Saturday, 30 October 2010

Just a four and half hour run in my comfort zone… well, it was raining!

I had Friday off work and I wasn’t going to waste it doing mundane stuff, Pete and Erin had made their own plans for the day so I made some myself. On Thursday I thought about going off for a run on the WHW but the forecast wasn’t good but that didn’t bother me. I’ve done the Devil’s Staircase in the dark with torrential rain and accompanying thunder and lightning and that didn’t worry me, well, Pauline is a wee half inch taller so if anybody was gonna get zapped it wiznae me! So some heavy drizzle in daylight wouldn’t put me off.

So when I got up on Friday and looked out the window, ok, it was raining but it wasn’t a howling gale, I’ll go. It took a bit of time for me to get ready, make some pieces and a flask and to decide what rainjacket to wear, (went for the Montane with the hood) I didn’t get to Rowardennan until just before noon. I had no goals, it wasn’t a training run just an afternoon on the WHW for its therapeutic qualities. If the NHS could bottle the WHW into tablet form it would half its waiting list!

As soon as I opened the car door and got a whiff of wet forest I knew I made the right choice for the day, the makers of air fresheners haven’t a clue!

I started very gently, my back’s been bad and still a bit tight, I did do an easy nine miles on Monday but felt like a big fat lumbering heifer. I headed towards Balmaha, the trees had laid a comfy carpet of gold for me, and branches still clung on to some of their treasure. I revelled in this autumnal beauty. I took loads of photos but they didn’t do justice to what I saw, it was a driech day but still the colours were rich.

I ran past an empty Police mini bus, wondering what they were up to, a mile or so later I met four big burly officers walking a wee cute Spaniel??? I thought that didn’t fit the usual profile of a big fierce polis pooch! It must have other qualities, if it was a sniffer dog I hoped that they didn’t put it to work, it would’ve drowned!

I had hoped to get up Conic hill, the view is worth the climb but today it wasn’t going to be such a reward and I had to keep my eye on the time, I wanted to back to Rowardennan by 5.00pm, it won’t be dark but on a dull wet day like this it won’t be very bright either. So I decided to make the marker post half way on the hill my turn around point. On the way back I shouldn’t have been surprised by the size that the puddles had grown going by the amount of rain that was bouncing off my bonce, I had a fair bit of wading but at least it wasn’t knickers deep, yes, I’ve been there and at Salochy! Ok, it doesn’t have to be a tsunami for a short arse like me to be knicker deep but shoosh! don’t tell Auntie Val I was out on my own, I got such a talking to for going out at the beginning of the year on my tod, I can just hear Val’s concerned tones “Those wet leaves covering the boulder steps! You could slip and do yourself an injury!” Well, I did do the Eeek! face once, but being a short arse with a low centre of gravity and some arm waving I was fine. I wasn't the only nutsy out, there was someone water skiing! Check my blurry photo!

I did do a bit of thinking while I was there, and plans are over-rated, what’s for me won’t go by me and winter, bring it on, I can do layers!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

I'm ok

Well, it’s Sunday, I’m on the wine but tonight is no rant from a miserable moo! Although I’ve done naff all running this week, my back has been bad, muscle spasm and the tingly pain down my left leg but I managed a sair sack o’ tatties five miler yesterday round my Crombie Point, Torryburn route. Looking across to the Ochils, the sky was clear blue and the hills had a dusting of snow, beautiful, which reminded me of a solo run I had at the beginning of the year on the WHW from Bridge of Orchy down to the Crianlarich fence and back. The Monarch and his Kingdom

Along the shore I looked back towards the Pentlands but they were dark and brooding, Grangemouth had it’s Lowrysque qualities, I was listening to an old Runrig, BBC Session Live, Glasgow ’96 and The Times They Are A Changin’ stuck a chord and I don’t just mean the seasons, although I think that the thought of a hard winter has been getting me down, I’ve worn at least one layer of long sleeves all summer as it is and the memory of last year brittle cold hasn’t faded. I embrace 80’s chic and have a selection of legwarmers at the ready!

A lot of folks are planning next years races and apart from entering the WHW race which along with Pauline I have no doubt of getting in although it is a ballot, I am a perennial optimist, Pauline will get in being a previous winner and me because I done over five. Apart from that I haven’t a Scooby what I’ll be doing and that makes me feel uneasy, I like to know what’s ahead and next year won’t give me that luxury.

Yesteday Erin and I had a lazy afternoon with Mum. Demi, my nine year old niece didn’t come, neither did Pauline, both of them having a cold and with Mum having just had her first cycle of chemo, her immune system was at zero so they did the sensible but not happy thing and stayed away. Saturday has always been Grandma day, Erin and Demi dropped off, Pauline and I going off for a long run, Mum always made a big pot of soup for when we got back.
A Grandma sandwich

Yesterday when I was running I remembered something I wrote to Mum when she was still in Australia and wasn’t sure if I’d ever see her again but I would had sold my soul, pawned Pete and Erin if necessary, although we were in constant contact by phone, it was still hard to say some stuff. I sent a card “Remember you are your daughter’s mother, and when the going get tough, the tough hold their head up so they can spit the bastard in the eye!” That was the first time I’ve ever used sweary words in front of my Mum but I think it warranted it. I had looked the Grim Reaper in the face in 2005 and spat in his eye and that was what I was referring to.

Last night I trawled through my blog reading my ramblings on the run I had at the end of January and some others, I am bloody privileged and I won’t forget it. I have had a good year and it’s time I went back out on my comfort zone. A six hour dander on the West Highland Way is what I need and as soon as I can fit it in I’ll be there.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

I didn’t mean to have such an aggressive rant on my blog last week as I’m not an aggressive person, and normally when I drink I’m a sleepy drunk no a fightin’ one! I now look at it like I was a lioness protecting her own rather than the “What are you lookin’ at!” chip on shoulder.

But hey ho, it’s a long time since I’ve been bother by other people’s opinions so I don’t really know why I was so defensive.

I think I’ve been feeling a bit frustrated since the Perth 24 hour, I know I have nothing to prove but I know I can do better, even a fortnight afterwards I’ve been looking for another one but apart from travelling to foreign fields it’s a no go.

I have felt a bit low over the last week, but I yesterday I bounced back, I was running my usual five mile Crombie Point, Torryburn route along the Forth shore, my hamstrings are tight, my left Achilles is giving me a bit of grief, I felt like a big fat sack o’ tatties. The sun was shining, looking over to Grangemouth, the white fluffy smoke headed straight up, no wind, not what you rate as picturesque as anywhere on the West Highland Way but I always think it has L.S. Lowry qualities. I was listening to Runrig’s Long Distance, an album I haven’t listened to in ages and just recently stuck it on my ipod. It’s a salve for a weary soul, especially Hearts of Olden Glory it brought a lump to my throat as I ran but my head was up, I felt proud of who I am and my heritage. This was not an easy run but I still felt privileged I have not forgotten how lucky I am.

I am writing this also under the influence, not quite a whole bottle of wine but I’m working on it.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

A bottle of wine made me say this

A few of my friends have been extremely honest on their blogs lately. I have never been dishonest but I have kept stuff to myself. Like for instance my husband has been suffering from ME for the last seventeen years. Yes we live on Incapacity Benefit, we are not benefit cheats, although ME sufferers are apparently a prime suspect for it.

Some folks tend to judge people by their employment, I am not embarrassed of my job but I know the narrow minded do this. I know that by the rolling of the eyes and rudeness of people I come across at work. I am a Tesco checkout chick, I make stuff go beep so I must be thick.

We live in a small flat, I drive a six year old Fiat but both are paid for, we own naebudy nuthin!

I am extremely proud of my achievements, lately I have had a bit of media attention, and there is more in the pipeline. I feel a wee bit self conscious, but when I came out of hospital after having the brain haemorrhage the most common comment I came across was “Oh, I knew somebody that had a brain haemorrhage but they died!” That did bugger all for my confidence! But now I feel the more folk that know there is life after such a trauma the better. So if somebody you know is in the same predicament you can say “I know some one who had one and they are doing bloody brilliantly!”

I have written this under the influence of a bottle of wine but I stand by it, I am flaming well proud of what I have achieved and I’m not finished yet, I plan a hell of a lot more!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Monster fun

Loch Ness marathon is a special race for me, not just because I’ve ran every one, running it in 2005 six months after having a brain haemorrhage was a big tick in the box of my recovery. This year was no less special; it still reaffirms how lucky I am to be here and have the health to run.

I put no pressure on myself to run a fast time ( fast for me) it was a month after the 24 hour race at Perth and that had taken a lot out of me, I felt my muscles have recovered but my reserves are still low, my batteries are on a trickle charge with still a fair bit to go. At Perth I went through the marathon in 4 hours 21 mins so just to be ahead of that will do me fine.

Breakfast at the B&B was at 6.00am, four hours before the race so I thought I’d be adventurous and have the cooked one after my big bowl of porridge, but not too adventurous, it was the veggie option.

The bus journey was long and uneventful but nice to sit and blether with Pauline, Julie and Marcus, the bus stopped near the start, we got ready to get off then it moved on for about half a mile before letting us off. As we tried to walk up towards the start two volunteers with our health and safety their priority, were having a very hard job trying to hold the runners back until all the buses had gone past. King Cnut had more success! I hope this hasn’t put them off volunteering again, there nothing grumpier than a pre-race runner bursting for a pee!

The Pipe Band marching through the runners just before the start always brings a lump to my throat as I remember the apprehension I felt when they came through in 2005 then the elation I had at the finish.

Then we were off, I ran the first three miles or so with Grant from Fife AC who was having an easy start, he has also ran every Loch Ness, he told me that Collette, who I know from the Glenrothes 50km has also ran them all too and when she goes home to Ireland, Dublin Marathon at the end of the month will be her 200th marathon. (Congratulations Collette xx) When Grant commented on the pace, I thought it was a bit quick for me, even though it’s all down hill for the first few miles, I let him go on. I was feeling fine; my muscles were fresh having only done a handful of five mile runs and one nine mile run since the 24 hour race but I knew this wouldn’t last. At 13 miles I looked at my watch for the first time and I was surprised it was just before 2 hours. I had no push for the wee hills earlier and just eased myself up them, my quads were starting to hurt and felt empty.

Although I carried a couple of gels I also had a couple of mouthfuls of Lucozade at every station but the Fifer in me thought what a waste, it’s a pity the bottles aren’t half the size, even that would’ve been too much. That stuff is too concentrated and just sits like a brick in the guts if you drink too much. I thought Nessie is going to be flipping out the Loch like a dolphin on such a sugar rush once all that wasted Lucozade runs down into the loch! I had considered pointing at the loch and shouting “Look there’s Nessie!” but I chickened out, folk would’ve know for sure that I’m nuts!

At around sixteen miles I found a new best friend, I was chatting to guy who now lives in London but hails from the Black Isle, I said my first marathon was at the Black Isle in 1992 which is no more. I pointed to the pins holding my number and told him I still use the same ones that I used then. He then asked if it was me that had a wee story in the race magazine and when I said “Yeah” He replied “You look a lot younger than in the photo!”

The support at Dores was phenomenal; they were so noisy and enthusiastic and lifted the spirit of every runner going through. I kept glancing behind on the wee climb out of Dores getting a last look at the cracking view down the Loch before it disappeared, a tonic for a tired body. My quads weren’t screaming at me but were shouting loud and abusively, I am good at listening to my body but I told them to shut up and get on with it. At the hill at 18 miles I started to feel better, I think the change to a shorter stride and slower pace was more to my liking. I wouldn’t call it a comfort zone but a zone I’m used to, running slow, staying relaxed, keeping a good posture no matter how sore and tired I am but I had wished I’d brought some painkillers with me. Mentally I’m always good and 26.2 miles isn’t scary for me but there is no such thing as an easy marathon no matter how many or how far your previous adventures have been.

On the long down hill I let gravity work its magic pulling me down closer to the finish. I tried to push on but I had nothing left. You could hear the finish from the other side of the river, just along and over the bridge; I was looking forward to the new finish, no more plodding up and round the stadium with the sharp turn to the finish, just straight along. Once over the bridge I tried to wind it up a bit but my legs weren’t playing, they’d had enough. I managed to keep a little energy for some fun at the finish, I’d remembered a video Mel, another Carnegie Crazy… err… I mean Carnegie Harrier had posted on facebook of her finish at Stirling 10km, it was lovely and made me smile and I jokingly asked if I could borrow it for Loch Ness. As Bryan Burnett shouted my name I thought yeah, let’s go for it. I raised my arms over my head and gave huge waves and blew kisses to the crowd, but on my rush for the line I forgot to high five some one in the crowd, oops, I’m sure Mel won’t give me a row for not getting it right!

Although I was awfy tired and awfy sair it didn’t detract from the sheer pleasure I get from running Loch Ness, I even manage to finish within my goal, 4hrs 14mins although that wasn’t really important. I’m alive and kicking having monster fun.