It's a turbulent time at Deershire which has effected my training program. I had no intention tapering for the D33 but last weeks mileage was low. My long run was Friday afternoon, 26 miles from New Deer to Dyce where I had a night out with colleagues. A hangover meant no running on Saturday and a second night out wrote off Sunday.
A two mile run was completed during the week leading to the D33 and couple of yoga sessions loosened me up nicely. I just couldn't get into race mode though, it was a busy week where I didn't start to get organised till ten o'clock Friday night.
For my first race of the year I felt okay, just okay. Saturday morning was an early departure with Skye who said "you're not racing looking like that are you?". Indignantly I thought the comment was about my running attire but Skye then said I didn't look well. I had been coughing and sneezing all morning and it was a pale face that stared back from the rear view mirror but there was no backing out now, I didn't feel bad enough to pull out from the race.
I dropped Skye off and made my way to the Duthie Park where I registered, met a training friend and chatted to ultra folks. My midway drop bag contained 2 boiled eggs and half a packet of jaffa cakes,
my three quarter way drop bag contained a leaking bottle of coke which were dropped off at their respective vehicles.
The day was overcast and cool, it was good to hear George the race director give a briefing before letting hundreds of runners go at 9 o'clock. I was using the Suunto to track my pace but it was throwing a wobbly and refusing to start. The watch eventually complied with seconds to go. My plan for the race was 10 minute miles for a 5 1/2 hour finish. My training pointed to this pace, I knew I wasn't fit enough for a faster time or anywhere near my PB of 5 hours 2 minutes.
The start was busy, it took a while for the field to spread out. I chatted to a few runners before settling into pace with a runner I know through work. Good chat made the miles fly by, it's just as well, holding my pace under 10 minute miles felt a bit of a struggle. The first checkpoint arrived in no time due to running with company, we were joined by another runner from Lerwick, down especially for the race. A white cup was scooped up from the road a good bit past the checkpoint, can't have the race blighted by litter. A bit further along was food wrapped in foil which obviously fell out of a bag, this was also collected and binned at checkpoint 2. I hope the runner managed without it.
Plenty of chat made the miles fly by before seeing the elite runners return, meeting the leader Ross Houston way sooner than expected. My strategy was going to plan, 9.45 minute miles giving me time for a quick bite to eat at half way. Once at the checkpoint I quickly pocketed the jaffa cakes, scoffed one egg fast (the shells were taken off earlier) grabbed a bottle of water and departed, all in around 2 minutes. I ate the second egg while running and trying to maintain 10 minute miles.
Alone, no-one running at my pace meant no company. It's this section that usually plays with my head and this year was no exception. With long stretches of trail ahead I needed to keep an eye on the watch. I didn't think there was a drop in pace but sometimes the Suunto would read 10.15 or 10.20 forcing me to gee things up. Targeting runners ahead gave me a boost, a steady pace meant I would slowly catch up and pass quite a few runners. At one stage I felt my energy drop off, a runner was pacing me for quite a while. It was time to break out the Chia bar, one bite and a swig of Nuun seemed to give a boost where my pace dropped below 9 minute miles to lose my pacer. Is that all in the mind or can you get instant energy like that?
Drumoak came and went then it was time for the road section to the checkpoint and my leaking bottle of coke. Last year I felt awful at this checkpoint but not this year, I was running a far more controlled race and felt half human before setting off for the last 7 miles.
My legs were tired and I was aware of the ever present right calf, I needed to take care but wanted to hit my target. The last six miles are tarmac which pounds the muscles and joints. I was still slowly passing runners, the downhill seemed to take forever to reach before turning the long bend and reaching the straight back to the park. My muscles were sore, particularly the calf but I ran as quick as possible and knew under 5 1/2 hours was on the cards.
Through the gate where I ran as fast as I could past locals out for a Saturday afternoon stroll, being cheered on down under the finish arch where another brilliant medal and hug from Karen waited.
5 hours 24 minutes 23 seconds, job done.
It's no secret help was required to hold the D33 this year, it's obvious people assisted to make this the great event it is. Marshals, volunteers, medics, helpers, George and Karen, a brilliant race. Thank you.
Week ending 08th March - Tues 4, Wed 4, Fri 26. Weekly total 34 miles.
Tues 2, Sat 33. Weekly total 35 miles.