Monday, 16 February 2015

A wee (slightly lengthy) update...

I've not written up my 'diary' for a few weeks, I'm never sure whether to do a little each week or wait til there's something to write...
 I've just completed my first back to back weekend of the year, physically it was good, mentally it was much better :-)
For a number of reasons, some health related, some weather related, I've struggled to get any long runs done yet this year.  I've really enjoyed the snowy weather and the challenges it has presented, the health issues are not so enjoyable and not for further discussion except to say that old age doesn't come by itself is fact, not just an old wives' adage! 
To backtrack a little...
I've chosen this picture as it is one of my favourite places in Scotland, it's a ruined croft on the Lairig Mor and two weekends ago we decided to go up for a run from Kinlochleven, thinking that there might be a couple of inches of snow on the top and knowing that the climb up would be good practice for me.  It was a beautiful sunny, clear morning and apart from the hideous traffic queuing on the A82 to get into Glencoe ski centre, we had a good early morning drive up the road.  There was plenty snow on the tops as we drove through the glen, but nothing to speak of at the lower levels and the climb up from Kinclochleven, while icy in patches was manageable and the snow at the top was pristine - and MUCH deeper than we'd expected (2 feet deep with 4 feet deep drifts).  John ran ahead of me and had fun making the first footsteps in the virgin snow, I followed his footsteps, happily plodding along and enjoying the views.  A solitary walker we met along the way, thought that we were 'pretty mental' but as it had taken him 3 days to come from Fort William and he was camping along the way - I didn't like to ask which was more mental...
(he'd spent the night before camping inside the croft!)
Last weekend I ran from Milngavie to Drymen and it was torture!  My legs were solid and screaming and it was also probably one of the coldest mornings I remember so my lungs were also screaming!  By the time I got to the wee (completely frozen) loch on the way to Carbeth I had started to warm up and my legs were easing off, the sun was out and I was settling into the slog.  I met John at the gate on Tinker's Lane, got a slurp of coffee, moaned about being too hot, took my jacket off and set off on the next leg.  I'd a great run down to the Beech Tree and then along the old railway line to Gartness.  I really don't like this next bit, it's hilly and tar and messes with my head, I plugged in my headphones and listened to Dave Troman reminisce about Chamonix last August, it helped me to lift my mood out of the doldrums and by the time I got back on the trail I was happier again.  I met John again at Drymen and discussed whether or not to stop - as planned - or carry on over Conic hill to Balmaha.  I was a little scared that Conic might be icy ( I have real issues with ice...) and I think John was a wee bit bored, so we headed home, I'd done what was on the plan.
We've both been doing circuit classes for 4 weeks now, I've been going 3 times a week, and until John popped his calf 2 weeks ago, so was he.  He managed one session last week and will hopefully get back later this week.  Still no running for him yet though :-(
This weekend we had a couple of days off work which was lovely, Thursday I went to donate my platelets and John had physio.  Friday we headed up to a dreich and dismal Aberdeen which was brightened immensely by spending the afternoon visiting George in hospital.  We popped back in again in the evening to see if he'd enjoyed his food parcel :-) After visiting, we took a brisk walk up Union Street to Six degrees north a bar that John had been researching, a bit noisy and full of students and 'rich young things' but the beer was good and the choice immense.
Back to the travelodge for a reasonably good sleep, breakfast in the nearby 'spoons on Saturday morning and then on another grey miserable morning we headed to Drumoak.
Not exactly a heaving metropolis, but the starting point for my run.  The D33 as those who've run it or been there, will know, is in the main, flat, I naively assumed that it would continue thus... Oh how we laughed!! After Banchory it's all uphill...
Fantastic forest trails in Scolty woods, apart from the ones that were covered in sheet ice!  Views to die for - I guess - it would be nice to go back one day in sunshine and see them, there were parts of the route where I could barely see 10 feet in front of me as the cloud was so low/mist so thick.
Long story short, I was extremely grateful I had my kahtoolas in my bag, and as the steep hills and ice slowed me down more than planned, John suggested I stop at Kincardine O'Neil - this was 16.5miles and I had originally hoped to get to Aboyne (20miles).
We'd planned that I would run again Sunday and had thought about staying over in Aviemore so that we could watch the Scotland game in the pub on Sunday before heading home, however it was Valentine's day - bad planning on John's part, and there wasn't much available accomodation.  So, we ended up in Newtonmore and on the road there I noticed a sign for National Cycle route 7.  Oh I said - 'there's a cycle path now, I could run back to Aviemore tomorrow' where do I get those stupid ideas from???  Needless to say that was a suggestion that met with coach's approval so after a delicious dinner, a glass of wine and a reasonably early bed, it was Sunday morning and time to go...
Newtonmore to Kingussie was on a designated cycle path, nice surface and easy running. From Kingussie you head uphill on the B road to Ruthven Barracks,  very pretty, with a nice wee downhill, then up again, and again, and again!  I was pleased though that I was starting to get more confident on the uphills and event trying to run some of them, not giving up as soon as the gradient increased.  It turned into a lovely day, blue skies, sunshine and an increasingly strong wind which was fortunately at my back!  Again John popped up in numerous places with words of encouragement and refreshment.  The most surreal thing was the 3 wee ponies making a dash for freedom at Insh!  The rest of the route stays on the B road although I believe that there may be cycle path from Kincraig to Aviemore now too, I didn't turn off to Kincraig I stayed on the road, as directed and we agreed that at 15miles I was going to stop- 15.01 to be exact and it turns out, another mile or so and I'd have been on the main road again at the Old Bridge on the outskirts of Aviemore, but I'm happy with what I did and actually ran and felt better than I had on Saturday.  Soup and coffee, a wee walk, then to the pub for the rugby and an early dinner rounded off my weekend.  Not bad, 31.51 miles with 603m of climbing!
Back to the GP later this week and hopefully things will keep improving and the training will keep on track.
(if you're still reading, well done! Sorry it's a bit wordy)


  1. Several reasons to be pleased with your progress. And beautiful miles in beautiful places. Always heading in the right direction. X

  2. A lovely read Helen, you've had some quality runs, a great start to training, xx