Women Can Marathon and Why I Did

Okay this one should be mostly pictures, but I wanted to put a bit of preamble in first as to what the circumstances were behind me completing marathon number 7 (if you include my ultra) or 6 (if you don’t).

Those regular readers will know that in January I went to Manchester to become a 261 Fearless Coach.  Personal circumstances following completion of the course have meant that I haven’t managed to put this training to use by forming the first club in Scotland, but that will happen and hopefully soon once I’ve gathered some thoughts and ideas together.

There are still so many barriers encountered by women (sorry guys), which actually make me quite sad.  Society and social media have placed so much emphasis on how they think women ‘should’ look and when women try to better themselves, get fitter and healthier, the same society and social media are quick to shoot them down in flames.  We are so very lucky to live in a country where activity and exercise is actively encouraged.  There are still many women in countries who would love to participate but are unable to do so.

I know the difference being active and running has made to my physical and mental health.  It helps me keep fit, it is my escape when I need some time to think, it is fun when I can get out of with friends, it is a challenge when I do a difficult event.  Running gives me so much and is so much a part of my life.  It makes me a better person.

The Women Can Marathon is the first 261 Fearless Partner Event in the UK, so really how could I refuse 🙂  The charity partner for the event was Free to Run whose mission is to use running and outdoor adventure to empower and educate women and girls who have been affected by conflict.  You can find out more about them at their website:  http://www.freetorun.org/

This would not be the first time I’d gone away for a running weekend with folks I didn’t know that well, so I duly signed up and then fretted about how close to Manchester it was and where I would be staying.  There were 8 of us altogether in the end.  The ladies came from 261 Fearless Club Greenwich in London and from 261 Fearless Club Wray in Lancashire.  Then there was me 🙂

Juliet, one of the coaches from Greenwich had sorted out accommodation and together with their team had brought food.  We were staying about 30 minutes away from Tipton Saint John (which was actually only about 11 or so miles away, but roads there are narrow and twisty) in a beautiful Airbnb cottage.

I flew down from Aberdeen and picked up a hire car in Exeter and went to explore before heading to Tipton Saint John to pick up my number and have a look around.  There I met some of the race organisers and eventually Dr Juliet (who was one of the trainers when I did my 261 Fearless Coach course) and Nicky who is Juliet’s fellow coach in Wray.

Dr Juliet had the honour of running under number 261, which was awesome 🙂

I followed them to our accommodation and met the rest of the ladies, who comprised Juliet (yes there were two of them), Lorrae, Liz, Amy and Valentina.  We quickly sorted out who was sleeping where and settled into plans for race day and then got ourselves fed and watered (there may have been some alcohol consumed) :).  Valentina had made some fantastic Lasagne which we all tucked in to.

It was a lovely and relaxed evening, but we had our fill of food and drink it was off to bed.  I’m not going to write that much about the race itself.  I would like the Devon countryside to speak for  itself 🙂

261 Fearless Start

This is us at the start taken from the Women Can Facebook page.  L-R Liz, Amy, Juliet, me, Nicky, Valentina, Lorrae, Dr Juliet.  It was to be the first marathon for Valentina and Liz.

After a fun warm up and a few moving words from Jo, the race organiser, we were off.  Settled into a slow pace at the back and ended up running alongside Amy, which is where I stayed for the duration of the race.  She put up with my chat, singing and bad jokes.  What a trouper 🙂

Now, here is the scenery 🙂

The photos don’t really do the route justice.  It was absolutely stunning and the terrain with varied with riverside tracks, cliff paths, woodland, fields and gravel tracks.  It was also pretty tough and hilly.

My hydration and fueling was pretty good until the last few miles when I had a bit of a wobble.  I was very grateful for the company provided by Juliet (a completely different one) and Gillian who were the sweepers as I got grumpy and weepy and was thankfully that Amy didn’t see that either!

It was a long day out, but Dr Juliet and Peg (one of the organisers) came to meet us as we neared the finish.  As soon as she saw the finish line, Amy bolted towards it, leaving me in her wake.  I managed a bit of a run, but my feet were sore as we had been out there for a long time.  My provisional finish time was 09:32:53.  A personal worst by a long way, but it was completely different to anything I’ve ever done before.

We were given our medals and got a hug from Jo (organiser).  I think I may have complained to her about the hills!  Then the best bit, a cream tea.

Cream Tea
Me and Amy enjoying our Cream Tea 🙂
Fearless at the Finish
All of us with Jo, the organiser. L-R Dr Juliet, Juliet, Valentina, Jo (kneeling), Amy, Liz, me Lorrae and Nicky.

We headed back to our accommodation for some celebratory bubbles and to refuel.  We were all a bit stiff and sore, but thankfully Dr Juliet had brought some instruments of torture (foam roller and the like), which got passed around and did make things better in the long run.

After a good nights sleep and breakfasted, we tidied up and left our accommodation.  I headed into Sidmouth with the Greenwich girls who did this:

Swimming
Lorrae, Liz, Juliet and Valentina having a dip. It was cold!

Amy and I stayed on the beach!  We all headed to a cafe for second breakfast and headed off our separate ways.

Over the weekend I spent time with 7 ladies I didn’t know.  I would consider them all friends now.

Thank you to all those lovely 261 Fearless ladies.  You showed that Women Can and you did.

There is already talk that this may not be a one off event.  Would I do it again?  Absolutely.  I’m keeping my eye on the webpage already 🙂

http://www.womencan.co.uk/women-can.html

https://www.facebook.com/womencanmarathon/

http://www.261fearless.org/

https://www.facebook.com/261FearlessKVSwitzer/

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How Not to Run a Marathon

Now that the dust has settled and that I am walking more normally rather than looking something like John Wayne (you should have seen me trying to get down the steps from the plane last night and negotiating steps in the airport.  Let’s just say that was ‘interesting’), I thought it was time to write this before I forget all the details.

To cut a long story short and indeed if you don’t have time to read all of this just now (it may be lengthy!) these are the things that this weekend has taught me:

  1. Marathons are not easy – you must respect the distance.
  2. If you don’t train properly expect to get out what you put in.
  3. Even when you have got your fueling and hydration strategy sorted, a spanner can still be put into the works.
  4. I am tougher than old boots and a stubborn so and so.
  5. It is very hard to run and cry at the same time (I did know this but had forgotten!)

This was of course my massive PB from last year and I had high hopes.  However, it really only occurred to me when I looked at my training log in comparison with last year, that I was way under the mileage I’d racked up last year.

Manchester Training

That’s only 194 miles compared with 262 miles last year.  Not looking good already.  I’ll cut to the chase though.  I started well and fairly confidently.  Was running with Annie (Abz1903) again as last year, but she wanted me to run my own race, so just after the first water stop I decided that I needed to visit the facilities and she went on (and in fact went on a PB 🙂 ).

I was still feeling good, but have spent very little time running on my own this year.  My aim was to try to catch up or at least sight of Annie again, which I think I did, but the distance between us was far too much, so I let it go.  Then the mental battle started to happen.

A cheery runner, who turned out to be V23 my fellow Fetcheveryone 700 mile thread buddy came past with her mum, which was fantastic.  We had a quick hug and then they pushed on.  This really lifted my spirits for a while, but things were starting to feel not quite so great.

My hips hurt a bit (never had that before) and I when I tried to take some of my fuel it did not go down well and made me feel a little nauseous.  Somewhere between miles 10 and 12 (I can’t remember exactly where it was now) I started to get cramp in my left calf.  There were a couple of little twinges in my Vastus Medialis (yes I looked it up as it has previously given me issues), but nothing like I have suffered before.

I pushed on as much as I could.  I should state here that I’d got my hydration pack on with electrolyte drink on board and although the weather was warm, if I think I remember correctly it wasn’t quite as hot as last year.

After half way was when things started to go completely downhill.  I was absolutely miserable.  I wanted to stop and pull out but every time I saw a sign saying that there was a refuge point ahead, I couldn’t actually see the sign for the refuge point.

I cried, I cursed and swore at myself and my stupid calf.  I hated it – all of it, running, everyone else running, the supporters, the marshals the lot.  All I wanted to do was go home, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other.  By 16 miles I actually phoned my friend Fi (who had absolutely stormed it for a PB of around 3:26) and told her what was going on.  She gave me a bit of a talking too but it was decided.  I would push on if I could but if things got too bad I would pull out.  No sense in trying to be a hero and potentially hurting myself.

Another runner who was struggling around this point that I had been speaking to gave me some salts to take which was very much appreciated.  Not sure if it helped or not, but was certainly better than all the sweet things on offer.

I now found that I could run just a little, so I started doing a 30 second run followed by a 30 second walk.  Around 18 miles there was a lovely marshal who going back and forward giving high fives to the runners runners and I told her I needed a hug instead.  I got the biggest hug, in fact several of them.  She told me if I couldn’t keep going there were medics and folks who could help just round the corner.

I think this may have been a turn around point for me.  I started to grit my teeth and thought if I could possibly get to 20 miles, then I could finish.  The calf was still being a bit of a pig, but it seemed that I could cope with 30 seconds okay.  The miles started to clock up.

Around mile 22 I called Fi again to let her know how I was doing and that there was NO WAY IN HELL that I wasn’t finishing this.  She’d seen Annie at the out and back section and I knew Annie would be finished soon.

On I pushed.  There were quite a few people struggling now and the course at the less sharp end was very much quieter and at points quite lonely.  For quite a long time I felt I had to justify the fact I was walking as when there were folks they were yelling encouragement, but there were times that I was stopped in my stride as I tried to run, even for 30 seconds.  Damn you cramp!

By the time I got to 24 miles, I knew that things were not actually so bad.  There was going to be no PB – yeah right, get real Carol, however I knew I would still be able to get in around the 6 hour mark, which in the past would have been a time I would have killed for.

Finally at mile 25, but it still seemed a long way to the finish.  Not many supporters about now, but the marshals and the Race Angels who were out (although no Autumnleaves this year 😦 ) were fantastic with their encouragement.  I eventually turned the corner and in the distance I could see the finish.  This is totally the worst point, because it seems to take so long to get there!  I pushed as much as my calf would let me and then ahead I saw V23 and her mum again and I managed to catch up with them and run over the line with them.  There were more well deserved hugs as V23’s mum had been having knee issues, but was undeterred and wants to do another marathon 🙂

We wandered through the finish area and my friends came to meet me.  I got my goody bag, t-shirt, drop bag, alcohol free beer and pictures taken, although not necessarily in that order.

Here’s what the run looked like compared with last year.

Manchester Comparison

Things could have been very different, however as the saying goes, no point crying over spilled milk.  Time to recover and move on.  My next marathon is in 8 weeks and is off road, so it will be a very different beast and I plan to treat it with a lot more respect.

Manchester Bling

This is all 3 of us before the start 🙂

Manchester Start

I am pleased to report that the organisation was fantastic this year, no foul ups as far as we could tell, but it isn’t totally ‘flat’ 🙂

Manchester, I may be back, just not quite sure yet!

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
certificate
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.

carol-fearless
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.

castlerigg
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:

view-1
Just a little glimpse of the village.
view-2
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!

shower-beast
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 🙂

start
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.

700-miles
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.

action-shot
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.

water
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.

foodporn
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:

coniston-elevation
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