Since last posting a couple of weeks ago, I've moved into full 'ultra racing' mode. Last weekend we travelled up to Aberdeen for the D33, the first race in the SUMS series and a really nice 33 mile out and back route from Duthie Park in Aberdeen to Banchory. It was a perfect spring day, ideal for running, and I finished in 36th place in 4 hours 40 minutes, just 3 minutes slower than last year's time. My stomach wasn't great throughout, due I think to having breakfast too close to the start. Sandra took 8 minutes off her time from last year and came in a couple of minutes under 5 hours.
There were a number of excellent performances but for me the performance of the day came from Marco, who finished 3rd in a superb 3.38. He has moved to a new level this year, which is great to see. Susan's performance was also fantastic - she ran very strongly throughout to finish in 4.56. Anne Noble from Troon just seems to get quicker and quicker, and picked up the prized for the first super-vet in a time well under 5 hours.
My legs were a bit tight for the early part of the week, but greatly eased by a very pleasant run with Adrian on Tuesday evening. The pace was nice and gentle but it was great to be out there for a run and chat on such a nice spring evening.
And then on to this weekend. Sandra and I had decided to do the Perth 50k, which was taking place alongside the Anglo Celtic Plate 100k at the North Inch. I've run there a couple of times in 24 hour races, and always found it to be a good venue - almost completely flat, but very scenic but great to see all the support at the end of each 1.5 mile lap. One of the main reasons for going was to give our support to the Scottish team, particularly to Thomas, Debbie and Sharon, who were making their international debuts. Unfortunately Sharon had problems with her stomach and had to withdraw, but Thomas and Debbie both ran absolute stormers - Thomas finishing in 7 hours 42 minutes, and Debbie in 9 hours 3 minutes. It was great to see. They had both worked incredibly hard for it and fully deserved all the congratulations that came their way. To make things even better Thomas was part of the winning Scotland team - the first time Scotland have ever won the men's event in the Anglo Celtic Cup.
I ran a very sensible and steady race. It was 21 laps of 2.38k each, so in my mind I divided it into 3 sections of 7 laps each. The first 7 laps were probably my worst - I didn't feel very comfortable for the first few laps and needed a couple of toilet stops. After a toilet stop at the end of lap 6 I was about a quarter of a lap behind Sandra, who was running very steadily, and I knew I would have my work cut out to catch her. I managed to pick things up a bit and went through the 7 lap point in 1.31, continued to run better, then passed Sandra about lap 9. The 2nd 7 laps were faster than the first - 1.27 I think - and then I kept the same pace for the last 7, finishing in 4.26.30. Sandra continued to run well throughout and finished in an excellent 4.38.21, a full 9 minutes faster than her time for the same course last year.
So that's us almost reached the end of March. I've always seen the period from January to March as phase 1 of the WHW race training plan, so we (or more specifically Sandra, as I'm not running in this year's race) are now at the end of that. Phase 2 in April and May will include a lot more specific training on the route itself, including the Highland Fling race at the end of April and a 2 day training run in May, before the start of the dreaded taper in early June.