261 Fearless

Some of you may know or have seen on Facebook, that I was down in Manchester at the weekend.  I am proud to announce that I’m now a 261 Fearless Certified Coach 🙂

So what’s it all about then?  Go have a little look.  All the information you could possibly need or even want can be found on the website 261 Fearless.

If you would like to know more about Kathrine, you can find out more about her in this link.  Kathrine’s Website.

I’m mainly being lazy and because I’d rather direct you to the source 🙂

The weekend started with a delayed flight, which wasn’t the best start, especially as it was windy and I’m not the best at flying in small planes when it is windy.  I took the opportunity to have a G&T to settle the nerves.  At the bar they managed to talk me into a double, which in hindsight was probably a good thing.

The flight was a little on the bumpy side and I was struggling to not freak out as we flew through some turbulence, but finally we were on the ground and all was well.  I followed signs through the airport to the station and typically had just missed a train.

I managed to get the next train to Oxford Road, which seemed to take ages as it stopped everywhere!  Once I’d got there I called up the lovely Autumleaves who works close by and I wandered over to meet her for a most wonderful lunch and catch up at a lovely pub nearby.  Was lovely to see her again and it was brilliant getting updates on how all her beginners and other runners were getting on.  Sadly lunch was over all too soon, but she pointed me in the direction of things I might want to have a look at since I had a little time before I needed to get to my home for the weekend in Wilmslow.

I took the time to have a quick wander round the Central Library and then the Art Gallery before I took my last train of the day to Wilmslow.  The hotel was blissfully close to the station, so it didn’t take long to get there and whilst on my way I got a message from my room mate for the weekend Nicki that she had arrived which room number we were in, so I was lucky enough to make my way directly to our room.

We had a jolly good laugh at the set up as there were 2 single beds together then a small bed that pretty much consisted of a mattress on  the floor, so we elected to just share the massive bed.  Just as well we hit it off well 🙂

Our first evening was spent going for a little run and running through some fun warm ups and exercises to give us an idea of the kind of things you can bring into a session.  There was a lot of getting to know you type activities, but it was all good fun and very relaxed.

By the time we got back it was time to freshen up and then get changed for dinner which was had at the hotel.  It was lovely to just spend time chilling out and getting to know the Trainers and other participants.  There was such a lovely atmosphere, almost like old friends meeting again.

Bed time came quickly and although the day of travel had worn me out, apparently my silly brain just would not take the hint and chill out, so broken sleep it was.  We had a 7am alarm set so we could use the power of the shower to wake us up properly before breakfast.

After breakfast we were off to the function room to get stuck into things.  The course was a combination of theory and practical.  I just wish I could remember all the things we got up to.  I don’t think I’ve laughed so much for ages.  The practical sessions were really fun and full of good ideas and the theoretical sessions were packed full of information, which I don’t quite think I’ve completely digested yet.

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Running Technique 🙂

Since starting my running journey I’ve been in no doubt that exercise is essential for physical and mental well being.  I know how it gives me a lift when I’m down and that the benefits of exercise are now being more widely documented.

The day was jam packed but we had a little chill out time before dinner which was this time at a lovely Italian restaurant round the corner with views of the Aston Martin dealership from our table!

After a lovely meal with a couple of glasses of wine, it was time for bed.  Neither Nicki or I fared much better on the sleep front, but we had a 6am alarm for an early start for the final part of the training.  We went over some strengthening exercises before breakfast, which was just as well as I can’t imagine trying to do them on a full stomach.  Then came breakfast followed by the last part of theory and practical and the nervous bit …. the assessment.  We were each given a scenario which we had to handle as coaches and lead an appropriate session.

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I’m listening!

It was a bit of a nervous experience for each of us, but I decided to bite the bullet and go first.  Once I’d calmed down a bit it was all fine and then we enjoyed partaking in a bit of acting for the rest of the scenarios.

Once everyone had taken a turn and feedback had been given we were presented with our certificates.  There were lots of smiles and lots of hugs.

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Presentation
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My Certificate 🙂

I was quite sad to be heading home as the weekend had been so great.  New friendships formed, new skills learned and I’m looking forward to embarking on a new challenge.

I wandered round to the station and bought my train ticket to get me to the airport, but they are not that frequent on a Sunday so I ended up in Costa for a while before heading back to the station.  Once there I received an update on my flight telling me it would be delayed (great), but I figured at least if I was in the right place at the airport I could just chill out till my flight.

Thankfully the weather was a lot kinder and the flight was smooth.  I got talking to my seat mate and told her all about 261 Fearless and we had a lovely conversation about empowering women.  Was a good way to finish off the weekend.

As I take my time processing all the information from the course I decided to have a quick look through my old race numbers.  Yes, I’m really sad and I keep them all 🙂  Turns out I’ve never had 261, but I did once get 260.  Probably as close as I’ll get.

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I love purple 🙂

 

Obligatory 2016 Review and 2017 Plans

So much of my life changed last year in many ways.  Apologies, this blog may be a bit more wordy than usual, but I’ll keep it as short as I can 🙂

Weight

Since my Diabetes diagnosis I’d been loosing weight gradually.  Started 2016 at 9st 11lbs and got down to 8st 5lbs which meant I lost a total of 32lbs overall.

Running

All I can say about it is that I had an amazing running year.  I got PBs in 5k, 10k, 10 mile, half marathon and marathon.

Here is a bit of a breakdown of previous and new PBs.

5k – 36:30 set in 2015 down to 30:37 in 2016

10k – 1:19:11 set in 2015 down to 1:03:56 in 2016

10 Mile – 2:20:31 set in 2013 down to 1:50:35 in 2016

Half Marathon – 2:58:53 set in 2015 down to 2:24:31 in 2016

Marathon – 7:09:48 set in 2014 down to 5:49:33 in 2016

Number of Races completed – 20

Highlights

Banishing the Marathon demons 🙂

My first ultra – Glenmore 24 (12 hour race)

Lakeland Trails 15k with a wonderful group of Fetchies

2017 Plans/Goals

The thing is I have put on some pounds over the holidays so I really need to sort myself out eating wise as I could stand to shift another 7 pounds, so that’s my first goal for 2017.

As far as running goes, I would quite like to work on these times to get them better still.  I am doing quite a bit of cross training at the gym at the moment and that is helping, but I need to be a bit more focused with my training.

I would also like to do more cycling and swimming with an eventual goal (not sure if it will be 2017 or not) of doing a little triathlon.  My swimming and cycling pretty much suck at the moment, so there is lots of work to be done there.

There are some personal changes ahead which could be be challenging, but I know they won’t last, so the best thing is to push on forward and get on with the job in hand.

Lastly, I would like to wish everyone health and happiness for 2017.

Cavorting in Coniston

Well, there was possibly not that much actual cavorting, but what did feature heavily were new friendships, running, amazing scenery and Chris Hoy’s thighs.

The weekend was a social outing for those of us on the 700 miles thread on http://www.fetcheveryone.com (seriously if you like running stats or even games and all sorts, this is where you need to be).

We’d managed to get a cottage around 5 minutes walk from the start and with the race being on Saturday, I packed up and headed down on Friday morning.

Despite some road works around Glasgow area, I managed not to get lost and I had a couple of coffee and snack stops on the way down before dropping in to have a look at Castlerigg Standing Stone Circle.  I have a photo of this circle in my downstairs loo but have never been there, so I decided since I was passing it would be rude not too.  The weather was a bit dull with some rain, but it was lovely to see.

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Stunning backdrop of hills at Castlerigg.

Once I’d taken in the surrounding beauty of the area I headed off towards Coniston with google maps as my guide.  This worked pretty well although I don’t think I’ve ever driven on such twisty and narrow roads.  I don’t think they get many speeding motorists down that way, simply because you can’t.

Eventually I found my way to the cottage, but not without managing to take a wrong turn or two, but thankfully standing outside was Mr AL.  There were hugs all around and then a tour of the cottage and being there second I got to choose my room.  I opted for the one upstairs and these are the views:

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Just a little glimpse of the village.
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Other window in the sunshine with a guest appearance from one of the resident sheep.

My room also contained this in the en suite bathroom.  It scared me!

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The side jets scared the hell out of me as I’m so short. In the end I never did try them out, just in case they blasted me across the room!

After getting myself settled in we had a visit from Alpenrose, before Mr AL left to get Fleecy from Windermere train station.  Last to arrive was Star who had the provisions for that evenings meal with her, so after a quick tour and room assignment we all got busy in the kitchen for a fabby meal.  I couldn’t have too many carbs, so I made myself an omelette. 🙂

After dinner we sat talking whilst Star started preparation for some broth for after the race.  She is very well organised.  It was most impressive.

Soon it was time for bed and after a good nights sleep race day was upon us.  Porridge was consumed and then we took a wander down to the hall to register and get our numbers.  Fleecy had entered the race rather than the challenge (yes it was a bit confusing) so she had to transfer her number.  We managed to meet up with alpenrose and her friend Ann, as well as CumbriAndy who was doing a spot of marshaling before setting of for the 15k race which starts an hour after the challenge.

Once everything was sorted out with numbers we wandered back to the cottage and decided some early lunch was the order of the day so toast with peanut butter it was and Fleecy had just enough time for 40 winks as well.

Soon it was time to get race ready and head off to the start.  There was a group photo, although we were missing alpenrose, but we found her before the start 🙂

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Whilst we were clean!

As we lined up and saw the tail end of the 10k folks coming in and kids races, it started to warm up.  I decided that I would take off my long sleeve top, which meant some mucking around trying to strip off.  I knocked out an earring, but managed not to loose it, but realised that my ear was bleeding.  I’m not good with blood, especially my own, so unbeknown to my companions I pretended to ‘stretch’ and touch my toes.  I was doing my best not to pass out.  Thankfully after having to do this several times the race started after the inaudible briefing.

Once we were underway I was fine.  I knew I would be so I just plodded on, but later confessed to everyone what had actually happened.  There was no way I wasn’t running this race!

The first section was pretty flat and we went through the town before heading upwards.  All the while we were bombarded with the most beautiful scenery.  The views that take your breath away and make you want to weep at the sheer beauty of the place.  We all stuck together and as we headed up the hill after around 2.25 miles I hit my 700th mile for the year.

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Hitting the 700 miles with alpenrose and Fleecy in the background. Thanks to AL for the photo 🙂

As you can see I was delighted.  However we were still heading upwards.  There was quite a bit of a climb and AL and Mr AL ended up ahead with Star.  Eventually we reached the highest part of the course and it was now time to start the descent.  Not before the official photos though.

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Thanks to the photographer, James for this action shot. I’m leaning way too far back!

Not to long after this I caught up with Star.  AL and Mr AL had decided to go on as AL had a little bit of a niggle which was not fond of the stopping and starting.  I continued on for a bit on my own, but before too long I saw Star, Fleecy and alpenrose, not that far behind so I waited for them and we all continued on together for the rest of the race.

There was now lots of down.  I so need to work on my technique for sure.  As it had been wet leading up to the race, there was quite a bit of mud and the ground was very wet in places making it a bit more difficult to navigate for us mere mortals.  Soon enough the leaders for the race were flying past, their feet barely connecting with the ground.  We plodded on.

We were now getting passed by quite a lot of runners, but it was so slippery in some places that a couple of them came a cropper and took tumbles.  They were all fine though and continued on.  Our group stopped to take a drink at the water station and before long we were on to the last section beside the lake.  We all reckoned that alpenrose had been hustling us as she really came alive during the downhill part, but I was starting to get really tired.  I managed to keep going and soon there was the sound of the tannoy at the finish.  There was however, one last obstacle in the form of water!  I wasn’t sure how deep it was so decided to let everyone else go first.

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It was over my knees!

Wasn’t sure if I gathered more mud here than got washed off, but all that was left now was a squelch around the field to the finish.

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Muddy, squelchy, knackered, but still smiling.
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Together to the finish. Thanks to AL and Mr AL for the photos 🙂

Once we finished we all got our t-shirts which were being handed out by none other than Ann, alpenrose’s friend who’d been drafted to assist.

We then stopped for another photo to mark Fleecy’s 700th mile before wandering back to the cottage to scoff the lovely broth Star made and get cleaned up that is after Fleecy and I made a quick dash into town for some provisions.

That evening we went to the local pub for dinner and met up with alpenrose and Ann.  Was a lovely evening and once home, there was much discussions and after having a little wine there was much talk of Chris Hoy’s thighs.  I wish I could link the video but I can’t seem to.

I spent some time distracting AL as the others were decorating the kitchen 🙂  She has a big birthday coming up so there was cake and bunting 🙂

After a most brilliant day we all crashed out.

On the Sunday morning Fleecy had to leave us for home, so she was picked up by alpenrose and Ann, whilst the rest of us were chauffeured and admirably guided around the area by Mr AL and AL.  We visited Tarn Hows, Hawkshead where we stopped for a bacon butty and a quick look around the shop, Windermere ferry and Booths (independent supermarket with loads of interesting foodstuffs).  Once back at the cottage it was again all hands on deck in the kitchen as Star again put together a fantastic dinner.

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Yummy dinner – yes with alcohol!

All in all a most wonderful weekend.  I’d never been to the Lake District before despite spending the first 17 years of my life not that far over the border in Dumfries.  What is definite is that I will be back.  In fact a few of us on Fetch have already been looking at the Lakeland Trail races for 2017, so we might well see you there.

For those who are interested, here is the elevation profile:

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Was flipping hilly!

Finally I’d like to thank AL and Mr AL for organising the accommodation and being our guides as well as Fleecy, Star, Alpenrose and Ann for the company.  We all met because of our love for running.  That’s why I love running so much.  From almost strangers to friends in one weekend 🙂

Can’t wait for next year now.

 

 

Glenmore 12 – The Ultra Story

Not quite sure where to start with this one so I guess a quick bit of background will suffice then I’ll get down to the nitty gritty.  A group of friends had done the 24 hour race last year as part of a relay team.  They had really enjoyed it, so I got a bit caught up in their enthusiasm, so before I really thought about the repercussions, I was sitting refreshing my browser when entries opened.

Fast forward to Friday.  Training had been less than ideal due to some ongoing personal issues, however, I did have a couple of marathons under my belt this year, so I wasn’t overly worried.

Just after 9am I was packing up the car wondering if I had too much or too little stuff before I headed off to pick up Ann (Abz1903).  Once at Ann’s house, the car was unpacked and the back seats went down and the car was then re-packed.  Our crew consisted of Shona (Holburnmum) and her daughter H.  We all met at Ann’s place and with a quick check to make sure we had everything and an agreed lunch stopping point at Dufftown arranged we were off.

We traveled through a couple of showers and soon reached Dufftown.  We had a lovely wander around and found a very interesting shop selling fossils, crystals, old coins and all sorts and its resident cat Tabatha.  Following a small purchasing frenzy (we all bought something), we had lunch and took advantage of the facilities before heading onwards.

Apart from overtaking a particularly slow lorry in heavy rain, the rest of the journey was without incident and as we approached Aviemore then Glenmore I could feel the butterflies in my stomach.  By the time we turned into the Hayfield I did feel a touch sick, but there was no time for that.  We selected our spot and started to assemble the tent.  Shona and H were not far behind, so tent and gazebo were soon up.

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Home from home – including fairy lights 🙂
Both Ann and Shona are football fans, hence the AFC flag!

We got ourselves all set up and I helped some more friends Helen and Scott pitch their tents as Helen was doing the 24 hour relay with one of my best friends Fiona with Tom and Mary being the other team members.  Scott was doing the 24 hour relay to raise money for Highland Hospice.  Take a look at his justgiving page:  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/scott-runs

I took the opportunity to take a few snaps of the views from the Hayfield.  Nothing short of breathtaking.

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Bit on the dark side, but gives you an idea.
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Sunshine 🙂
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Hills – we were surrounded by them.
We went to register, although I nearly panicked as I was down for the 24 hour race (due to a slight technical glitch) and then we got the chance to relax a little, but before we could we had to deal with the camps other inhabitants – the Scottish midge!

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Nets most definitely required.
We spent some time catching up with friends old and new before heading out for dinner in Aviemore and the we were off to the fancy dress party.  The theme for this year was Superheros and Princesses.

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Ann as Juan Sheet
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Me as Wonder Woman (on a side note I have no idea what is going on with my hair!
We didn’t dwell too long, but I managed to finish the entire bottle of Rubis from my spot prize win at the Dyce Half, and then it was time to call it a day.

Had a decent sleep which is always surprising as I’m not great with the whole camping thing. Had porridge and then another wander around taking in the atmosphere.

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Race Registration Hub
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The Start Line
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The big question.
We got ourselves race ready and then gathered for the race briefing.  I must admit I was nervous, but it was a strange feeling as this was a totally different type of race from the ones I’m used to.

At 12 noon an air horn signaled the start and we were off with a lap of the Hayfield before heading out on to the trails.  I had no idea what to expect so I stuck with Ann and we just took it easy.  Ann was nursing an Achilles issue and after the first few laps it became apparent that both of us had blister issues, so we stopped for a change of in my case sock and both socks and shoes for Ann. After this her Achilles was fine and I decided I’d like company, so she was stuck with me for the duration of the race.

Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of the route as I was trying to conserve battery on my mobile, but this gives you an idea.

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View down the hill from the water station. Photo courtesy of Elaine McClenaghan – Ace Marshal

There were loads of viewpoints on the route and later on during the race I would have been quite happy to sit and have a seat at every single one of them, but despite that we pushed on.  We did our best not to hang around every time we finished a lap, but as time wore on the laps were getting slower.  We started setting ourselves targets for getting in and out and we were actually doing better, so we made a deal to do go for 9 laps which would give us 36 miles before the last hour when the short lap of 400m round the Hayfield opened.

Was still feeling really good and strong we completed lap 7 which signaled the most distance and time that I’d ever covered and after a refueling stop we went out for lap number 8.  This was now getting harder but we were still in good spirits.  The running was getting less and the walking was getting more, but we were still moving forwards and it was now getting dark.

By the time we had completed lap 8 it was now dark.  I was starting to flag, although Ann was still in high spirits, but off we went for lap 9.  I was completely unable to run by this point, so we walked.  I swore at the hill, but at the water station there was a male Marshal dressed as Princess Leia.  He offered us a nip of Highland Park whisky, so as it would have been extremely rude to refuse we both took a swig and kept plodding on.

I wasn’t in very good humour by the time we finished the lap.  I was sore, tired and done in.  We had finished about 10 minutes before 11pm so then I had to decide if I was doing the short laps or not.  I told our crew and friends that there was no way in hell I was doing any more then came off the course.  By the time it got to 11pm, I went back on the course and started the short laps and picked up a can of Gin and Tonic when I passed our gazebo much to the surprise of everyone.  Well, I guess it was only 400m and I was being fueled by gin.  It would be fine.  Ann was somewhere ahead of me, but caught me up eventually as we shuffled round.  I decided one gin was enough, so did my best to get around helped by the party tent blasting out tunes such as YMCA and Staying Alive.

I had no idea of how many laps I’d covered, but by about 11.45pm I was instructed I’d get at least 3 laps in before midnight, so I staggered on.  Eventually the horn sounded for midnight and I popped my peg into the ground to mark my position and Ann cracked open the Prosecco.  We staggered back to our tent for a baby wipe wash and to get changed into clean and warm clothes.  I just could not get warm at this point, so after heading over to the fire to get some heat I decided to get a bit of sleep.

Now it was all about the 24 hour solo and relay runners.  After a couple of hours sleep and warming up I got back up to see how everyone was doing.  Didn’t manage to stay up for long, but was good to see that my friends in the relay team were in the lead and that Scott was still going strong.

Went for another sleep and then got up when it was something more like morning.  The midges were out again, so that made trying to eat and drink a lot more difficult.  Was fantastic to hear the horn going off which signaled that a runner had reached 100 miles.  We all gathered around the finish area and cheered Scott through as he reached the magic number.

Once it got to 11am, the small laps opened up again, and this time it was up to Fiona to run for her relay team.  She was blasting round.  It was an amazing site to see.  I have so much respect for all of these people who were pushing themselves to the limit.

Eventually the air horn sounded to mark midday and everyone popped their pegs in the ground and it was time to relax again whilst the race crew did the measuring to get the final distances.

We spent the time packing up but soon it was time for the prize giving.   We picked up our chairs and assembled in the sunshine.

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Gathered for the Prize Giving
Was really chuffed that our friends won the relay with 172.5 miles covered.  What really makes this race special is that every single person is called out to receive their medal.

My final distance was 38.55 miles covered, which is more than I could ever have imagined.  Am so chuffed and I know I could not have done it without Ann keeping me company and Shona and H pandering to my requests for food and drink (even when I wasn’t sure what I wanted).

I’d also like to thank BAM Racing for a fantastic event, Ada and Julie for their words of ‘encouragement’, Noanie for the party tunes and every single helper and runner who made this event what it is.

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Race Loot 🙂
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Showing the back of the t-shirt
When I finished the race I said I’d never do it again.  Now that a little time has passed I could well be persuaded to give it another bash.  If I do, just remind me to request a smaller t-shirt 😉

Glenmore 12 – The Prequel

I’m pretty much packed, although I’m pretty sure I’m going to take everything out and repack again, just to be on the safe side and to make sure I’ve not forgotten anything.

I can already start to feel the butterflies in my stomach.  I’m nervous, but excited.  I know I will be fine come tomorrow at 12 noon, but I’m still finding out what this newly streamlined (as much as it gets in my case) body can do.  Tomorrow I’m pretty much pushing myself to the limits of my ability.  It is something I swore I would never do as I didn’t think I could.  Now I know I can.

That is such a weird feeling.  It makes me well up when I think how far I have come.  So much has changed in my life this year and even things that at the time seem bad, I know that everything that has happened is making me stronger and more confident in myself.  I also know those changes are for the best.

I will most probably be off grid due to lack of signal until I get home on Sunday, but will try to update via Facebook when I can.

Just before I go though, here’s how much I’ve packed!

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That’s a 65 litre rucksack! Cat will not be packed. Note all important loo roll!
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Food and G&T 🙂 Butteries from Garay’s Bakery (shameless plug)
Well that’s me off to sort everything out and load up the car.  I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten something, but one thing that it is not is midgy repellent.  🙂  I have been told they are fierce this year!

See you on the other side so to speak.  Good luck to everyone running and racing this weekend. xx

BRG Challenge (Broch, Rosehearty, Gamrie) – What a Difference a Year Makes

This is described as a challenge rather than a race and with a 17% incline and 20% decline included in the route, that’s exactly what it is.  I loved this last year so much I decided to enter again this year.  I bagged an early start last year as I knew that I’d be slow, however this year decided that my times had improved enough not to warrant an early start, so I lined up with everyone else.

Scrounged a lift with Shona (Shondo) along with Kristi (deloreanchick) and Justine and off we went.  Weather forecast was for warm weather, so I was extremely glad I’d taken my cap and sunblock!

We got ourselves registered and paid for our bus back and then had the obligatory several trips to the toilet before we assembled for the race briefing and soon we were off.

I’d elected to run with my hydration pack, so had enough fluids with me, which in the warm turned up to be a very sensible decision.

Almost immediately I found myself at the back of the runners, so I decided to just try to get some good times in for the first few miles which are flat as I knew what was coming after that.

Before we had gone half a mile, I came across Shona who had taken a tumble and banged her head.  She told Kristi and I to go on and she walked back to the start.  She ended up at the hospital getting paper stitches, but was thankfully okay.

As Kristi is faster, she led the way asking a few folks to make sure we were going in the right direction (I got a bit lost last year).  Soon enough I was in familiar territory and just tried to settle into a comfortable pace as I knew it was going to be a lonely run.

The scenery on this route is absolutely stunning.  I didn’t stop to take pictures this year as I had a deadline to meet.  The bus back was due to leave at 4pm, so with us starting at midday, I had to complete the run in less than 4 hours or find my own way back to Fraserburgh!

I knew that the hard work really starts once you leave Rosehearty.  This is where the lead runners overtook me last year and where the lead cyclists went past this year.  It was actually quite a strange feeling, because I am quicker, the route seemed somehow less long in the earlier stages.  At each water stop I took an orange segment.  These are ever so refreshing, especially in the heat.

What also struck me was the fact that until around 25 minutes – as also observed by Naomi (Metro_Nome) had passed, none of the cyclists bothered to give any encouragement.  I was quite clearly the last runner (by quite a way at this point) and when the runners had passed me the previous year, most of them were very encouraging, right from the 1st person to pass.  I was glad to find that the other cyclists were happy to shout out and there was a fair amount of banter (although none would lend me their bikes!)

Mind you, here is a reminder of the elevation.  A lot of the cyclists had to get off and push their bikes!

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Elevation – there were hills!

I could see a runner ahead and eventually I caught up with her.  It turned out to be fellow Fetchie Mary (Mol).  Was lovely to run with her again, so we just stuck together.  Around the 10 mile mark I started to get the first pangs of cramp in my calf.  I’d been taking electrolytes in my hydration pack and I also had liquid salts that helped a bit, but in the end the last 7 odd miles were a matter of run when you can and power walk when the cramp kicks in.  We ended up passing some walkers, which was a fantastic feeling as they started 2 hours ahead of us.  We pushed on, me with my funny run (sometimes an odd hobble) and walk and eventually got to mile 15 where we caught up with some other runners who were having a tough time.

There was a kind of runners convoy going on here as we shuffled towards Gamrie (Gardenstown), but we overtook some more walkers and soon we were heading downhill towards the harbour.

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Some of the turns were sharp and about 10% decline – couldn’t stop!

There was some swearing here I must admit as the cramp really started kicking in, which reminds me  I must apologise to Mary for my bad language.

I finished in last position for the runners, but the 4 of us all finished within seconds of each other, so I was actually delighted, especially when I saw my official time of 3:48:08 which knocks off just over 1 hour from my time last year.

Here are my splits:

1) 1m – 12:02(12:02/m) 124/172bpm 43cal 4.99/6.88mph
2) 1m – 10:49(10:49/m) 163/191bpm 52cal 5.55/6.41mph
3) 1m – 10:47(10:47/m) 156/161bpm 82cal 5.57/6.05mph
4) 1m – 12:04(12:04/m) 147/161bpm 90cal 4.97/5.93mph
5) 1m – 11:21(11:21/m) 141/161bpm 68cal 5.29/5.7mph
6) 1m – 13:09(13:09/m) 121/159bpm 73cal 4.56/5.95mph
7) 1m – 13:25(13:25/m) 112/147bpm 53cal 4.47/5.28mph
8) 1m – 14:08(14:08/m) 119/157bpm 52cal 4.24/5.79mph
9) 1m – 11:41(11:41/m) 122/150bpm 55cal 5.14/5.98mph
10) 1m – 14:57(14:57/m) 97/141bpm 33cal 4.01/5.99mph
11) 1m – 14:34(14:34/m) 126/157bpm 75cal 4.12/5.92mph
12) 1m – 15:03(15:03/m) 96/156bpm 53cal 3.98/5.33mph
13) 1m – 13:27(13:27/m) 114/153bpm 82cal 4.46/6.42mph
14) 1m – 16:46(16:46/m) 113/156bpm 93cal 3.58/5.61mph
15) 1m – 15:10(15:10/m) 119/152bpm 80cal 3.95/6.14mph
16) 1m – 14:36(14:36/m) 135/164bpm 71cal 4.11/5.74mph
17) 1m – 12:16(12:16/m) 143/166bpm 56cal 4.89/6mph
18) 0.18m – 1:57(11:05/m) 125/142bpm 9cal 5.42/6.81mph

Here is a comparison to my performance last year:

BRG Comparison1
Definitely faster
BRG Comparison2
The Proof

There was no time for any messing about once I’d finished.  Was reunited with Kristi and Shona (who was fine and even ended up running the hardest part of the course!)  Got my medal and grabbed some crisps then we had to head for the bus, which this year was at the top of the hill!  We decided to head up the steps rather than round the long way following the road.  This was not easy and there were what seemed like an endless amount of steps, but we eventually got to the top and made it in time for the bus.

This is where things got interesting.  Once the bus was ready to leave, there were a couple of false starts as we tried to pull away.  Turns out the driver had left the handbrake on!  Then we ended up going the coastal route that we had just run.  Given the elevation this caused us a fair amount of apprehension, especially when the bus refused to go on and started to roll back down one hill, with black smoke coming from the overheating clutch!  We all decided it would be better for us to get off the bus and walk for a bit up the hill as at least that way we would come to an untimely end.

Walking up the hill itself was pretty interesting given that stiffness was starting to set in, but all in all this probably helped more than it hindered.  It certainly helped the bus driver, as he managed to get the bus up the hill and out of danger.  He pulled over and we all got back on.  We continued along the coastal path and thankfully when we came to a junction everyone was insistent that we turned onto the main road rather than following the remainder of the coastal route.  This good choice was met with much relief amongst the passengers, as at times during the journey I have to admit I had my eyes closed.

Thankfully we made it back to Fraserburgh in one piece, so we disembarked and gathered ourselves together for our journey home.

This is such a fab event.  It is very much a challenge and if you’d have asked me yesterday if I’d do it again, I would probably have said no, however the stunning scenery and great marshals mean that in fact I will more than likely be back next year to see if I can actually manage to get some of the fantastic food before the bus back.  Thankfully the organisers already know about the bus incident!

BRG Medal
Race Goodies

PB Crazy

Hello everyone.  Again I find that it’s been a while since I last updated this blog.  I won’t go into it, but there is a lot going on in my personal life just now, so I guess I just haven’t really been up for it, but I do have several races to update you all on.

First of all we have Dundee Half Dram.  I first ran this race last year and really enjoyed it so I decided to go back for another shot.  I volunteered to drive so picked up Shona (Shondo) and Ann (Abz1903) just after 7am and we had a good run down to Dundee, following a quick bathroom pit stop in Tesco.

We got ourselves parked and registered and then joined the long loo queue, which to be honest went down quite quickly.  Timing for once was good and there wasn’t that much hanging around till the race briefing and then we wee off.

The first part is through Camperdown park and there is a fair amount of incline.  I settled into a comfortable pace and ended up running with one of our jogscotties (Amanda).  We ended up running together for about 9 miles before a tight shoelace meant Amanda decided to adjust it, but I decided to push on.

Towards the end of the run and before you come back through the houses there are a couple of inclines, which when you are tired are pretty hard to negotiate, however I managed to push on through the first one, but just before the top of the second one I had to have a little walk break.  After this you turn and you meet the 11 mile mark, so you know there is not far to go, however those last few miles seem to be the longest miles ever.

The sting in the tail (well one of them) is that you cross a railway bridge that is really steep.  It is really hard to run over and then you turn for the finish – into a headwind!  At times it felt like I wasn’t moving at all and I was trying my hardest to shift myself forward as I could see my time was looking good.  Not far from the finish there is a ‘wobbly bridge’ which is the only way I could describe it.  When I ran across it I felt honestly like I was going to collapse.  It felt like every single bit of energy was being sapped out of my legs.  Once over it though, I felt fine.  The final hurdle so to speak that you need to negotiate is some uneven grass which leads to the finish.  Not that easy to do a sprint finish but I did what I could and was rewarded with my first sub 2 hour 30 minute time.

Official result – 2:28:04

Dundee Finish
Happy to reach the finish line! – Photo courtesy of Tony Jones 🙂

Splits were:

1) 1m – 12:02(12:02/m) 69/109bpm 8cal 4.99/6.43mph
2) 1m – 11:28(11:28/m) 67/80bpm 5cal 5.23/6.54mph
3) 1m – 10:50(10:50/m) 101/127bpm 35cal 5.54/6.28mph
4) 1m – 10:36(10:36/m) 88/111bpm 16cal 5.66/6.41mph
5) 1m – 11:01(11:01/m) 67/80bpm 6cal 5.45/6.26mph
6) 1m – 11:28(11:28/m) 72/107bpm 4cal 5.23/6.31mph
7) 1m – 11:36(11:36/m) 61/86bpm 5cal 5.17/6.53mph
8) 1m – 10:56(10:56/m) 39/58bpm 19cal 5.48/8.8mph
9) 1m – 11:55(11:55/m) 33/43bpm 66cal 5.03/5.94mph
10) 1m – 11:32(11:32/m) 36/40bpm 52cal 5.2/5.89mph
11) 1m – 11:23(11:23/m) 36/52bpm 51cal 5.27/6.11mph
12) 1m – 10:43(10:43/m) 44/58bpm 12cal 5.6/6.69mph
13) 1m – 10:53(10:53/m) 44/58bpm 10cal 5.51/6.66mph
14) 0.16m – 1:40(10:13/m) 57/73bpm 5.87/6.79mph

We waited for the rest of the jogscotties to finish, then headed back to Camperdown park and then homeward bound, but not before stopping off for muchies and scoffing Strawberry Tarts, which were amazing and kindly provided by Garay’s Bakery (Dee Street, Aberdeen, just in case you would like to pay them a visit).  Very much the most enjoyable post race treat – EVER 🙂

Next up was the Ballater 10m race.  I’d never done this one before, but wanted to give it a go as I hadn’t raced over that distance since March.  This time Shona (Shond0) did the driving honours and we had Diane (Lip Gloss) with us.

As Aberdeenshire was hit badly by storms early in the year, the route had to be somewhat modified, but more on that later.

We arrived without incident, got registered and then joined the portaloo queue.  After at least one more bathroom trip, we gathered for the pre-race brief which mentioned the course changes and then we lined up for the off.  There is a lap of the field first before you head out into Ballater and pretty much by half way round that I was at the back of the field.  I just settled into a pace that I thought I could maintain and went with the flow.

The route was nothing short of breathtaking and took in the most beautiful countryside that Aberdeenshire has to offer.  The course changes showed us exactly what damage the storms had done as part of the route was completely washed away, so we were clambering down a bank.  It made the course a little more technical, but that bit more interesting.

I had been warned that there was a hill around half way.  The route I thought was fairly undulating, but when I turned a corner I realised I had hit ‘the hill’.  You go up so far and think you are at the top but there is more.  I ran when I could and walked when I couldn’t.  I’d also gained a few places so was feeling quite good.  When I finally did get to the water stop after the top of the hill I had a quick break for a drink and decided to push on.  There is a lovely downhill section here before you turn on to what is essentially a ‘tractor trail’.  I love trails so I really enjoyed this part, but before we got on to a more normal forest path we had to negotiate another washed out piece of the route, which was more of a scramble than a run.

Once passed that though the route flattened out on to forest track.  I was starting to get weary here, but had made up another few places.  However as much as I love running on trails, this part really sucked.  It was long and straight and seemed never ending.  It was a relief when I finally turned back on to the road and was heading back towards Ballater.  Just before you reach the town again, you go back along some of the same route as you did at the start, however you don’t quite go the same way to the finish.  This was the only part where it wasn’t completely obvious where to go and although there were arrows on the road, but this time you are pretty tired and not thinking straight.  I know some folks went the wrong way at this point, but I was lucky and chose the right path and before I knew it I saw the park and the finish line ahead.  One small downhill part to take you on to the field and then push on to the finish.  Really pleased when I saw the clock and my watch.  Guess what?  Yup, another PB 🙂

Official result – 1:50:35

Splits were:

1) 1m – 10:38(10:38/m) 199/228bpm 5cal 5.64/6.61mph
2) 1m – 10:54(10:54/m) 214/240bpm 5cal 5.5/6.88mph
3) 1m – 11:54(11:54/m) 190/240bpm 5cal 5.04/5.82mph
4) 1m – 10:47(10:47/m) 178/232bpm 9cal 5.57/6.71mph
5) 1m – 11:22(11:22/m) 161/207bpm 9cal 5.28/6.8mph
6) 1m – 11:18(11:18/m) 106/147bpm 16cal 5.31/6.94mph
7) 1m – 11:39(11:39/m) 145/203bpm 28cal 5.15/7.55mph
8) 1m – 10:32(10:32/m) 174/207bpm 61cal 5.7/7.05mph
9) 1m – 10:42(10:42/m) 92/131bpm 8cal 5.61/7.11mph
10) 1m – 10:35(10:35/m) 144/202bpm 14cal 5.67/7.29mph
11) 0.02m – 7(6:56/m) 191/191bpm 8.65/8.11mph

Again once everyone was finished we decided to get some food, so headed to one of the local cafes for much needed carbohydrates, which were yummy 🙂

Fast forward a couple more weeks and the most recent race which was Dyce Half Marathon.  This is organised by Metro Aberdeen Running Club and takes in an out and back route along the Formartine and Buchan Way.

Shona (Shondo) drove again and we got there in enough time to get our numbers, but the bathroom queue was so big we ended up nipping back to the car to collect our bags and rejoining the queue where we had left it pretty much.  Thankfully the race organisers let us know that they wouldn’t start the race till everyone had managed to pay a visit, so that took some of the pressure off, although I was having issues trying to get my race number on!

Eventually we were sorted and lined up outside ready for the off.  Again in this race the initial start and finish involve a lap of the grass, so I just took it easy at the start, again being at the back of the pack.  I fell into step with another runner once we got on to the path although I’m not quite sure what I was thinking in this photo:

Dyce Happy
Off my head? – most probably.  Photo courtesy of Katie Milne 🙂

I just settled into a pace that I was comfortable with and ended up passing a few people in the first few miles.  I could see one of my Metro friends (Jane) in front of me and tried my best to catch her.  The closest I got was at half way, but she was way stronger than me in the second half and it was all I could do to keep her in my sights.

I really noticed that the time was passing a lot quicker this year.  I seemed to be making good progress even though I couldn’t catch Jane.  We had the added obstacle of the bypass to negotiate this year, so there was a little detour which had not been there previously.

By 10 miles I was feeling tired, but still fairly good, however by the time I got to 11 miles I was starting to unravel a bit.  These seemed to be the longest miles ever.  Finally reached the 12 mile marker, but then cramp hit.  There was some swearing, but I pushed on, well as much as I could anyway.  Was not at all happy and could not wait to be finished at this point.  Finally I could see the park and had to take a few more steps walking to let the cramp subside before I attempted a decent finish.  I was so glad to haul myself over the finish line and stop.

Dyce Half Finish
Thank goodness for that! – Photo courtesy of Graeme Lornie

Official result – 2:24:31

Splits were:

1) 1m – 10:35(10:35/m) 132/148bpm 54cal 5.67/7.96mph
2) 1m – 10:39(10:39/m) 145/159bpm 80cal 5.63/6.62mph
3) 1m – 10:51(10:51/m) 156/161bpm 85cal 5.53/6.12mph
4) 1m – 11:14(11:14/m) 156/163bpm 90cal 5.34/6.3mph
5) 1m – 11:09(11:09/m) 160/166bpm 92cal 5.38/5.94mph
6) 1m – 11:16(11:16/m) 161/168bpm 92cal 5.33/6.04mph
7) 1m – 11:23(11:23/m) 157/166bpm 84cal 5.27/6.29mph
8) 1m – 10:51(10:51/m) 150/166bpm 91cal 5.53/6.21mph
9) 1m – 10:26(10:26/m) 144/162bpm 56cal 5.75/6.36mph
10) 1m – 10:54(10:54/m) 136/168bpm 65cal 5.5/6.55mph
11) 1m – 10:56(10:56/m) 150/170bpm 90cal 5.49/6.07mph
12) 1m – 11:19(11:19/m) 127/154bpm 91cal 5.3/6.61mph
13) 1m – 12:15(12:15/m) 111/141bpm 59cal 4.9/6.57mph
14) 0.07m – 44(11:12/m) 104/123bpm 6cal 5.36/6.41mph

For once I managed to finish in time for the prize giving, but not before I had scoffed a fair share of the food.  I missed it all last year, but was well chuffed to be able to feed my face this year.  The best bit was that I even got a spot prize. 🙂

Dyce Goodies
Medal and Alcohol – the perfect combination?

So that’s 3 races and 3 PBs.  I know I can’t keep doing this and I’m going to run out of steam at some point, but just not sure when that is going to be.

Next up this weekend is the BRG Challenge which took me 4 hours 48 minutes last year.  Since I don’t want to miss the bus back, I’m going to have to shift myself and do it in 4 hours or under this year, so I guess that will be another PB in the bag.

After that is Glenmore 12 hour race – my first attempt at an ultra.  I’m pretty sure it was a good idea at the time, but the closer it gets the more crazy I think I must be.  I totally blame Ann (Abz1903), she is such a bad influence 😉

Still I’m sure it will be fun – there is alcohol on my shopping list 🙂