Sunday, 24 February 2013

Sometimes it's the little things...

...that give you the biggest sense of achievement!  Today was one of those days :-)
Last year we went to watch the Devilla races, a 5k and 15k trail run through Devilla Forest.  A great event put on by Carnegie Harriers, everyone ran out of the forest with muddy legs and mostly smiling, and I said then that I would really like to enter it next year.  Today was next year :-) I signed up at the end of last year, looking forward to it, but I must confess as the day approached my enthusiasm was waning.  I woke this morning with a 'snotty head' and a cough which wasn't the best start to the day, however by the time I'd had breakfast and got dressed, I had more of a 'race head' on.  We aren't far from Tulliallan Police College where the race is hosted, so were there in plenty of time to pick up number, chip and bottle of beer, say hello to lots of folk and then get a decent wee warmup done.  This race starts on a gently climbing uphill after which you get a wee descent and then it just seemed to keep on climbing!  Nothing hugely taxing but consistently climbing.  Now this is where the little things referred to above came into play, I am notoriously not good running uphill, I can fly down them with loads of confidence, but somtimes struggle with the self belief that I can actually get up them as well without needing to walk.  However today I did it!  I climbed all the hills at a nice steady even pace, and I even passed some people on the ups which is definitely a first for me - I usually pass them on the downs then they catch me back up on the next climb.  The other little thing which made a huge difference to my race, and this isn't something I have a problem with :-) is the mud!  At about 4km there was a queue!!! I ask you?  A QUEUE?  Yep a line of people - both ladies and men, lining up to take it in turn to walk in single file around the mud to avoid it wherever possible... Sorry, apologies if anybody thought I was rude, but I jumped the queue, I didn't push past anyone, I was considerate of others, I didn't laugh out loud at the poor girl who lost her bright pink shoe in the mud ;-) or had to hop in her lovely white socks, but I did go past and I DID go right through the middle of the mud.  It was only mid calf deep in the deepest places, and it didn't smell too bad, but it made my heart sing and my  brain buzz, it was a trail race after all!  After that I felt really strong and in control and that stayed with me the whole way today, that's another 'wee thing' that sense of working hard, but knowing that you're in control, never feeling stressed - it's a great place to be...
So yep it's been another learning day today and I'm pleased with the lessons I've learnt, I'm also pleased that I finished in a respectable time, a good few minutes faster than I had hoped for and in front of a few people that I thought I'd have been behind, that will teach them to join the queue ;-)
My fab friend Margaret who is training for her first marathon in 3 weeks time (and has been a star!!) came along with her Dad to take photos today - just before I saw them I had looked at my watch and realised I'd beaten my goals, can you tell from my phot I was happy???  :-)

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Tired :-)

And a little bit like the guy in the picture... purely down to tiredness I think, but on the more positive side, I feel ok about being tired as I've just checked my Garmin stats, and in the last 7 days I have clocked up 52.86 miles which takes me to 205.2miles for the year so far :-)

I had two good runs at the start of the week, the River Leith Walkway on Sunday, and the West Highland Way on Monday, both of which I posted about earlier this week.  I didn't run on Tuesday or Wednesday, nor did I get to fitcamp.  On Monday we didn't get back from our run in time for me to go, and then on Wednesday it started to snow just after 7am, and it didn't stop all day!  I don't mind exercising in the snow, but I don't like the drive through to Cumbernauld on the motorway in the snow, there are too many idiot drivers on the roads and they all seem to come out in force when the weather is bad :-(
Thursday evening we went to Run4It in Bridge of Allan to pick up our Trial shoes courtesy of Brooks Running, this was an offer they advertised in January where you could sign up to trial a pair of the new PureProject2 range of shoes for a week and in return you get a whopping £25 off a new pair.  I had fully intended buying the PureGrit2 when it launched, in fact I've been watching for the release, so this was a bonus and the fact that it was on my birthday as well was a nice wee surprise :-)  Anyway, I got the new Grit2 and John went for a pair of PureFlow.  I already own 2 pairs of PureFlow which I have trained for and run my last year's marathons in and I really like them as shoes, John isn't convinced yet, he, I think prefers the PureCadence or his ST5s for racing. 
I took my new shoes for a run in the forest today :-)  Next week I am taking part in the Devilla Forest 15k so I thought I'd go for a recce round the forest and get a feel for the conditions, it would also let me see how the shoes compare to my current ones - the biggest difference is a new improved sole, my current ones are quite slippy on downhills in wet conditions, or as I found out last Monday, slippy on sloping rocks if they are wet...
I was taken by surprise by how hilly it was today, I only hope that it's not that bad next week!  I have looked at the course map and I think I was on the hilliest bit of the forest and the race stays on a bit of a flatter terrain - at least that's what I'm hoping for!  The shoes performed brilliantly, the legs weren't quite so good!  It didn't help that the first 1km was a fairly hefty climb and then when I crested the hill, my legs wanted to run like I'd been running on the treadmill on Thursday night - this was not a good idea!  As soon as I levelled out and then started to climb again, my calves and hamstrings started squealing!  I took a path at a fork in the road which led into a very muddy trail, good for testing the shoes, but again not great for the legs, this path seemed to run out at a field entrance, so I doubled back on myself and then when I got back to the forest road I headed off downhill which was great a really nice long downhill run, however, as we all know, what goes down has to come back up again :-)  So at the end of my hilly tiring run, when I got back to the car, I'd only managed 14km and I was wanting 20km so that I could log my Febulous runs.  Febulous is a motivational personal challenge organised by Marathon Talk, you say how many runs you'll do a week and what your longest run will be each week, folk sign up as individuals or as part of a team, I'm part of the West Highland Way runners team so I couldn't not do the miles :-)
I finished my run by running the last 6km along the cycle path back to Clackmannan where John picked me up.  My legs are tired, and I'm tired, hence why I'm a bit grumpy, but I'm sure I will feel better after a good night's sleep and will do a wee 3-5mile run tomorrow.  Then it will be a new week...
4 weeks today I will have completed the D33, my first ultra of the year, and if I'm able to walk, I might run(?) the Alloa Half Marathon the following day, if I don't run it I will be there cheering on John and James and the rest of our friends who are running it, some for their first Half :-)

here are my new shoes, before and after...
Just out the box
After a wee run in the forest

different sole designs

Monday, 11 February 2013

The other side of the hill...

Today was a day off for us and the sun was shining this morning, the hills were white with snow, and the thought of housework was just unbearable.  I'd a real notion to be outside and suggested we go and do a bit of a people watching - now this normally entails a visit to a coffee shop or wine bar where you sit, enjoy the wares, and watch your fellow men/women going about their day.  We both enjoy people watching so it seemed like a good use of a nice day off...
What did we do?  We went for a run :-)  We saw next to no-one, in fact I think we saw more wild goats than we did people.  We had no coffee and no wine, (but we did have some electrolyte drink), and I had a blast!  There are many, many reasons why today's run was very important, and why to complete it in a fit and healthy state means such a lot to me, and I won't try too hard to analyse it and write it all down, you'll just have to believe me when I say that it is very important... I mentioned last night that last week I'd had a wee bit of a psychological wobble when I had a recurrence of the leg pain which has plagued me for the last couple of years.  It hasn't stopped me doing the things I've wanted to do, and thanks to a great physio and my strength work at fitcamp, I'm not having the same chronic problems, never the less, last week gave me a fright and kicked off all the 'doubt demons' you know those little buggers that nip at your conscience and ask you if "perhaps you've bitten off more than you can chew", and "do you really think you can do this?"  You know the sort of conversations that go on in your head... anyway, today they have scurried back into the darkest corners, where they will hopefully stay for a very long time :-)
Today we ran 10miles - 10 very slow miles - in 3 and a half hours, but before you raise your eyebrows in horror at the time, you need to appreciate the terrain and that for any other than the racing snakes, this is a pretty normal time to do that distance on that terrain.  We did some more Highland Fling training, we ran North from Inversnaid to Dario's post and then back again, this is the 'scrambly' bit of the West Highland Way, there is little good running trail, and unless you weigh less than 9 stones and can fly through the air with the greatest of ease, you have to scramble up and down the rocks, this is what eats up the time, but what a challenge!  I was worried about this bit of the Way, as everyone talks about how awful it is and goodness only knows how I'll feel about scrambling after 35 miles but at least I know now what to expect.
The other really big thing for me about today's run was that it was tough, and I did it back to back with my 26miles yesterday, so in terms of distance training this was good.  I have run 40miles in the past 3 days and I am feeling great, healthy and happy and looking forward to the next challenge...
p.s. the hill in the title is a reference to the dark place I was but have come to the other side of :-) though there is something really special about being on the other side of a hill that you can't get to unless you work hard, there is no road in and out :-)

Sunday, 10 February 2013


Oooops! Covers lots of things since I last blogged, not least that i should have worn trail shoes for today's run, not road shoes... however they will clean and be pretty and purple again :-)

Other Oooops moments - running a little too fast on my Saturday LSR (17.5miles) last week which ended up with my leg seizing up and causing me excruciating pain and meaning I had to walk the second half of Sunday's run from Milngavie to Carbeth with only a slow jog/walk for the first half of it - however, I did have lovely company on Sunday from Alan and Islay - John met us after he'd finished his second 20mile run of the weekend!  We also met some fellow marcothoners at the end of the route which was nice to meet some more of the people behind all the madness that is marcothon :-)
I woke on Monday feeling utterly crap, not sure if it was a virus type thing or if it was just accumulated tiredness - that coupled with snow and gale force winds meant I didn't go to fitcamp on Monday night, but fortunately by Wednesday both my leg and my general health was much improved and although I still hadn't run, I did get along to fitcamp and had a good workout.  I'd been to see 'Mr Magic Fingers' at luncthime (physio!) at LifeFit Physiotherapy and he'd managed to ungum my kneecap and do some digging in my muscles - what a difference - though it wasn't nearly as sore as I'd anticipated, and he did say he'd seen it much worse.  Thursday I managed a wee half hour run before fitcamp and then it was fitness test time.  We take a fitness test at the start of the 4 week block and repeat it again at the end, hoping for improved numbers, I'm happy with mine this time!
I was on holiday on Friday (and again tomorrow) but when I woke on Friday I still had a sore throat and felt a bit under the weather, so when I woke yesterday the thought of a long run didn't fill me with joy... we decided to leave it another 24hours and see how I felt but the trade off was that I had to go to they gym to do a wee session - glad I did, I ran a 4mile session just turning up the miles every half mile and had the intention of trying run the last mile at 09:20 pace all was going fine, working hard but not red-lining, when John who'd finished his workout came back on the treadmill next to me and said go on turn it up for the last 4minutes - I did and so the last half mile took me 08:45!  I couldn't believe I was running that fast and yes I could have gone another couple of yards more if there'd been a finish line ahead :-)  I was really pleased as I didn't have any further pain in my leg.  So this morning we got up and headed out for the LSR, we'd decided to drive through to Leith as I'd mentioned that I'd like to run on the Water of Leith Walkway, so the plan was to run from where the river joins the sea up to Balerno where the Walkway starts, and back again.  The aim of today's run was to try to teach me to run at the slow pace I will need to do to be able to finish the Fling in April, and to practice eating on the move.  We ran most of the day in snow, however it didn't lie on the ground just added to the wet and muddy underfoot conditions (see shoes!!) but it wasn't unpleasant to run in, neither was it too cold nor too windy so it wasn't a bad day out at all.  One of the biggest things for me though was that my leg is fine, it's a bit tired, they both are, but there's no great pain and it hasn't seized up so all is good again in my head - I had a wee mental wobble after last weekend and at the moment, those fears have been allayed.
Next week is what's known as a drop back week my LSR is 10miles, so to make it interesting and to get more Fling practice in the bag, I've to try to run up hills - this is something I really struggle with, whereas John just bounds up them!  There will still be midweek runs and fitcamp sessions but it will be a 'lighter' week...
Oh and on another note - we got our Condo and flights booked for Boston and I have entered the 5km race which is held on the Sunday before the marathon and finishes on the last km of the course so I will get a chance to cross the famous Boston finish line :-)