(It was pointed out to me today that I had omitted a very important link). ;-)
Monday, 30 June 2008
My wife Muriel has written up her account of my race. I've added a permenant link at the side but you can go directly from here
Friday, 27 June 2008
I hope you all like the new picture. I took it with my mobile phone whilst running the race. I shudder to think how much time I wasted taking photos and how easily it might have pushed me beyond 23 hours! Anyhow, I'm quite pleased with the result and I think it captures a little of the beauty that the bog cotton brought to Rannoch Moor.
Getting back to the race, firstly equipment (starting from the top).
I had to rush out and buy a new head torch the day before the race as I just couldn't lay my hands on my nice Princeton Apex head torch. It had served me very well during my mid-winter WHW run and I was in a panic about losing it. I went out to my local Blacks of Greenock and bought their most expensive Petzl tikka torch, the XP. This only uses 3 AAA batteries as opposed to the Princeton's 4 AA but I wasn't after a huge battery life, I just wanted a decent light. I had no chance to test it pre-race (as I kept hoping that my old one would turn up and I would be able to return the new one) but I needn't have worried, it was brilliant. Light and bright with a good "flood" diffuser. If I had a complaint, it would be that the two buttons are a little hard to work with cold fingers. I'd highly recommend it though. It provided plenty of light for running and navigating through the forest above Glen Nevis.
I use soft daily disposables *very* occasionally. When I say "daily", that's what it says on the packet. I reuse the same pair many many times. ;-) Despite being only an occasional wearer, I had no trouble wearing my lenses for the full duration of the race and a few hours besides. Again, if you're a spectacle wearer and you've not tried them, I'd recommend giving them a go.
Gotta be a buff, hasn't it? ;-) So versatile and comforting when things get a bit cool. My buff had to become headwear after Rowadennan to stop the midges biting my ears. A real godsend.
I bought a Salomon X-Static technical top that I wore throughout the race. I bought it because I has a high neckline (useful to reduce abrasion from hydration pack straps), short sleeves and a short zip. I found it really comfortable and the only change I made throughout the race was to put a long sleeve top on over the top of it towards the end. The best thing though was that I've usually suffered abrasions around my waist from my bottle belt on long runs but with this shirt material, I had no abrasions whatsoever. Of course the dry weather may have been a factor.
A cheapie bought from Millets (a "Storm Shield" pack). It's sold with numerous different names but the basic pack is the same. The original bladder died on mine years ago and got replace with a Camelbac one. As a rucksack, it's been really comfortable and I see no need to change it.
A Hilly Classic bottle belt. Mine came with a 400ml wide necked bottle that was easy to fill and more than adequate in size for a race where you're getting supplies along the way. The two pockets are just big enough for a very lightweight jacket and overtrousers. Again, wouldn't bother to change it next time.
Shorts (half tights)
I've been using Skins in training and the knee length ones have been very comfortable with no tendency to slip down at the crutch (unlike the full length ones). I wore the same pair throughout the race (although I changed my underwear in Kinlochleven) and was pleased to have no abrasions post race. None of the usual screaming in the shower.
;-) Whether it was down to better training (likely) or some help from the Skins (possible), my quads felt fine throughout the race. I had no problems running down the forest road at the end, a time when shot quads are usually screaming out.
Innov8 Smartwool Deris Socks. Just brilliant. No gravel in my shoes, comfortable throughout and not even a teeny blister. I was worried about the durability of the rubber bands that pass under the shoe but they held up well in several training runs. During the race, the first band broke at about Kings House, the second one after Kinlochleven. Despite this, they still functioned well at keeping the gravel out. Given that they weren't pristine pre-race, I can live with that. Better still, I phoned Innov8 and for the princely sum of £3.50, they posted out 3 new pairs of rubber bands. They're supposed to be available in the shops (for 50p a pair) but few shops seem to stock them. When the socks wear out, I'll just snip them off the gaiter and use ordinary socks so at £15 a pair, I reckon they're great value for what you get.
I've been training in Innov8 Roclite 295s, not so much for their light weight but because the shape suits my foot much better that the 315s. I found them just fine in the Fling so was happy to wear them for the WHW. Again, up to Tyndrum and perhaps up to Kings House, I had no problem but my feet became increasingly tender after this and I felt I needed more cushioning. At KLL I changed into some old road shoes (my "old faithful" Asics Gel Landreth shoes) and my feet felt better for it. I'd probably use them again for the first half of the race but change inot road shoes at Tyndrum in future. I had no problems with my feet swelling and my sandals went unworn post-race.
I tried Vodaphone this year to see if the coverage was any better. As you might expect, I wasn't spending my time watching the signal strength so I don't know anything for sure. It *did* seem to have plenty of signal across Rannoch Moor which is where I've had trouble with Orange and O2. Still seemed poor above Crianlarich. Seems there's no one network that will work everywhere. What I did enjoy was (being an antisocial miserable bugger) the fact that only Dario, my wife and support runner knew my number. In the past I've come to really hate dealing with calls & texts when I'm running. I made sure that my support knew that I *didn't* want any unnecessary calls. Call me a miserable git if you like but I was a lot happier running without having to deal with calls and texts.
Skin-so-soft may have an effect but I believe that it's anti-midge reputation was built on the "Woodland Fresh" scented variety, which isn't the one you see in most shops. I stuck with DEET. ;-) The other thing I did that really seemed to help when we visited the Everglades in Florida a few years ago, was to have Selenium tablets (which contain yeast) for a week pre-race. This doesn't stop you getting bitten but does seem to dramatically reduce the pain and itching. I had no visible bites post race.
You know, I don't think I'd change anything very much. My 200 miles a month in 2008 seemed to work pretty well, concentrating on a lot of LSD and not too much speedwork. I think doing the odd hill race pre WHW helped quite a lot too, particularly the Carnethy 5 which really seemed to "kick start" my legs. I'd perhaps make more of an effort to do the full back to back long runs with JK et al as I think more miles on the trail can't hurt too much and would have given me more opportunity to fine tune my hydration and nutrition in as near race conditions as possible. I'd definitely do the Highland Fling race again (already entered for next year). I was worried before it that it might just be "too much" before the WHW race but I really enjoyed the race and my legs recovered well from it.
Still got some work to do on hydration and nutrition. I definitely felt that my pace suffered at times not from under-training but from swinging nutrition levels. I wasted too much time this year experimenting with "self sufficiency", which would be useful should I decide to run the WHW unsupported but not a good strategy when one has got a support crew. It definitely involves compromising you nutrition in favour of portability over quality.
Nutrition & Hydration
These two are, I think, absolutely key to doing well in this race and I know I've got some work to do. I thought I'd crave chocolate milk more than I and only drank one during the race. Small tubs of fruit salad were a hit and I knocked back quite a few of these. Had a couple of Muller Rices as well but I found during the race that I felt a bit intimidated by the size of them. "Little and often" seems to be the order of the day. I enjoyed half a baked potato at Auchtertyre and would have potato again. I might also experiment with John's baked beans. Maybe that's where all the wind came from after KLL? ;-) I think I'll have to work up to them though as I've never been wowed by the thought of cold beans. Still, if running like JK means eating like JK, I'm prepared to give it a go. ;-)
Fluidwise, I keep using a mix of water and probably Lucozade Sport with Caffeine boost. I don't know if it was *just* the Lucozade and caffeine that gave me the boost after KLL and it may just have been enough calories getting absorbed at the right time.
I did use some "Succeed" electrolyte capsules which I've had no trouble with. Unfortunately, the packaging is poor and my ziplock bag burst and then the capsules popped. :-(. Fortunately, I also had some Nuun tablets that you add to water. reasonably palatable but incline to leave a residual flavour in your water bottle which can be annoying. I think I'm going to harass the makers of "Succeed" into improving their packaging. They aim their product at runners and then only supply it on big bottles of capsules that you have to transfer to something else. Far better if they were in a bubble pack strip or in tablet form rather than capsule.
Golly, I think that's enough for now. ;-)....................
...............back again, now where was I?
Ah yes, SUPPORT! Where would we be without them?
I use a "one crew" support system. One car, one driver, one runner for the whole shebang.
I make a point of NOT stopping before Balmaha to give my crew a chance to rest and I'm really not sure why anyone would want to see their support crew sooner. I mean, if you can't run the 19 odd miles to Balmaha unsupported you shouldn't be starting! It really doesn't mean carrying much more. Being at night means that insensible losses tend to be low so you really don't need to carry much fluid for that distance (and there are always camelbac etc. if you want to carry a lot.
I try to phone ahead to give my crew some idea of what I want. I think it's a bit unfair to surprise them or expect them to be hopping from foot to foot in anticipation of your arrival. You're going to need them for a long time. No point in wearing them out with nervous exhaustion any more than necessary.
I was happy to have my support runner with me from Kingshouse onwards. I don't expect or want them to run in and out of checkpoints with me. I appreciate that it depends on a lot of factors but I feel having a support runner too early is not quite cricket. They're certainly not there to carry any of your kit! They're there for your safety, not to pace you to a faster time whether you're in the top 10 or the bottom 10. If you're injured or really struggling for other reasons, fair enough. I rather suspect that pacing and muling (carrying kit) happened on occasions is this year's race. Probably through ignorance rather than any intention to bend the rules.
Sorry, I digress. Getting on a hobby horse. ;-) Back to support.
I think something that my wife would do differently next year is keep more hot water in thermos flasks. We have a good stove but it still takes a little time and if I change my mind about wanting coffee and want a cupasoup instead, having hot water rather than coffee made up makes things simpler.
Another thing we found handy from the support point of view was for my wife to have two phones on different networks. At one point I couldn't contact her on O2 but could on Orange. If you have a spare handset it's easy enough to pick up a PAYG sim and you never know when it might come in useful. Of course it would have been handy if I'd had two phones but there are limits to how much clutter I'm prepared to carry. ;-)
Other than that, I don't think I'll change anything about my support for next year.
Monday, 23 June 2008
In the last few days before the race I had a panic attack when I realised that I couldn't find my trusty head torch that had seen me through my Way Highland West run in 2006. Despite turning the house upside down several times I just couldn't find it before the race and had to buy a new one on Thursday. As it turned out, the replacement one (a Petzl Tika XP) turned out to be an excellent little piece of kit, the only downside being rather small buttons that are a bit hard to feel with cold fingers!
Before leaving home, I had this picture taken which provides and interesting contrast to the one taken at the end. A bit scary huh? ;-)
As you can probably tell from the after photograph, I was more than a bit pleased. ;-) I hadn't just gone sub 24 but had manage to go sub-23 with a full minute and 8 seconds in hand!
Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. Back to the beginning. It was the first time I'd heard the pre-race briefing in the church hall which made a huge difference, I could actually hear it! The one downside of using the hall is that there isn't really room for all the support crews and I think some of them need a bit of pre-race instruction.
I personally feel that some runners are jeopardising the future of the race by having far too large a support team. Parking is at a premium up the WHW and no runner should need more than one vehicle or one runner supporting them at any time during the race. Whilst I accept that bigger vehicles are nice to have, on many parts of the WHW, there just isn't space for big motorhomes! That doesn't mean that runners can't have two teams of support crew to spread the load but having more than one support vehicle occupying precious parking space at a support point is just selfish in my opinion. Some runners had so much support that it could be construed as pacing and muling (carrying a runner's load for them), practices that I consider "unsporting" at the very least. I certainly saw runners being accompanied from Tyndrum carrying nothing at all (not even a water bottle) and I think this breaks the spirit of the race rules if not the letter.
Enough of that, time for my report
Milngavie to Balmaha
"Start slow and speed up later". How many times have I told folk that? Is that what I did? Nope. ;-) I'm an absolute sucker for getting dragged along by a group and as this first stretch never feels like the *real* WHW to me, I'm always keen to get it over with as soon as possible. The pace felt easy but I reached Drymen in 1:55 which was faster than I'd intended and it was only as I climbed Conic Hill and Murdo passed me, that I began to appreciate just how much too fast I might have set off. Still, it had been a glorious night for running with a near full moon, mist over the lochs at Carbeth and beautifully cool and windless. When I say "cool" I actually mean "near freezing". The car thermometer dropped to 3c on the way over to Balmaha and I swear I saw some ice near the top of the hill. I had a lightweight windproof top on though and didn't really suffer apart from slightly chilly fingers. What I did suffer from was an inconvenient call of nature and a surfeit of hill walkers at 4 in the morning! I *think* I was just about decent when they came around the bend up the hill. I think I reached Drymen in 3:14 and stopped briefly for some chocolate milk before heading off at 3:19. I was feeling pretty good but my tummy was bothering me.
Balmaha to RowardennanThings weren't right in the Downie guts department and I had to stop twice before Rowardennan to desecrate the countryside. One one occasion, I was forced to stop running and walk, or should I say "mince" with tightly clenched buttocks until I reached a suitable site. Not fun at all! My legs seemed to get heavier and achier as I neared Rowardennan and by the time I reached there, I was seriously beginning to doubt whether I wanted to carry on. Every step was hurting and the though of doing another 60 miles at that point was almost overwhelming. Rowardennan seems to be a real "make or break" point for lots of runners and I think the knowledge of what lies ahead weighs most heavily on you at that point.
Rowardennan to Inversnaid
The midges weren't bothering me when I stopped at Rowardennan and I made the mistake of *not* topping up my repellent. Good old DEET I'm afraid, none of your "Skin so Soft" rubbish. ;-). My motto is, "If it doesn't melt plastic, it can't possibly be any good". Anyway, I'd only put some rather weak DEET solution on the the beginning and the moment I left Rowardennan, I deeply regretted not slathering on more. Like everyone else, I chewed and blinked my way through clouds of the damned beasties, all the time hating every step of the way. My progress had slowed right down and runners were coming past me with distressing frequency. I was feeling really low at this point and wishing I'd picked up more snacks to sustain me to Beinglas. I couldn't run up any sort of hill and even gentle downslopes were causing me pain.
Just before the end of the forest road where the track narrows though, something came right in my body. I suspect it was just delayed absorption of what I'd eaten at Rowardennan but over a very short space of time, I found I could actually run down hills again, and then up hills too! What's more, the awful ache in my legs and feet disappeared. This association between energy levels and pain occurred several times during my run, something I've not read about before. For me, low energy = more pain. High energy = less pain. Quite why this should be so, I'm not sure but the relief of the pain and the pleasure of being able to run again lifted my spirits enormously and I proceeded to retake all the runners who's passed me before Inversnaid.
Inversnaid to Beinglas
At Invernaid, I filled my water bottle with water and midges before setting off on a section that I have mixed feelings about. I actually love the first part of it which is full of swoopy little hills that rise and fall for a few miles. After that though, you get into the snarly roots and rocks and there is so little of it that you can run, even if you want to. It just gets tedious and you just want it to be over as soon as possible. Before Beinglas I managed to overhaul another two runners which was good for morale although I was worrying about my pace.
I don't actually stop at Beinglas, but carry on to the point where the WHW diverts off to the right, At this point the WHW and the road are very briefly on the same side of the river so it's a handy support point that doesn't involve abusing anyone's hospitality. I'd arranged by phone for my wife to bring up some food and drink but before I arrived, I was overwhelmed by a craving for a Solero ice lolly. I don't know why, but it *had* to be a Solero. Dutifully, and amazingly, she got up to Crianlarich and back to the A82 crossing in time to hand over my hearts desire. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to remind myself how lucky I am. ;-)
A82 crossing to Auchtertyre
After my lolly, I was feeling pretty good all the way up to the checkpoint, certainly better than I had done during the Fling which encouraged me. Of course, this is exactly how it *should* have been but it was nice to feel that I didn't want to stop at Tyndrum. Auchtertyre though was the second point where things started to go wrong, for the stupidest of reasons.
Runners were getting weighed at this point (for very good reasons) and I'd put *on* a little weight (just 0.3 of a kilo). Now I was feeling fine but *knowing* that I'd put on weight (potentially very dangerous if you drink too much) made me way too cautious about drinking thereafter. There pre-race instructions were pretty clear that weights would only be treated seriously if there were other significant symptoms but that didn't stop me worrying. Consequently, I got dryer and dryer thereafter. I was here that I heard about Ian's withdrawal, a huge shock for us all I think. Ian is just so synonymous with the WHW that to hear of his withdrawal was almost like being told that the sun was going to rise in the west in the morning. I think Ian has given so much to the race over the years and shared his experience with so many runners that we've come to assume that he's not like ordinary mortals and forget that even he can have an off day. It was a blow for all of us I think but I was glad to hear that he'd decided to stay on. A WHW race without Ian is somehow almost unthinkable.
I left Auchtertyre in pretty good shape but I found the stretch from Tyndrum to Bridge of orchy realy tough. It's just too flat! My feet and legs were beginning to ache again and I found myself increasingly having to grab myself figuratively by the scruff of my neck and give myself a talking to. I could see hopes of a sub 24 slipping away. I had reached Tyndrum in 11:30 and was basing my estimated finishing time on twice that but it was beginning to feel more and more unrealistic. I tried to put on a brave face for the camera at Tyndrum but I think the photograph shows my true feelings.
After Tyndrum I felt like I was crawling. The level bits hurt, the uphills hurt, the downhills hurt. I don't know how long I took but I ran with Rosie Bell for a bit which kept me going when I was feeling so low. Somehow I managed a slightly more convincing smile at BOO.
I had some to eat at Bridge of Orchy and crawled out up over the hill. Once at Inveroran though, I seemed to recover some strength again and the pain lessened once more and I began to start pushing more. I actually made quite good speed down towards Blackrock cottage and you can see I was actually enjoying being able to run again.
I was was again shocked to find another friend in trouble at Blackrock cottage though. This time it was Thomas who was in trouble and it hurt to find out that he too was withdrawing. I stopped for some coffee and food and Thomas donated his supply of grapes that he'd seen me lusting after.
After a slow jog to Kingshouse I was joined by my support runner, the wonderful Anne. She's not been in our club terribly long but has already proved her mettle at marathon and ultra-distance events. She never uttered a single negative word through the last stretches of the race, something that you really appreciate when you're having more than enough negative thoughts to sink a battleship.
Kingshouse to Kinlochleven
Anne and I made as much use of the level (ish) stretch to Altnafeadh as possible to claw back some time but by the time I reached the bottom of the Devil's Staircase, I felt utterly spent. The climb just seemed to go on forever and I'd slowed so much that I was getting cold for the first time in the race. Reaching the top didn't bring any relief either though and I felt as weak as a kitten. My descending legs had utterly deserted me. It wasn't until about half an hour into the descent that I regained the ability to run and from that point things improved (slightly).
At Kinlochleven, I got weighed again and found that I was now 4.7kg *underweight* and it was clear that I had swung too far in the wrong direction. I now had a craving for a sausage roll (the greasy flaky kind) but the best the chippy could manage was a sliced up sausage in a bun. Not exactly what I wanted buy full marks for trying! I can't remember what I drank at this point (other than quite a lot) but I set off with a bottle of Lucozade Sport with caffeine boost (following Thomas's recommendation in his blog) to drink on the climb. I was sufficiently pessimistic at this point to tell my wife that I could easily be two hours before I'd see her at Lundavra.
Kinlochleven to Fort William
The climb was horrible. In 2005 my right knee locked thirty miles into the race. I'd had no trouble with it before or since but now I was getting a stabbing pain in my right knee whenever it bent beyond a certain amount. I had to do virtually the whole climb leading with my left leg and each time being careful not to plant my right foot *higher* than my left, taking lopsided steps all the way up the hill. By now, all hope of a sub 24 seemed lost, a goal that I'd had in mind from my very first race back in 2005. A sub 27.19 PB would have been nice but it was the sub 24 that I wanted. Still, one small step at a time, I made my way up the hill, getting passed by runners yet again. Once at the top however and on to leveller ground, I found that I could jog on my knee without pain. The lucozade seemed also to be doing something as the pain and tiredness seemed to be leaving my body. Combined with the freakishly strong wind against our *backs* (when have you ever known the wind do you any favours in a race?), we were able to pick up the pace. Before long, we could see the runners who had passed us in the far distance. We could see that they were walking up the hills so I determinedly forced myself to run up every runnable hill or at least run further up each hill than they did. Little by little we reeled them in, our pace picking up all the time. By the time we reached Lundavra we were on a high, excited by the realisation that now, not only was sub 24 back on the cards, a sub 23 might be doable!
My wife wasn't expecting us so soon so we had to jog down the road to the car to fetch another bottle of "rocket fuel" as I was now calling the Lucozade. Of course I can't be sure that it was what made the difference, I ate and drank too many different things to be sure but by golly, I didn't think another bottle could hurt at that stage! Before leaving Linlochleven I had asked for some soup in Lundavra but we realised that there wasn't time for this now and we set straight off. The wind wasn't quite on our backs anymore, mostly from the side and sometimes head on but we were still making good time and keeping our head torches in reserve for as long as possible (I just wanted to see how far we could get without them). Eventually though, as we got deeper into the trees, we had to don them and our pace slowed considerably as the path narrowed and wound it's way through the woods. Still, we pressed on as best we could but we caught by a runner (Paul Tranter) and his support as we navigated our way through. I was glad that I had run the route relatively recently in daylight as it was *much* less clear where the path went in the dark and I reckon I probably helped Paul out there. ;-)
The moment we hit the forest road though, it was no holds barred and Paul and his support took off into the distance. Anne and I watched this for a while before realising the we *could* go faster, indeed, probably *had* to go faster if we were to get into Fort William in time for a sub 23. Somehow, we both found untapped reserves and slowly, oh so slowly, we clawed our way back. First we passed another runner (Neil MacRitchie I think) who Paul had already passed and gradually we caught up with, and passed, Paul and his support. After 92 miles we were racing!
We though we had him beat but not long after joining the road after the Braveheart carpark, Paul came steaming past at a speed I knew I couldn't match. A glance at my watch showed however that I was darned well going to have to try to match it though! From the 30 mph sign onwards, I swear I was nearing 6 minute mile pace. I ungraciously left Anne to fly past the roundabout and on towards the leisure centre. There was no time to look at my watch now and I sprinted across the car park at a billion miles an hour (slight exaggeration) and hit the doors so hard I thought I'd broken them for a moment.
This was me pretending to be tired.
And this was me about a minute later when the realisation that I'd managed 22:58:52 hit me.
I'm not given to blubbing but I think you can see just how pleased I was. It was wonderful to have my wife Muriel (on the left) there this time. Back in 2005, I was struggling and came in much later. She'd (quite justifiably) fallen asleep in the car and unfortunately found a mobile phone "dead spot" I couldn't warn her of my approach!
Friday, 20 June 2008
Well, tomorrow actually as it starts at 1:00 am but it's my last full day before the race.
It's been interesting reading some of the other blogs of first timers who, not surprisingly perhaps, are a wee bit nervous.
I think I've in the Dave Waterman camp in that I "don't do nerves". Not as in I don't ever do nerves, just that I'm not nervous about the race. I am excited though. I suppose if I'm honest I do has the usual anxieties about injury and failing to finish but denial is a wonderful thing and I know that's not going to happen this year. ;-)
When I first ran the WHW race, I tried following another runner's plan to adjust my sleep pattern by staying up late for the two nights pre-race and then sleeping in. With hindsight, I'm really not quite sure what the point of the exercise was but the end outcome was a complete disaster as far as sleep was concerned. I reckon I got 4 hours sleep total in the two nights pre-race. Despite this, sleepiness was never an issue during the race so this time I've not tried to mess about with my body's normal sleep pattern. I've slept well the past two nights (last night aided by a pint of Guinness) and feel suitably refreshed ready for the race tonight.
Anyway, in just under 13 hours time, I'll be setting off from Milngavie train station and I'll find out how well my training has worked this year to prepare me for a sub-24 hour time. Fingers crossed I've done enough of the right stuff.
Best of luck to all the runners in this year's WHW race but in particular to Ian B, John K, Thomas, Marco, Debbie, Dave & Neal.
Monday, 16 June 2008
Sunday, 15 June 2008
Saturday, 14 June 2008
Well, a certain amount of sense prevailed this week and I didn't push for the 40 miles I said I was going to do in my last posting. In fact, I've only done 25 miles as I find that the moment I stop running 6 days a week, I find it incredibly hard to push myself out of the door.
As others have recommended maintaining some intensity in one's training during the taper, it seemed a reasonable idea to have a go at the Cairn Table hill race today. As hill races go, it's an "easy" low-risk one. It's only about 4.5 miles, never too steep (I managed to run about 95% of the uphill) and with good footing (on dry but bouncy peat) on the way down so little risk of injury.
There were just 20 of us at the start line and I found myself in 3rd, then 6th and finally 5th position when I reached the top. By that point I was relatively well clear of the 6th place man and held my position to the finish (in 40:31).
Even though it was an "easy" race, this close to the WHW it was still a little nerve wracking. I was very conscious of not wanting to injure myself or over-do it and not be fully recovered in time for the WHW race. Probably worrying too much but that's the nature of tapering. You worry about every little ache, pain or sniffle.
Definitely taking it easy for the rest of this week. ;-)
Saturday, 7 June 2008
It's taken rather longer than I'd planned (200 miles per month was the original plan) but it finally came today at the end of a 21 mile run to my favourite pub. Unfortunately I had no money with me so I couldn't celebrate with a pint but that was probably just as well after a large excess of red wine last night. Way behind other WHW runners I'm sure but I've had the spectre of two "Failed to make the start line" hanging over me and it's always been my priority this year to play it safe.
The run itself went well and I even managed to run up the "impossible hill", a long steep flight of steps that I meet 20 miles into my run. Of course it's not really impossible but I've never managed to run up it before so that was very encouraging.
Despite the long run, I am tapering, although not doing a very good job of it. The less I run the worse I feel and it has such an undermining effect on my confidence. One of the runners on the WHW forum commented yesterday that he races better if he *doesn't* taper so maybe the whole tapering business needs some serious research.
Today's run will definitely be my longest run before the race but I'll probably aim for about 40 miles next week before cutting back more for the last week.
Thursday, 5 June 2008
With the WHW race nearly upon me, I suppose it's time to look back on my training, read my tea leaves and kill a chicken to study its entrails, all in order to work out a realistic time goal for the race.
Now I'll be the first to admit that the last two are slightly flippant but I think in a race of 95 miles, you have to accept that there are so many potential pitfalls that can befall one during the race, that guddling through entrails might give you just and accurate a forecast as any number of race time predictor sites.
I must admit to feeling a bit guilty at giving Thomas a bit of a hard time over his first goal. I feel a bit like the tortoise offering advice to the hare and that I've trampled over his dream. I know I'll be nowhere near Thomas in terms of speed but I *do* have two runnings of the WHW under my belt which is a lot less than many participants in this race but two more than Thomas. ;-) I'll be absolutely delighted for him if he proves me wrong but I think that it's easy to underestimate how much one can slow down in the latter stages of the race if you have injury or nutritional problems along the way. Even without any specific problems other than fatigue, I think that many runners find that Tyndrum is about halfway in terms of time if not in distance.
As to my own goals (it's only fair to give Thomas a chance to have a go at them) ;-), they are considerably more modest.
Bronze goal has to be just finishing. 95 miles is a long way in anybody's book and although I'll be disappointed if I don't improve on my 2005 time (27:19:25), I'll be happy to finish in the time limits.
Silver is sub 24 hrs. I think I've got it in me and there's something about a round 24hrs as a target. It's entirely arbirtary (like my 20 minute 5K goal) but it's a period that we can all identify with. If I can get to Tyndrum in 11:30 without taking too much out of myself then I think I'm in with a chance but I'm not going to plan on being able to go any faster in the second "half".
Gold will be sub 23. An odd number but it means that I'd finish the WHW on the day. (i.e. Saturday) rather than in a day. This will very much be "icing on the cake". I don't think I'm in with a realistic chance but if I get a good run, good weather and everything goes right, perhaps not impossible.
Platinum would be arriving in Fort William in time for a pint but I don't think that's going to happen, well, not this year at least. ;-)
Next year? Who knows. Time to slaughter another chicken I think. ;-)
Wednesday, 4 June 2008
A trip down south at the weekend to visit my wife's 95 year old aunt put paid to too much running over the last week. I know I'm supposed to be tapering but I hate this period. Somehow, you always feel worse when you drp your mileage significantly and I never really believe the stuff about tapering applies to *me*. ;-)
I was hoping to run the Merrick hill race this weekend which is now a longer, gentler(ish) race that the old one that was very tough. Unfortunately, family commitments once again are going to scupper this so I think I'll have to find another hill to run up.
At last night's club 5K I wasn't too hopeful after a weekend of eating and drinking too much. It was also a bit windy for the last 2 Km but I wasn't unhappy with my time of 19:43. A good bit off of my PB for the year but on the right side of 20 minutes again thankfully. ;-)