Sunday, 21 March 2010

On the bonnie bonnie banks

What a cracking run!

After having a few weeks of struggling with an injured bahooky I was back training this week, although a bit on the gentle side. So I thought the best place for a nice easy “time on feet” run was the side of Loch Lomond. There was a group going out from Balmaha up to the Doune Bothy and back, I considered joining them but I thought I’d struggle to keep up and that it would possibly be a bit too far for me on my first long outing in a month and I wasn’t planning to do any hard training, no pushing, just pure pleasure at getting out on one of the most beautiful parts of my country.

So I decided to go from Rowardennan hoping to get up past the Doune Bothy as that would join up all the training runs I’ve done so far this year on the WHW covering from Milngavie to Bridge of Orchy.

The weather was perfect, no wind, just an occasional cool, gentle breeze from the loch and it looked settled. I’d only be going a few minutes when I stopped to take a photo; the loch was a mirror image of the opposite bank, this was a day for enjoying the scenery and I had no doubt I would succeed.

I had loads of photo stops and even just to stand and take in my surroundings, I never take for granted how lucky I am that I have the health to allow me to be here and enjoy each moment.
As soon as I saw the Doune Bothy I stopped and pulled out the wee piece of paper with the directions to Dario’s memorial book that Murdo had hidden near by. I had been stumbling about for about ten minutes unsuccessfully when the gang from Balmaha arrived; I was surprised they hadn’t caught up with me earlier even though I’d had a big head start on them. Jamie found the book and we each wrote a few words.
Keith said “Hey Fi, I’ve something for you!” I laughed when he handed me some sandwiches, cucumber ones, proper triangles and no crusts! Well, he had promised! On the WHW forum, I’d put on a post that I’d be on the route that the group were going but not to knock me into the loch as they went by me as I’d be travelling at picnic pace. Keith had answered that he’d bring the sandwiches, Mad Aussie!

John and I continued up the way for around another mile, John to round up his run to 40 miles and me to join up my training runs on the WHW before heading back. John stayed with me for a wee while before heading off back at his own pace, the sun was out and lovely and warm, I pushed up my sleeves and eventually rolled up the bottoms of my tights, letting the sun shine on my peely-wally pins for the first time this year. I caught up with the group at Inversnaid, they had stopped for a drink at the Hotel but they soon disappeared again. On the first steep climb back to Rowardennan, I brought out Keith’s pieces; they hadn’t travelled too well, a bit squashed and misshapen but they tasted just fine. I suppose they should’ve been accompanied by a Pimm’s or the like but a few handfuls of waterfall went just as well.
I arrived back at Rowardennan pleasantly tired, a run on the WHW always leaves me feeling regenerated rather than done in. This was a perfect day out, the best of weather, scenery and company and also the solitude to claim it all for myself too, another day to file in my memory under “cherish”.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Smokies 10

I’ve been kinda struggling a wee bit this past month, and after the 6 hour run at Perth my lower back, butt and hamstrings have been tight, so on the following Wednesday did a bit of gentle yoga hoping that would help loosen me off but on the Thursday my butt gave a twang, I panicked at first thinking it was my usual lower back problem that rears up from time to time but relaxed knowing it wasn’t although it wasn’t any less painful or curtailing, I never ran at all last weekend. Through the week just had a couple of very easy five miles. On Friday gave myself a good going over with my massage doofer and a stretch. I think I over did it, when I came home from work Pete looked at me and said “Are you ok? You look hell of a pale and knackered?” Well, Naw, I felt pretty rough and on a pain scale of 1 to 10 I was on an 8!

So on Saturday I did bugger all except wonder if I should run on Sunday, but DNS was for the sensible and DNF was for wimps and I can proudly say I fit neither category. (We did have one Carnegie DNS, Sue had a number for today but she’d ran the Glasgow-Edinburgh double marathon yesterday so when she text Pauline in the morning to say she wasn’t coming, Pauline replied Ok, rest on your laurels, I laughed and said tell Sue she’s a wimp!)

So headed to Arbroath with a tad of trepidation, I wasn’t looking forward to it but I was going to go through with it. We got there at about 10.15am (11.00am start) Pauline shot off to warm up, I just faffed until it was time to go, with a ladies only race and limited loos the men’s was commandeered, I didn’t worry how long the queue was and I wasn’t worried about a warm up, I was just aiming at getting round without my legs falling off. I took a couple of ibuprofen, not advised for ultra in case they make your kidneys fall out but I thought they’d be the best thing to take for today.

Val, Gillian and I jogged to the start, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch! I optimistically hoped I would loosen off a bit once we started. In the first mile I felt a bit spaced out, I was puzzling why? I couldn’t pinpoint any one thing so just thought “oh well, things can only get better” I was a wee bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to give this race a blast, it’s the shortest one I run and “enjoy” trying to run fast. I’ve heard all the blurb about short sharp races being good for ultra runners too, but I just don’t possess a single fast twitch muscle, no matter how hard I push, puff, snot and slaver, the time on my watch just doesn’t reflect the effort and a set of inside out lungs is not on my “to do” list. Smokies 10 is both long enough and short enough at the same time to tick all my boxes for speed work!

I wasn’t going to dwell on what was not to be, I was here and I was running, I had loosened a bit and I’d put the pain level between 4 and 5, a lot less painful than I had prepared myself for so that was good and I wasn’t going to let an insignificant thing like the time on my watch or my position on a result sheet tell me what is or isn’t a good run. Anyway there is no such thing as a bad run, just some are more enjoyable than others and when you achieve the goal you’ve set yourself that’s a bonus, I think there was a few enjoying a bonus today as the conditions were good and there were quite a few PB’s.

Back on the flat, I didn’t feel too bad and was able to lengthen my stride a little by the time I got to 8 miles. I’d felt weak on the up hill, I jarred on the down, and the last mile was one of the most comfortable. I was glad that I’d ran after all, hopefully not doing myself any more damage. Now for the important part of the race, I picked up my goody bag, I had a wee rummage, I wasn’t disappointed, yes, a wee bottle of wine, Rolos, crisps, banana, bottle of water, energy bar, gel, t-shirt and shower gel. Then into the hall for rolls, cakes and several cups of tea, there were 11 Carnegie ladies there today and I think we all had an extra cake for Sue, since she wasn’t here to eat them herself, as if any of us needed an excuse for extra cake but Sue got the honour! Pauline was pleased with her run, finishing 10th overall and 1st old lady and with Judith and Isobel picked up 1st team prize.

Walking back to the car Pauline complained about the weight of her bag, well, three bottles of wine aren’t light but she wasn’t sharing. It’s a cracking haul of goodies for the £12 entry fee, no wonder this race closes within a couple of weeks of opening.

There was one last thing to do before heading home, a stop at the harbour fish shop for some Smokies. Yes I know you can get smoked haddock just about anywhere but having an Arbroath Smokie for tea is like drinking Guinness in Dublin, you cannae beat it.

Pauline checked her phone; there was a text from Sue. WIMP – Woman In Much Pain… Well, just a bit of pain really but that didn’t fit!

Ha! You’re right Sue, I’ll join you in that sentiment, no wimps today.