Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Thoughts and tunes for Glenmore 24

Training has gone ok for the Glenmore 24, I’ve had a total of three 20 milers! Well, I’ve never let inadequacy hold me back before so I’m not starting now. Besides I think I can count a 32hour WHW towards training and the memory of my hardest race. I’ve just read last years 24 hour race report, I think I glossed over the hard bits! My memory is of the dark and the stagger.

I entered Glenmore 24 after being buoyed up after a surprisingly good 20 mile run on the 1st of August, the other two 20 milers haven’t felt easy but that’s ok. I believe there is a trinity in running. Body, heart and soul and it isn’t equal thirds. Not many are lucky enough to stand at the start line with a fully fit, well trained and injury free body but with their heart and soul they reach the finish. The body is the smallest part of the equation, a heart and soul runner will carry their body to the ends of the earth if they so wished. I am prepared for a bit of carcass hauling. It won’t be fast and it won’t be pretty but with self belief I will still be standing at the finish. A 24 hour race isn’t a journey from A to B but a journey from within.

I don’t listen to music during races I think ipods are a bit anti-social and I like a blether but I make an exception for 24 hour races, (this is my fourth) I’ve loaded my ipod with a playlist of around 8 hours worth of lively and inspirational tunes for the wee small hours when most folk withdraw into their own wee world, music does make a difference. It goes without saying that Clash of the Ash by Runrig is on it, also loads more Runrig especially Live at Loch Ness, Queens Don’t Stop Me Now is another favourite and if I really sound like I’m in pain I’m just singing along to U2’s Elevation. Black Eyed Peas, I Gotta a Feeling works for me too. Footloose (theme from 80’s film) andFleetwood Mac’s Tusk are great for keeping a good cadence. A little Shakira keeps the hips loose! Being a Fifer I’ve got to have The Proclaimers I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) I’ve good memories of singing it in my head going up the Devil’s Staircase on my first WHW in 2003. I’ve a few good fighting songs, Glasvegas Go Square Go is a good “just get on with it!” song. Sticking with some local boys, Dunfermline has produced some crackers, I’ve got some Skids, Big Country and Nazareth.
My theme tune for Glenmore.

My philosophy - Confucius. It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Robin Wombill's DOTH report

DOTH 2011 race report.

Royal Wedding day saw me in front of the telly but working on my drop bags for my support crew at the DOTH checkpoints. I seemed to ‘faff’ about for ages, I’m sure I made a better job of it last year, and never got to bed as early as I wanted. However I wasn’t as nervous as my previous ultra’s and slept well, but not for very long as I had the alarm set for 2 am.

I wasn’t as nervous because my goals were to finish in under 12 hours, in one piece and to have got my fluid and refuelling correct. It was also my third ultra this year and a conservative finish time of 11 hours was what I thought my body would be able to achieve.

I got up at 2 am, had some breakfast and left at getting on 3 am. I stopped in Scone at the cashpoint and realised I’d not made any sandwiches for my checkpoints ! Halfway to Tyndrum I also remembered I’d left my mobile with my son, Richard, as he would be buddy running me at points and I reckoned him using my £15 Tesco special was better than his own expensive one.

I got to Tyndrum just after 4 am, registered and then started on my race plan. Item 1, a plate of beans on toast and a cup of coffee. I really, really didn’t want the beans on toast ( and I knew I wouldn’t ) but I forced myself. After a couple of mouthfuls they went down easily and I polished them off. Then I took a mouthful of coffee, wow ! It was like rocket fuel. Silly thing was it never crossed my mind to have a second cup.

To save the whole family getting up at 2 am Ken Walker was going to support me at Bridge of Orchy. So before the start I gave him my drop bag and borrowed his phone to call Anne and request my sandwiches. In the event I got a bonus and was supported by Ken AND the twins.

Sue Walker and I started together as she also thought a conservative time would be the result of the event. We ran comfortably and I was surprised to get the bridge at Bridge of Orchy 2 minutes faster than we got to the railway station last year. Then we went over Rannoch Moor and it somehow seemed easier than last year. We ran/walked as necessary and I was pleased to see I was able to walk at 15 minute mile pace. Being taught by the masters (or is it mistresses?) in the shape of Fiona and Pauline, Sue is a demon at getting through checkpoints quickly so, if possible, I always try to pull ahead before a checkpoint to ensure we stay together. There was another surprise when we arrived at Glencoe. I was 7 minutes earlier than last year. I’d told my crew I’d be slower than last year so they were all sitting in the ski centre car park ! I’m not so fast in checkpoints, partly because I eat whilst stopped. I just find it easier. I set off from Glencoe with Anne and Richard buddying me and immediately passed Ray McCurdy and Victoria O’Reilly – Sue was no longer to be seen. This was where something we’d learnt last year came into play. I have trouble eating and last year struggled with daunting sandwiches until I refused to eat any more (bad idea in an ultra). This year Anne carried the food and occasionally a hand would appear with something bite-sized in it and the command ‘eat this’. It was a selection of things and I never knew what it would be, maybe a bit of jam sandwich or marmite sandwich, a couple of jelly babies or half a cheese twist. It worked well, I ate what was given, and did so for the rest of the race. I was carrying 1.5 litres of half strength Nunn in my camelback and at each checkpoint it was topped up and I drunk plain water.

I lost more time to Sue as I had to empty stones out of my shoes at the bottom of the Devil’s Staircase ( must get some gaiters). I did think at Glencoe that maybe, if I was sensible, I would be able to get nearer to 10 hours than 11, if I’d have told Anne this it may have eased tensions later in the race, but I didn’t want to tempt fate so I kept quiet. The sun had come out and it was hot going up the staircase, which seemed tougher than ever before. Near the top Sue came into view and I was sensible, I didn’t dash after her but stayed steady and took care over the rocky route. I did catch and pass Sue before Kinlochleven but as before she was through and out before me. I was 5 minutes slower to Kinlochleven than last year but felt a lot better and wasn’t worried as I didn’t intend falling and losing 10 to 15 minutes in the last section ! At Glencoe I swapped Anne for Fiona Morrison who has run off road but nothing like the last section of the WHW. The girl done brilliant. She ran everything the track threw at her with a smile, encouraging words for me and of course the hand shooting out with the food and the words ‘eat this’. I was really pleased because I want Fiona and Anne buddying me at the full WHW race next year and now we all know we can do it. All through the last section I stayed conservative because I wanted to get to the final run down Glen Nevis and be able to run properly, this was my plan to gain more time and bury the bogey of hitting the wall there last year. I passed Sue again and then gradually passed other runners as well. It was good to see our old friends the Wilderness Rescue crews but my favourite bit of the whole race was when we passed a large group of German teenagers (possibly scouts as they all wore matching red scarves). They did a Mexican Wave and staring shouting ‘number 1’, ‘number 1’, I had no idea what to do so starting raising my arms as if I’d just won the race and started running faster. I’m not sure if I suddenly realised I was on the section I fell last year and also in training in March ( the section I promised Anne and myself I’d walk ) or whether Fiona shouted at me ( I think it was the latter) but I rapidly stopped running and walked. Once we’d got through the dodgy section I got running again and came to Lundrava. Anne came to meet us with water and more food and the three of us carried on. Anne ran in front, me in the middle and Fiona brought up the rear. Now the stresses started. Anne realised that if I pushed on I could break 10 hours. I knew this and this was now my plan but I didn’t want to voice it out loud. Also I was tired and we were still climbing. My final plan was to take it steady and push it down the logging track at the finish. It got a bit fractious with Anne encouraging ( nagging ) me, and me getting snippy. We finally got to the start of the logging track at exactly the same time as last year but this time I wasn’t covered in bandages and blood and I wasn’t completely knackered. Then I started to run properly, I was wary at first in case I ran out of steam after a mile but I didn’t. Not only that but I started passing more people. It was great. I knew then that I would get sub 10 but by how much ? I overtook my last runner about 400 metres from the finish and just squeezed under 9:55. To say I was pleased was an understatement. To cap it all Sue also got under 10. What a race, what a day.

I felt with this race I really had to finish in a decent state, physically and mentally to feel more confident about the WHW race next year. I achieved this and also got a good time. Also crossing Rannoch Moor I chatted to Vicky O’Reilly. Vicky is about my pace for ultras and this year she did the WHW race in 34 hours so that also helped. Another difference was that after being so sick at the Fling I actually ran this race with no synthetic fuel like gels. I think it was Gail Murdoch who had gastric problems at Gloucester and I think that for her next ultra she tried to use ‘proper’ food rather than things like gels. I tried to follow her idea and used Slimfast, sandwiches, Ambrosia creamed rice, jelly with fruit in it, flat coke, flat ginger beer, coffee, jelly babies and cheese twists. I’d tried everything in training except the cheese twists and they were a bit of a gamble but I really like them and they worked.

Finally a big thank you to my own support crew and all the Carnegie’s who not only helped me on the day but for their huge ultra knowledge that they’re always happy to impart to me.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Plan A then B then C. Whatever!

At the beginning of the year there was a slim chance I might’ve been selected to run the 24 hour race at the Commonwealth Championship in September but as the year progressed my slim chance became nae chance but not to worry there are a few other girls that are loads faster and deserve a shot of doing Scotland proud.

So I thought I’d wait until after the WHW then enter Tooting Bec 24 hour so after the WHW I had my usual week of no running then gradually just running to how I felt, which was a big slow sack o’ tatties that was taking ages to recover so I decided that since 24 hour running is all about the distance you get there is no point in putting myself through it, there is no way I would get anywhere near my goal at the pace the I’ve been running this year so I’ll give it a miss and just look forward to taking it easy until the Loch Ness Marathon.

Last week I began to feel a wee bit spritely and took myself out for about 13 miles, the longest I’ve done since the WHW, I thought I might do the Speyside Way Race, I still have a ghost to bury regarding that race and I’ve waited six years already.

Then on Monday I went out for about 16 miles, just kept a nice easy pace, by about 15 miles I hit comfortable, I was in my ultra groove so decided to do 18 miles then revised it again and thought I’d just round it up to 20 miles. So on the strength of that I considered the Glenmore24 I ran the idea by Pauline yesterday, she thought it was a good idea and she would do my support, I laughed when she said it would be good to watch me suffer as it would help her get her head in gear for her own 24 hour race a fortnight later! Cheers Pauline! But suffering is just a state of mind not a physical thing. I just plan to have fun, the Glenmore is like no other 24 hour race I’ve either ran or supported. It’s going to be on a huge lap of 4 miles of trail and scenery so I’m just going to do it, no pressure of how far I will get, whatever the distance it will be a whole lot further than not running a 24 hour race!

I’ve posted my entry today before I change my mind again and besides I’ve got a cracking new bit of kit, high tech it ain’t but it is still essential. Erin made a bead bracelet for me. A wee bit of inspiration goes a long way…