Wednesday 28 April 2010

A Spring Fling

It was pitch black and raining outside, as I was applying suncream. Like ultra-distance running, the Scottish weather is fickle. You never quite know what you'll get, so best be prepared for all eventualities.

So it was my first Highland Fling. 53.3 miles will a little 6000ft of ascent and a nice 6am start. All uninviting factors, but I was so bloody excited.

Anyone who is interested in Scottish running blogs, will have probably read a few race reports, so I'm going to try and keep this short and sweet. Well, short anyway.

I went off too fast. Made a comment about road shoes being fine for the terrain...and then took an arse-over-elbow tumble down Conic Hill. Paid for my over zealous start in the second section. Picked up after Inversnaid and picked off a few runners in the process. At the start I had joked with JK as I turned my back on him and told him to get used to the sight - little did I know he would so easily oblige! :-) I Had a bit of battle from Beinglas with Helen Johnson - who has previously put me in my place. I was VERY brave with the beasts at Coo Poo Junction, as after 46m I didn't care if they killed me. I managed to pull away from Helen after Crianlarich, but she made me work for it.

The last few miles were a bit stop-start and every bump was a mountain. A girl was running out from Tyndrum and informed me I was third lady. Surely not. I thought Helen and I were going for 1st vet. I just assumed Lucy Colquhoun had finished so far ahead of everyone, that said girl hadn't noticed her.

I walked the last teeny weeny hill on the tarmac road passed By the Way. I joked with a smiling and cheering family that I was saving it for the final sprint. Heading through gates and down the rocky path, I heard bagpipes tuning up. I'm not usually a fan of the ol' pipes, but it was the most amazing touch. My own personal welcoming party.

I'm not even sure I heard anyone cheering as I approached the finishing gantry. I was in my own little state of euphoria. Mrs JK had to scream at my to "click in" and Muriel had to physically remove the chip from my wrist.

I spotted the Gibbering Midget who informed me I was 3rd, behind her 2nd and (obviously!) Lucy's 1st position. As we were jumping about shrieking, I thought she was sharing my excitement. I later discovered her shrieks were because I was jumping on her toes :-)

So finishing third (in 9:48hrs) behind two WHWR winners? That's nothing to be snuffed at. I think race organiser, Murdo, was just as excited at his top three girls as we were.

Sonic finished 3rd too - which was quite uncanny. Even more so that the Crazy German was just ahead in 2nd position. Considering Sonic and the CG train together and so do the Gibbering Midget and I...I think it's a good way to continue.

The GM, Karen Mac and I also won the first ladies team prize, so it was a good day for Garscube all round.

We enjoyed quite a few beers between finishing and the presentation. Funniest moment was when waiting for our team name to be announced, the hand of god (via JK) came from above and whipped the bottles of beer out of our hands followed by the words: "you're not going up there with them!" and the chorus reply: "Sorry, Dad!".

Big huge thanks to Murdo, Ellen and all the wonderful stewards. Congrats to all starters and finishers. Special congrats to first time Flingers, Silke, Karen Mac and Rachel I'm-never-doing-it-again-but-already-planning-next-year. Yes, ultra-running is like child birth. Refer to previous post.

Thursday 22 April 2010

Queen of Bonking

My dear friend the Subversive One has an uncanny way of crossing the line. Unfortunately it is more often the moral line and less often the finishing line :-) Fortunately for him, he gets away with it because a) it's quite funny b) he lives over the border and I can't therefore kick his a&s. Except this time there has been reference to chasing, grunting and bonking...just as he's heading north of the border. Worse thing is, my husband has actually joined in the banter!

Don't get me wrong I ain't the-girl-next-door type. Unless, of course, you live next door to The Priory. But the name "queen of bonking" isn't going to sit well outwith running circles.

See the Subversive One's blog for the full shebang

My latest step to Priory heaven was at the Press Ball. Yes, there was copious amounts of free-flowing wine. I tried to be quite behaved and had four glasses of water with dinner...and still ended up two sheets to the wind.

Half propping up the bar, Sonic pointed out that Mark Beaumont (cycled round the world chap) was standing behind me. My eyes lit up like Christmas trees and Sonic reluctantly agreed to take a picture of us for the blog.

OK this is what I wanted to say:

"I know this is a bit cringe worthy, but I have a running blog. And my friend John the Blog has a picture of him and Paula Radcliffe on his, so I think this might rival that."

Note that's what I wanted to say. I reality, my wine-fuelled spiel was confined to: "Eh, eh, eh...I run!". He looked at me as if to say: "yeah, but I cycle" and Sonic slapped his own forehead.

So now every time I see Mark Beaumont on the telly, Sonic take great pleasure in saying "eh, eh, eh...I run" as I slither out of the room in shame.

If I was only slightly sozzled and my usual gobby self I would have probably said something more appropriate like: "If you're going to gatecrash a party, the least you could do it shave. You're not on your bike now. Gypo."

Tuesday 20 April 2010

No flinging in the rain.

'Tis all a bit quiet in blog land this week. All my nearest and dearest are either tapering for the Highland Fling or London Marathon. Many of whom are having to endure the drama that is the closed airspace around the UK.

As you may well recall I had a bit of a tug-of-war with myself as to whether to do London or The Fling. In the end the latter won, but I was never quite sure of the decision. A bit of peer pressure coupled with a) I've done London Marathon four times, and can defer my place b) I would always just be a number in London c) it's all about the WHWR this year - and my Fling application was in the post.

A lot of the said peer pressure came from the Gibbering Midget. The deal was, I sign up to Fling and she signs up to Garscube Harriers. So unattached runner no more, here she is in all her glory! Fingers crossed we've got a good team out for Saturday. The GM, Rachel, Karen Mac and I.

Since my last post, I've had some really feel-good runs. Great tempo with the club on Thursday, 3m easy on Friday, Kilpatrick hill run with the GM on Saturday, 10m steady road run on Sunday. I always think a good test of fitness is how you feel on the hills. I've been feeling really quite comfortable of late, so that's a nice confidence boost. Just need to get the fuelling right...

Today I did an 8 mile steady, tomorrow it's step reps and that's me over and out. Got a deep tissue massage booked with the Polish Ambassador of Deep Heat on Thursday.

The weather forecast is looking most favourable: Dry, sunny and fresh. Perfect.

Ps: Anna

Thursday 15 April 2010

Boys, toys, wine and sunshine.

You know you're out running with the boys when the chat is all about races, strategies, tactics and plans. The Gibbering Midget and I usually like to maintain a certain level of shallowness. I'm not actually sure what we generally chat about, but we've righted many wrongs over our miles.

On Sunday I ran with the GM, JK, the Crazy German and Ian B from Milngavie to Balmaha. Perfect day for running. Glorious sunshine with a nice breeze. Thankfully the dry spell has sorted about the mud I experienced the week before.

My favourite moment on the run was witnessing a conversation between JK and the Crazy German. JK is the master of plans and spreadsheets. He's probably the only person (in the whole world) who carries laminated sheets of section times. Anyway, he was discussing tactics, other runner's race times and how he could possibly shave 20 mins off his WHWR time. The Crazy German in his best matter-of-fact-humour commented: "It's simple, John. You just run faster". Genius, eh?

The GM wasn't feeling too great, so decided to call it a day just before Drymen. The fact that she's running at all is truly amazing. Her Mum is very ill in hospital and she is being Daughter, parent, nurse, career and chauffeur. After a hands-on-the-hip style stand off along the lines of "just LEAVE me" and "no, I'm not leaving until I know you've spoken to someone" I pushed on knowing that I probably wouldn't (eh, want to) catch the boys.

I was feeling pretty good, so decided to make the most of it. Finished in Balmaha in 3:08, which I was quite chuffed with. *Especially after my pre-run wine performance at the Pacepushers on Friday night. Thankfully on Saturday I felt better than I actually deserved.

I'm loving my new Garmin 310xt. Not that there's anything wrong with my 205, but a girl needs accessories. Tried out my new Nathan Trail Mix belt (running handbag), which is just fabulous.

I had to laugh when I was putting on the belt and sorting out the straps. Whilst fitting I said: "I wonder what this clip is for" trying to force the strap round the loop, to which Sonic replied "Oi, stupid! That's to hang the belt up in the shop". Doh!

So I've almost got my kit sorted for the Fling. The unsupported Fling that is.

I've also been using my secret weapon of late: Deep tissue massages from the Polish Ambassador of Deep Heat. He is also Aileen Scott's secret weapon. I think Aileen and I might have (another!) wee battle at The Fling next week. I asked the secret weapon if he could possibly hurt her a little bit. He's still to name his price :-)

Friday 9 April 2010

Coming of age

I neglected to mention that, as of Sunday, I am now officially a Vet runner. Yep, I'm 35. Not quite sure how that snuck up on me.

When Sonic asked me what I wanted for my Birthday and I said I would like a baby girl, I knew I would get a good present. Result!

Now I just need to work out how to use it. Taking out the box would be a step in the right direction.

I'm glad to report, that everything seems to be back on track. I had a cracking tempo run on Tuesday, rep session Wednesday and 2 x 2m intervals at the club last night last night. I know, it's all back-to-back hard sessions, but I didn't plan it that way. After three hard sessions, I'm having a couple days easy before a WHW run on Sunday with JK and the Gibbering Midget.

Tuesday tempo: 2mile warm-up, 5m tempo (7.34, 7.22, 7.44, 7.18)
Wednesday: 8 x 500m reps
Thursday: 2m warm-up, 2m tempo (7.16, 7.25), jog recovery 2m tempo (7.16, 7.07), 2m recovery

Tuesday 6 April 2010

:-( and :-)

My first ultra race of 2010 resulted in a big fat DNF. Short for Do Not Fking mention the D33 :-) I'm not going to whine and bitch or give a blow-by-blow account of when the wheels fell off. Quite frankly, the wheels weren't even on from the off. This ol' banger was on bricks and totally delusional that I could run on empty.

I felt as sick as a dog when I arrived in Aberdeen on Friday evening. I went straight to bed without dinner. I'll spare you the graphics, but I had quite a restless night. Breakfast involved gagging on a slice of toast and banana.

It's a long way to go without so much as a pair of dirty socks, so I thought it would give it a bash. I lasted about three miles. Knowing that Sonic's friend Tom (who is also his "big, big boss") was waiting at the turning point, I knew I had to get to 16.5 miles. Cursing myself for not carrying a mobile, I got slower and slower. A comfort break, bit of walking, spraying Skittles and a motivation chat from Keith, which followed the form of "Do you want a gel? Do you want a hug? Do you want a bunch of TOUGHEN THE F**K UP?"...and I was out of there. I even took my number off and hung my head in shame, as I was passed again and again. The comment "Hey, Debs. What are you doing back here?" was the nail in the coffin.

I got to the 16.5 mile turning point where Tom, Caroline, Mama Sonic, Cairn and Connor were waiting with cheers and supplies. I withdrew.

All was not lost, as Sonic finished in a fabulous 5th place*. And it was great to see some great performances from WHW family folks.

Well done to George Reid and all the stewards. It's a cracking, well-organised race. With chocolate and beer for the finishers...oh, and the DNFers too :-)

And now for the :-) part of the tale. Just to prove I'm not a complete woose, I sucked it up, gave myself a boot up the backside, forced down some pasta and went out for a 24-miler on the WHW on Sunday. Milngavie to top of Conic and back to Drymen. I resigned to the fact that I wasn't going to eat, so I was doped up on Coke and Gatorade. Magic.

It was nice to see so many runners out and lovely to bump into Lesley. There's a lot to be said about the spirit of the West Highland Way. I finished on a total high and it gave me back the confidence I lost the day before.

As for the DNF. Hey ho, I believe most things happen for a reason. My last DNF (Great Scottish Run in 2007) was probably the best thing that happened (running wise) to me. Lesson learned. It's onwards and upwards. Just Do Not Fking mention the D33 :-)

Some pictures of the occasion...

Caroline and Connor



Sonic saving the day

* Sonic wants me to write that he is my super-hero. He keeps going on about his "fabulous splits". I'm trying to pretend I'm interested, but I can't quite get there.