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.


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

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.
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