Sunday, 22 March 2020

Trying to sort my head out...

These are tough times and they call for tough measures, in our wee community of ultra runners are some of the most responsible sensible people I've ever had the pleasure to know - we love our group runs, our sweaty runner hugs but we also understand the pressure on MRT and other rescue services so fully appreciate why events are cancelled. We are in the main fit and healthy but that doesn't mean we aren't carrying viruses even if not displaying any symptoms. I am gutted that our races for the foreseeable future are cancelled or being rearranged and between that disappointment and the extra stress of working from home and doing extra stuff, I am finding it very hard to get motivated to go for a run. I know I need to as I will feel better when I've been but my head is too busy with all the other stuff that's buzzing about in it! I know from friends' posts that others are equally confused/stressed. I'm not writing this for sympathy just trying to get my thoughts in order. I want to head to the hills more than anything else at the moment, especially on a beautiful day like today but I can't. I am going to try to drag myself out and go for a walk/jog on the local cycle path then I will come back and do some more work in the hope that I can keep just a little ahead of the game for tomorrow - we have a plan in place for tomorrow but who knows if that will change overnight... I think that is the most disconcerting thing for me at the moment, the speed with which things are changing, we often moan - and I am one of the worst - about the lack of guidance coming from "Them" in this case I guess the Government but I think that "They" are in the same boat as the rest of us...
Working in the arena I do I am used to having to sometimes make tough decisions and make them quickly but at the same time trying to be proactive and put pre-emptive procedures in place - there isn't time to do this with coronavirus. Yes we have the evidence from countries who are ahead of us in the spread but we don't have enough time to think then act, it's about doing it all at once!
It's all happening so fast, and irrespective of our Political views or disdain towards the politicians, at the end of the day they too may have elderly relatives who are at risk and children whom they can't get to hug etc., lets not forget that
I am saddened at the thoughtlessness and selfishness of some of my fellow humans but if I'm honest not overly surprised, just annoyed - there are always going to be people who think it will never happen to them, they only think about themselves, we've all seen the reports in the news and social media of people 'escaping to the highlands' with no obvious thought for the small communities with limited resources that they may be having a negative impact on.  We've seen photos of folks still drinking in pubs or cafes etc and never mind the horrors of the panic buyer/hoarders!!
If you have a nurse who lives in your street, chances are he/she will be working 12 hours shifts from now on. If you can spare one, leave a toilet roll or a bag of pasts (or a bunch of daffodils) on their doorstep next time you're passing.  If you've an elderly person in your street, pop a note through their door offering to pick up shopping/prescriptions etc. or even just sharing your phone number in case they're in need.
I have spent this weekend feeling very close to tears on a number of occasions for no particular reason and I guess that might continue...
We are fortunate we are both in good health, the freezer/cupboards are pretty full and I have flour so can make bread.  I ordered a ton of slate chips and some more sleepers yesterday morning so hopefully can use this at home time to get the garden sorted out, it's been sadly neglected since we became van owners.
I guess I should stop rambling now, I was needing to try to get some rambly thoughts in order in my head and this was the easiest way to do it. 

I hope that you are all healthy and stay that way, I'm looking forward to all the hugs and catchup runs/cake/fizz that will come in the hopefully not too distant future. To sum up all the advice about handwashing/social distancing/not hoarding etc in true Ultra 'speak'

Don't be a Dick!

This is the next race on my calendar - hopefully...

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Some musings

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley”  Robert Burns Nov. 1785

“Well that was a bit of a wash out in running terms” John Munro Nov. 2019

After much checking of weather forecasts during the week, the final decision was to head to Aviemore for the last long run for both of us. We managed to get away from work a little early which meant we got well up the A9 before darkness descended and settled for the evening.  The forecast was for a cold, clear day on Saturday and I’d 18miles on ‘easy trail’ on the programme so intended running across the Ryvoan pass from Glenmore to Nethybridge and back.  I went to bed Friday evening looking forward to the day ahead and had a good 10 hour vansleep. 
Saturday morning was grey and damp with mist hanging right down to below the tree tops!  However apart from feeling a bit pissed off that the forecast hadn’t been true, we had breakfast, got ready and headed off.  John had decided he wasn’t feeling the love so would head off and see how it went but most likely leave his long run til Sunday.  As I trotted down the road from Glenmore to the Hayfield I was already feeling the dampness catching in my lungs and decided I would change my plans and do loops of the G24 route. I know this well, it’s varied and it doesn’t take too much navigation. I texted John to tell him and set off up the grassy hill remembering how much I’d looked forward to this year’s race but been thwarted by the dreaded lurgy.  As I danced across the patches of icy snow I changed my mind again and headed along the side of Loch Morlich, this is a nice trail which leads out onto the road which is usually a bit tedious, but as there’s been a huge amount of forestry work here, the road was thick with mud which had been compacted by heavy plant and with a coating of snow was a reasonable surface for a change.  I was running and hiking and maintaining a constant pace which I was pleased with but still struggling with the damp making me wheezy and by this time John had texted to say he’d stopped and was back at the van. I decided to run to Aviemore and asked him to meet me there. I continued to trot along at a steady pace but wasn’t feeling 100% I couldn’t put my finger on it it just wasn’t right however I finished my run but it was only 9.25 miles - half the distance on plan 😢
After a relaxing afternoon in the van we went to the Pine Marten bar for dinner, a couple of beers and a singalong with the resident musician who we’ve seen before and is really good! Walking back to the van I started to feel uncomfortable with severe stomach cramps and a sudden but thankfully short lived bout of D&V knocked me for 6! I don’t think there was anything wrong with my food or the 2 shandies I had, I get these episodes once every year or so when I am tired and/or stressed and it goes as quickly as it comes on, always without any warning but it meant that today I am completely washed out so didn’t do any running. I’m almost feeling back to normal now after a nap when we got home and a lovely steak pie dinner, will have an early night tonight and hopefully be back on form tomorrow.
So yep it was a bit of a washout in running terms but we had time together with no interruptions to talk about future plans and reminisce a little too - we don’t get those chances too often and it was nice to sit watching the snow falling at breakfast time.

We leave for Oman early next Sunday morning so I need to be back up to full power before then! 

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Miwok 100km - not to be

So, as we say... 💩💩💩 happens! In this case literally 😝 
A severe does of gastric flu hit John Thursday evening, thankfully not so severe symptoms but unpleasant none the less, along with the resultant sleep loss for me Thursday evening (ironically once he was ‘finished’ he slept like a baby - I lay awake all night fretting!) meant that yesterday we were both wiped. 
Went to bed and set my alarm for 2:30 just in case by some miracle I felt better, however I woke at 2 and switched it off at 0215. It’s a tough decision to make but this is a course and a distance that I needed to be 100% for both physically and mentally. Physically I would have been lucky to hit 65% and mentally was all over the place so decision made and a good 4 hours sleep followed. I’m sad to have had to have made this call, this race has been on my want to list for 5 years and up until yesterday I felt I was as close as I was going to get to being ready, I’ve worked hard to get here and was really looking forward to giving it a go. I’d rather be a DNS and be somewhere familiar with John than a DNF miles away and not being able to get back to him for hours.
When we get thrown the curved ball, we either catch it or duck out the way complaining that it’s not fair. I feel I’ve caught it this time, I’m sad that I’m am not out on that stunning course today chasing cutoffs but I’ve a good whack of training in the bank and I’ll find another race to put it to good use (there are already a few lined up for rest of year) so it won’t be wasted. We’ve had a great trip over here which we wouldn’t have had without the race, we’ve been new places and I’ve achieved things I never thought I could and wouldn’t even have attempted a year ago. We’ve caught up with great friends and had a really good and well deserved break together with time to just be together and enjoy each other’s company and share the adventures so it’s definitely not been a wasted trip. 

Bonus is we can spend our wedding anniversary together instead of being apart for most of it as it would have been! 

Saturday, 13 April 2019


It's been on my mind a few times over the last couple of months that I've not put any of my random ramblings down on virtual paper.  I'm not sure of all of the reasons but think that it's mainly because social media as it is today means we almost live in the moment and each others' moments too.  This is brought home really strongly if we're away for a weekend at a race and you realise that you've not touched your phone all weekend other than to message the next checkpoint when first runner and sweeper has passed you.  I have heard myself say on a couple of occasions "I've not been on facebook all weekend - but that's because most of the people whose expolits I would be following are here"
I love following friends on social media,looking at their photos, listening to them on podcasts or just reading their tales and I guess the corollary to that is that there's no point blogging as it's all on instagram/twitter/facebook etc.  I do however like the blog for my own personal use, it's like the diary I never kept very well when I was a teenager and I like to be able to look back and see how I felt about a particular race or a trip we did or whatever.  So here's a wee recap of what I've been up to so far this year.
Interestingly when I came here today, I reread the last post (from Sept 2018!) which was about my new friend Consistency. I am pleased to report that she has stayed by my side all year this year and I have so far, had a good year.  I have been training for a number of races of varying lengths in 2019 and so far all has been going to plan - apart from not being able to motivate myself to get out the door this morning, which has left me feeling really sorry for myself all day today.*

In December we went to Oman, John ran and I was put in charge of an Aid station, I have been meaning to write about that since we got back and I will still try to write it up, it will just be out of chronological order!

2019 has gone pretty well so far:

At the beginning of January we went to Kielder for the Winter Series. We ran a 10mile run on the Saturday morning and a 10km in the dark on the Saturday evening.  It was great, trails are superb, weather was kind, stars amazing!  I was final finisher in both races but worked hard, did my best and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

End of January saw us fly out to Chamonix for a spontaneous crazy weekend - deep snow made our usual trails interesting but fabulous! The last minute-ness of the trip also added to the excitement and adventure.

The first of the 'big' races of the year was in Gran Canaria at the end of February
I did the Starter (30km) and John was entered for the Advanced (65km) however he had been rehabbing a calf injury in the weeks before and made the right decision not to start while he was waiting to board the bus to the start line.

I loved the race, from start to finish even the big hills and the technical stuff and the weather was spectacular which was a bonus!
I wasn't the final finisher this time, there were a fair few behind me :)
We also discovered the joys of  "All-Inclusive"which was great on the Sunday for post race, poolside recovery!

Our first marshalling event of the year was D33/99/133 on the 15-16 March.  This was a one off race series to mark the 10th anniversary of the D33 and George's final event as Race Director.  What an amazing weekend it was! Weather was fickle as usual, very windy and bright but cold on the Friday for the D99/133 and then on Saturday it tipped down and was freezing!  As per usual, the Sunday was a beautiful day though still bit blowy and we had our traditional run out to Dunottar Castle before heading home.  So many stories and photos already shared from this weekend that I won't add more in here.

Sunday 24th March saw me running round the North Inch in Perth, and round and round and round 21 times!  (though lots of folk went round 42 times!)
We have been to spectate at the Self Transendence & Anglo Celtic plate races a couple of times in the past few years and the format of this event has always appealed to me.  Contrastingly it's John's worst nightmare :-)  I like the sociable side of it, you see your crew and everyone else's and spectators every lap and the speedy runners pass on the loop with words of encouragement or a thumbs up as they fly by.
When the race opened in November I think I was the first to enter!  I was the last over the line in the 50km but I had a brilliant day!

Now it's mid April and we are getting ready to fly to the USA next week, we will have some holiday time exploring Boulder and Colorado Springs, then my 'A' race - Miwok100 is the weekend before we fly home. John is also running it but not sure if it's his A race or not.  I am looking forward to this with a degree of trepidation because although the distance and terrain aren't phasing me, the cut-offs are tight and right on the edge of what is doable for me. I am going with the intention of giving it my all but also aware that there is a fair chance I will get timed out.  I intend to keep smiling though as that seems to have been the theme of the year so far!
So there you are that's a quick round up of the year so far...

*I am sitting writing this with a sore throat and a snuffle and absolutely no motivation to go out and run even though it's a beautiful morning. This is due to combination of things, I have been carrying a bug for about 6 weeks which abates but just doesn't go completely away. I am working in an office with people who are sniffing and coughing all around me.  I've found work quite stressful over the past few weeks - all of which combine to make me feel a bit run down.  To try to counter this I have been taking spirulina as a supplement again and trying to get back into the clean-eating habits I'd established well since the beginning of the year, but this week has been a struggle.  Add in the pre holiday stress which I always suffer from and you have the perfect recipe for procrastination

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Relationships, good and bad

Some musings from my run this morning, in no particular order so forgive me if it’s a bit rambly.
All of my running life I have had a long standing on/off relationship with an acquaintance I wish I’d never met, she is called self-doubt and regularly raises her ugly head in an effort to scupper my endeavours.  Sometimes she wins, and when this happens, plans go awry and good intentions falter and I get fed up and occasionally get as low as wanting to give up running altogether and just get fat and miserable. I loathe self-pity I don’t believe there is a place for it in our lives and most of the time I can get over the blip and put her back in the dark recesses.  The last 3 weeks I’ve had a new companion her name is consistency and I am delighted to have her in my life, it’s early days and I’m working hard at it but I think that this will be a positive relationship which we will all benefit from.  However... self doubt is a jealous bitch so she decided this week that she was going to have a go at me and see if she could push the ‘new girl’ into the background- think playground fall outs when a new kid comes to school... she rode back into my head carrying a banner with three words on it, Flat, Road, Test!  She nearly won! I was ill thinking about it at the beginning of the week and this contributed to an almost sleepless night but my new friend consistency stayed by my side and helped me pull up my ‘big girl pants’ flick her the bird and do the workouts on my program.  Self doubt hovered on the sidelines, close enough to feel her presence but the positivity from my new companion was keeping her at bay and I even contemplated entering a race to do the workout but I couldn’t find one close by, at one point I thought self doubt was going to win again, John offered to run with me to help me, but I couldn’t put him through that stress, he has enough to do getting himself fit and ready for his next big adventure.  This morning I sat for a long time watching and listening to the rain and feeling that presence on my shoulder and it was a struggle not to let her win.  She was trying to convince me that as I couldn’t do it I shouldn’t bother going out at all I should just stay in the warm and dry.  At the same Time I was chatting online with a friend who is struggling in a different way but there were analogies which struck me so I went out and I ran.  I ran the prescribed mileage, I didn’t run on the road, I ran on a familiar trail, it wasn’t flat but it was flat enough to be runnable and I ran without
walking further than I have for at least a year! This Is a big win for me.  The analogies from my chat with my friend?  In education circles there is a lot of talk about readiness for learning and about how instead of forcing children to fit into an environment or fit a particular model, we should perhaps alter the environment/change the model to suit the learning styles of children, particularly very young children.  I strongly agree with this and as a teacher would do my best to adapt teaching styles etc to suit the needs of the child - and believe me I’ve had my fair share of pupils where a lot of adaptation was required.  Today, with apologies to my coach, I adapted to suit my needs, I altered the environment and I had a successful run.  I finished it feeling, happy with consistency by my side and self doubt well and truly put back in the corner.  Tomorrow is another day, but every day we can keep self doubt at bay is a win and I will gladly take it!  Work at the good relationships, nurture them and everyone learns and grows, stifle the bad relationships and keep them in the past.  (Big hugs to a brave wee soldier called Archie who is fighting his own battles just now but with help from the people he has good relationships with he will win of that I am sure).

Chamonix - good for the soul!

It's been a few months since I've updated my blog, and seeing friends' photos from Chamonix this past week has prompted me to write a wee bit about our last trip out there.  As we prepare for the next one...

Last year, John and I headed out a few days before UTMB week and we spent 3 days fastpacking on the first section of the UTMB route.  We left our suitcases for the following week with the lovely Bob and Gail Allison and after lunch/beer with them, Karen and George, we headed off on the bus to Courmayeur and our first overnight stop.  Early start, hills aplenty and views to die for, another fab overnight stop in Arnouva and repeat.  By the end of the third day in Champex Lac I knew I couldn't manage a 4th as I was very tired (annoyingly so - but the reason became clear when I got home!) We got the train from Martigny to Chamonix and what a fabulous journey that was!  Way up high then down through awesome gorges and forests etc.  We picked our cases up and checked into our apartment soon to be followed by Amanda and Julie.  A fabulous race week ensued.  Amanda successfully conquered CCC and Julie conquered all sorts of fears to hike up to Le Lac Blanc amongs other places!

So to this summer... John was successful in getting a place in TDS so we decided that we would head out and do another bit of the TMB route to give him some climbing/hiking practice and us both a well earned break.  By the time we left I had also got a race place in the new 'baby' race, the MCC so this gave me a good feel for my race route too.  Again we had lots of climbing, amazing views and spectacular weather, we discovered that it was Marathon de Mont Blanc and it's associated races that week, so John did the VK and I did a 10km race.  Our friend Gayle was doing the 90km and we managed to get out and about and see her on the route!
It's only 4.5weeks til we go back again and we can't wait!  When my lottery ticket comes in I think I will be looking for a wee apartment/retiral home out there...

Monday, 28 May 2018

Am I going to Die? (no not yet)

Imagine the scenario it's the middle of the night, you're so far North it never actually got dark last night and you have a wee fire burning to welcome runners as they run down the hill towards you. A car stops, a runner has DNF'd at the previous CP and his wife has picked him up and driving him back to their hotel. They wind the window down and I lean in to speak to them, "there's a runner about a mile up the road, she's being sick lots and says she's vomiting blood" - ok thanks - (heart sinks slightly as yes you have your outdoor first aid certificate but I don't think it covered vomiting blood other than that's pretty darn serious - and remember we're in the middle of nowhere)
About 10 minutes later the runner appears, head torch bobbing as she runs down to the CP, slowing to a walk as I go out to meet her... "you okay?" There's a genuine petted lip trembling slightly as she shakes her head "no" was the pitiful response... "I keep being sick and it's horrible, there's loads of bits of blaeberries and then it's like dark blood" - blaeberries?  I ask her to confirm that's what she said, "yeah" - it was hard not to laugh out loud and I tried not to sound too incredulous as I said "ok let's get you over here and you can sit down and we can check you over."
Seated in the camping chair she's lucid, bright eyed and really happy to see us, telling us how pleased she is to see us "I love you guys!" then in the next breath she asks "am I going to die?"  We did laugh out loud at that point!
John asks her lots of questions, all of which elicit a rapid fire response, I have seen this particular lady in a far less lucid state on a couple of occasions and in my opinion, she's in pretty good shape.  She wasn't the first runner to arrive with us 60 miles in to a really tough race who had been sick - it sort of goes with the territory, you're pretty wiped, you've not got much left in reserve and your body is too tired to process what you do put in so tends to eject it fairly rapidly after it's been eaten/drunk.  Anyway back to said runner we were tending to, after we agreed she was in pretty good nick and she'd drunk a can of pink fizzy lucozade and eaten a banana and we had managed to reassure her that she wasn't going to die, at least not at this point in time, her friends appeared in their van and one of them agreed to run to the finish with her.  This lifted her spirits, she announced she would "just have a quick pee behind the van then we'll get away" and off they went heading into the darkness.
Jeni is an amazing lady, a damn good runner who has struggled in the past with nutrition but is working on strategies - just not blaeberries!! - or if you must, then remember they look like blood on the way back up :D
Thank you for giving us the best laugh of the night Jeni after giving us probably the only wee fright that we might have a medical issue that couldn't be cured by a wee bit of tough love and a mtfu pill - believe in yourself, we all believe in you and you were AWSUM!
(photos with kind permission of and credit to Jeni Rees-Jenkins)

She did It!