Sunday, 3 April 2016

Ticking over nicely

February was a fine steady month of running with a cracking run on the newly re-established low road from Rowardennan to Inversnaid and back, I loved it, it’s more in keeping with the rest of the WHW route along the lochside than the long haul up the wide track. I had one race in February, the club’s Devilla 15km, brilliant fun with lots of mud, shin deep with the consistency of wallpaper paste and porridge which I thought I ran through with no fear.  I was well pleased to finish with mud splats on my kilt since I’ve perfected my running style to a minimal effort ultra shuffle with no leg lift whatsoever. But this photo spoiled the daredevil image in my head. What a Mincer!
Photo from David Greig
At the end of the month I was on holiday from work with no plans, just a case of use it or lose it but luckily it coincided with Ally’s last long training run before his Skye to Maggie’s event. So I nipped up to Skye for a few days joining him on his night time fifty miler. We set off just after 7.30pm from Portree, it was pretty cold but dry, the stars were amazing. I kept him company until Staffin, around seventeen miles, then Hugh ran with him for twenty miles, I dozed a bit in the van then re-joined him at Uig at around 4.00am for the last fifteen miles back to Portree.  Although it was bitterly cold, (we were told later that it dipped to -8 degrees!) It was a great success and a practice run for the support team too.

Photo from Donna Macpherson
The drive home was a stunning day and I spent it stuck in the car! But I had plenty stops to stretch my legs and take a few photos, even sneaked up the Devil’s Staircase committing the cardinal sin of being inappropriately dressed, jeans and a pair of old road shoes with soles worn smooth demoted to role of outdoor baffies. The snow was dry and crisp, the air perfectly still, the sky a cobalt blue and the sun shining, my only concern was if I slipped I might damage my camera, I was fine.

Next up, a week later, on March 6th was the ladies only Smokies 10 at Arbroath, I was mindful that my lower back has been a bit grumbly, my Achilles had settled down but I was still aware of it and I had the D33 the following week so I wasn’t planning a do or die pace just a good hard effort, I certainly ticked that box! Happy with my run,it was also my 23rd Smokies but Pauline’s 25th consecutive one and was given a bottle of bubbly at the prizegiving in recognition.

The following week was the D33, it was great to catch up with folks I hadn’t seen since the Glen Ogle 33, Pauline drove up and was marshalling with Noanie at the road crossing so shot off before the start, I was left standing in the loo queue without my jacket, I’d put it away in my bag in the marquee but wished I’d kept it on longer, Duthie Park was freezing, my jaw ached with the cold, it hasn’t done that in a while! But we were soon off and I eventually warmed up enough to take my gloves off, but at no point did I feel the urge to remove my fleece.  With it being an out and back route it’s perfect for carrying a camera and I had fun trying to get everyone’s photo until the battery died.
Love a wee shoot out with Chen! 

With the 100km in two weeks I wasn’t running hard, just looking for a six hour jolly but I was quite pleased to finish in 5 hours 40 minutes, I had to wait about a bit until Pauline was off duty but it was no hardship, I hung around the marquee drinking Stella, it’s not my usual tipple but it was the perfect post run recovery drink before heading home to savour my race beer.

7.00am last Sunday saw me standing on the start line of the Self Transcendence 100km with a little trepidation, on the Thursday my back gave a wee twinge, on my easy run at the club, it jarred every step, on Friday I went for another wee three miler just to see how it was, I decided that it was still sore but didn’t hinder my running style and I had one more day for it to ease, I would run! No matter how sore it might get it wouldn’t go anywhere near the level of endurance I put in three years ago, the last time the Anglo Celtic Plate was Perth. I was a DNS, I was still incarcerated in St John’s Hospital, three weeks post mouth cancer surgery and had to following the race on an iPad, so there was no way I was letting a wee bit of a sore back get in my way of finally running the 100km.  

Once we were off the rest of the field stampeded off at quite a pace, even in the first lap I feel the runners in the open were sucked along by the elites in the Anglo Celtic Plate. “Ok, guys, I’ll see ya again when you lap me!”, I run no-one's pace but my own and kept a fine steady pace throughout, my back felt ok, a bit of tightness in my glutes, nothing I couldn’t live with. The fast guys and gals seemed to lap me thousands of times but never without a word or two. On the riverside of the lap there was a very strong and freezing headwind that never let up, just varied from force nine gale to here’s some dust in your eyes! The other side of the lap was sheltered and you didn’t seem to feel the benefit of a tailwind but at least that side wasn’t so cold.

Pauline was doing the 50km and had a wee kip in the car for a couple of hours and at 10.00am the 50km started, I’d just made it through the start/finish area about a minute before they were set off. “I’m gonna get stampeded!” Was my shout to Sarah as I went through but I was given plenty elbow room and lots of hellos as they whooshed past. Although Pauline and I were running unsupported and had set up our table with our stuff ready to grab on the way by,  Sarah, supporting a few runners was parked a wee bit further up the feed zone, so I’d pick up a milkshake and keep moving, having a couple of mouthfuls then handed it to Sarah and she’d take it back to my table for the next time I picked it up and Bernt was happy to look after us, as well as Susan for the duration of the 50km.  Thanks guys!

There was a bit of a problem with the chip timing which was quite stressful for the guys doing results but I was happy with a cheery wave every lap from my real person counter, back up for the technology and in my opinion, far more reliable than something that needs plugged in!   I’m not sure if it was coincidence but my shoe with the chip attached was giving me a bit of grief, the top of my foot was starting to hurt, I stopped three times over about six or seven laps to lift my foot up on a bench to loosen the lace, until I felt my shoe was flapping about like an old baffy, my foot didn’t get any worse and I eventually got used to the loose shoe.  But apart from that I had a great run, keeping a metronomic pace, not fighting the wind on the far side and staying happy and relaxed for the whole way, eventually it got very quiet as the everyone else finished. Pauline was happy to do a bit of support, I started walking through the feed zone but running everything else even that wee bugger of a hill up through the gate.  I asked Pauline if she would check if I was allowed to stick my music on in one ear, it wasn’t allowed for the ACP runners but now I was on my tod I thought it would be ok, next lap round Pauline had my iPod ready for me, “Brilliant, I’m allowed then!” Pauline replied “I didn’t ask, what are they gonna do, disqualify you from being last!” I laughed and thought that was a bit harsh... but true! My lap counter was holding up her hand counting down the laps still to go with her fingers. I was breathing a 10km effort but the pace was nowhere near, the last half dozen laps weren’t easy but I just had remember where I was this time three years ago, running 100km is not hard, a joy from start to finish and the bonus I finished well within the cut off time, in 11 hours 31 minutes.  There were 33 runners in the race, 21 in the ACP, 12 in the open and I was the only female in the open, 27 finishers and 6 DNF’s.I didn’t finish last just last man standing! 
Another of Chen's photos
This week I’ve felt pleased how the legs have been, I’ve just had a few three milers and everything is moving nicely, I felt a bit of tightness in the quads on the Tuesday and a bit tired but fine and ready for the next adventure. 
On Wednesday Pauline and I are doing Ally K’s running support in his 120 mile Skye to Maggie’s challenge, taking turns of around three hours each, he will be setting off from Portree at midnight and won’t stop until he reaches Maggie’s Centre at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness hopefully Friday morning. If the technology works there will be live tracking,  you can follow his progress on the Skye to Maggies website and on Ally K runs Skye to Maggie's facebook, or if you are in the area, come along give him a cheer or run a few miles with him.


Amanda Hamilton said...

Lots of great running to catch up on there! I look forward to following your journey with Ally. Must get my donation made! X

Noanie H said...

I read that as you were the first woman to finish in the open race. You won the 100K. Congratulations!
- Noanie x

Edwina Sutton said...

I loved seeing you at various points in the course! And now I have found your blog..brilliant lady! Well done xx