Thursday, 30 June 2011

Getting ready to race :-)

Saturday morning will see us off to the Lake District to take part in the Lakeland Trails marathon, or as I prefer to think of it a pleasant run round Coniston Water. The weather forecast looks favourable and we are having Monday off work so am looking forward to a pleasant post race meal/beer in a local hostelry after the race and a leisurely drive home on Monday.

It's John's 20th marathon which I think is an incredible achievement!!

I had a physio appointment this evening, my achilles tendon is playing up a bit - not something I'm terribly prone to but there you go, this week I am, so I am all wrapped up in pink tape again :-)
I hope the weather is nice and we can take the wee car as we can get the roof down and get some sunshine...
Will post about our adventures when we get back

Monday, 27 June 2011

Ten Tough Trail miles...

that's what I did yesterday!
Looking for somewhere new to run, I decided to run on the Clyde walkway again. This time I ran from Cambuslang towards Strathclyde park for just over an hour and then turned and retraced my route, this let John run on to Maudslie Bridge to get his long run in in preparation for next weekend's Lakeland Trails Marathon.
It was a tough trail run! The start was on cycle path for the first km, then it left the path and quickly entered fields with hills!
The trail is very narrow at this point and it was quite tricky going but it was interesting and challenging and certainly more fun than pounding round the familiar roads near home.

Legs bore up reasonably well, I ran out for 1hr 6min and back in 1hr 2min and then after a quick drink and use of a supermarket's facilities, I drove down to meet John. It was a fine day for running, there wasn't too much of a wind blowing, and although it was really quite dull with heavy cloud, the rain didn't come to much and there were brief spells of sunshine. It was however warm, much warmer than you'd think if you were looking out from your cosy bed! It looked like a dull cold day out :-)

Last night, we made it to pilates so a good stretch for an hour made us feel much better and as a result not quite as stiff and sore this morning. I have been moving furniture at work today so will probably be really achey tomorrow but never mind, the office looks much better now :-)

Having a gentle week this week as we race on Sunday and hopefully will be able to have Monday off and make a long weekend of our "romantic weekend in the lakes"!!! (there's an explanation...but it's lengthy!)...

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Runtime Error

This post isn't about my adventures per se, it's about a group of 13 fab guys who accepted my challenge :-) 10 of the group were non-runners, 1 fell runner, 1 Ironman and 1 19 times marathoner were the others.
As the team all work for IT they decided their team name should have an appropriate feel to it hence runtime error :-)

The challenge laid down 12 weeks ago was to train for and take part in the MHFS 10K in Glasgow on Sun 19 June. They all took on the challenge with various levels of eagerness and a little reluctance in some corners :-) Much encouragement, some gentle nagging and bribery with healthy cakes, and a pre-race pasta party along the way, race day dawned...
Absolutely perfect race conditions, overcast, 14C, occasional light showers forecast - it rained while we were travelling and stayed completely dry before, during and after the race.
Everyone turned up in plenty of time and got themselves organised, toiletted, lubed up and soon it was time to get into the start waves. As always the race organisation was superb, each wave of the pulse start was called forward and led by a piper to line up. Nice wee downhill start and then they were OFF!
First of the team home was
Will in a cracking 35:37
John M was next in 41:32
Dave R followed in 43:52
Callum was 44:55
Rab in 57:08
Colin was 57:49
Brian in 57:50
Steve was 1:06:40
Mark in 1:12:47
John A in 1:20:03
Dave K in 1:21:49
Ross was 1:22:40
Rob in 1:41:43

Each and everyone of them achieved something or learned something about themselves today - I think that shows in the grins in the "after" photo
As well as the personal achievement, they have also managed to raise £1000 for CHAS and they are already talking about what they are going to do next!

I'm really glad they've all been bitten even if it is only a tiny scratch by the "bug" and I am immensely proud of each of them :-)

Another long run

Yesterday was another long slow run, I had hoped that I might be able to manage about 50km and had mapped out a route that I thought would do - an extensions of a 32km route that we do regularly on the Friday evening. When we woke early Sat morning it was quite blowy and raining - no change there then - when are we going to get a Summer????
I was also cold, which is unusual in that I am by nature a warm person and only feel the cold when I'm tired, I should have taken heed of this, however I had a think about the weather/route etc and decided to run the opposite direction to my original plan to avoid as much of the wind as possible. I set off ok, then a mile or so in, realised that I should have added a couple of miles to the start of the route to extend it so decided to take a previously un-run path to try to make up for the mistake. It was a really nice path to run, but, it was very hilly and not exactly the best way to start a long run! It was tree lined though so offered some shelter from the wind & rain. It was hard going when I left the shelter behind and had to run the 2miles from Alva to Tillicoultry straight into a strong headwind. Fortunately I turned at Tilli and the wind was at my back for a while, I decided to take the Devonway bridlepath to Sauchie to avoid the steep climb out of Tillicoultry, it's an old railway line so the gradients are much gentler than the road's. Huh! about 1km onto the path "Mixed Leisure Route Close" for upgrading! This is definitely a matter for some debate, upgrading means tarmacadam on top of what was a great trail, yes I appreciate that this makes it more accessible for wheelchair users, parents with buggies, cyclists etc but spare a thought for us poor runners who really appreciate a break from the road under our feet and leave us some trails!
The closure meant that I had to run up the roadside, steep hill! Hey ho, rain wasn't too bad at this point and wind was at my back, so it was a case of "suck it up!" Through Sauchie to Clackmannan by which time it was raining properly, wind however had almost completely gone, so ever onwards... Nice run in the rain down on the Kennet Pans, this is reclaimed farmland along the river Forth, and although it's still a tarred road it's a nice run downhill from Clackmannan on to the flat lands of the valley bottom or the Kerse as it's called in these parts.
Quick stop for a bit of bagel to nibble on and over the new Clackmannanshire bridge, then into Kincardine over the old bridge. I usually run Kincardine Bridge first when I do this route but I was really struggling with the tedium of familiar territory - quite a contrast to last week! so decided to change the order. John met me as I left Kincardine with a welcome Coke and a change of top, was about 25k by this point so half way through my hoped for distance. I was feeling good mentally but was struggling with a tightness in my left leg which just wouldn't ease off so this was slowing me down a bit. I left Kincardine, headed back along the Kerse it was only light drizzle by now, and when I got to Clackmannan I followed a new path back to Alloa. This was the best bit of the run in terms of underfoot as it soon left the tarmac and headed onto a track between fields, this came to the BlackDevon Wetlands and the path became a path through a grassy meadow, it was a joy to run on but by this time my leg was so tight and I was wet & tired that I didn't get as much of a lift from it as I should have. I was also by this time, conscious of the clock and worrying about getting home to cook dinner for some guests we were having over for a pre-race pasta dinner so I gave in at 35km and John picked me up back in Alloa.
Mixed feelings about the day, did I set my goals too high? Not sure, a positive though was that I was able to do 35km for the second week in a row and this one was on tired, sore legs.
Home, quick epsom salts bath then dinner organised, who for and why is for the next post :-)

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Interesting run or epic adventure?

It was both :-) it was an interesting run which turned into an epic adventure!

My long run for Saturday was 18miles from Strathclyde Park to New Lanark visitor centre, this route runs alongside the River Clyde for nearly the whole journey with only a couple of departures where it climbs away from the water for a couple of miles before dropping back down again - this is actually a nice description of what a friend commenting on my run called "Killer Hills" she wasn't wrong! Worse, I wasn't expecting them :-)
The run is mainly on trail with a few miles on country lanes/farm roads a mixture of tarmac and concrete, with the worst parts for me being the very narrow trail through the fields of long wild grasses which meant that due to the rain my shoes quickly got soaked!

OK to try and give you the proper chronology...

We set off early as usual to parkrun although only John was running, I was spectating and setting off to run after he'd finished.

It was unusually, a beautiful morning, the sun was shining and even more unusual there was no gale blowing across the loch, nor were there any "beasties"!

John ran the first mile with me on a lovely wooded trail with the sun dappling through the leaves and river running along on my right hand side, he turned back to go and get the car so that he could drive on ahead and meet me along the way, so I was off on my on on a totally new trail :-)
I met a few fellow joggers and a couple of dog walkers along the first couple of mile, then at around the 5mile mark I met my first obstacle:

Should I go over it or under it? In the end I had to go under and over it as I was approaching it from the other side to this photo - it was about 4ft off the ground at the point where I'd to climb over! Once safely on my way the next obstacle was a sign which said that the riverbank was prone to flooding and an alternative route was available which rejoined the river 2miles on... John's parting advice was "keep the river on your right hand side" needful of this I started off down the "path" through a field of cows until I got to a point where I couldn't pass as the cows were grazing right across the path - the path was in truth only where the grass had been worn by the cattle and sheep. Now I should explain that I grew up in dairy farming country so have no fear of cattle, in fact I find cows really friendly gentle animals - most of the time - these ones however were nursing very young calves and this meant I was giving them a wide berth! I met a man walking the path and asked if he knew where the alternative route went but it was his first outing too so I headed back the way I'd come to look for the route mentioned above... Long story short I couldn't find it - an extra km or so back and fro over really lumpy terrain and I decided to give it one more shot. Fortunately by this time the cows had moved away from the path so I headed onwards. Another couple of miles along the way and by this time I'm on a farm road, when...
Fortunately I could walk around the edge of the root stump so managed to get on my way again - oh and by this time it was raining!
Only about another mile further on there was yet another tree across the path but again I was able to walk around it.
By this time I had still only covered about 8 miles - it seemed much further :-) I wasn't tired, I'd just had to contend with so many obstacles along the way! About half a mile later I met John who ran a mile or so with me until we came to Rosebank, he went back to the car and I carried on along the river. The track here was more like gravel which I didn't particularly like but it was flat so I made good time, soon I headed into the woods, again a really lovely place to run, it was still raining but in the trees it was mainly dry, and the trail underfoot was much more enjoyable to run on. It started to get hilly here with a few sets of wooden steps and boardwalks over burns etc - these are fun to run on as you get a wee "bounce" and the changing terrains while challenging add welcome variety.
Then I met my first hill, and it was probably the worst! It was a really steep 87m ascent and an almost immediate descent! The next 4 or 5 miles were hilly and wooded, but I was listening to a podcast where a guy was retelling his experiences on a German trail run, and it was really funny so took my mind off the pain :-) I do believe in the "psychic ipod" theory...
John caught up with me again as I reached the next flat section and he had a banana with him which we shared and chatted as we ran along, I really like doing my long runs on my own, but I really really enjoy when I meet him like this for a mile or so and then I can look forward to catching up with him again later - especially when like on this route, I don't know where. It's a lovely surprise :-)
I had my fuel drink in my backpack and a bagel to nibble on as well as a couple of gels so I was feeling comfortable in terms of my nutrition etc.
This is becoming an epic post so I will move swiftly on, another few miles - I think it was probably about 16miles in but by this time my Garmin had thrown a wobbly and was somehow displaying in Lithuanian or Romanian or similar, and it had already stopped and I'd had to restart it - I think it was the heavily wooded sections to blame - if it loses a signal for too long it will think it's stopped and do a reset and I didn't hear the warning beep... as for the language change? Who knows I must have managed to press some combination of keys with my jacket cuff or something!

Then... the final injustice!
I came to a sign which said the bridge ahead was closed, it also mentioned the construction of a temporary footbridge, so as I had no need to cross the bridge until a mile or so further downriver, I thought ok will keep on going... WRONG! Not only was the bridge closed - the temp footbridge wasn't opening until Mon 13th June - remember this was Sat 11th! But worse, the whole path was closed off by the repair works. I retraced my steps to the sign which also had a detour map on it - unfortunately it didn't have that little red dot with "You are here" so I hadn't a clue where I actually was on that map! My iphone mapping wouldn't work as I couldn't get a reliable phone signal in the woods... I rang John and left a message saying the bridge was closed and I was going to try to find the diversion but if I couldn't I would retrace my steps back to Crossford which was the last place we'd met.
I then met two young men who were hiking, but it was also their first time on this path so they had no clue either, however one of them had his OS maps for the hike on his phone and they were able to confirm my suspicions that the detour was indeed through some long grass and up a big hill across some fields... This was indeed the way, and I climbed up until I came to the village of Nemphlar, village is a loose description, I think there were about 5 houses... I decided then to stay on the roads and not try to get back to the trail as I knew that if I stayed on the roads and headed back downhill towards the river I would end up close to my intended destination. I was trying to call John reasonably frequently at this point to let him know that I was safe but wouldn't finish where he expected me to, but by this time he'd headed along to look for me and he had no phone signal!
I made it out onto the main road and headed in to the town of Lanark from the far end by which time I managed to get in touch with John, poor thing he'd all sorts of messages on his phone including a funny one where I had called without realising it on the redial function and the message I left was the sound of my shoes squelching as I ran down the road :-)
It all ended well, he met me in the car in Lanark and we set off for home, I didn't quite make it to the visitor's centre, but I did add another 4 miles on to my run so it was indeed an epic adventure! It has taken me almost an hour to type this up so if you manage to last to the end I am Well Impressed!!

Hmmm wonder where my long run will take me this Saturday?

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

New Shoes...

Hey, I put some new shoes on,
And suddenly everything is right,
I said, hey, I put some new shoes on and everybody's smiling,
It's so inviting,
Oh, short on money,
But long on time,
Slowly strolling in the sweet sunshine,
And I'm running late,
And I don't need an excuse,
'cause I'm wearing my brand new shoes.

with thanks to Paulo Nutini: From his album Sunny Side up which is full of songs which make me smile and I just realised that I hadn't posted a picture of my newest acquisition so this seemed an appropriate set of words to go with the picture :-)
I will get around to blogging about my epic adventure soon I need to have a spare hour!!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Black Dog Day(S)

Isn't he lovely? It's not really the most appropriate picture of a Black Dog, as he looks intelligent, gentle and loyal whereas the one which sat on my shoulder for most of last week was most definitely none of those things! I don't know where he came from, but it was Thursday evening before he decided to leave!
It was a really stressful week at work as we were moving into our new office and I was at conferences Mon and Tues so wasn't able to unpack until Wednesday, so I was in bright and early and was pretty much "at home" by the end of the day.
Thursday I was therefore able to get back into a normal work routine - or as normal as it gets :-) I was very, very tired all week, partly I think the change of routine, the early starts to go for the train and the stress of the move and worrying that I wasn't there etc etc meant that I did absolutely no running whatsoever all week =:-0 I keep forgetting that it is now only 3 weeks since the marathon and I think that I was probably more fatigued than I thought and the added stress just made it worse.

I felt much better on Friday and had a really good day, I had intended going to bootcamp on the Friday evening as I hadn't made it home from Edinburgh on Tuesday in time to go, but I was late finishing in the office so didn't get then either...
Saturday however was a new day and a long run was planned, it turned out an epic adventure but I will write it up in the next post as it is a tale in itself :-)

Monday, 6 June 2011


Aren't we just :-)
This was us at Strathclyde parkrun taking part in the Lucozade Runfree event on Sat 4 June. There weren't many people who turned up in fancy dress, but to those who did Well Done! I like to enter into the spirit of these sort of events, and as we had been given the costumes as Christmas gifts year before last it was nice to be able to put them to good use!
I wouldn't like to run more than 5k in them though - I found the mask quite claustrophobic and wasn't happy in it - it spent half the time being used as a hair band. It was nice to be warm though as the wind was blowing a gale again - surprise! I don't know what's going on with the weather at the moment, on Friday it was beautiful, sidewalk splitting sunshine and temperatures in the high 20Cs but Saturday morning was back to 11C and cold with the wind! Thankfully the rain stayed away.
Sunday was long run day, it was dry and not so windy but the ENE wind made our minds up for us as to where we'd run, 14miles along the Forth & Clyde canal from the Falkirk Wheel to Kirkintilloch, it was a lovely day but my very, very tired legs didn't enjoy the experience!
Need to get up to 15-20miles next weekend as it's only 4 weeks until our next marathon - the Lakeland Trails Marathon around Coniston Water on 3 July.
Hmmmmm we have a friend who also runs who said the other night that we're all mad, I think I am starting to agree with him!