The Deer Runner

The Deer Runner

Sunday, 26 March 2017


 With fine weather and blue skies over the weekend, my Facebook feed was full of fellow runners sending photos from all over the country.  A visit to the physio is booked this Wednesday so it was time to test the ankle once more.  Brimmond Hill was the destination, time to pull on the trainers and give it a decent go, the first time since the 24th of January.

For those that don't know Brimmond, it has a car park at the base and a tarred road used by service vehicles to the top.  It's not too long nor very steep but would be quite sufficient for the test today.

I was accompanied by Lynne, she wanted to get training for the Glenmore 24 in September.  Once out of the car I advised a wee jog around the car park to bring our heart rate up before ascending the hill. It quickly became apparent the ankle was not going to play ball, with stiff shooting pains I decided to walk up the hill while Lynne ran ahead.  I couldn't contain myself though and jogged some of the uphill regardless how my ankle was feeling.  I couldn't help thinking, am I doing myself damage running in pain or is it time to tell the ankle this is how it should be, time to get back to normal.

When I say jog, I don't mean a normal jog.  The body compensated to deal with the injured ankle which meant my right leg was doing most of the work.  I was subconsciously protecting the ankle from striking and pushing off.  Uphill was the worst but I was thankful to be out and getting some sort of exercise regardless of the circumstances.

Once at the top, we decided to descend to the rear of the hill and return.  This was trail and I didn't have my ankle strapped up.  I took it real easy, baby steps while Lynne ran ahead.  At one stage I decided to go all out, just to see how the ankle responded and yelled out as the ankle protested.  that put the brakes on, even though going downhill was much easier.

Run / walking back up reminded me just how unfit I was as I struggled for breath.  Lynne was now way ahead, reached the summit and was making her way back down the tarred road as I shuffled behind.  I had a chuckle to myself as Lynne turned around and started running back up towards me, doing hill repeats with a grin on her face and enjoying being out in front, the audacity of it all.

Never the less, I managed to jog back down to the car, an estimated 3 miles completed but at what cost.  Today was either a turning point and time to get going again or a setback with the ankle needing further recuperation, at this point I'm not sure which.  I'll find out when I visit the physio on Wednesday.

Sunday 03.  Weekly total - 3 miles.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

D33 - Marathon Man

I had to pull out of the D33 but that didn't mean I couldn't take part.  I volunteered to marshal and at such a late stage didn't expect to be called upon.  A road crossing at Peterculter required a marshal, a post I was perfectly happy to accept.

And so I found myself at Duthie Park on race day, it felt strange helping out rather than getting ready to run.  I didn't hang around for race start, I wanted to drive to the road crossing and get ready for runners coming through.

Station Road East has a small car park - runners, cyclists and dog walkers are using it for access to the Deeside Way.  The road crossing is seven miles into the race and as it is an out and back just happens to be exactly marathon distance on the way back.

I wasn't sure what time the leaders would come through, so I took up position  in plenty of time.  The trail exits to the road and turns downhill for a short distance before a left turn then runners rejoin the trail on the right hand side of the road.  From where I stood I could just see where runners rejoined the trail.

I stood in position, nervously waiting for runners to come through, chatting to inquisitive locals and letting them know about Aberdeen's premier running race.

It wasn't long before the escort push bike came into sight, closely followed by race leader.  I clapped and cheered all runners through while watching for traffic and warning motorists.

I was into the swing of things, "well done, keep left, downhill, rejoin the track" I repeated as runners passed.  Some obviously knew the route and arrows were spray painted on the ground but I mainly tried to keep runners to the side of the road.  All was going well until one runner came through, I advised the directions but made an error, instead of downhill I advised down the bottom of the hill.

The runner was on her way before I could rectify my instruction.  I could just see her, hoping she would turn onto the track rather than run to the bottom of the hill.  Oh no, she missed the turn off.  I asked the next runner through to shout after her.  I kept an eye on the turn off, there was still no sign of the runner coming back up the hill.  Another two runners passed through, I asked them to keep an eye out for a wayward runner wearing purple.

After a couple of minutes there was still no sign of the runner, there was only one thing for it, I sprinted downhill to look for her.  My left ankle complained straight away, between having to run and wearing boots.  The road led the a tee junction, I turned right and was dismayed to see the road disappear into the countryside.  Blast.  There was a dog walker coming towards me, "have you seen a wayward runner"? I asked.  "Yes, I've given her directions to get back onto the track" I was relieved to hear.  I sprinted back to my marshal post with an unhappy ankle, my decision to pull out of the race was the right one.

Once all runners were through I returned to the camper and had something to eat.  The weather had changed with quite heavy rain falling.  A soaking wet and bedraggled runner appeared in the car park, I thought it was someone pulling out of the race, I jumped out of the van to assist only to be told she was a local who got caught in the rain.  She enquired about the event and shook her head in disbelief when told the distance before getting in her car.

Brolly in hand, I took up position for the runners returning to Aberdeen.  I watched for runners appearing and running up the hill.  I slowed local traffic down making sure nothing happened to George and Karen's participants.  The front runners ran through fast, muddy legs showed the course was rather wet this year.  It was fascinating cheering all runners through, some walking, some running but all putting in gritty performances.  There were some carrying injuries, the camaraderie was a breath of fresh air as runners teamed up with each other, another left freeze spray for a runner who would come through limping.  Sure enough, 10 minutes later the spray was used by the limping runner before continuing on his way.

I didn't realise I was standing at 26.2 until a few runners mentioned it passing by, with one calling me marathon man as he crossed the road.  I was having a great time, "beer this way" I would call out, pointing to the track leading to Aberdeen.  Haribo sweets were offered, I enquired after tired looking runners, making sure they were okay as they continued.  Most had passed and continued on their way before I got the message to stand down at 1500.

I returned to Duthie Park and watched runners cross the line before helping to dismantle the marquee. Unfortunately I had to leave and missed Julie, the most determined and gritty runner of the day cross the line.

Thanks to George and Karen for allowing me a part in their race, it was a pleasure to marshal for runners that were polite and said thank you as they passed by, both out and back.  

So marshalling is very satisfying, which is just as well, I might be offering my services to the Fling.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Aspiration versus reality

I envisaged a good winter training schedule leading to race season then taking on a personal challenge.  All this planning and race entries did not take into account life, work or injury.  The growing popularity of ultra running means races fill fast, forcing participants to enter months ahead of race day.  I had a race schedule worked out to bring my fitness up using the tried and tested SUMS ultra calendar.  Events are used to build strength and stamina, I was so confident in having a good season I threw in the Hardmoors 55 as well, a relatively high mile race for me during March.

As previously posted, it went belly up on a run home in the dark, a pothole brought me to my knees. A physio appointment put paid to the Hardmoors but gave hope in running the D33.

I was advised to cross train and get on the bike.  I did, 30 miles on my old mountain bike which felt like 3 hours of torture, I'm not into cycling.  I have a rowing machine, another torture device which I don't like.  I do sessions on the rower in fits and starts, only doing a session when I can be bothered.   I should have been on the rower, but decided to sit and update my blog instead.  As for swimming?   Difficulty fitting time in for swimming and a dislike of water means no visit to the public baths for me.            

It's safe to say I struggle with cross training and always have.  The result?  After six weeks of very little exercise, I feel as if my fitness has ebbed away.  In such a short time, my midriff has expanded thanks to a lack of running, bad diet and alcohol consumption.

The ankle kept swelling, but I was still on track to do the D33 after a second visit to the physio.       One more visit was required where I would be shown how to strap and support the ankle. Unfortunately I was unable to make this appointment which has been postponed and with ongoing ankle problems pulled out of the second race of my year.

The Fling is fast approaching which is now in jeopardy.  My rescheduled physio appointment is over a week away and although the ankle feels like it's getting stronger, pain stops any sort of running whatsoever.  Obviously this is going to have a knock on effect, not only is the Fling and possibly Cateran under threat but my personal challenge as well.  With no running and racing, there's no way I'll be fit enough for my east to west.

The next couple of weeks is going to determine how my summer running will go, I'm going to need a rapid improvement in ankle recovery.