Tuesday, 11 November 2008
We set off on Friday morning with our good friends The Doctor and his wife The Lady Doctor to visit The Runner's brother (Cool Dude) in Antibes. Now if you're not familar with French geography, Antibes is halfway between Nice and Cannes. It's a very beautiful part of France where the rich and famous flock in their thousands. Cool Dude had informed The Runner earlier this year that there was a new marathon being held. It was a perfect opportunity to catch up and also run in a new event.
Edinburgh was dull and dreich when we left. We landed at London City to catch our connecting flight to Nice only to find that it had been cancelled. No problem we thought. We're flying with British Airways, they'll look after us. Nuh huh! After being told it was a technical problem (ie probably not enough passengers on the flight!) we were informed we would be sent to Heathrow and put on a flight from there. They couldn't guarantee us seats or that the flight would wait for us. We then had to wait for other passengers to arrive and discover the same news. This was when the fun began!
As we were waiting a French couple arrived. To say that they were not happy was an understatement. At first they were both yelling in English and French at the guy on the desk, then at the poor girl who was to escort us and then at each other. Bizarrely, although they were French they spoke to each other in English. All six of us were put in a very nice leather seated chaffeur driven people carrier. The French guy sat in the front and spent the entire journey on his phone to BA Customer Support Services.
The driver took us through the centre of London past every major landmark in the city. It was fantastic (although we only saw the back of Buckingham Palace!) Between The Runner (who worked in London for a year) and the French lady (who had lived in London for 12 years with 'er 'usband) we had a commentary of where we were. The French lady turned out to be quite entertaining but could talk for Britain (and France!) The Runner and The Doctor began to amuse themselves by texting each other while The Lady Doctor and I listened to her. Meanwhile in the background 'er 'usband was yelling at a succession of 'well trained robots.' At one point he yelled 'You are not too busy. I can 'ear laughing in the background. Stand up from your seat and look for your supervisor.' By the end of the journey he had gained a £50 voucher off his next flight. He dramatically announced 'I shall be putting it in the bin.' His wife said 'It's ok, he's 'alf Italian.'
We arrived at Heathrow in one piece and in time. Unfortunately the check in woman was really snotty. No, we couldn't get any compensation, no we couldn't sit in the Executive Lounge (It's not policy!), no she didn't know or care why our flight was cancelled and no we couldn't sit together as the flight was full. No, we didn't like her either. And yes the French/Italian guy was complaining at the check in desk!
The flight itself was ok (I'm not a good flier) but I was sandwiched between 2 French guys (father and son) who didn't want to sit together but spent the whole flight talking over me! It's shocking how 5 years of school French is totally useless in the real world. I managed to speak a few words (like agreeing that announcements should also be in French) but was completely stuck when they replied to me. My feeble 'Je parle francais un peu mais je ne comprende pas quand vous parlez vite' elicted a response in near perfect English from the younger guy. Strangely I can read French newspapers/signs/instructions and get the gist and I can read a menu no problem. I just can't speak the damned language.
Since we were on a later flight, Cool Dude was able to pick us up. This saved us the embarassment of trying to get a taxi although The Lady Doctor speaks pretty good French so it might have been ok. So all 4 of us plus our luggage squeezed into his Renault 5 and set off for our adventure in France.
Thursday, 18 September 2008
I snorted into my tea on Monday when a very tired Runner declared that he felt calm and in control all last week. Oh really??? I'm afraid poor Beardie (and later The Pastor) got a bit of my thoughts on the calmness after holding my tongue all week! Even Mr Race Director got a blast of my 'I'm never doing back up again for That Man!' rant before the race. I'm so sorry guys!
Anyway, what can I say about the race that hasn't already been blogged about? Eh, The Runner ran round a loop. Then we saw him again after the next loop. Then we saw him after another one. Yep, it was dull and boring for me. Have I mentioned the rain yet? I was soaked from the start of the race until I went home for a few hours sleep. Apparently it was a lovely evening after I left Perth. Typical!
Before, during and after the event many people told me I was a saint and that he couldn't do it without me. Damn right! This time I have been pushed to my absolute limit. I'm looking forward to many months of entertaining and partying at weekends since there are no training runs or big races to eat up my weekend. And if anyone even dares telling The Runner about some crazy new ultra event they've found, I will hunt them down and poke them in the eyes with my Brittany Birches!
Sunday, 14 September 2008
Monday, 1 September 2008
This tent is humungous! I wanted a family tent that you could stand up in and have plenty of room for all the stuff you inevitably need when you go on holiday. The Runner was dispatched with these instructions and duly returned with this 6 man tent. He was extremely pleased with himself as he scored a bargain. Original price was £275. He bought it for £45!
As you can see it's got plenty of room inside. Ideal for the 24 hour race in Perth on the 13th. The 3 separate bedroom pods means all the lovely people who have offered to help me with the back up can have 40 winks comfortably. It's also got loads of room for changing if it's wet and space for food prep. In fact it's so big we're thinking of hiring it out for weddings, christenings and bar mitzvahs! Reasonable rates on application!!
Sunday, 10 August 2008
Weather conditions were good at 6am as the race started. Cool with a slight breeze. The Runner and I went for a leisurely cooked breakfast in The Green Welly which was open specially for the race. Beardie, Hippy Chick and Allyski had to dash off to make sure they were at Bridge of Orchy in time for Mr Record Holder.
We arrived at Inveroran where we had arranged to meet Mr Race Director in plenty time to see the front runners run down the hill. The Runner thought some people were a bit fast but everyone looked comfortable enough. By this time the midgies were starting to appear. We wished everyone luck through our midgies hoods.
Next stop was Kingshouse where we met with Sonic and his Laydee with a Baby. By this time it was starting to rain. It was windy and cold. But the midgies didn't seem care. They were out in force. Sonic bravely drank a coffee I made him that ended up being half coffee/half midgie! The Runner ran up the path to met with Mr RD. Later he said Mr RD was looking good but by the time they reached me he was "having a bad patch." We poured lots of Coke, 'suicide gel' and banana into him and sent him on his way.
45 mins later we met him at the bottom of the Devil's staircase. He looked and felt much better. The Runner changed into his running gear and they both set off up the hill.
I drove on to Kinlochleven and noticed that my ankle was starting to really ache. I parked in the usual place and set up the wee stove etc to heat the soup and water for coffee. The Runner planned to have some (tinned)soup here. Most cans now have ringpulls on them and the beans, spaghetti and tomato soup cans I brought all had one. However, the chicken soup didn't. Undaunted I got the tomato soup ready to heat and then sat in the car, not expecting them arrive for ages. M&M stopped briefly for a chat but the midgies were horrendous so he kept on moving. He was running back to Kingshouse.
Just as I was thinking there were about 20 mins before my runners appeared I got out to start warming the soup and making coffee. I got out the car to find The Runner approaching. They were ahead of schedule. Mr RD was running well despite being at the back of the field. They set off in good spirits with the sweeper and I was left to clear up. By the time I left Kinlochleven I was the only car left. Even the officials had left!
As I left the town my phone went crazy. I hadn't had a signal since Kingshouse so the 5 texts and 3 voice messages, from people wanting to know how it was going, all arrived at the same time. I pulled into a layby as I knew I would lose it again by the time I reached Lundavra. Beardie had left a message to say that Mr Record Holder had finished in a new record time. 5 hours 22 mins for 43 miles!
As I drove up to my favourite(!) place at Lundavra I knew that my ankle needed some medical attention. I took my shoe and sock off (big mistake) to find that I had a tennis ball sized puffy lump around my joint. I raided my first aid kit and sprayed it with freeze spray. Didn't work. I tried to put a Tubigrip on it but it was the wrong size. So when The Runner and Mr RD arrived we quickly changed the plan. Mr RD set off with the sweeper and The Runner took me to A&E at Fort William.
Fortunately, I was seen very quickly. An x-ray ruled out a break and I was bandaged up in plenty of time to see Mr RD finish in a fantastic time of 10 hours 45 mins. Well done! Just look at the determination as he crosses the finish line with 5 other runners behind him.
Friday, 8 August 2008
Beardie is also providing backup for another runner although I suspect his runner (Mr WHW race Record Holder) will be faster than ours!
Hopefully I'll see all the usual suspects tomorrow. Good luck to all the runners.
Monday, 4 August 2008
I hadn't planned on running as I was feeling rubbish when I got up but it was a lovely morning and there were lots of runners running round the loop. And The Runner was trying to run at a very slow pace (which matches my normal pace!) so I decided to join him on his last loop. Big mistake.
Yes, I had my trainers with me but I was wearing thick joggers, a cotton vest top and mostly importantly a pretty pink underwired bra! I know, it's a girl thing but a good sports bra is essential for those of us, ahem, blessed with larger boobies. And I own several of them (bras that is!) but unfortunately wasn't wearing one. Let's just say it probably didn't look pretty and I still have both eyes!!
I think the following photographs sum up how we each felt at the end of our efforts.
Thursday, 31 July 2008
Saturday, 26 July 2008
Here are some handy hints should you ever find yourself in that position.
If the injury is a recurring one, memorise the most effective treatment so that you can offer appropriate advice as soon as it happens. Your runner will be impressed that you know how to treat ITBS or groin strain.
If the injury is a new one, then spend hours on the internet googling the symptoms and asking other runners for their tips.
If the injury is severe enough to stop your runner from running, then you need to have a range of distractions to take their mind off not running. Suggestions from personal experience include taking up another sporting activity (like golf) to spend quality time together, a family holiday, romantic distraction (I don't need to elaborate further, do I?) or food poisoning (guaranteed to take their mind off not running!)
Poor race results
Now this one is a bit trickier. Again a good memory is useful as you can suggest many reasons for a poor result. Like
1. You've been working very long hours
2. You didn't have time fit in all the training you needed.
3. The day itself was too hot/cold/wet/windy.
4. You had a dreadful journey getting to the race.
5. You had a cold/virus/food poisoning the week before.
6. You didn't eat/drink enough before the race.
There are some things we just don't have control over but meticulous planning can avoid some of them.
This really is the worst of the scenarios. If your runner has to drop out of a race, then something serious has happened. In my experience it's usually down to an injury (see above tips) or a virus.
A virus is the hardest thing to deal with. Unless you get a blood test PDQ from a willing doctor, you just don't know what it was. You also have to take post-viral tiredness into account as well. So, effectively it's a double whammy.
The best advice I can offer in this case is to stock up your whisky cabinet and let your runner wallow in their misery for a few days/weeks depending on the importance of the race. When you've just about had enough of their greeting face, tell them to get their running shoes back on and JUST DO IT! Remind them that running is supposed to be fun. If that doesn't work, advise them to take up knitting!
Monday, 14 July 2008
We had just left the house to drive to Stirling when The Runner said "I feel a bit funny." By the time we reached the village 4 mins later his whole head, face and neck were red. Not just a bit red. I mean REALLY REALLY BRIGHT RED, as if he had sat in the sun for 24 hours without suncream. He still wanted to go to Stirling so I insisted we change places so I could drive. By the time we got there 15 mins later he also had a splitting headache.
Now sensible people like me would go straight to A&E to get a medical opinion. Not The Runner. I insisted on calling The Doctor to get his opinion. Funnily enough his advice was also go to A&E. Since The Runner always waits for someone else to confirm my opinion on most things, we then went straight to Stirling Royal Infirmary.
In medical matters I would usually expect that doctors and nurses know what they're talking about. However, I was a bit concerned when the triage nurse said she'd never seen anything like it! But when the doctor said she'd never seen anything like it either I was extremely concerned!! And when she said she'd go and Google his symptoms I was nearly on the floor!!!
After a quick Google she came back and diagnosed scrombotoxin - food poisoning from eating oily fish and sometimes Swiss cheese. It's a naturally occurring bacteria in fish like mackerel that becomes toxic if inadequately kept chilled. It can occur any time from the time the fish is caught until it lands on your plate. Within an hour of eating the symptoms appear. The Runner ate 2 fresh mackerel fillets 30 mins before we left the house.
Fortunately his symptoms died down quickly after some paracetamol for the headache and an anti histamine for the rash. The sickness and diarrhoea took a bit longer! He's fine now.
I wonder how much mileage The Runner will get out of this. Many years ago I got a speeding ticket for doing 83 mph on an empty bypass. I was teased mercilessly for years until he got one himself! Any cracks about my cooking will earn him a week of eating sandwiches. Tinned mackerel and Swiss cheese ones!!
Sunday, 13 July 2008
I'm sitting here with a large glass of Chardonnay and a huge sigh of relief that everything (more or less) went to plan. We had 250 finishers and had a new course record to boot. But my goodness I'm so tired! I can't begin to imagine how The Godfather organises the WHW!
Like many events that have been going for a few years, the organisation of 'stuff' relies on those club stalwarts that have always manned the water station or put out the signs or baked the cakes or manned the car park. Without people like these many races could not be run. I am extremely grateful to them all!
First the funny stuff. As Race Director I get all the emails asking stooopid questions. Like -
How long will it take me to get to Crieff?
How hot are your showers?
How deep are your prize categories? (from an American!)
Where can I get lunch in Crieff?
Can you describe the course? (from a lady who ran it last year!)
Have I already entered the race?
What shoes would you recommend? (the most popular question)
As Race Director I didn't have a job on the day. But that meant I had to deal with every problem that arose (and play with radios!) Luckily there weren't too many things but there was a gala on nearby that was also using the field for parking. Unfortunately, they were going to be charging for car parking and someone(!) decided to charge our runners for parking. As soon as I realised what was happening I went to investigate. As usual there was no-one in charge and the guy taking the money gave me an 'I'm only doing what I'm told hen' answer. So if you were charged £1 to park, please accept our apologies. At least the money was going to a charitable cause.
We had our first serious injury where a lady runner fell and bumped her head. She knew her name but unfortunately not much else. I'm VERY grateful to The Fireman (who was our sweeper) for coming to her rescue. (Isn't that every woman's fantasy!!) Luckily I was able to get her and her partner back to the pavillion where she got medical advice. It's every Race Director's nightmare to have a casualty. I'll find out how she is tomorrow.
It's curry night tonight where some club members go out on the town. I'm really looking forward to not cooking tonight. Just got some paperwork to do and that's the race over for another year. If you were running in it, I hope you enjoyed it. If you weren't, why not and see you next year!
Monday, 7 July 2008
Monday, 30 June 2008
Just reading the comments on our blogs and emails has made us realise we have lots of good friends. The BBQ on Saturday reinforced it as well. Luckily I didn't have to listen to all the boring, sorry fascinating blow by blow accounts of everyone's race as I was a bit busy with some burgers. (I don't want to see another burger all summer!)
But now it's time to draw a line under this year's race and think ahead. I'm not going to pre-empt The Runner's plans but he is planning to take part in another Ultra event fairly soon. Hopefully that will get rid of his pent up frustration. Have I mentioned he's been a nightmare to live with these last 7 days? I think I've been a very good wifey and held my tongue on more than a few occasions. The pity party is officially over! Get your running shoes on and hit the road, dear!
I've added a few more blogs to my links. It's good to see The Fool's Wife and My Other German Friend writing about their support experiences. Have a look if you haven't already seen them.
Next date for your diary is the Crieff 10k on the Sun 13th July. A lovely multi terrain course, with a wee incline that wouldn't be too bad for aching legs. Check out the details on the Strathearn Harriers link at the side. Did I mention that I'm the Race Organiser? Yikes! I hope I live up to the responsibility.
Monday, 23 June 2008
We arrived at Milngavie just after 11.30pm. The car park was almost full. As usual the place was buzzing with activity and there was a definite air of excitement. We met up with old friends and sought out new ones made through the world of blogging. The Runner seemed to be ok before he went off to the pre-race briefing. However, when he returned he was a bit agitated that there wasn't enough time left to do everything he needed to do. He started to fuss about what was in his bumbag, which had already been double checked at home. He was complaining about needing the toilet again, which is normal for him at the start of this race. But with hindsight, the early signs were there.
I think I managed to see everyone I knew and wished them luck before they started. Then before I knew it, they were off. What followed can only be described as Wacky Races as all the support crews tried to exit the car park at the same time. Beardie, Flash and I weren't in a hurry as our first stop was Balmaha. Again in hindsight, this was a mistake. Perhaps if we had seen The Runner earlier at Drymen we might have realised something wasn't right.
We arrived at Balmaha and parked exactly where The Runner wanted us, at the bottom near the toilets. For the first time in 8 years of doing this backup malarky I managed to sleep! Only half an hour but it was better than nothing. Just before he was due to arrive we set out all the things he had asked for. Soup, beans, coffee, grapes, smoothie and a rice pudding. Whatever he might have needed was ready and waiting for him. We also had VERY strict instructions to get him serviced and out again in 5 mins.
However, when he arrived he was in a right state. It wasn't until much later on in the day he told me he had been sick several times before Balmaha. If I had known this I would have reacted differently. He didn't want anything to eat and decided to go to the toilet first. This used up his 5 mins. He took some coffee and soup in disposable cups and left. As we tidied up Beardie and I commented on how grumpy he was. Again, another sign all was not well. Should we have arranged to see him again before Rowardennan?
We continued on to the midgie ridden hell that is Rowardennan and waited. When he arrived I knew by the way he walking towards the car that something wasn't right. His head was down, his shoulders were slumped and he was barely lifting his feet off the ground. He lifted his head and our eyes met. He couldn't speak and just shook his head. I just knew. As he got closer he said 'It's not going to happen today.' I couldn't even answer him.
We got to the car and Beardie tried his best to jolly him along but I knew it was game over. I know I'm supposed to be chief cheerleader and motivator but I just couldn't lie to him. He looked dreadful. Dull grey skin and sunken eyes. That was not how he should look at 27 miles. We walked back towards the checkpoint and met Mr Race Director who quickly realised the situation. Like everyone else that day he was stunned by the news. He realised something must be very wrong. We started walking towards the marshalls to hand in his tag. I let him go ahead of me as the tears started rolling down my face. I was gutted for him. For me. For Beardie and Flash. We walked back to the car in silence holding hands. People around us started asking if everything was ok. The news began to spread. The Runner had dropped out at Rowardennan.
We had a decision to make. Should we go home or continue to Fort William? Well, it was a no brainer. Of course we would go on. Anyone who knows The Runner knows he's just as interested in his friends' race success as he is in his own. He took the opportunity to see the race from another viewpoint. We drove back to Milngavie and dropped Flash off. I hope he wasn't disappointed that his race experience was over almost as it begin.
As we drove to Auchtertyre, The Runner slept. Obviously his body needed it. When we arrived the news quickly spread and The Runner found himself the centre of attention. This set the pattern for the rest of the day. Backup crews and runners first thought they were hallucinating when they saw him! There were some very funny double takes as we arrived. The Runner took it all in his stride and was genuinely keen to support all his friends but I know how much it hurt him.
We spent some time at Bridge of Orchy and then Kingshouse. I think The Runner was amazed to see how the backup works at each checkpoint. He hadn't realised how busy it gets. He enjoyed watching how each crew looked after their runner and got them back out again. He has a head for numbers and facts and was able to tell each runner that they were still on target. He offered sensible advice (I hope!) to those he knew were trying to set PBs.
As we headed towards Fort William I selfishly realised that I wouldn't need to go to Lundavra. The Runner to his credit didn't even ask if we should go up. We checked into the hotel, had a quick drink and then walked up to the finish. It was amazing to see the first runners arrive. And very emotional. Our fellow clubmate McStecko finished in an amazing 19 hours 14mins. He took over 8 hours off his previous time. Now that's a man to ask for training secrets! (He'll be at the BBQ!)
We also saw The Pastor's incredible sub 20 hours finish. I'm afraid I was yelling like a banshee as he ran through the car park as he was a bit tight for time! I hope he can edit it out of his video. I think we watched the first 15 arrivals. By then we were really tired and headed back to the hotel.
Although The Runner had held it together most of the day he was very emotional back in our room. Seeing his friends finish had just reinforced the fact that he had dropped out. He was still trying to make sense of it. Was it the training? Was it the tapering? The back to back marathons? The sub 21 target? Changing the first checkpoint? Could it be everything? I think we've come to the conclusion that there is a very simple reason. It had to be a virus. Small and deadly. Even today his legs are much sorer and heavier than they should be after 27 miles.
After a decent night's sleep and a full Scottish breakfast we headed off to the prizegiving. This was incredibly moving as many people came to speak to us. They were sure we had taken the right decision at the right time.
I'm incredibly proud of The Runner. I know the strength and depth of his character. It was one of the many reasons I married him. But I've been deeply touched by the many comments and messages he has received from his fellow runners and their backup crews. He is obviously held in high regard and I'm grateful to you all in expressing it. It has helped him through the last 2 days.
I guess it's too early to think about next year. But I hope there is a next year. I'm available if asked. And just in case he's getting a big head with all the nice things people are saying about him, let me tell you he can't pee straight into a toilet and he once reversed into a parked car because he 'didn't know it was there!'
Thursday, 19 June 2008
Thankfully all the provisions have been sorted. Magic soup is made and sitting comforably in a fridge groaning with food. Lists are being checked and checked again. Texts and emails are flying about. My rookie back up guy Flash has been briefed. The English invasion has begun. Let's just say I'm glad I'm not a resident of Bridge of Orchy tonight!
It is my heartfelt wish that everyone who makes it to the start also makes it to the finish safe and healthy.
To all the veterans, I wish you a good race with PBs.
To all the newbies, I wish you good luck. Anything is possible if you believe.
And to all the backup crews, I wish you an uneventful day. These nutters simply can't do it without us.
Monday, 16 June 2008
This is the week where we have to listen to you worry about every single thing that could be a potential disaster. Dodgy tummies, runny noses and groin strains don't usually stop you going on a training run or running a marathon. So why does a sniffle from your youngest child or fellow passenger on the train send you into a frenzy? Why does something written on a forum or seen in a magazine article make you doubt your last few weeks training/tapering plans?
Those of us who've been involved in providing backup before pretty much know what we're doing. You don't really need to ask us if we've got midgie nets or tell us to get petrol now just in case there's none left by Friday. It's all in hand.
Here the lists are prepared so I won't forget anything. My week is planned so that I have plenty of time to get the provisions and fill up with petrol. Just relax! Be nice to your backup.
Only 4 more sleeps to go!
Monday, 9 June 2008
Your food bills are higher than the national average.
You can't go for a 2 week holiday in *insert your dream holiday location here* because it's too hot to run.
You go to New York/Boston/Zurich for a weekend and it coincides with the marathon.
You can't go out at the weekend or have friends over because there's always a race or big training run.
You don't have any normal friends anyway.
Your neighbours don't bat an eyelid at the amount of Lycra items on your washing line.
There's always an aroma of eau de trainer in the bedroom/bathroom/utility room.
Early nights (nudge, nudge) actually mean an early night if there's a race on.
Your husband and his friends talk about bonking but he's not being indiscreet about your love life.
He texts his friends before you to tell them his race results.
If you've got any more, let me know!
Sunday, 1 June 2008
I read a lot of blogs including non-running ones and often see people getting tagged. Tagging is a blogging game. Since all you WHW runners are at a loose end for the next 3 weeks I thought I'd start one.
Tagging is easy. Just copy the following onto your post.
- The rules of the game are posted at the start of your blog post.
- In this case, I'm asking you 5 questions about running.
- Each player answers the 5 questions on their own blog.
- At the end of your post you tag 5 other people and post their names.
- Go to their blogs and leave a comment on their blogs telling them they've been tagged and to look at your blog for details.
- When they've answered the questions on their own blog, they come back to yours to tell you.
Got that? Here goes.
1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago?
Same as it is now - sporadic and at times non-exsistant. I didn't have a back problem and was 2 stone lighter than I am now! I managed to do a few 10ks and am grateful to Beardie who used to drag me round Troon on club nights.
2. What is your best and worst run/race experience?
The best run I ever did was 2 weeks after the NYC marathon. I did a wee 4 mile loop round Troon on a cold frosty morning and took 10 mins off my previous best time. For some strange reason I stopped running after that.
My worst race was the NYC marathon. I won't bore you with details but it was awful!
3. Why do you run?
Usually to get fit, lose weight or when The Runner says "Wouldn't it be great if you......."
4. What is the best or worst piece of advice you've been given about running?
Worst piece of advice was given to me by The Runner after I stepped into a pothole and had a bit of a sore calf. He advised me to keep running on it even if it was painful. I kept running even though it was agony and the tiny bruise that had appeared kept getting bigger and bigger. When I eventually went to see a physio I discovered I had torn my calf muscle and couldn't run for 6 weeks. This is part of the reason my NYC marathon was horrendous.
5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.
I have a small rose tatoo on my right shoulder. At first glance it looks quite innocent but if you are familiar with Georgia O'Keefe's flower paintings you may see something different ;-)
Okay, now it's your turn. I tag
Dear Agony Aunt,
What advice can you give to me to help me through the next three weeks? I won't be running as much as I'm tapering so what do you suggest I do to while away the time?
Thanks in anticipation
My dear Pastor,
This is a problem familiar to many Ultra Runners. Running takes up so much of their time they have no other relaxing hobbies to get them through the cold turkey stage that is tapering. I've found that related activities like surfing the internet for information and talking to fellow runners on forums increases anxiety levels to a point where you think you won't make it to the start. It's advisable to look for an unrelated relaxing activity to fill your time.
A personal favourite of my own is knitting which has been proved by Harvard research to be "as effective as meditation, yoga or chanting in triggering the body's relaxation response.....the repetitive motions block the hormone noradrenaline, which in turn lowers blood pressure."
I'd also recommend a little light gardening (no double digging a vegetable plot!) or perhaps some housework. Activities like these will help keep you active and have the added bonus of pleasing a partner especially one who is your Support Team Leader.
In the grand scheme of things a 3 week taper is a very small price to pay. The aim of the game is get to the start of the race fit and healthy. All the hard work of the previous months is stored in your legs and more importantly in your head.
Good luck with the next 3 weeks
Friday, 30 May 2008
I think my husband has a serious problem and I need some advice on what to do. It all started a few years ago when he met someone at a race wearing a t-shirt from an event called The West Highland Way Race. It turned out that it was an event where people ran 95 miles in one go! I couldn't believe it when he said he wanted to take part. I thought it was a phase and it would pass. But it hasn't. The addiction has just got worse over the last 8 years. He spends a lot of time on the internet reading blogs and watching videos and even meets other people to share experiences. I think they just encourage each other.
I've also found strange items of clothing in our bedroom. He recently bought some Skins and frankly I think they're obscene. They leave nothing to the imagination. I've also noticed that some items keep going missing from the fridge and cupboards. He says he needs to eat chicken and potatoes and even baked beans for breakfast. I'm at my wits end.
Do I have grounds for unreasonable behaviour? Can he be cured? What should I do?
My dear Running Widow,
You have my deepest sympathies. This is a very serious addiction called Ultra Running and I'm afraid there is no cure. I'm sorry to be so blunt. There is an organisation called The WHW Family that gives excellent support to both runners and their families but once you are part of it there is no escape.
You have to embrace the lifestyle your partner has choosen. All your friends will be connected in some way to this event. You will find Outsiders do not understand and will judge you for standing by your man. You may even lose contact with some of them. Weekends and holidays will be arranged around races and training. If you want to see your partner you will have to be brave and go with him. Some Ultra Runners are lucky in that their partners know about their condition before they get married and so have a choice. But it sounds like you married a lardy bum who became addicted later on. That must be tough.
The food issue is very important to Ultra Runners. During an event, some are known to mix baked beans with chocolate milk, rice pudding and Jelly Babies. So eating chicken or potatoes at breakfast is quite mild.
You sound like a special person. Your husband needs love and support. He cannot do it without you. Make yourself invaluable to him and you will have a bargaining tool if he becomes unreasonable. Help him to choose races in places like New York or Zurich so you get something out of it too. It won't be easy but it can be rewarding in the long run.
Good luck with the future
Monday, 26 May 2008
I reckon I've got 2 weeks before race hysteria picks up. If he gets a cold it's not a problem as there's still 2 weeks to go. A wee hamstring/groin niggle? Plenty of time to get it sorted out. We might even be able to go out on Saturday night since there's no big run planned for the Sunday. I really like this brief period of calm.
I know it doesn't last but it's quite nice all the same.
Monday, 19 May 2008
Next it was down the winding road to Kinlochleven and a visit to the Co-op to stock up on a few things. For the first time in years I had a Cup-a-soup. It wasn't too bad and it was warm and filling. I didn't want to risk another dodgy pub lunch although to be fair I've not been in the Tail Race Inn to eat before. Mrs Pacepusher was going to run from here so she set off just before the runners were due to arrive. She fully expected to be caught by someone.
Funniest moment of the day was Mrs Pacepusher's arrival at Lundavra. We weren't expecting her to be first so Pacepusher wasn't prepared. She threw her top into the back of the car, yelled 'Where's my water? You're a rubbish back up!' grabbed her bottle herself and left. Total time 10 secs! Pacepusher was speechless!
Sunday, 18 May 2008
Chocolate milk at Rowardennan
Had my grapes and ready to go
The long drive round from Rowardennan to Beinglas is always the worst bit on the actual race day. It was nice to do it in clear daylight and without sleep deprivation. I parked at Beinglas Farm and noticed a sign which had camping charges. It also said it was £1 to park your car! As I was intending to eat in the pub I didn't pay my parking charge. Maybe I should have paid it as the £8.80 I paid for a disgusting cheese toastie and chips was a rip off. I always make a point of spending money here but this is the second time recently the food has been inedible (I bought a cheese roll to take away at The Fling that was stale).
All 4 runners arrived together and I finally met The Man from Peebles. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos here as I was busy filling water bottles etc. By this time the temperature had risen to the low 20s. The Runner needed sun cream as he burns easily being fair skinned. Everyone looked in good shape (despite Pacepusher going over on his ankle) and they were still good humoured. Next stop Auchtertyre aka the Wigwams.
Pacepusher was the first to arrive and he did not look happy. He had gone over on his ankle again and it didn't look pretty. So the Sports First Aid kit got its first outing in the 2 years I've had it. We agreed it wouldn't be sensible to remove his shoe as it might not go back on. So I gave the ankle a good drenching of ice spray (first checking the skin wasn't broken). It probably didn't make any difference but he later said it felt as if it had an effect. I had also managed to get more milk at the farm shop so he downed a cold pint of the disgusting stuff (I hate milk. Yuck!) and he set off before the others arrived.
Arriving at Auchtertyre
The Runner and The Pastor arrived together about 10 mins after Pacepusher left. Both were in good shape and they also downed some cold white stuff. Strawberries and grapes were also consumed with their beans before they set off.
The Man from Peebles arrived 10 mins after they had left so I didn't have to wait long. He needed more water and had a coffee. He was confident of finishing before dinner.
I arrived at Bridge of Orchy as the heavens opened and checked into my lovely hotel room. It had a birds eye view of the road so I could watch for the runners as they ran down the hill. First to arrive was Pacepusher. He had pushed himself really hard. In fact he had pushed himself so hard he was shaking and not just from being wet. He was also a bit incoherent. I've seen many friends like this at the end of races so I gave him a big towel to wrap up in and got him a cup of tea. By the time The Runner and Pastor arrived he was a bit more with it. They both knew that a hot shower was the best solution and all 3 headed off to warm up.
The Runner was in a bath when The Man from Peebles arrived. As 8.45pm was the earliest we could have dinner, he had plenty of time get ready.
Everyone was in good spirits for dinner although Pacepusher sat with ice on his ankle which was ballooning up nicely. Service was very slow and we must have been the last meal to come out the kitchen. It was very nice but I suffered indigestion all night as a result of eating so late.
The Runner and I were the first to go to bed since he was nodding off in the corner. We agreed to meet at 7.30am for breakfast.
Monday, 12 May 2008
Why are runners so attached to t-shirts from certain races? I see it frequently at races we go to. Is it a badge of honour? Is it an ego thing? I have to say it's mostly men I see wearing old manky t-shirts eg London Marathon 1983. Are you making a statement? 'I've been running longer than you've been out of nappies!'
Many years ago I threw out some of The Runners old t-shirts. They were grey, mildewed and holey. I was the talk of the steamie! Well, the Troon Tortoises training runs for weeks. It stills gets cast up from time to time.
Well, this is advance notice. When you have more t-shirts than drawer space it's time for a cull. So lookout for a subdued Runner in the next few weeks. At least he will be better dressed at races.
Just don't get me started on his pants...................
Thursday, 8 May 2008
Sunday, 27 April 2008
The Pastor's Posse
Thursday, 24 April 2008
So, roll on Saturday. At least on Sunday he'll have cause to be sore and I'll be kind to him. That's if I don't kill him between now and then!
Good luck to everyone running in The Fling!
Sunday, 20 April 2008
Now I have to confess that I've only ever walked a little bit of the WHW before. Several years ago when we were members of Troon Tortoises, the club organised a relay event. The Hippy Chick and I walked over the hill from Bridge of Orchy to Inveroran Hotel. I think everyone else ran a section. We then had a meal in Fort William and stayed overnight.
So this morning we went for a walk on the WHW. I needed a good 10 mile walk and The Runner loves any excuse for being on the Way. Even if it was at a much slower pace than he's used to! We parked at Milngavie station and walked for 5 miles. We turned and came back the same way. It was tough going (for me). There are a lot of little climbs. Throughout the first 2 miles The Runner pointed out all the places where runners get lost. I must confess that I've always thought 'How can anyone get lost at the start?' Now, having walked it I can see exactly how you can get lost in the dark!
Sunday, 13 April 2008
Heating soup on my wee stove at Kingshouse
Leisure Centre car park
Friday, 11 April 2008
Since I won't have The Bearded One with me to heat up the Magic soup on his wee stove, I'm going to try to do it myself. Last year I bought a portable gas stove in the sales but it's never been used. So I dusted it off and practised boiling water. No3 son declared it 'cool.'
It could all go horribly wrong and The Runner won't get hot soup or coffee at the right time. But better to find out on a training run than on the big day itself.
Good luck to everyone running the FLM. If my back wasn't f*cked (and I'd got off my fat backside in time) it could have been me as I was offered the club place. We'll be glued to the TV on Sunday morning to watch for familiar faces. I'll even give up my long lie!
Monday, 7 April 2008
I'm sure it won't surprise anyone to learn that since ultra running dominates our lives, The Runner likes to read about other running nutters. He often chuckles away to himself and regularly says 'Listen to this!' However, last night when he told me about an event (in the States naturally) called The Barkely Marathons I was intrigued enough to Google it and find out more. Just because it sounded so mad.
It's a 100 miler in Tennessee consisting of 5 loops but there is a 60 mile Fun Run if you're not up to the full event! There's a time limit of 12 hours to complete each loop and consists of 20,000 feet of ascent and descent per loop! The trails haven't been maintained for years and the course isn't marked. To prove you actually made it round each loop, you have to rip a page out of paperback books placed around the course with appropriately named titles such as Fatal Terrain, Curl Up and Die and Going Nowhere Fast! Runners who drop out are taunted by a bugler playing "Taps!" Entry to this race requires an essay called "Why I should be allowed to run the Barkely." Only 7 people have ever managed to complete 5 loops.
Have a look at the site and make sure sure you click on some of the links especially the one with a photo of the guy's knee with a hole in it!!
The pictured book was loaned to The Runner by McStecko, a fellow Strathearn Harrier who is running in this year's WHW. It's full of great stories about the extreme events to which some runners are inexplicably drawn. I thought the WHW race was bad enough!
ETA It was actually The Doctor who gave The Runner the book.
Sunday, 6 April 2008
And of course I'm still here to tell tales on those who deserve it! Especially The Runner!!