The Deer Runner

The Deer Runner

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.



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