I was wiping my nose on my sleeve, whilst covered in muck and blood patches and standing in shoes full of cow sh*te. Oh the glamour. After saying our farewells, we headed down towards Beinglas only to be disgusted by the new trail improvements. Looks like a tarmac road could be guiding the way soon :-(

6) The GM tried to put a positive spin on our route choice by numerously referring to it as a "figure of eight" (Derrydarroch-Tyndrum-Derrydarroch-Beinglas-Derrydarrach) even when it was blatantly obvious it was two clear out and backs. And I was glad when the last 2back" was over. Heading back to the car I commented on how happy I was to have covered the 24m distance (which was way hillier than I remember)in 4.32. The GM took that moment to check the stats on her Garmin...whilst standing in the middle of the f-king A82!!

7) Not that I can comment, as driving us back home I almost crashed into the back of an indicating pick-up and then nearly took out a ned at a pedestrian crossing. OK, the light had just turned to amber, but he gave me a look and hand signal that made me want to reverse and give it another shot. Oh well, better luck next time. Although I think The Gibbering Midget will probably volunteer to drive. Tick :-)

Thursday 4 February 2010

Track attack and other tales

On Monday night I went along to the new track at Scotstoun with the club. Wow! What a difference. The track that is, not my running ability. It's really smart and all lovely. I had curtail my excitement and refrain from commenting on what a lovely colour of blue I thought the surface was.

There's even a brand spanking new indoor track. Well it's more a row of lines than a track. But it was obviously reserved for the ridiculously fast youngsters and their up-their-own-arses coaches.

I was running a bit late - drama of Sonic being stuck in a car park - and was bursting for the loo when I arrived, so didn't have much of a warm-up. I joined Kas for a quick jog round the circuit and nervously asked what the session was: "Two times three thousands" was the reply. I nearly ran back off the track. Slight misunderstanding, as Coach Lesley clarified that is was in fact 3 x 1000 (50 sprints) and another set of 3 x 1000. I don't know how, but her version sounded a little less brutal.

I joined (ex) Captain Stevie (otherwise known as Big Stevie) who was once a track runner in his hay day. Even though he has slowed throughout the years, he can still whip my ass. But I hung on for dear life.

I'm not overly familiar with track etiquette or rules, so I always end up getting in someone's way. I stopped dead at the end of one of my reps, and nearly got taken out by John the Jogger. Well, I would have got taken out if he wasn't the shape and weight of a greyhound. He's such a nice guy, he even apologised to ME!

Anyway, here are the scores on the door. 4:30, 4:33, 4:29, 4.28, 4:33. Not sure about the 50m sprints, as Stevie was judging the (slightly dubious) distances and times.

On Tuesday lunchtime I did a steady/easy 7 mile run (ave 8:55). I was having a VERY stressful house selling/buying day, so it was a real struggle to get out of the door.

Yesterday morning, I did 8 x 500m. Bloody nora was it cold! 1:48, 1:49, 1:47, 1:45, 1:44, 1:45, 1:44 and 1:43.

Tonight I'm off to the club. Not sure what the roads will be like, as there was a mega snow drop overnight. Bearsden is in a different climate zone from the city centre, so I'll have to wait and see. Sonic is in London town today, but Mama Sonic is looking after the HurriCairn for an hour or so. I bet she does more running around than I do :-) I'm going to the club for a rest :-)

Monday 1 February 2010


What a day the Gibbering Midget and I had on the Way on Saturday. Although it was close to freezing, the sun was shining and the views were spectacular.

We started at Croftamie and took the number seven cycle route (which I'm sure must circumnavigate the globe) on to the West Highland Way, two miles from Drymen. Over Conic hill and then back on the track by the road. A crackin' 15 mile circular route.

It's quite challenging on the ol' pins, as it's every so slightly undulating. Average 10.04 m/m which is not too shabby...considering.

Yesterday I went out for a four mile recovery and my legs felt great. Tonight I'm off to the new all-singing, all-dancing track to Scotstoun. Well, all going to plan I'll be going to the track.