Well this year's Devil was always going to be a wee trip into the unknown for me with my very abbreviated training but I was feeling good apart from slightly sore quads due to a slightly over-enthusiastic session of hill bashing on my bike on the Wednesday prior to the race.
Still, I wasn't worried and I was really looking forward to introducing Dave, a newish club member, to the delights of running in the highlands. He's been is Ayrshire for years but never up past Loch Lomond so it was a grand day out for both of us.
As usual, I was up at about 4 am to fry up some bacon for a sandwich. I always reckon it sets me up well for the day. Whether it does or not I don't really care, I just like bacon sandwiches. ;-)
I won't bore you all with minutiae of my run but over the first section to Bridge or Orchy I was feeling strong and reached BOO in 1:05. My legs felt good on all the hills and I really do think that the cycling worked improve my uphill running. The next leg to Glencoe was going well too until I got a bit over-enthusiastic running down the hill to Inveroran when I stumbled and came crashing down heavily on my right arm and leg. I rolled and was up on my feet again in an instant but needless to say it took the wind out of my sails for a while and as I assessed the damage, I realised that I had blood dripping off my hand coming from a cut on my elbow. My leg felt a bit battered but apart from a few grazes there was little to show for it.
After a brief stop for a bit of a clean up and some milk at Victoria Bridge I carried on to Glencoe and was pleased to get there only a minute down on my time last year. Unfortunately as I approached Black Rock Cottage I was overcome with a *very* urgent call of nature and had to drop my shorts within a couple of hundred metres of the checkpoint. Apologies to anyone's sensibilities I offended if you saw me! All I can say is, if you gotta go, you gotta go. ;-)
From here on I was joined by Dave, my clubmate, "a running bear" in hirsuteness and size. I've been trying to point him in the direction of ultra running for some time now as he's one of those people who seem to glide over the ground making effortless progress so I'm sure that ultra running will be his forte.
Anyhow, it was a beautiful day although getting a bit warm by now but we enjoyed the views as we ascended the Devil's Staircase and beyond. Once at the top, I was aware that my legs didn't quite have the bounce that I usually have for descending hills but nevertheless we made good progress down to Kinlochleven. As we neared KLL I remembered thinking "Wouldn't it be nice if the race ended here?".
When we arrived in KLL I was now 18 minuted behind last year's time and this was indicative of how things were going to go from now on. I sat down to have a bite to eat before setting off on the last leg and as usual, the climb out of KLL felt longer and harder than the Devil's Staircase. That said, once we reached to top I managed to keep running the downhills and level bits reasonably well AND some of the uphills but I was finding the underfoot conditions hard, usually an indication of how tired I am. On fresh legs I can skip along but today it was becoming a bit of a stumblefest. Things probably weren't helped by my wearing my "mono-vision" contact lenses which give me one good eye for reading and one good eye for distance. The trouble is they give be one pair of eyes rather poor at depth perception which doesn't help on uneven ground. During the climb I realised that my elbow was leaking blood again and dripping off my fingers so I decided to take advantage of the Mountain Medics who did a grand job of bandaging my elbow up.
Anyhow, as it does, the Larig Mor eventually comes to an end and we met up with Muriel for a spot of refreshment before carrying on to the last leg. Just before we left I heard the dulcet tones on Anne (Noble - support runner) and Karen Robertson approaching. Karen has had miserable luck with the Devil (and this year's WHW race) so despite being upset about being "caught by a girly from my own club!" I was absolutely delighted that at last she was having a better run.
Being a gentleman, I hightailed out of the checkpoint without waiting but it did me little good and she soon overhauled me and left me for dead, which was pretty much how I was feeling by this stage.
My quads were by now seriously trashed and going down steeper hills (or steps in particular) was very painful and it was a slow and painful descent down Glen Nevis to Braveheart car park.
Still, one foot in front of the other gets you there eventually and after we passed the 30 mph sign I tried to pretend that I was a runner with a rather feeble sprint finish.
So, firstly the good things.
I think the cycling definitely helped with running up the hills. Considering the amount of running I've done lately that went well. I will be including cycling as part of my future ultra training.
It was also a great pleasure and a privilege to get to introduce David to this beautiful part of the highlands on such a great day.
My running went well (apart from my tumble)up until Kinlochleven. Dave was good company on the run and Muriel did a sterling job of trying to satisfy my whims throughout the day.
The bad things.
It doesn't take a genius to realise that I would have done better if I had started slower and I have to admit that I was really pushing myself in the early stages to see how close I could run to my times last year. It was always going to be a risky thing to do but I wanted to see just how well I could run on so little running in training. I would have enjoyed the race overall more if I had started slower I think. Also, having to drop your shorts in easy view of a check point isn't something I want to repeat in a hurry!
The ugly things.
My elbow doesn't look too pretty but it'll heal. I've some fairly impressive bruises on my thigh but I think they're all pretty superficial. I'll spare you the pictures of those. ;-)
NEXT year, I'll train properly, I promise. ;-) Unfortunately I'm going to have to find a new support runner as Dave is determined to enter the Devil next year, which at the end of the day, is a great result.
Monday, 8 August 2011
Friday, 5 August 2011
It's been a funny old year and admittedly, it's not gone to plan running wise but I'm not too dismayed.
I've done less running in preparation for this year's Devil o' the Highland race than ever before but oddly I'm really looking forward to it. In fact, I'm even kidding myself that I might actually do quite well in it.
So where does this (very possibly misplaced) confidence come from? Well for a start, I've been doing a lot of cycling and most of that has included as many hills as I can point my front wheel up and nearly all of that has been done pushing a biggish gear (52x23 minimum) which I feel has really toned up my quads.
I've lost a good half stone in weight over the last few weeks thanks to the cycling and feel all the better for it.
Whilst I've hardly run I did do the sweeping for the Clyde Stride which was useful "time on feet" and I got talked into doing a hilly 7 mile leg of the "Round Arran relays". I think I done 2 other shortish runs as well and that's pretty much been it as far as running's concerned over the last month.
The other thing that's helped was watching the following video which has pretty much cured me of whinging about my sciatica!
So, whatever happens tomorrow, I hope I can finish with a smile.