Tuesday, 29 November 2011

There’s no such thing as bad weather...

... just a bad attitude!

Last week Mel suggested going for run on the WHW, but come Thursday she still had a bit of lurgy so was sensible and called off, a shame since it was her idea in the first place. The plan was Rannoch Moor, Pauline, Morna and I would still go although the forecast predicted lots of weather and after a late pitch inspection via the Kingshouse webcam on Saturday, it looked wet and the only snow was a wee sprinkling on the top of the hills. So by 10.30am Sunday we were sitting in the car, parked beside Blackrock Cottage doing contortions, we weren’t getting out to put our rain jackets and rucksacks on while the hailstones bounced off the car.

I was wearing a couple of layers plus the rain jacket on my top half, fingerless gloves with fleece gloves over the top, a peaked Buff topped with a woolly hat but just one pair of tights, so I thought I’d wear the waterproof breeks I’d recently modified, they were an old pair of Pete’s I’d chopped off just below the knee so they take up very little room in the bottom of my backpack and they are easy slipped on with no faffing with my shoes. A brilliant idea but not mine, Pauline’s been whacking bits of her breeks for ages,
Devil's Staircase, WHW Race 2009
 her Michael Jacksons are legendary and so is the ribbing she gets when wearing them. After the abuse I’ve given her about her breeks over the years I wasn’t going to be let off lightly. I denied having Michael Jacksons, mine are Stanley Matthews.

A quick photie then we headed up the hill with the wind blowing us up, over the top and past Peter Flemings monument, the Moor was like a patchwork quilt with all the different colours of autumn and winter as dark clouds came and went, distant hills, and the ones nearby disappeared in the rain and hail then minutes later their snow dusted tops sparkled brightly in the sunshine. Morna and Pauline pulled away, even more so when I stopped to take photos, but I’m quite happy tootling along at my own pace, I don’t feel I have to keep up. They were occasionally in sight and gave a wave from time to time, the plan was to turn back after 1½ hours I wouldn’t go as far as they did but that was ok, I’m quite happy to sacrifice distance to squelch about looking for a good camera angle, it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve ran along Rannoch Moor, whatever the season, no two days are ever the same and if I can catch a glimpse on camera it’s worth the half mile or so less running than the rest of the group.

I got to Forest Lodge at around 1½ hours, there was no sign of Pauline and Morna, I think they got round to the bridge near the Inveroran Hotel. I wasn’t fussed for traipsing up the tarmac until I met them on the way back so I went up the back of the car park to get a bit of height for a photo of Loch Tulla. Pauline and Morna appeared, I pointed where I was heading and stomped up the hill, Pauline followed me, Morna stayed near the car park reading the bumf on the info board. What a reward for the bit wee effort! One of the best rainbows I’ve ever seen.

I gave Pauline the car key as they would get back before me and we headed back, I stuck in wee walks on the steepest bits on the way back, (it was the WHW after all no harm practicing WHW pace) I don’t think I took as many photos in the way back (more photos) but I still kept looking around and behind me so as I didn’t miss a view. At the big boulder just before the final climb back to the top I always stop for a last look and a cheerio ‘til next time. Then I headed round and down, straight into the wind and rain/hail, here was where the wind was strongest, throughout the day it occasionally took me slightly off my chosen line, but I was brought to a standstill running DOWN hill! Pauline and Morna had just gotten themselves changed and comfy in the car, opening their flasks as I got back. I flung the car door open disturbing their cosy ensconce. “Well, that puts colour in your cheeks!”

I think the saying is more commonly known as - There is no such thing as bad weather just bad clothing. Whether I was wearing bad clothing or not is merely a matter of opinion, I’ve never been much of a fashionista and I wasn’t cold and besides there definitly nothing bad about today... Pauline wasn’t wearing her Michael Jacksons; she tends to save them for races. *Sings Michael Jackson* Oooww! They’re Bad!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Glen Ogle 33 – Spiders and Diamonds

I wasn’t surprised that there was a big entry for this race after the brilliant job that Mike and Bill, with all their helpers, did at Glenmore 24. But because there was a bigger field of runners than originally expected the start was altered and the route was a wee bit shorter, whether it was 33 or 31-ish miles I was looking forward to running on new ground, I didn’t pay much attention to the route map, it was going to be well marked and I wanted a surprise, I knew there were a few hills as well as the route 7 cycle path. For ages when I’ve been driving along the A85 and looking over to the viaduct, I’d often thought it would be a lovely place for a run.
On Friday I gathered my gear together and loaded my backpack, there were checkpoints to leave drop bags but I decided not to bother with them and just carry all my juice and munchies, I wasn’t planning to race it, I didn’t feel fit enough or prepared for a race, I was just going for a nice steady run. Sue had said the same so the plan was for us to run together with Pauline and Robin. On Friday evening Sue sent a text “Kilts or is that not taking it seriously enough?” Brilliant idea and I replied “Yeah lets do kilts”

Ken and Sue had picked up Pauline and then me just before 6.00am and in just over an hour we were in Strathyre. Brrrrrr! I wondered if I was wearing enough layers, I was hoping it would warm as the sun rose. I smiled when Lucy, wearing just a single long sleeved top and skimpy knickers, asked wouldn’t we be too warm? Nah, some of us aren’t built with the ability to run fast enough to generate heat! Wearing a kilt wasn’t such a frivolous idea either, with it being so cold it kept the glutes warm and when I stopped for a pee there was no big expanse of bare bahooky hanging out in the freezing air!

It wasn’t long until we were across the road and up the wee hill to the start; there were loads of weel-kent faces and a fair few new ones doing their first ultra. There was a first in it for me too, I had gone all geeky-fied and was wearing a Garmin for the first time ever in a race. With it being a route I didn’t know I thought it would be nice to have a rough judge of distance, I remember running The Speyside Way 50k in 1997 (my 2nd ultra) and asking how much further to go and was devastated when I was told 10 miles when I was hoping it was a lot less. This was now my 41st ultra, still a mere handful compared to Ray McCurdy’s 97th.

After a few words from Bill we were off, a nice wooded track that soon opened out onto a stunning view, I stopped to take some photies then I look up the track, Pauline, Sue and Robin had pulled away a fair bit and I had to put in a bit of effort to try and catch them up… then I changed my mind, I’ll let them go, I didn’t want a thirty odd mile fartlek! I wanted to stop to take a photo when I liked without the pressure of trying to keep up and what a stunning day it was, low lying mist, rich autumn colours, the bracken was a deep burnished gold, the rising sun made spiders webs sparkle with diamonds, I wasn’t wasting this being pressured by time or pace.

It was still chilly in the shade but in the sun it was lovely I never took off my gloves, buffs or pushed my sleeves up I just enjoyed the warmth. On the viaduct I looked over to the road, and sent a wave and a smile, next time I’m driving along there I’ll catch it.

After crossing the road and heading towards the loop in the forest, the lead guys were belting down the road towards me!!!! What a speed, I doubt I could do that on a bike!! They’ll be finished by the time I’m halfway!

I loved the path in the forest, I was very much on my own, Ray McCurdy was well ahead, I was with him for a bit earlier, I knew there was a couple of girls running together behind me but I couldn’t see a soul. I was walking up a hill and decided to tell my camera how lovely it was.

Near the end of the forest I did see Mike R and his friend who were both running in monkey feet (you know what I mean, those minimal shoes with toes). There was a directional arrow that gave a few folk a bit of a dither, I heard later that Pauline, Sue and Robin got their map out, but for me it was merely a minor detail that the writing was up side down, the important thing was what way the arrow went and without a pause I followed it. I loved the arrow that pointed the way with the words “The Pub” I smiled and thought this must be around halfway then, I always get a wee boost when I realise I’ve got less to do than what I’ve just done.

I came down the hill gently and was back on the cycle path. Ken was on his bike and said that the rest of the gang weren’t that far in front, and on the long straight I could see them in the distance. He asked how I’d got on in the forest as a few had gone wrong; that puzzled me a bit, I’m not the brightest of bairns and I didn’t go wrong, but I think not having the brains to query a marker that wasn’t quite right worked in my favour .

I could feel my hamstrings tight, probably the lack of training and the cold, on the flat old railway line the soreness was reminiscent of that you have with the unchanging stride of 24 hour road race. I did have a wee giggle though, Ken had stopped at the viewpoint of Loch Earn and after taking my photo he was back on the bike, we were both looking down the loch then I heard him “Whoa!” I looked to see him have a wobble as he nearly fell into the ditch; I suppose that what happens when you don’t watch were you’re going!

After the last checkpoint near Kingshouse I started to look at the Garmin regularly, and roughly worked out the distance still to do, I never think about how far I’ve gone but on how far still to go which always gets smaller so in my mind easier, I envisaged nice easy runs round my local routine routes, at 9 miles to go it was my Valleyfield Lagoons route, at 5 miles, that’s just a dander down the Shore Road to Torryburn and home. But my miles weren’t coming down as quick as I’d like and didn’t feel as easy as I pretended but I just plodded them out. At times I could see the gang ahead, at others I tilted my head down and hid the hill with my peaked buff and shuffled up. Another distraction was a very muddy and very friendly Spaniel, despite the shouts from the owner it decided I wanted to play, I just tried to ignore him but it was a bit hard, eventually he left me alone after leaving me a present of mud and dog snot on ma kilt!

I was sure I was getting near the finish but I wasn’t depending on the information provided by the doofer on my wrist being correct and always over estimated the distance still to go, there was a few people about and I spotted a marshal ahead and thought it must be just around a mile or so left to go, the marshal said “About 400 yards and over the bridge.” I answered “Is that all?” Sure enough a wee bounce across the bridge and there I was. Wow, what a great run, a bit of a trudge for the last few miles but that’s what makes you enjoy it all the more when you stop.

After a quick change standing beside the car (another bonus wearing a kilt, you can change your knickers without breaking indecency laws) it was over to the pub for our well deserved soup and beer, and a catch up with other folk.

What a brilliant day, thanks to Mike and Bill and their helpers for putting on another cracking event. I’ll be back next year.