Saturday, 29 August 2009

Saturday night torture

xxx at EveryTrail

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I was going to call this one "Six of the Best" but I only did 5 so I've had to rethink. "Five of what?" I hear you ask, which brings me to my great idea. My great idea when thinking about "How can I train for the Ben Nevis race AND a marathon at the same time and all on Saturday evening when I have some spare time?" ; Run 6 times round Arthur's Seat.
Peter was horrified but if I was going to do it then he was going to do it so after a sleep after work and some household chores we set out shortly after 7pm into the mean streets of Leith on a Saturday Night.

My achilles are a little grungy and were complaining for the first lap. Everything eased off by the 2nd lap. By the third lap it was starting to get dark. By the fourth lap it was very dark and the traffic on the road round the seat was starting to annoy me. Cars cruised by too slow or boy racers whizzed by too fast. Peter and I had agreed to go at our own paces and see each other at home as communication would become impossible as soon as we were a few hundred yards apart.

By the 5th lap I was starting to feel pretty hungry and cranky and there was no slackening in Saturday night car action round the seat - which was a pity as the moon had come up and the rabbits and bats were out and it would have been quite peaceful and nice. I'd underestimated how far it was going to be anyway and when I saw, at the shoulder of the seat that I'd already run 16 miles I realised I could go straight home and cover 18.5 miles or carry on and do somewhere nearer 22, which had not been my aim and did not appeal. So I bailed. Not without some regret...but I think it was the right thing.

I am starving. Time was slow but hey it was hilly and half of it was in the dark. 18.5 miles in 3hrs 05 minutes. Need to stretch, shower, eat, watch telly and sleep.
(Forgot to mention, Peter did do the 6 and arrived in the bottom door just as I had climbed the 3 flights of stairs to our flat, so that worked out well.)
It was very cool out. Autumn definitely on its way.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Back Cove 5K part II

Just found these great photos of last weeks Back Cove 5K by David Colby Young of Maine Running Photos showing a good Porty presence in Portland.
Back from the states now and thinking about how to train for the next couple of things.
1st comes the Ben which I could have done with getting a few hills in for but end-to-end trail and hill running in Maine gave me killer achilles trouble so I'm worried about that. Some flat running and calf stretching has helped a lot. The thing after that, not compatible really, is the Loch Ness marathon coming up on 4th October. I need to get some long runs in but I'm going to be at work for the next 8 days in a row. How am I going to do it? In desperation I'm thinking a 20 miler on Saturday evening starting around 7pm which means running the last hour or so in the dark. Its a great thing desperation. I probably have to do it though it appeals in NO WAY.
I meant to get up early and do a long run today but I missed a good bit of sleep flying back and slept from 1 am this morning til 1 pm this afternoon. And I want to go to club. Haven't been for about a month.
I have hated all my last long runs. How can I make them more interesting?

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Back Cove 5k

Last night was the Back Cove 5k in Portland. This is run every Wednesday night all summer along the lines of the Park Runs run in London and Glasgow. You have to register initially to get a number but its free...all you have to do is turn up with your number before 6pm and race.

The course is a little less than the perimeter of Back Cove and is mostly dead flat (It raises briefly to go up the side of a bridge and down the other side.) The surface is dusty grit which is not the fastest surface but its easy on the legs and feet. There are very few distractions on the way round. Prominent in my thoughts last night were the heat and the dust and dry air as I set off on this thing. I'd already been running the night before at the Trail Monsters regular Tuesday night session at Twin Brook, which for me had been mostly an eye-balls out run in life-threatening heat.

Mile 1 went surprisingly well. In our warm up I was thinking I would be lucky to break 8 minute/miling but the first mile was 7.20 pace. I had started quite far back so I had the motivation of passing people for most of the first mile. As we rounded the cove I soon discovered that some of my fleetness of foot had come from a following wind and as it rounded into my face things slowed a little. At about a mile and a half I got in some kind of a race with an older gent who with his beard and stern attitude reminded me a bit of Alex Jackson. We swapped places a couple of times. A tiny woman in black bra and shorts went past and I could not respond. The bridge was at 2 miles so should have been some comfort but the last mile and a bit seemed a long, long way. In the final stretch I found myself next to Dominic who had introduced himself at the start of the race and told me he was just behind me at the Breaker on Sunday. I tried my best to get him just behind me also at this race and after a prolonged sprint in which to my surprise I did finally find another gear, I just pipped him to the post. It was a PW for me of just over 24 mins but I couldn't have worked much harder.

First priority was water and breathing and a little while later I spoke with some of the runners who had been around me in the race. As Peter (who was a creditable 5th) and Ian and I jogged up the road the Time and Temperature tower showed it was still 85 degrees.

This morning was spent bush-whacking on jungle trails with trail-monster Jeff. (sp?)

A day off running tomorrow is probably necessary in order to recover for a longer trail and hill run on Saturday. I am the slowest and every day is a battle for survival!


(Looking at the Breaker results I see Dominic was in fact ahead of me at the Breaker. He must have just been being polite.)

Monday, 17 August 2009

It was our friend Ian's race the Bradbury Mountain Breaker yesterday. Its the 2nd in a series of 3 trail races at Bradbury. (The Scuffle, the Breaker and then the Bruiser.) At 9 miles it didn't sound too daunting and I was secretly slightly disappointed that we wouldn't be around for the 12 mile bruiser in September.

Temperatures were in the 90s at a guess and although it was hard on the Scots, apparently its the first really hot weather they've had this year in Maine so everyone was suffering. The Breaker is on what appears to be relatively gentle trails but it climbs to the summit or near to the summit of Bradbury Mountain (not a big mountain but it all mounts up) 3 times in each of the 2 loops.

Emma suggested I go out aggressively as the path narrows fairly early on, so I did...and was treated to a steady flow of runners, many of them women, passing me shortly after. To be fair to myself the standard of the runners was good.

I quickly realised that I was going to have to adjust my running to the heat if I was going to get round at all so I started watching heart-rate rather than pace or time or distance and found that if I kept myself just under 90% MHR I was okay, if I went over I started to feel really terrible and flail around.
The course is littered with things to trip over (particularly tree roots) and sharp things to land on so I was keen to stay upright.

Aid stations at about every 2.25 miles had originally seemed overly generous but were very welcome as I sweated rivers off my head and back.
There was a sting in the tail at the end of the course - a nest of bees that we'd run into the day before when marking the course. The park rangers had gone to have a look and must of thought they were relatively harmless as they were still there on race day. They provided good incentive to keep the pace up right along the final flattish stretch of trail and into the field. A few runners did get stung. A lot picked up their pace considerably. A bee bumped into me but flew away without any hostilities.

Ian's thinking about changing the name of the race to the Stinger next year.
Peter was delighted with a hard fought for 2nd place and I lucked 2nd LV40 coming away with an aerobie.

We have lots more photos but I'm not finding my way easily around this computer yet so I'll post this and put some more up later.


Monday, 10 August 2009


I won this fine bottle of Jamaican Wine today at work in a raffle I never entered. I am finding it quite spooky now how the booze is flowing towards me as if the universe itself had felt my deep need for drink and responded accordingly. What the hell is Jamaican Wine? I will find out.

My cocktail cabinet now stands at non brand name Bacardi Breezer, Johnny Walker miniature in a plastic bottle, a bottle of Brut and now some fine Jamaican wine in a screw-top bottle.

There's going to be one HELL of a party....
LATER; Hey its delicious and I've found an advert on You Tube for it

Friday, 7 August 2009

Holy molar and other stories

Since the tour of fife we have been preternaturally tired. I went a 10 miler on Tuesday but prior to this I'd been to the dentist and she'd whipped out the tooth I broke at Draycote Water. (She didn't want to she wanted me to have a crown for £110 but I cannot see the point.) I got an NHS slip of paper warning me not to exercise for 24 hours after an extraction but I couldn't run the next day so decided to chance it and I think horrified people a bit as when I wiped my mouth there was a big smear of blood there. Anyway, it was a slow run but I was tired the next day - and the next day. Today I set off for a long run as I am way behind marathon training for October and although I didn't have any disasters like the last time I went out long running I was slow and quite frankly bored and dodged 2 miles whittling my 20 miler down to 18. It doesn't bode at all well for my fantasised new marathon pb.

The good news today was that apparently Portobello ladies won the team prize at Musselburgh 10K with me as second counter, and the prize was a bottle of fizzy each.

My collection of drinks won at the races is swelling fast and is surprisingly similar to what I might have drunk in the toilet during the course of a school disco (although Bacardi Breezers had not yet been invented at this time.)

In my drinks cabinet I now have a non brand-name Bacardi Breezer, a miniature of Johnny Walker in a plastic bottle and one bottle of Fizzy.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Fin de tour

Not sure about my french there but never mind. The last day of the tour de fife and once again we got up and got into our racing tops, pinned our numbers back on and hurpled to the car. We were tired and the car was also tired. The electrics on it aren't the best and it started making a funny noise instead of indicating when I tried to indicate. We had to do some mechanical first aid, which consisted of switching on and off all the electrical switches on the dash. Switching on and off the warning lights did the trick and it righted itself.

Arriving in Falkland the sun was shining and the carpark was packed. There was a real friendly atmosphere (there was everyday but I think today was special) for the final stage of the tour. The Arso Vertitus.

At first I thought I'd made a mistake wearing my mudrocs as we set off along a good long stretch of tarmac, but as soon as we got off road and set off up some uphills I was glad of them. The muddy unevenness under foot and the uphills suited me, as did the spells under the cool shade of the trees. I liked this course the best of all the races. Maspie Den was as special as promised. I knew that at about 2 and a half miles it would be all downhill so pushed it as much as I could without getting into too much of a state. Then it was over the top and relax into the long ascent of approx. a mile. A couple of people overtook me. A man from Fife AC and then Jocelyn Scott. I have witnessed Jocelyn's downhilling powers at first hand on a number of occasions and knew that if I could stay in touch with her I was doing alright. I first noticed this at the Falkland trail race in maybe 2006 when she came past on a downhill and flew past everyone. I tried to copy what she was doing, which seemed to be spending longer in the air than everyone else.

I used to be terrible at coming downhill and I have trained myself to be not too bad. It was a case of just not getting too jangled up today, - trying to relax and keep it as comfortable as possible.

It was one for the hill runners today.

Then it was along to Falkland Village Hall for a sea of cake and a generous prize-giving.

Peter picked up the V45 prize and Judith also picked up a V45 prize.

Its been quite an experience. We've resigned ourselves to feeling a bit down for a few days as the excitement wears off and going back to the news being all about people blowing each other up in foreign lands or politicians disgracing themselves rather than where we are standing in the tour!

Thanks to the people who said they liked my blog! Good luck and see you in future races.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

The tour - day 4

Today's effort was at Tentsmuir forest up near Leuchars. It was an amazing venue with a lovely old forest and a beautiful beach and benches for having picnics on. I think a van-load of Porties should go up there for a day or 2's running activities and social.

Last night's up hill time trial in the mist and rain seemed like a dream as the sun came back out again today. We made good time up-country and happily avoided Cupar where apparently there was a 20 minute tail-back. The team were in reasonable shape though undeniably tired. It was hard to get organised again and get out the door today.

Today's challenge; a 5 mile forest run. There was some wind outside the forest but it was pretty sheltered in the trees and the sun was beating down heartily. I didn't feel too bad when warming up but was apprehensive starting off not knowing really what to expect from my legs after the recent unusual punishment they've been receiving. The first mile was fine, quick for me at 7.19, the next mile was hard, but again was 7.19, but the sun seemed to intensify and the old engine was starting to overheat. I started to flail a bit and knew I'd have to slow up even though this meant letting lots of people (lots of women!) past. There was nothing to be done. As Jocelyn Scott bounced past me on a muddier stretch looking unreasonably fresh I tried to follow in her footsteps as my brain was hot and not functioning its best.

Its not really right to race just waiting for the end to come, but I was! I tried not to feel sorry for myself as I've seen the photos of what this looks like. (Camera man is always there) and its a bit pathetic and destroys your form. My ribs were complaining though and my engine was revving. I somehow thought Peter would be lapping me (even though he'd run out from ahead and this was the 2nd lap.) I thought I heard him coming and put my thumb up in the air, then turned to see a man in a yellow vest running the same pace as me! Oh well. At last the finish. Tried a sprint for the line but there wasn't anything there. Jennifer Cruikshanks of Anster Haddies had me today! Also, I see Sophie Mullins of Fife AC took half a minute off me today. Game on for tomorrow!

Peter is locked in tight contention with Matthew Strachan of Dundee for 1st V45. Matthew was one of the runners stuck in traffic today and turned up late so ran a solo timed lap coming in a second faster than Peter's time, so, again, game on for tomorrow. Well it would be a shame for the last day not to count. I think tomorrow's course takes in some if the Falkland trail race but I'm not very sure.

After the race the Helensburghs and the Porties and a good gathering of other runners went down to the beach and as Andrew Henderson bravely got himself straight in the water we had to follow his example. Judith Dobson ( who raced a 5 mile pb today) had told me there are strong currents at the beach there so I was a bit worried when Peter dove off straight out to sea. I don't know why I bothered trying to tell him because he doesn't listen anyway.

It was a really lovely day. Julia Henderson who is making the transition from class runner to ace photographer very successfully this week has taken heaps of good photos of the race so we'll try and find a way of sending them to Fife AC website - or maybe downloading them to flickr. Never done this so it might take some time.

Should be stretching and showering, not blogging!

Day 3, Up Hell Time Trial

The evening of day 3 and the weather broke as we made our way up the becoming familiar A92. Peter had a nap so I got to listen to the good music from the 80s...

We parked at the side of the road near the start not realising that most people would park at East Lomond carpark and then drive down afterwards, so we never saw the hill until we were running up it. A good thing too, I'd say.

When I'd heard that it was 1.4 miles uphill I kind of thought yeah but there'll be flattish bits, there always are...but there wasn't. What a hill.

We were set off in twos at 30 second intervals and there's something about waiting for your start that pumps up the adrenaline. When it came my time to start I bounded off as if in a 100m sprint and very soon my lungs and legs were burning. I had to try and steady myself after that without giving in. It was an encouraging run. I was passing folk all the way. All that time in the hills in the last 2 years and Gordon's hilly sessions at club have made me better on the uphills than the flat.

I was in a bad way at the end but also knew I'd run well. Cooled down a lot waiting for Peter to come in. Looking at the results I'm more than 20 places further up the field than I have been in the past 2 races.

I am so so impressed with the organisation of these races and the handling of the results. All my results have been completely accurate and they're out in no time.

Tomorrow's race is in Tentsmuir forest about 10 miles north of St. Andrews. Another new place to run. We're just getting into the rhythm. What will we do on Monday when we don't have to drive somewhere and race?
Thanks David S of Fife for live action photos.