Sunday, September 27, 2009

A wee run home from work

On Friday I decided to run back from my work in Edinburgh to my car at Bridge of Allan station, a distance (it turned out) of 41 miles. The route is relatively flat, with a lot of it on the canal, so I reckoned it would be a good training run for the 24 hour race in 3 weeks time.

The reaction of people in the office was quite amusing.

"Are you running tonight?"
"Yes, plan to."
"Where will you run?"
"Home? Don't you live in Perth or somewhere?"
"Perthshire, but not quite as far north as Perth. I'm going to run to my car at Bridge of Allan"
"How far's that?"
"About 40 miles."
"When will you get home?"
"Oh, about 2 in the morning."
"Bloody hell. You're off your head."

Surprisingly I wasn't the only person who fancied running on a Friday night. Davie had seen my plans on my blog, and had arranged to meet up with me at Broxburn, about 10 miles in to my run. We met as planned and he stayed with me for the next 20 miles or so to Larbert, which was brilliant; we just chatted all the way along and the time passed a lot more quickly than it would have had I been on my own. By the time he left (his son was picking him up) I was into the final quarter of the run, a lot of which is downhill, with the hardest bits already done. Thanks a lot Davie; I really appreciated and enjoyed your company. A couple of Davie's mates phoned him during the run to see if he fancied going for a pint. Their reaction when they heard he was out running along a windy, dark canal path on a Friday night was similar to my workmates, although perhaps more to the point.

It took me 7 hours and 42 minutes to reach the car, so I must have arrived in Bridge of Allan about 1.30 am. I felt really good for most of the way, which was hugely encouraging so close to the big race (and only 2 weeks after the 40 mile River Ayr Way race); no problems at all with my legs, despite the constant pounding on the flat canal path. The only downside came after I arrived home and found I couldn't sleep, and had to get back up for an hour to try and let my body unwind. I found that really odd. I never have any problems sleeping and am usually out like a light about 30 seconds after hitting the pillow. But when I've just run 41 miles, and am feeling shattered, I can't sleep at all. It's the same after the West Highland Way race - I don't seem to be able to sleep properly for a few days. Weird.

I was up quite early on the Saturday morning (because I couldn't sleep very well) and felt pretty good, so took Lucydog for a longish walk in the hills behind Comrie. It is fantastic up there. It's only about a half hour away but could be in the middle of nowhere, - just so quiet and peaceful. I'm sure the steady walk did my legs a lot of good, and I was able to go out for an easy 6 mile run today without any problems.

Last night I spent a bit of time trying to get information from the Hardmoors 110 mile race. Communications were not great, but I managed to speak to JK around 10 pm. He had been out for about 27 hours, was lost, was tired and was struggling, but had only about 12 miles to go. Fortunately he managed to get back on the right path, got himself going again, and finished in a time around 32 hours. Very well done John (and also well done to Neal and Caroline, who did John's backup) - it sounded like a right hard struggle, but you kept going and finished. Finishing is always the most important thing, and is a great achievement. I'm looking forward to reading the full report over the next few days.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

At last - a post on my blog!

My blog has not exactly been overwhelmed with posts in recent weeks; in fact I haven't posted anything at all since my epic 60 laps round the track at Stirling Uni a couple of weeks ago. That is more a result of an inabilty to find the time to sit in front of my computer rather than a lack of things to write about, so I thought I would try to address that by giving a quick update here.

Last Saturday was the River Ayr Way Challenge, advertised as a 66k/44m race along, not surprisingly, the River Ayr Way. In actual fact it was 40 miles, not counting the bit where I got lost around the half way point. I thought it was a pretty good event, but after a few hours I was getting a bit fed up of seeing the River Ayr, and could have done with a bit of a change. At no time did I have any real idea where I was was, and I am sure that contributed to my struggles between 20 and 30 miles. All came good in the end, however, and I finished like a train (ok, quite a slow train) as I stormed through Ayr Town Centre (incidentally one of 3 racing drivers named after a Scottish town, the others being Stirling Moss and Johnnie Dumfries - Ayr-ton Senna, gettit?) and along to the Citadel, where I crossed the line in 7 hours 12 minutes. I was a bit surprised to see DQ already there and lying on the grass drinking beer, as I thought he was behind me, but he must have passed when I took my little detour. Either that or he got a lift :)

Although the RAW was a good event, I have to question the arithmetical abilities of the East Ayrshire Council organising team. By my understanding 1 kilometre equates to 0.6214 of a mile (that is why a 10k is 6.214 miles). If you do the calculations, you will see that 66k equates to 41.0124 miles, and 44 miles equates to 70.8078 kms. So the race cannot be both 66k and 44 miles. I have to say how pleased I was to find that it was a lot closer to 66k.

On Tuesday it was the screening of the Adventure Show programme about this year's WHW race, at the Behind the Wall pub in Falkirk. The screening has been widely reviewed elsewhere and I would echo the general theme of the comments - I thought it was a superb programme which really captures the true spirit of the race. Well done to all the production people. It was very moving seeing Dario looking very calm and peaceful, as the Subversive Runner said on his excellent (and I'm glad to say no longer vomit inducing) blog. Dave, thank goodness you have restored it to its previous version. The new colour scheme was giving me a headache.

On Thursday I attend the Law Awards where my firm picked up one award and one second place. Kenny MacAskill, the Justice Secretary was there, and I was pleased to get the opportunity to congratulate him on his excellent decision to free the 'Lockerbie bomber', Al Megrahi. I know this is not a universally accepted view (and I enjoy an argument as much as the next man, so don't worry at all if you are in a different camp - life would be dull if we all thought the same way), but I do not really like when American politicians try and tell us how we should run our criminal justice system. I am sure they would not listen to us telling them how to run theirs; for example they didn't listen much to our appeals against the decision to extradite Gary McKinnon, did they? In any case it was becoming clearer and clearer that the conviction would not stand up to the scrutiny of an appeal, with the new evidence that was now available - which is why I have placed, somewhat provocatively, punctuation marks around the words 'Lockerbie bomber' in my comments above. So I think the decision was not only correct, but politically expedient (both here and in the US - a fact I am sure has not escaped the Scottish, UK or US governments). Can you imagine the outcry in the Arab world if the conviction was overturned on appeal, not to mention the commpensation that would have been payable from the Scottish Government? I'd rather have trams in Edinburgh than pay out that sort of cash - and as you may have guessed I am not a fan of the Edinburgh trams project. A comedian at the fringe summarised it well: a hell of a lot of money to replace the Number 22 bus.

But I have digressed into one of my favourite after dinner discussion topics, politics, and should return to the less contentious issue of sport. Yesterday allybea the runner (superb run today by allybea - more details on her blog), son no 3 and I travelled to Oban for the final of the Camanachd Cup, the main event in the shinty season. Fort William beat Kyles Athletic 4-3 in a thriller of a match: FW were 3-0 up and coasting but Kyles pulled it back to 3-3, before FW scored their winner with a couple of minutes left. It was live on BBC2 and BBC Alba, so some of you may have seen it, and may even have seen me standing on the touchline - I was wearing my fluorescent WHW top to make it easier for the cameras to pick me out. Shinty is a wild game and thoroughly enjoyable; I'm sure we'll be back for more.

Today I headed back to my old stomping ground of Kilmacolm for the half marathon. I actually managed to get under the hour and a half barrier for the first time for a while - my finishing time was 1.29.45 - but I have to be honest and say that I thought the course was about 300 yards too short. The first and last miles (which were the same bit of the course) were suspiciously fast, a fact confirmed by my GPS which showed a final reading for the route of 12.81 miles. I hate short courses. There is no excuse for them at all, particularly in an event where you head down a cycle path to a marker, turn round, and then come back up the same way. Apart from that the event was well organised, but they need to get the distance sorted out for next year. I ran pretty well for the first 8 miles, but then the wheels fell off and I shuffled slowly towards the finish line for the last 5 or so. Was last week's 40 miles still in my legs? Perhaps, but I wouldn't want anyone to think I am making excuses. It is more likely that I am just crap.

I am planning a big week's training this week before starting to wind down for the 24 hour race on 17 October. I even sense a run home from work on Friday night coming on: I would aim to leave Edinburgh after work (about 5 pm)and head along the canal to Linlithgow and Falkirk, over to Larbert and possibly on to Stirling. If anyone wants to join me for some or all of it please let me know - the company would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Running in circles

Running in circles, Comin' in tails
Heads on a science apart.
Nobody said it was easy,
It's such a shame for us to part.
Nobody said it was easy,
No one ever said it would be this hard.
Oh take me back to the start.

Today was the Glasgow half marathon, but I didn't feel I was in half marathon shape at the moment so didn't enter - the first time I haven't entered since 1989. Instead I headed along to the local track at Stirling University, to do a few laps as preparation for the 24 hour race at Tooting.

The woman at reception was quite happy for me to use the track, so I stuck my wee radio on and got running. I found Radio Clyde, which was covering the half marathon, interviewing various 10k and half marathon finishers, and that helped pass the time. I ran round, and round, and round again, occasionally seeing people who were out to run a few laps, but mostly on my own. It wasn't the most interesting run, but it wasn't as bad as you might think - I would actually recommend it if you fancy running somewhere a bit different, particularly if you are looking for a circular route with no hills whatsoever :)

I had planned to do 20km (50 laps) but managed an extra 10 laps to take me up to 15 miles, covering the total distance in 2 hours 17 minutes. So only another 21 hours and 43 minutes more on 17th/18th October and I'll be home and dry. Nae bother.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

You can't do too many ultras, can you?

I've decided to do the River Ayr Way (RAW) a week on Saturday - if nothing else it should be good training for the 24 hour race. And at least it won't involve running / climbing / scrambling up hills, unlike my session on Monday after work when I joined a few guys for a 'run' to the top of Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh. I have no head for heights at all, and therefore find hill running a bit of a struggle, even on 'easy' hills like Arthur's Seat. I would love to be able to do it, because I miss out on a lot of excellent races, but just can't. I'm too scared. So until I conquer this fear (and stop being such a big girl's blouse, as I'm sure the mad Aussie will say) I'll have to restrict my running to the trails, roads and (very occasionally) the track.