Monday, March 22, 2010

Quite a weekend

It was quite a weekend. On Saturday I was dragged from Balmaha all the way up Loch Lomondside to Doune Bothy by the gang - Keith, Norman, Ian, Jon, John and Jaimie - before we turned around and did it all again in reverse. In total that was almost 38 miles and 9 hours of running on the WHW, including the section from Inversnaid to the top of the loch twice. What a slog. These training runs aren't getting any easier. For a lot of the day I had no idea how I was going to make it back but just dug in, gritted my teeth, and told myself to TTFU - as I'm sure Keith would have told me if he hadn't been so far ahead. The way back was a bit better than the way out, although I was very glad to reach the finish at Balmaha just before 6 o'clock and be able to stop. I had a few twinges of cramp during the drive home, but after the pain I had been through for most of the day it didn't seem that significant. I was just pleased to be finished. It had been a lovely day - almost perfect running conditions - which was probably just as well, as I found it a difficult enough run without the added difficulty of poor weather.

Not surprisingly I travelled to Alloa for the half marathon on Sunday morning without any great hope of a fast time. I was keen to do it for 2 reasons, however: it was a good chance to do 2 hard back-to-back runs, which would be good training for the forthcoming ultras, and it was a race that the club had targeted and was encouraging as many members as possible to take part. My warm up felt ok, the weather was just about perfect, and I set off at a fairly steady 7.25 pace feeling reasonably good. I managed to keep that pace going for most of the run and was pleased to finish in a time of 1 hour 36 minutes and 25 seconds, only 5 minutes slower than Inverness last week. It was probably a much better performance than Inverness, given the efforts of the previous day, and proved once again that it is speed rather than stamina which is my issue at the moment. It was also good to see 9 club members taking part, some of them doing a half marathon for the first time.

I was completely shattered last night, but with the benefit of hindsight I'm pleased at getting the 2 runs done - I'm sure I'll look back on the weekend as an important stepping stone in my preparation for the WHW race. And, on another positive note, at least I didn't have to face the wild and wet conditions at the Hardmoors 55. The weather there sounded appalling so well done to all who took part, whatever you finished or not. Let's hope there's no repeat of these conditions on the 19th June...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

March - it must be Inverness

I've been doing the Inverness Half Marathon every year (with one exception) since 1994. Today was the day for the 2010 edition of the event. My thoughts on it are set out below.

I knew this was going to be a busy weekend. Sportsman's dinner on Friday night; Scotland v England rugby yesterday, with full hospitality; followed by the Inverness half marathon today. I decided to forego alcohol both at the dinner and at the rugby to give myself a fighting chance of surviving it all, although it was incredibly difficult to sit through a lunch at Murrayfield with the wine/beer/champagne flowing and restrict myself to a few glasses of still water. I managed, and at least it was a decent game - although it would have been even more decent if Scotland had won rather than hold on for a 15-15 draw.

Anyway, back to the half marathon. I just wasn't up for it at all, either when I woke up this morning with a nose that refused to stop running or when I arrived at the sports centre. I registered, collected my chip and number and went out a warm up - and still felt no better. To be honest I felt crap. My legs were heavy and I didn't want to run the race. I went back to the car and tears ran down my face. Should I go home? I just wasn't up for this at all. Fortunately at that moment I saw Adrian Stott walking towards his car and gave him a shout (having wiped my tears away first). He came over and we had a decent chat. After that I felt a bit better, got changed, and felt more ready for the race having changed into my shorts and club vest. Adrian, you have no idea how much I appreciated seeing you. It made a big difference.

Even when the race started, however, I wasn't sure I wanted to be doing it. I saw a lady with 2 black labradors near the start and felt hugely jealous: I wanted to be the person at the side with the dogs, rather than the one taking part in this shitty race. But I settled down, found myself going through 3 miles in slightly better than 7 minute mile pace, and felt ok. I was around the same pace at 6 miles, the same at 9 miles, and pretty much the same to the end. I finished in a time of 1 hour 31 minutes and 28 seconds - my worst time at Inverness by almost 2 minutes, but not too bad a performance considering the way I felt before the race. On the whole I ran quite well and kept going at a steady pace, but had no speed at all and could not pick it up. Note to self: that's what happens when you bash out mileage as part of your training, but don't really hurt yourself by running fast for long periods. If I want to get back below 1.30 I need to address this and do some harder training. The problem is I'm not really sure I want to.

So, what else has been happening in the months since I last blogged? I was planning to do a review of February but never quite managed it, so here is an abridged version:

* February was a weird month: 13 miles one week, 70 the next, the 50 something the next then 20 something in the last week. Very up and down. In effect I ended up with 2 good weeks running and 2 bad weeks, and a total of 159 miles (360 for the first 2 months for those who are interested in that sort of thing). I suppose it wasn't too bad a total for February considering the crap weather - for those that don't know we had more than 2 feet of snow around our area, as allybea explained on her blog, along with posting a few photos:

* I did one race (the National Cross Country, which I have already mentioned on my blog) and a great 36 mile run on the West Highland Way. The 36 mile was a struggle but I managed to hold on, got there, and made it in time for the 17.35 train from Fort William back to Bridge of Orchy.

* For the second month in a row I succeeded in my 'alcohol challenge' (which is to have more non-alcohol days each month than alcohol days). I think it was 15-13 but will need to check - it might have been 16-12... Who cares? A pass is a pass...
(Ps - At the moment I am 8-6 ahead in the March alcohol challenge so looking good :) )

And that's it. Next weekend is a biggie - a 42 mile run on the WHW with the Glee Club on Saturday, followed by the Alloa half marathon on Sunday. If I am not too tired to climb the stairs to my computer I'll try and write an update of how it all went.