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!
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...
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