Monday, 16 November 2015

Glen Ogle 33 2015

Last year this was the first race since my treatment that I felt my strength returning, and this year I’ve had brilliant races, nothing awfy fast but cracking enjoyable strong runs and this being the final ultra of the year has a last day of term feel about it, I was looking forward to the GO33

On Friday afternoon I picked and laid out my running clothes, put “after clothes” in a bag and prepared my drop bag, yeah, just the one, a dinky wee 150ml can of coke to pick up at Strathyre.  I usually just have a couple of gels in a marathon so for a “wee” ultra I would just carry a pouch filled with custard with my two gels and picking up the coke in the middle would be fine, I just drink water and would top up my bottle at the checkpoints if and when I needed.

Pauline picked me up in the dark and it was still dark when we got to Killin but I don’t worry about losing sleep and getting up at daft o’clock for adventures besides it’s not the night before that matters but the night before the night before a race that getting a decent sleep does you good. We registered and blethered for a bit, even managed a Carnegie team photie before the start.  
This time we were starting in Breadlabane Park, every year the race has had wee tweaks of improvement and I think now it must be near perfection. After the briefing we were sent on our way by a Piper, out the park, up the main road and across the bridge over the Falls of Dochart before hitting the climb up the forest track, I scampered about with my camera but I’m afraid it was a bit dreich and most of the photos I took were blurry. 

It didn't seem long at all until we were heading down hill, a wee hug with Robin then down past the burger van. The checkpoint over the road was busy and since I wasn’t picking up a drop bag I just kept going. Oops, sorry Karen I forgot to shout my number but you were on the ball and got me as I scooted on by. 

It’s a lovely run down the old railway line over the Glen Ogle viaduct, a gentle descent that feels more like you're cruising well than pushing a pace, 
after the steep zig-zag path with stunning views of Loch Earn I felt I was going a smidgen too fast and settled into my comfy pace, loving the gently rolling path through the trees, enjoying the blether with everyone I was in step with, except for one guy that went by, I said hiya but his lugs were plugged into his tunes, oh well, only one anti-social git out of all the runners isn't bad going, there were a lot ultra virgins running today and what a grand choice for a first one.

The weather wasn’t cold but a bit dull and drizzly, I had started wearing two long sleeved tops under my vest and as long as I wasn’t cold I wouldn’t bother with my jacket but the rain got heavier and was soon torrential and once I turning into the chilly breeze past Balquhidder I got my jacket on, no point waiting until I was cold.
I like the undulating road section now it’s in the middle of the race, it used to be a bit of a slog when the race started and finished in Strathyre. The rich autumnal colours were still stunning even in this dull damp weather. 

I picked up my wee can of coke at CP3 and stuffed it in my bag, and risked the wrath of the lollipop man stopping in the middle of the road to take his photo, I sipped my coke on the steep uphill to the wide forest track.
Colin went by me, the track continued to climb and disappeared into the clouds and mist, there’s a cracking view down to the left but not today.

I’d caught up with Colin on the descent and gave him a row for wasting a running bit, he mumbled a reply about refuelling, both his cheeks were stuffed like a hamster. Ok, I’ll let you off! Then under the road at Kingshouse and back on to the lovely path, last year there were some bright red toadstools but I couldn’t see any this time, at CP 2 and 4 it was too busy when I went by the first time but I paused to take a couple of photos of a radioactive marshal and a bag lady on the way back.

Another pause on the zig-zags for some more photos looking down the Loch before heading back up old railway line, 
I gave myself a rule to run by, no walking, it’s a long slog up but not a proper hill so no excuses, just get it done. (I did stick my arm out of the railing to get a photo of the viaduct but that doesn’t count) 
It didn’t take too long to get back to CP5, I had to pause for what seemed ages to cross the road, then up past the snack van, another hug for Robin then wheee downhill all the way to the finish.  I’d looked at my Garmin earlier, a sub six hours was close and ran to another rule I have - You can always push the last hour. - I was delighted to feel my legs supple, strong and moving well, placing my feet exactly where I wanted. I was passing quite a few folk but not in a competitive way, I was just moving well and I could see there were quite a few sore and stekky legs jarring down the hill, I know well how that feels and I wasn’t too sure on what to say going by, I think I stuck with “We’re getting there!” There’s nothing worse when you’re in a tough, dark place than have some cheery nutter bounce past you shouting “Not far now!” Bound to make you want to shout back “Piss Off!”

I was pushing hard but not on the edge, I kept it under control with an eye on the time, left turn back on to the road and over the bridge, the sub six was gonna be very close, pushed the pace even more, visualising the sprint straight across the grass to the finish arch. Into the Park and over the grass… oh wait… there’s tape on poles marking the way to the left, I better go that way then… Oooft! there’s more tape awaaaaay over the back of the park.... I can see someone still running and they’re a teeny wee speck in the distance. Double Oooft!  A huge loop of the park it is then! That’ll be the sub six up the Swanny, I had an ironic giggle to myself, I wasn’t too bothered really, it was my choice to hug marshals and take photos, it just made it a fun and exciting thing to aim for at the finish. I was pleased I had the ability to give it welly at the end, and if you believe the randomness of Garmin, my pace for the last bit was 8.10min/mile, finishing in 6.00.55 (I won’t bore you with the splits but you can see them here if you want)
photo from Andrew Paterson
I found Pauline in the hall, she was rushing to get changed to come back out to see me finish, I told her she must have been too slow. I got a quick change and we headed back out to cheer more finishers, then sadly we headed down the road, missing the ceilidh.

Another fantastic day out courtesy of team BAM and volunteers, thank you all.

more photos here 

On the road home, Pauline and I realised something a wee bit special, with either running, supporting or marshalling, we both have 100% attendance for every BAM event there’s been, (not counting the first Great Glen Ultra which was more of a trial event) so there’s no doubt we’ll see you at the next one whatever we’ll be doing.