Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Nice to Cannes Marathon Part Une

I wasn't planning to write in this blog again for a while but like the title says we ventured into France for a marathon. So many things happened to us over the weekend I felt it merited a blog post!

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

Closure

At last we have closure. 2008 is not a write off as far as ultra running is concerned. Words cannot describe the shadow that has hung over the summer since that day in June. Of course The Runner just had to go out and attempt something even more extreme than the WHW. What could be more extreme than running 95 miles up and down mountains? How about running round and round and round a loop for 24 hours?

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!

About 20 seconds before this photo was taken I was told to 'Fuck off and stop fucking annoying me.' How calm is that?
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Oh look! He stopped running round and took a drink from us. Mostly he just took stuff from the official table so Beardie and I had no idea what he was eating or how much. I brought most of the food back home me including the untouched fruit loaf that was sooo important that I stayed up on Thursday night to bake!


Beardie with his pasta and magic knife that has a fork, spoon, corkscrew, turkey baster and hair dryer all-in-one!!
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Prize giving with nobody spewing or fainting in sight

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!

Enjoy your winter training and cross country events. I'll see you all again next year!
Ali x

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Warning!

This is what your feet will look like after running 72 laps of a 1 and 1/2 mile loop. Total distance 106.74 miles! Do you think it's worth it? I know someone who does!

Monday, 1 September 2008

Big tent, little tent

On the left is the teeny wee tent The Runner took to Coll for the half marathon. It kept him cosy and dry throughout the night and most importantly didn't blow away. It's a 2 man tent but the 2 men would need to know each other VERY well as it's a bit on the small side. On the right is something a bit bigger!


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

Devil report

Look at these 2 happy chappies! It's 5.30am and Mr Race Director was raring to go. I, on the other hand, was still half asleep and went over on my ankle minutes after I took this photo!

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.

Tired but happy!
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It really was a pleasure to provide the backup. He's much nicer and is more appreciative than The Runner at checkpoints!
After the race there was much talk about the 24 hour race in Perth. It looks like a few runners are planning on being there. I guess I should start practising putting up the new tent The Runner bought for his base!

Friday, 8 August 2008

The Devil!

Tommorow is The Devil o'the Highlands race. I'll be doing my usual backup role but this time it won't be for The Runner. We have the honour of providing backup for Mr Race Director (aka The Godfather) himself. I'm looking forward to it and am sure it will be an interesting experience for The Runner to see what it's like from my end.

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

Storm in a DD cup or An Inch too far!

Since The Runner has decided that he'll probably do the 24 hour race at Perth next month, I was a good wifey yesterday and accompanied him on a training run. He has already blogged about it so I'll spare you the details. However, he didn't blog about my attempt to run round the loop at the North Inch.

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.

Told you it wasn't pretty!
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Someone looks happy!
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I guess I'm just not a natural runner. I'd love to be but hey I'm not gonna lose any sleep over it. If I'm fit enough I'll do the 10k at Inverness. If I'm not, I won't.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Happy Anniversary!

Today we celebrate 22 years of marriage. How strange to think that all those years ago neither of us knew any runners or anything about ultra running. The Runner had completed 2 Glasgow marathons in his late teens but running in any more races was the furthest thing from our minds in 1986. Who would've thought our lives together would have been this fun?

Saturday, 26 July 2008

How to live with a grumpy Ultra Runner

If you live with an Ultra Runner, it is certain that you will have to deal with grumpiness due to injury, poor results in a race or worst case scenario - a DNF.

Here are some handy hints should you ever find yourself in that position.

Injuries

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.

DNF

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

OMG! I poisoned The Runner!!

We had an unplanned hospital trip this evening to A&E in Stirling.

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

Crieff 10k

Ok, so the last post wasn't really the last post! I thought I'd share some thoughts on today's 10k where I was the Race Director.

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

Last post


Well, last post for a while as the purpose of this blog is to tell tales, I mean record the WHW race and its training from a support viewpoint. So I wanted to end on a positive note and move on from the doom and gloom of the last few weeks. The above photo is from the Brig Bash last Wednesday. I think The Runner was happy with his run. He's not been so grumpy the last few days and was definitely happy on Saturday when he went to buy a new car.
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When the training runs start again later in the year I'll start posting on this blog again. No doubt The Runner will give you a heads up. Don't forget the Crieff 10k on the 13th July. We're still taking entries on the day. Maybe see you there? Enjoy your summer!
Ali x

Monday, 30 June 2008

Post BBQ

I am absolutely exhausted. The last couple of weeks have really worn me down but in a bizarre twisted way I've actually enjoyed them. Whilst the outcome of our race day wasn't quite what we expected there have been many positives.

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

Post mortem

Well, this is not the post I thought I would be writing today. Unfortunately The Runner had to drop out of the race at Rowardennan, just 27 miles in. Since then we've been going over and over what happened until I can't think straight any more. Here's how it looked from my perspective.

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

Last Post

This my last post before the big day. With 1 more sleep to go I wanted to write something inspiring and uplifting to send everyone on their way. But I'm sooo tired and sooo busy.

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.

Alison x

Monday, 16 June 2008

Be Nice to Your Backup Week

It goes without saying that the runners are finding this final week before the big day hard going. Well, the big news guys (and gals) is that it's not much fun for your backup either! Especially if they live with you!!

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

You know you're married to an ultra runner when.....

You buy Jelly Babies, chocolate milk and rice pudding but you don't have a 3 year old in the house.

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

Tagging

I've taken my tongue firmly out of my cheek and am giving you 2 posts in one day!

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

The Runner
The Pastor
Pacepusher
Mrs Pacepusher
Running Fool
Subversive Runner

My dear Pastor

I received a letter from a worried reader.

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

The Pastor


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

Love

Agony Aunt

Friday, 30 May 2008

Dear Agony Aunt

Dear Agony Aunt,

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?

Yours

Running Widow



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

Love

Agony Aunt

Monday, 26 May 2008

Calm before the storm

There are less than 4 weeks to the big race now. This is the period when most runners start tapering and run fewer miles at a gentler pace. This is the time when The Runner finds himself home from work hours earlier than usual cos he doesn't NEED to go for a run. This is the time when he sleeps less deeply and wakes before the alarm goes off because his body isn't absolutely knackered. This is the time when he notices what's going on around the house and garden. This is the calm before the storm.

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

Day 2

Why did I think having breakfast at 7.30am was a good idea? I had 2 cups of tea and a few spoonfuls of porridge (it was too salty). I should have waited until the runners had left and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at 9am. Ah well, you live and learn. The Runner managed a full Scottish breakfast as did Pacepusher who couldn't run as his ankle was too sore. He decided a spot of support would be good for the soul. And it meant Mrs Pacepusher could recce the bit she'll be running as his support runner in the race. 4 more runners joined us at Bridge of Orchy so a team of 6 set off together at 9am.
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A right motley crew!
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Since I didn't need to be at Kingshouse for another 2 hours I returned to my 'suite' and got ready to check out. It was a very nice room with quality bedding and Anta throws but I didn't sleep much better than last year's bunkhouse experience and I still heard snoring from the next room! (The window sills were a bit dusty so I wrote 'Clean me' with my finger!) I guess next year it's back to the bunkhouse and save ourselves a heck of a lot of money.
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I made my way up to Kinghouse and noticed the temperature was only 8 degrees. It was quite chilly standing waiting for the guys to arrive. But I introduced Mr and Mrs Pacepusher to the delights of Earl Grey tea which kept us warmed, although Pacepusher calls it Url Grey! I wish I had a pound for every time he said 'This support stuff is a bit boring!'
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All 6 runners arrived together although Running Fool didn't stop for a break. Beans, rice, coffee and grapes were consumed before they set off again. Pacepusher couldn't believe we waited all that time just to see them for 5 mins. Welcome to the world of the back up crew!
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Quick stop at Kingshouse

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.

Mr and Mrs Pacepusher at Kinlochleven
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After she set off we were surprised to see 4 runners arrive. Running Fool, American Gal, Quiet Man and The Other Beardie had the fresher legs. Again they had a very quick stop and left as The Runner and The Pastor arrived. I had said all along I didn't want to go up to Lundavra but The Runner was VERY grumpy and said he might need stuff there (he rarely does which is why it's waste of time for me). So I grumpily said I would go. After the runners had left, Mrs Pacepusher's aunt (a nurse) arrived. Luckily she was in the area and had agreed to look at Pacepusher's ankle. She didn't think it was broken but felt it needed to be strapped up. Out came my trusty Sports First Aid kit. However she didn't think the bandages were very good so that's definitely something I'll be looking at for the race. She strapped up Pacepusher's ankle for him. Once he put his shoe back on I thought he was walking a bit easier. Maybe he was just relieved that she said it wasn't broken although she advised resting it for 2 weeks! We set off for Lundavra.
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Every time I go up there more and more trees have been cleared. It used to be lovely up there (when there's no midgies about) but now it's just ruined.

Pacepusher tries to pass another 5 mins by reading the board!

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!


Mrs Pacepusher arriving at Lundavra


The Runner and The Pastor arrived together and left quickly. Their experience had obviously won over the fresh legs. Running Fool and The Other Beardie were going well and left us fairly quickly. Best photo of the day was definitely Quiet Man's expression. I think it sums up the exhausted runner perfectly. He decided to stop here and get a lift back to Fort William. For various reasons his previous day hadn't been ideal preparation for a tough run but everyone learns from the experience and I'm sure he'll be fine on the race day.

I'm exhausted!

On the other hand, American Gal was feeling and looking good. Her cookies have obviously got magic ingredients! She ran the final section strongly and caught up with Running Fool to finish together.

Not far to go now

When I arrived at Fort William I had plenty of time to pop into Morrisons where I was able to get fresh milk and some Mars milk for The Runner. Allybea's snack bar was up and running by the time the runners began arriving. Mrs Pacepusher arrived first, thrilled that no-one had caught her. I think in a few years she may well be running the race herself! Next in was The Pastor, followed by The Runner. The Other Beardie was next with Running Fool and American Gal following.
We did it!
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It was a successful 2 days of running and supporting for us. I was as tired as The Runner. We both slept like logs on Saturday night. As ever there a few things I need to change and work on for the race. I'll give it some thought and post on it. Best part of the weekend was meeting more of the WHW Family. They were all very nice but clearly nuts! I'm in good company ;)

Sunday, 18 May 2008

2 day training run on the Way - Day 1

We arrived at Balmaha slightly behind schedule. All I can say was 'It wisny me!' The Man from Peebles had already left so the guys chucked 3 large sports bags into our already full car. The Runner had 1 large sports bag AND a suitcase of clothes!! I had 1 small overnight bag which had 2 full changes of clothes (in case of very wet conditions) and extra trousers to change into for dinner. The guys set off at 10.30am and I headed towards Rowardennan.
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The Runner, Pacepusher and The Pastor at Balmaha
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When I arrived at Rowardennan, there were 2 mini buses from Kyle Academy full of pupils who were going to climb Ben Lomond. I didn't mean to eavesdrop but I had to laugh at the pre-climb briefing from the teacher in charge. It was the usual 'You're representing your school' type of chat with heavy emphasis on good behaviour. It was nice to see a school group doing outdoor activities as there has been much negative press about outward bound activities going wrong.
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About 15 minutes before the guys arrived a huge machine appeared and started to churn up the path. It was very noisy and extremely dusty. Luckily it didn't have any impact on anyone walking or running on the path. I completely missed The Man from Peebles as I was expecting the 3 amigos to have caught him and arrive together. But it was just the 3 runners who arrived on time and had a very quick pitstop.

Yum, baked beans at Rowardennan


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

What's the difference....

....between one of my white t-shirts and one belonging to The Runner? In case you can't tell, mine is the one on the right. The t-shirt on the left (one of dozens) is from the Dublin Marathon in 1997. It's older than No3 son! But for some strange reason The Runner won't part with it. Not only won't he part with it, HE INSISTS ON STILL WEARING IT! IN PUBLIC!!!!

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

Troon 10k

Well, it was a close thing but last night I made it to Troon after a horrendous 2 and a half hour car journey just as the race started. Sadly I didn't see The Runner at the start but he must have been in the pack near the front. As usual it was a good turnout from runners and spectators, helped by the glorious weather. We lived in Troon from 1990 to 2003. In all the years in being involved with Troon Tortoises and the 10k, I can only remember one bad weather day on race day.
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It was great to be back on our old stomping ground. I couldn't walk a few metres without someone recognising me. I met loads of Tortoises (who haven't changed a bit), old colleagues, people from our old church and of course our dear friends Beardie, Hippy Chick, Cool Chick and The Railwayman.
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The Runner wasn't very happy with his run. I think it was just too hot and he's not training at speed anymore but what do I know?! And I was amused to see him running in a pair of Skins that he had just purchased yesterday!
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Just a few metres to go


The Pastor and The Runner at the end

Our lovely evening was rounded off with a fish supper on the sands at Barassie. Sadly we couldn't see Arran as it was too hazy but the sky was pink(ish) as the sun set. We drove home with the roof down which meant we got lots of funny looks but it was amazing.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

The Highland Fling

Where do I begin? Since I wasn't at the start (getting up at 3.15am is not my idea of fun) I'll start at the end with 2 gory photos! Was it a bit slippy in places guys?

The Pastor's knee

The Runner's hand
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Fortunately The Runner got a lift to the start at Milngavie with some fellow Strathearn Harriers who were running. So I got a long lie until 7am. Woohoo! However, leaving the house on time wasn't easy as Isla our old dog decided to go upstairs. She's not allowed up anyway but her hips are too stiff to negotiate coming back down. She's also getting a bit confused in her old age so it was a battle to get back down. Result? 20 mins late leaving the house. No problem I thought, I've left loads of time to get to Balmaha. Didn't account for a tractor and trailer holding up the traffic for miles! (Ever seen a petrol tanker overtake a tractor on a winding road at a blind summit? Very scary!!)
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I arrived at Balmaha 5 mins before The Runner! 'We're a bit fast,' he said! Luckily I had a flask of coffee already made. But it was a bit of a tight one. So I followed my own rules of lying through my teeth and not telling him my hassles even though he was very grumpy! After he left, I spoke to my friend The Flicker whose other half McStecko was running exceptionally well.
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At Rowardennan, I spoke to loads of people. Some I knew well and some I knew I knew but couldn't remember their names. I'm finding more and more I'm useless with names. Only adults though. Put me in class of 30 kids and I'll know all their names by the end of the day. The Runner was in and out very quickly here. In fact he was so quick, I forgot to ask and he forgot to tell me when he'd be at Beinglas! And since we've had such a busy week we hadn't discussed times or produced our usual timesheet. I was really annoyed as I'm useless with times and numbers (and also dates! Remember this is the woman who sent her son back to school a day early last year!!) Hmm, I see a theme here.
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I arrived at Beinglas and fortunately bumped into Mr Race Director. Now he's a man who's good with times. He was able to give me an estimated arrival time for The Runner. Phew! I also spent time with my favourite guy Beardie and his daughter The Cool Chick. They were there to be the back up car if anyone needed assistance after dropping out. I also spent some time chatting to the Pastor's Posse.


Cool Chick



The Pastor's Posse

The Runner was in and out of Beinglas quickly. As usual he asked for the only thing I didn't have in the bag! We arranged to meet (at a precise time) at the underpass on the A82. By this time the sun had come out and it was becoming a pleasant day. I took some photos while waiting.




(Blogger won't let me delete this one!)

Gorgeous waterfall but not a good idea to stand next to it when you need the loo!
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After this stop, it was straight to Tyndrum (and the loo!) for the finish. I spoke to loads more people. I met my German Friend and his wife for the first time. He looked really tired after his great performance. So did McStecko and the Scot Wot Lives Down Sarf. Well done guys! As ever, The Pastor looked fresh as a daisy, apart from his knee. The Runner came in strongly despite being covered in mud and blood. I must admit to being relieved he finished safely as I didn't think he was mentally or physically prepared for the event. But as ever, we've learned from the day and will take on board some new things for the big event in June.


Look, he's smiling!
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We'd just got back to the car when we met Dunking and his wife The Kiwi. He was stiff and sore but pleased with his run. I'm sure McStecko will put a full report on the Harriers blog later.
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Well done everyone who took part. It was a great race superbly organised by The Pilot and his Helensburgh Lass. Congratulations on all the PBs and especially to the Running Fool on his silverware! Is everyone ready for the full race now?

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Grumpy Bugger!

The week before a big event (eg The Fling on Sat), The Runner is the grumpiest bugger you could wish to meet. As usual he has a bit of a viral infection (No3 son has the same thing and has been off school for 3 days) and has so many aches and pains. On top of that, work is especially demanding this week. So he's tired, sore and moaning the face off everyone. I'm glad I don't work with him.

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

A bit of role reversal

This is my 8th year of being The Runner's backup. So when I announced my intention to take part in The Moon Walk (a full marathon through the streets of Edinburgh during the night of June 14th), he kindly offered to be my backup. A night without sleep should be no problem for him and it's for an excellent cause. http://www.walkthewalk.org/

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!


Me and Lucy at the start
Stunning views

5 miles



Quick break


Stuffing my face with a tuna melt panini. YUM!
And now I have sore feet (but no blisters!) My legs ache from my ankles to my hips but unbelievably my back is fine. Yes! The physio and Pilates must be working at last :)

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Yesterday's training run

We arrived at Bridge of Orchy just after 9am. We pulled into the car park and got out to have a quick coffee. As The Runner munched on a scone, we saw Ms Former Record Holder running over the bridge with her dog. By the time he left at 9.20am, she was about 10 mins ahead. I warned him not to try to catch her as she's out of his league!
The Runner has coffee and a scone before setting off from Bridge of Orchy


My entertainment for the day


Heating soup on my wee stove at Kingshouse

It only takes 15 mins by car to get to Kingshouse, so I had plenty of time to read my trashy romance novel (girl meets boy, boy falls in love, huge obstacle to overcome, happy ending). I managed to set up the wee stove and heated hot water for coffee and then some Magic soup (which had lentils added after reading in Runners World they're good for endurance). Ms Former Record Holder appeared over the hill 10 mins ahead of The Runner. She stopped for a very quick chat before heading off again. The Runner stopped for his usual coffee and soup and refilled his water.
Just as he was about to head off, a car pulled into the car park flashing its lights at us. It was my Outlaws on their way north for a walking holiday. The Runner didn't hang about as he has vivid memories of a few years ago where Father Outlaw drove up to see him during the race. Chatting to him cost The Runner valuable time as he felt he couldn't just leave. However, this time he had no such qualms! With a quick 'Hello, nice to see you, bye!' he was off, leaving me to tidy up and make small talk. After that, it was off to Kinlochleven.
It's double the distance on the road (18.7 miles) from Kinghouse to Kinlochleven. But I had plenty of time to heat up water and soup (you'd have been proud of me Beardie!) and read my book. Ms Former Record Holder arrived about 15 mins ahead of The Runner. She admitted to having sore legs since this was only her 2nd run on The Way this year. I offered her a lift back to Tyndrum with us when she'd finished. So even with the coffee and soup stops, The Runner was catching up. He didn't stop for long and set off to Lundavra.
I hate this part of the race. It's such a long way round (26.3 miles by road and only 7 miles on The Way). I hate the drive up there. Despite having a 4x4 I just don't feel safe on the narrow road. The locals drive like loonies, presumably because they never meet anyone coming in the opposite direction! Anyway, I trudged up to the shelter with 2 bags of stuff, just in case The Runner needed something. Despite having rice, soup, coffee, jelly babies and scones, The Runner decided to take a risk and try chocolate milk. Again, having read in Runners World that chocolate milk is good for when you don't feel like eating, I bought some on impulse (encouraged by No3 son who would drink it if dad didn't want it!) I think he was pleasantly surprised it worked. He set off feeling good.

The Runner overtakes an old git at Lundavra wearing an i-pod!


Leisure Centre car park

The Runner arrived at the finish in just under 7 hours, having passed Ms Former Record Holder at the Braveheart car park. I think he looked remarkably fresh. After a quick shower and coffee we headed for Tyndrum with our extra passengers.
The Runner took the opportunity to ask Ms Former Record Holder about her training schedules and race strategy (which is run fast and keep going as long as you can!) However, I laughed when she started asking him questions about how to avoid tiredness in the later stages! I guess all runners like to know each other's secrets.
After an excellent fish supper at Tyndrum we arrived home to settle down in front of the golf on TV. From my viewpoint it was a good day out. It reminded me of a few things and I've learned how to use a wee stove. Roll on The Fling in a few weeks!

Friday, 11 April 2008

My first 'training' session on The Way

The Runner is running from Bridge of Orchy to Fort William tomorrow and I'm joining him (in the car). It'll be my first outing this year. You'd think I would know the route backwards by now but it never hurts to refresh the memory. And it's a chance to give my new car a trial run.

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

Bedtime reading



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!!

http://mattmahoney.net/barkley/

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

Balance

There are many reasons why I deleted my old blog but this past week 5 people have told me they used to read it and miss it. So I've decided to revive this one. I recieved a card from Debs this week (btw I'm glad you like your socks!) where amongst other things she said there aren't enough girl bloggers. She's right! You boys are all about the competitiveness and your "I'm so hard I ran 50 miles at 5 mins mile pace the whole way!" approach to training. The blogosphere needs some feminine balance.

And of course I'm still here to tell tales on those who deserve it! Especially The Runner!!