Thursday, 27 October 2011

A Wee Woohoo on the Rollercoaster

I’m on holiday from work this week and decided to have a WHW day, I felt a wee bit selfish not saying to anyone I was going but I wanted it all to myself beside most folk wouldn’t manage midweek or so I told myself trying to salve my conscience. I dithered on what bit to do, between Conic hill and Rowardennan are stunning in autumn colours but I that’s where I went around this time last year. I remembered I still had a voucher for a free cuppa and a big doad of cake to use at The Real Food Café that would go out of date at the end of the month so I decided I’d start and finish my run at Tyndrum.
I’ve not done much since the Glenmore 24, sliding easily from recovery to taper for the Loch Ness Marathon and my longest run since Loch Ness has just been 9 miles so I wasn’t looking for loads of miles and it is Glen Ogle 33 next week, I’ll save myself for that. Just a nice easy jaunt down the Way to the deer fence above Crianlarich and back would do nicely.

After a bit of faffing I got to Tyndrum and started running at around 11.30, one reason I love running on my own is being able to please myself and not feel as if I’m holding anyone back, going as slow as I like and to deviate from the path to take photos or just to stop and enjoy the peace and the scenery.

It was very quiet, no wind whistling through the trees and I only met a couple of walkers all day. I sat at the picnic table just above the deer fence for a bit, the sun was shining and I had the company of a Robin hopping about the grass. I didn’t want to go back yet so went a wee bit passed the deer fence just to see the view round the bend, but not as far as coo poo junction.

I only ate a few jelly beans, I was carrying a Rice Krispie Square and an Elevenses cake thing but I was saving myself for The Real Food Café, I’d already decided that I would have a nice bowl of soup before my big slice of cake.

On the way back I still took my time and even waded into the water for some photos my feet were wet anyway and I wanted to see a different angle.

After going under the road just passed Auchtertyre Farm it started to rain, it wasn’t too heavy so I didn’t bother getting my jacket out, I wasn’t far from Tyndrum… it then got heavy so I just got wet. Back at the car I changed my shoes and top, rubbed my hair dry with my t-shirt so I was presentable to enter civilisation. I went over to the Café, I noticed the car park was empty, it looked dark, I had to check the notice on the door although I already knew what it said. CLOSED. Aaaahhhh! I could’ve gone over to the Green Welly but I’d taken the huff, my bottom lip stuck so far out it was in danger of a stain injury! It was stotting rain now so I just went straight home and opened a tin of soup, it wasn’t quite the treat I’d envisaged to round off a smashing day but after all that fresh air and a handful of jelly beans it was still tasty!

I did have a bottle of Brains Dark I’d brought back from Wales last month so that was my treat while sorting though my photos Yes it was good day.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Running Wild

Last summer Pete asked me if I’d be willing to be the subject for a film he thought he’d submit to Diversity Films, a Starting Blocks project and his idea was eventually short listed and selected, so with professional mentoring and funding “Running Wild” was in production.  I wasn’t always a willing participant, “Get that camera out o’ ma face!”  It also cost us the PS3 Guitar Hero Drum kit! Erin still hates her wee clip… her choice of hair colour has something to do with it!  Most of the filming was around this time last year. Pete spent a long time on it, whittling around twenty hours of footage down to sixteen minutes.  This is his baby and I’m proud of what he’s done although I do cringe a bit when I see my  ugly mug on a large screen.  It has been screened at film festivals from Glasgow to Russia!  It was voted favourite at Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival last week.  So get comfy for the next 16 minutes,  grab a cuppa or a glass of wine and enjoy.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Loch Ness 10 out of 10

This year was going to be even more special; there were ten of us that would be completing all ten of Baxters Loch Ness Marathon.

Pauline and I arrived early Saturday afternoon at Amy and Ewan's our B&B for nearly all our marathons. Pauline wasn’t running this year; she’s still recovering from the 24 hour race at the Commonwealth Championships the previous week. To say I felt as if I was still recovering from just doing her support sounds a bit feeble but standing for 24 hours did take a wee toll, my calves and achilles tendons felt tight, and I was awfy tired. My batteries were flat from my own 24 hour race at the Glenmore 24 on the 3rd September and were on trickle charge. I’d only done a handful of 5 mile runs since Glenmore, rest and recovery far more important than trying knocking out some last minute marathon training. But not being marathon fit or marathon trained wasn’t going to stop me having a good time and by that I don’t mean the numbers on my watch!

We had to be at registration for 4.00pm Saturday for a photo and we were presented with a t-shirt, crystal memento and a cup cake. It was fun watching Pauline hold my jacket, my bag and my camera trying to get photos without the official photographers elbow in the shot.

Then Pauline and I went for pasta and pints (all good carbs) before an early-ish night. Breakfast was at 6.15am and Amy does a cracking bowl of porridge, I topped it with a banana and honey, which was followed by smoked salmon, scrambled egg and toast. I was stuffed but that was ok, plenty time for it to go down before the start.

On the long bus journey to the start, I had to have a wee smile, a bus in front stopped to let some poor burstin’ soul off for a pee and since the rest of the buses couldn’t pass on the narrow road, a few others took the opportunity to pee, this happened twice, the slow journey to the start took even longer than normal. Time was tight when the buses got to the start, so with no faffing, I took off my jacket, fleece and tracksuit bottoms and put them in my bag and handed it into baggage. It was drizzling but the forecast was for it to brighten so I decided to be brave and just run in a short sleeved top, vest, three-quarter length tights and my wee kilt, no Buff, hat, gloves or sleeves. Wrong choice, it was announced that the race would be delayed for ten minutes so everyone had the chance to get to the start on time, I had no problem with that just that I had to stand and chitter for even longer, I hadn’t bothered taking a bin bag or throw away clothes. (I’ll remember that for next year)

The Pipe Band came through the field of runners; it always brings a lump to my throat. Then we were off, I knew I was running a faster pace than I planned but I was trying to generate a bit of heat, the rain was no longer a drizzle but stotting down. Steven, another Carnegie Harrier, running his first marathon, came along side me and he told me all of the miles so far were sub 9 pace, I don’t look at my watch, I laughed and said “I don’t do sub 9, actually I don’t think I’ve done sub 10’s this year!” Not to worry I’ll hang with it for as long as I felt comfortable or at least until I warm up. We stayed together until around nine miles; Steven pushed on to finish in 4 hours 6 minutes, absolutely brilliant considering he had no specific marathon training.

I started to tire at around 11 miles and nipped into the bushes for a pee, another lady joined me and said this was her second stop, and asked if it was the weather that was causing it. I was sure it was, I know skin is waterproof but I felt I was absorbing the rain, throughout the race I never felt the need to have more than a mouthful at any of the drink stations. I wished I had at least worn a Buff scarf, even when the rain stopped I never felt warm, but the views of the loch, Urquhart Castle, the field with the static caravans, my childhood holidays, brought back warm memories.

At Dores the support was as great as ever, I high fived all the kids.  On the gentle start of the hill I started to feel a bit more comfortable, I kept looking round over my left shoulder until I was at the best viewpoint for looking down the loch. I turned round walking backwards for a few paces and shout to folk around me “Look behind, scenery break!” I think a few thought I was nuts but still looked back briefly, a Wee County runner went by me and she said. “Thanks, I’d forgot about that.”

On the steeper climb of the hill, I kept an easy short shuffle, I’ve never been fast at Loch Ness but I’ve never walked either and I wasn’t breaking tradition. I went past Wee County runner; she was walking, and said “Well done digging in.” I replied I was doing micro shuffle, she laughed and said that’s what she calls “The Mince”. Walk, mince or micro shuffle, whatever technique works use it!

Once over the climb, which in my mind is just a slog, there is no such thing as a killer hill, it’s just the pace you choose to go up it that kills! It was time to lengthen my stride, relax and let gravity work its magic on the long down but ouchy ouchy, my quads and glutes weren’t for relaxing, if they could make a face it would be of one that’s just sooked a lemon. I suppose that's what I get for trying to run marathon pace when I’m not marathon trained and especially on a course that is mainly down hill. I wasn’t prepared for this race but I knew that even running at an easy pace there is no such thing as an easy marathon, it’s a long way, it was gonna hurt but my next incredulous thoughts were “My legs weren’t as sore as this at the Glenmore 24! The last time I had around 4 miles to go I’d already ran 104 miles! So as a gnarly old ultra runner another 4 miles would be nae bother. Get on with it!” But even for a gnarly old ultra runner it did hurt but with my squiffy mentality it was still fun and a privilege.

I slogged it out, hauling my jarring legs in, at around the 25 miles a guy in front stepped off the road and leaned against the wall, I shouted  “Come on, hang in there!” as I went by, his reply was reminiscent of an alpha stag at the autumn rut! Why do men have to be so vocal when they puke?

Pauline was standing by the bouncy foot bridge just after 25 miles; it was her turn to shout at me “COME ON!” I answered just as loudly “ALRIGHT!” The last mile, the bitter sweet, so glad to get it done, so proud to achieve. My apologies to my friends that shouted to me as I approached the finish, I didn’t acknowledge you because I couldn’t hear you, the crowd en masse were deafening! Thank you all for your support.

Ten Loch Ness Marathons done. 262 miles on the same route, it is a beautiful route and for folk that are time orientated it is a PB course. Don’t let the hill after Dores psych you out there is more down hill than up. That is why my quads are still giving me grief a week later but sooooo worth it. Yeah, I’ll be there next year.