Thursday, 21 June 2018

YEAR 50 - THE FIRST HALF

On the run up to the big 5oh I have been just doing enough to keep my legs turning over. I decided months ago last years racing had taken its toll so would go easy on my body and let all the little niggles in my shoulder/hip/foot /achilles get a bit of respite and hopefully hit the new age category with everything finely tuned and ready to race. Well that plan was a great thought but when you want to run anyway and prefer racing to training a wee rejig was done and I came up with the a plan of easy during the week and a race a month just to keep a little competitive edge. No specific target of times is involved and all the races are more for enjoyment than competitiveness so less pressure and more fun all round. So as I haven't updated the blog for a while this is how it has all gone so far :

LOCH KATRINE MARATHON - MARCH 18TH

Keeping up my ever present here was a challenge as the weather gods conspired to snow me in at home but to much amazement the Trossachs were not as badly affected by the weather as the rest of the country and after battling through snowstorms we got to the start line.



This was one of the coldest races I have completed and the driving wind/snow at the far end of the loch was brutal but got it done albeit my slowest time on that route so far.

Credit to Audrey on another great festival of running with all three races being a great success again.

LONDON MARATHON - 22ND APRIL

A mere 5 weeks later and a total contrast in conditions brought us the warmest London Marathon for several years. Sadly this was to be my first ever marathon DNF with a bizarre dodgy gut feeling from about Cutty Sark I had to stop running at Tower Bridge and take the underground back to the finish. A strange feeling arriving at the Mall from the opposite end to pick up your drop bag but I wasn't alone as the heat took its toll on many a runner that day. Michael, Rob and Alex did finish although none of them looked as if they had enjoyed it much, I on the other hand was feeling rather perky after only doing a half then getting a pint of lager to cure the pain.



GLEN LYON TRAIL RACE -  6TH MAY

Initially this was meant to be a recovery race after London but seeing as I had only ran a London half my legs were rather fresh so expected a decent paced run. Never having seen the route it was a whole new experience and one I rather enjoyed with several river crossings and an undulating and windy route. Never expecting to podium I moved from fourth place at 5 miles to 2nd with about 3 miles to go, I say about as the advertised distance was 14.5 miles but it actually is 15.5 miles. After moving up to 2nd place I just kept the pace even as I just could not see the leader but as I came round a bend I spied him up ahead maybe about 2 minutes ahead, at which point I booted a rock and did my best impression of Ronaldo in the penalty box. It hurt, it hurt a lot and the blood streaming from my knee, shoulder, forearm and forehead indicated I had maybe taken a little dunt. Undettered I plodded on and reeled in the leader who glanced at me as I acknowledged him whilst passing and he had a look of 'look at the state of him'. The dam crossing before the finish is a long way when you are unsure how far behind the guy chasing you is but at halfway I glanced round and he was not at the dam yet so knew I could ease off then. Crossing the finish line the full extent of hurt kicked in and the BAM medical team of Ruth, Alice and Monica got me patched up. An unexpected race win and thoroughly enjoyable race altogether.





MONKLANDS HALF MARATHON - 13TH MAY

The closest race I can find near my home and one I try and do every year. This race is slowly growing in entrants every year under the stewardship of NL Leisure. Michael was over for a few days and had entered too as well as wee sis. Not the flattest course and with the same loop twice you know after the 1st circuit you have another climb coming 5 miles later. A rather fresh running John Duffy had passed me on loop one and I had been reeling him back in until the climb on the second lap Marie McChord shouted encouragement which let John know I was closing and he got a second wind and wasn't for letting me catch him. Another race done and perfect leg stretcher for the upcoming Edinburgh Marathon.


EDINBURGH MARATHON - 27TH MAY

In an attempt to redeem myself after the DNF in London I secured a late GFA for Edinburgh and going by the last few weeks running would be in not too bad shape for a sub 3 attempt, only issue with Edinburgh is it can be a bit windy enroute. It was an early rise as wee sis was doing the half with Holly and a couple of her mates and that was starting at 8am with the marathon not starting till 10am.
The expected heatwave had not materialised and Edinburgh was shrouded in fog or as they call it over there *haar*. The start of the race has been changed to take in the sights in Edinburgh but unfortunately they were all shrouded in the aforementiond haar. It was rather chilly but great running temperature with a gentle headwind on the way out which was ideal as it meant after the turning point a tailwind blew us back to Musselburgh. The splits were even and I came in on 2:58:44 , delighted with another sub 3 and happy to have laid the dnf to rest.

STRATHEARN MARATHON - 10TH JUNE

Perhaps a little early to be doing another marathon but headed off to this one with Rob Soutar with little more than an expectation of finishing pain free but with heavy legs I knew a bit of effort was required. 8 miles uphill and then 3 down to recover before another brutal climb and a long slow 13 mile slog to the finish. My pain doesn't create a pretty picture but the setting and route for this race is simply stunning. Well marshaled throughout apart from one little problem at 24 miles where 2 runners went past a turning and had to double back. I was passed several times by Ruth Howie (in her car) who kept reminding me not to fall over like Loch Lyon. The race was a close finish for 1,2,3 all coming in between 2:52 and 2:53. Rob had a great day coming in 3rd. I sauntered home in 3:07.


A fair few races with a mix of terrain and distance, all good training in the long run and lots of fun had throughout. Looking forward to the next few months and a stab at the Vet 50 category.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

MR25 ULTRAMARATHON 30/12/2017



A little ultramarathon to round the year off nicely was the thinking, only drawback was it was in Singapore and as near as dam it on the equator. How to train for 90f (32F) and almost 100% humidity during a Scottish winter was not the only problem I was going to have to overcome as there was also  the undulating course of tree roots and rocks and the odd monkey, lizard or snake. The Macritchie Runners race is an annual event, a 12 hour race from 7am to 7pm around the Macritchie reservoir consisting of a 10.5km out and back loop.Only full laps count so you need to be sure when setting off on your last lap you will complete it. There is a complete loop of the reservoir but the local authority and golf club have blocked the sensible route to races.


We had a great week pre-race celebrating Christmas with Michael, Janet and the girls allowing me to carbo load and get a few runs in to aclimatise culminating in the customary steak and chips washed down with lager race eve meal.

As the reservoir is 5 minutes from Michaels house there were no logistical issues and we headed over to the start ready to run, setting our table out near the start line. I hadn't even started and sweat was streaming off of me.

Pre race photo
Looking at previous results the sensible approach was to run a lap in around about an hour and see how it felt but as there are not many who have won with over 10 laps that was an indication as to the degree of difficulty ahead. Laps one and two were uneventful and on lap 3 Michael pushed ahead but I was quite happy to plod on at my own steady pace, already starting to feel the heat and humidity drain me.




Just before the forest exit on the 3rd lap at the top of a climb I could see a body sprawled across the trail, Michael had booted a rock and taken a tumble hitting his head on the floor and taking a blow to his shoulder and hip. He was a bit dazed and had to be lifted upright, after assessing him I got him moving again although rather gingerly and we finished lap 3 together with him stopping to get cleaned up and see what the damage was.


As it turned out he managed to get moving again but took another tumble on his 5th lap and decided to call it quits before he done any more damage. Finishing 5 laps also meant a finisher t-shirt and medal for the ultra distance of 50km. My race carried on with relentless sweating in the sticky hot conditions. I was drinking 1.5 litres of fluid every lap now just to stay hydrated which consisted of 500ml Tailwind mix and 1 litre of water and at the turnaround was having slices of orange and watermelon. I had made up small soft rolls with ham on them but only consumed one for the whole race.

The support throughout the race from the MR25 family throughout the race was brilliant from the guys at the start/finish to the photographers and the younger members at the turnaround point in the forest offering all sorts of food from Oreos to bananas and even bags of tea with straws attached.







On lap 7 I had decided I had had enough and decided to stop when I got to start/finish line and sat down to relax and recuperate but Auntie Evelyn came over and told me I was in 4th place and suggested I should maybe at least give another lap a try and did I need anything to help to which I replied 'beer'. In an instant I was handed a can of lager which was promptly drank and off I went on my merry way. Now normally I wouldn't have thought of this as rehydrating during a race moreso afterwards but that alcoholic beverage saw me through one of the best laps I ran all day.

Evelyn and Cassandra (alcohol providers)

I returned from lap 8 just under in 10 hours and having the benefit of seeing how far 1st, 2nd and 3rd were in front of me on my final return decided that as only one more lap was possible and I couldn't catch them it was time to stop. I had also mentally calculated 5th place could only finish 8 laps and as I had already finished my final position wouldn't alter and this proved to be correct.

laps8
Time09:52:08
Distance84 km
Fastest01:01:56
Slowest01:26:05
Average01:14:02

Looking for a volunteer to take off my socks

Literally finished



1-5 in the male race



Many thanks to everyone at MR25 for the support throughout the race, a truly memorable experience and one I thoroughly recommend to anyone interested in running in an oven.

MR25 Ulramarathon 2017 Results

Photos: Various MR25 volunteers

Sunday, 12 November 2017

GLEN OGLE ULTRA 7 NOT OUT

When I ran my first GO33 I didn't have it on my mind that I would want to run this race every year but as the race has grown it is hard not to fill in the details on Entry Central and get my name on the start list and now I have come so far I cannot stop now. So 7th edition 7th start.

For those unfamiliar with the GO33 it initially started in Strathyre in the forest taking you up to Killin looping the forest and back down to Strathre with the bouncy bridge at the finish line but after severe flooding a few years ago the start had to be hastily changed and the new format developed. In my view the original format led to faster finish times but I could be wrong and maybe age is now catching up on my wee legs leading to me slowing down.

The race has grown from about 150 starters to almost 500 now, a true testament to how highly rated and appreciated this race is to newbie ultra runners and seasoned campaigners alike. For a debut ultra this race is ideal with a real mix of terrains and the distance being *only* 33 miles a great baptism to get the feel of running further.



My race this year was not planned to be fast, just time on feet a evenly paced as it is in the middle of 12 hour race training but it turned out a little painful with a bizarre episode of cramp in my calf muscles which I can only put down to a lack of hydration in the first half, something I am quite guilty of with only viewing the race as a marathon with a 10k stitched on at the end. Still at least I understand what went wrong and will pay attention to it and sort it next time out.

Road section to Strathyre


Another great BAM event and it was great to catch up with all the lovely marshalls and stewards. I reckon with the stops for hugs and greetings 5 minutes could be chopped of the running time but where would the fun be if that got missed out.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

ENTERING MY 50th YEAR

So the countdown to my 50th birthday has begun and I have put in place a few targets for the next 364 days, one of which is basically to stay fit, uninjured and able to hit a new age group able to compete at the higher end of the competition. This will involve a bit of sensible racing and training so I am working on a plan which involves less to no ultras and a few more marathons.

I recently tallied up how many marathons I have ran and this coupled with ultras gave me a current tally of 72 so looked in to joining the 100 Marathon Club. If you have completed more than 50 (ultras count as 1 marathon only irrespective of distance) you gain Associate membership as you work towards the 100. So I submitted my excel spreadsheet of races and passed the vetting process and am now going to concentrate on building to the 100 and earning the vest.

100 MARATHON CLUB

Marathon and Ultra History

Thankfully my running career doesn't date back too long and Power of 10 is a great resource for storing runners details so I think I have remembered all the races I have done but there could be the odd one missing, as can be seen from the bottom of the list with ones I forgot.

I have two races left to go this year, Glen Ogle 33 on Saturday 4th November which will be my seventh there and keeping me ever present at that event and the to finish off the year I will be pushing my body to a bit of an extreme as I have entered the MR25 12 Hour Ultra in Singapore on the 30th December. Running for 12 hours isn't the hard bit, keeping hydrated and not overheating will be the tricky bit for me but hopefully I can go and give it a good run.

MR25 ULTRAMARATHON

The first 2 days of the countdown involved two races, the first the National Cross Country Relays at Cumbernauld on Saturday 28th October and then the Antonine Trail Race half marathon on Sunday.
I wont bore you with all the details but it is a true multi terrain workout and a great end of season gathering, superbly organised and marshalled. The route has everything to test you from over 1200ft of climbing to tarmac and muddy bog.

Full race report here from James Stewart RD : Antonine Trail Race report/results


Friday, 18 August 2017

CLYDE STRIDE RELAY- DEVILS-VETS 10K

                     CLYDE STRIDE RELAY - DEVIL O THE HIGHLANDS - VETS 10K




Being only a few weeks after the West Highland Way Race and me making a balls up of getting the day off work, I passed the handling of the JGS relay team for the Clyde Stride to my brother Chris with me hurrying from work to run the last leg. We weren't expecting to podium this year but would not be far away as long as nobody got lost. Des McKeown took the first leg as he hadn't reccied leg two and didn't want to incur the wrath of the team by getting lost in some Cambuslang field or Blantyre housing estate passing on to Chris who was familiar with the route. Chris had had his usual 10 days pre run training in Ibiza so was not at his 'race weight' should we say but sometimes a slow leg is better than a tour of everywhere but the correct route. Chris passed on to Colin McNair at Strathclyde Park and I am not sure what position we were in at this point but Colin ran a belter of a leg to hand over to me in 5th place at Mauldslie Bridge after my mad dash from work. We were now in 5th place with an East Kilbride and Maryhill Harriers team closest to catch in 4th and 3rd.

Mauldslie handover
I knew I had my work cut out as both teams ahead had a good lead but I caught the 4th place EK within about 2 miles so now one to go for a podium. I wasn't holding out much hope but as I neared Kirkfieldbank a blue top appeared around a bend and I put the boot down and didn't give him any chance of latching on to me as I passed him. The finish for the Stride is in a stunning location and the descent down in to the village is a great view, just a pity you know you have the joy of another mile after you spy the finish line. I think I surprised the lads as I came through the gate and descended the stairs to the finish line to receive my hug from Lee. 3rd place secured and I was burst.

Me with 3 Olympians!!!!

Trophy presented by RD Lee.


Next up was the Devil o The Highlands 42 mile race, the final race in the *unofficial* Triple Crown. Only 6 weeks previously I had vowed to never ever f*c**ng come back here I was set to run on part of the course again, albeit the MOTORWAY SECTION. I had only entered as a friend was meant to come over from the USA and my plan was to run with him but a couple of weeks before the race he messaged to say he was having to withdraw. As I had secured a ballot place and was somewhat fit (although not totally recovered from the WHW) I worked on the principal that I needed to run as it was downright rude not too as many others had been unlucky not to get a slot. So Linda and the wee dude decided to come with me and make good use of the hotel booking whilst I went for a run. I promised Andrew we would stop and talk to the deer at Kingshouse Hotel as he didn't believe me they just wandered about the car park.


Scaring off the deer
Due to an accident in Fort William we were delayed arriving on the Friday night and didn't get dinner till well after 9pm which I was a bit worried about with the early rise and 6am start, but it just meant I just needed less breakfast. Getting out of bed at 3am and forcing food in to your body is not an easy task but I consumed as much as I could and sauntered round for the bus to Tyndrum from the Fort William bus station. Registration done and a toilet visit complete I caught up with training partner Mark Ashby and had a blether about the race and tactics, the outcome of which was he was seriously hurting after the Clyde Stride and I should have stayed at home and put my feet up and recovered further. So the tactics were try and finish and at all costs don't get injured attempting to finish.

Mark wondering where his buff got too!!!! Photo by Monument Photos
I caught up with Robert Turner and Davie Gow on the start line and that was as close as I got to them all day, although Robert unfortunately pulled out at Kinlochleven I think. West Highland Way and Fling winner Rob Sinclair was also there and he just disappeared like he was running a 10k. The race was quite uneventful and mostly run on my own after pulling ahead of Norrie McNeill on the climb up on to Rannoch Moor. For some reason both my calfs started pinging away with cramp warnings on the climb over the Devils Staircase and refused to go away for the remainder of the race, totally bizarre as I was well hydrated although maybe just a sign that the legs are still in recovery mode.

Top of the Staircase : Photo by Fiona Rennie

The new race finish is certainly a bit tougher than the mile along the road but a great setting to finish on the park with the tented village set up. I crossed the line in 6:43:19 a bit slower than expected but a finish and no damage done. Mark came in 7:37:57  and just happy to finish. Surprisingly though at the prizegiving I had won 3rd in the Scottish Athletics Ultra Trail Championships and Mark was 1st Vet50 in the race.

Photo by Stuart McFarlane




Not much I could add all the great comments online, the organisation for this event is superb. John, Noanie and team put on a wonderful event, many thanks to everyone from start to finish who help out at this race.

It is only a 10km race and it is the Vets, how difficult could it be!!! Well it hurt, it hurt a lot but it was at least a return to short and sharp. Michael was staying with me for a few days and persuaded myself and Kate that we would enjoy a wee run in Pollock Park.


Not much I can say but it was 3 loops with a couple of climbs each time and it hurt. 38mins 20secs of pain but it was a return to road racing and my first 10k in 3 years so it is a start. Michael was about a minute behind but he had won 1st old guy at the Haddington Half the day before so can be excused an easy run. Kate cruised around and cursed us both at the end for persuading her to run but we both think she really really enjoyed it.

Loch Ness Marathon training now, back to solid ground for a while.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

WEST HIGHLAND WAY RACE 2017

After 7 months of training the WHW weekend had arrived, 96 miles with 15000ft of elevation to negotiate to collect goblet number three. Race prep had been structured well and my race crew of Mark and Duncan from the last two attempts were alongside me again to assist me along the way. We had also been given a big boys toy car for the weekend for the lads to have fun with courtesy of Evans Halshaw.



Having struggled a little in the last few months with a sore left foot and an on and off hip niggle I knew my ultimate goal of an 18 hour finish was going to be a big ask but I wrote the plan for that with other contingencies if I was off the pace. On Thursday I had a tight right hamstring but I just put it down to resting with only a few miles ran in the week leading up to the start but come 1am on Saturday morning standing on the start line I was still massaging and stretching it to get it loosened. I said to Mark it would probably ease of after a few miles but it turned out it was 41 miles at Beinglas till it eased off and then I suspect the damage for compensating had been done and now the plan had been ripped up and just finishing was the new target.

At Auchtertyre Farm I was 1.5kg under my starting weight and realised I hadn't been drinking enough so had a mullerrice and a bottle of water here and asked the lads to meet me again at Tyndrum for another snack and juice.

Photo by Chuck Gordon at Tyndrum
The blue skies at Tyndrum were to be the last I would observe for the rest of the race as the weather decided to take a turn for the worse. As I approached the last climb on Rannoch Moor a topless *male* relay runner came past me asking how far to Glencoe and I replied it was about 2 miles from where we were, 1 mile to the top of the climb and 1 mile downhill. I thought to myself he must have been feeling the heat and in all fairness it was actually great running weather but just as I got to the top of the climb a rather ominous breeze hit me and then I got drenched with hailstones and rain. This had an amazing effect on me as the cold took an instant hold and I felt my body start to slow right down. By the time I got to the checkpoint I was shivering and honestly didn't know where I was.

It is at this point a good crew are worth their weight in gold and Mark and Duncan got me straight in the motor, gear changed and thoroughly heated up. Mark even disappeared for a few minutes and came back with a half litre of milky hot coffee which went down a treat. As I set off again the first thoughts of a DNF set in. The lads stopped at Kingshouse to double check I was fine but I was shivering so they made me sit in the motor again till this wore off. Although I lost about 40 minutes here it was the best thing to do and after exiting Kingshouse I had a great shift over the Devils Staircase and down in to Kinlochleven and the final checkpoint. Final weigh in and I was good to go, although had to change pack here as it was now mandatory full waterproof kit.

The climb up on to Lairig Moor was as quick as I have ever done but the joy of that was to be short lived as once up there it was absolutely howling. Head first into a the wind and driving rain there was nothing for it head down and move. There was hardly a part for the next 6 miles where you were not going through water so much so my toes began to feel freezing. At this point when every bit of me was soaked and even my sealskin waterproof gloves were squelching my mind began to wander and a funny thought came to me which I just couldn't stop thinking about * *what good will that foil blanket do me now** I just laughed out loud, f**k the blanket the only thing saving me now will be speed as I cannot afford to get any colder. I just legged it as fast as possible to get to Lundavra, meet the crew and change gear. I didn't pause my watch here as I was just letting it go from start to finish but I am going to try and calculate my final split without the stop in the vehicle again as I did cover the final section quickly when actually moving.

Lundavra to the finish was rather uneventful, although I was pleased they have altered the descent to the small wooden bridge in the forest section as I have slipped down that a few times. My last 3 miles were the fastest of the day so still had something left in the old legs. Finish time at the Leisure Centre was 21hrs 10minutes, slower than expected but a finish nonetheless.

That one was for you DAD.

WHW RACE - Strava details




That is 3 starts and 3 finishes so think I will let it rest at that for a while and try and get some speed back in my legs.

Many thanks to to Mark and Duncan for sterling support throughout, without them I would have been out at Glencoe. To James Stewart and Rob Soutar, cheers guys your support has been immense.

To Ian/Sean/Adrian/John and the cast of hundreds of marshalls on the WHW crew thank your for putting on another great race.

To my long suffering wife and son thanks for putting up with my falling asleep at 6pm on a Sunday evening after getting up at 4:30am on my Sunday days off to get my long training runs in, you will be rewarded with a holiday which may or may not involve a race!!!!


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

WHW TAPER TIME

So six months of all out training and the taper has begun towards next weekends 2017 'A' Race, the West Highland Way Race. It has been a quick 6 months and I cannot say I have enjoyed it all, in fact it just shows how precious life is and how we should all get out there and live for the moment as life is such a cruel thing at time.

In my last blog I reported how a great friend and long time running mentor had died suddenly and how I was wearing my old club vest in his memory for the rest of the year. Well it turned out I was going to get hit with another shock when on the 27th March my dad died suddenly. To say this was a shock would be an understatement as there had been no indication of any problems and he was actually active till the end, so much so that it was on a group ride with friends out on his road bike he had a heart attack which took him instantly. He was half way up the Crow Road climbing the Campsie Fells at the time and the only positive thought I could put on it at the time was at least he was doing something he enjoyed and he suffered no pain.




It is times like that when friends rally round and the support we all received was tremendous and I would like to say a big thanks everyone who contacted me with kind wishes and thoughts. On the Sunday after my dads death we had arranged a group run and Alex Potter mentioned a song that had touched him in similar circumstances and when I got home he had sent it to me on itunes so I thought I would share it with you all as if I am crying you all may as well join in.





Training continued on and my appetite for running slowly filtered back and with the support of Michael, Rob, Alex , Mark and James I now think I am as fit as I should be for the race so hopefully I can do myself justice with a great WHW race and I suppose I don't need to say it but 'this one is for you dad'.