race prep with whisky
looking like I feel - like hell! before the start - photo Roly McCraw
I thought this was early on but it turns out its just before the finish
Some photos robbed from the Glen Ogle 33 facebook page
table service post-race
check out the elevation
There are too many stories to tell about doing the inaugural Glen Ogle 33 mile ultramarathon. I might be too tired for the job! Despite about 12 hours in bed over night I'm still feeling like going for a nap and I keep wanting more to eat.
I might try a more formal system of organisation than usual in order to tackle the interweaving themes of the weekend.
- we thought we'd try doing this a bit differently and so booked a (cheap) room in the Dreadnought Hotel in Callander for the night before and after the race.
- unfortunately the "people" in the room next to us had been out and got themselves so drunk that there was shouting, crying, running away, arguments, banging, drama and police from about 1.30am to 4.30am. Given we've just short ago got rid of an asbo neighbour we're a bit sensitised to this kind of thing and rather than sleeping restfully to feel restored for the big day ahead had to resist the urge to get out in that corridor and BREAK SOME HEADS.
- the room smelt like gin under perfume, it smelled of alcoholics
- because we were staying away from home we went out for a meal to the Taj restaurant where the bored waiter rather over-waited us, insisting on pouring our beer out of its bottles into our glasses as we drank. You can imagine, out-of-season Callander on a Friday night must get a bit dull.
- the food was good, no complaints, but being cheapskates and also skint we skipped dessert and went and somehow convinced ourselves that it would be nice to have a wee whisky. The pub prices would be ridiculous so we decided we should get a quarter bottle - but Peter was too snobby to drink the kinds of whisky that you can get in a quarter bottle so we ended up purchasing a half bottle of Isle of Jura. (???This isn't really our behaviour so I can only assume the ghost of the person who died of drinking gin in our room, who I could smell, had got into our auras and was forcing us to drink in order to get some kind of secondary hit in the spirit world - you read about this kind of thing happening.)
- So we drank a bit more than half a half bottle of Isle of Jura and went to bed fairly early in hopes of a good night's rest until...see 2. above
- While unpacking and getting ready for the race (pre Taj restaurant etc.) I discovered that I had committed one of the cardinal sins of preparation and forgotten a bit of essential racing kit a.k.a my shorts! I had been fussing around with more esoteric and less necessary bits of kit (sleeves - I had a set of sleeves I got in a goody bag from the Edinburgh Bicycle triathlon years ago) I thought I could wear them til the early morning chill wore off and stuff them in my bumbag. As it turned out this was quite a good plan - but in the meantime I never packed any shorts.
- A quick call to the ever-helpful Richard Dennis who was driving up the following morning saved the day - and seemed to provide him with plenty of amusement. Despite him always pretending that I am thinner and faster than I am he produced a pair of shorts that were just the ticket. Thank you Richard.
- day dawned as my alarm let us know it was 6am. Both of us were tired and bad-tempered having snatched perhaps 1 and a half - 2 hours sleep after the night-time fiasco. Probably we were a little hungover from Cobra Beer and Isle of Jura whisky. "Hell mend you then" I hear you say and I can only agree.
- We could have arrived earlier to the start in all honesty and I had little time to stand in my pants on one leg in the wooded registration area and try on the shorts which Richard had brought for me. Thankfully they were fine because by this time I had sent my running tights away with Peter to the car which was some distance away. There was a fair buzz of excitement and quite a few Portobello runners and well known other runners. I was still feeling pretty crap though and never got round to putting any drink in the bottle I was carrying or carrying any gels. I had drink and gels in my drop bags so it was fine, but meant I had to stop at the first stop - only about 4 miles in.
- The start was away up on the other side of the road and up a hill. There was the usual low key race preamble and we were off. The first 3 or 4 miles were mostly on quite hilly off-road track which I really liked. I thought I'd keep going on the uphills as there's quite a bit of hilliness in my legs at the minute. Quite a few people where I was were doing the ultra thing of walking uphills and running flats and downhills but rightly or wrongly I didn't want to.
- I lost a few places stopping at checkpoint 1 but went past a few people quite quickly after getting going again and then I think there was very little change of position throughout the race. The sun was coming up and the views really were spectacular. There were thousands of little cobswebs glistening in the trees in the low light. There was also fog lying in dips, misty mountains, silver and goldy light. Lots of autumnal beauties.
- I chatted for a while to a guy (haven't figured out who he was yet) who remembered running with me in the early part of the Pentland Skyline in 2010. He had camped the night before and been caught out by how cold it was - sub-zero temperatures over night - so had only got a couple of hours sleep. He still looked cold 7 or so miles into the race. He was telling me he's training for some ice-bound 135 mile race in Minnesota in January. We ran together and chatted for a while, then I pulled away towards the 2nd checkpoint but unbeknownst to him he passed me about a mile later as I was having a pee in some woods! I passed him again a couple of miles further on on the steeper uphills and I didn't see him again.
- I had a long period running on my own up quite steep paths. There had been an arrow pointing left with Go 33 written on it, but the "Go 33" was upside-down and I developed the worry that some brand of woodland ned had turned the arrow the wrong way. I tried to apply tracker skills as learned from Ray Mears and a recent program with James May trying to escape from a prison (Broadmoor?) while a tracker tracked him. I could only see the odd footprint in the mud, which seemed odd given there were a good number of runners ahead of me. But wouldn't they be running up the less muddy stuff in the middle of the path as I was? I thought if I was a tracker I would probably be able to see that the grass was broken and trampled but not being a tracker I couldn't. What to do anyway? Go back and go the opposite way on the ASSUMPTION that the arrow had been tampered with? It was just the paranoias kicking in. And as so often happens, as my anxious paranoia reached its peak I saw figures ahead in the light. Ahah!
- I made some ground on the people ahead but never caught them. The ground flattened off and a new arrow pointed right saying helpfully "To the pub." It was very nearly all downhill from here. Some people pulled steadily away from me. Perhaps I steadily pulled away from other people but I've no way of monitoring that. After CP3 I ran together with a woman who I think, looking at the results, must be Lorna Maclean, for a good 2 miles or so. I was starting to feel pretty tired. We were about 20 miles in. I thought wistfully about the marathon distance and wished I only had 6 miles to go. In reality it was going to be somewhere between 10 and 13 miles. The organisers had decided to re-route the first few miles off road for safety and had warned that it was now a little short - somewhere in the region of 1.4 miles off the original 33 mile distance. I hoped, as I so often do in a race, that it would be even shorter. At the same time I tried to protect myself from devastating disappointment late in the day by cautioning myself that it might be longer than I was expecting. We were going over ground we had already covered and I was no longer susceptible to the charms of sunlit mountains and misty moors...it was getting hard. At about mile 24 it was a relief to be off the long downhill section and onto some more undulating ground just simply because the challenge of going uphill took my mind off the feeling that I wanted to be finished. I wondered if this insight could be applied more generally to my life as a whole. Was this what all the signing up for races was about? Some uphills to take my mind off waiting for the inevitable and longed for end? I thought not. Good metaphor though. Ah my poor legs.
- At CP 4 we went right instead of left and onto the roads that were to take us to the finish. This was somewhere in the 25th mile. Rumour had had it that this stretch of road was mostly flat. Haha! It was not. It was very undulating. I was almost relieved it was undulating for the reasons discussed above in THE RACE section 7.
- At this point my right hip was hurting and so was my left knee, so I spent most of the rest of the race paying attention to them. I was cracking out some 10.30 and 11 minute miles and could do nothing about it. It was not going to be a heroic race race finish like Kielder Marathon. I dawdled along the winding, undulating country lanes trying not to speak to myself out loud.
- Eventually, and I mean very eventually, I was turned off the now foresty path and it was a mere 1 or 2 hundred yards to the end. Very glad to stop. Better average pace than Speyside by about 1 minute per mile so a better performance I guess. I forgot to tell you I gave up ultra marathoning in those last few miles of the race. Again. I've given it up again.
- The Garmin says the race was 30.51 miles, for which I was profoundly grateful.
- After getting a goody bag and what-not and finding out from Peter how he and others had done we went a walk to the Inn to get something to eat and then Peter told me his brother had called just after he'd finished his race and told him his dad had died that morning. That was very sad. Peter's dad's not been well so its not a bolt from the blue but still it was a shock. Its a big transition.
- So we were both a bit shell-shocked when we got over to the Inn in Strathyre to claim our free soup and drink. In fact we never got round to having any soup. Peter had a "cider shandy" if there is such a thing - and I unthinkingly had a coffee despite having had enough caffeine to keep a battallion awake for a week over the course of the race in the form of gels and red-bull etc.
- The Porty crew had gone well mostly. Johnny Lawson had a tough race. Kathy did brilliantly in her first venture into ultramarathon territory and came 3rd lady. Peter was what he liked to call "1st Porty" which is 9th to most of the world. Graham Henry was not far behind. Richard ran consistently and well as usual. Gareth Mayze - honorary Porty as he came with the Porties in the Porty bus to Tour of Fife 2010 ran an absolute stormer and came 2nd over all. Lucy was 1st lady, running well despite her recent 100 miler in Spain. Roly ran well and enjoyed his first foray into ultra-land.
- I was "Last Porty" - that's 74th to the likes of you. I'm sure its quite good really!
- I should mention the goody bag was great. Sweatshop voucher, specially labelled beer, a tunnocks wafer (ya beauty!), some High 5 sports drink and another sports bar.
- I should mention the organisation was smooth and lovely, the marshals were great and stood for a long time on a cold day and still managed to be cheerful. I would highly recommend this race and if I hadn't given up running ultramarathons I would think about doing it again myself!
- We'd had a kind of plan. The kind of plan that you make when you're fresh...that we'd take the bikes and then after we'd raced, we'd drive back to Callandar - get changed etc. and then cycle the 9 miles on the cycle path back to Strathyre and the Inn to have some beers with anyone from the race that was still about and then cycle back later, in the atmospheric dark, to Callandar. The bikes were locked together in the back of the van.
- As it worked out they were doomed to remain there. We got back to Callander and smuggled pizzas and a bottle of wine into our room. Much cheaper than eating out. Then we went to bed at about 7pm. I got up at 1am to have another couple of slices of pizza finding myself starving hungry, but apart from that slept through til this morning. And today I am still tired...and hungry.
ART MIMICS LIFE
- So, as with my race, this post will just peter out rather lamely...