Tuesday 28 August 2012

Monday 27 August 2012

Entry list for the IAU 24H World and European Championships

Entry list has been posted on the IAU website.  269 athletes from 35 countries.

Click here for entry list.

Thursday 23 August 2012

The (running) Tour of Arran

OK, I lied.  I said I wasn't going to do anymore long training runs, didn't I?  Well, an opportunity came up that I couldn't resist.  In fact, it was to be my longest training ever.  For years, I've wanted to run the 56 mile circular route around the Isle of Arran.  And after the Gibbering Midget's episode at the ACP, I had a willing accomplish.  It was to be more of a personal achievement, rather than a training run.

We took the 7am ferry from Ardrossan and arrived in Arran at 8am.  We packed some clothes in a dry sack and hide it in some bushes (hoping they would still be there on the return) and off we went.

We decided to go clockwise, because for some reason that seemed logical.  The first 20 miles were mostly up hill in the pouring rain.  The roads had turned into rivers, which gave us more of indication of the gradient we were covering.  Like the gasping wasn't enough!

Then the mist came in and we couldn't see further than our feet.  Running on country roads, we had a few hairy moments with on coming vehicles.  Thankfully it was fairly warm and by late morning it started to clear up.  Then the sun came out and we were overheating...and wished the rain would start again! Typical, eh.

The views were absolutely phenomenal.  And the hills were so cheeky they were downright offensive :-) 
Quick look on Garmin Connect prior to day out  - obviously from those who had cycled, not run the route - and the recorded profile was about 1000m up and 1000m down. I kid you not, I barely remember any downhill bits.  Apart from the steep downhill passed Lochranza at about 44 miles, but by that point our quads, feet and toes were so trashed, there were no benefits to be reaped.  

Arran is often referred to as "Scotland in miniature", which I can concur.   Rain, rolling hills,  irate drivers, lush mountains, glorious coastline, cheery farmers, midge bites, an unhealthy supply of Mrs Tilly fudge and midget gems, burned shoulders...finished off with a pint of Tennents Extra Cold.  You don't get more Scottish than that.

Being the height of tourist season on the island, it was quite comical seeing the same people throughout the day. There were quite a few double takes at the main tourist villages as we passed through. People were obviously driving around the island and passing us en route. Again and again. We were certainly the village idiots for the day.

A fabulous day out.  Possibly about five miles too long though. Never before I have actually had a "finishing line" in view and had to take a gel to get me there.  I thought I was going to keel over on the road. Although when we discovered we were going to tip under the nine hour mark, we were doing 7m/m for the final mile along the promenade.   Or maybe that was just a will to get it over with.
Garmin connect info. 55.55 miles. Average 9:42 m/m (including walking/eating breaks)

This picture was supposed to be of us in front of the ferry, but the kind lady who took it had obviously spent the afternoon in a beer garden.  I gave up the idea after having to explain a few times not to put her finger over the lens :-)

So, that's it. Another big tick. I just need to convince the GM to go for the anti-clockwise tour next summer.

Friday 10 August 2012

Lucky Devil

I was a bit on the fence as to whether the 43 mile Devil o' the Highlands race was a good or bad idea with the 24 hour race being only five weeks away, but I just love the race.  It was my first ultra and will always be my favourite.  It's by covers the best sections of the West Highland Way and has to be 43 of the most beautiful miles in the world.

Race summary: 43 miles from Tyndrum to Fort William. 6 hours and 54 minutes.  First lady.  9th overall (137 starters).  Garmin Connect info here  Back up by the super-slick Sonic.

Start of the Devil o' the Highlands 43 mile Footrace.  Saturday, August 4 at 6am in Tyndrum

Bridge of Orchy 6.6 miles

This year's race was pretty hot and humid. My weather app flashing up "feels like 25 degrees" and "97% humidity". You might know that I'm a bit of a jessie in anything above 14 degrees, so it wasn't ideal.
Still, the views were absolutely spectacular.

Picture by Helen Munro
The flip side to that were the midges. The worst I have ever known. Around Victoria Bridge was like a thick fog of the pesky feckers. They were in my ears, mouth, ears and glued to skin. Still, the runners certainly had the easier option.  Support looked like a fate worse than death.

I'll spare you mile-by-mile breakdown, but they just zipped by, which I think is always a good sign of running well.  I worked with the hills - just slowly chipping away - and the only real walking breaks I had were the three main peaks - Bridge of Orchy, Devil's Staircase and out of Kinlochleven,

Glencoe Ski Centre - photo by Duncan
It started to heat up as early as 7am, but it didn't really effect me until around Kingshouse.  Then it hit me like a tonne of bricks.  Thankfully Sonic had made an (unscheduled) stop on the Devils and was on hand with the "gay pink water bottle"

I soaked my arms and face in every stream I found and took comfort in the fact I was passing runners who looked as equally hot as me.  I know I have a tendency to overreact a bit, so I needed the reassurance it wasn't just me!

I felt like I was dragging a bit from the Devils staircase ascent to a few miles over the Larig Mor.  I was still on target for a PB, but slowing over 10 miles was eating into that target.

Last year I had Helen Lees at my side on Lairig Mor, which really pushed me.  People were telling me I had a good lead, so I suppose I didn't have the same drive. 

A few miles across Lairig Mor a little breeze picked up - which, in turn, really picked me up and I started making up for lost time. 

Leaving Lundarva
 Of course no race would complete without a mishap.  I tripped and skint both knees and hands and managed to hit my arm off a rock.  The bruising is quite spectacular - even by my standard of mishaps. To be honest - at the time - it looked worse than it felt.  Or maybe experience has made me immune to tumbles.

Passing through Lundarva (35 miles) I felt good.  Still a bit toasty, but nothing like a felt a few miles earlier.  I ran straight through, as I was meeting Sonic on the hill for my last section supplies.
Sonic was at the top gate taking pictures - hence why I was running up the hill :-) From behind the zoom lens I heard Sonic shouting "What the f*%k have you done this time" as he caught sight of my bloody knees.  I told him to ignore them, as I wasn't assessing the damage until the end.   We both knew I was behind schedule, but I knew if I maintained the same effort I'd be ok for a PB. 

It was a strange race experience 1) I loved every minute of it, even the nasty bits, but usually by about 3/4 of the way in to a race - regardless of the distance - I start willing it to be over.  On Saturday, I was just really happy to be where I was - even in the final few miles.  I think not being on a canal helped.  2) I barely spoke to anyone. Usually you can get a good chat going on a ultra, but just a few niceties when I passed other runners.  Probably just as well, as I pretty much lost my voice by Victoria Bridge.  I don't know whether it was the humidity or coughing up midges, but that's never happened to me before 3) The strangest thing though - excuse this - but I didn't pee until I was 30+ miles down.  Anyone who has ever trained with me knows I've not go the strongest of bladders and I can barely last a few miles. 
Anyway, I finished first lady in 6:54:06 in a new PB - of just under three minutes.  To be honest, I was hoping for nearer 6:40, but a PB's a PB. And I'm delighted to have won. 
Bridesmaid no more!!
This was my 5th DOTH race finish. Previous race reports 2007:  3rd lady in 8:48  2009:  2nd lady in 7:08
 2010:  3rd lady in 7:23 2011:  2nd lady in 6:56
I was even more delighted for the Crazy German who won his first race in an amazing time of 5:36!  The CG is testament to the fact that determination conquers adversity.  Although - on paper - the odds were in his favour, he'd just thrashed a 100K two weeks prior to the race.  But the CG really wanted the win, more than anyone out there.  As my wee Granny would say, "where there a will, there's a way"... and where there's a German, there will always be craziness.

After the race, it was nice to lie about and enjoy the sunshine and congratulate the runners coming through.  When I finished I was sparked out on the grass when a Japanese tourist casually skulked over took a picture of a me and strolled away again.  Bizarre!
1st Male: Thomas Loehndorf: 5hrs 36 mins 17 secs 2nd Male: Casey Morgan : 5hrs 55 mins 47 sec 
3rd Male: Craig Cunningham : 6hrs 21 mins 27 secs
1st Male Vet: Robert Soutar : 6hrs 21mins 28secs
1st Male Super Vet: Graham Harcus: 7hrs 09 mins 47 secs

1st Female Debbie Martin-Consani: 6hrs 54mins 06secs
2nd Female Hazel Dean: 7hrs 23mins 45secs
3rd Female Michelle Heatherington : 7hrs 23 mins 54 secs
1st Female Vet Melanie Sinclair : 7hrs 57 mins 34 secs
1st Female Super Vet: Louise Burt: 7hrs 25 mins 59 secs

The gals: L to R - Hazel, me and Michelle

Thanks for Garry, Gemma and marshalls for putting on another great race.  Big thanks to Sonic for fantastic back up.  Although, just for the record, it wasn't me who left the top off the fizzy water... :-)

Friday 3 August 2012

A 5K best and a GB vest

It's been a long time coming...but I can FINALLY announce that I have been selected to represent Great Britain and Norther Ireland at the 9th IAU 24hr World Championship in Katowice, Poland on September 8-9, 2012.   To say I'm excited is an understatement.  Who wouldn't be?  I mean, have you seen the GB tracksuit ;-) Of course it's a great honour and a privilidge too!

Click here UK Athletics announcement here

General information about the race course


The race starts at noon on Saturday, September 8. No prizes for guessing when it finishes!
The course situated in Park Śląski in Chorzów (there will be prizes for pronouncing that correctly!) which is close to Katowice city centre.
The distance of the loops is 1.554,56m. Approximately ;-)
Elevation profile is + 6.4 meters and - 6.4 meters

Squad in full:



I feel I have put enough miles in my legs this year and doing much more at this stage would tip me over to the darkside of overtrained.  I don't plan on grinding out anymore more long/slow runs, so I'm just concentrating on fitness and speed.

I've been working fairly hard this year on speed.  Still at the cow's tail of the boys-with-the-jet-propelled legs at the lunchtime group, but it's taking them that little bit longer before they're completely out of sight. 

Before the trip to Poland takes the zip out of my legs, I thought I'd squeeze in a 5K Parkrun. I like the Parkrun in Strathclyde Park, because it's flat and got great PB potential - Although it's quite exposed to wind.  I had a good run a finished with a new PB  in 20:42 (ave 6:36m/m) and second female.

This Saturday, I'll be lining up for my 5th Devil o' the Highlands race.  I only secured a place two days ago, after being on the waiting list for a couple of months.  I thought I was going to have to go out and shoot myself a German!  Yes, the man who wonders why his name is prefixed with "crazy" is also running.

I've taking the day off work today to prepare for the race - facial, hair treatment, fake tan, defluffing :-)  I'm sure even Lizzy Hawker takes her racing so seriously.  I have, however, put lock laces in my Tempos for the final section.  To me, that's fighting talk!  Good luck to everyone running.

I would also like to congratulate everyone who ran in MONTANE Lakeland 100 and Lakeland 50.  Well done to Terry Conway who smashed his own record in 19:50 - over two hours ahead of second place.  Terry pulled out of last weekend 100K.  As I always say, everything happens for a reason.  I guess Terry will know the reason now.  Also huge congratulations to Scott Bradley, Dave TromanJK and Andy Cole.