The Deer Runner

The Deer Runner

Sunday, 31 March 2013


There's been a distinct lack of hill training for me this year, I can't remember when I was last on the hills. This week was no exception and it was back to the F & B Way, sounds like swearing doesn't it. The only time I can fit the long weekly session in is running to or from work, leaving the weekend free for chores and quality family time. This requires a bit of planning, leaving vehicles either at home or work and sometimes catching the bus to Fyvie where Lynne can pick me up.

So I left Dyce once more on Friday evening at six o'clock. Fuel taken for this run was a banana (two bites and bin it) and a Tillys vanilla fudge bar. I wasn't exactly full of energy this time, the legs felt a bit tired but I managed to keep a good pace going. It was a fine evening and I tuned into the latest two excellent WHW podcasts which helped pass the time. Two or three runners were on the track between Newmachar and Udny Station then I had the place to myself. It got dark before I reached Ellon, my half way point to New Deer. It's mostly up from Ellon, a gradual ascent till reaching Drumwhindle and onto the side roads.

I was on an uphill stretch of road when I heard the sound of a car accelerating hard behind me, even through the headphones. I'm going to have to get off the road I thought to myself, I can't risk getting run over even though I am wearing high viz clothing. I stepped over to the side of the road and went over my ankle, the same weak one I keep going over. I scrambled onto the verge as two cars passed at speed and cursed at the unfortunate circumstances. If I had a stinger I would have flung it across the road. I wonder if you get them lightweight and portable?

Once quiet I stepped onto the road and walked for a bit to assess the ankle. It seemed to settle down so I gingerly carried on with the run. Half a mile on another car approached from behind, as I turned to check it out the same foot hit a pothole, once again I had to scramble over to the side to nurse my ankle. I couldn't believe I went over it twice within half a mile.

I had a choice now, call Lynne to get a lift or carry on for the last nine miles home. I chose the latter, partly through being stubborn and partly because I knew Lynne would be drinking Vino by now.
I managed to "run through it" as they say and got home completing the marathon distance in 4 hours 20 minutes.

My ankle has been okay over the weekend, as long as I keep it on the flat but I have missed a 15 mile run I was supposed to do on Saturday. I was contemplating running into work tomorrow morning, in fact I still am as I type this on Sunday night. Common sense says give the foot a rest but the stubborn streak has a habit of winning these sort of battles, Coach has just given me the look. I'm going to take the rest.

A bit off topic now - last year Skye announced she was going vegetarian. It's a sure sign your kids are growing up when they take such decisions, one I was secretly proud of. Skye has been meat free for over a year now although I'm glad she still likes and eats fish, a Pescatarian I think. Skye and I have have made a pact, if I go Pescatarian for one month she will run at least three times a week culminating with a 5k run.

Mon 4 miles Tues 12 miles Wed 2 miles Thurs 4 miles Fri 26 miles  Weekly total 48 miles.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Role Reversal

Back in December Lynne completed Marcothon, quite an achievement considering she took up running on the first of December. In the Marcothon Facebook circle she was known as the couch to 5k lady. Lynne was now a runner so I had to encourage her to take on the next challenge, train for and run a 10k race. After a bit of apprehension Lynne signed up for the Garioch 10k and successfully completed a training program (not without some tears and tantrums I must admit).

Sunday 24th March was the big day and I was support. After collecting Lynnes friend Michelle (who was also running the race) from New Deer we drove through the snow drifts to Inverurie. After parking a good distance from the sports centre we got out the car, it was a bitterly cold day. We just made it in time to watch the half marathon and 5k races depart. Lynne and Michelle kept their winter jackets on for as long as possible before handing them over and gathering for the 10k start. It was at this point the race director announced timing chips were not recording the times, some problem came to light that morning. That was a disappointment, I offered Lynne my watch but she asked me to do the timing.

I had my camera so took up position at the start arch, balancing the chores of holding hat and jacket, camera on standby and stopwatch at the ready. The race kicked off and as nine hundred runners passed me I tried to pick out Lynne, to get a photo and to start the watch. Before I knew it everyone was through and on their way, I never saw Lynne so started the watch as the last runners left.

With a bit of time to spare, Skye and I went into the chaos inside the sports centre, it was mobbed as everyone wanted to get out of the cold. After buying water (Lynne was thirsty at the start of the race) we made our way to the roadside. For anyone not familiar with the route, the 10k and half marathon races both pass the sports centre with two miles to go where you run a loop around the housing estate before returning and finishing at the sports centre.

If Lynne was going well, I thought she would pass around 50 minutes so Skye and I waited at the road, bottle of water in hand. It was a good atmosphere watching runners from both races pass by. Fifty minutes came and there was no sign of Lynne. I became anxious as we waited but it wasn't long before Lynne came into view and passed in 52 minutes, it was a relief to see she was going well and looked happy. Skye crossed the road and passed a bottle of water over. With 2 miles to go I knew Lynne would be back in around 26 minutes so we made our way to the finish arch to take some photos.

I captured Michelle who managed 1 hour 19 seconds, then captured our nephew Leon who was also running the race. It was Lynne's turn who came through in 1 hour 17 minutes, an incredible result for a first race and beginner runner.

It was too cold to hang about so we got back to the car pretty sharp and made our way home to heat up.
So what's next for Lynne? I've given her a new challenge, the Fraserburgh Half Marathon in November which I think she might just take on.

Tues 3 miles Wed 6 miles Fri 6 miles Sat 10 miles  Weekly total 25 miles.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

D33 kicks off SUMS 2013

The first SUMS race of the season came round quickly, it was time to put all the winter training to test.
Running up to the event I had two choices -
Keep doing the miles asked by my training program and complete the race, taking it easy to reach the weekly total of 58 miles or taper and have a go at improving last years result.
Towards the end of the week I came up with a third option, I decided to taper and take it easy during the race, but as it turned out I didn't take it easy.

A Friday overnight stop in Bucksburn meant everything had to be packed Thursday evening. I didn't know whether to take trail or road shoes but with the course conditions being updated on Facebook, the snow was gone so opted for road.

Saturday morning was clear with frost but it wasn't to last. A large bowl of porridge and it was time to drive to the Duthie Park. I arrived at 0830 and found the car park full so had to find a parking space in a side street. It wasn't raining at this point so I opted to leave my running jacket in the car, a decision I would later regret. I grabbed a banana, my only fuel for the race and made my way to the start. Registration was quick so I found myself all set to go with a bit of time to stand around shivering in the cold till race briefing. At this point I pulled the sleeve over my watch and vowed not to look at it till I got over the finish line, this would be my first ever race not fretting about minutes per mile etc, I just wanted to run how I felt and not be distracted by the timepiece on my wrist.

Nine o'clock and we're off, I'm at the back of the pack and start slow and steady. As we leave the park light rain starts, it's so cold I think it falls as snow but I'm not sure. I'm travelling light with a water belt rather than back pack. Theres a few photographers and I'm conscious of carrying the banana in my hand, theres no room in my waist belt for it. As we leave Aberdeen I feel quite good and speed up, "make hay as the sun shines" I think to myself, although the sun isn't shining today.

The last two D33 races have been hot and sunny where I suffered on the return leg but with the cooler temperature today I'm not drinking the same and don't feel thirsty. This means I can bypass the checkpoints and don't need to refill the water bottle. It's at the first checkpoint where I hatch a wee plan, since I'm running well and don't need to stop I decide to run the whole race without stopping or taking a walking break. Although I'm supposed to be taking it easy I also get it into my head I could possibly get sub five hours and resist taking a look at my watch.

Passing the pond two geese look perplexed at the passing runners. The track runs parallel to the main road and it's at this point last year the leading runner passed me on their return leg. So far there's no sign of the leader, so I guess that I'm running better than last year. I reach near enough the slug road before meeting the leading runner. That's the beauty of an out and back race, you get to see the leaders and can cheer them on. This gives me a lift as the legs are beginning to feel a bit tired.

Last year I reached the half way point in two hours forty minutes. I reach the checkpoint, run round the cone and push on without stopping. I'm sure it's about two hours thirty but still resist the urge to look at my watch. Now it's time for the hard return journey with legs feeling even more tired. I think of the negative split and think if I can keep this pace up then I'll get in under five hours. I'm determined not to get passed on the way back so concentrate on keeping a steady pace. This is the first time I've tried such a strategy and it starts to pay off as I pass runners heading back to Aberdeen, hoping I don't run out of steam.

The muscles are sore and tired, negative thoughts begin to creep into my head but instead of slowing to walk I lengthen my stride to stretch the muscles. This works as I keep on passing runners, I'm not used to this.
I look for the geese on the way back but they've gone. Theres a wee uphill slope after the pond and it's here I'm aware of tightness in my right calf but I'm not going to chuck in the towel yet. My left hamstring is also complaining so I have to shorten the stride for a while. There's an uphill section of road before the last checkpoint, I manage to keep a good pace here, run through the checkpoint before dropping back down onto the track. About six miles to go I think to myself, the calf gets tighter and the hamstring threatens to give up the ghost, I'm going have to monitor it but I'm not going to let up. At Peterculter theres the unmistakable sound of approaching footsteps behind me. The party is over I think to myself as I haven't been passed since before the half way point. The runner steadily closes me down and I jokingly thank him for ruining my wee plan as he passes. I try to speed up but theres still a good bit to go as the runner disappears into the distance.

I've only been passed once, I think to myself, so concentrate on keeping a good pace but negative thoughts remind me of the tight calf and hamstring and I really have to fight off the urge to walk. I'm not the only one feeling it as I pass a few more runners on the way to the last three miles which are downhill.

The track is pretty empty here,the heavy rain keeping all but the hardiest of dog walkers at home. The trail is usually full of people at the weekends. The way ahead is clear, I can't see any runners and I dare not look back. I'm determined not to loose any more places despite the exhaustion, where has this competitive nature come from? This is most unlike me.

I feel a limp in my run with a mile left to go but I know I'm going to run it. I can hear footsteps behind once again, someone is tailing me and running strong to the finish but I'm not going to let them pass me at this stage, I speed up despite the pain.

The track doubles back on itself at the entrance to Duthie Park which is deserted due to the weather.
Through the finish arch, get a medal from George and goody bag, into the gazebo and open a beer. I finally check the time on my watch, two minutes past two, I missed my target by a couple of minutes but I'm not too bothered. I couldn't run quicker if I tried, I gave it everything I had.
Unfortunately I was soaked through and getting cold so couldn't hang around.

So thanks to George and the volunteers for organising another great D33 race, it's much appreciated.
"The D33 gives the coolest medals", that was Skyes words and something I tend to agree with.

Tues 4 miles Wed 4 miles Thurs 3 miles Sat 33 miles  Weekly total 44 miles.


Sunday, 10 March 2013

Made Of Sterner Stuff

Bleary eyed I switched off the alarm, three fifteen, a crazy time to get up for work considering I didn't start till nine. I needed to give myself plenty of time to run the marathon distance to work so left the house at four o'clock. Sounds familiar? Not being happy with my run into work the week before, I did it again on Friday morning. This time there was a cold brisk easterly wind to contend with. My legs were tired and I took a long time to warm up and settle into the run.

Fuel for the trip this time was one banana and dried mango. Pod casts from the WHW website and Marathon Talk kept me occupied for a few hours. Five miles from Ellon the road was illuminated by a car which drew up alongside and stopped. The driver gestured for me to open the door, which warily I did as it was 0530 and the middle of nowhere. The conversation went -

Driver - Do you want a lift?
Me - No, but thanks for the offer.
Driver - You sure? I'm going to Ellon.
Me - I'm sure, I'm training and running to work.
Driver - To Ellon? (look of surprise in his face)
Me - Nah, Aberdeen. But thanks anyway.

There was a look of confusion on the poor drivers face as I closed the door and continued along the road.

I reached the river Ythan at the same time as the previous Friday which was not bad considering the stiff breeze encountered. Two bites of banana, bin the rest and a bit of dried mango, I don't like fruit.

Now they say lightning doesn't strike twice but on this next stretch towards Udny Station I began to get stomach cramps, I was devastated and not prepared to go through the same discomfort as last week. I'll spare readers the details.

After Newmachar tiredness moved in, the pod casts ended and I put on music which kept me running and prevented walking. In fact, once the music came on I was stripped back, exposed and quite emotional as I approached Dyce. Crikey, what is this ultra running about? Fifteen minutes, that's all I improved on my previous run to work. I'll have to do it again and bring the time down.

It's nearly time for the D33, the first SUMS race of the season and in my opinion Aberdeens premier race. Tactics? I'm really not sure. Last year I decided on 10 minute miles and succeeded, dare I try faster or do I treat it as a training run and get the miles in? I just don't know at this stage.

That's enough rambling for now which brings me to the title I've given to to this blog. It's for two people who are having a pretty tough time at the moment, if they read this blog they'll know I'm thinking about them.

Tues 4 miles Wed 8 miles Thurs 4 miles Fri 26 miles Sat 11 miles Sun 5 miles  Weekly total 58 miles.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Lunar Activity

Bleary eyed I switched off the alarm, three fifteen, a crazy time to get up for work considering I didn't start till nine. I needed to give myself plenty of time to run the marathon distance to work so left the house at four o'clock. Five hours did seem like overkill, but it was just as well I gave myself the extra time, I needed it later on.

After a couple of slices of toast for breakfast, two bananas and a chocolate milk shake were fuel for the commute to Dyce. Perfect weather, a clear cool night. I walked the first half mile to warm up stiff muscles and joints then broke into the run. I decided on eleven minute miles, an easy pace giving an ETA of 0845.

I travelled on the back roads to Ellon, I didn't expect to encounter traffic at this time of morning and had to get off the road as delivery vehicles passed by. A jogger on the road would be the last thing these drivers would expect at this time of morning. I passed through Knaven as quiet as possible, aware noise might alert dogs which would waken sleeping households. I then ran on quiet country roads where it was just me and the moon, bright enough for me to switch off the head torch. I put an episode of Marathon Talk on and settled into the run, a bit quicker than my eleven minute mile target.

The roads travel through some farms on the way south and was on the approach to one such farm I heard barking dogs through my ear phones. They picked up the noise of my footsteps in the still of the night and let everyone within earshot know there was an intruder on the go. I ran through the farm, wary of the dogs and hoping they were not loose, free to chase me down. I quickened my pace as the dogs howled, quite fittingly under the full moon.

After ten miles I joined the disused railway track which leads all the way to Dyce. The surface wasn't that great, I switched on the head torch which was too dull, it needed new batteries. For the next couple of miles I tripped and stumbled along the track, it looked like tractors had been using and tearing up the path.

Ellon and the bridge over the river Ythan, thirteen miles, two hours fifteen minutes, time for sustenance. Two bites of banana and the chocolate milkshake, still working on the nutrition! It was getting light as I left Ellon with the sound of chirping Blackbirds in the background.

It's a slight incline towards Udny Station and it felt good running in daylight. This didn't last, as my watch bleeped seventeen miles a dreaded cramp feeling began in my stomach. Slight at first but it worsened until mile twenty where I had to stop running and start walking. This was a blow and with six miles to go I had to keep to a speed walk, that's the peril of ultra running.

Once I reached Dyce a couple of colleagues were walking to work. There's no way I was going to speed walk past them and got back into a run for the last quarter of a mile, arriving four hours fifty minutes after leaving New Deer.

With my long run completed on Friday, thirteen miles was on the cards for Saturday. Coach wanted to do five miles on the Garioch 10k route so I cut my Saturday run to eight miles so I could accompany Lynne on Sunday. With three weeks to go until the race, Lynne ran the whole route in one hour sixteen minutes, a great time for a 10k novice.

Tues 04 miles Wed 10 miles Thurs 04 miles Fri 26 miles Sat 08 miles Sun 06 miles  Weekly total 58 miles.