Friday, July 28, 2006


Last night I went to the running club for the first time in absolutely ages. After a half hour warm up, I decided I was better suited for the 'run' group than the 'track session' group (who would probably do hundreds of 200m reps with recoveries of about a tenth of a second, all at just under Olympic qualifying standard pace) and headed off with around 20 others towards the top of Dumyat. It was a great decision. We climbed sharply out of Stirling University towards the viewpoint, then through some woods to the fields near Dumyat. We didn't go to the top of the hill but instead followed some grassy tracks, past a resevoir, before heading back down the steep road into the back of Stirling University. The weather was lovely, although thankfully a bit cooler than it had been earlier in the day. It was just about a perfect run - a steady pace, quite tough, really good company and the most fabulous views. Anyone who says 'I don't know why you run cos it's dead boring' (and believe it or not there are some people who do say that, even in a fit and healthy place like Central Scotland) should have come with us and witnessed it for themselves. They would have been hooked for life.

I've noticed there is a marathon in Cumbria towards the end of September, which isn't too far away from here and suits my schedule. It's called the Langdale Marathon and by all accounts (or at least the accounts of people who have posted on the Runner's World website) it is incredibly hilly and tough. There is a half marathon as well. One posting said that you can expect to take 20 to 25 minutes longer than your normal time for the half marathon, so the full marathon would be double this - between 40 and 50 minutes longer than normal. Unfortunately my 'normal' time seems to have got a lot slower in the last year or so (nust be old age), so I'm probably looking at around 4 hours. It sounds my kind of race, and just the target I need to get me going again. I'll think about it a bit more over the weekend, and then decide if I'm going to go for it.

Incidentally one of my dogs, Lucy, has picked up 3 sheep ticks during our short break in Skye, so we're going to the vet with her tonight. I'm sure she'll be fine - Isla, our older dog, has had them before - but as they are horrible disease-ridden things (sheep ticks that is, not dogs), it's probably better to get them taken out.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The gradual steps to recovery

I have never been very good at recovering after a race. I tend to wait for a few days, then decide I feel fine, and start racing again. This works ok at first, but a few months later I am left feeling absolutely shattered, dragging my body round events like the Loch Ness Marathon. Last year I had hoped to finish off my racing year by doing the Snowdonia Marathon on the last Sunday of October, then the Dublin marathon the following day. I couldn't do it. My body more or less packed in around the start of October, and I needed to spend the best part of October taking things easy. That was a great disappointment, especially as I had entered both races well in advance.

This year I have decided to do it differently. I promised I would give myself a full 2 week break after the race. Very surprisingly, I kept to my plan. I had also planned to have 2 easy weeks after that, and I have stuck to that plan as well. I ran 15 miles 2 weeks ago, then 21 miles last week. The problem is I feel as though I have put on about 3 stone and have lost every bit of fitness I ever had. This is patent nonsense, of course, but I (like most runners) am not used to these 'easy' training weeks and don't feel very comfortable with them.

I have run 2 more races since the WHW: the jogscotland 5k in Edinburgh, then the Crieff 10k the following Sunday. The 5k was eventful. After 2k I and most of the leading runners (surprisingly I was a leading running that night - it wasn't a very high quality field) followed the marked course. Unfortunately some youngsters had moved the tape, and we ended up in amongst some rare plants in the middle of the Botanic Gardens. Before I knew it I was back at the 2k marker, followed the marked course, and again ended up amongst the same plants. The third time round the organisers had noticed the problem and fixed the tape but all in all it took me about 8 and a half minutes to cover the 3rd kilometre. I finished in 23.53, far and away a personal worst for 5k, but I'm sure I must have run an extra kilometre through the flowers.

The following Sunday I went to Crieff for the 10k. One of the main reason I decided to go was that this will soon be my local race, as we are moving near to there at the end of September. It was a stifling hot day. The race is mostly on trails - the first 3 kms or so goes up a steep hill, then the next 3 km comes back down to the river, the the course follows a river path to the Morrisons School playing fields. Although I was too hot, and my legs were sore, and 2 people overtook me in the last few hundred metres, and my time was just a bit under 44 minutes, I have to say that I absolutely loved this race. It is such a pleasure running on nice paths, rather than being on the road. There is a fantastic buffet at the end, and everyone is so friendly. Well done to all at Strathearn Harriers. I hope to join you after September for some of your Sunday runs.

So, what next? I think I need another goal. At the moment I'm struggling to get in to any serious training. This is partly due to the heat, as I find it really difficult to train in hot conditions, but it is also due to the lack of a target. I thought about the 24 hour track race in London at the beginning of October, but have something else on that weekend so need to give it a miss. Maybe another year.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Two weeks off

I have not been good at blogging over the last 2 weeks, I have to admit. Despite the fact I have not run a step since the race (you may remember that this was my plan), I have not used all this extra time to any good effect at all. It's probably because I have been too busy attending art exhibitions, working long hours and generally socialising in trendy city bars.

I had my first piece of fan mail recently. It came from one of my colleagues at work. I don't want to identify her, but she has a short name and a vowel ratio of 50% (it's a private joke, which I may explain in some future posting. We actually have someone in our office with a vowel ratio of 80%, which is hard to believe - see if you know anyone who can beat that). Anyway, to return to my fanmail, I was told that my blog was wonderful. The sender had obviously had too much to drink or had been out in the sun for too long, but nevertheless a compliment is a compliment, and it was greatly appreciated. I did however forget to thank her formally, much to her disappointment, so I hope she reads this and accepts my sincere apologies for that oversight.

George, who is my long term running partner and WHW backup person, is 60 today. It is very hard to believe he is 60. He is an extremely fit guy who runs faster than about 99.9% of the population. He is still running half marathons in the low 1.30s, and 10ks around 40 minutes. We were at his party earlier on this evening (more socialising) and thoroughly enjoyed it. One of George's claims to fame is that his pram is in the People's Palace in Glasgow, or at least it used to be. I haven't been there for some considerable time so the exhibits may have changed, but I would be disappointed if it is no longer on display.

I'm going to start running again this weekend, probably with an easy 5 miles or so on Sunday. Then it's the jogscotland 5k race on Wednesday night in Inverleith Park, Edinburgh. My body should be fresh for it, but my 2 weeks of inactivity may have a negative effect, and I can probably expect to be beaten by people in fancy dress, the ultimate humiliation for a club runner. One of the members of our club was passed by Rupert the Bear a few years ago in the London Marathon, around the 21 mile point. She might have got away with it, but for the fact that it was captured in glorious detail by the BBC and shown as part of their highlights programme that night. I am sorry to admit that I, and others in the club, found it hilarious. The individual concerned has never lived it down, and is no longer an active member of the club. You will therefore appreciate my relief at the fact the BBC are not, to my knowledge, planning to cover the jogscotland 5k.