Friday 30 December 2011

Happy Old Year

As I might not get another year like it, I thought I'd best write it all down. And possibly frame it!

Anglo Celtic Plate 100K: I was lucky enough to be selected to run on the Scotland team. I'll never forget my first Scotland vest, and I'll never forget this race. It was probably the hardest race I've ever done, but it was great to try a classic distance and push myself out of my comfort zone. I just missed my sub:9 hour goal, but was happy to finish in 9:03. Maybe that's just the incentive I need to give the distance another bash.

Highland Fling 53 miles: I wasn't holding out much hope for this race, as it was only a matter of weeks after the 100K. Plus, I hadn't really done that much hill and trail training, as I was predominately focusing on road. I was fairly relaxed about the race and went out with the suck-it-and-see attitude. I followed splits (devised by Sonic) that had me running 10 minutes slower in the first section than the previous year. It started rusty, came together in middle and fell apart at the end. I was delighted to finish second female in 9.39. As the event doubled as the UK Ultra trail championship, I also went home with that silver medal. And the bronze team medal. One event, four medals and a new PB. Not bad for a day's work. Sonic is now my official split co-ordinator :-)

West Highland Way Race: This was my key race for the year and I was ecstatic to achieve my dream sub:20 hour goal. 19:39 to be exact. I finished third female and 13th overall. After three WHW races, I vowed not to sign up for next year's. Not because I didn't enjoy it, because I did. OK, maybe enjoy isn't the right word, but you get the gist. I just want to try something new. I'll always be happy with my time, but I know I'll go back and try it again some day.

Clyde Stride 40:
Probably not my wisest move just four weeks after the WHW, but I signed up with a view to completing four of the races in the Scottish Ultra Marathon Series (SUMS). It was a bit up and down. Some parts I felt great and in others I was burst. All in all a good race and I finished second behind Lucy Colquhoun in 5:56. My main goal was sub:6 so no grumbles from me.

Devil o' the Highlands (43 miles): This was my first ultra back in 2007, so it's always been quite special. Although, to be honest, this year I was only in it for the SUMS point. As it turned out, it was by far my best race of the year. You know when people talk about how some races just "click" or "come together on the day"? Well, this one did. I finished second behind Lucy (who incidentally smashed the course record by over an hour!) in 6:56. Again, my ultimate goal was sub:7.

SUMS award: Guess what? I finished second behind Lucy :-) Julie once hit the nail on the head when she said "if she wasn't so nice, you'd hate her". Wise Julie also said, "finishing second to Lucy is a win", so I'll take it.

Commonwealth Mountain and Ultra Running Championships: I guess you'll know I ran on the Scotland team at the 24 hour race, because I haven't shut up about it. I finished 4th female. 1st for Scotland (overall). Broke the Scottish 200k record and was part of the team that took bronze. It was worth the destruction.

Sponsorship: After the Highland Fling I was contacted by Montane, as they wanted to give me some shiny new gear as a way of saying congratulations for being 2nd in their sponsored race. Result! Then a few months later they asked me to come on board as their first ultra-running female sponsored athlete.

Garscube Harriers' Meritorious Award: I won the award a few years ago and I was honoured enough to receive it again. As far as I can see by the listing on the trophy, I'm the only member to have won the award twice.

International Association of Ultra Runners Athlete of the Year nomination: It's a pretty safe bet that the uber-awesome Miss Hawker will walk away with this one, but I'm still in shock about making the shortlist.

Well tomorrow's the last day. And there will be nearly 1000 nutters (including those who haven't fessed up to bowing out) celebrating their last run. It will be a fabulous end to an amazing year. Although I have to do a 5k first. Yikes.

Happy New Year everyone.

Thursday 22 December 2011

The final countdown

The end of the Marcothon is nigh. I can't believe we're on day 22 already. Apart from a couple of hangover torture miles, there's been a limited amount of whining from me. Well, in my humble opinion. In fact, compared to last year, it's been relatively easy. Even the hurricane didn't faze me. I did, however, consider dusting off the treadmill in the garage, but thought it would be less painful to take my chances with the Bawbag. The police car that tailed me for about a mile of said run was probably a sign that I should have got the duster out. Or the flattened coke can that flew at me like a frisbee. Thankfully my ninja-like skills saved me from death by coke can decapitation.

After the hurricane, we had ice. Then a big dump of snow, which eventually turned to ice. Last weekend brought glorious winter sunshine and now we have rain. I'm pretty sure we could change the Marcothon to some kind of multi-activity event or a Decathlon.

The photo was taken on Sunday down Ayrshire way on my last run with the GM for 2011. It was a glorious day, so crisp and clear. Very icy though, so the kahtoolas came in really handy. Tomorrow, I drop the GM off at the airport so she can fly to sunny climates for a romantic festive holiday in South Africa. Jealous much? She's so psyched, she could probably fly there herself.

The support on Facebook continues to be overwhelming. People who have signed away 31 consecutive days and run the risk of falling out with their spouses/partners/families on Christmas day and they probably don't know where the event name came from. Incidentally it's an abbreviation of Martin-Consani:-) Obviously I'm joking, but it's clever, he? ;-) Some folks might even think it's a memorial race!

We've also had another wee bit of publicity. Ruth Walker from the Scotland on Sunday is an enthusiastic recruit. Click on image right.

We had a kind invitation from one of the organisers of the parkrun in Falkirk to attend their 5k on New Year's Eve which went something like... "I know you have probably had many requests for what I am about to ask, but here goes..."... ha ha you wouldn't believe how many requests we've had... That's poetic license by the way, Dave. So we've decided to make this the grand finale and have tried to encourage as many Marcothoners along as possible. Given the logistics, it seems to be the most central. Well, for those living in Scotland.

Hope you all have a fabulous Christmas.

Here's a special sing out from Cairn and Lucy. Yes, there's no end to the talents of the world's bronze medal holder. And when I picked her up en route to the party, she appeared with a homemade Christmas cake too.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

IAU Athlete of the Year Nomination

The Marcothon is a great thing, but the messages/notifications have clogged up my personal email account. So much so that I missed an email from Nadeem Khan from the International Association of Ultrarunner (IAU) to say I had made the shortlist for Ahtlete of the Year. I didn't even know until Richie text me to mockingly ask for my autograph. I thought it was strange that I hadn't been notified...and trawled through my email to find it was sent last week. Doh!

I'm still getting over the shock, but this year just keeps getting better. See below (or click on this link) for info.

List of Athletes of the Year Nominated for 2011

2011 was an outstanding year for ultrarunning as it was evident from the performances of our athletes. The following athletes have made the nomination list that has been forwarded to the Member Federations and the IAU Executive Council to be voted on. The results will be announced in the third week of January 2012.

They will select their top 3 athletes (male and female) and these top 3 athletes will receive points (5 points for 1st, 3 points for 2nd, 1 point for 3rd) and the overall score for each athlete will be compiled.

Congratulations to all the nominated athletes!

Nadeem Khan
Director of Communications

Nominees for Athletes of the Year Award 2011

Men (in alphabetical order):

Eliot Kiplagat Biwott KEN 1st 50km World Trophy Final 2:54:53
Patrick Bringer FRA 3rd Trail World Championships 6:47:50
Giorgio Calcaterra ITA 1st World 100km Championships 6:27:32
Erik Clavery FRA 1st Trail World Championships 6:39:07
Ivan Cudin ITA 1st Spartathlon 2011 22:57:40
Andrew Henshaw USA 3rd World 100km Championships 6:44:35
Kaito Iwayama JPN 3rd World Trophy Final 2:59:12
Kilian Jornet ESP 1st Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc 20:36 :00
Rainer Wilfried Koch GER 1st Los Angeles to New York 522:55:56
Jason Loutitt CAN 2nd Trail World Championships 6:40:32
Andras Low HUN 25th Ultrabalaton 212km 25:53:05
Ian Sharman GBR1st Rocky Racoon 100 Miles 12:44
Pieter Vermeesch BEL 2nd 50km World Trophy Final 2:57:23
Michael Wardian USA 2nd World 100km Championships 6:42:49

Women (in alphabetical order):

Lindsay Anne Van Aswergen RSA 3rd 100km World Championships 7:42:05
Meghan Arbogast USA 5th 100km World Champs (World’s Age Best) 7:51:10
Marina Bychkova RUS 1st 100km World Champss 7:27:29
Monica Carlin ITA 1st 100km del Passatore 7:45:28
Lucy Colquhoun GBR 3rd Trail World Champss 7:57:20
Angela Gargano ITA 1st 12 Hour Belgrade 96km
Maud Gobert FRA 1st Trail World Champss 7:41:31
Emma Gooderham GBR 1st 50km World Trophy Final 3:17:30
Anna Grundahl SWE 1st 24 Hour Bronholm 221.681km
Susan Harrison GBR 2nd 50km World Trophy Final 3:25:05
Lizzie Hawker GBR World’s Best 24 Hours Outdoors 247.06km
Sumie Inagaki JPN World’s Best 24 Hours Indoors 240.631km
Mami Kudo JPN World’s Best 48 Hours Outdoors 368.687km
Szilvia Lubics HUN 1st Spartathlon 2011 29:07:45
Debbie Martin-Consani GBR 5th 24 Hr Commonwealth Champs 208.057km
Cecilia Mora ITA 2nd Trail World Champss 7:50:02
Kami Semick USA 3rd Comrades Marathon 6:26:25
Joanna Zakrzewski GBR 2nd 100km World Champs 7:41:06 & 3rd 50km World Trophy 3:26:37

Do I feel like a fraud? Hell yeah, have you seen who's on the list? But hey, I'm the happiest little fraud in the world :-) By the way, I was fourth in the Commonwealth Champs (not 5th) but I doubt that would make a difference. I'm off to frame my email... :-)

Tuesday 6 December 2011

The four seasons fun run

The Gibbering Midget and I decided to get in a long run (35-40 miles) before the winter set in. I'm not sure why, to be honest. Even when we were firming up plans last week, neither of us could think of a logical reason as to why we were doing it, or who's daft idea it was in the first place. Although the smart man's money is on it being mine. I think it stems from last year's month-long ice rink leading to no speed or long runs and then having to crank up the miles from January to run the 100K in March. This year, I'd like to keep ticking over. I'm not even convincing myself here...

Anyway we're not sensible enough to back down, so plans were made. We were to start at mine in Glasgow, head over to Balloch, then on to the West Highland Way to Milngavie and back to the start. A nice 37 miles circuit, with a bit of everything - roads, hills and trail. On paper, perfect. Although it's all runable so it's pretty unrelentless at points.

Of course, it was pitch black when we started at 7am on Saturday morning. We toyed with the idea of taking the canal path to Dumbarton - which would involve headtorches - but I wasn't entirely comfortable with the idea, so we decided to grin and bare the pavement alongside the street-lit dual carriageway of the A82. At least I thought we had made the decision. It later transpires that the GM had two buffs over her ears and had no idea what I was asking her and just nodded in agreement!

The first 10 miles were character building to say the least. It was dark and sub zero with a ice cold wind. And then the sleety rain started. Add in dirty spray from the passing lorries and buses and it was a a brutal experience. My legs were so wet and frozen, they could barely move. It was really just heads down and move forward for about 90 minutes. Thankfully, in our heads, we knew this was always going to be the nastiest part. It's a grim prospect even on the nicest of days.

After huddling in a bus shelter to refuel, we headed over the Balloch horseshoe to Croftamie. In true Scottish weather style, the sun came out revealing breathtaking views over to the snow-capped Ben Lomond. And then, of course, the grey clouds appeared and it p*ssed of rain again.

When we hit the West Highland Way, I was starting to wilt. I can't quite put my finger on it as to how I felt. It wasn't fatigue, fuelling issues or muscle pain, I just felt flat. I've felt the same for a few weeks. Just flat.

Wading through ankle deep ice cold water for a few miles didn't really help either. It was completely flooded around Beech Trees. And there was no point pussyfooting around the edges, as wet feet were inevitable. For fellow WHW runers who haven't been on the Way for a while - like me! - then there's been some resurfacing around the bottom of Dumgoyach. That's the nasty muddy bit between Carbeth and Beech Trees. And there a new lane which bypasses the farm. The WHW is turning into a cycle path and I'm not sure I like it. The mental gates were bad enough. Anyway, I bet Rosie Bell wishes this was done last year, as she wouldn't have lost her kneecap during the Fling. Still officially the worst running injury/accident I've ever seen.

After the magical powers of a Red Bull shot at Carbeth Huts, I started to perk up for the last four miles on trail. Believe it or not, we were actually blinded by the sun heading through Mugdock Park.

Then we stopped at Milngavie for some Coke before heading on the five miles home. We were still in really good spirits and just as things were looking up for the final stint, the hailstones started. Remember how I said the route had a bit of everything...? Road, trail, hills, wind, rain, sleet, hail, floods, sunshine and rainbows.

My Sunday run for the Marcothon was rusty to say the least. I managed a spaced-out 3.5 miles and that's only because I misjudge the distance of the route. Now that we have the snow and ice here, I'm glad I got that long run in after all.

Congratulations to everyone who got a place in the West Highland Way Race. I feel a bit like Cinderella not going to the ball, but I'm really looking forward to trying something new. Plus, even if I never did it again, I'll always be pleased with my time from this year. I'll be there for the race though - Sonic's on back-up payback time!

Friday 2 December 2011

Poll for Marcothon Tshirt

The lovely Lee Maclean is trying to organise dri fit Tshirts for participants - who will, of course, be finishers. Could you please let me know of this is something that you would like to purchase. Vote on poll below please.