Sunday, 21 December 2008
Off to stay in a Mongolian Yurt in Ambleside tomorrow for Christmas week, so hopefully will get some running in while I'm away.
Have a great Christmas!
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Monday, 15 December 2008
It felt weird not to run for nearly two weeks. Lots of little muscle twinges and a feeling of being heavy and bloated, but once I got used to it, I could feel the benefit to my body. To anyone else wondering about whether to run with a chesty cough or not, my advice (and I'm not a qualified (or even an unqualaified!) doctor) is to give it some time to clear up. I have run with head colds before and actually felt better, but once it's on your chest it's time to get healthy before running again. Respect your bodies people!! (unlike me, but I'm an idiot).
ANYWAY, back into it again tonight. I was dreading it as the first run after some time off is always mighty depressing. But actually it was ok. I felt healthy and although a bit sluggish, reasonably fit. A little heavy and my hips ache a little tonight, but otherwise not as bad as feared.
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
Tuesday, 2 December 2008
So I was able to train at full intensity and ended up running an awesome 7m with the club in a few centimetres of fresh snow. 4 of us ran a hilly trail route in beautiful conditions...Would have gladly ran it again but decided that was probably enough time out running tonight!
Monday, 1 December 2008
Sunday, 30 November 2008
A nice (albeit freezing) run up to Clifton on trail and road. Glad I've been sensble. Will run 10m tomorrow, 6m on Tuesday, 6 on Wednesday and 7 on Thursday. Then a reasonable weekend with some running (maybe 18 on Saturday) and some cycling on Sunday with Iain.
♫Listening to: Chinese Democracy byGuns n Roses
Thursday, 27 November 2008
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Really pleased with my recovery after Saturday's long run. Bit shakey in the middle, but that sorted itself quickly.
Nice run and a lovely clear evening :)
Sunday, 23 November 2008
This is a race that I had wanted to run in October, but I was unwell so had to pull out. Since then this route has felt a bit like unfinished business, so I planned to do an unsupported attempt. Thankfully Paul agreed to come with me. Without his company, there wwas no way I would have finished what turned out to be an extremely difficult route.
We stayed the night in the nice little town of Chruch Stretton and were up at 4.30 a.m and out by 5. This was so that we could try to finish in the light when we were tired and do some night navigation while we were still fresh. So the first summit of Caer Caradoc was navigated in the dark which was lots of fun! Gale force winds on the far side of the hill added to the difficulties, but it was a good start to the run. It was 2 more hours before we would see the sun rising in the East - beautiful orange and yellow colours over Caer Caradoc. It's an amazing feeling to be high up on a hill knowing that that most other people are still tucked up in bed (or not even there yet!)
The run was going really well despite some long drags which were unrunable gradients. On arrival at Bridges, we checked the progress and time and were devastaed that this first section had taken 3 hours! We thought we had been going really well, but realised that if we had kept this pace up we would be looking at 15 hours out - a much longer day than anticipated. We continued up to Stiperstones somewhat dejected and already thinking of whether to cut the route short. On arrival at Stiperstones, we were buoyed by the possibility of being able to run along the ridge, but this also proved impossible for a while at least due to the angular stones protruding along the ridge. These do eventually subside though and we started making good progress down to Habberly.
We had decided that we would assess the situation again at Tankerville as there is a way of cutting out some of the route there. To be honest at Tankerville if Paul had agreed, I would have gladly turned back, but he was feeling much stonger than me here and suggested we press on. We soon came down to Corndon Hill (and Wales!) where we lost quite a bit of time getting lost! Eventually though, we found our route and pressed on around Black Rhadley (it's private land here so we avoided the hill itself). Now I had a second wind and Paul was finding the going tough. I had it in my head that if we could make it back up to Stipertones car park, we could make it home again. So we pressed on and sooner than expected we had made it to the car park. A quick munch on some food and we made the long descent back to Bridges. A look at the map showed that there was a direct road to Church Stretton, but we both decided we would like to finsih the proper route via Minton, so pressed on up to Pole Cottage.
From here, we both seemed to have fresh legs and we soon found that we were on the descent into Minton, with Little Stretton and Chruch Stretton in view. A great feeling as it had been a very challening day. My legs had a little wobble in Little Stretton (!) but a Mars Bar and some drink soon gave me the energy to run along to Church Stretton at a good pace.
We finally reached Church Stretton just as it had gone dark (something we had earlier given up on!) and ran into the car park at about 5pm, just short of 12 hours after starting.
We missed the summits of The Lawley, Earl Hill and Ragleth Hill as neither of us felt inclined to run up a hill merely for the sake of it, but I think we ran around 45 miles. We probably lost about an hour plus due to navigation difficulties. Overall, I estimate that on a race, sub 12 hours would be a possibility which although isn't a great time for a 50m course, would be a good time for this course with the elevation changes and diffcult terrain.
Thanks to Paul for coming down with me and the good company. A really excellent day out in the hills.
I've never been to Shropshire before and it is definitely somewhere I'd like to go back and visit.
Sorry for the lack of photos, but it was just too cold and I was too tired.
Thursday, 20 November 2008
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
Monday, 17 November 2008
Sunday, 16 November 2008
Thursday, 13 November 2008
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
Monday, 10 November 2008
Occasionally however, a good loud Ipod run is just what you need to brush the cobwebs of the day away. Today was just such a day. A difficult day at the office was soon forgotten after 7 blistering miles along headtorch-lit trails with thumping music in both ears. Can't beat it.
A GREAT run of almost spiritual proportions.
♫Listening to: Death Magnetic by Metallica
Sunday, 9 November 2008
So I took the safe option and cut things short. Will run another 10m later this evening to make up some mileage.
Despite the freezing conditions, I enjoyed the plod up pen-y-ghent and the controlled fall back down again!
Saturday, 8 November 2008
Here is the forecast for tomorrow, and looking out of my window (even though I'm 2 hours away) it looks about right.
Montrail Hardrock shoes
Shorts and running tights
2 pairs socks
map, case, compass, GPS (sorry orienteers - I hate being lost!), whislte
2 X helly
lightweight and thicker waterproof, waterproof trousers
water (platypus) and food
ipod (sorry running purists!)
dry change of clothes, towell, flask.
Plan is to be out by 5am and hopefully running by 7, round by 12 and home by 2ish.
Noticed an ever so slight tweak in the hamstring, but feels OK tonight. Hope so as I have a long run ahead of me tomorrow. I'm planning on running the Yorshire 3 peaks tomorrow (Pen-Y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough). I need a change of scenery for the long run and some good climbs in my legs.
Weather forecast looks a bit nasty (7C, heavy rain and 40mph wind) but I'll drive out and see what I think.
Early start tomorrow so nice early night tonight :)
♫ (Still) Listening to: 23 by Blonde Redhead
I saw Lizzie Vince, Holly Taymar, Alun Tan Lan, Kate Aumonier and Ben Parker
Today I was totally amazed to watch Izzy's piano teacher (Mr Ian McTeer) perform a classical piano recital at The Courthose in Otley.
All totally inspiring.
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
Monday, 3 November 2008
In the evening I also did some running, but slow and ploddy.
♫ Listening to: Magic Potion by The Black Keys
Saturday, 1 November 2008
Thursday, 30 October 2008
Friday, 24 October 2008
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
Sunday, 19 October 2008
Saturday, 18 October 2008
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
We ran 3 sets of 4 X (minute up, minute down). The idea is to always try and be consistent, reaching the same spot each time on the hill. For the first time tonight I managed this for each of the 12 uphills. Really pleased with how I ran this evening.
Followed these sets with a brisk 2m warm down.
Monday, 13 October 2008
So tonight I ran a 5m half road/half trail run at a sluggish pace. Felt ok mostly, but did hit a tired patch in the middle. I'm still calorie deficient I think as I have to watch what I eat a bit more than usual, but that will start to improve soon I hope.
Sunday, 12 October 2008
A good hilly 18m run!
Saturday, 11 October 2008
Thursday, 9 October 2008
So I did - home from Leeds. A nice 13m run with a good weight in the pack. Bliss.
Monday, 6 October 2008
Seeing Doc on Thurs so hopefully can get back on track as soon as possible. Paul Tranter and I are planning on having a go at the Long Mynd together on 22nd November. Need to be on top form again by then (RR50 3 weeks after too!)
Sunday, 5 October 2008
Will head back to the doctors tomorrow as the last visit was a complete waste of time (was seen by one of those doctors that had the prescription pad in hand before you've even sat down!)
Friday, 3 October 2008
So I thought it was better to let the race organisers know today that my place can be reallocated.
I am desperately upset to miss this event, but health comes first I suppose.
Perhaps I will try a solo run of the route later in the year.
I am going to stop running for the next week and work hard on getting my stomach sorted.
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Sunday, 28 September 2008
So I ran a protracted version of a nice long run that I do sometimes. It was a nice day and I was plodding, so decided to take some photos.
Ran 6m, slow pace, but enjoyed it.
This was an interesting experience for me as I haven't marshalled for a long race before. I always try to have a smile for marshalls - they give up their freetime to help keep runners safe for no persoanl reward but I was amazed to experience just how many runners could not say a simple 'thank you' and also how many support teams were actually rude and even aggressive. (There were many friendly runners too!!)
It was also interesting to see what kind of state people were in by this stage and reassuring to know that it's not just me that cries and hallucinates!!
The race itself seemed to be a success and the weather certainly added to its scenic charm.
Well done Jon - I may even give this a go myself next year!
Thursday, 25 September 2008
Ran a great hilly 6.5 with a few club members. Good pace and challenging terrain. What a beautiful night - warm, clear and still.
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
Anyway, running. Finally felt well again to run yesterday after as very sedentry day on a course. Ran a 6m hilly trail run in the Chevin with headtorch. Found it quite difficult at first after a few days off, but got into a rhythm eventually.
Nice clear evening, but getting cooler at night now.
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
Ran a 6m hilly trail route with the headtorch. Good fun.
Sunday, 14 September 2008
Weather: Really humid
Ran a kind of recovery run today of 7m on a familiar local route, up to Farnley along to Clifton and home through Weston Woods.
Felt very sluggish for the first 3m, but then settled into some kind of rhythm. No residual knee pain from last Sunday which is great. Still getting a bit of heel pain in my right foot, but this is nothing new and seems manageable.
Enjoyed the run today - lost loads of fluid as it's really muggy out today so off to refuel :)
Thursday, 11 September 2008
Nothing beats flying through the city at dusk on a bike while angry motorists sit in their tin boxes!!
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
Tuesday, 9 September 2008
To help alleviate the few niggles I have (particularly in my front ankle ligaments) I had an ice bath tonight. One of the least pleasant experiences of my life, but did really seem to help the painful bits. Might do this more often after very long runs.
I think the ankles are particularly sore due to the unusual movements of the feet during ACW on Sunday. Road shoes and slurry make for some pretty slippy conditions and lots of additional stresses on the ankles.
Got to focus on a plan to get me through Long Mynd now. Going to start my getting and studying the map - navigation not being my strong point!
Monday, 8 September 2008
Walkers started the race at 6am in order to get round in the light but runners were encouraged to start later to allow for checkpoint opening. Being allowed to start at whatever time you chose really helped my nerves as I was able to set off in my own time, avoiding the usual pre-race tensions!
I ran the race with Paul Tranter and we set off at 7.20 am. Navigation for the race was covered by a 35 page mini-booklet with very detailed maps and the whole route was really well waymarked.
The miles slipped past quite easily and despite the weather, the terrail on the first sections was remarkably good. At this point we were thinking of somewhere around the seven hour mark.
This target became unrealistic soon enough however, as the terrain changed through mud, clay, slurry and other delights and slowed us right down. At about 24 miles the conditions were very poor and both of us began to tire after this point. by 30 miles I was shattered and the pace had dropped considerably. Paul had a bit more in his legs but waited for me (thanks!) and we plodded on together for the last 8 miles finally arriving in 8 hrs 8 mins. The winner ran the race in well under 7 hours which was impressive in those conditions.
Overall there were some positives and some negatives (aren;t there always?!).
Positives: Finished a 40m race (1st ultra of 'the season')
Had something left in terms of energy at the end.
Navigated the whole course without serious error!
Recovery seems to be quick!
Negatives: Really sore tired legs (poor conditions and 1st long run of season)
Still found it hard to eat anything substantial although this mattered less as it was only 8 hours. Will still be potential issue on longer races however.
Overall I really enjoyed it. Thankyou to the organisers who did a fantastic job on the day and I understand do a brilliant job for various charities. I will almost certainly be back next year to beat my time.
Refuelling at one of the well organised checkpoints
Friday, 5 September 2008
Received a new pair of Montrail Hardrocks yesterday and am desperately trying to wear them in in the hope I can wear them on Sunday. They felt comfy straight on, but it might be a different matter after 40 miles. Problem is my only other shoes are road shoes! I'll make a decision on Sunday morning.
PS This morning's weight 75.2Kg. Amazing how much it changes!
Thursday, 4 September 2008
Wednesday, 3 September 2008
Tonight I had the 'pleasure' of joining 70 other loons to run the 1 mile (yes 1 mile!) uphill fell race organised by Ilkley Harriers.
It is a torturous race of pure uphill running...
I had not really given it the respect it deserved having done a heavy hill-rep session last night and cycling the 6m flat out from otley to get to the start. Needless to say the legs were lead-like, the lungs were burning and the thought of just giving up and lying in the heather half way up was ever-tempting.
I did finish, but I fear this year was slower than last year's 10:17. We'll see tomorrow when the time's are published. Won't be too disappointed as I really didn't prepare well for this one, but it's never nice to run a race worse than the year before. Edit - just read 10:27 :( 10 seconds slower than last year. I'll put it down to Hugh's hill reps!!
Nice 6m cycle home though!
No more serious running until Sunday's 40m now.
This morning's weight 75.8 Kg
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
Started to monitor the weight today and I was thinking that if I publicly state my weight then this should help shame me into reaching my target weight. I plan to weigh myself every morning at 7 a.m. This morning my weight was 76.3kg. Target weight 68kg.
Monday, 1 September 2008
Tonight I kept the mileage low, but did some good hillwork. Ran about 3 miles of hilly trail at high intensity. Still felt very tired. Think I'm in for a rude awakening on Saturday!! At least Paul Tranter, my running partner on Saturday, says he's not been doing great mileage either. Hope he's telling the truth!!
I'm sure it will come together for Saturday, at least just to get round, but am not running well at the moment. One thing I need to do is drop my weight down somewhat. I am currently edging 80kg which is just too heavy. I would like to be nearer 68kg. I think that is about my ideal race weight. Some work to do then!
Sunday, 31 August 2008
Saturday, 30 August 2008
Ran a nice 9m hilly circuit. I had intended to run strictly on trail, but couldn't find my headtorch... Very foggy and quite eerie when an airbus appeared suddenly on its approach to Leeds Bradford!
After the initial shock of running rather than cycling, my legs settled down and I actually felt quite strong. Will run again tomorrow (prob. 10m), and then again on Tues, Wed and a very light run on Thursday, resting on Saturday.
Wednesday is the annual Ilkley Incline - a mile of pure uphill torture! I'm looking to beat last year's time of 10:11, then hopefully run the 7m home across Ilkley Moor.
Friday, 29 August 2008
Weather: warm and muggy
Ran with the club for the first time in ages. Thought a week on the bike would have me racing away from the pack, but what with the strict meat and carbohydrate diet, I was feeling decidedly heavy and sluggish. Just about kept up though and enjoyed the run out. Some work to do on next week's 40 miler :$
Monday, 18 August 2008
Did manage a 12 mile run home from Leeds today though. Tired at the end of it as it was quite muggy, but enjoyed the run. Will cycle again tonight and tomorrow (with a run tomorrow too) and then rest on Wednesday before the trip begind Thursday.
Friday, 15 August 2008
Thursday, 14 August 2008
Day 1 (Meet the others) - Kendal to Ousby 42.29 miles
Day 2 - Ousby to Melkridge 42.29 miles
Day 3 - Melkridge to Harbottle 31.14 miles
Day 4 - Harbottle to Berwick upon Tweed 55.89 miles
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Monday, 11 August 2008
26/07 14km, mainly trails through farm and woodland. Opprtunities to see deer and red squirrells and also meet some less than friendly dogs!
27/07 14km, same circuit but this time armed with a squirty drink bottle for the dogs who were waiting for me this morning! Worked a treat - doubt they'll be back!
28/07 10km, beginning of same route but aborted half way as running partner that morning did some ankle damage. Ran back from half way on a hilly road. Good quick 10km. (no dogs today!!)
30/07 14km usual circuit plus a 23km cycle in the heat later on.
31/07 10km trail and road up to a statue of the Virgin Mary at the top of some rocks. Great spot with some great views.
02/08 The first circuit + the added on section to Roches, about 20km I think.
05/08 23km - A circuit of Lac de Vassiviere (mainly undulating road). Such a beautiful lake.
06/08 8km Chemin des poets, a hilly trail near the lake.
08/08 9km Trail from the Gite at Royere de vassiviere. Good fast run apart from getting chased of of some farmland by an angry farmer - there were no signs...honest!
The trails were quite hard to find sometimes
Half way, Chatelus Malvaleix
The Lake at Chatelus
Back into Folbeix
The Virgin Mary at Roches
Map of Lac de Vassiviere
The start of Le Chemin des poetes
On the way up Le chemin des poetes
768m and the highest point around the lake
Some great opportunities for cross-training too!
Thursday, 24 July 2008
Off top France today for 2 weeks camping with the family. Can't wait. Staying in very rural areas of France so hopefully I'll be able to get out onto some trails. As I'll have no laptop ( :) ) I'll have to do the old fashioned thing of writing up my reports. Will try to get some good photos too.
Entries for the WHWR are set to be in mid August so hopefully I'll be back in time.
See you in two weeks!
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
Summer Snowstorm Kills 2 on Bavarian Mountaintop
A fast-moving snowstorm took hundreds of "extreme" runners by surprise during a race in the Bavarian Alps Sunday, killing two and sending six more people to the hospital with severe hypothermia.
The avoidance of such tragedies is the reason why (most) race directors take our safety as runners in their events very seriously and insist we carry environment-appropriate gear. It sounds like this event should have been postponed although I don't know all the details and it's all easy with hindsight.
Sorry to those affected.
Firstly, congratulations on winning in East Hull and your PB for a 24 hour race. Does this rank as your greatest running achievement to date?Yes I think it does. I won the East Hull 24 hr last year with 205k and it was hard work indeed for the last few hours. This year I ran 221k and I was easing down for the last 3 or 4 hours.
What came first for you, the multi-terrain ultra or the track ultra?
For me the track ultra came first.
What was your first ultra race?
Barry 40 mile track race – March 2006. I managed about 32 miles before the paramedic pulled me out because of a badly blistered foot. I still have the scar.
To those of us who enjoy the changing terrain and scenery of ultra trails, completing a track race is difficult to comprehend. Do you consider track races more of a mental challenge than a long trail race?I know this is strange but I find track ultras much easier. For example, it’s impossible to get lost, even at night. Because of that I can let my mind wander and thus I don’t have to concentrate on things such as navigating, slipping on mud, falling over rocks, etc.
I’m not confident enough on uneven terrain to race trail ultras properly so I use them as very long runs and simply enjoy the experience and the specific fitness they bring.
What do you think about to get you through these track races?Most of the time I’m thinking about hitting my targets. I have hourly targets that I break down into lap times so I know almost instantly how I’m doing. I also spend a fair amount of time talking to other runners and crew members. In the second half of these races I also tend to take note of how fast the other runners are going and how long their walking breaks are, etc
Do you have any plans to have a go at the longer 48 hr+ track events?I have no definite plans for a longer race yet. I would like to have a go though in a few years time.
What sort of distances do you cover during a typical peak training week?Normally my maximum mileage would be approx. 80 per week. Before the recent Hull race though I experimented with ‘crash training’. It has been found that a runner can substantially boost their fitness by doubling their mileage for 2 to 7 days providing they spend the same number of days afterwards doing half the mileage. I normally have a three week taper, so the week before that I covered over 120 miles.
You are certainly getting noticed as a name to look out for at track events. Does this add extra pressure?At the moment I don’t feel any extra pressure but if I have a bad run in my next race the pressure may be on.
Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer my questions and I wish you continued success in your running.
Monday, 21 July 2008
September: A Coventry Way (40m)
October: Long Mynd Hike (50m)
December: Round Rotherham (50m)
February: Draycote Water (35m)
March: Wuthering Hike (33m)
March: Manx Mountain Marathon (31m)
April: Highland Fling (54m)
June: West Highland Way race (95m)
August: Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc (103m)
A feast of ultra races! It will be interesting to see how many of them I can achieve. It would be good run as many of these as possible but not necessarily race them all.
Also this year I'm going to make more use of the Three Peaks in my training, aiming to run the route a few times before the long summer races. I also aim to use the local hills for walking practice, aiming to do a quick ascent of the Chevin once a day during the week.
All great ideas, but will I be able to stick to them??!
Sunday, 20 July 2008
As tomorrow is Indiana Jones day at school and we all needed to get an idea of the costumes we could wear, we had rented Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark yesterday. I was never a big fan and hadn't ever seen it all the way through. I still haven't as I fell asleep part way through yesterday. Can't believe how violent the bit I did see was though. Am I getting old?!
ANYWAY, ran up to Yeadon to return it tonight. Nice hilly run over the Chevin via East Chevin Road and the Quarry and down through the fields to Yeadon, returning the same way. Kept a good pace despite an annoying cough. Never sure whether to run or not with a cough... Good run nonetheless!
Saturday, 19 July 2008
Weather: light rain, 17C
Took Briony on a cycle tonight (she cycled, I ran) up Leeds Road, up the steps at Pool and along through Danefield. Really nice to have some company and good to see Briony begin her own particular journey.
Friday, 18 July 2008
Weather: light rain, 15C
After one of the most stressful weeks of my life, I enjoyed a truly fantastic run tonight. Not a particluarly special route - just along to Pool, up Pool Bank and down Leeds road - but it was so enjoyable to be out nonetheless.
Fairly steady first 2m, a slow run up Pool Bank followed by a very fast run down Leeds road. I must try and sort out my GPS again as it would have been interesting to know the speed of this run. Felt fast and was lots of fun!
I am happy to say that everything is now back to normal and I can get back into enjoying life and enjoying my running :)
Monday, 14 July 2008
Today had been a difficult day and this evening was just what I needed. Thanks to all!
Saturday, 12 July 2008
Tuesday, 8 July 2008
Weather: dry for once and windy
Decided aginst running tonight as the muscle I tweaked yesterday has been a bit tender today, although it feels fine tonight. I figure that after giving my body such a pounding recently I need to listen to it and not push it for a while.
That said, I enjoyed a vigorous 10m cycle round the Otley 10 route tonight. Not far, but hilly and my heart rate was certainly up high for much of it.
I think one of these intense cycles per week could really help my cardio fitness.
Monday, 7 July 2008
Weather: torrential rain
Ran 4m tonight but this was acutally a curtailed 9m route. Think I might be pushing things a bit hard at the moment. Decided to listen to my body at the top of West Chevin Road after developing a bit of a pull in my left glute. Doesn't feel too serious, just a reaction I think to the race followed by a period of relative inactivity. I think next time I run a really long race, I will definitely try to mix in a bit more 'active recovery'.
May rest again tomorrow depending on how the muscles feel. Maybe a cycle will be more beneficial. It's nice to have the flexibility to decide!
Thursday, 3 July 2008
I slowed the pace and ended up walking the last half mile. Wasn't too worried or concerned really and enjoyed the run nonetheless. I will give my self another couple of days off and then build things back up slowly.
After a particularly stressful week at work, this run was just what I needed mentally. It's amazing how running (even a semi-dodgy one like this) can put everything into perspective and help you to focus on the things that are actually important.
I was reading John Kynaston's blog tonight and was interested in his "things I have learned" post. I will work on a similar post when I get some time. Also I need to decide how to reshape this blog as it's served a purpose for this year's WHW and my fundraising, but I would like to keep it going for general training.
Monday, 23 June 2008
Here are some photos and some words about my adventure.
On the Friday I had to work until 3.15pm which although less than ideal, did keep me distracted for the day. We set off North towards Hexham to pick up Craig and drop off Beth and Izzy with Rachel.20 minutes sleep on the way up to Milngavie, legs uncomfortable and already on paracetomol to take the edge of the cold which I had woken up with.
At 9.15pm I went to register and weigh in then we went for a quick meal down the road at the hotel. Leon phoned, surprised to hear that I was in a pub, with two suggestions: 1. Why not try to run bare-foot? It had worked for Zola Budd. 2: Since I was running 95 miles, surely it would be better to round it up to an even 100 at the end? Thanks Leon!
Time went quickly between then and 1a.m (the start). I said goodbye to Briony and Craig and we were off. A really surreal feeling as we made our way out of Milngavie and through the woods. It was a beautiful night -clear, still and cool. I wasn't sure how I would feel here as I had developed a cold that morning and had had a sore knee intermittently throughout the week. The cold seemed to clear as quick as it came and soon I had settled into the race, chatting with Paul Tranter along the way for 4 miles or so. I let Paul trot on ahead as I was determined to run my own race and not get caught up in anything too pacey.
When I met the team at The Beech Tree, my knee had begun to ache a little and I was having a few early doubts (89 miles still to go!!) I carried on thinking “let's just get to Drymen” which seemed to arrive in no time. Refuelled here and set off for Balmaha, over Conic Hill. The last time I had run this it was windy and minimal visibility but this time the views were amazing. A good chat with an American lady on the way up and before I knew it I had descended into Balmaha.
Now the loch was here! This section had really taken its toll during the Fling, so I was ready to treat it with the respect it deserved this time. Kept a steady pace going and met with the team again briefly at Sallochy, before a bit of a climb into Rowardennan. I have experienced midges in huge numbers before, but never have I seen anything like the scene at Rowardennan or Inversnaid – the air was thick with them! Luckily we had our trusty nets. Some less well prepared teams struggled here and I imagine will be still fairly itchy today! This was the first official checkpoint and I went through here in 5h 24 mins (55th place)
Good refuel at Rowardennan and from here I took my ipod with and listened to some music as I climbed along the banks of Loch Lomond. This was a really good section for me and it was helped by good conversation with two other runners: Alyson Macpherson and Neil MacRitchie (thanks!). Seemed like no time at all until we arrived at Inversnaid. From the Fling, I knew that this next section would be my nemesis. My pre-race plan was to proceed with caution over this stage and that’s exactly what I did, listening to the brilliant English Passengers audiobook en route!!
With this part of the loch beaten, I ploughed on to Beinglas farm and was pleased to see my support here. The landscape really opens up here and the mountain ranges start to come into view. From Beinglas, I trotted on to Derrydarroch and Carmyle Cottage, where my third support member Iain arrived. At this point (48 miles), I was beginning to feel the strain a little and Iain’s arrival proved to be timely, shouting down the road “Get a %$£&** move on!!”
I did and carried on towards CP2 at Auchtertyre Farm. I found this section really hard and it was a definite low point. At Auctertyre, I had a superb massage and refueled for the next section to CP3 at Bridge of Orchy (60m). Another tough section and when I couldn’t immediately see my team at the CP, I had a bit of a whine (sorry!) but they were soon back in position. Iain cooked up a delicious pasta meal which hit the spot and gave me a bit of renewed energy for the next section.
The next section is all a bit hazy until I met The team again at Victoria Bridge, the start of Rannoch Moor. I had persuaded iain to do this section with me and I was so glad as this was a new low! Ba Bridge seemed to take forever to get to and on the descent, kingshouse seemed to get further away rather than nearer! Iain kept the banter up though and I reached Kingshouse having lost a bit of time in 18 hours 16 mins. Another fantastic massage here (thanks!) really helped to reinvigorate the legs as the weather that had been threatening for a while started to move in. Briony ran the next little bit with me to Altnafeadh, the foot of the Devil’s Staircase.
Here, Craig was ready to plough up with me and we did it remarkably quickly, only stopping to nearly bring the mars bar back up that Briony had stuffed in my mouth several minutes earlier. The weather was now turning pretty nasty as we began the descent into Kinlochleven. Before the race, I had noted the devil’s Staircase as a possible difficulty, but it was actually the descent that proved most problematic. It takes forever! And with the light fading, my mind was then next thing to go…
The first point I realized that I was not completely ‘all there’, was when the following conversation took place:
Me: “Oh look! Three cyclists. We must be near Kinlochleven. They’ll be here to meet their runner.”
Craig: “There are no cyclists there Phil”
Me: “Yes there are, at the end of the track – one of them is bending down to pick up his helmet”
Craig: “No Phil, they are trees mate”
I could have touched those cyclists I was so sure they were there. But Craig was right. Tiredness was taking over.
We eventually arrived at Kinlochleven and found the medical centre where Dario and his team were waiting to weigh me. There were some concerns here that I might be retaining fluid (a sign of kindney problems) as I had gained some weight, but Dario said that I was lucid and could carry on (thanks!). Briony said that I was whispering (loudly!) “Just don’t mention the hallucinations!”
I would have probably given up here without the support team but at 80 miles, we were so close. Briony convinced me (not for the first time) to keep going and so I plodded on up the climb out of Kinlochleven and onto the Lairig Mor. Iain and I have walked this section before which was helpful and he kept up the good conversation throughout. Hallucinations were coming thick and fast now and included: small people waving at me (ferns blowing in the wind), sheep (rocks), a combine harvester (some logs) and the lights at Lundavra (not the lights at Lundavra!).
It seemed to take forever, but eventually the blazing fire at Lundavra did come into view. Briony came to meet me and in her excitement trod on my toe! After yelping a bit, I sat down out of the wind and rain (which were now quite fierce) and prepared for the final section. I would have so gladly given up here, a mere 7 miles from the end, but my brilliant support team kept me going. I don’t really know how they put up with me because to be honest I was a gibbering mess.
Iain and I carried on though through the forest and remarkably quickly Fort William came into view. We followed the track down and came out onto the road. This seemed to take FOREVER, but after a lot of whinging and a lot of coaxing from Iain, the roundabout came into view and then the Leisure Centre. I managed the slightest of jogs to the finish, where I signed in at 27 hours 56 minutes and 42 seconds. Total joy. Total amazement!
I have understated in this report the momentous job done by my support team. They did a perfect job and never let me give up hope. Thank you to Craig (the trip down the from the staircase was memorable!), to Iain (for the hugs and the coaxing through the Lairig Mor) and to Briony for never giving up on me. You were the only person who could have persuaded me to run that final section. The three of you were the best support team I could have hoped for. Thank you SO much. That goblet is ours not mine.