Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Thoughts about 2012 and racing

It's that time of year again where the race season is over and its time to knuckle down for some serious base building over the winter months. Time to think about races for next year.

I *almost* put an entry in for the 2012 WHW race but common sense prevailed. Firstly, I was not 100% sure and I’m guessing you need to be pretty certain before entering. Secondly, even though I had ran a qualifying race (two in fact) I still haven’t ran the Highland Fling and that is a bit of a mental hurdle for me. Lastly, I have a number of other running goals to consider and running a *huge* race in the middle of the year would likely make them unachievable in 2012. My rough race plan for 2012 is:

March 11th  Inverness HM PB attempt
April 15th Lochaber Marathon PB attempt
April 28th Highland Fling Ultra
May recovery
June/July PB attempts over 2 or 3 races (10k/10M/HM)
August 4th Devil O The Highlands Ultra
Middle of August: walk West Highland Way with my dad.

Then I can choose either an autumn ultra (Glenmore or Glen Ogle), autumn marathon PB attempt (Loch Ness, Toon Moor) or autumn HM PB attempt (Aviemore Half, Glen Clova, Fraserburgh). Or create my own autumn challenge outwith races?

I would have to sacrifice running the D33 to go for the earlier PB attempts and not run the Cateran Trail Ultra to get my speed up for summer racing. This way I’ll hopefully get some shiny new PBs as well as a couple of *good* attempts at ultras.

Friday, 25 November 2011

WHW Walk Photos

My Dad is a keen walker and trains hard to walk one road marathon and one trail marathon each year. This year he completed the Belfast Marathon and the Causeway Coast Marathon (in third place no less!). For his 70th birthday this year he came over from N-Ireland and we went for a 2 day walk from Bridge of Orchy to Fort William (staying over in Kinlochleven). The weather was terrible even for October. At least there were no midgies! I took a lot of photos and here are my favourites.
It was interesting to get time to look around more in comparison to running the Devil O The Highlands. I certainly appreciated having a better camera than my wee mobile phone cam that I used during the race.
My Dad totally enjoyed it and we are hoping to walk the full distance over 5 days at some point in 2012. Preferably in full sunshine and during season so we can use a baggage service!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

River Ayr Way Ultramarathon 2011

I decided to run the River Ayr Way (RAW) ultra to complete 4 races in the SUMS series and also to have another >65KM race under my belt which could help in applying for the West Highland Way race in 2012. Vikki also seemed keen to run it so we set off on Friday after tea to Ayr.

We stayed in a lovely b+B (http://www.millerhouseayr.co.uk/) and went out for a quite pre race beer in the local pub. Stupidly this turned into 4 pints of San Miguel which gave me a poor nights sleep and a lethargic hangover when I woke at 5:30am. It didnt help that I was feeling the lurgy earlier on that week and was weak already. This probably explains why the rest of this report is a bit moany!

We turned up to the Citadel Sports Centre at 7:20 with 10 minutes to spare before the bus turned up to take us to the start. There was nobody there! We checked the place out and bumped into another runner who was in the car park. Vikki checked her email and found out the website and email said different things! We were supposed to be at Dam Park Stadium (I knew from facebook the finish had been changed to here). Luckily the other runner had a car and we sped round to the proper pick up point. Moral of the story is always read the race directors emails in the run up to a race (although it would be nice if information was consistent for idiots like me!).

At the pick up point we met Andy and Donald and was introduced to Colin Knox. After the panic I enjoyed the usual pre race friendly banter. Then Andy told me that there were only 5(or 6?) drop bag checkpoints now (as per email) as opposed to the 8 listed on the website. This threw me as I had been banking on 8 stops for food. Grrrrrr- I doubled up some bags and reckoned I'd just wing it en route. This was my own stupid fault again (website says one thing, email another) but by the time we got to Glenbuck for the start I was feeling pretty negative. I think it was at this point it dawned on me that I would not be getting home until about 10pm and the though of running till teatime and then driving for 3-4 hours dragged me down.

When the race began I was a little saddened to see how many people were listening to ipods. I can understand some people need them later in the race when they need a lift or a boost - but from the very start? And it wasn't one or two people either. Normally I don't frown on this sort of thing but a lot of the course is narrow single track  and we did have a few issues during the race where we had to overtake on the verge (rabbit holes etc) just becasue folk couldn't hear us.

The first 5 miles or so felt terrible. I was having a tough time and thought the route was uninspiring. Then, after the first checkpoint it really changed. The course became quite beautiful and had a lot of fun forest/woodland
sections. As usual there was quite a lot of fun banter with other competitors and within an hour or two I had become much more positive.

At time the route was very very mucky and very overgrown. However it was a lot of fun and certainly something I would consider running again. I found it a lot tougher than expected possibly due to lurgy/hangover/mental attitude and was willing the finish line to come for the last 3 hours. Perhaps it was also the fatigue of having run the Devil and Speyside recently. However, even feeling like this, there was still a lot of enjoyment to be had. There were a few sections where we wondered if we were still on course but overall the marshalling and signposts were superb.

The race had a stadium finish and we made a real effort to overtake a few folk. I've got to say I enjoyed the finish. The object was to run with Vikki and finish strong. I am not sure I finished strong but did feel an
achievement at actually crossing the line.

Overall, I would reccommend the race and certainly think I learned a thing or two. It also helped me to decide not to run the WHW race in 2012. I'd rather have a lot more "middle distance" ultra experience (40-60 miles) under my belt and possibly at my own pace now.

Lastly, my mum had sent me some dried seaweed for the bath. This was supposed to be a relaxing substitute for bubble bath or something. It was certainly oily and interesting although it made me smell like a harbour.