Saturday, 28 February 2009

Run in the Park

Recovery continues. I had intended to go for a longer run today but the reality on waking was achy limbs, tiredness and a raised pulse. (50 instead of 45) Peter and I went for a run mostly off-road round the perimeter of Holyrood Park and Arthur's Seat and threw in a round of Hunter's Bog at the end as we were enjoying ourselves and to take us over the hour. My legs definitely appreciated running on short grass rather than tarmac and though at first my knees were hurting a bit on the downhills, everything seemed to stretch out and become more supple as the run went on. I realise I have been neglecting and forgetting about the off-road stuff.

I am now blogging when I should be stretching so better go.

7.12 miles at 9.34 pace bringing my weekly mileage to just under 55miles.
Picture of Arthur's Seat stolen randomly off the www.

Thursday, 26 February 2009


Happily seem to be recovering from Sunday quite well. I tested out my legs last night by going down to Portobello for a club session. It was hard to know what session to join. Lynn was going to have a tempo run of several varying distances. The tempo run aspect appealed but not a choice of routes as I was tired and brainless and thought I would just get lost as don't know the course. Bert had the usual full-on interval session arranged, 3mins hard with 2 mins recovery X 12 along the prom. Too much for fatigued legs. Gordon was having his session around Natwich alternating between a half mile and 1200m loop. I thought if I did this session and was finding the pace too hard I could back off and just do half mile loops or do less of them if I looked like holding things up too much.

Our plan was to run the half mile loop followed by 1 minute's rest followed by 1200 m loop, 1 min rest and do all of this 3 times. Steve who I was running with couldn't stand the sight of Ben and Peter disappearing off during our 1 min rest so he took off after them after about 15 seconds. I followed suit and then discovered I was enjoying running slower than the others but continuously so just ran the thing as a tempo run; the "tempo" being 7.08/mile, 7.25/mile, 7.50/mile, 7.56/mile! Clearly still slowed up but I was pleased at how much I'd recovered already. The dark back streets were relatively restful as well compared to the nasty flat straight intensity of the prom.

Found some photos from the Draycote Water race on their website. It was odd seeing myself on different laps, looking much the same but with slight changes in apparel. I've been at work at 7am for the last few days so a bit sleep deprived. Looking forwards to the weekend and trying another run on Saturday. Indian meal with my ex-boss Fiona and ex-colleagues on Saturday night which should be fun so I aim to run enough to compensate for curry, naan bread and some lagers during the day. (Lout)

Monday, 23 February 2009


Some distance firsts and pbs this weekend. Drove an automatic car for the furthest ever. (Only previous was a mile down the road in America) This weekend Richard put me on his insurance and we shared the driving down to Draycote water marathon and 35 mile race. It was the furthest into England I'd ever driven, driving beyond Birmingham. Also first time on the M6 toll road (I like it!). Richard had to stop me sticking the V's up at people turning off onto the scuzzy M6 normale. Silky tarmac, excellent lighting, tons of room. It was the biz. Then, first time I'd had my tea in a little chef, first time in a Travelodge.

Found it hard entertaining myself, having a bath in the tiny bath just because it was there, and sorting out my kit for the next day. I was kind of hungry when I went to bed so I was looking forwards to breakfast and muesli, but it was a long night as I couldn't really sleep so instead just thought about work (back tomorrow) all night and some things I want to try and sort out. A few spoonfulls into my muesli I realised it was just a bit too crunchy and discovered I'd broken one of my teeth in half. Yeah! It was a cold grey morning and I had 35 miles to run. Luckily the tooth hadn't left any nerves exposed so I was not in pain, just a bit horrified at the new gap in my teeth.

Down at the course there was a strong cold north-westerly blowing off the choppy grey water. I had to rethink what to wear in a hurry so ended up wearing quite a thick sports wool Montane top under my vest the whole way and never got too hot. Set off at between 8min30 and 9 min pace, sustained this to 16 miles when 9+min miles became the new pace de jour (probably not really French), up until the marathon distance (3hrs55mins) when 10+min miles replaced 9min miles (as in fashion where brown can become the new black). Went through 50K in a new best of 4hrs 44mins (though the last one was on trail). Truly struggled to set off on the last 2 4.71 mile laps but now that I've stopped I'm glad I did. Brought it home with an outstanding 9min 53sec mile.

Richard did a good marathon PB of 3hrs 14 mins and given the headwind has a better one waiting in the wings. I finished in 5hrs 26mins - 9.19 average pace. A lot of leg pain on the way home but we were pleased with ourselves and the time passed quickly. Arrived home last night about 11pm to some fizzy wine and tales of the National XC. Here's to a quick recovery.

Friday, 20 February 2009

A Fuel and their money

Got a fuelbelt off Wiggle and tested it out today. Its really nice and comfy. I was carrying 4 X 8 oz bottles of water (which may have seemed odd as it was raining) which I think is about a litre. Plan to carry energy drink during the 35 miler and have water at the feed-stations minimising time stopped or faffing around. Very pleased with this piece of kit. It massages your love handles nicely without hurting or pressing on any organs and its got a wee waterproof purse for your ipod.

Super low-pressure run today as I just wanted to check the belt was okay and run 7.5 miles to take the weekly tally up to 50 again. JOB DONE as Gordon Ramsay would say. BTW he's practically my twin, he was born in Glasgow the day after me. Beat him at the 2006 London Marathon too. Maybe I should start a sweary restaurant.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Prom Queen

Well not really but I was pleased with last night's session at club again. Went for the 10 min hard 5 min easy session with Bert's group. He told us to team up with someone similar in ability and I realised I hardly know anyone in his group and don't know their speed or my own. There are a lot of new people there - or maybe I'm new because I've been mixing up which group I run with on a Wednesday night. I set out with Kathleen and a man ( a nice man but I don't know his name!) but had to stop almost right away as my lacer came loose so I caught them up for the 5 minute easy and next 10 minute session. This one was really hard. Running a mile at pace is bad enough without having another 3 minutes to run. I had to use a lot of mental discipline not to heed the voice that was telling me "Oh my god you've got to keep this up for another 3 minutes there's no way you can do that, and what about the other 2 sessions after this one?" "STFU" I told myself back. "Be quiet and concentrate." There's an old chestnut at my work that you don't have to worry if you talk to yourself, you only have to worry if you answer back. This is of course totally untrue, to be ambivalent is human and we may as well learn to work with it. OOOh a sermon.
So anyway, I was feeling pretty sick after 10 min session #2. We were averaging just faster than 7 minute pace which Peter would gleefully disparage but I'm telling you for me its good. Also keeping up with Kathleen for me is good. Our man (nice man, no name) had asked me a couple of times on the last one if I was okay but other than rasping out "not really" I didn't know what he was looking for. Clearly I wasn't okay. My heart was beating nearly as fast as it can and I felt dreadful.
For the third one I realised if I stuck with Kathleen and the man something catastrophic was likely to happen so I eased back a bit (Bert was past by this time so he couldn't see me) and found that even a drop in pace of 10 seconds per mile can make all the difference. Suddenly the inner siren stopped screaming and I was uncomfortable but alright. I found that if I stayed like this for 8 mins I could slowly raise my game for the last 2 minutes and catch Kathleen, albeit making a WHOO WHOO noise which must have been quite distracting for K. She was encouraging though and welcomed me back as I barrelled up alongside, WHOOING as I went, just before my watch signalled the 5 minutes grace.
The last one was a repeat of this tactic, feeling like I was going to spit up pureed lung in the last 60 seconds as I caught up to Kathleen's shoulder and once again the 10 minute session was up. Hurray. So, counter intuitively I'm training hard the week running up to my 35 mile race. I've got a kind of rationale that I want the 35 miler to be a training run, not a race, as I don't have time to recover from a 35 mile race and then get my mileage back up for the Highland Fling at the end of April. Or maybe I do have time but I don't want to. So, if I go into it a wee bit tired I won't run too hard and then hopefully will recover quicker. Stupid? Too late, I'm already committed to this strategy. I'm going to run 7.5 miles tomorrow to take my weekly mileage up to 50 again.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Christ they're big

Back out with my gadgets today. Suddenly its warm outside though and time to wear shorts again. All I can think when I see my white legs come out of hiding is "Christ they're big". Doubtless no bigger than they were when I put them away for winter. A good hard thrash twice round Arthur's seat with an innocent railway filling and a wee bit of running up and down the street to make it over the 12 mile mark. I ran downhill so hard it made my hair curl (and my teeth squint if the photo is to be believed). Feeling quite tough today and ready to take things on however I may have to take it easy at club as a result.
12.21 miles in 1hr43mins something, av. pace 8min30s miles, av. HR 158. That feels better.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Sunday Run with no gadgets

Sunday we decided to go on Bert's run. This time Dalkeith indoor bowling club to Penicuik and back along the cycle paths. I didn't take my ipod as I knew I'd be running with others, and I didn't take my camera because I knew I'd be trying hard. When I put my Garmin on to get it hooked up with its satellites it told me it had no charge and put itself back off again. Cheeky devil. Kathleen from club had turned up and although she's quicker over the short stuff, I have done more long stuff so it was a reasonable match that we ran together. We were the only ladies. Neither of us had been this route before so there was quite a lot of uncertainty the whole way. I desperately missed my Garmin telling me how fast and how far we were going/had gone. The path got nicer along the way and after a quite long initial dead feeling from having got up out a deep sleep on a dark morning when all my instincts were telling me to stay put, I started to warm up. The sun came out and there was shelter from the cold wind and I regretted wearing running tights. The last mile or so of the track was slushy ice and very slippy so quite hard going. This was when we saw most of our group coming back and we just had to guess what the turn around point was. We came to a kind of promontory which may or may not have been called the Pomathon and thought this would do and turned around. The last few miles were pretty hard going. Kathleen had not run 16 miles before - which is what we thought we were doing. Also, neither of us had been drinking despite me knowing better - I had some sports drink along but my breakfast never felt too far away and I was reluctant to stir things up in my stomach. As a result my legs were pretty crampy as we approached Dalkeith. We got mildly lost right at the end. Willie reckoned we'd run 17.4 miles which I guess is possible, I hate the not knowing. We were running for 2hrs 28 mins by my watch.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Jolly Long Run

Well I went to the club session last night and I was strong as a horse! This snow wading works. In all ran 14 miles last night, 8 miles at tempo pace and because I wasn't the least strong person in my group I chatted a fair amount of the way. This was a form of revenge for all the times people have chatted to me when I'm clearly struggling and can only grunt in response. Its a way of rubbing it in. Definitely a sadistic thing. The plan today then was to run 20 miles as I'm in Glasgow Friday and Saturday and won't have time. I was a bit sobered to get up (finally) and see it was grey and snowing outside again. I needed to get going as quick as I could as I needed to get back to get a new stereo fitted in my car at Halfords. This one can play music from my mp3 player. It was slushy and slidy underfoot on the pavements and the snow was deeper off the streets. I headed up the Water of Leith to get a bit of cover from the trees, up to the "Alan Alan" bridge (see photo) which marks exactly 10 miles from the house. The going was hard and therefore slow and I quickly realised it would be a push to get home, get a shower and get straight back out to Halfords. None the less I took the time to take some bleak photographs to mark the occasion. For a change of scene I came back along the canal and through town via the meadows and Arthur's Seat. Around Arthur's Seat my Garmin developed some kind of hysterical illness from being wet too long, where it kept beeping and couldn't be put off and kept putting its light on and off. The whole bezel thing on the 405 is a pain in the arse and I wish they hadn't tried to be so clever. I was cursing loudly because I had my mp3 player on and couldn't hear myself. I reckon it robbed me of some precious mileage but I had no time to go a bit further to make up the distance so had to make do with 19.33 miles. Anyone who's got Garmin obsessional disorder (God, ho ho) will realise how bad this felt. The good news is the new stereo thing works in the car. I had kind of a gut feeling that there was going to be some bad electronics hiding behind the old one and indeed there was and I could tell the guy who was fitting it was wishing he'd never seen me, but he was very nice about it and managed to cobble together a solution out of a horrible web of wires and tape. When I plugged my mp3 in and it worked I was delighted. I wished I had somewhere to drive to but it was dark, wet and rush hour so I just drove home. The reason I called it Jolly Long Run is it seemed jolly long.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Snow up Pitfichie

Long time no blog, but races tend to go up on the Portobello website and long runs tend to blur one into another and shorter runs are too fast. Settling at the moment around 50 miles a week with a 20 miler every week. Its no more than I'd be doing for marathon training but the ultimate goal of the Highland Fling on 25th April is still a fair way off so I'm not too bothered yet. More worrying is the Draycote Water 35 mile race which is just next weekend and for which I am largely unprepared. I had planned to try out some things like eating tablet while running as apparently anything over a marathom you really need to start eating as well as taking energy drinks. But is this really true? I wonder what ironmen do. I doubt they eat. I tried eating for my only previous ultra event which was a 50k and I found the process slow and unrewarding. Anyway, goodness knows. Last weekend we were up at my mum's and so thought we'd have a run up Pitfichie and Cairn William as usual but we were to find the going too slow due to deep snow. It was picturesque but frustrating to the truly obsessed as I needed to get some miles in! As it was we were running for over 2 hours and managed just under 8 miles, 2 of which were round the artificial pond in the Paradise woods which was at least flat. There may have been some benefit in terms of strength training; even running down hill was hard, dragging reluctant limbs through deep snow. Tonight will tell. Its club training night...