Saturday, 28 April 2012

My Fling Disappointment

Well, I guess it's not actually a disappointment, more like a non-starter. I had been up in Inverness last weekend and decided to spend the week chilling out in Glasgow before the Fling. On Thursday I began to feel weird, was exhausted and dizzy. Yesterday I could feel a sore throat starting so used the Vicks first defence and it did go away into the day. I went to bed quite early last night but tossed and turned all night. When I eventually did get up at 4.30am my throat was really sore, along with a headache. It was quite a tough decision, as a few asprin may have sorted me out, but I thought about it and realised that there was no point in running for the sake of running. I wanted to enjoy it and I really didn't feel I had the energy to finish the 50miles, especially after barely sleeping. So, I have a heavy heart today but hopefully I made the right choice. I'm heading back down south tomorrow and am hoping I feel a bit better later so I could do a wee run over Conic Hill tomorrow with my friend. So looking ahead to the future I have one ultra and one marathon planned. I may also enter the GSR half. I was looking at the Strathearn marathon at the beginning of June, although I'm not sure what will happen with Uni yet so I'm probably safer to wait until closer the time before entering. Oh well, hope everybody running the Fling has a truly great day. It's certainly the weather for it.

Friday, 13 April 2012

My cycling weeks!

Thought I would write another update whilst I have the time, mainly to talk a little about the cycle which I did a week ago across Glen Affric. It was truly spectacular! Derek and I had been up in Inverness for the last part of the Easter week anyway, so our friends came up to join us on the Thursday and on the Friday morning we got the train to Beauly. From there we cycled on the road to the wee car park at the start of the glen. We were taking our time, the boys taking lots of photos with their new cameras. Luckily the weather held up and it actually got quite warm, despite there still being snow on the hills.

Once we got to the car park it was then off road for the next 15 or so miles. Started off ok, a little rocky but ended up getting quite rough. Had to stop and push the bike a few times. Luckily the sun was shining and we met another cyclist en route who ended up following our (not so wonderful) navigation skills to find the hostel.

The hostel is a wee shack basically, in the middle of nowhere.
Glen Affric Hostel Website

That night was their first night open since September of last year...and due to the snow they had no gas, so everything - hot water, cooking, heating - was to be done on gas stove. I alsmot didn't go because of this but it ended up being fine. Luckily the cyclists arrived first, about 6.30pm, followed by about 15 walkers. So I got the shower first ;D The lady in charge of the hostel couldn't have been nicer, and she sat playing board games with us as we had a few wee drams into the evening. It did get really cold during the night but overall I'd highly recommend the hostel. One day I'd like to run from Beauly to the hostel, stay over then continue to Kyle the next day. We'll see!

All in all Day 1 ended up being about 38 miles.

Day 2 my friend decided that we should do some real off road cycling, so we tramped across a bog for about 40minutes until we came across a really narrow muddy path which came and went. It seemed we climbed quite far, though slowly. We had a train to catch from Kyle of Lochalsh at 5pm so we were a bit worried about catching that too. Our worries were further provoked when the path winded down to very little, and headed up a huge mountain. We had climbed quite far up but getting to the top was really steep. A quick stop for lunch at the top and we headed down the other side. Views down into the valley were fantastic though. I am not great on a bike so didn't bike any of the narrow path with steep drops at the side (funnily enough!) so this section was basically about 10 miles and I pretty much hiked the whole way, hoisting the bike alongside. Once we got to the road at Invershiel we has about 1.5 hours to do the 15miles to Kyle. Sounds like a lot of time, I know, but it had started raining heavily and we had the mountain bikes, so not ideal for road cycling!

Needless to say we flew along as fast as we could and ended up making it to Kyle with plenty of time to spare. It's funny how the spin classes I've been going to really come into their own...I felt so strong at the end of this cycle, despite REALLY pushing that 15 miles on road to the station. My energy dipped so low at one point I had to stop, cram about 15 chewy sweets down my throat and continue....that really is physiology at its best...I was full of energy some 3/4 mins later!!

So day 2 was about 26 miles, 10 off road, 16 on road. Very hard too. I tried to plot this on mapmyrun but not a chance. I think there was about 500/600m of elevation which was tough.

Here are some pics from the trip...

The nicer off road part of day 1, just after the car park

Stopping for a snack!

Cycling uphill

Our hostel

The steep part of day 2...doesn't actually look that steep though, but it was!! I think I'm bossing the guys about ;)

On the descent

Overall a great trip which I would definitely do again. A good work out for my arms too - they were aching like crazy on Sunday!

Now, the plan is really to try and cool down before the Fling. I know my long runs haven't really been up to scratch, so I'm planning to just run the Fling to enjoy being at home on familiar ground. If I get under 12 hours, I'd be elated. If not, hey ho. Since 2/4/12, my workouts have been:

Wed 4/4: 6.8miles, 55mins - easy run to check my legs were ok after the 32miler.
Fri 6/4: 38mile on + off road cycle, Beauly-Glen Affric
Sat 7/4: 26mile on + off road cycle, Glen Affric-Kyle
Mon 9/4: 8.8miles, 1h25mins - easy run with my friend (who I cycled with)...both of us decided to cut the run short due to very heavy legs!!
Tues 10/4: Spin, 1 hour - tough resistance work
Thurs 12/4: Spin, 1hour - quite tough interval training

I was a wee bit shocked to see I've only done 3 runs in 12 days!! But a lot of cycling which I consider just as tough (if not tougher) cardiovascular exercise as running, without the impact. I'm planning on doing a long run tomorrow...easy 13-15miler on hills...then a few runs/spins next week including about 8 miles at the weekend. Luckily we are in Inverness for the weekend so can do a nice run out by Nairnside from Derek's parent's house.

I have been incredibly busy at Uni and working in the hospital these past few weeks and will be next I'm really looking at quality over quantity for the next 2 weeks. I want to start the Fling feeling as fresh as possible. That's the plan, anyway!!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Update - 02/04/12

Again, it's been a few months since my last post. What news? Well, I decided to enter the Fling. It's insane when I think about after last years race...driving back home in the car saying that I would not do it again...then a few months ago suddenly thinking "I really, really want to do this". Is that an addiction?? Whatever it is, it got me sending off my application form. My friend who I ran with last year is planning on doing it again too which is fantastic, as I don't think I could have gotten through it last year without him.

So in my training for the Fling I have done a few long runs where and when I can. I have found some long distance paths south of Cambridge - the Harcamlow Way and the Icknield way. These are drivable and are quite undulating, which is good. Plus they have some really nice scenery. This is the Icknield Way:

This website gives a nice review of parts of the Harcamlow Way, the areas where I run being from photos 1-18. The mounds are very interesting!
Harcamlow Way
The added advantage is that this route goes past Wimpole hall, which is a lovely place with cafes and shops:

My long runs then have been:
11/2/12: 15 miles, 2h10mins
20/2/12: 7.9miles, 55mins - easy but fast, just to get a run in.
25/2/12: 20miles, 3h20mins (in the snow so very tough!)
1/3/12: 8.1miles, ~1h (trying to do a fast 10miler but path wasn't long enough!)
6/3/12: 8.2miles, 1h 5mins - fast, hilly run.
10/3/12: 27.1miles, 4h 50mins - really hurt my shin half way through this, so finished strong but was terrified it was shin splints. Cleared up within a week though doing no running, was soooooo pleased!
24/3/12: 11.5miles, 1h35mins - lovely run in the sunshine.
1/4/12: ~32miles, ~6hours (incl. breaks) - run home to Balmaha and back to Beech Tree.

In between these runs I've been doing lots of spin and a few cycles. The spin classes last 1 hour and are soo hard. I do them once, sometimes twice a week and I hurt after the first few. I think I've got better as time has gone on though. It's tricky as there is a technique involved...keeping your upper body still whilst in 3 positions - sitting, "hovering" and standing is harder than you might think!! It's also a nice break from the impact of running. The wee scare with the shin made me terrified. I've done the anatomy of the whole body and it's crazy how fragile we actually are. I want to keep running for as long as I can, and I think at this stage I will be building my muscles well, which works in my favour...but I will also be doing my joints in. So taking a day or two a week doing low impact work is a nice peace of mind.

I also have a regular 6.75mile run which, though completely flat, is a really good test of how I'm feeling. On my "slow" days I do it in about 1hour. On my faster days I do it in 50 or so mins. It's a nice challenge as I don't really do 10k runs or anything.

Coming back to Scotland has been great too, as I've been getting used to the hills again. Even if I do do hilly routes down there, they just aren't the same as what it's like running here. My run on Sunday on Conic Hill was really great. Despite feeling a bit rubbish at the start, I kept well fuelled (egg sarnies and flapjacks!) and I actually felt a lot better towards the end. I had meant to go a bit farther but had arranged to be picked up from the Beech Tree and didn't want to keep anyone waiting for me. So I actually finished this run in about 6 hours which I thought was a good time considering I went up and down Conic Hill twice (although technically not the whole way into Balmaha)...the profile looked a bit like this:

I also met Silke on the route as I was running past Drymen, she was on her way back. I have never met her before, only spoken to her on the blog a few times so that was lovely. I was running part of the route with Derek and Alistair cycling. It's funny the number of comments we get from passers by...along the lines of "you chose the hard way!" with reference to me running.

I also meant to say about the run/cycle we all did at New Year. We ran across Rannoch Moor which was just fantastic. At one point a wee Robin came onto my hand to eat some seeds! And then on the way back at Inveroran there were so many deer...just at twilight they all came out and were trying to eat from our hands! It was amazing. I have photos but haven't been able to get them off my phone yet but will try and do so soon.

Anyway I have been typing this post for about 3 hours intermittently whilst watching a it probably makes no sense. I am trying to construct a spreadsheet of my runs as it's a lot easier to update (and keep safe!) than my written diary....

As usual, watch this space!