Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Life is for Living!

It's been a long time since I have been here - I've not been back since my failed attempt at the WHW race in June...
There has been lots of stuff to deal with, not just that I wasn't able to finish the race, and it's way too much to go into in detail.  However, hopefully things are on the up again and although I'm still banned from lifting any heavy weights or circuit training, I am allowed to run 'gently' I guess lumbering slowly along counts as gently!  I've had setbacks and injuries before and come back from them, stronger and wiser.  It's a wee bit different this time around as nothing hurts I don't have an 'injury' per se... just some bloody inconvenient blood clots in my Retinal vein :-(
However, I was back at the hospital on Monday for a checkup and there's a treatment plan in place so here's to moving forward and taking each day as it comes.  I was browsing earlier and came across a Huffington Post blog from a young woman who died this morning of bowel cancer at the age of 36!  Things like that make you stop a minute, take stock and give thanks for you what you have, even though it's maybe not all that you would like to have.  She wrote a final post to be published after her death and these words touched me.  I'm sorry if you find them a bit cheesy, but I thought they were worthy of note...

"Embrace your loved one and if they cannot embrace you back, find someone who will. Everyone deserves to love and be loved in return. Don't settle for less. Find a job you enjoy, but don't become a slave to it. You will not have 'I wish I'd worked more' on your headstone. Dance, laugh and eat with your friends. True, honest, strong friendships are an utter blessing and a choice we get to make, rather than have to share a loyalty with because there happens to be link through blood. Choose wisely then treasure them with all the love you can muster. Surround yourself with beautiful things. Life has a lot of grey and sadness - look for that rainbow and frame it. There is beauty in everything, sometimes you just have to look a little harder to see it."
Charley Kittley 16:09:15

Thursday, 18 June 2015

50 weeks ago...

At 1am on Saturday 5 July I lined up in the dark for my longest race to date, the Great Glen Ultra - 72 (3?) undulating and stunning miles from Fort William to Inverness.  John's parting words were 'be good if you could get home before it gets dark'.
21hours and 51minutes later - before it got dark, I crossed the finish line in the Bught Park to the most amazing welcome from a surprisingly large crowd of fellow runners and supporters.  I will never forget it, not least because I managed to run all the way around the track, but mainly because I didn't expect so many people to be there.  I had been at the back of the pack for most of the duration - criss crossing with the legend that is Ray for a fair bit of the course from Laggan to Drumnadrochit.  Then after a wee strop at the checkpoint, thanks in the main, to the amazing George Reid, I made it up that feckin great hill and then plodded my way home.
When I finished John said to me 'could you do another 20 miles?'  I nodded and said I think so but slowly, 'that's ok' says he 'you'd have another 13 hours'.
I had always thought that the West Highland Way race was beyond the grasp of an ageing and decrepit - ok not quite, but rapidly falling to bits, wummin of a certain age and whilst I loved being part of the crew last year and supporting John the year before, I'd never thought of giving it a go.  Not seriously.
Long story short, I thought about it a lot over the next few months - mainly in the why not vein, and the if you don't do it now, you're not getting any younger vein.. Come November I filled in my details and submitted my application for WHW 2015!
8 December I'd just got into work when my phone buzzed, a very excited David Meldrum "You might want to go check FB" it said, followed shortly thereafter by one from Amanda Hamilton - yep I'd been one of the lucky ones, I'd got a coveted place, as had David and Amanda.
Fast Forward Fifty weeks and I will be on the start line at Milngavie station tomorrow night (another 1am start) There have been a fair few miles, in all sorts of weather - well you have to train for all eventualities and "there will be weather" on all sorts of terrain in some beautiful parts of Scotland, a fair few tears and a couple of health scares along the way, but my stuff is almost packed, my plan is almost complete and I am looking forward to crawling/stumbling that last mile of tarmac from Braveheart carpark to the Leisure Centre sometime on Sunday morning.
Thank you all for the messages of support, encouragement and Good Luck in the past few days and indeed over the course of this year, I hope to see most of you over the weekend. 
To those of you who are also running, Good Luck, have a great race. 
To those who are marshalling - thank you - we couldn't do it without you. 
To those whose journey to the start line was thwarted by illness or injury - commiserations, the trails will be there for you another year. 
To the Committee who gave me this chance by putting my name into the ballot so it could be drawn out - thank you.  Also for the hours of time you put into the organisation of the race each year...
To those who have inspired me and supported me in countless ways - HUGE thanks you really are the best.
God I know, it sounds like an Oscar speech :-)
The inimitable George posted something on facebook which I hope he doesn't mind me borrowing as it sums the whole thing up perfectly:
"Looking forward to seeing the family and biggest support crew I have ever known."

Wednesday, 3 June 2015


Still running...
(you probably need to be over 50 to get the reference in the title but never mind!)

I always wanted the luxury of having a week to train and not have to worry about anything else, and last week I was lucky enough to realise that ambition.  We had volunteered to help at the inaugural Skye Trail Ultra and decided to take a week's holiday beforehand so that we could run and run and run.  Unfortunately John had 'tweaked' his calf again but I was able to run - every day, twice a day on all but 2 days!  I am very proud of my longest ever training week and my stats:
Distance: 74.64 mi
Elevation Gain: 2,578 m
And I'm not broken either!  Tired, but not broken :-)

On Saturday 24th May we headed up to Skye, the weather wasn't great, rainy and windy.  This set the tone for the week, rain, occasional sunshine and gales.  Add in the sleet, snow and hailstones and you get the gist - character building, challenging, (hellish!)  I soon discovered that there are no flat bits on Skye, every single run I did was hilly!  We managed to catch up with some friends while we were there, had a lovely curry with Andy and Karen O'Grady in their house and then I met up with Fiona, Rachel and Andy again on the Thursday evening for a run.  We also managed to explore a fair bit, I ran around the North of the island on Sunday, we went to the Quiraing on Monday as John had hoped he be able to run but unfortunately his leg wasn't as strong as he'd thought so instead, I ran home.  Tuesday we went to Broadford and I ran on the marble line to Kilbride, this is a beautiful trail and is also the last 10 miles of the Ultra race.  The trail is beautiful it has hard packed trail, heather and peat bogs, grassy headlands and scrambling up rocks add in the path along the beach where the cliff has fallen down and it's got something for everyone!  The views when the sun comes out are spectacular, you pass through Boreraig and Suisnish - villages cleared during the Highland Clearances - strangely eerie and emotional places with a single solitary headstone in the clearing.
I ran five evenings as well, a different session each time, whatever my coach decided I should do.
We also managed to catch up with some much needed restorative sleep, including a few afternoon naps.
On Wednesday I set my alarm and got up to run early in the morning (in the rain), with good reason.  It was Amanda's birthday and we had arranged with her husband Clark to meet them in Plockton for lunch.  The Plockton Inn is one of her favourite spots for food and it didn't disappoint!  Beautiful seafood and great to catch up with them, Amanda didn't know we were going to be there and I think she enjoyed the surprise (and the gin)!  Wednesday evening I went out to do intervals and it was the worst weather of the whole week, it nearly reduced me to tears on rep 5!  However I toughed it out and did more than the previous time!

Waternish trail
Thursday dawned a bit brighter and we headed to Waternish - there was mud, lots of it but there was more sunshine than we'd seen all week and only a couple of heavy downpours.  We visited the old church at Trumpan and  John walked up to see the Brochs.  On the way he tried to rescue a sheep who'd got stuck in a ditch but unfortunately she died :-(
Clark had told us they'd done this route a few years ago and it was muddy, he wasn't wrong!
The trail did get grassier and less mucky and more runnable later on and on the way back I managed to run through some puddles to try to clean off my shoes a bit, they still had to get a proper rinse under the tap and they've still got some peaty brown bits ingrained into them - as have my toes!  We stopped off in Dunvegan for lunch and by the time we got home, I'd half an hour on the couch with my feet up then it was time to get changed again and go meet some fellow Grumpies for the second run of the day!  The weather was getting wild again and we headed off to the Quiraing where Fiona, Rachel and Andy were going to take me up the hill that I'd chickened out of on Monday.  Suffice to say it was scary!  Gale force winds, hailstones, beautiful rainbows, mud and my legs were pretty dead before I started - I found it really tough and Fiona took pity on me and we stayed on the 'low' bits!  Thanks Chiefy xxx
Friday was my last training day as we were marshalling the race Saturday and Sunday, so  we headed back to Kilbride and I ran the marble line again in the 'right' direction this time ie the same way as it would be for the racers.  Thursday night's rain was torrential and the difference on the trail from Tuesday to Friday was huge, it had been fairly dry on Tuesday and it was a complete mudfest on Friday.  I was very tired on Friday morning and found it hard going at the beginning, however the sun came out and the views were fantastic.  Then the hail came!  Then the sun came back out, then the hail, this was to be the pattern of the afternoon, sunshine and showers.  John met me at the end of my run and we headed to the Broadford hotel to meet up with the competitors and Jeff the Race Director.  More friends, Donald and Elaine were staying overnight in Uig on their way to Harris, so we met them in the pub for a drink and a catch up then we went 'home' to get packed up and ready to leave the cottage on the Saturday morning.   4am Saturday and the alarm went off, time to go to Duntulm for the start of the race - but that's another story...

home for the week

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Girly Weekend with a difference

Taking 5 minutes out of a somewhat upsetting day to think about something that makes me smile...

The stereotypical 'girly weekend' is usually an allover fake tan and glitzy nails.  We came back with a patchy tan and wrecked nails!  But we had a great time :-D
Amanda wrote a great wee blog about our trip so I'm sharing hers instead of writing my own - not being lazy but really not much point in writing the same thing twice!
Read all about it here in Amanda's blog

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Highland Fling Ultra - 2013 all over again :(

photo courtesy of Colin Knox (who doesn't know I pinched it!)
There are many quotes about how making it to the start line of the race is a triumph in it's own right - I just can't recall any of them at the moment :) 
On Saturday 25 April 2015, I did make it to the start line, just not much further!  This is progress when in 2013 I didn't make it to the start line and had to admit defeat on the Thursday before when my Dr told me I wouldn't be fit to run for a bus never mind 53 miles... I was absolutely heartbroken and still remember the lovely messages of support and condolence I got from a number of the experienced 'old guys' and their female counterparts - they helped so much!  History was to repeat itself this year in almost identical pattern - we returned home from a race by plane and John picked up a bug.  Cue a nasty sinus/chesty infection which caused him to take time off work - almost unheard of!!  I was doing really well, managed to keep healthy and keep up my circuits and had a good run at the weekend over Conic Hill.  Was even starting to feel positive about this year's Fling then Boom! Wednesday swollen glands and sore throat, feeling irrationally tearful :( Thursday felt a little bit better til night then back again :-( :-(  Friday, the cough started :-( :-( :-( and the temperature...
However we were packed up and ready to go so headed to Milngavie - I'd paid for the room after all!  Had our tea - eventually in the charming and enjoyable company of Rhona and Graeme McKinnon then headed down to registration.  Caught up with friends and made some new ones, one drink with Wim who'd flown over from Amsterdam that morning, and then back to hotel.  Quick catchup and nightcap with Amanda then bed - I had started feeling better after dinner so hadn't ruled out a DNS though the coughing when I laid down did make me think about it.  I had a really good sleep - perhaps cold n flu night time tablets and a wee Bunnahabhain ceobanach are a good combination!
Saturday morning 0430 alarm goes off, John has the kettle on and it's time to assess the situation... I actually felt really quite good, felt well slept and temperature seemed normal so organised and off to the station we went.  Lovely to catch up with lots of friends - who all later took the opportunity to tell me how shit I looked (you know who you are and I love you all!) and then it was time to line up for the start.  Off we went and all felt ok, legs were happy to be running gently and I was chatting to Mike Adams and David Egan as we trotted gently down the High Street, waited in the bottleneck at the ramp and then a wee wave from Ally and Ian and onto the path.  I waved and shouted 'morning' to Keith as he filmed from the bridge above and after half a mile my lungs packed up!  Literally!  I couldn't draw a breath.  No warning coughs no tightening in my chest just Wallop!  It wasn't a difficult decision to make - I can stumble along on duff legs but can't do much with duff lungs.  Garmin stopped and phone out to ring John - hoping I'd catch him in time.  I think he thought he was getting some sort of 'sex call' is that what you call them? You know the ones with the heavy breathing and you can't hear the words?  Anyway, he got the message and fortunately was only as far as the car so he came back to meet me and escort me back to the car.  We spent the rest of the day dotting about supporting and then spent a wee while at the ceilidh but were knackered so headed to bed (he's still not fully recovered either)  I woke early Sunday feeling really miserable and just wanted to be home in my own bed, so we got up and had a quick cuppa and a chat with Wee Fi then headed home.  We were back by 0900 and I spent the whole day doing nothing but feeling grotty and coughing and wheezing... Stayed in bed yesterday too then went to see Dr this morning.  I have my drugs, they're starting to work and already the world has a better perspective :)
So many friends had great races on Saturday and a few didn't get what they wanted from the day, the event was as always, 'some show'!  Johnny Fling, ably assisted by Noanie has made this bigger and better and it was great to be part of the day albeit not quite in the way I'd planned. 
In 2013 I was devastated, in 2015 I was disappointed and sad but not with the same sense of failure or trauma, my whole year is aimed at one thing and that is being back in the station car park at 0100 on 20th June and I am comfortable that I made the right decision not to try to push on - it's all about the bigger picture - my eyes are firmly on the goal!

Thanks all for the kind words and good wishes they mean a lot!

Monday, 20 April 2015

A wee (mis)Adventure :-)

This is a little bit out of order but as I watch the Fling hysteria building on facebook, I thought I'd write about my last long run on the 'Way'.
Saturday 21 March, John dropped me at Balmaha, my goal? To make it to Tyndrum in one piece.  It was a cracking morning, probably the first of the warm, sunny days , we've been blessed with this Spring.  I trotted along quite happily and surprised myself by climbing strongly up the hill away from the road and before long was plodding along comfortably enjoying the morning.  I had a goal time in mind to get to Rowardennan, and I beat it by about 10minutes so was quite chuffed with that, I stopped to use the loo and then ate a sandwich and topped up my water before heading off again.  The next 20 mins or so were awful and it was only when I realised that I was overheating and stopped to take my long sleeve shirt off that I settled again.  This was a march up the hills run down them section, the shade and cool of this forested bits was very welcome and the downhills even more so.  I tootled along only meeting a couple of runners coming in the opposite direction to Inversnaid where I had another sandwich and some water.  A bloke came into the carpark shortly after me asking 'which way to the West Highland Way?'  I didn't ask if he was serious but instead, politely directed him out the other side of the car park - he was going as far as The Drovers.  I had texted John to let him know how I was doing, and he rang me as I was leaving and I walked along enjoying the sunshine and the views, discussing with him whether he should keep running out to meet me or turn back and get the car (he'd driven up to Tyndrum) and meet me at Drovers, but I really didn't want to cut my run short as I was enjoying my own company, the weather, the challenge and feeling ok.  The next section is as most of you know, the 'technical bit' I've not been here since 2013 so I hadn't seen the fallen trees/collapsed path - they certainly added a new dimension, but I managed not to get lost or hurt and before long was back on the path proper and on my way towards Beinglas.  Here is where I made MY only navigational error, as I approached Doune Bothy, I followed a walked path to go above the bog - I should have just gone through it and ended up, a little bit further up the hill than the field the bothy is in.  John had reached the bothy and was tracking me so he knew I wasn't far away and when he rang me - after I'd realised my error and waded down the burn! he could actually see me a couple of hundred yards away so I was quickly downhill, over the wall and met up.  We then headed off to Beinglas and onwards.
Although my times were still within the limits he'd set for me (I wasn't aware of this) it was still the weekend before the clocks changed so we were aware that it would perhaps be dark before we got back and neither of us had a headtorch! (yes stupid error we know)
On we continued and long story short we got to 'The Big Gate' without mishap.  A quick comfort break and jackets on as it was starting to get cool and off we headed up onto the 'rollercoaster' I love this part of the course, it is so pretty and although it wasn't dark, the big trees cut out what light there was however we made it safely if slowly down to the road at Ewich and across to Auchtertyre.  By now it was properly dark and the sky was ablaze with stars - they looked as if you could reach up and touch them - spectacular!  This is where we had our second navigational mishap but this time it wasn't ME!  I am lucky that I have a pretty good visual memory and when we left St Fillan's ruins on our left I wanted to go straight on on the black tar but was convinced to bear right, however John did concede at this point that perhaps he was wrong so we went back to the gate and then along the black tar :-)
(it only added an extra half mile or so)
Past the wigwams at Auchtertyre where we did get some odd looks from folk damping down their BBQs under the road and then it was the last 2 miles to Tyndrum.  There's a wee stream about half a mile down the track that you have to ford, and as I went through the water and John went straight on face first into a tree, I turned right on the 'right' path and WHACK! tripped over a BIG rock! Down I went with a thump, it was a bit sore but nothing broken so up on my feet and off we trotted again - it would have been awesome if there'd been a full moon but unfortunately it was only a sliver but you could actually see quite well as there was no light pollution.  On the last climb before the last gate another boulder jumped out and tripped me up :( worst injury was that the landing paused my Garmin - I restarted it and carried on - my right hand felt a bit sticky and when I licked my thumb I tasted blood :-( never mind, nearly there... We made it safely to Tyndrum, we didn't fall out and the bleeding hand wasn't so bad once wiped with a babywipe.  Quick clean-down in the car park, dry clothes on and up to the pub for some coke and salt and vinegar crisps.  Mission accomplished, I made it in one piece (the bruising appeared over the next 3 days and took a fortnight to disappear!)
OK so it took a bit longer to do the last section as it was dark, however the rest of the sections were all within John's limits - I didn't know this until the next day and although the last section was much slower,as John said, it was good practice for being out at night, (particularly the second night) head down and just keep slogging it out - and to be honest, I REALLY, REALLY enjoyed the adventure! :)
No pictures in this entry - well it was dark remember?

ps 34.75miles!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015


No, it was (bloody) hard!  However it was another one on the Bucket List and a good long training run.  It was also very sunny and hot and WINDY!!  (It has to be pretty hot for me to burn and my neck/shoulders got sunburnt.)  This was another race that was on my bucket list and another which was entered before WHW was on the horizon.  John has run it twice before and I did the 10km on those occasions.
This race has a very strict 5h30 cutoff and when I entered I was hopeful that I should be ok with that having got my 5:0:01 at Loch Ness in Sept 2013 and add to that there are no hills in Rotterdam.  The person who finishes on or just before 5:30 becomes a celebrity as the TV camera bikes follow them for the last 2km and they get presented their medal by the race winner... I wasn't sure if I fancied that part of things but decided even though plans were changed for 2015, that I'd take a chance. 
As it was, I finished behind the official clock so at the moment don't have a recorded time, however along with the other folks who were behind me, and there were a few, we were told at about the 20mile mark, that we would be ok to finish and that would still get our medals.  I was ok with this, as my goals had changed, if as originally planned I had trained for this as my 'A' race of the year I would have hopefully not been in this position.
This is a superbly organised race, a very flat, fast course and definitely one for those of you who are PB hunting.  The support on the course is awesome, and I was blown away by the number of people still at the finish all cheering and shouting my name - I may at some point come back and do it again with a proper marathon training plan and taper behind me.  Like I said when I posted about Berlin, I am in no way being disrespectful by running and not being 'properly prepared' I most certainly don't go out with the attitude that I can 'wing it' but I went out to do a 26mile (26.52) training run and I managed that.  I'm disappointed that I didn't get under 5:30 but not downhearted, I know where things went wrong, where I got bored and where I should have fuelled (but that would mean remembering to take stuff with me...) my legs were less problematic than in Berlin and we had a fine long weekend away topped off by hitting the 6kg weightloss mark today :-)

ps Hardlopen means to run/race

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Love a Long Weekend!

3 Training Runs
3 Great Days Out
31.5 Miles covered
2134 Metres of Climbing!
We are heading off to Rotterdam this weekend for the marathon, another training run(!)  As I said before Berlin and Rotterdam were entered before I was one of the lucky few who got a place in the WHW Race.  Subsequently my training focus has definitely not been on road racing but this mileage is double that of 2 weeks ago in Berlin and half the distance I need to complete the Fling 2 weeks later... so in theory it's a good training run and in 'just the right place'...
Bearing all of the above in mind, John decided that I should 'take it a little bit easier' and do 30miles but over 3 days - as he said to someone the other night 'talk about altered reality'  I had had a really sore leg since Berlin, it's an ongoing issue with my hamstring but dry-needling seems to ease it and I was really lucky to get a last minute appointment at Life Fit on Thursday at lunchtime and the needles started to work their magic while I was still on the treatment table!
We were off for the Easter weekend which gave us plenty of scope and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.

Friday: alarm off at 6am, porridge eaten, bag packed and off to Milngavie - I was running Milngavie to Drymen and I had a time target - I had done this section a month ago and it was awful, freezing cold, crampy legs, and lots of ice!  This time it was damp and dull but still and not too cold, with no ice!  However i was ready to chuck it after 2km as I got horrendous cramp again in my calves :-(  I don't know if I was starting off 'too fast' it didn't feel fast to me, but it's all relative I guess and although I felt I was going really slowly, maybe I wasn't - hence the excruciating pain!  I walked for a full 5 minutes til I left Mugdock and once I got onto the trail proper, things started to thankfully ease off.  In the end, I did ok, I got to Drymen 40 minutes quicker than last time and a full 15minutes under my target!  #jobdone Day1
Nice lunch at the Drymen Inn, a wee afternoon nap and kit washed and sorted for tomorrow.

Saturday: alarm off at 6am, just some toast and coffee this time as a second breakfast was planned.  We picked Amanda up in Bridge of Allan at 0720 and headed off to Glencoe where she was meeting up with some others for a Glee Club run.  There were runners doing various distances, Minty, Sean, James and Spiderman (AKA Ross) were heading down from Tyndrum & Bridge of Orchy and Amanda was joining them to run to Fort William.  After our second breakfast at the ski centre, John and I headed to Kinlochleven where I got changed, bade him farewell and headed off on my own, he was going to run back to meet me from Braveheart car park.  It's a long climb up from Kinlochleven but I enjoyed it this time, I am feeling much stronger than ever before and although I'll never be an uphill runner like John, I climbed up 'strong and steady'.  Once I got to the top, I really enjoyed the trip across the Lairig Mhor, I ran much more of it than ever before, even managing to run some of the Ups!  There weren't many folk out on the Lairig but the few walkers I passed all said hello and then I had a wee blether with Derek Cassels (superspeedy) who passed me on his way out and then slowed down to chat with me for a few minutes on his way back. 
This picture of my favourite place on the Lairig is included because I love it so much. 
I was super chuffed to get to Lundavra and John wasn't there - not because I didn't want to see him, but because I'd beaten him there - he was surprised to meet me a little bit further towards him than he'd expected and silly though it might seem it's a wee lift that he's pleasantly surprised :)  heading back to Braveheart I had a real slump on the 'elephant's graveyard' I don't know what it's really called but it's a pretty desolate de-forested uphill slog before you get to the fire road and it's one of those places that gets me every time.  Once on the fire road however I picked up again and really enjoyed the 2mile downhill run that comes next.  By this time, he'd flown off ahead of me and I concentrated on running properly not just letting myself go and losing control and trashing my quads.  Back safely to Braveheart - 5minutes under my target time this time :-) and we waited for Amanda and Minty who we were taking back with us.
Great runs had by all and chips and cheese at the Real Food Cafe to top off another grand day out on the hills. #jobdone Day2

Sunday: alarm off at 6am, scrambled eggs for breakfast.  Today is John's long run as to hit my 30miles I only needed to do 4.3 miles :)  He wanted to recce a bit of the Cateran that he will be running in the dark come race day, so I dropped him off at Glen Isla.  Sunday was a beautiful day once the fog burned off, so we took the wee car and it was great to drive around with the roof down getting the sun on my face :-)
I drove to Spittal of Glenshee, where he'd finish, parked the car and headed up the hill for my 'run'.  It's a steep climb and for the first time ever I climbed all the way to the Lairig Gate without stopping - yeehah!  I love the run back down and was looking forward to it, but it was really really muddy and quite slippy for the first third, however I did enjoy the next 2/3rds and the sun was roasting on my shoulders and legs and it was just fine :-)  I was only 3.5miles at the bottom so tootled about a wee bit on the other side of the main road on the start of the race route until i had 5.5miles in the end - a mile more than I needed but who's counting ;-)
John finished his run (grumbling) and we had a wee paddle in the river to clean off our mucky shoes before heading to Blairgowrie for something to eat.  #jobdone Day3.

Monday:  alarm off at 7.30am (rest day and still a holiday!) Trip to Edinburgh to Run & Become, John wanted to change his recently purchased shoes for a bigger size, and I bought a new pair too.  Lovely lunch and wander in the sunshine then home. #jobdone Day4.

I do Love a Long Weekend!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

One more off the bucket list!

The 35th Vatenfall Berliner Halbmarathon, Sunday 29 March 2015.
In 2008 when John had progressed to half marathon distance, we went to Berlin for him to take part in the Half Marathon.  I remember the excitement of the event - it was about 20000 runners that year - a lot for a Half!  There were crowds out supporting along the route and the start and finish area was great with stalls selling bier, bratwurst, brezels etc.  He thoroughly enjoyed this race and I remember the excitement and emotion of watching him power down the finishing strait.  I said then that I'd like to come back and run this myself one day.  In 2011 we planned to go back and both entered, but I was ill with 3 chest infections at the start of this year so we didn't make it... Last Autumn, the race opened and we decided to try again, both getting places in what is now a Huge Half! 35000 places!
This was before I knew I'd got a place in the West Highland Way race.  As a result, my training has been focused on the WHW race, not on racing (?) Half Marathon or even Marathon distance.  My taper consisted of a 34.7 mile race on the WHW, a 4 miler midweek, and 3 hard circuit sessions, not the most conventional :)  We arrived Saturday evening to our first 'mishap' arrived at our hotel to be told that they'd had a problem with their booking system and had overbooked so we didn't have a room.  Before I had a chance to draw breathe to complain, the charming receptionist told us he had already booked us a room in a sister hotel and they would pay for a taxi to take us there.  True to his word, the taxi arrived and took us across the city to our new abode, ironically a lot closer to the race start than the one we'd chosen.  We spent the next three nights in the Park Plaza Wall Street and it was very nice.  Being closer to the start meant we'd time for breakfast before we left, bonus!  There were a few other runners and an Italian gentleman met John at the buffet and asked if he was ready :)
It was raining as we jogged the mile to the start, got heavier as we picked up our numbers, however there was plenty of shelter and the rain went off after about half an hour.  Like a big city marathon, there were baggage trucks, and an abundance of porta loos.  Half an hour to go, we dropped off the bags with our clothes for after, said our cheerios and went to our start corrals.  Second 'mishap' there was a problem with the chip timing system which meant the start was delayed.  John was 10mins late but I had to wait 40mins until I started and my left leg started seizing up and getting quite crampy and sore :-(  Eventually and after a quick exit from the corral to the porta loo, a fast jog up the pavement and hop back into the start corrals and it was time to go.
Off we went out to Charlottenburg and back, I enjoyed the route as I'm familiar with the city landmarks and having done the Marathon the second half of the route was well known.  We'd a bit of a headwind on the way out and a couple of large puddles to contend with if following the race line - yes there was a racing line in a Half!! On the way back it was cool to see the green lines for the race alongside the blue ones from last year's Marathon.  There were crowds most of the way and at least 7 bands to keep us going.  I am used to being in a fair bit of open space as I'm often near the back, I'd to run with elbows out a fair bit, this time there were 10,000 people who finished after me!
Ticking off the landmarks in my peripheral vision I was concentrating on trying to keep my pace consistent and to keep the work rate up, at the same time telling myself that I could keep going even though my left leg was killing me - nothing that can't be fixed when I go to physio on Tuesday, but really sore all the same.  300m from the finish I heard John shout my name and I waved as I kept on going and worked hard to overtake as many people as I could in the last 250m, I honestly think I managed to overtake about 20 people just by keeping going.  Job done, ticked off the list!  Medal, space blanket, water, banana, beer, met John, picked up bag from luggage truck, passed the showers and changing rooms (yep seriously!!) then walked back to the hotel (the long way...)
We spent the next two days being tourists, cocktails, cake & wine in KaDeWe, La Boheme at the Deutsche Oper, running in the snow to the East Side Gallery, pizza at 12 Apostel then the third 'mishap' our train to the airport was delayed!  (it didn't matter as we'd plenty of time) they say that things happen in threes :-)

We'd a great wee break, a decent run and more training miles in the bank.  I thought about including photos of some traditional landmarks, but decided to share these instead as they made me smile

Friday, 27 March 2015

Catching up

It's 4 weeks since I last wrote anything here... where has March gone?  I cannot believe how quickly the days have passed!  Last time I wrote an update, we'd been at By The Way for a Fling training weekend, there's another one this weekend, but we're not participating as tomorrow morning we're off to Berlin for the Half Marathon on Sunday. 
To backtrack a little, after the horrendous weather at Tyndrum, we had a nice day in Glasgow and then on the Monday we had a fine run on the canal.  Falkirk Wheel to Linlithgow, 14miles including a wee detour as the hated 'darkie tunnel' was closed for repair (phew...) lunch in Linlithgow then the train back to Falkirk with a 2 mile jog back to the car, arriving just as the snow started - and kept falling!  It snowed heavily overnight and again the next day then fortunately the weather broke and the sun started shining. Before we knew it, it was the weekend and the Saturday was back to the usual horrendous weather, heavy rain, grey skies and high winds.  John braved the elements and ran 9 miles in it, I didn't.  However we woke on the Sunday  morning to bright sunshine and blue skies and headed up to do some recceing on the Cateran Trail. 
I dropped John at Glen Isla, and drove to Blairgowrie, he was going to run across the hills and meet me there.  Just as I parked up, the heavens opened but undaunted, I put on my jacket and headed off onto the trail that leads to Bridge of Cally.  I like this part of the trail, it's well marked and easy to find your way, it's party tarmac and partly fields, and a few hills for good measure. 
sunshine after the rain
For 20minutes the rain and wind was horrid, then it stopped and the skies were blue as far as the eye could see!  I went 5miles and turned back, getting caught a second time in a short sharp downpour - if you can call horizontal rain a downpour!  I got back to the car only a minute or so after John so that worked out well, with neither of us having to hang about waiting for the other.
Another week of circuit training and short runs, then it was D33 Weekend.  We had the Friday off work and I had a hospital appointment before we headed up to Aberdeen and we had agreed to be part of the marquee building team, so after lunch we met up in Duthie park with our fellow erectors and got to work.  Johnny Fling has a huge marquee which we helped to erect and dismantle last year and mostly the same folk turned up again this year so we had it up in no time! 
(it helped we didn't have to battle gale force winds!)
Friday evening was spent catching up with friends in the Station Hotel in 'Stoney' then it was Saturday and an early breakfast before heading back from Stonehaven to Duthie Park.  For a number of reasons, I was unsure right up until the start whether or not I was going to run the full distance and in the end, I didn't.  I did however have a really good run with Bill to Milltimber and feel I made the right decision.  We were back in the park in time to get warm clothes on and a coffee inside us before the winner Ross Houston came flying home shattering the course record!  I was delighted to watch many friends finish the race smiling, many of whom got PBs and some of whom were finishing their first ultra.  The post race party in the Station later that evening allowed us to catch up with others and hear their tales.  Sunday morning we had a fab run through Dunnottar woods to the castle with Karen, Mike and Graeme then John and I went to Auntie Betty's for ice-cream before popping in to see George and Karen before we headed home.
A good week followed, the Inspiration Evening in Stirling on Tuesday, preceded by nice burgers with Amanda and Clark.  Bright sunny early morning runs, circuit sessions and then it was the weekend again... Up on Saturday morning and off to train on the West Highland Way.  I'll write about this wee (mis)adventure in a separate post :-)