The Deer Runner

The Deer Runner

Monday, 28 May 2012

19th week done

It's hard to believe the WHW race is less than four weeks away and I am as disorganised as ever. I have yet to do planning and meet up with my running support. I still have to book accommodation at Fort William so I have it all to do in the next few weeks.

After the Cateran, both feet were blistered, just as they were after the Fling. I'll have to take measures and look after my feet during the WHW. It was Thursday before I managed to run, thanks to the use of blister plasters. I intended to run after work but stupidly forgot to take my kit bag, I had to settle for a road run once I got home instead.

The mileage was low this weekend due to two social evenings. Based in Bucksburn I did manage to do 10 miles around my childhood haunts. This was done during the hottest part of the day so I carried a large bottle of water. Brimmond Hill was my destination where the sweet smell of sun baked flora reminded me of long hot summers during the 1970's. The view over Aberdeen to the North Sea was fantastic under the clear blue sky.

Hoka Mafate shoes were worn for the 10 mile run and I'm not too sure about them. Yes, they are well cushioned and I can see this benefiting the joints but for me they seem to need a wee bit more effort to run in. I do intend using them for the WHW so I'll persevere with them for the time being. We are in Fochabers this Jubilee weekend so I am looking forward to running in the forests and on the Speyside way.

Thurs 5 miles  Sat 10.15 miles 1.48.15  Weekly total 15 miles.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

18th week - Brilliant

For this Cateran report I need to acknowledge the help I received from Coach who spent the Friday shopping, packing and preparing drop bags before cooking a delicious pasta dish for me, thank you x.

I needed to leave just after 4 am to reach the Spittal for registration. The roads were deserted on this early morning drive where I had to take care and avoid unwary rabbits and birds. Even a red squirrel felt safe enough to roam the streets of Braemar. Herds of deer scattered from the side of the road as I drove up to Glenshee ski centre. There were some heavy rain showers on the way but as I descended to the Spittal the sun was out and it was a beautiful morning. 

After registration I put my drop bags into their respective areas. It was here where there was much admiration and banter from one of the checkpoint marshals. Coach had all my food packed in green paper bags with rope handles which were stapled closed, very nice.

We were given a race briefing before crossing the road to race start. At seven we're off on a glorious day, in beautiful scenery with over seventy like minded people, it just doesn't get better than this.
The first section to Dalnagair Castle is mostly land rover tracks and farm land where I take care not to go over my ankle on the uneven groundI am in a group of runners here which can lead to queueing to get over stiles. It was at one such stile where we stood and watched in awe as a large herd of deer ran through the field below us. They were putting on a show, as if saying "this is how it's done folks" before effortlessly jumping the fence. The runners stretch out and I find myself on my own for the road section after Dalnagair. After this I climb the hill and pass Loch Shandra. I catch up with the runner ahead who is John the fling organiser and a fellow WHW entrant in June. We run into Kirkton of  Glenisla together but John has a different race strategy from me. He spends about half a minute topping up water before running on where I stand eating and drinking the contents of my drop bag. 

I leave after 5 minutes, happy I still had an appetite and was able to eat most of the drop bag contents.
I felt good at this point and pushed on, eventually catching up and chatting with John. This cat and mouse scenario would continue to Bridge of Cally where the tactics of a quick checkpoint departure would prove superior.

The section to Blairgowrie involves a 2 mile downhill quad busting descent where I suffered knee pain during last years race. This time I took it easy and arrived in good shape, apart from the blisters I could feel on both feet. I did not leave a drop bag here but one of the marshals offered a cheese and ham sandwich, I knew it was a long walk uphill from Blairgowrie so thought I better try and get some cals in at this stage. I struggled to eat it and from here to the finish the diet was a disaster. Heading to Bridge of Cally I pushed harder than I should have and paid the price. I felt sick, queezy and had no appetite. At the checkpoint I open my bag and can't take any food. I downed a vanilla milk drink and pocketed a Mars Bar before leaving the checkpoint.

I knew I had blown it on the way to Kirkmichael, I totally goofed the pace and was out of energy, even walking the flat sections. The boggy section was next and with my preference for road shoes this wasn't going to be easy. I had to find higher ground where there was an improvement in grip but this took a bit of time. I had to dig in and get to the next checkpoint knowing there's only the hill before the finish.

At Enochdu all I could stomach was a vanilla milk. I pocketed another Mars Bar and set off grimly walking up the hill. To be truthful my quads were trashed, I had blistered feet and was exhausted.
Approaching the top I caught up with a fellow WHW entrant runner who was struggling and feeling sick. Not feeling one hundred percent myself we walked the last few miles together before running the last mile downhill to cheers and the finish.

I've learned a couple of lessons prior to the WHW race in June-

PACE Got to get it right from the start. Slow. Slow. Slow.
NUTRITION My diet is a disaster and I have no idea what to eat during the WHW.

Thank you Karen and the marshals for organising the best ultra race in Scotland, beautiful scenery, friendly people, a proud finish and lovely prize. I'll be back next year.

Saturday 55 miles  Weekly total 63 miles.



Thursday, 17 May 2012

Cattle Thieves

It's almost time to hit the Cateran Trail once more. Let's follow the old drove roads of cattle rustlers and thieves, through farmland, picturesque glens and up into the hills.

I am going to travel to the Spittal of Glenshee and do the Cateran Ultra this weekend. My ankle has settled down and physically I don't feel too bad. I'm a wee bit disorganised as I still have to pack and make up drop bags, even though I'm doing this blog at the back of eleven. I won't have support for this run as Coach is working on Saturday, so fingers crossed I'll get through without issues.

Saturday morning will be an 0430 departure from New Deer to make race check-in and start at seven. This will be after a wedding reception on the Friday evening.

I have a wee trend going on with the Ultra races i've run. Although no trail blazer and always nearer the back of the field, I have improved on my previous finish times at both the D33 and Fling.

Now, do I dare to put the pressure on and try to continue the trend? Or do I once again just enjoy the occasion, after all, it's only numbers at the end of the day.

Either way, I must finish injury free and ready to taper for the big one in June.

Tues 5 miles  Thurs 3 miles.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

17th week

So much for for the high milage I was hoping to complete this week. I now have a niggling pain down the inside of the left ankle. This didn't gradually appear. Wednesday it was fine, Thursday when I got up it felt uncomfortable to walk on. I thought this would be something I could shake off quite easily as my left leg is the strongest which never suffers from injury or joint pain. On Thursday evening I did 5 road miles which were fine as the ankle was okay once warmed up, it's the day after when things are not quite right.

With Friday being a rest day, I thought I could recover enough and still put in the long runs planned for this weekend. I got up on Saturday morning and stubbornly put my running kit on knowing full well this wouldn't do the ankle much good, I hate missing training runs. At breakfast I switched on the laptop and consulted doctor Google for some advice. Realising this is somethng I wouldn't be able to run through or shake off while training, all running was begrudgingly called off.

I think it's medial ankle pain with posterior tibial tendonitis by the looks of it (hows that for a self diagnosis). I took out the ibuprofen, ice pack, support bandage and sulked for a good while. Mulling it over I think two things contributed to this, not taking enough recovery time after the fling and putting in two harder than usual 8 mile training sessions offroad at the Braes.

It wasn't all bad news though, not running meant quality family time where we took Murphy out for a three mile walk. Today was a tidy up in the garden, doing chores I wouldn't normally have the time or energy for after a long run. It took a lot of will power to resist going for even a short run today.

The Cateran is looking doubtful this weekend although I am hoping the ankle recovers so I can take part. The plan will be a couple of short test runs on Tuesday and Thursday, then I will make the decision.

With June 23rd fast approaching I would like to recce the second half of the WHW. My weekends are busy so depending how training goes, I might take a day off work to fit this in.

All this is a reminder how fast things can change, from training going swimmingly well to everything being up in the air. I need to shake off this ankle niggle and take things easy in the run up to June.

Tues 8 miles  Wed 8 miles  Thurs 5 miles  Weekly total 21 miles.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

16th week done

                                          Bennachie range in the distance.

After the excitement of last weekend, I was feeling a bit low on the running side of things. I always feel like this after the build up and participation in a race. It wasn't until Thursday before I was ready to run again, once the blisters on my right foot settled down. So off I trotted to Kirkhill Forest after work where I had the trails all to myself, bliss. It was a good run where I deliberately kept the milage low to aid recovery.

I just couldn't muster up enthusiasm for the two longish runs this weekend, probably due to last weekends stunning scenery. On Saturday I couldn't be bothered driving to the hills or trails opting instead to run from home. I didn't even have a route planned, I just went out the door and ran the coutry roads in a general direction. I took my camera to break up what I thought would be a monotonous run. I also had podcasts 14 and 15 to listen to (the Debs interview was excellent), so this would help pass the time.

                                                 Plenty of these in the North East.

                                         Some of the locals.

                                         Spot the turbine.

                                                   Back road to New Deer.

                                         I particularly liked this section.

                                                   The Culsh Monument.
                                         My house in the distance.

This turned out to be a better session than I expected. About 8 miles from home I came accross a hedgehog by the side of the road. It looked dead but when I gave it a nudge with my foot it moved. The poor thing had obviously been hit or run over so I decided to come back and get it after my run. On my return leg the weather closed in and I had to run through a blizzard, in May! After a quick shower my daughter and I went to collect the little casualty and took it to a small animal sanctuary in New Deer.

I didn't want to do road running two days in a row so took a short drive to the Braes of Gight. Once again I decided to break up the run by taking pictures. My left knee started hurting a bit so I toyed with the idea of cutting the run short. Luckily it eased off so I could run to Methlck and back.

                                         Ythan valley.


                                         Squirrel bridge.

                                         Methlick church ruin.

                                         Missing foot bridge

I intended crossing the Ythan at Methlick and continuing down the other side of the river. Only one problem with this, no bridge! It's been a couple of years since I was last here and it's surprising how things change.
This was the end of the road so I tucked into cold beans and sausages before heading back the way I came.

                                         Methlick cricket pitch.

                                         River Ythan.

                                                   Spot the turbines.

So all in all not too bad a week getting back into the swing of things. After the disasterous fuelling strategy at the fling I must be able to take carbohydrates on board. Cold beans and sausages went down particularly well this weekend so looks like this could be on the menu at the whw race.

Good news this week, I am in the Cateran Ultra on May the 19th. The bad news? No room at the inn. Being a late entrant means the hotel is fully booked. As the coach (Mrs) and I have a night out on Friday the 18th I will have to get up early and drive to Spittal for race start. I was hoping to stay Saturday night after the race but it looks like I'll end up driving home.

All going well, this coming week will be the highest milage of my training programme.

Thurs 6 miles 1.01.29  Sat 22 miles 3.45.51  Sun 10 miles  Weekly total 38 miles.