Sunday, 31 August 2008

Wet (Pent) lands

We needed a long run in the hills again. Next Saturday is the Ben Nevis Hill Race and at the end of the month The Two Breweries, so despite the weather report and the rain already falling we headed to Flotterstone once again.

Today's route; Turnhouse, Carnethy, Scald Law, South Black Hill, East Kip, West Kip, the drove road, Hare Hill, Black Hill, Bell Hill, Harbour hill, Capelaw, round the side of Castle Law and then back to Flotterstone. Mileage; 13.81 miles in 3hrs28mins. Quite enjoyable despite almost persistent rain. Photos from the Green Cleuch except for the frog which appeared near the top of Black Hill.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Ochil 2000s race

Finally the rain stopped and the clouds lifted and we had good visibility for the Ochil 2000s race. Judith and I ran most of the race together with Judith providing all the route guidance, especially over the tricky bits. We went wrong a few times but never far wrong. Some people definitely got ahead unseen though. Judith, at the end, was already talking about further recces so we can nail it next year.

We made good steady progress over the first "half" up to Ben Ever. After that the line you take becomes increasingly important. There was a lot of wallowing in very wet bogs and high-stepping over tufty ground.

By the foot of Dumyat Judith was complaining that her legs were gone. My legs had been complaining for miles. It was a dry day and a long way and a lot of people got cramp.

I was already pleased with the progress we'd made but saw two V40 women ahead and as it was a Scottish Hill Running Championship race thought I should do my best to pick them off. I set off at a walk/run up Dumyat and my ascending was still reasonable. I passed the V40s and tried to get out of sight, knowing that they are stronger than me on the downhill. It didn't take them long to catch back up to me though and as I stupidly ran the long way round a path I turned and saw them slip over a fence and away ahead.

Some of the terrain on the final descent was a bit cruel. Very steep descent down wet banks. I tiptoed down gingerly as some V60 men bounded by. I followed Charlie Love down to the finish which was mercifully close after coming through the hole in the wall onto Stirling Uni campus. If my 18 year old self had looked out her window at Geddes Court and seen me running by having run 20 miles through the hills she would have got a shock!

Judith came in about a minute behind.

We were both pleased with the way things had turned out.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Ochils Recce II

Ochils Recce II - the return of the wet green hill.

Yesterday we met with Judith at Stirling Uni. We drove in her car to another glen, Stirlingshire seems to be full of them, I think it was just into Tillicoultry. From here we ran up to Andrew Gannel Hill (don't ask me who that is - it's one for Google), then, if I'm remembering rightly we did "The Law" (the law won), then Ben Cleugh, Ben Buck, skipped Ben Ever as its an out and back and it was raining quite hard by this time - and then over difficult peat hags and very wet bogs to Blairdenon Hill.

Judith seemed to have developed a knack for finding the wettest bits so we let her lead the way. She frequently disappeared into swamps and concealed streams. I had one full length encounter with the wet mosslands, tripping up and then aquaplaning for some feet before coming to rest unharmed. It was actually quite warm and pleasant.

From Blairdenon hill the ground continued tough and tussocky but it had dried up and the sun even came out so we were all in good spirits. Coming down behind Dumyat there were trees, birds and butterflies and we crossed a roaring ford that was up to our knees that Judith said had only been ankle deep a couple of weeks ago. There was a stiff climb up to the top of Dumyat and then a fairly pleasant trundle down through the back of Stirling Uni. Peter and Judith could barely contain there excitement as I pointed out some changes that had happened since I stayed there 20 years ago.

We were out for 4hrs, running for 3hrs 35mins according to my Garmin. We ran 14.27 miles, a staggering 15.02 pace. Not bad actually. Felt okay considering we ran a half marathon on Saturday and my achilles' have been giving me considerable gyp. Peter is complaining of having a "funny leg" brought on by wearing shorts that were too tight. Hmmm. Judith just recently completed the tour of Fife, completing 5 races in 5 days. She was complaining of a pulled hamstring, though there wasn't much evidence of it.

This trips kit included new Montrail Highlanders. Wish I'd taken a picture of them. Interesting 70s colour scheme, brown and green with brown soles. They seemed pretty good. If my achilles' tendons are no worse tomorrow I'll be very pleased with them. The grip was good and they're more supportive and cushy than walshes. I wore my Inov8 22 litre pack and again it bit my neck on the downhills. No I didn't like it. Need to figure out what to do. Furry strap liners or try to pack a bladder into my OMM bumbag?

All in all the team are as well prepared for the coming Ochils 2000s race on the 23rd August as we can expect to be. We're still hoping for good visibility as finding our way around those featureless roundy green hills in the mist could prove challenging.