The Deer Runner

The Deer Runner

Monday, 24 March 2014

Chill the Soul

You've no respect, taking me on
Coming to visit, well before dawn
Now you are here, let the game begin
I'm waiting for you, come on in

A lonely trip, trail at night
Complete solitude in the fading light
I'm watching you run, sure footed and strong
I'll intervene, not before long

Look up at the stars and stare in wonder
Why are you here? They make you ponder
Feel my presence deep down inside
I'll make you want to run and hide

This is my world, cold wet and wild
Think your brave? I'll make you a child
Place the rocks so you stumble and fall
No-one will save you, no-one at all

A feeble filament to keep me at bay
Illumination keeps madness away
See all my work, look at destruction
Trees uprooted after my tantrum

Keep on going with doubt creeping up
Malevolent thoughts will soon make you stop
Stand at the gate and feel the chill
That's far enough, turn back if you will

Hear your breath and heart beat fast
Limbs reach out as you run past
You better run, you better flee
I'm right behind you full of glee

Green eyes watching, a fox you'll find
He doesn't like you or your kind
I visit him often, he knows who I am
Reach for his soul with my cold hand

The end is in sight, civilisation
Convinced I'm all imagination
What's that you say, you'll be back
I'll be waiting in the dark

Tues 6  Wed 6  Thurs 17  Sun 22.  Weekly total 51 miles.


Sunday, 16 March 2014

D33 - Do Epic Sh*t

The D33, no longer first race of the SUMS season but still first SUMS race of the year after a winter break.  Being an out and back makes this race unique, one where participants of all abilities cheer each other on, including the top runners.  Some runners find the course too flat with no hills to speak of but this race can have a nasty bite if not paced properly.  Read on for a race not paced properly.

I first ran the D33 with my youngest brother in 2011 where we did the first half too fast and struggled back to Duthie Park in 5 hours 49 minutes.  That was a lesson on pacing so there was no excuse for the bad pacing during yesterdays race.  Deep down I knew my time from last year was out of reach but I still lined up in the middle of the pack just before nine.

A safety briefing from George Reid before setting off under the cloudy sky.  I opted to ditch the waterproof jacket, even though it threatened to rain.  I was wearing a long sleeve top over a tee shirt to keep the westerly wind at bay.

At nine we were off, onto the disused railway line and heading west.  Once again I wanted to run this race without looking at my watch. I wanted to run a comfortable race but got carried away with the pace of everyone running around me.

I knew my pace was too fast when I overheard a runner announce 3 miles in under 27 minutes.
I should have responded to this and slowed things down but the stubbornness shone through.

 Views open up to the countryside on the left.

I'm carrying a packet of mini cheddars, 2 strawberry bar thingies and a packet of caffeine infused gels.  I take a gel every half an hour, a feeble attempt to keep energy up.  With this course being so runnable, I don't want to walk and eat normal food.  

The river Dee makes an appearance, sorry for the blurry pictures, they were taken on the run.

The railway line is tarred and heads out Deeside, it takes around 7 miles to clear housing at the west end of Aberdeen.

After clearing the railway line and a bit of trail, the first checkpoint is on quiet back roads.  This checkpoint will play an important role for me later in the race.

The back road is downhill before hitting a trail to Drumoak.  It's here that alarm bells start ringing with my pacing when I start to get passed by steady runners. 

I have taken three gels and they are stuck, I cant seem to shift them no matter how much water I drink.  I'm running out of energy before half way.

I manage to snap the race leader and congratulate all the front runners as they pass, this is what makes the D33 special.

The track runs parallel with the Deeside railway for a while.

Half way point ahead, I'm glad to get there and feel awful, it's going to be a grind back to Aberdeen.
I spend a couple of minutes at the checkpoint downing water before refilling the water bottle.
With the sun making an appearance and the wind behind us it's going to get very hot.
From the half way point the photos are few and far between, an indication of the stress that overcame me.

I open a strawberry bar, a last ditch attempt to get some energy but it's too late, I only manage half as it seems to be sitting on top of the gels.  I drink water as my pace slows and I begin to overheat.
I'm being passed by a lot of runners which doesn't help matters so I have a talk to myself, this is my race and my pace, don't worry about being passed, try to find a steady pace to return to Aberdeen.
I ignore everyone passing me, apologies for the silence.  My mind goes into negative overdrive where I begin to doubt I'll finish this.  I'm still running but very slowly.  I don't want to walk but it's inevitable and I try to hold off the urge for as long as possible.  I try to reach the uphill road section before walking but can only make it to the main street in Drumoak.

I walk along the pavement trying to take stock of the situation.  I'm absolutely soaking in sweat, the breeze is cooling me down as I practically finish my water.  I'm passed by runners and watch unconcerned as they disappear into the distance. 

I'm completely done in and consider giving this crazy hobby up.  Toys get chucked out of the pram big time as I consider withdrawing from the Fling and Double Cateran.  I also doubt if I'm fit or good enough to take on my East to West challenge.

It looks like I'll be walking back to Aberdeen so begin taking photos again.

On the uphill road section I am completely out of water and consider chapping on somebodies door to get a refill but the checkpoint is only about a mile ahead.

Alternative transport?

I finally reach the checkpoint with my race in tatters.  I feel terrible and down a lot of water before refilling the bottle.  I also spot a half bottle of coke on the free side of the table.  This is downed pronto but I can't face anything to eat.

Time to go, eight miles which quite frankly I was dreading.  Little did I know it, but my race was about to be improved.  Another runner, Alan Cormack, just happened to be leaving the checkpoint at the same time.  Good chat and a steady pace all the way back to the Duthie Park was just what the doctor ordered.  I still felt ropey but it was good sharing race stories and tips with Alan which helped pass the time. 

After running in and crossing the line together it was good to recover and have a much needed beer with Alan.  5 hours 15 minutes, a time I was happy with but not how I came to achieve it.

So it's back to the drawing board for food, gels are not for me, especially caffeine infused ones.
Training at 12 minute miles and expecting to race under 9 minute miles just didn't work out.
The D33 found me out big time, I need to either train for a faster time or just accept a slower pace and enjoy the run.

So, time to thank the race organisers George, Karen and the team of volunteers and marshals for another great event.  This race continues to gain popularity and deservedly so.  Oh, and thanks to Alan who came along at the right time, it was much appreciated.

Tues 4,  Thurs 3,  Sat 33. Weekly total 40 miles.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Knockespock Forest

This week I needed to get back on track.  Midweek miles was supposed to be 22, I made it to 20.  Thursday required 6 miles, I did 4 at lunch time, thinking the 2 could be done at the gym on the cross trainer but I just couldn't be bothered with the gym.

With 28 miles to cover on Saturday I needed an interesting hilly route, not too far from home.
The Gordon Way it was,  a trail I have blogged about plenty of times in the past.  The reason I chose this route is the remarkable similarity with the Cateran Trail.  Hills, forests, farmland, stiles, bog and a wee bit of road, this is my Cateran of the North East.  Now I know this trail is a bit short, but an out and back gives a good run of 23 miles.   To make the miles up to 28 I had to enter Knockespock Forest.  The last time I was here I hit a dead end, this time I ran some of the fire breaks which turned out to be very marshy in places.  I should have taken my Garmin and charted the run but I'll come back and do more training in this large forest in future.

I must admit I underestimated the Gordon Way, on the way back I completely ran out of energy and water.  I had to get my head down and do the miles back to the car.  I've ran out of water on this route before so there was no excuse, also 2 strawberry bake thingies and a packet of Worcester sauce crisps just wasn't sufficient for the run.  I was absolutely starving and couldn't wait to get home for something to eat.  I had to stop at my usual watering hole 3 miles from the car park, the water was peaty but still cool and refreshing. 

Physically, running has been okay this week, mentally has been a bit of a struggle.  The stress of work, family and home life is taking it's toll where I am feeling guilty for having such a selfish hobby.  High mile back to back weekend training takes a lot of commitment and it's my family that takes the brunt of this.  To mitigate the loss of quality time, I should be up and out early morning, something which I am struggling to do just now.

Next Saturday is the D33 ultra.  I don't know how I'm going to run this race or if I want to try and beat my time last year.  Sub 5 hours sounds good but I don't want the pressure.  I might run it again by feel without the use of a watch and worrying about time.

On Bennachie, not far from the finish, this tune played on my player, MP3 of the week -
One Day by Kodaline   

Tues 4, Wed 12, Thurs 4, Sat 28, Sun 8.  Weekly total 56 miles.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Forced Taper

After vowing to hit the training goal of 65 miles this week the wheels fell off on Thursday.  I woke up with the dreaded flu.  The week started okay but I had an awful 12 mile run early on Wednesday morning.  I put the lethargy down to this being my first early morning run of the year but looking back I wasn't feeling bright on the Saturday either.  Needless to say, all running has been put on hold which is typical after such a beautiful sunny weekend.

Yesterday I was feeling a bit better and thought I would go out for a family cycle.  I made the mistake of thinking it would be nice, easy and not too taxing.  Even though the sun was shining I underestimated the cold, the wind chill factor in particular.  Wearing just a running top and shorts I knew I was in trouble when we all stopped for a picnic.  I was frozen, I couldn't feel my hands and feet, started shivering and couldn't wait to get home.  I took this relatively short bike ride as a warning to only resume running once fully recovered.

I'm not sure what to run before the D33 in two weeks time or when to try and slot back into the training program, I've been off the rails for a while.  I do hope to start running again on Tuesday and want to do a decent run before toeing the D33 line on March 15th.

I've had to change the date for my East to West Scotland run.  I'm still not sure how I'll use support for this, Lynne and Skye in a vehicle or booking into B & B's.  The run will now be pencilled in for June or early August.

Tues 4  Wed 12.  Weekly total 16 miles.