The Deer Runner

The Deer Runner

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Free torch holder with every wash.

The long run was 25 miles this weekend so I decided to get it out of the way early and ran home on Friday night.  I knew the weather was going to be bad, but not that bad.  This was a trial run, using the clothing and kit I'll be using on the DC.  Luckily full waterproofs were packed in my back pack which were worn the full 26 miles.

It was a southerly wind which made the gruelling conditions bearable, although after half an hour I was soaked through.  On reaching Ellon I was worried about core temperature, I only had a thin  running top under the waterproof jacket.  I had no choice but to push on, there was no-one to be seen as I ran through Ellon and into the night.  The wind howled through power lines high overhead, the lonely sound sending a chill down my spine.  The rain did ease off as I left the Buchan line for the last 10 miles home.  Time taken - 4.5 hours.

The Tikka head torches and hand torch with new batteries lit the trail up perfectly, illumination for the race is sorted.   

The waterproofs are a bit bulky and did let the rain in but the conditions were as bad as it gets so I'll pack them on race day.

Food was a Bounty Bar and Cliff shot blocks, I liked the shot blocks so will start using them on future ultras.

For the first time, I used wool hiking socks which kept my feet warm, even when wet.  They seem to be a success although I need to test them on longer runs.

Although double tied, the laces came undone on the Hokas three times which was inconvenient, I'll have to make sure they are tied tight on race day.

Yesterday was 13 miles, I started the run very stiff and sore after the previous night.  It took a long time to warm up and get into stride.  I ran from my house to the Braes and back.  I didn't carry water as I have a clear stream half way round the Braes.  Crouching down at the stream had two benefits, to slake my thirst and give my legs the Morton Stretch.

Now for the title of this post.  This tip comes courtesy of my nephew Lloyd, ever wondered what to do with odd socks out of the washing machine?  Cut the end off, slide the sock up onto your arm and voila - a torch holder.  Perfect for carrying the hand torch when it's not required.

Tues 4  Wed 10  Thurs 6  Fri 26  Sat 13. Weekly total 59 miles.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Just let the dogs run at their own pace.

Last week was recovery mileage, this was welcome as I struggled to fit in even the lower runs.
I took the opportunity to ditch all the gadgets over such short distances, even the watch.  It felt good to just get out and run, no backpack, no food and no drink.  Saturday was dull and wet enough to keep dog walkers away from the Braes, or so I thought till half way round.  I met three groups of  walkers who all kept their dogs under control and exchanged pleasantries as I ran past, this was quite refreshing.

Sunday required eight miles but the weather didn't make it easy to go out and run, even such a short distance.  Gale force winds and rain meant waiting well into the afternoon for it to settle down.  Needless to say it didn't clear up so I had to look out the wet weather gear.  I also needed to change the mind set and embrace the run.

While running is physically active, there is also the mental aspect.  If not in company or listening to the MP3 player, training time is usually thinking time.  While out in the rain I couldn't be bothered pondering over future challenges, thinking about the past or any other distraction.  I concentrated on the moment, I put my head down and watched the tarmac pass by in a blur.  My head was so far down I could see every step, every foot strike.  I was in a trance, a running trance which made the session most enjoyable during bad weather.

This week I watched Icebound, the amazing story of dogs and mushers relaying a diphtheria serum to Nome, Alaska.  This lifesaving dash was mid winter 1925 in horrendous weather and cold temperatures.  It was so bad some dogs didn't survive but the words of one musher stuck with me -
"I just let the dogs run at their own pace" and this is what I did during my trance run, I let my body run at it's own pace.  No thoughts, no time, no minutes per mile, no food, no drink.

Friday is run home from work night and the weather forecast is not looking too great.
This is going to be a trial run with clothing and kit I'm going to use on the DC.  I'll post at the weekend on how it goes.

Tues 2 Wed 4 Thurs 6 Sat 10 Sun 8.  Weekly total 30 miles.  

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Pennan 22 mile training run.

The weather was perfect for ultra training this weekend, clear blue sky's and a cold westerly breeze.
I was going to run the Gordon Way yesterday but changed it to the Moray Coast. 
I parked at Pennan, ran to Rosehearty and back which took me to 17 miles.  With 22 to cover I continued to Cullykhan Bay then returned to Pennan.  This training route is remarkably similar to the Cateran trail, with fields, farm tracks, stiles, gates and road sections - all on hilly terrain.

Picking a hand torch for the Cateran was interesting.  The modern LED torch has came a long way.
There's lots of choice, with tactical torches made for the military or law enforcement.  In the end I opted for the Fenix E40, a standard lightweight torch with three power levels and a strobe.

 I tested running with my two head torches and the Fenix on Wednesday night, an eight miler round the Braes o Gight.  Needless to say, the 220 lumen Fenix outshone the head torches, making them redundant.  To be fair I think the head torches require new batteries.  I'll also need to balance the light a bit by reducing the Fenix output to a lower setting but it's good to know I've got a long range spot light when I need it.

Tues 4 Wed 8 Thurs 6 Sat 22 Sun 12. Weekly total 52 miles.



Tuesday, 7 January 2014

eTrex 20

It's handy being able to look back and check training this time last year.  It's a good reason to do these blogs and chart the training, so I am going to try and post at least once a week.

Training is going well so far, despite jumping onto the program a bit late.  The routes have been around the local country roads lately so I'll have to head to Bennachie for some hill work soon.

During December Lynne asked what I'd like for Christmas.  I've never had an all singing and dancing GPS watch, I always liked the look of the Sunnto Ambit but just couldn't justify splashing the cash.  I began to do my homework into this sort of watch with navigation in mind and came across the Garmin Fenix.  Now don't get me wrong, both seem like really good watches, perfect for ultra running so I almost took the plunge but changed my mind at the last minute.

Now I'm no expert on navigation, but as far as I could tell, mapping would be very basic on these watches and would only allow you to "track back" if you took a wrong turn.  A track could be run, logged with waypoints and returned to at a later date, this feature would be fine for the Double Cateran as I intend to do a night recce run. 

I needed more for my main challenge though, the East to West Scotland run.  Something robust, light, waterproof, could download maps and had good battery endurance.  The Garmin eTrex 20 fitted the bill nicely, which Santa duly delivered on Christmas day.

There are three models in the eTrex range.  The entry level 10 which has a monochrome screen, the 20 which I opted for due to the colour screen and ability to download detailed maps and the 30 which adds a barometer and electronic compass.  Battery life is quoted as 25 hours from 2 AA batteries which was perfect for my needs.

The supplied map from Garmin is too basic, and so began a mind boggling day of researching different maps which could be downloaded onto the Garmin.  TOPO maps, Birdseye, Raster, OS mapping, I was spinning round in circles looking for a map for my needs.  Being a Scotsman, it all came down to cost, so this is where OpenStreetMap came in.  The website talkytoaster was a mine of information with instructions on downloading the free map of Great Britain.  The only thing I needed was a micro SD card, sourced out of an old mobile phone.  I followed the instructions, the download was very straightforward and the Garmin brought up the mapping straight away once powered up.

I've taken the eTrex out on a few runs where I am very happy with it.  Routes can be saved and brought up on Garmins Basecamp software on the computer for analysis.  I'm still getting to grips with some of the features, but so far so good. 

I'll do another post on illumination soon, the powerful hand torch arrived in the post today.

Week ending 29th Dec - Mon 3 Tues 3 Wed 3 Thurs 3 Fri 20 Sat 3 Sun 12. Weekly total 47 miles.

Tues 4 Wed 8 Thurs 6 Sat 22 Sun 12. Weekly total 52 miles.