Saturday, 31 July 2010

The Twisted Chicken Run - 6th and final race of the Tour of Fife

The 6th race of the week and the last race of the tour, today had a whole different feel for me. Whether I was still buoyed up by doing a bit better last night or what I don't know, but I felt like a different runner. Instead of having sore tummies and worrying about stitches and dreading the  race ( by yesterday I had convinced myself I had pancreatitis), today I was relaxed and excited and I had this Joy Division song that I've never particularly liked or listened to buzzing round my brain for the whole race.

I thought Brian Cruickshank was being particularly evil setting the course as he did today, with loads of uphill - but I liked it! And there was far less road than I feared there was going to be.

Ruth started with me and we were together for the first wee while and then I had the sense (I never looked) that she'd fallen back a bit. Given that she didn't relish the uphill race last night this wasn't that much of a surprise and I thought no more about it. Nothing for me to do but try and maximise my gains and build up a bit of distance before the dreaded flat road section.

Why was I racing against Ruth? You might well ask. We're in a different age group and she had me beat for sure on overall points - but the thing is she's put up such a performance all week on all kinds of terrain it gets interesting to see just what the hell she can do! I passed a few people on the ups, including Helena Sim of Carnegie, who's been beating me all week, except for last night, so when I heard breathing at my shoulder on the gravelly path (still going uphill) I really thought that this would be Helena. I turned my head a quarter inch and what should I see but a Porty vest! Flipping Heck! (or Holy Fucko as Peter and I occasionally say). Up ahead I could see Davy Burgess (who BC likes to call Fishheid) pointing us down an off-road section. All good as far as I was concerned and glad I wore my trail rather than road shoes. I made a little bit of distance on Ruth coming down here until I heard an almighty shout and turned to see Ruth do a full Commando Roll and spring back onto her feet. The game was still on!

I was running on my own for a while down this section and it was lovely and I felt relaxed. Sandy surface underfoot and Pine Trees on either side - and then the turn back left onto the dreaded road. I'd told myself that we might have a following wind for this section but we patently did not. And who should be coming steaming along behind me?

Holy McMoly. What is a girl to do? I fought my way forward and onto the back of a male runner in black who's tail I blatantly sat on getting maximum cover from the wind. It wasn't nice but I was desperate. Very soon Ruth was breathing on my shoulder and we were all breathing together trying to out-live this stretch of road. The trees provided some much needed cover and I relinquished my hold on the man in black's back and belatedly thought it would be nice for him if Ruth and I provided some cover for him so he could get some rest, but I fear we had broken him and he fell off behind.

So it was between Ruth and I, neck and neck all the way. I started off strong on the downhill on the tarmac but then I hit a low ebb and really didn't have the energy to stay with her. She pulled away pretty quickly. There was another hill to come which I thought might be to my advantage but I was no longer feeling so gung-ho about hills being my friends. Truth be told I was f"*ked and I wanted it to end! Still Joy Division was thrashing on in my tired brain at the same hectic tempo "Day in, day out, I feel it closing in, I feel it closing in,   DAY IN, DAY OUT, DAY IN, DAY OUT!"
I caught up a little on the hill and then Ruth took off downhill like a bat out of hell and I tried my best to catch her and we both ran full tilt down the hill and round the corner and FINISH! What a glorious last race. I so, so enjoyed it.

Everyone hung around at the end for ages and there was such a nice atmosphere. I really enjoyed meeting so many runners this week and being a part of it all. The races were perfectly, flawlessly organised. I can't rate it highly enough. It is definitely the best running event that I've ever taken part in while being also among the very cheapest.

And then came the cake!

Congratulations to everyone who took part and to my friend Amanda for being the overall female winner and Peter for taking the O45 prize. To Gareth for showing that hill a thing or two last night and coming 3rd in that race. I've enjoyed our running chats in the car everyday! I will really miss the Tour of Fife. Brian Cruickshank (or Crooky as we secretly call him) is a genius for organising it..

Up Hell Time Trial - Tour of Fife Day 5

Just a quick one because I've got to get ready for today's action but if I don't write about the UHTT it'll get superseded by the next race which would be a pity, because I like this one the best!

There's something about running straight up a hill that helps me to focus so whereas on other days my mind has been flying around all over the place there was very little in my mind as I set off up the hill.

I ran 14.08 last year and I would have liked to get near that again but there's no real way to decide what pace you're going to run at - more like what effort you're going to make, so I made the best effort I could. It felt pretty smooth for the 1st metric mile and got more difficult as the end drew near. I had to ignore the amusing shenanigans of the devil capering around me just to keep moving forwards. If I'd cracked a smile I'd have ground to a halt I reckon.

The last bit, into the wind, hurt like hell, seeming to go on endlessly. 14.45. I wish I could have gone quicker but I gave it my best shot.

Like last year I was much further up the field for this one than any of the others. Why I should be better at going uphill than anything else I don't know.

So today is a final 5.5 mile run at Strathmiglo. The tour is nearly over! I feel like the summer holidays are ending...

Thanks for the photo to roadrunpics

Friday, 30 July 2010

Chariots of Fife beach race -Tour of Fife Day 4

I thought I'd try a bit of subterfuge for this one. Given Ruth's almost uncanny ability to lock onto me in the 1st couple of miles and then go past, I thought if I was unrecognisable, she might lose me and I might sneak past. At first I thought I could maybe dress up AS sand but upon reflection that seemed a bit ambitious, so I wore my Pineland Farms 50K race t-shirt instead.

I honestly thought it might work until Ruth came and found me where I was hiding at the back of the pack on the start line and told me that a. she'd already seen me and b. she'd recognise my run anywhere! Pretty soon we were up and running and I discovered early on that I wished I'd worn a vest as it was a lot warmer than I'd thought. I caught up to the back of Ruth and she recognised my breathing. We went off for a quick 1st mile - albeit the wind was behind us - too quick for my current form at 7.05 pace and I quite soon had to let go a bit. There was another full mile down the beach but this time in sinky sands and seaweed where you had to pick your route with care, and then another wee bit yet to the turnaround. Last year's race was a bit short so for punishment we got some extra this time.

When we turned around the headwind wasn't as bad as I'd been expecting but I was pretty crocked anyway and got a stitch that I just couldn't shift, no doubt from the quick 1st mile and the odd kind of shambling I'd made to get through the deeper sands. A hateful 3rd mile ensued. I think I took quite a clever line down the middle of the beach. There was a thin line of green weed which actually gave quite good grip under foot and bisected the beach nicely. Most people had gone right down to the shoreline, which you could see was a longer curve to the finish. I was in no shape to take advantage of my clever line though- you still have to run fast!

"Why are you killing yourself? Just ease up and save yourself for tomorrow!" whispered Satan in my left ear. But then a few folk started coming past and Pride kicked in (although Pride is not traditionally the adversary of Satan) and I got back running a bit harder. My stitch melted away and then there was just the usual problem of trying to move faster when you're hot and exhausted and all your horse sense ( and Satan!) is telling you to slow down.

A few others came with me as I sped up for the line, cunningly tucking in and then flying past - but I was glad I'd made an effort and got out of the misery I'd been in.

I'd seen Amanda at the turn around with a female adversary not far behind - but Amanda had looked the stronger of the two so I felt fairly confident that she would have taken 1st lady again - and she had.

We had a cool down jog and got our legs in the sea in the hope that that would help restore them for today's race. It was a lovely evening in the low sunlight on the beach.

Gareth Mayze, who was travelling with us, had had an unsuccessful hunt for a "decent" chip shop in St Andrews so we stopped off on our way back (Might have been Cupar, I'm not sure now.) where we found a whole batch of Carnegie Harriers also refuelling.

It was getting late and the team were tired so we were bewildered to be suddenly diverted off the motorway by the police and set free in Fife to find some other way to get over the bridge. Amanda and Gareth hastily threw together an alternative route from the road atlas in the back and we did a small, after-hours tour of Fife that was all our own. I'm fascinated by the no.1 Goth Bar in Cowdenbeath. I feel I have to go there.

So, long story short. By the time we got back into Edinburgh the waning moon was high in the sky. Gareth stepped out of the car at Crewe Toll Roundabout meaning to run the couple of miles home. Hope the foxes didn't get him. Amanda travelled onwards to Musselburgh to cold pizza but with the warm side-dish of SUCCESS! and we had our tea at 11.45pm. I honestly thought I'd been out drinking last night when I woke up this morning with a dry mouth and pains all over until the real truth came back to me...

Tonight is the uphill time trial, the most hideous, intense and exciting race of the tour...

Thanks to Roadrunpics for the photos.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

The Legend of Lungbuster Hill

I don't think there is a legend of Lungbuster Hill but its a good, dramatic title isn't it? Or if there is a legend its our Amanda who is going from strength to strength and won this one. Or really Ruth is a legend too. I thought I might have her beat this time because I like a bit of a hill and came off the top of the hill ahead of her. I was pretty sure she was wearing road shoes and I thought the surface, which was a bit skaty, might slow her down.

I passed a few road runners in distress, put off by the unstable stony surface, and I didn't hear Ruth's breathing so I thought maybe I'd get to the end first - but the road home was too long. You can see me above all unawares and the Johnstone closing down the distance!

We both burned off some of our men friends we've been making - so that was good. And we were a bit further up the field. I'm agog to see how British Military Fitness prepares a body for running on the sand, but in my heart of hearts I have a good idea. Sigh. She's a good advert for them.

Yesterday was kind of weird. I went up to work at the hospital and was sent to my own ex-ward, which was very comfortable for me. Got to catch up with everyone and see how things were one month on. I nearly, out of habit, offered to cover this morning as they were going to be short again. But I have other business to attend to.

Tonight's malarkey - St Andrew's beach run. I remember hating this one with every fibre of my being, but as Marc Grierson says Hell = Fun. (I think he said LOL too, whatever that means.)

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Tour of Fife Day 2 - Loch Loopy Trail Race

The 2nd race of the tour was 6.5 miles, two laps of what I presume was Loch Ore at Lochore Meadows Country Park. I set off on a rather ambitious warm up, realising 2 miles into it that there was still another mile til I got back to the start. Doh! For some reason I'd been thinking it was 2 miles round the loch. So I was warmed up - in fact - sweating profusely - just before the start.

I had a couple of bad omens on the way to the race. A car with registration plate DNF looked at me in a funny way, and I don't know, the birds were flying backwards over the bridge maybe.

I felt pretty good for the first couple of miles of the race, being very well warmed up and loose, and I moved fairly constantly forwards through the racers. For mile three I about held my position but it was starting to feel pretty grim, and I was hearing some breathing on my right shoulder that I suspected was Ruth, and a peek back and to the right revealed a pair of pink shorts just behind me and confirmed my suspicions.

The sight of the sports centre at half-way provided the strongest temptation to drop out I've felt in a while, rather than head off back out onto the first and windiest section of the course. That DNF car was still with me.

At this point I had to rationalise and I knew really that in order to stay in the series all I had to do was drop my pace for a while and I'd feel okay soon, so that's what I did. A power of people went past me and then I was running on my own, which was quite nice, and I was feeling better, but then another couple of folk came past and I thought enough is enough and gave chase. The woman (carrying a pink bottle) was strong and although I hung onto her for a while she gradually pulled away into the distance. The man, an Anster Haddies, sounded more and more uncomfortable, eventually gave out a huge sigh to which I responded "I know what you mean", without intending to speak. He dropped away behind me and I was on my own again. Ahead I could see Ruth powering away in her pink shorts having stolen Anster Haddies George, who was my friend yesterday and running with a gaggle of Fifers and others...

Into the trees I could no longer see them. One other person came past - it must have been Pamela Cruikshanks. I recovered a bit  not long after and went past again, and we stayed like this to the line.
The DNF car drove away into the distance, off to trouble someone else.

Julia had had a harsh run being overtaken by "Wee Buns", Portobello's own Amanda Henderson. Julia's just coming back from injury and Amanda seems to be getting stronger and stronger so there was no shame in it. Julia had what Shelagh McLeish likes to call "The Dry Boak".

Andrew came over the line looking chipper and strong having enjoyed his run.

Peter's run is well documented here . Adele and Christina came in shortly after.

Tonight's run is a hill one and I find that, perversely, I'm looking forwards to it. Tomorrow is a "rest" day, so I signed up for a shift at work. Boo! What's work?

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Tour of Fife Day 1 - The Teddy Bear Race

Day 1 of the Tour of Fife today was the Teddy Bear Race. A fast (if you can run fast), flattish 5 miler. Not sure why it was the teddy bear race but it gave Peter a reason to stay up late making a Portobearo vest for his bear Orangey. You have to respect a man who's comfortable enough in himself to have a small orange friend.

The meeting point for the first day of the town was Giffordtown Village Hall which we already knew from previous Tortoise and Hare races. The place was already buzzing by the time we arrived and it was a great atmosphere. I was a bit concerned about Amanda as she'd already run the Musselburgh 10K yesterday because she thought we were doing it. I think we might have said we were probably doing it but what we meant was there was no way in the world we were doing it. We were spectating yesterday and feeling less than special because we accidentally got drunk on Friday night. We were just a bit tired and forgot to stop pouring. But that's another story.

Anyway Amanda had run a 10K and then spent the evening wining and dining clients and then had to see them off this morning. She isn't an escort she works for Visit Scotland. Amanda doesn't drink much or often and she ended up having to hurry to meet up with us this morning with a minimum of preparation for the race so I was worried she'd have a bad race and regret the whole thing.

Fellow Porties Ruth and Adele were already there and registered. Nice also to see Julia and Andrew Henderson and this year Julia's running despite a dicky IT band.

We went and did a longish warm up, partly to recce the course, and partly to boost our weekly mileage as we're still technically in marathon training so want a few extra miles in the bank. The most noticeable thing right from the off was that it was very warm when you started running down that road. This was to be a feature of the race.

Pretty soon we were at the start and we were off. A long straight road to start off, then right and down a bit to the 1st mile. I was impressed at how much better I felt than I had when warming up. There must be some chemical process involved. Whatever it is its good. The 2nd mile the usual racing pains set in. The hardest thing, I think, is the mental game. For some reason a half marathon seems easier to set out on. I was trying to concentrate on working but not too hard - not going too far into the red but not forgetting I was racing and easing up. Huge big bullocks having a run in a field alongside were a welcome distraction. Insultingly, despite their size they were going quicker than me.

About mile 2 Ruth went past me. We have rarely run together so I don't know what to expect from her. I am somewhat in awe of all the British Military Training she does and imagine that she's thinking tough thoughts while I simper along feeling a bit sorry for myself. I kept her in sight as best I could but didn't want to get into any racing early on. Far too far to go yet for that. It was a huge relief to get in amongst the shady trees for a while and out the direct sunlight. I thought how I was designed for staying warm in winter. But its the same for everyone. Everyone was flushed with the heat.

Round the corner from the woodland trail there was the only hill of the race and I went well up it - pulling away from the others around me without particularly intending to. And the downhill that followed was a welcome break on the lungs.

Then it was just a case of grind it out and try not to die on the last couple of miles. I never caught up to Ruth though I could see her the whole way. I was evenly matched with a man from Anster Haddies and we pretty much stuck together to the end. In the last 200m I remembered Colin Feechan telling me to relax and lift my pace at Benbecula and tried this again and I managed to move a bit quicker.

It was a real relief to stop and start to cool off again.

Amanda was in great form having run well, so I needn't have worried. Julia had also gone fine and not had bother with her IT band. Peter was pleased with his race and I think Ruth was too, so we were a happy band of  Porties waiting at the end. Andrew came in not long after, putting on an impressive sprint for the line - making us question his output during the race! Adele was not far behind, and Christina, who came with us in our car was a bit further back, as she's nursing a sore knee.

We got some excellent spot prizes! I got a big photo of myself which pleased me, and Peter got a car valet pack which he seems to think I'll be using rather than him! Also notable were excellent fridge magnets and a golden trainer trophy for all competitors.

We were in good spirits on the way home and are thoroughly looking forwards to the week. Better have a stretch and a shower I guess!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Coaching Miss Daisy

It was pouring with rain last night and Peter was planning to take a day off today when the weather was looking better so we decided to (guiltily) skip the club session and do some other kind of session today.

Peter let me dream it up, which I like, so I had a think and this is what I came up with.

I was thinking we needed something hard enough to compensate for missing  club and one thing we've done which would fit the bill is mile repeats with half mile jogs at the Meadows. Its easy at the Meadows because they're pretty much exactly 1.5 miles round so the distances are easy to work out.

Its the school holidays and there are masses of "visitors" to Edinburgh, so the down side of running round the meadows - other than that it gets a bit dull running round in circles - is that people get in your way. So I thought we could do the same session but in a nice spot with no one about. The Pencaitland cycle path- MacMerry route seemed ideal, being about 11.5 miles and nice running with only 2 road crossings, but in order for Peter to know the distances he'd need to wear my old Garmin.

Peter has a kind of disaffinity (new word, mine) with the Garmin. He gets very impatient with it and it responds to him by not working well. He went out for a 23 mile run with it on once and when we uploaded the data to the computer it said he had run 46 miles at 3.30 pace. Unless he's lying to me about what he does. Today it was refusing to beep for him so he had to watch for it coming up to the end of a mile but he worked with it and did some very good mile splits.

 I'd set us the challenge of running "marathon pace" miles with half mile jogs in between.
It was a beautiful day and we took it easy to warm up for the first mile and a half and then Peter sped off into the distance. I tried to stay around 8min/miles for my marathon paced miles meeting with a reasonable success rate. There was one long uphill where I missed my target and another muddy windy bit, but I wasn't far off. The main virtue of the session was that the last 2 mile stretches were much harder work than they had been initially, in much the same way as the same pace in a marathon is infinitely harder later on. It was hard to know just what to do to get back up to pace, I had to really push to get going again. Sobbing and wheezing seemed to do the trick where nothing else would.

Peter had been back at the van for about 5 minutes when I got in. The sunshine and the nice surroundings and the session had us both in high spirits for the drive home.

Sunday, 18 July 2010


Today's plan was another long run. I thought I would knock out another 19 miles and Peter would do maybe 23 by us both doing the airport run but him going twice round the loop at the airport. Peter ran 17 miles yesterday but I only ran 5.5 so it was difficult to discern the reasons why it was so damn hard. It started into a middling headwind - the route was planned this way so it would be harder at the beginning and then in theory we'd get blown home.

I started out okay - a bit stiff still from Gordon the Coach's wet hill reps on Wednesday night but easing into it nicely and trying to settle to about 9 minute mile pace. At the time this seemed like a modest goal but further down the line it was totally out of reach.

The path up the side of the River Almond was wildly over-grown and pretty soon I was having to kick my way along through the web of grasses, thistles and stingers that were woven across the path at shin height. At one point I nearly swallowed a whole large bluebottle as it flew straight in my mouth and I had to do some hacking and spitting for quite some time, 1st of all to get the fly out and then to get the thought of the fly out. The latter operation was the more difficult of the two.

Sweat was lashing off me and my legs were feeling hard and inflexible already and I wasn't even at the 10 mile point yet. I did my best to be upbeat about it all and ignore the news my Garmin was trying to give me.
At about 12 miles along Peter came past and looked reassuringly done in too. He had run a good bit yesterday but whatever was happening to him seemed above and beyond mere tiredness. I suspect there was high humidity or something.

As I came out at Granton Square I had to make a decision. I was wobbly by this point and if I went up the hill there was a shop but it was farther home, or if I went straight ahead home was nearer but I wasn't sure I'd make it...So I went up the hill to the Scotmid on Granton road and stood in front of the fridge enjoying the feeling of cold on my legs. Then I bought some cold water and a sweety and trudged up the road disconsolately trying to decide what to do next and trying not to think gloomy thoughts like "This kind of thing is okay on ultramarathon training but not for long runs for marathon training." It didn't really matter if it was okay or not because it was what it was - and I still had to get home.

Inspiration came in the form of spotting a path down to the cycle track on the other side of the road and I realised this would be  a good shortcut and trim the distance back home. So I eased  into a crochety jog and got on with it.

As I was just getting into the last mile Sandra Rathjen (HBT!) appeared out of nowhere and said "You must be nearly home by now!" "God its hard!" I whined as I shambled along. "Peter isn't far ahead and he's in a similar state. You've nearly killed him." All of this cheered me up considerably so I managed to launch myself into a better pace at least until I was over the wooden bridge and out of sight of fellow runners...

Now we've got a nice evening ahead catching up with some friends we haven't seen properly for years, eating pizza and drinking wine at their house, so nothing to complain about - but I hope this isn't the way all my long runs are going to be for this marathon. I thought last week was bad but this was infinitely worse.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Anatomy of a Long Run

I had about given up harassing Peter about doing a marathon this year as he was so reluctant to do any of them. "Why do you want to do a marathon?" he'd say, "You've forgotten how painful it is."
But I did want to do a marathon, for no better reason than I've done a marathon every year since the Edinburgh Marathon resumed in 2003. Even did two in 2007. And there's always the hope that I'll get quicker. And I like the training.

So last week when I came in and P says "What about the Moray marathon? We could do that." I was delighted and got the entry forms away before he could change his mind. Then I did a bit of working out how long we had and realised we really had 6 weeks effectively to train. We'd need to cram in the long runs in order to get enough in and then to taper in time for September the 5th.

Which is how come despite being pretty knackered from the Harris half race and post-race celebration on Saturday, we forced ourselves out to start long run training for the marathon today.

Neither of us really wanted to. I guess we've got some prep. in our legs from doing the Highland Fling, but for the marathon you need to push the pace on the long runs a bit more. There would be no cruising around taking photos and stopping at delicatessens. There probably wasn't even going to be any eating! Sigh. Still.

I slept very deeply and very late, dreaming that most of the running club were back at the house I grew up in and I was trying to make everyone cups of tea. It was dark and everything was in a muddle, despite there being a friendly atmosphere. Ricky Fraser had found a lemon that was going mouldy on top of a wardrobe and was teasing me about my house-keeping standards. I had no idea how the lemon got there...

Ah 11.30, probably time to get up. Rolled out of bed onto stiff legs, rotund from a weekend of over doing it. There's always the hope that food and drink calories might not find you if you're away the weekend and then drive back quickly enough. They might get lost and go into someone else's house and sit round their waist instead.

So anyway, we were both a bit fearful and reluctant but went off to do our run. We went for running from Musselburgh up the Esk, along the Pencaitland Cycle Path and Peter was going to branch round the MacMerry loop, and do 23-24 miles while I was going to turn around at 9.5 miles and make do with 19. It was a warm, cloudy day and the flies were out. I was covered in bugs in no time having unthinkingly dressed as a tree.

All but the first 5 miles were hard, but we did them. I think that's all I've got to say about that! Not quick, but  we were not in ideal form. It feels good to have been out and done it.

Met Paul Edwards back down at the Musselburgh Quayside. He's been out of running with plantar fasciitis since January and is longing to run again. We need an organised cycle for all the club members who are cycling to stay fit while injured. We don't need to stick together if there's too much variation in ability - all we need is an agreed stop half way round for everyone to regroup.

I digress. Good to get started. Hopefully the next ones will be quicker and won't feel so bad. I think we'll probably have to miss a long run the week of the Tour of Fife unless of course we do it on the rest day on the Wednesday...

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Harris Half Marathon

Saturday was the Harris Half Marathon and the final race of the Heb 3 series. After dodging last week's Barra half due to alarming weather reports and worry about what state I'd be in to go into a new work setting on Monday it was almost gratifying to hear all the Barra vomiting stories from those who braved it and were there. Also, the boat didn't come back from Barra on the Sunday so I wouldn't have made it to work which wouldn't have been a good start.

You can get enough vomiting stories though.
The weather report for THIS weekend was not looking so hot either but it was the more normal west coast forecast of rain and cold - nothing to miss a race for, so off we set. As it happened we seemed to get lucky with the weather. Friday night at Uig on Skye was dry and so windless our friends the midges came and joined us and cut short our chat with other Heb 3 regulars also camping over and catching the ferry in the morning.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny and pretty much remained so all day. Nice smooth crossing on the ferry.
We'd had a good break from half-marathoning since Benbecula and have put in some good training runs so we were both hopeful that we would run better and also feel better - we both felt pretty desperate at Benbecula. Amanda H. is also just coming in to a bit of good form and Richard is recovering swiftly now from his WHW race. The Porties were therefore in a quite optimistic, upbeat mood.

Julia and Andrew Henderson were also camping and Andrew was running - Julia's nursing an IT band injury and saving herself for the Tour of Fife later in the month.

I'd absolutely promised myself not to go off too fast this time as I am heartily sick of being overtaken from mile 8 onwards by everyone and their dog. As Bruce Walker of Troon Tortoises passed me in Stornoway and Benbecula at mile 9 and then went on to record a much better time than me I thought there was little sense in getting ahead of him at all. I trailed Bruce for the 1st 4 miles but then he unexpectedly pulled over to the side of the road and started vomiting. So I left him to it.

The hills seemed to have moved themselves around a bit since last time I'd run this course, which was a bit disconcerting, and the proper hills seemed to start at mile 5 although I could have sworn they started from 4 onwards. I'd been chasing down a tall woman in red for some time and seemed to gain on her every uphill so I thought I might as well put my cards on the table and cruise by her and see what her response was. She seemed to try to stay with me for a while and then fell off the back a bit, but then I could hear her talking to another female. This was a spur - thinking that if they're talking they're not trying hard enough, but I also really didn't want them to breeze past me chatting. I kept as much pressure on myself as I felt I could handle and kept moving up the hills.

Thinking back on it I don't think anyone passed me at all from there in the race, apart from Shona Morrison who I passed at 10 miles and who re-took me further down the road. I reeled in and passed maybe 6 people on the way up the hills. Lots of hill training at club, plus the Red Moss Revolution plus some runs out in the Pentlands with Peter seemed to be paying dividends.

Not much more to say about this. I didn't run a great time and have not seen the results yet so can't prove it but suspect I was further up the field than the previous Heb races this year. I ran the same time for all 3 races, which I couldn't have done if I'd tried. Within 40 seconds for all of them. It was nice to run feeling stronger and not end by feeling defeated.

The Heb 3 series has lost some of its sponsorship so there were fewer prizes than in previous years. I might have lucked 2nd or 3rd FV if the classifications had have gone down that far - again I won't know til I see the results, but I was content to be running better again. We've signed up for the Moray Marathon in less than a couple of months so all the latter part of the race I was telling myself the half marathon was good tempo training for that.

Peter ran strongly and came in 4th and was in a great mood picking up the 1st MV prize for Harris and also for the Heb 3 series. He's had a good battle throughout this year's Heb races with Andy McMahon and Colin Feechan and worked very hard to keep them both behind him this time. Amanda ran a stormer to come in under 1hr 30 mins and got an immense cup for 3rd lady. Richard ran strongly and is well on his way back to where he was pre WHW.

HBT put in a strong bid for dominance at the Hebs this year and nobody could really argue as they made off with most of the prizes. God punished them by giving them Fosters lager as a team prize for Harris. (The ladies got wine, I don't know what the HBT policy on wine is - only brown fortified wines?) Jim Bruce was kinder than God and gave them their beloved Brown Beers for their Heb 3 team prize.

There was the usual brilliant atmosphere at the Hebs and every year we know more people and there are more people to talk to endlessly about running, running, running. But the Heb 3 weekends are very tiring and we were thinking - well maybe next year we'll do something else...but then Shery Johnston says that maybe she'd be up for having a go at them next year, and then I start to think well maybe Amanda, Shery and me would make a reasonable ladies' team and maybe we should do it again next year.....

On Saturday night, after a beautiful rosy sunset, the forecast rain finally arrived and battered on the tent walls all night as we slept off the day's racing and a bit too much to drink in celebration.

No action photos yet. Photos stolen from Peter

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Penguin, Rehab, Cowardice

A small amount to say on a number of topics today.
The 1st is Penguin

I saw this advertised on the American Runner's World website - special washing stuff which professes to take all the smell out of technical gear as well as return waterproof stuff to its  original waterproofness. Now I've got a few real favourite pieces of running kit which I only wear if I'm going out alone because no matter how much I wash them, they hum. Worth a try. Peter says its just me, but I don't think so. "Penguin" is not readily available in the shops yet so I got it off of Amazon.

The 2nd is Rehab;

Since leaving my post on an acute psychiatric ward I realise that maybe there's a process for me to go through, the same as there is for people who have been inpatient there a while and need to readjust to what we confidently call the community. I've got a few habits I realise I need to break. One is that I don't get up unless I have to. Another is that I don't get dressed unless there's "a special reason" to. I've got work clothes and I've got running kit and I've got ??? Race t-shirts?
Got to learn some social skills too - some small talk. At work I've had to be direct. "Get down from there", that kind of thing. Running doesn't lend itself to niceties either. "God I'm fucked", will only take you so far.
I've got some shifts in the community next week, so hopefully I'll be a bit prepared by then.


My 3rd and final topic of today is Cowardice

We've got the Barra half marathon lined up this weekend but their usual boat has broken down so instead of the usual 5hr sea journey arriving at about 8pm, its a 6hr journey arriving at 2240hrs. As we were planning on camping this didn't seem ideal as we'd be setting up camp in the gloom. We'd also be relying on eating on the ferry which is alright if its a smooth crossing but I've been checking out the weather forecast and there are 46mph winds forecast tonight dropping to a mere 30 mph tomorrow during the day and night - then 30 mph winds for the race rising to 40mph winds on Saturday night and then rising again to 50mph for the 6hr sea-journey back to Oban. A goddamn puke-fest. Growing up on an island I'd kind of trained myself to go into a bit of a trance for the 2hr crossing of the Pentland Firth - but Peter, who gets equally if not more travel sick won't ever stop harping on about the prospect of being sick making the outcome almost inevitable.
Thankfully Peter is starting to see it my way. We might give that one a miss. My thoughts and prayers go out to the souls who decide to make the journey....