Saturday 26 February 2011

Ginger Ninja's tour of Scotland

This was to be the pièce de résistance. A 45 mile run on the number seven cycle route from Prestwick to Glasgow. Not exactly inspired, but it ticked all the boxes. Flat (well, for Scotland), tarmac and long.

The downside to road running is the lack of wow-wee scenic moments, but the advantage is you don't have the same logistical/travelling issues. For a point-to-point run, you can just jump on one of the frequent trains, go as far as you want and run back. Simples. For WHW runs, half the battle is the organisation.

I got the train from Glasgow and the Gibbering Midget got on at Kilwinning. The route we were running, winds pretty much parallel to the train tracks. It was quite unnerving to know it took Scotrail's finest 50 minutes to cover the same distance we would be running.

Off at the breezy coastal town of Prestwick, first stop was the al fresco powder room, as the GM duly announced "sitting on vibrating things make me need to pee". You gotta love her innocence.

We started running on the promenade along the beachfront...until it run out. We knew we were heading in the right direction, so made a detour along the beach and then across the golf course (all part of the adventure) until we got to Troon. Then it was clearly signposted and we were on our way.

Despite previously posting the weather forecast, we were really lucky. A bit breezy by the coast, but when is it not? Lots of glorious sunshine and only a few showers. And as a double bonus, apart from a undulation between Irvine and Glengarnock, it was pretty flat. We thought we'd won a watch.

The GM had stashed a drop-bag of supplies at Glengarnock (25 miles), so we had a pit-stop and a refuel on sandwiches and coke. Followed by unladylike belching and yelps as we got going again.

On through Lochwinnoch, Howwood, Johnstone and off at Paisley. We took the most direct along Glasgow Road passed Bellahouston Park.

Still feeling good, but we didn't taking into account that is was high-school throwing out time. Gobby wee boys and muffin-topped giggling girls were quite testing when our tolerance levels were at an all time low.

Just before 4pm we hit 45 miles at the Squiggley Bridge in Glasgow's city centre. 6 hrs 41mins. Average pace 8.55m/m. I doubt there will be many times we can say we ran through three Scottish counties. Starting in South Ayrshire and taking in North Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and finish in Lanarkshire. Magic.

Thursday 24 February 2011

The Clock Keeps Ticking

Just finished reading Sharon Gayter's biography. It's a great read for anyone interested in distance running. It's also a really good story, even if you're not that way inclined.

After reading this, I'm quite glad I'm doing a 100K road race. It's a classic distance for an ultra-runner. Something quite measurable. I'm also half-heatedly started searching for a 24-hour event. Although next month's race may knock that idea on the head.

A lot of you will know some of the Scottish nutters mentioned in this book: Adrian Stott, Alan Young, Don Ritchie, Murdo McEwan, Pauline Walker, William Sichel to name a few. Murdo - what is that flapjack recipe laced with? Gotta get me some of that :-)

So far, I've had another good week. On Monday night I made my debut appearance at the club's fartlek session. It starts quite prompt at 6.30pm, which is usually a bit tight for me. I work at home on Mondays (which, in reality, is a lot less pleasant that it sounds), so I rely on Sonic getting home from work in time. Anyone who knows Sonic, knows punctuality is not is forte. Except on Monday he made a special effort. Although it did involve a faster warm-up to get there by the skin of my teeth.

I really enjoyed the session 3mins, 4mins x 4 - with 2 minute recovery. A more generous recovery than I'm used to these days. Coach Johnston doesn't believe in such lenghty slacking-off. I forgot to set my watch for the first rep, so just didn't bother for the rest. I pretty much gave it my all, so Tuesday's 8-miler was a bit rusty.

On Wednesday it was back to Coach Johnston whip-cracking speed session. 6 x 5 mins with 75 second recovery. 6.59, 6.58, 6.47, 6.44, 6.47 and 7.01.

Today I'm enjoying a wee rest day and a pasta lunch at Jamie's before embarking on a 45-miler with the Gibbering Midget tomorrow (Friday). Check out the weather forecast. Should I blame Sod's Law or Sharon Law?

Tuesday 22 February 2011

It was worth it to Perth it

After last weekend's exertions, I assumed I'd feel a little worse for wear at the beginning of the week. Not just fatigued, but I expected to hurt. Apart from looking and feeling like I could be cast in Dawn of the Dead on Monday morning, I was generally OK.

On Tuesday I did an 8-miler. No idea what pace it was, just nice and easy and comfortable. I suppose I was assessing the damage. Everything felt fine, so on Wednesday I decided to do the session with the boys with the jet-propelled legs. I started a wee bit early with the view to them bombing passed me somewhere near the end. I must have felt ok as I never even caught a glimpse of the boys with the jet-propelled legs.

8mins (7:08), 6mins (6:55), 4min (6.38), 3mins (6:50), 2mins (6:41), and 1min (6:10). I was pretty encouraged about how comfortable this felt.

On Thursday night I went along to the club, which was billed as an easy run ahead of the National X-Country. A show of hands at the pre-run briefing highlighted that only three of the 60 or so there were actually doing the Nationals though. Thanks, guys. I ran up to the Garscube estate and back home afterwards to clock another 6 miles. I sauntered round the 6 mile route with the lovely Emma. You know you're not exerting yourself when you spend the time house spotting/nosing and talking wedding chat. Emma, one half of Garscube's answer to Barbie and Ken, is getting married in May. It's the week after the women's 10K, so we talked about having Emma and club girls dressed-up as bride and maids.

Friday, rest day. On Saturday morning,the GM and I headed to Perth to recce the 100K course. It was an early rise, as we had to get the laps in before scooting over to the National X-country in Falkirk. Yep, a 170 mile round trip to run 10. It was kinda like Thelma and Louise, but with the life sucked out of it. And that was before we step out of the car into horizontal sleet. Deeply unpleasant. After seven laps I'd lost the will to live. Speaks volumes, doesn't it? Only 35 to go.... It was worth the trip though. I like to know the course, to go over it in my (crazy) head. And as Garmins are prohibited on race day, I can work out pacing according to lap times. Allegedly.

It's safe to say, it's a pretty flat course...

Then it was off to Falkirk to meet up with Sonic and Cairn. I took some pix of the Men's' race. Click here if you fancy a peek.

The races are seriously competitive, with the creme de la creme out show. It was the first time I'd been to the event and it was awesome viewing. Comical to see that the further up the front the runners are the skinner they are, the less clothes they were wearing (in close to freezing temperatures) and the more snot and gob they had on their faces. But my god, they can fairly shift it. It's not for the faint hearted. Seeing some of the facial expressions made me understand why Gary-Next-Door (and captain of Clydesdale Harriers) says ultra-runners "show no emotion". Granted, it's less fierce, but when I'm blubbering, hallucinating and hurting from the eye-lashes down, I tend to display a lot of emotion. And a snotty nose is the least of my worries.

Sonic ran a belter and came in 90th overall.

On Sunday morning, it was Sonic's turn to be up and out sharp, as he had planned a Kilpatrick hill run with JK and Bob. Normal people might kick-back with a fry-up and the Sunday papers, but I used the morning to get on with a long-list of domestic chores.

When Sonic got back, I went for a steady 10-miler round the west end. Poor Cairn really is a relay baton these days. He probably thinks his parents have separated and nobody has told him.

Thankfully the sun made a rare appearance on Sunday afternoon, so we got to go to the park. You know your son hangs out at too many races, when he shouts "Ready. Steady. Go!" at all the runners passing by.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Road to Nowhere

When the folks in the office asked about my plans for the weekend and I replied: "mainly running" I was met with the usual eye-rolling response. To be honest, I don't think they understood that I would quite literally be, eh, mainly running.

One of the big plans for training for the 100k, was to do two fairly lengthy back-to-back road runs. Granted I've done a lot of training on the roads, but nothing over 20 miles. I was quite apprehensive about the weekend. Not because of the distance, but what the terrain would do to my pampered pins.

On Saturday's 37 mile circuit, we kinda cheated and took in about 9 miles on the WHW, but ran up all the cheeky hills - and the "b*stard" ones too. It turned out to be a cracking day and we knocked out the miles quicker and more comfortable than expected.

36.5 miles. Time 5:28. Average 9.03m/m

Sunday's run from Kilbirnie (after leaving Cairn at Gran's for the morning) to Glasgow was a bit rusty to start. Even the Gibbering Midget wasn't gibbering. The weather wasn't the best and the thought of 20+ miles on the number seven cycle track didn't have a huge appeal, but needs must. After about 6/7 miles we got into our groove and, again, the time zipped by. We finished quite strong and in high spirits, so that was a real confidence booster. Road running isn't quite so scary after all.

20.5 miles. Time 3:08. Average 9.17m/m

The GM and I run really well together and I doubt the weekend would have been remotely enjoyable without the support. I know I hold her back most times, but she never lets on. She is the epitome of mind-over-matter. She does have quite spectacular fuel dips though, but a quick sugar stop and she's off like Cocaine Kate. It's quite awesome. Definitely made in Scotland, from girders.

I'm working well with my nutrition plan. Previously when I'm down, I'm out. But I'm focusing on keeping topped up from early on. Making a conscious effort to take in some sports drink and sweets every six miles and not waiting 'til I'm seeing stars. At which point, I can't eat anyway. So far, so good, but I suppose race day will be the tester. Any advances on four jelly babies over 53 miles would be a bonus.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

You don't have to be unhinged, but it helps.

Well, it's been all go in the Consani household. Sonic is now being sponsored by The National Stadium Sports Health and Injury Clinic and I've been selected to run in the Anglo Celtic Plate International in Perth in March. Essentially that means Sonic has full use of their facilities and gets to run to exhaustion, half-naked, whilst wearing a mask and I get to run round in circles for 100K. Magic.

So, the last few weeks I've been cranking up the miles. Of the pavement plodding variety. Apparently it's frowned upon to stop for a photo opp and a pick 'n' mix. Thankfully the Gibbering Midget is also on the team, so we've been training together. For club and country, we've had to tone down our specialist subjects of: boys, clothes and make-up for more somber discussions on training plans, routes, logistics and splits. Dear god, we're starting to sound like Sonic and the Crazy German.

To be honest, I'm kinda winging it. I've known about the race for a few months, but never thought much of it. With nine weeks from selection to race day, there's only so much I can do. And that's got to include a 2/3 week taper.

I've had a few great runs and a few bombers. 35 miles being the longest so far. Thankfully that fell into the great run category. I even attempted some circular repeats - this is now my technical term for running in circles. I found a one-miler close to home and ran round it 10 times. Man, that was tough. For once I found it hard to control my pace. The overwhelming urge to get it over with definitely outweighed the enjoyment.

I figured some of the training I would be doing could be quite monotonous, so I decided to put some audiobooks on my ipod. The first book being Michael McIntyre's biography. It's well worth a read, or in my case a listen. I was chocking with laughter whilst running round in circles last Saturday...nee naw, nee naw.

So back to winging it: This weekend the GM and I are running 35 on Saturday and 20+ on Sunday. You don't have to be unhinged, but it helps.