Friday, 15 October 2010

Friday 15/10 - An update after lots of walking!

What a great way to start the post! Those were some of the photos from the Turbo X at Mudgock on 10th October...I am thinking of purchasing some of the copyrighted ones as they are so fantastic!

Have been on a wee trip this week on a few outings involving lots of walking! Did 13 miles of the Cateran Trail from Blairgowrie to Bridge of Cally and back. That was a lovely walk! I must say both of our legs were a bit sore afterwards! Not really muscle pain but more strain at the back of the knee. Also did the King's view walk up to a really nice viewpoint near Birnam, that was a good walk. Did another walk round about Birnam (about 5/6 miles) and then a walk along the river Ericht.

All in all an adventurous few days and I must say I'm looking forward to letting my legs (especially my knee) heal before getting back into the training towards the end of the year. I don't have extensive plans for 2011 (yet!) but definitely planning to do the Devil in August, Loch Ness in October and (hopefully) the Salomon Turbo X in October.

As for Edinburgh marathon, I'm swithering over whether to do it or not. I have grown a bit tired of the course and my times are not getting any better. I also am really tempted by the Fling...and I am hoping to be able to combine my honeymoon in June with a race abroad somewhere.

So not many solid plans as yet! But as for the rest of this year I want to rest, cross train and get a few good wintery runs on WHW. Will hopefully take some days off work in November/December for that.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Sunday 10/10 - Salomon "Pure Filth"

As the title suggests, today I completed the last 10 miles of my "131 miles in 6 races in 2009" challenge with the Salomon Turbo X trail race in Mugdock country park.

The time was terrible - I did my last 10 mile race in 1hour 20mins...let's just say this one was bordering on an hour more than that! BUT, I ran with my dad the whole way (he isn't really in the peak of fitness) and we had a great laugh! I had expected to get a lot dirtier than I did in my upper half, but I definitely got filthy on the bottom half!

During the 1.5miles "Turbo zone" there was a big boggy mess - you came out of a river into knee deep mud - I was caught right in the middle of it and my dad had to come back to pull me out...which he did but I couldn't find my footing and just went knee-first back into it! The photographers were having a field day and I got covered in mud...felt like a kid again!

Hiked up some of the steeper hills and got caught in a big rush at the start so got held back in a couple of ways. Overall though an absolutely great race and would definitely do it again!

Here's some photos from the day:

Other workouts this week:

Friday 8/10

Time: ~35mins
Distance: ~4.5miles

An excellent run around the west end after having been sent home from work due to a power cut (luck and a half!). Was on a half day this afternoon which was good and was planning to study so this run set me up nicely for that.

Thursday 7/10

Type: Swim
Distance: 50 lengths (f.c)

Wednesday 6/10

Type: x-train
Distance: 35mins (elliptical xtrainer), 10 mins (row) + strength training

Sunday 3/10 - Loch Ness Marathon

Time: 3hours 52mins
Pace: 8.51min/mile

Ok, a long needed update. This race was brilliant. Started off a little touch-and-go as my knee was really hurting on the bus there.

On a funny note my mind was taken off of it temporarily while I was queueing for the portaloos too and one was totally wobbling against the others...only me and another girl found this as hilarious as it actually was.

Started off well, just kept focusing on getting to the next mile and not really focusing on the full distance. Also had the music on and wasn't skipping any tracks, just listened to the lyrics which kept my mind off of the distance too! I was having a few problems running down the hills - it was hurting my knee quite badly - but once I got into my stride it wasn't getting any I just kept on going.

Race passed uneventfully until Dores - what a fantastic crowd! There were probably half as many people there as at the finish line! Derek had just arrived when I did, and since the course started a mile further from Inverness this year I realised I must have been making good time. I didn't look at my clock though as it would either have put me off or made me go too fast.

The hills out of Dores were pretty tough but I kept running. Overtook a lot of other runners but kept one woman in my sights. She sped back up on the flat and I lost her, but on the next hill I caught back up with her and overtook her. I really don't like overtaking people - it makes me feel like I'm seeming "cocky" - but over the last 6 or so miles I did overtake quite a lot of people. Susie and Derek from the Scottish Veterans' were waiting at the 23 mile roundabout which was a good confidence boost!

The new route meant that we saw the finish line from across the river, but still had another mile or so to go. That was a bit demoralising, but the new finish line was definitely faster than the old one! Sadly I missed Derek at the finish line but I was aboslutely chuffed to bits with my time!

I honestly can't believe I did better than the last 2 years, especially with my dodgy knee. It hurt quite a lot the next few days but really seems to have eased off now. I also only ran 46.8miles in September (with longest run of 13.1miles since the Devil race)...that's probably one of my lowest training months on record. That's why this result is all the more satisfying. I definitely think my breathing was helped by all the swimming I've been doing, and my leg muscles feel a lot stronger with the strength training.

Overall, fantastic! And I am looking forward to next one already (:

Pre-marathon workouts:

Friday 1/10

Type: x-train
Distance: 15mins (elliptical x-trainer), 0.85miles powerwalk

Wednesday 29/9

Type: x-train
Distance: 35mins (x-trainer) + 10min cycle

Monday 27/9

Type: Walk

Walk around "The Whangie", lovely and so peaceful.

Sunday 26/9

Time: 35mins
Distance: 4.05miles
Pace: 8.35min/mile

Friday 24/9

Time: 1hr 40mins
Distance: 10.9miles

Wednesday 22/9

Type: Swim
Distance: 60 lengths (f.c)

Tuesday 21/9

Type: x-train
Distance: 10min (jog), 20 min(xtrain), 10min (row) + strength training

Monday 20/9

Time: 30mins
Distance: 4.05miles

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Sunday 03/10 - Loch Ness Triumph

The title says it all! So, I decided that I would run loch ness after consulting with the physio who said It would be sore, but I couldn't really injure myself if I was sensible. So Thats what I did.

And how glad am I?? Finished in 3 hours 52 mins!! 2 mins over my pb and my knee, although a bit sore, held up fine throughout!

A great run and will post more later.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Sunday 19/9 - A sad truth

So my post titles are beginning to sound a bit like chapters from a novel...and this one, I guess, is no exception.

Firstly a run down of my activities and then a sad "face up to the facts".

Saturday 18/9

Type: Run
Distance: 7.25miles
Time: 1hr 5mins
Pace: 9min/mile

A trial run in my old shoes (no support). Knee was fine until about 3 miles when pain got gradually worse. ARGH.

Friday 17/9

Type: Swim
Distance: 46 lengths (f.c)

Thursday 16/9

Type: Cross Train + strength training
Time: 30 mins x-trainer + strength training

Wednesday 15/9

Type: Cross train
Time: 15 mins

Tried to also run on the treadmill in my bare feet just to check whether that would hurt (plus the gym was empty) but the staff stopped me...annoying!

Tuesday 14/9

Type: Swim
Distance: 56 lengths (f.c)

Monday 13/9

Type: Run/Power walk
Distance: 2-3 miles
Time: 40 mins

Saturday 11/9

Type: Run
Distance: 3-4 miles
Time: 45 mins


Ok, now to the fun part.

My run on Saturday (just after my blog post) was still really sore, however I kept on stretching and afterwards it didn't hurt as bad as it normally does.

So I saw the physio on Monday as planned and the very first thing she said to me was that I had a mishapen left leg. I saw what she meant immediately and I guess I notice every day...but I think I just never really NOTICED properly before (if that makes sense). It's maybe easy to see in this picture:

My left leg bends outwards at the knee and goes quite far out when I'm totally relaxed. This is perhaps due to the fallen arch in my left foot but it's something which had never really affected my running...until I started trying to correct the fallen arches.

The physio thinks that this has transferred the strain from the inside of my foot & leg (which are used to coping with it) to my knee and shin. She says it's very likely the cause of the shin cramping. This was all good to know, except that she then went on to say I have incredibly weak hips and really need to work on those to be able to stop myself getting injured on long distances.


Her recommendation was to stop wearing the orthotics and stop wearing my "new" (since April) Brooks shoes altogether, as she doesn't want me to wear anything which try to correct my feet. She said go back to my old running shoes (which have very little in the way of correction) and put a non-tailored, padded insole in those. She pointed out that the root cause of all my pain stemmed from me buying my new shoes (which I guess was true) and if I gradually wean myself back into my old ones we can go from there.

I was glad that she said it's not an injury and is something which can be fixed.

So, also this week I had my very first sports massage at the Garscube. The guy was quite nice and immediately noticed something else which he thought would have a negative impact on my running - my right leg is over an inch longer than my left leg. I guess this is quite normal, but he said it's probably putting strain on the muscles in my left leg, and with the weakness of the hip as it is, that would be a problem.

He, however, said I should keep wearing the insoles as they should give me a bit more support when running. Something else he noticed too is that I have a bad muscle imbalance in my quads. The main muscle and those down the outside of the leg are ok, but it's the inner leg which is really weak.

Since this is the sight of my pain:

He thinks part of my problem might be to do with that weak muscle not kicking in to pull the kneecap over when I bend my knee, so my knee stays quite rigid. So he gave me some strengthening exercises to do which I've been doing each day since.

Now comes my dilemma.

I have the Loch Ness marathon on 3rd October, that's 2 weeks today. My run yesterday (7 miles) proved I CAN run, but I am in pain for the most part which is not fun. Other than anything else I do not want to injure myself further. And on top of that, I have done VERY little training - the furthest I've run since the Devil is 13 miles.

So it is with a REALLY heavy heart that I think I am going to have to pull out of Loch Ness. I am absolutely crushed and part of me thinks "well, I could do'd be sore but I could try and push for an ok time?" but is this just stupid? I think it is. I know there is always next year, but come race day if I'm lying in bed thinking "I could be running a great, scenic marathon right now..." I know I'll be really upset.

But on the otherhand I could be standing at the start line not sure if I'll be able to finish, or worried about how much pain I'll be in.

Am I making the right decision? I wonder.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Saturday 11/9 - A long needed update

Sorry for the lack of posting of late but (and yes, you may have guessed) I have been injured. The problem I spoke about in my last few posts with my left knee has reached a peak and I am positively panicking about Loch Ness in 3 weeks time.

First off, a run down of my work outs over the past few weeks and then an explanation as to my thoughts from today onwards.

Friday 10/9

Type: Swim
Distance: 56 lengths (46 f.c/10 backstroke)

Wednesday 8/9

Type: Cross Train (25mins elliptical xtrainer, 30 mins cycle (x-country), 10 mins row)

Tuesday 7/9

Type: Swim
Distance: 74 lengths (f.c)

Sunday 5/9 - Great Scottish Run!

Type: Run
Time: 1hr53mins
Distance: 13.1miles

This race killed my knees (which were very sore the whole way round) but I actually grinned through the pain and just kept going...thought I'd finished in a much better time than this but think the congestion at the start of the race didn't bode in my favour. (was on holiday the few days before this so no workouts)

Wednesday 1/9

Type: Run
Time: 22mins
Distance: 2.45miles

*Testing my knee more than anything else. Was sore afterwards.

Tuesday 31/8

Type: Swim
Distance: 50 lengths (f.c)

Monday 30/8

Type: Swim
Distance: 52 lengths (f.c, fast)

Sunday 29/8

Type: Run
Distance: 5.6miles
Time: 47mins 10secs (6min gentle jog)

Decided to avoid the hills on this run and my knee was almost fine. I think starting off on a big hill is not a good thing for me and as long as the run if fairly flat I'm generally ok.

Friday 27/8

Type: Run
Distance: 11.9miles
Time: 2hours 10mins (stopped for a while though)

All down my left shin was agony here and actually brought me to a halt (hence the time) Walked for a bit up a massive hill and then when I started running again it was my knee that was was really pretty tender but I managed to keep on running through it.

Wednesday 25/8

Type: Swim
Distance: 52 lengths (f.c, 22 fast)

Tuesday 24/8

Type: Run - speeds on treadmill
Distance: 3 miles (4.8k)

Warm up then 5.30min/km increasing pace to 4.15min/km steadily every 250m.


So basically, I've not NOT been running for the whole time, but I've notcied that every time I go out now it hurts and also takes longer to heal. I have an appointment at the physio on Monday and I'm hoping with everything I have that she can diagnose it.

The problem either started with the Devil race (maybe I was unprepared? maybe the big downhill took its toll on me and hurt something worse than I thought? Could this be the case??)
it started with me going back into training too quickly after the Devil race (the Friday after the Saturday race I did a 4-5mile run with my insoles in...which was fine...but it was the NEXT run on the Sunday (8 days after the Devil race) (7-8miles in insoles) which the leg really started to hurt. And it has hurt since.
it started with the insoles. Maybe I shouldn't have worn them on the 7-8mile run 8 days after the Devil race? I wore them the week after on an 11 mile run (knee very sore) but I've not worn them on any run since and have still been getting pain.

I must also point out that the pain generally starts below the left knee on the outside of the leg and feels quite like growing pains...then I try to push through it (but ususally have to stop it's so sore) and that's when it migrates across to the inside of the knee and across the knee cap. I come home from my runs with what looks like bruising on the inside of the knee cap.

So... The big questions.....

Should I keep running with the insoles in and try to let my body adjust to the new posture?

Did this all happen because I didn't let my toe fracture heal properly?

How long do I leave it before running again? I often think the pain is gone and go running but it starts as soon as I hit the first hill (unavoidable round my area)...

WHAT ON EARTH DO I DO ABOUT THE LOCH NESS MARATHON>???? My biggest worry as you can see. I basically have (starting tomorrow) 3 weeks until the race and the longest training run I've done is 12 miles plus one half and an ultra.

If I manage to get my knee sorted do I try to train even though it;s a little sore? I.e. if it's not unbearable do I go out and continue my training from next weekend? And if I do 18miles next week, 23 miles week after then race on 3rd? Or do I do one long (18-23 mile) run then taper? Or do I just taper from here onwards? With the latter I would not feel confident at all.

Please, please, if anyone has any advice you would be a lifesaver.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Sunday 22/8 - A nice fast run

Ok so without me writing anything else, I must tell of my knee. Since the Devil I have been taking the running easy until the GSR. On my run last week, and my Friday night long run though, my left knee was giving me really bad trouble. It's not bad pain, but it's really uncomfortable for a while before getting really quite sore the further I go.

It brought me to a halt on the Friday run (11.25 miles) and later on that night I noticed the inside of my knee was really bruised. How weird! Used Ibuprofen gel but it was really sore to walk on on Saturday.

I think it might be my new orthotic insoles. The first time I wore them running was the first time the pain started. Problem, though, is that I thought they were meant to sort the overpronation. I have fallen arches in my right foot, and the insoles are good for supporting that. But apparently my left foot moves around far too much - it tilts out too much at the front, and rolls in at the back (or something along those lines...) The insole was meant to fix it but honestly it hurts so bad!

Good news though - my run today was great...without insoles! My knee is still a bit tender but just feels as though I keep aggrevating a bruise. Out running it didn't hurt badly at all. Plus I kept up a really good pace which I was happy about.

Apart from running, I have been doing loads of swimming - I love it! Most mornings before work I get a good spot in the pool and aim to do about 50 lengths. I'm getting quicker at it too - used to take me about 35mins, now I can do it in 25.

So the breakdown last week was:

Sunday 22/8

Time: 37mins
Distance: 4.45miles
Pace: 8.20min/mile

A really good run, kept up a good pace. I think I was actually faster most of the time, though the middle mile is a huge uphill so I did slow on that. Sped up again afterwards though. Knee feels fine afterwards too which is great.

Self-diagnosis had me in a bit of a fret on Friday night with the last sentence of the "Runner's Knee" diagnosis being "It will only get worse"...

Friday 20/8

Type: Swim
Distance: 50 lengths (fc)


Time: ~1hr45 (plus a few stops)
Distance: 11.25miles

Wasn't doing anything this Friday night and had had a pretty rubbish day at work, so headed out a long run when I got in. I met a friend right at the start so chatted to him for a wee while. Then en-route I stopped to help a frog which seemed to be stuck in the middle of a side road. That was right after seeing a deer skip out in front of me! (Feel like I should've been in The Sound of Music or something...frolocking through the open countryside and all that...). My knee hot really sore towards the end though and I walked for a couple of hundred metres before grinning and bearing it so I could get home to eat my dinner!

Wednedsay 18/8

Type: Swim
Distance: 50 lengths (fc)

Tuesday 17/8

Type: Swim
Distance: 50 lengths (10 bs, 40 fc)

Sunday 15/8

Type: Run/cycle
Distance: ~7/8 miles (? I really don't know and can't be bothered mapping it!)

On that roasting hot day I went a run while Derek cycled alongside. We stopped to help a lady who was lost for a while then continued on our way. Sat up at the waterworks for a little while then headed back. It was getting on a bit and I was absolutely starving so we stopped at the little shop to get some pick n mix (awesome). My knee was a little sore towards the end though, so was quite glad to get back.

In other news I went to the Collectormania event at Braehead on was great! Haven't been to a convention in so long, I miss going! Sadly one of the guys I wanted to see (from Stargate Atlantis) had to cancel, but I managed to get a pic taken with one of the guys from Star Trek Enterprise.

Spot the geek! I liked his moustache though ^_^

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Saturday 14/8 - An update and some thoughts on the Devil

Well, it has been a week and a day since my last post...and what a week!

Well...actually work has been incredibly boring but luckily I have been on a total high since the Devil o the Highlands race a week ago today. I'm not too sure how to tell the story of my first I guess I will just dive right in with the exciting/notable parts.

So yes we did end up having to get up at 3am. Got ready quickly and took some porridge "to go". Made a lot and ate about half of it in the car on the way up but I don't travel well and was beginning to feel sick so left the rest. Derek was driving and kept telling me to sleep but I was too excited to do so. He eventually just stopped talking to me so I just rested my eyes.

Arrived at Tyndrum about 4.45am and got my registration pack. Met up with Richard, his brother and sister in law and we all sat and listened to the pep talk. I was a little bit nervous but I just kept thinking that, if the worst came to the worst, I would just walk and that didn't bother me at all. My toe was all strapped up and I took 2 ibuprofen before the start. Started off with Richard but as soon as we started I knew he would end up ahead of me (despite his assurances otherwise!). He was going at a fair pace and it was definitely faster than I wanted to be running at.

On the grassy downhill past Tyndrum, just before the underpass, Richard sped ahead. I got caught behind a group of people and I saw him disappear into the distance. I didn't see him again until the finish.

I ran with another woman for the next few miles into Bridge of Orchy, just chatting about random things. Again she was keeping a fair pace but it was more manageable than Richard's pace, I thought. I had wanted to walk up all the hills (even the wee ones) but to be honest I barely felt I was having to push up them at all so just kept running with her. There were two guys on our tail who kept overtaking us, then we overtook them again on all the hills as they walked up them. One guy (who was quite loud and had been "discussing" several of his running feats, broadcasting them loudly then dispersing wisdom to the younger guy he was running with) shouted "oh look, show offs!" as the lady and I overtook them. I just smiled but could certainly feel a little bit of competition as he overtook us shortly afterwards!

In the end I think the lady and I ended up ahead of the two of them just before Bridge of Orchy. She sped up quite substantially on the way into BoO and we arrived there just about 7.10am. I couldn't find Derek but Kerr & Joan were there. They had missed Richard as they thought he would be through slower! I took a wee drink of capri sun and then headed on up the hill, figuring Derek had gone for a sleep.

However, some 3 minutes later I got a fairly frantic phonecall from D, asking why on Earth I had arrived so quickly! I think he was frustrated he missed me, so went to Inveroran and said he'd meet me there. I got there quite quickly and took a hand-picked flower to apologise for missing him. He gave me lucozade to take with me. I dumped my jacket and I grabbed my headphones as I knew the next stretch might be quite tough on my own.

The midges there were terrible and they kept on eating me even as I was running! When I got into Rannoch Moor though the wind dispersed them a little. I kept beside 2 guys for the first part of the stretch and then the 3 of us caught up with another guy who had a Maryhill Harriers top on. I really don't like overtaking people when I'm running like that, but felt I could manage a quicker pace so a little further on I pushed past them all. They, again, were walking the uphills but I felt quite strong so ran the vast majority of them. I passed another guy who started talking about needing a pee and how it wasn't easy in the compression shorts he had on. I laughed and said it was easier for him than me when, to my horror, he started describing how exactly it wasn't easier for him...i.e. what exactly the shorts were compressing (I had never heard of that part of the male anatomy before but I'm sure it wasn't something one would commonly discuss with a total stranger!!)...

After that "pleasant" chat he scooted on ahead of me (he probably just needed to get that off his chest) but I caught back up with him later. He had joined a guy and a girl and the 3 of them were running together. I walked up the big hill at the end of that stretch and the 3 of them stayed just ahead of me the whole way. On the way down, however, I could feel my toe getting a little tender as my feet were pushed to the front of my shoe. I slowed down quite substantially. I was also terrified of falling like I did on Conic Hill that time, as it really hurt my a*se.

Derek was waiting for me at the Glencoe ski club. My friend from work (Richard's sister) was meant to be waiting for me at the bottom but she had JUST left as I arrived to go meet Richard at the next point. Derek gave me a sandwich and more water then ran down the road with me. I arrived there about 9.10-15am and left some 5 mins later. I said a big thank you to the girls who were stopping the traffic on the A82 to let the runners cross. What amazing dedication they have! It was great of them and something I really want to thank the race directors for.

The next bit was fine though I saw my car abandoned at the side of the road about 1/2 mile from the staircase and panicked slightly! Apparently the parking was terrible so it was the only place Derek could park the car. Also Derek had given me the ham sandwiches instead of the quorn ones so I only had a little bit of bread to eat! I took cashew nuts at the bottom of the staircase and got my sports lucozade topped up with the really fizzy stuff. I had bought hundreds of food but a) didn't really feel like eating it and b) Derek generally parked the car away from the whw route.

He walked up the staircase with me which was great. I had a sandwich and an orange. I also opened my lucozade and nearly had my thumb blown off from the gas that had build up in the sports-capped bottle. I swore quite loudly in fright and had to apologise to the runner in front of me =S Said bye to Derek at the top and headed down the otherside. Passed a few runners on the way down, including one guy who fell. Both myself and the guy in front of me went back to help him. He had hurt himself and was limping a bit but thanked us and insisted we go on. He was a support runner and was stopping at Kinlochleven so I didn't feel so bad.

There was one guy in front of me and a girl in front of him. I overtook the guy on the way down but the girl was speeding right up. In Kinloch everyone was there whcih was great! They all shouted on me as I arrived from the riverside onto the road and it felt great. I arrived there about 12pm and had a little bit of pasta for my lunch then set off about 5 mins later. I also had a big slug of Coke which was AMAZING. I always crave full-fat coke when I run and it always makes me delirious with contentment when I drink some on/after a run. It's crazy!!

Derek hiked up the big hill out of Kinloch with me because that was the part of the course I was dreading the most. It wasn't so bad, but the sun was really beating down which wasn't so good. Derek told me that Richard had been consecutively 20mins ahead of me at all the checkpoints, so I was pleased to hear I was keeping a steady pace. The stretch across the moor was fine. I caught up with the guy and girl who were ahead of me on the way into Kinloch. Again, I didn't really like overtaking them but I was feeling good so just went for it. Again, the support marshalls on the moor were great and I was really appreciative of them spending their day providing assistance like that.

K&J were at Lundavra waiting for me. They gave me more water and a banana. I also took some more nuts and headed on my merry way. The next bit was a bit of a slog and I had to walk some of it. There were also a lot of walkers and I sort of felt that some of them were a bit annoyed as I passed them. I would never just barge past someone, even if I need to walk I just do so and say excuse me. But a few times I had to go onto the mud to get past which was a bit annoying. Again it was really sunny as I went through the forest but it had been wet so the ground was a bit boggy.

The forest was the toughest section mentally. I walked the majority of it and felt a bit fed up as I had been wanting to run as much as I could and felt I still had fuel left. It was over quickly enough though and, without looking at the time, continued on the downhill towards the Braveheart car park. I ran it from the top and overtook another runner in the process, but my good word it was thrashing my legs. That was definitely the toughest section physically. Mentally I was totally ready for it and knew I could keep going, but my legs were just so painful!

I also thought I was a lot closer to the bottom than I was as I remember when I was cycling up the way it seemed to be over fairly quickly. No such luck though. When the track flattened back out again I had to stop and walk as I was just so disheartened. Walked for a couple of minutes and then decided I should just go for it. I text Derek explaining I was a little pee'd off and wanted to cry (in not so polite terms) and he told me just to keep going. So I did.

I boosted up the songs on the old ipod, turned them up to an ear-splitting level and went for it. That didn't seem to be working though so I put on the one song "The Modern Leper" by Frightened Rabbit (see my musical related post somewhere in the mess below) on repeat. That did the trick. When I got to the car park I asked a guy how far it was and he said 0.8 miles. I was so relieved and just went hell for leather.

On the way loads of people were saying well done etc which was so nice of them. I was struggling to keep a good pace as my quads were really sore, but the music kept me going. This time though, I pulled the headphones off as I approached the finish. I got loads of claps and hugs as I crossed the line in 9hours 17mins, very happy indeed!! Richard had finished 8hours50 so I was glad to see I maybe didn't slow down as drastically on that last section as I thought I did!

The next few days I was sore and eating for the UK but it was worth it. I'm so glad my toe never played up and I would not have done so well if it wasn't for my support from Derek (plus Richard's crew: Kerr, Joan, Ruth and Colin). I'm so grateful to all of them. All in all, running the ultra was fantastic and I really had thought I would be somewhere between 10 and 12 hours. I can see myself wanting to get under 9 hours next year! I am also quite tempted by the Fling...

Having said that, I don't see myself running these ultras as a regular thing - maybe 1 or 2 a year. It occupies too much of your time for the training (I think the fact I did so well in the Devil after very little in the way of training was something of a fluke) and also places a lot of stress on your support crews who need to spend their whole day waiting around for you. I know people don't mind, but I would want to keep it a special thing.

Anyway, since the Devil I have had the following work outs:

Friday 13/8

Time: 40mins
Distance: ~4 miles

Went a run in the sun after work yesterday. Ran to deliver a letter to someone. My legs were sore though, even though they had been ok before. I therefore decided not to push it and just went back to the gym and stretched.

Wednesday 11/8

Type: Swim
Distance: 30 lengths (16 f.c/14 b.s)

I have also been evaluating my races left this year and have decided (belated) that my challenge is 131 miles in 6 races. I have the GSR half in September, Loch Ness Marathon on 3rd October then I have entered the Salomon "Pure Filth" ten mile race at Mugdock on 10th October. It looks cool and is right by my house, so why not!

Let me just conlude now (since this had taken AAAGES to write) with some pics from the Devil. Fun fun and more fun!

Me finishing, looking intently at that finish line!!

Richard and I at the start.

My car abandoned on Rannoch Moor!!

Me hiking up Devil's staircase.

At top of staircase.

Looking back into Kinlochleven.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Friday 6/8 - a gentle work out

Today I spent 20mins in the gym (I was so busy that was what I was resigned to) with 10mins doing a gentle cross train then 10 mins on the treadmill just to check my foot was ok.

Glad to report no pain - I even did a little gentle jog for a few mins at the end and no pain, so I am hoping for the best.

As for the rest of the day I was really busy, but am home now, showered and pretty much ready for my bed! Will have dinner about 6 then head to bed soon after. I'm hoping that my usual "being able to sleep at any time of the day" will hold and I will be fast asleep by half seven. I think I will need to up about half two/ it will probs take us an hour and a half to get to Tyndrum. We're aiming to be there for 5am so will probably leave here about half three.

I can't believe we need to be up so early! I am normally an early riser but Derek definitely isn't...and I don't normally get up to go run 40miles!

Anyway. Got plenty of ibuprofen, food, my toe is strapped up nicely and my new waterproof is the bee's knees.

Wish me luck!!!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

A pre-race update

My lack of blogging recently may have been an indication that either I've been very busy, or there is something that isn't quite right...

In a nutshell, I have fractured my toe. The pain never disappeared and even though ok when walking, was still really sore when running which wasn't a good sign! So I got an xray last Tuesday and was sent to A&E, where I was told I had a distal spiral fracture in my 5th toe. NOT good.

Here's a picture of the offender (the thick white slanted line on the small toe):

Ok that's not actually my toe, but it's pretty much a replica of what I saw in the hospital, only my toe has a fracture where that one is and also down the other side (hence the "spiral"). So I haven't been running. The only saving grace is that the doctor says it takes 4-6 weeks to heal. The Devil race is 4 weeks exactly from the day it happened so I am hoping that it will be ok to run on. She says ordinarily she would tell me not to run but she knows I am a "stubborn thing" and I will run anyway (: But I am to stop at the first sign of pain so that's what I will do!

In other news (as if the toe fracture isn't bad enough) I have come down with a horrible cold. It is only in my head just now though, so I rested yesterday and today and am hoping to be on the mend come Saturday. If it isn't one thing it's another, eh??

So here's the "non running" workouts (despite a few wee runs before the enormity of the toe situation hit in...) over the past few weeks:

Monday 2/8

Type: Cross Train
Time: 1hr15mins

35 min xtrainer (gleuteal work out!)
30 min tough cycle (cross country)
10 min tough row

Thursday 28/7

Type: swim
Distance: 40 lengths (20 f.c/20 b.s)

Wednesday 28/7

Type: Cross Train
Time: 30 mins

20 mins tough xtrain
10 mins rough row

Monday 26/7

Type: swim
Distance: 36 lengths (20 f.c/16 b.s)

Sunday 25/7

Time: 1hr 5mins
Distance: 5.5miles

Run with Dad through the woods. Toe was ok when I was running at a fairly slow pace but got a lot sorer when I went off myself and went a wee bit faster, so had to turn back.

Saturday 24/7

Time: ?
Distance: ~2.5-3miles

It was peeing down with rain but I just wanted to get out and run. Started off too fast though and my toe really hurt, so I slowed the pace right down. Ended up walking a little bit too.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Thursday 22/7 - Swimming, much?

As the title suggests, I have been swimming a fair bit recently. After my long run last Friday, my legs were pretty sore on the Saturday and Sunday. I had obviously been running in a really weird way because my quads were absolutely excrutiating...I feel like I'd run a tough marathon! (Well, I guess technically I did...)

Suffice it to say I took Saturday, Sunday and Monday off. By Monday I was raring to go again but two problems.
1 - My toe is still very sore. Not walking, that's fine. But running or moving it in certain ways and it's just agony. I am worried now that it might be fractured in at least one place. I did rule that out before since I could walk on it ok, but I think the fact that (now going on 12) days after it happened I am still in a good amount of pain maybe isn't such a good thing. I tried running last night and got about 0.5 miles with no pain then suddenly I scrunched my toe up again and BAM...ground to a frustrating halt. Will need to monitor this and see what happens...

And 2 - I am so busy at work its unreal. I am generally in there between 7 and 8 in the morning and leave between 4-5 though lately it has been later.

Excuses, I know. But all I am really focusing on is keeping my cardio strength up before the Devil race. Hopefully in a week or so I should be running again. So my exercise schedule has been:

Thursday 22/7

Type: swim
Distance: 44 lengths (34 front crawl, 10 breast stroke)

Wednesday 21/7

Type: walk (plus a gentle jog)
Distance: 4.6 miles

Started running and managed about 0.5 miles before my toe began to really hurt. I was gutted but decided to stop and walk...though I'm not really a big walker, and it was raining, so I went and got my neighbours dog (a lovely big scooby doo style dog) and took it a walk. The dog is so powerful it basically pulled me the whole way and I did spend quite a long time chatting to my neighbours but enjoyed being out for a good 2 hours.

Tuesday 20/7

Type: swim
Distance: 46/48 lengths (36/38 front crawl, 10 breast stroke)

This was a really tough run and my arms hurt quite badly the next day!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Friday 16/7 - A shorter long run than expected...thank you, TOE!

Time: ~6h55mins
Distance: ~28.5miles (~24/25 mile run, 3/4 mile hike)

Well, the long training run for the Devil race didn't quite work out as I'd hoped yesterday...I had hoped to do 35miles (depending on how much time I had) but the accident to my toe the other day had me thinking it may be more like 30miles. The toe was not sore to walk on but was sore to touch and still sore to move manually. I saw the Doctor about something else on Thursday morning and asked her about my toe. She told me I shouldn't really run on it as it will take 10-14 days to heal, but said I probably wouldn't make it any worse if I did run on it.

I should have probably taken her advice.

Anyway. Friday morning I woke up at 5.30am, lay in bed until 5.45am then got up and had porridge. I was tired but really looking forward to getting out. Took my time getting my stuff together, packing the new bumbag (which holds loads!) etc and left the house at about 7.15am.

As soon as I started running my toe started hurting. That should have been my first sign, though I just readjusted the way I was running (putting more weight on the inside of my foot) and that seemed to be ok. It was still sore but in retrospect I was basically limping less than a mile into the run.

To Beech Tree was uneventful. I was taking advice from John Kynaston and eating what I could (normally just a few cashew nuts or a chewy sweetie) every 30 mins. In retrospect I really should have put more thought into what/when I was eating!! It started raining just before I got to the Beech Tree and the clouds were so low in the sky. My jacket isn't really very waterproof and by the time I got to Drymen I was soaked. It had stopped raining but my wee toe was really quite sore.

I realised that, probably due to the fact that I'd altered my running style, I was doing something weird with my toes when I ran. Instead of just heel striking then moving off as normal, just as my toes hit the ground I would scrunch them (which was agony on my wee toe when it hit the ground). I don't know why I was doing it, but it was so annoying! The pain got so bad I had to stop and walk for a couple hundred metres.

Onto Conic Hill I realised that it was the downhills which were hurting the most (obviously because my toe was being pushed into the front of my shoe) so I walked the downhills and ran the uphills and flats. Maybe not the best "ultra" running strategy but it was working ok. Walked really fast up Conic Hill which was pretty much like a gorge. My feet were sodding wet though the sun was out, so I took the opportunity to eat a sandwich.

When I got to the flat I ran again but was stopped at the otherside. It was sooo slippy and boggy. There were people strewen all over the hill, obviously evaluating the best way down. I jogged down but had to stop and walk at points. Plus trying really hard not to run faster and keep my foot towards the back of my shoe all culminated in my quads being agony by the time I got to the bottom. I also slipped onto my backside half way down and bruised my butt cheek quite badly.

So by the time I got to the car park I had gone from having a sore toe to a) thrashed quads, b) a very painful a*se, c) an even sorer toe, d) some lower shin pain from running downhill with scrunched up toes.

Oh the joys. At this point I had to reassess my plan. The idea had been to go to Inversnaid but to be honest I don't think there was any way I could have made it in a decent time. I could have walked, as walking wasn't hurting my toe whatsoever, but my friend was coming to pick me up so I couldn't ask him to get me too late. I stopped at the Oak Tree to fill up my water and then kept on running towards Rowardennan. My friend said he would leave then to get me from Row, only he got lost and mistook Balloch for Balmaha (he lives in Lancaster and hasn't driven much in Glasgow) so ended up being quite a bit later than expected.

I left Balmaha at about 11.45am (which I felt was pretty good timing! ... just over 22miles in 4h30 plus stops??) and ran/hobbled into the forest, past the houses but that was really the last point I ran. After that I just hiked as fast as I could. My quads were really sore and going downhill was a struggle so I did run the downhills and some of the flats.

My friend drove to Row for 1.20pm, parked, and ran back about 3k where he met me. He was shocked at how hilly the path was, he's never run on the WHW before!! The two of us then just walked briskly to Row where we got a baked potato and a well-earned (but fairly nasty tasting) cup of tea. We went a wee walk to the "Stargate" after that but I was cold so we headed back to the car. Took the opportunity to stop at the *amazing* tearoom in Gartness for a strawberry tart and another cuppa on the way home (mmmmm!) as well.

So, all in all? The day did not go as I had planned. It worries me slightly that I have not run farther than 28/29 miles before the Devil race. That extra 13/14 miles could be a killer. BUT...then again, what's the worst that can happen - I walk a large chunk of it? I KNOW I am physically capable of doing the mileage and to be honest I will just be SOOO glad and proud to finish it! (Given that I can!!) Plus I will have someone running with me at a few points (that's allowed, right?) so that will hopefully keep my spirits high.

On the other hand, I know that I could have kept going yesterday if I hadn't ran so stupidly for the first part, hurt my quads so much and my toe didn't hurt so much. I.e. if I didn't have the toe injury yesterday I know I could have kept on going to Inversnaid, and probably Bienglas too (though probably walking that rocky part). My legs are agony today but again that's because I put so much stress on my quads yesterday, I know it. Hopefully it's at least helping me build strong muscles!!

The plan now?

Let my toe heal! Doc says 10-14 days. It's not sore walking today but is swollen so I will not run until next weekend (earliest) unless is feels ok. Will swim a lot this week and do some cross training. And eat lots. And generally be merry (o:

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Wednesday 14/7

Well, an update is in order I feel. My foot has been sore for days. It doesn't stop me walking on it, but it is sore with trainers on and not good for running at all. In fact, I can't run right now.

I don't know whether my wee toe is fractured or just badly bruised, but on the plus side it has been better today and hopefully is just getting better. I will swim tomorrow morning and haven't run on it at all, so should be ok for my long run on Friday.

I am kind of nervous about this run...I'm aiming for 30-35 miles and it'll be the longest I've been on my feet for one stretch (without a bike!). Luckily my friend has agreed to meet me at the end and run/hike the last bit with me which is great of him! I also got my innov8 pro running bumbag today which looks awesome! I just hope it doesn't bounce around too much...guess whatever it does it will be a big improvement from me stuffing my juice into the waistband of my running shorts (:

So a relaxing week this week with the injury, but have done one good hard cross-training sesh.

Monday 12/7

Type: Cross trainer + row
Time: 40mins + 15mins
Distance: 6k + ?

Did 5 min fast warm up then increase in resistance and incline until really really tough...then back down to the fast 5 min again. Called the "Gluteal" work out =O 15mins tough row too.

Sunday 11/7

Type: Cycle
Time: 1h 30mins (including stop to eat lunch)
Distance: 12.6miles

A nice easy cylce with Derek to keep my legs loose. Cycled up to a nice viewpoint and ate a sandwich but it started to get really windy so we headed back.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Sunday 11/7 - The Story so far...

As promised I said I would come back with some documentation of my exercise/life of late.

Update on my foot - today it isn't as sore to walk on (which is good) but when I try to put shoes on or walk with the shoes on the pain is somewhat extremely uncomfortable. I have tried to customise a kind of "toe strap" so my pinky toe is strapped to the one next to it.

Here's my toe when it first happened (left little toe):

And here's my toe this morning. The bruising isn't really that visible in this photo but it's blinking sore I tell you.

So today I think I will forego a run and go to the gym instead. If I can stand ok I will do a fairly intensive session on the cross-trainer then maybe go for a swim...if not, I will go on the bike for a while. Hopefully this will keep my cardio strength up anyway. If it's better tommorrow then I will go a 6-8 miler run. Then I have my big 35 miler run scheduled on Friday.

Now onto the fun stuff...

Last weekend on Sunday Derek, my cycling friend and I all got the train up to Fort William in prep for cycling the WHW on the Monday/Tuesday. It was absolutely peeing down on the Sunday and really wasn't pleasant to cycle to Westerton station in. We got some food in Morrisons then cycled the few miles to our hostel at Achintree farm. That was a really nice wee hostel, I'd very much recommend it. Lovely owner.

It rained all night and when we woke the next morning it wasn't much better. Queue our stupid pre-cycle look:

We headed off about 9am onto the WHW. It was a bit of a slog cycling up that big hill into the forest in the rain, I must say. Between being soaked and cold while pushing and roasting and soaked while cycling, it wasn't particularly good. But going through the moor was quite good and we did manage to cycle a fair bit of it. Queue Derek looking awesome cycling down a hill...

Coming down into Kinlochleven though was horrible. We couldn't cycle as it was way too slippy. In the meantime it continued to rain and we continued to get soaked. When we got into Kinlochleven we were freezing, soaked to the bone and starving. We huddled under a tourist information sign (the bus shelter was full) and shovelled some food down our throats. It was about this time we began to think of calling the cycle off. We looked up train times and decided to get as far as Bridge of Orchy before making up our minds. So we continued on up the hill towards the Devil's staircase.

Now this really was a case of pushing the bike uphill for the whole way. It really wasn't fun.

Though we did get to cycle a bit of it.

Looking a bit pathetic at the top...

...and pushing the bike back down the otherside, which was also too slippy to cycle down.

We finally got to Kingshouse and assessed our plan. Our cycling buddy was keen to push on since the weather had picked up slightly. Derek and I, however, felt it was going to be the same weather tomorrow and we really weren't enjoying it as much as we wanted to be. We had already cycled it, after all and this was meant to be for fun.

So, with a frown in our hearts and some building pain in our backsides, we flew down the A82 towards Bridge of Orchy to get the 18:56 train. I say "flew"...trying to maintain good speeds for that stretch really isn't very easy with all the cars flying past you. We got to B.o.O in time to have some chips then get train home.

All in all the cycle we did ended up ok but I didn't enjoy it at the start. I don't think I'll be cycling the WHW in that direction again. You need to push the bike for most of the time, and when you're doing that you are either getting smacked constantly in the leg by the pedals, or you are completely missing the scenery because you're assessing the ground the whole time. On the plus side though, it did map out the Devil of Highlands route well and I'm glad I covered the ground for it (did the Tyndrum > Kingshouse part while supporting Richard on the WHW race).

Here are some photos from the WHW race, too, which I'll post while I'm here:

Richard and I at top of the Devil's staircase.

and an atmospheric one taken by Derek.

So over the past few weeks my workputs have been as follows:

Monday 5/7

Type: Cycle/Hike with bike
Distance: 25 miles (on WHW) 12.6 miles (A82)

As described above!

Tuesday 6/7

Distance: 4.2 miles
Pace: 8.15 min/mile

A really good run after dinner, mainly because there were a lot of hills and I managed to keep the pace on all of them (all 1-3 minutes of hills!).

Thursday 8/7

Swim. 34 lengths. Pushed quite hard on the final lengths and felt really good afterwards.


Now for something non-exercise related!

Derek and I graduated on Friday 9/7 with our MSc in Operational Research from Strathclyde. Was a fantastic day and it reiterated how good the department are - had a nice lunch with our classmates and some professors. Feels really good to have graduated and I preferred this graduation to the one at Glasgow Uni.

Here are some photos to mark the day...which I view while deciding what my next academic endeavour will be!! ...

Me getting my pat on the head...

Me walking out with my classmates, noticing my parents hanging over the balcony with the camera and laughing profusely.

The goofy couple.

And most of my graduating MSc class...what a happy bunch we are (:

Saturday, 10 July 2010

10/7 - A bit of a gutter

Lots to catch up on but not much time just now so will post more later.

WHW cycle didn't go according to plan...was weather like this (!!) for the Monday and the time we got to Kinlochleven (from fort will) we were drenched and freezing. Ended up calling it off at Bridge of Orchy. Disappointing but we weren't doing it to prove anything, so nothing lost.

In other news, had a bit of a hard day today. As I was going to get ready to go out a 10-12 miler, I smashed my little toe off of the corner of the bath. Pain was immense but I iced it and did feel it would go away...

...cut forward to 7.30pm and the outside of my foot/toe has swollen up quite substantially and I'm having a hard time walking. I really hope it isn't broken or fractured as that would be really unfortunate. I'm icing it and praying for the best. If it's ok tomorrow I will attempt to do a longish run but I don't see that happening somehow.

In nicer news I graduated yesterday! Photos to follow.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Friday 2/7 - Long run on WHW

Time: 4 hours (plus a few stops)
Distance: ~21.5miles

Was up and out early this morning to do a run on WHW before doing various bits and bobs this afternoon. I drove to the Beech Tree, parked, and then set off to Balmaha (via the road at Drymen). Was a good steady run for the most part but I did start off a bit too slowly. I'm not really sure what pace to start off at when I'm doing these long runs. I made it to Drymen in just under an hour...which really isn't very fast considering it's about 4 miles from the Beech Tree! So I picked up the pace a bit towards Balmaha.

When I got to Balmaha I stopped to fill up my water was really clammy and I felt I was drinking quite a lot. Then I continued on up Conic Hill. I hiked up quite quickly, which I usually do, but it's really different hiking up when you've already done 8-9 miles as opposed to starting off your run! I found it a bit of a struggle right at the start but when I got to the top I stopped to have a look at the great view and quickly kept on going. It's something I think a lot of people forget to do when they are running in such beautiful countryside.

Going down the other side was fine, it wasn't too busy at all. I kept running except on a few little hills where I was trying the "walk the ups, run the downs" tactic. When I got to Drymen I stopped again to fill up my water bottle in the shop and headed back to the Beech Tree. I kept running most of the way until my mum called me about a mile from Drymen with some news about what I was doing this afternoon. I had previously been rushing as I had a few meetings, however she told me one of them was cancelled. I walked for a few mins chatting to her then kept going.

Arrived at the Beech Tree feeling ok from the point of view that my head was fine, i.e. I felt I could kept going, my legs however were beginning to get quite stiff! I guess it's the fact that I never really built up to this run, or the 28 miler two weeks ago...I just kind of went out and did them. I'm at the point now where I can't really build up to the Devil of the Highlands though, I'm just going to have to go with the flow and walk when I need!

Other than my run on Monday this week I swam quite hard on Wednesday which felt good afterwards. I quite like the fact that my muscles hurt a little the day after my swims...feels like I'm really working which can only be a good thing I guess!

Monday, 28 June 2010

Monday 28/6

Time: ~43mins
Distance: 5.25miles
Pace: 8.10min/mile (8.30 slower + 7.50 bursts)

Did this run in the West End after work today. Got out just as it started raining, which was actually surprisingly refreshing after having worked from quite early this morning. I also got a few bits and bobs sorted out personally, so I felt quite uplifted despite my hunger!

I did a slowish pace on the uphills and then pushed it on the flat and downhills, though towards the end I was going fairly quickly on the uphills too.

I did end up rowing hard for 15mins afterwards looking quite out of place like a wet rat on a rowing machine... all in the name of fitness!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Sunday 27/6 - Bring on the Cross Training

Well, it has been a wee while since the last post. As usual, work has been hectic and I've been really busy outside work...the usual excuses. Also had a decision to make recently that will change the shape of my that has been fun (not). Things are beginning to ease off now though, and I think I have worked everything out for the most part. So I'm beginning to look forward to the summer!

As for running, I've not really been doing as much as I should have...but I have loved the runs I've done. My heel has still been very sore, and I have been to the Orthotics clinic where I was told that basically one foot (left) over pronates, whilst the right under pronates. Without sounding like a joke too much, I was told that basically there is an increased risk I might just topple over to the right...yes, I was actually told this. On a more serious note though he said that's why I'm getting pain in my achilles tendon. Apparently all the muscles are being pulled round my foot to the outside because my footstrike is so far to the right...if that makes sense. Hence they are being worked a bit too hard.

So, I'm having orthotic insoles made and hopefully that will remedy things. In the meantime I have been doing a lot of swimming. I'm not really a master of swimming but generally do work quite hard for the time I'm in the pool. The other day I did 30 lengths consecutively, 20 of which were front crawl and is always a bit challenging for me with the breathing!

Run-wise, I have this:

Saturday 26/6

Time: ~1h35
Distance: 10.45miles
Pace: ~9.10 min/mile

This was really just to test whether my heel was ok or not. It was wonderfully sunny though so ended up being a nice solid run. I also ran without headphones or anything (despite running like that for the last few runs) and it was quite a liberating experience. I know there is a huge debate about running with headphones, but I generally look forward to my runs more when I have some good music to listen to enroute. Don't really get much of a chance to listen to it any other time, so I see no problem with listening to it while running.

Had to cut this run short though as we were meeting a friend to do a Cathcart circle pub crawl (oh, the joys). Did about 7 stops and had about 2 units of alcohol! Not a big drinker I must say...and when they decided to go to McDonalds for dinner myself, Derek and another one of our friends went to a restaurant to refuel properly (8

Saturday 19/6 - Support run for WHW race

Distance: 28 miles
Time: ~7h45 (plus stops)

This was one of my best runs yet, despite being some good solid hiking in some places! Derek and I drove up to Tyndrum to meet a friend from work's brother who was running the WHW race. It's his 4th year doing it but he had to stop at Kingshouse last year due to knee problems. He seemed disheartened that his sub 24 hour goal was out, but nonetheless he was surprisingly chipper throughout the whole time I was with him!

I had only planned to go to Glencoe Ski Club but we were having some great chats, and the weather was just terrific so I checked Derek was ok and kept going to Kinlochleven. Richard had quite a few people supporting including my friend from work and they were superb...always giving us food and massaging him! I didn't eat much the whole time, just a mini flapjack and a nutrigrain bar. I was STARVING when I finished! Plus the midges in Kinlochleven were appalling.

All in all I totally loved the day out, even though it was really a split between hiking and running. He did so well and went on to finish in about 25hours 50 mins. It gave me a good taste and desire to run in Devil of the Highlands...which I found out I was allocated a place in! I also thought about people who run the WHW race and how brave you need to be to do it! Even if you can't run the whole way it's still an achievement to keep on walking when all you want to do is stop. And also the fact that people will give up their whole weekends to support you is just so kind. Derek, my Mum, Dad and friend James have all offered to support me in the Devil, so thank you to them!

Hopefully I'll be able to make them all proud =D

Photos to follow!

Monday, 14 June 2010

Monday 14/6

Distance: 5.5miles
Pace: ~8.40min/mile

Just a gentle run in the west end after work today. Felt quite weak at first as hadn't had a lot to eat at lunch, but I built up speed and finished really strong going up Clarence's one heck of a hill...and added challenge to sprint across the road at the top to catch the green man! =D Rowed a teensy bit afterwards but was going to meet Derek for a coffee (also lovely!). All in all a very fun evening!

Friday, 11 June 2010

11/6 - Bridge of Orchy Run

Well, all went well and my heel was ok for the past few days. We had a night at Bridge of Orchy planned a while ago and I was gutted I might not be able to run because of my heel. I had actually planned to take my bike but the chain had seized up as I hadn't used it in so long! We didn't have time to fix it yesterday morning, so I took that as a decision I should be running anyway ;D We went up straight from work last night and went a wee walk and had a lovely meal. This morning we had a HUGE breakfast (can't believe I'm so hungry these days...) and after spending about 45mins fixing Derek's bike (how I love blowing up inner tubes and having them deflate themselves whilst trying to find the source of the deflation), after which, we headed off. I have mapped the run below.

We ran/cycled along the WHW to the lodge before entering onto rannoch moor-esque expanse. We then turned left and ran along the path towards Loch Etive (I think). It was a lovely path along the grass, really quite busy though. We ran along to the waterfall, stopped for a sandwich, got eaten by midges then headed back. I was actually feeling pretty good so we decided to head up the wee road by Victoria bridge. It took some turns here and there and we weren't really sure where it was headed so we turned back and came back along WHW to B.o.O. 16.05 miles in total.

It rained a little and was sunny a little but overall quite a dry, mild day. We did stop a few times to decide which way to go, have a snack or walk up a hill here and there...this wasn't a training run after all! However on the whole I ran well, and even ran most of the way up the big hill out of Inveroran at the end of the run! Was well pleased about that (: Derek had a wee bit of trouble pushing his bike up some tough hills...makes me wonder how I'll find cycling the way in 2 days next month given I've not actually cycled since January!

On the whole, we were out from about 11.30am to 4pm. Not a very fast pace, but a really enjoyable run and very pleased I felt good afterwards. Because of the softness of the ground, my heel is ok now too. We think we may make this a regular thing now, too! Maybe do Inversnaid to Tyndrum next time!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Long time, no blog

Yes, it has been a while. I'd like to say that my busy life has stopped me blogging (it most definitely has been busy) but it's really more that I haven't actually run since the marathon. Shock horror, I know. This isn't really through any other reason than I haven't really had time, or felt the need to run. In fact, it has been quite relaxing to NOT run for a while. I rejoined the gym, so have been swimming quite a lot and done a little bit of cross-training. I'm happy with that. I like to swim/splash about the pool. If only I had proper coordination on the breast stroke, I'd be a swimming master! Certainly I like to put a float between my knees and swim for lengths (I was corrected for referring to them as "laps") of the pool using only my arms. A little muscular arm pain never hurt anyone!

If only I could say the same for my feet...

Since the marathon, the niggling pain in my right heel has actually been fine. That is, until yesterday. I went out a run at the gym last night in the west end, which was lovely on such a nice night. I didn't run too fast, just kept it gentle. This morning though, I could barely walk with the pain in my heel.

I am really annoyed, as I thought 2 weeks of non weight bearing activities would be enough to heal whatever damage I had done. Obviously not. It seems to be getting worse and I am at a loss about what to do for it. Should I take more time off running? I will most likely to the GSR again, and Loch ness too. Those aren't for a while away yet so I'm sure I can afford to take the time off for the next few weeks. However I am cycling the whole WHW in 2 days in July, and also have a trip planned to Bridge of Orchy on Thursday which I was really looking forward to as a chance to run on the WHW. Damn. Will have to see how things go...but it's not looking so great right now.

In other news, the fundraising coordinator from Scottish Veterans' Residencies sent me over some pictures she took of me at the marathon. I can't get over this one!

It is such a nice photo, and not from a posey point of view...but just that I was honestly so happy to see them at 17 or so miles, and that feeling is just etched all over my face! Brilliant.

So other than that, I have finished my exams now and am just working. It's strange not having things to do at night...hence the reason I have been at the gym a lot. It's upsetting though, as a lot of people I know are really getting into running. My friend who joined the running club is racing practially every week and does a long run every weekend. I admire his spirit...doing a 16 miler whilst not training for anything isn't something I would do unless there was a great route involved!

So running plans for the future? I'm thinking of buying a nice heart rate monitor, so that I can go out and push myself properly when I need, and then do relaxing runs properly when I need to. I'll give the heel some time. I'm doing calf strengthening exercises. In the meantime will keep up my fitness with the swimming and cross-training. I do enjoy a good cross-train.

And who knows, maybe if things go well I will be able to run on Friday after all...

Here's the two runs from the past week.

Monday 7/6

Time: 40mins
Distance: 4.75miles
Pace: ~8.25min/mile

plus 10 min row

Saturday 5/6

Time: who knows, wasn't timing!
Distance: 4.3miles
Pace: ?

Oh, and as for the wedding...I'm thinking of going down this route. All I need is the millenium falcon to escort me to the ceremony and I'm sorted ;)

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Sunday 23/5 - My Edinburgh Marathon story

Ok, so this story goes as follows.

Thursday 20/5, I had a rubbish day at work whereby I rushed to get my work done and left very annoyed about something...rushing to a fairly important interview then home to sleep. I began to feel pretty bad, like I was coming down with something.

Friday 21/5, I knew I was getting ill. I could feel it in my throat and my joints. I woke up early and couldn't get back to sleep, so just lay there feeling sorry for myself. Took a lemsip and felt slightly better, slept for a little while then had to go into the west end. Boy, was it a scorcher! I felt slightly better now so did a really gentle 20min cross train on the elliptical cross trainer then had a long shower and met friends for a coffee. When I got home that night I relaxed and had an early one.

Saturday 22/5, was still not feeling so hot. I went through to Edinburgh in the afternoon and did some work. Stayed at a lovely b&b called "Cloughley"...stayed in the same place last year and the woman and man are so friendly, I'd thoroughly recommend it. Derek and I walked about a bit and tried to relax after I'd worked. Got a fairly early night and a nice meal.

Sunday 23/5, marathon day! I still wasn't feeling 100%, I must say. I felt a bit achey and my throat was sore. I had porridge but felt sick after eating it. It was meant to rain but the rain was no where in sight...

As usual there was a tremendous atmosphere at the start line. Everyone of all shapes and sizes, that's what I like about Edinburgh - you feel like part of something, and everyone is on a par. They start the elite runners way in front so really nobody in the first few pens is "better" than anyone else. I like that - there's no pressure. Plus the amount of people running for charity is fantastic, I feel glad to be part of it.

Started off really quite fast for me, just as the sun came out. And it stayed out all day! Was so hot all day long; I was glad I lathered in suncream! I did the first 12 miles in about 1hr45 which I was quite chuffed about...however after that things really took a turn for the worst. My nose kept running and I really felt quite sluggish, depsite drinking lots of water and little amounts of lucozade. I eventually had to stop at about 15miles, which is REALLY early for me if I ever stop in a marathon (not that I do much anyway...I can count them on one hand!) I walked for a bit then kept running but after that I lost my mojo. My hip started hurting quite badly and I just generally felt rubbish. I did run for most of the way after that, but there were people passed out all over the place and it was really quite scary. It was so hot...there was one man lying convulsing almost which wasn't nice to watch.

At about 21miles a guy in front of me looked as though he was crying. I stopped and asked if he was ok when he told me he'd just rubbed suncream into his eyes! We chatted a little bit and walked together for a few mins (hence my time was building up). He was running for McMillan cancer after having lost his mum and wife last year to the disease. Terrible shame. He had managed to raise £2600 though which is tremendous - he deserves a medal! We chatted a bit longer and filled our head with thoughts of an ice cold Drambuie after the race was done...then I encouraged him to run with me. He did for a while, and then he stopped so I went on. A little while later I felt terrible again so stopped to walk a bit, just as I saw a young guy lying limp at the side of the road surrounded by paramedics. It terrified me so I stopped and decided not to push it. Plus my nose was streaming. A min or so later the McMillan guy ran past me and pulled me into a run again, claiming that I'd made him run last time! What a pleasant chap (: He stopped after a short while however and I kept going.

Needless to say I'm ashamed I had to stop between 24 and 25 miles again. Hence my time mounted up and up (you can see where this is going). My parents were at the finish line, however, which was great! Derek was there too, but somebody collapsed right next to him about 400m from the finish and he must've missed me when he bent down to help him. The poor guy had cramp and his leg had just seized. So close to the end as well! I finished in 4hrs 18. My worst time for a marathon but you know, I managed to raise £230 for SVR (which, to be honest, is good considering I've continuously raised over £300 for them for each marathon so far) and I felt like the heat. That's what people keep saying anyway, that I'm a braver person etc etc. I appreciate the words but can't help feel my training went to waste in the end. I should at least have been able to run without stopping, but maybe the cold played a part. At least I hope so.

My plans now though are to rest for the next week, as my throat is still sore and I have a cough. My muscles hurt too, which may be a combo of the marathon and the cold. I will then enter a half marathon - Glasgow or Bristol. Then Loch Ness in October, which I will alter my training strategy for. I think I peaked too soon last time. I just don't know how to get a good time with minimal amount of training - I'm too busy in my daily life to run more than 3/4 days a week. If anyone has any insight, please do share!

Derek and I are going to Bridge of Orchy next Thursday, where he will cycle and I will run, so I am looking forward to that.

Here are some photos from Sunday.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Friday 21/5 - An update

Long time no post, I know. I have been exceptionally busy with studying, work and training. I have also come down with a bit of a cold which is annoying considering I have 2 days to recover before Sunday. Add to that, my heel has been hurting quite persistantly so I have really cut back on the runs until Sunday.

On the plus side, I have managed to raise a good amount for SVR this year...though my sponsorship form is in work somewhere so I don't really know exactly how much I've raised. I have today off to try and recover, though woke up this morning worrying about work which saw me awake at 7.10am being unable to get back to sleep despite my best efforts. At the end of the day though, whatever is happening at work really shouldn't have me waking up early worried on a day off, it's not that big a part of my life.

Ok, self healing...this is good.

Today I plan to relax and try to recover. If I feel up to it I may try for a gentle cross train at the gym later, just to ensure I keep up to speed with my fitness.

Here's the last few week's runs.

Tuesday 18/5

Time: 40mins
Distance: ~4.5miles

Heel was sore so went a gentle run around mugdock off road after work. Lovely and sunny!

Saturday 15/5 - Run to Beech Tree

Time: 1hr25mins
Distance: 9.35miles
Pace: 9.05min/mile

My traditional "penultimate long run before marathon" route...I ran round the estate here and then headed out along the WHW to the Beech Tree. Was a good day and the route wasn't too busy which was nice, though it was a bit overcast.

Friday 14/5

Type: Staircase (a new term!)
Time: 35mins
Distance: 3.85miles

I rejoined the gym as I was off today, so took the chance of being on the treadmill to do some speed sessions.

I jogged for 1k, 1k @ 5.30min/km, 1k@5.05min/km, 1k@4.35min/km + 1min @ 4min/km, all with quick jog recoveries then 1k cool down.

Was a really good session.

Tuesday 11/5

Time: 43mins
Distance: 5.4miles

Not sure what pace I ran this at, as it was a negative split. I did finish really strongly...I think it was the rice I had for lunch!!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Saturday 8/5 - Conic Hill-Beech Tree

Time: ~2hrs 30mins
Distance: 15.65miles
Pace: 9.35min/mile

I do realise that this run should have been a bit longer, but my heel has been giving me bother and to be honest I was knackered so was glad to finish when I did!!

Parents were doing another walk on WHW from Balmaha to Rowardennan and back so I hitched a ride with them to Balmaha and I headed the other way. Was really tired walking up Conic Hill but I did manage to keep a good solid walking pace and only stopped to blow my nose at the top before running onwards.

I met a boy pushing his bike up Conic hill and asked him how he was doing. He was doing the whole WHW (over several days I presume, this was 1pm after all!!) and had never done it before...I felt like giving him a tip for cycling it - don't cycle up or down Conic Hill!!! I don;t think it's even possible to cycle down the other side on a Saturday afternoon what with the steepness and all the walkers, but hey. I told him I'd cycled it before and good luck. He was dripping with sweat but still smiling!

A few mins later I saw the rest of his friends standing further down the hill debating continuing to push their bikes up!! I asked which way one was going so I could move to let him past and he replied, refreshingly honestly "either, they're both as hard as each other". Crazy.

I wonder how we'll feel at the end of our 1 day WHW cycle in July... !!

Felt good and stopped just before Drymen to chat to Derek on the phone and assess what exactly we were doing later. He has a chest infection and was going to cycle out to meet me but I advised him against it and he decided to just come and meet me at the Beech Tree.

The rest of the run was uneventful, despite the WHW being jam packed! So busy between Gartness and the Beech Tree, I was moving out the way so often for people I forgot to go into my usual "worst part of WHW" low as I normally do. I ran past the Beech Tree towards the cool part, and then turned left onto the main road and ran back towards the Beech Tree.

Derek drove along the main road and we had a coke/beer in the Inn. Sat outside which was lovely and chatted before driving home.

So, next week's run will be an 11-12miler and then it's the marathon. All in all I'm feeling good. Excited about the marathon but I'm REALLY going to start tapering now as my heel is sore and I want it ok for the 23rd. I am looking forward to lessening the long runs for a wee while too, as I can focus on my exams.

After 2nd June the exams will be done though, and what will I do then?!?! No exams, no Uni, no marathons...only work. It'll be the first time that's happened in AAaaaages!!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

5/5 - Midweek steady

Time: ~1hr
Distance: 6.9miles
Pace: ~8.40min/mile

A good after-work run through the woods and onto the path at the back of the training ground. I really like that path, it's fun to run along and really peaceful, despite being in the middle of 2 main roads. I really like the cows too! The reason I don't know my timing is that I stopped at one point to try and feed some cows which did take quite a while, though I don't really know how long.

Eating pasta or rice at lunch makes a big difference to how well I run after work, I'm sure of it. Don't get me wrong, getting up at 6.30am and sitting at a desk all day then running at 6pm is tiring, and I do sometimes worry how tired I'll be on the run. However, I notice that I have lots more energy if I eat well at lunch, especially towards the end of the run. Interesting...

Found some photos online of my dad and I from the half a few weeks ago:

I personally really like the one I have included in my layout (:

Monday, 3 May 2010

Monday 3/5

Type: Hill sprints
Time: ~55mins
Distance: ~5.5miles

1.4mile jog, 12x(20-30sec) hillsprints with jog recovery then 2.4mile jog.

Had a really relaxing day yesterday spending time with my mum and sister. Had a friend over last night and ended up staying up really late speaking to our other friends on the net, was great fun but I was tired today!

Got up late and did the work I needed to do before heading out this run. I ran towards the high school close by my house, hoping to get onto the track to do some sprints. It's being refurbished, however, and fencing meant I couldn't actually get onto the pitch or anything. So I ran to the field across the road and did some hill sprints on the grass.

It was quite good, really sunny which was lovely and far softer on the legs than hill sprints on pavement. Only problem, however, is that I really don't push myself on these hill sprints! I just kinda run until I'm tired and then jog back down! And by tired I mean REALLY tired though, so guess that's something!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Saturday 1/5 - An update

Well, got over my earlier negative thoughts and ended up running this afternoon. Got all my work done this morning and meandered around the village for a wee while. Then headed out early in the afternoon.

Time: 3hrs 05mins
Distance: 19.25miles
Pace: 9.35min/mile

Ran around the estate a bit and then headed out to Drymen. My parents had parked at Balmaha and walked to Drymen over Conic Hill. By the time I got to Drymen they were still on their way, so I ran to Balmaha and got the car and drove back.

All in all I had a good run, and finished really strong. Also felt good when I finished and was glad I went.

Saturday 1/5 - Some thoughts

Well, it's 9.30am and I'm sitting on my sofa after having purposely dragged myself out of bed to go a long run. The weather looks grim. It's not raining yet but it looks as though there's a 99% chance it will soon. Weather news says it will dry up this afternoon but remain cool.

Now, I'm sitting here debating whether to go or not. Point is, I am SO tired. I'm positively knackered even though i've had about 10 hours sleep. This past week has been such a blur. Been in work every day for the back of 7 and leaving at half four trying to build up some flexi. Had a dispute at work one day too, which took a lot out of me. Then an interview on Thursday which, between the interview itself and the drive to Edinburgh and back at rush hour, completely exhausted me. Then up again early yesterday to try and keep that flexi up so I could take yesterday afternoon off. Handed in a hard copy of my dissertation finally yesterday afternoon and managed to chat to some staff and friends at Strathclyde who I hadn't seen for ages. That was lovely. I then met another person at Strathclyde about a course I'm interested in studying...then literally bolted for the subway to the Doctors where I missed my appointment and had to wait until the end of the appointments to get one.

All in all it's been a fairly stressful week. In fact probably the most stressful in a while. Certainly a busy week. Last night I tried to relax but I have some write ups to do for my other job (they're staring at me menacingly as I sit here typing). I didn't get round to doing it and instead watched tv and had dinner with my dad. I ended up not going to sleep until about 11.30ish.

Now my previous post had said I was looking forward to being stress-free this weekend to do my final 20+ miler of the season. However, even just typing that is making me want to go back to bed. I still have 2 exams next month I'm sitting for my night classes. Eeek - scratch that, one is THIS month on the 27th. With the marathon on 23rd and the other exam on 2nd June, I feel like I should be focusing on the exams rather than the marathon right now. It's weird though, because throughout Uni I managed to strike an OK balance between training for the marathon and doing my exams. Now I am so tired I just don't want to run and would rather study. Plus I'm still getting pain in my Achilles tendon so this would be a good excuse to let it rest.

So I'm kinda stuck. I have only run once this week, a good 7.8 miler at a steady pace. But that's it. And this is supposed to be one of the "peak" training weeks. I fear if I don't run this weekend I will feel so guilty come Monday that I'll go out and do it anyway, but will feel guilty all weekend up to that point. So I won't sleep as well, and will just be tired. Plus I'd rather get the run done this morning so I can focus on study and play tomorrow and Monday.

Argh. If anyone else has ever felt this way please tell me. I feel I'm the only one. The few other people (ok, one other person) I know who run seem to want to do it all the time. He's joined a running club, Kilbarchan AAC and now he is really pushing himself to run well. I feel as though I'm stuck in a bit of a rut here. I am really looking forward to doing the marathon but have sort of lost enthusiasm for 20+ mile training runs, espeically in this weather. Perhaps it was "the fall" which uncovered that feeling in me, I don't know.

My running options really are to run out somewhere (which I like doing better than out and back) or to run out and back. My parents are walking Conic Hill today and Derek is away up to Ness for the weekend so I could work in my parent's plan to my own. Problem is they'd want me to pick them up from Balmaha, so I could only really run to Drymen to pick up the car. That means I'd need to do 8 miles min around about here first, and have that blo*dy the-most-boring-part-of-the-WHW between Beech tree and Gartness at about 16 miles. I'd be feeling a bit rubbish then anyway and that could be the end of the run if it's raining too.

Oh well, I feel better for having ranted about it. Guess I should get on with whatever I'm going to do so that I don't just sit here and waste time. Sigh.