It has been a while since D (of Conversations with the Uninitiated fame) has commented upon my running, but true to form he felt compelled to ensure that I remain grounded and understood some basic ground rules before attempting the Great Glen Ultra, my longest race to date.
Saturday 21st June was the longest day in so many ways; and be warned this is going to be a long post. It was of course West Highland Race day meaning that a not insignificant number of people were set to have a very long day either running, crewing for a runner, or supporting the infrastructure of the event. I have to say at this point that the event was a logistical tour-de-force.
The Great Glen Ultra is a big milestone for me, although you would not have realised it based upon my cool, calm demeanour and rather relaxed training schedule. It has, however, rather crept up on me, and typically, now a little over two weeks before the event, I am having a bit of a wobble and my inner chimp is chattering away furiously.
In just over a week I will be supporting a friend who is running the West Highland Way Race. This is another rite of passage for me as a runner.
There were demons to be slain at this year’s Hoka Highland Fling. I have been open and frank about my experience last year and the wake -up call that it gave me in terms of my preparations for Antarctica, especially in terms of managing hydration and food; knowing how much I need and what I can take and what my body will tolerate. A very different runner toed the start line this year: more experienced; leaner, fitter, stronger, apparently faster based upon my recent D33 time and with nutrition sorted (or so I thought).
As I taper into my 2nd attempt at the Hoka Highland Fling I find myself in an odd place both mentally and physically. To be fair a lot of this will be the effects of the taper: the whole idle body and idle mind just finding things to fixate on and worry about. A short easy run suddenly becomes very hard and niggle laden, your brain starts to dwell on the memories of last year’s fairly disastrous run, and the recent unexpectedly hard training runs on the route. How do you stem those negative thoughts and remain positive and dismiss the self-fulfilling disaster prophesy?
In recent months and blog posting I have devoted a lot of thought and spoken about the life changing effect of my Antarctic Odyssey and pondered on what the future holds for me. There is with no doubt a legacy, and an on-going Odyssey and my recent participation in the D33 marked the first step of the next stage of my journey.
As it transpired our delay turned out to be an additional 5 days at the Union Glacier camp as successive weather fronts moved in over the continent from the sea.
It has taken me a while to write this entry, but I wanted to do it justice and so have waited until I felt ready and there was enough quiet time available to write. This was perhaps one of the most amazing and influential days of my life.
This was a much needed rest day, especially as I was getting virtually no sleep. It had been -10 in the tent overnight, and I have to say, a pretty miserable night. As ever, after a marathon, there was a lot of adrenalin still in my system; that always makes sleep a challenge, but then add the light and the cold and it was a recipe for an uncomfortable night.
The 2013 Loch Ness Marathon was set to be fairly special for me.
It was exactly 10 years since I ran my first marathon, which had been Loch Ness in 2003 which gave me my marathon PB which still stands to this day. This would be my 7th run of this event. In addition this was my last formal running event before Antarctica. Emotions would potentially ride high this weekend.
Firstly, thanks and credit to Fiona Rennie whose comment on a recent facebook post provided the title of this blog entry.
The Speyside Way is a national trail that runs from Buckie to Aviemore, following the route of the river Spey, and by default the Scottish Whisky trail . The Speyside Way Ultra covers 36.5 miles from Ballindalloch to Buckie and has been run since 2012 and is well organised by race director Sarah Louise Grigor and a band of dedicated and happy marshals and helpers.
In 2010 Clyde Stride ultra was my first ultra. I completed it which was great, but it was not one of my better moments and there was plenty to learn from it. I entered for the following year but had to withdraw about a month before the event due to a knee injury. I duly entered for 2012 and was a DNF (did not finish) at 20 miles due to energy problems (which I subsequently found out were caused by a magnesium deficiency. So, was 2013 going to be my year?